United States Patent McQuary et al.
 APPARATUS FOR ASSEMBLY OF VALVES AND INSERTION INTO INFLATABLE ARTICLES inventors: Kenneth L. McQulry, Marina. Califi; George H. Karlln, 722 N. Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills, Calif. 902l2; Bert Lane, 713 Scenic View, Palm Springs. Calif. 92262 Assignee: said Karlln and Lane, by said McQuary Filed: Jan. ll, I971 Appl. No.: 105,508
us. Ct. 29/208 a. 29/208 0, 29/208 F rm. Cl ..B23p 19/04 ma oISearch ..29/208 8. 208 c. 208 F, 21 a.
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,l02,332 9/l963 Porcelli ..29/208B 51 July 11,1972
Primaq- Examiner-Thomas Ht Eager Anomey-Mahoney, Hornbaker & Schick ABSTRACT An apparatus for essentially automatic assembly of modement valve members and for placement of the assembled valve members into inflatable articles such as, for example, balloons. Means are disclosed wherein the elements of the valve are carried through a plurality of successive work stations wherein the valve is assembled, and. in an exemplary embodiment, wherein a length of string is attached to a tab of one of the valve elements and wound around a spool portion thereof, and delivered into a receiving position so that a balloon neck may be manually placed around the valve and thereafler the balloon with the asociated valve is removed and ready for packaging or other disposition thereof. All of the work station operations are automatic with the exception of the inflatable article placement and this is done manually to enable inspection and quality control.
26Clalrm,21DrawingFlgures PATENTEDJUL 11 m2 3. 675.301
sum 1 or 6 FIG. 2O 3- 2 INVENTORS.
KENNETH 1.. MCOUARY, GEORGE H. KARLIN AND BERT LANE BYMAHONEY, HORNBAKER AND ScHIcK ATTORNEYS PATENTEDJUL 11 1972 3.675.301
saw 2 or 6 HIIH'W INVENTORS. KENNETH L. MCQUARY, GEORGE H. KARL/N AND BERT LANE BYMAHONE Y, HORNBAKER AND SCHICK A TTORNE Y5 Mmmmm 11 m2 3.675.301
SHEET 3 OF 6 FIG.5.
INVENTORS. KENNETH L. MCQUARY,
GEORGE H. KARLIN AND BERT LANE 4 J B YMA HONEY, HORNBA KER w AND SCHICK A TTORNE YS PATENTEDJUL 1 1 m2 SHEEI t (If 6 IN VENTORS.
BYMAHONEY, HORNBAKER AND ScH/cK ATTORNEYS APPARATUS FOR ASSEMBLY OF VALVES AND INSER'I'ION INTO INFLATABLE ARTICLES BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The soaring costs of labor have made it necessary to employ machines wherever possible in order to deliver an end product that will be competitive with other commodities in the market place competing for the consumer dollar. This consideration becomes even more important when considering a low-cost item having a marginal profit level wherein such items are used for promotional or advertising purposes. Specifically, this invention pertains to an automatic apparatus for assembly of two-component or element valve members, and for the subsequent association of the assembled valve with an inflatable article such as, for example, a balloon. In the specific exemplary embodiment, the valve members are of plastic having an interfitting relationship and one element of the valve member is provided with a tab and spool portion to which a length of string may be secured and wound. The valve member with the wound string is then in condition to be placed in the neck of a balloon and ready for use.
The apparatus of this invention utilizes a first or primary indexing table which receives the first valve element which is antomatically fed thereto and carries it to a second station whereat the second mating valve member is assembled into the first. The primary table then indexes to a stapling station whereat the length of string is stapled to the plastic tab and then is taken to a winding station where the length of string is wound around the spool portion of the assembled valve. Thereafter, the valve member is indexed to a transfer station for transfer to a secondary indexing member which carries the valve in a readied position to be received within the neck of an inflatable article, such as a balloon, which operation, for quality control purposes, is carried out manually. After insertion of the balloon onto the valve member, the secondary indexing means carries the valve and associated balloon to a removal station where the assemblage is removed from the secondary indexing means to be thereafter packaged or the like.
Because the entire operation is essentially automatic, literally thousands, if not millions, of balloons having printed indicia thereon and having an efficient valve member, by which they may be readily inflated, are made available at an economical price. Prior to the invention of this apparatus, a multitude of manual operations was necessary all of which contributed because of attendant labor costs, to a costly article not readily lending itself for utilization in give away or promotional campaigns.
OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of this invention to provide an apparatus for the assemblage of valve members into inflatable articles.
It is another object of this invention to provide an apparatus essentially automatic in form for the assembly of two-element valve members for use in conjunction with inflatable articles.
It is still another object of this invention to provide an apparatus for the assembly of valve members of two-component construction and to provide ease of associating them with inflatable articles.
It is still a further object of this invention to provide an apparatus automatic in nature to carry valve elements through a plurality of work stations in an efficacious manner.
It is still a further object of this invention to provide an apparatus which automatically feeds and assembles valve members for ready association with an inflatable article.
It is a further specific object of this invention to provide an apparatus which automatically assembles two-piece valve members for association with inflatable articles such as balloons wherein the valve members are of a specific construction.
It is still a further specific object of this invention to provide an apparatus for automatically feeding elements of a two-component valve member and carrying them through a plurality of work stations to ultimately obtain a balloon having an assembled valve therein.
It is still another specific object of the invention to provide an apparatus for automatically feeding and assembling twopiece valve members; attaching a length of string on one of said valve pieces and winding said string around a spool portion thereof and to make it possible to readily associate the valve member with a balloon.
It is a still further specific object of this invention to assemble valve components; to associate the assembled valve with a balloon and to remove the associated balloon and valve member ready for packaging in an efficient manner.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following specification and the accompanying drawings which are for the purpose of illustration only.
Generally, in an exemplary embodiment, the invention pertains to a device for assembly and insertion of two-element valve members into inflatable articles comprising a first means to receive and carry the elements of said valve members through a plurality of stations. A first feeding means defining a first station feeds the first element of the valve in the secondelement receiving position to the first means in aligned relationship therewith. A second feeding and assembly means defining a second station feeds the second element of the valve members in aligned relationship for assembly with the first element when the first means is aligned therewith and to assemble the first and second elements of the valve member. A second means to receive the assembled valve from the first means at a transfer station, is provided, and to thence carry it through an insertion station whereat it is associated with or inserted into the inflatable article, and thereafter, carried to a removal means defining a removal station to remove the inflatable article and associated valve member from the second means. All of the means are operatively and structurally associated whereby synchronous successive-station operation of the device is obtained.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a plan view of an exemplary embodiment of the invention showing the various work stations involved;
FIG. 2 is an exploded view depicting a specific type of valve member used in the apparatus shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a view taken along the lines 3-3 of FIG. 1 showing more detail of one of the work stations;
FIG. 4 is a view taken along the lines 4-4 of FIG. I showing additional detail of another work station of the device of FIG.
FIG. 5 is a view taken along the lines 5-5 of FIG. 4 showing still another work station;
FIG. 6 is a view taken along the lines 6-6 of FIG. 1 illustrating alignment of the assembled valve member for successive work stations;
FIG. 7 is a view taken along the lines 7-7 of FIG. I showing the support means for the string which is to be attached to a specific valve member of this invention;
FIG. 8 is a view taken along the lines 8-8 of FIG. 1 showing the stapling work station of a specific embodiment of the apparatus of this invention;
FIG. 9 is a view in partial cross section taken along the lines 9-9 of FIG. 8',
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary view showing additional detail of FIG. 8;
FIG. 11 is a view taken along the lines 1 1-1 I of FIG. 9',
FIG. 12 is a view taken along the lines 12-12 of FIG. 9 showing more detail of the stapling and associated cutting mechanism;
FIG. 13 is a view taken along the lines 13-13 of FIG. 1 showing the string winding work station;
FIG. 14 is a fragmentary, schematic view illustrating the completion of the operation performed at the work station depicted in FIG. 13;
FIG. 15 is a view taken along the lines 15-15 of FIG. 1 showing a transfer station;
FIG. 16 is a view similar to that shown in FIG. 15 but at a successive period of time when the transferring mechanism is in operative relationship with the valve member;
FIG. 17 is a view taken along the lines 17-17 of FIG. 1 illustrating one form of synchronizing mechanism and showing the valve member transferred to the mechanism for carrying it through still more stations;
FIG. 18 is a fragmentary view taken along the lines 18-18 of FIG. 1 showing the placement of a balloon onto the valve member;
FIG. 19 is a view taken along the lines 19-19 of FIG. 1 showing the balloon and associated valve at a removal station;
FIG. 20 is a view similar to that shown in FIG. 19 but after removal of the balloon and associated valve member has taken place; and
FIG. 21 is an elevational view taken along the lines 21-21 of FIG. 1 illustrating the control panel for the device shown in FIG. I.
DESCRIYTION OF THE BEST EMBODIMENTS CONTEMPLATED The invention will be described as it specifically relates to the assembly of a specific type of valve member and its as sociation with an inflatable article such as a balloon. However, it should be understood that the devices of this invention, merely by dispensing with several of the work stations as will become apparent, will suffice to permit the assembly of valve members and their association with any type of inflatable article, whether they be of rubber, plastic or any other material of construction. Other modifications, deletions and substitutions will make themselves apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, depending upon the end results desired, but all of these variations will not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention as disclosed herein.
Referring to the drawings wherein like numerals of reference designate like elements throughout but first referring generally to FIG. 1, the basic mode of operation of the device 2 will be discussed. Device 2 has a main working sur face or table-like structure 4 of a common type which sup ports various components of device 2 as will become apparent. A primary indexing table 6 moves through a circular path and is provided with receiving members or cups 8, spaced about the circumference of indexing table 6. Indexing table 6 receives the first element of the two-piece valve member at a first station generally designated 10 and carries the element thus received to a second work station 12 where the second valve element is fed and assembled with the first element when in aligned relationship therewith. Primary indexing table 6 continues to move through its circular path to carry the assembled valve member through the successive work stations such as 14 where a string is secured to one portion of the valve member such as by stapling and then to station 16 whereat the length of string is wound around a spool portion of the valve member. Successive indexing and rotation of table 6 carries the thusly assembled valve member with string wound thereon to transfer station 18 where the valve is transferred to secondary indexing table 20 for its travel through still additional work stations. Secondary indexing table 20 is congruent in carrying capacity to primary indexing table 6 and is synchronized to index therewith. Secondary indexing table 20 carries the assembled valve member in an inverse fashion from that when it was carried through the other work stations so as to ready it to receive a balloon or other inflatable article at the insertion station 22 where an operator manually positions the balloon onto the valve member. Continual indexing of secondary table 20 carries the valve member and associated balloon to successive station 24 whereat the valve and associated balloon are removed from the secondary indexing table 20 completely assembled and ready for packaging or other operations. Thus, the general mode of operation and the work sta tions involved therewith have been illustrated for an exemplary embodiment of the invention. The essentially automatic nature of the device and its ability to mass produce assemblages of the valves and inflatable articles should be readily recognizable.
It will be helpful to understand the type of valve members which are assembled and associated with inflatable articles ac cording to the practice of a specific embodiment of the invention. However, it should be apparent that other valve structures could be used with little modification to the devices of this invention.
Referring now to FIG. 2, a specific exemplary valve member 26 is shown and is, in this instance, fabricated as by molding of deformable, semi-rigid plastic, such as, for example, polyethylene. The first plunger element 28 is integrally formed with a lower cylindrical portion 30 and an inner offset upper cylindrical portion 32 having closed end and side walls with the exception of the aperture 34 provided in the side wall of portion 30 and communicating to the interior thereof. The plunger element 28, therefore, provides a first open-ended cylindrical body having a first bore 31 and an inner-set extending, closed-end cylinder such as 32 having internal bore 33. The bottom edge or wall 300 of cylinder 30 is slightly flared so as to form an abutment stop for purposes to be described. The remaining major component or element of valve 26 is cylinder element 36 having lower uniform cylindrical portion 37 with a bore 38 sufficient to receive the exterior of upper portion 30 of plunger 28 in frictional fluid'tight relationship and upper converging wall cylindrical portion 370 to form a snap fit with regard to lip 30a of plunger 28. The bottom wall of cylindrical portion 36 is continuous or closed with the exception of aperture 39, the purposes of which will become apparent. Cylinder element 36 is provided with an outwardly extending flange such as 40 to thereby form therebelow, in conjunction with cylindrical portion 37, a spool-like combination adapted to retain a plurality of windings of a string or the like, not shown. A tab 41 is formed as a continuation of the side wall portion of cylindrical portion 37 of cylinder element 36 and provides means whereby, as will be seen a string may be secured.
The manner in which the valve 26 operates will now be described. When the cylindrical portion 30 of plunger 28 is snap-fitted into frictional engagement within the upper portion 37a, having the converging walls, and is thrust into the main chamber or bore 38 of cylindrical portion 37, the aperture 39 is effectively covered over and fluid-tight relationship with respect to the interior of cylinder element 36 and the exterior surface of plunger element 28 is obtained. This then is the closed non-filling position of the valve. That is, when the neck of an inflatable article such as a balloon is positioned over converging wall portion 370, there is no access from the interior bore 31 through the aperture 34 and thence into the balloon interior because of the fact that the aperture 34 is covered over. When the plunger element 28 is moved axially and oppositely within the bore it may move until the lip 30a abuts the interior of converging wall portion 370 thereby positioning aperture 34 out of engagement or the covered position with respect to the interior surface of cylindrical portion 37 and 37a. This is the filling position of the valve and the interior of the balloon, when positioned as described, is now in communication with the exterior filling aperture 39. In this position, the aperture 34 is in communication with the interior of an inflatable article positioned around peripheral flange 40 and a gas or other fluid may be introduced thereinto by means of a fill pipe inserted through aperture 39 which permits the flow of gas through the bore 38, through and into bore 31 and then through aperture 34 into the interior of the inflatable device, or, in this instance, balloon. To close the valve, the filling tool upon extraction will move the plunger 28 in an inward axial direction to position the aperture 34 within the interior bore 38 of cylinder element 36, thereby effectively forming fluid-tight sealing. The working details and relationships of valve member 26 are disclosed and claimed in copending application Ser. No. 825,690, filed May 19, 1969.
Referring now to the remaining figures, the specific detailed structure of the apparatus will be seen. The function of the specific structure will be taken up on a station-by-station basis utilizing one individual cycle of the machine, it being understood that other previous or subsequent steps of the cycle are in various stages of inception or completion. Referring specifically to FlG. 3, the first station is shown as comprising the commonly found vibrationally driven feeder hopper 50 having the usual spiral feed track 52 which feeds the plunger elements 28 in aligned fashion from the disoriented array contained within. The elements 28 are fed in side-by-side aligned relationship to the track terminus 53 having an opening at the bottom thereof to allow an element 28 positioned thereover to drop into inclined chute 54 to be received into feeding slot 56 of positioning member 58. The size of slot 56 is just large enough to accommodate a vertically aligned plunger element. Positioning member 58 comprises reciprocally mounted positioning ram 60 having a spring member 62 in the end thereof and operable throughout the majority of the length of slot 56, stopping just short of the chute 54 to allow a single plunger element to fall therein. Ram 60 is pneumatically connected to an air source (not shown) by means of hose 66 (partially shown) to position an element 28 within the slot 56 over a vertical passageway 61 of member 58 to await the arrival of a receptacle member on the primary indexing table 6. This receptacle member comprises a cup-like receiving or retaining member 8 of annular configuration secured to table 6 by means of bolts or otherwise and is provided with a first recess such as 8a substantially congruent in size and configuration to plunger element 28. A counterbore or recess 8b is provided to accommodate cylinder element 36 for reasons which will become apparent. Suffice to say that the indexing table 6 aligns the retaining cup member 8 beneath the vertical passageway 61 of positioning member 58 above which a plunger element 28 is held in ready relationship, it being held by the spring end 62 of reciprocating ram 60. Thus, the tension of the spring 62 exerts a small retaining frictional force between the element 28 and the interior surface of the vertical passageway 61. When alignment of the retaining or receiving cup member 8 occurs, a vertically mounted reciprocating ram member 68 operated by piston 70 and having the usual air supply lines 72 (removed for purposes of clarity) initiates its stroke to push the retained plunger element 28 out of its retained position within slot 56 and into the receiving recess 8a of member 8. The retraction of vertically reciprocating ram 68 triggers the backward horizontal movement of ram 60 to just beyond the chute opening of chute 54 to receive another plunger element for the next successive increment or indexing of the primary indexing table 6.
As the primary indexing table 6 increments and advances, the movement of which is obtained by conventional motors and the like through conventional gear train mechanisms located beneath work surface 4 and not shown, it passes a detector station 74 (FIG. 1) which senses the presence of the plunger element 28 properly seated within the cup or retaining member 8 as by means of micro-switch 76. More on the control and sensing functions of the device will be disclosed later, but suffice it to say that as the indexing table or plate 6 moves toward work station 12, the sensing heretofore described takes place. Upon arrival at work station 12, and referring specifically to FIG. 4, a similar operation as performed at station 10 takes place. That is, a plurality of valve elements 36 are fed from vibrating hopper 78 in aligned relationship by means of the spiral track (not shown) on the interior surface of hopper 78 onto track member 80 provided with alignment rails 79 in aligned relationship. It will be noted that a plurality of valve elements 36 is fed in end-to-end relationship down the track 80 to air-actuated gate mechanism 82, whereat laterally reciprocated shuttle gate member 84 having transferring notch 86 therein allows one-at-a-time timed feeding and transferring of the elements 36 down past shuttle gate mechanism 82. Each of the elements 36 continues along the path defined by the inclined track 81 to a second-valve-element-positioning mechanism 88 which is provided with a central receiving passageway 90 having spring loaded trap doors 92 disposed at the end thereof and which are normally spring biased into the closed position to thereby form an abutment or receiving stop for the valve element 36 fed by gravitational forces down inclined chute 81. Placement member 88 has reciprocally mounted positioning member 94 operatively mounted in the central bore thereof and comprising a common piston and cylinder mechanism appropriately operated by pneumatic means through the attendant air hoses 96. At the proper time, when the table 6 is indexed into aligned relationship with the cup member 8 retaining the first valve element 28 therein, positioning member 94 commences its downward stroke engaging the upper surface of valve element 36 positioned within the central passageway 90, forcing the spring loaded doors 92 into the open position and thereby, with the aid of gravity, performs the coupling of valve elements 28 and 36 to form the assembled valve member 26. After forced proper seating (accomplished with the aid of cup recess 8b) of second valve element 36, vertically-reciprocated member 94 retracts while another valve element is fed to passageway to await the next successive cycle. As the indexing table 6 again indexes towards the next station, the assembled valve member, being freely carried by retaining member 8, during travel between the station 12 and the next station 14, is made to pass through an alignment and positioning mechanism (best seen in F IG. 6) comprising a guide rail-like member 98 supported adjacent the peripheral edge of the table 6 as, for instance, by support member 100 secured to structure 4. A tab aligning member 102 depends from guide rail 98 in a secured manner and is configured so as to coact and cooperate with guide wire 104 to position the tab 41 and hence the assembled valve member 26 into one of two positions for proper alignment with the next successive station which is the stapling station 14. At the same time that the valve member 26 is being properly aligned, a sensing step is performed by means of micro-switch 106 indicating the proper presence of the assembled valve member 26 at the time of sensing.
The primary indexing table 6 with the aligned valve member carried thereon moves to station 14 whereat a continuous length of string is stapled onto the extending tab 41 of the valve member 26. Referring to FIGS. 7 and 8, the stapling mechanism 108 is of the conventional air-actuated-type employing a staple magazine 110, staple setting arm 112 and anvil member 114 and associated air actuating mechanism 116, all of which operates in the conventional, commercially available stapler mechanism manner. As the table 6 indexes to station 14, the tab 41 has been previously positioned so as to be received in abutting relationship adjacent the anvil 114. Upon proper alignment a timing mechanism more fully described hereinafter, actuates stapling mechanism 108 to set a staple with an associated length of string, such as 118 into the tab 41. The string 118 is retained in proper working alignment with respect to stapler arm 112 by string threading mechanism 120. The string 118 is fed by means of string feeder 122, comprising an elongate arm 124 secured to adjustable support member 126 which in turn is secured to the working surface member or structure 4. The supply of string (not shown) is properly fed by means of threading member 122 in non-tangling relationship ensured by means of drag member 128 and tensioning wire 130 secured to the extremity of elongate rod member 124 and through which the string 118 is threaded. The natural feeding of the string 118 takes place by the movement of a secured segment of the length of string stapled to a tab of an assembled valve member as it is moved to the next successive station 16. However, before the functions of station 16 are delved into, reference is made to FIGS. 9-12 inclusive, showing in more details, additional structure and steps that occur at station 14 but affecting the preceding assembled valve member that passed through station 14 and which is now situated at station 16. For present purposes, a cut length of string is wound on the spool portion situated below the tab member of the assembled valve 26 at station 16 but in order to permit this, appropriate cutting of the string 118 at station 14 must take place. Referring to these specific figures, the detail of the stapling and cutting operation will be apparent. As the assembled valve member 26 moves into position with the tab 41 approximately aligned so as to abut against anvil 114, the length of string 118 is fed by movement of the secured end to the preceding valve member in controlled fashion by means of feeding member 122 through the thread assembly 120 and is carried through a second wire extension 132 of the thread assembly 120, thereby channeling or directing the string 1 18 through cutting mechanism 134 comprising knife edge 136 and 138, the cutting action being performed by movement therebetween and which actuation is performed at the same time that the staple setting arm 112 sets the staple into the tab 41. The length of string 118 to the right as seen in FIG. 9, is connected to the main supply (not shown) while the length of string shown to the left of the figure is about to be severed and has its other end (not shown) stapled in secure fashion to the tab of the preceding valve element. The cutting and stapling mechanism as indicated earlier, is commercially available in the art, and no new features or functioning specific thereto is claimed herein, therefore no detailed disclosure need be made with regard thereto. However, it should be fairly apparent in what manner the stapling and cutting mechanisms operate in the practice of this invention.
Continuing now to the next work station, FIGS. 13 and 14, it should be kept in mind that the steps performed are on a successive, cyclic basis, by which is meant that as one function is being performed at one work station, other functions or steps of the cycle are being performed simultaneously, or as the case may be, at different points of time, at the other work stations. The index table 6 in its circular path carries the assembled valve with the string stapled to the tab thereof to the next work station 16, whereat a winding operation takes place by means of winding member 140, comprising electric motor 142 with an extending shaft 144 having in the end thereof a spring-biased pin member 146 congruent in size and shape to the aperture 39 of valve element 36 and recess I47 forming in cooperation with pin 146 a driving means. Upon proper indexed alignment of the valve member 26, having the string extending back to work station 14 and which is now severed, the winding member 140 being vertically-reciprocally mounted by means of end plates 148 and guide rods 150 actuated by conventional pneumatic means such as 152, is positioned downwardly over the valve member 26 retained in member 8 to the point where engaging pin member 146 locates the aperture 39 so that the recess 147 of shaft 144 may engage the outer surface 37 of element 36 of valve member 26. When this engagement occurs, motor 142 is energized as by means of power wires 153 to rotate shaft 144 and wind the string 118 onto the spool surface 37 of valve element 36 comprising valve assembly 26 as shown in FIG. 14. A length of string therefor, approximately 48 inches in length is wound entirely upon the spool portion 37 of the assembled valve. A timing mechanism controls the period of time that the motor 142 operates and after this time period, the winding mechanism 140 moves upwardly and retracts to the non-winding position to allow the assembled valve with the string wound thereon to be carried to still another work station.
After the length of string has been wound, the assembled valve member continues to be indexed and carried by the primary indexing table to a transfer station 18. The specific structure comprising the transfer station 18 and its mode of operation will become apparent from FIGS. and 16. Transfer station 18 comprises in essence, a transferring actuator mechanism 154 superposed over secondary index table which member, in turn, is supported in superposed relation to primary indexing table 6 so that only a portion of the peripheral edges of each overlap as seen in FIG. 1. The transferring mechanism 154 comprises a supporting arm structure 156 elongate in character and terminating in support structure 158 remote from the overlapping portions of primary indexing table 6 and secondary indexing table 20 so that the transferring operation to be described may take place. Support structure 158 is secured to work surface structure 4 in a manner well known in the art. Mechanism 154 comprises the pneumatic cylinder 160 with associated rod or plunger 162 actuated by air pressure supplied and made available by means of hoses 164. Secondary indexing table or plate 20 is in this particular instance, of the same diameter as primary table 6, rotatively supported on an appropriate axle or shaft in a conventional manner and operatively driven by means of gear trains and the like, in synchronous fashion with primary indexing table 6. The gearing mechanism, couplings, bearings and the like, are of conventional design and as is customary in such mechanisms and therefore are not shown, nor will they be described, since such matters are merely mechanical which those of ordinary skill in the art are aware. Spaced inwardly around the peripheral edge of secondary table 20 are a plurality of spring-biased spindle members 166 having an extending rod 168 disposed in retained relationship within a bore or hole in the plate 20 having a stop collar 169. The rod 168 is provided with a valve assembly retaining end 170 the purposes for which will become apparent. Spindle member 166 has an upper annular flat head 172 providing a working surface against which the plunger or ram member 162 may work. As seen in FIGS. 15 and 16, the normal biasing of the coil spring 174 maintains the spindle 166 in the uppermost position as shown in FIG. 15, but upon actuation of member 154, the plunger member 162 acts to depress the spindle member to engage the assembled valve unit 26 by means of aperture 39 and to retain the assembled valve on the end thereof to transfer it from the primary indexing table 6 to the secondary indexing table 20. So that this operation may take place in successive cyclical fashion, the number of spindle assemblies 166 are equivalent in number to the members 8 carried by primary indexing table 6. Likewise, they are spaced to coincide with the position of the retaining cup members 8 carried by prima ry index table 6 for accomplishing the transferring operation. To insure that proper alignment of secondary indexing plate or table 20 is had, a locator pin assembly (as seen in FIG. 17) is provided for each spindle assembly 166. Locator pin assembly 180 comprises an air-actuated locator pin mechanism 182 actuated by an air piston (not shown) and comprises the pin 184 having a tapered end to extend upwardly into a locator coupling 186 spaced radially inwardly from each of the spindle mechanisms 166, the coupling 186 being provided with a congruently shaped bore 188 to receive locator pin 184. In order to actuate locator pin mechanism 182, a plurality of cam edges or surfaces may be provided on the primary indexing table 6 and positioned so that the relative location of the cam surface will actuate the associated air piston of locator pin assembly 182 at the appropriate time. The number of cam edges will, of course, coincide with the number of retain ing members 8 carried by primary indexing table 6 which, of course, dictates the number of transfer spindle assemblies 166 carried by secondary indexing table 20. Obviously, as locator pin 184 moves up into the bore 188 a slight rotational movement of secondary indexing table 20 will occur if, in fact, its relative position is improper to enable transferring of the assembled valve member to take place. The secondary table 20, now carrying the assembled valve 26 in inverse fashion from that position in which it was carried on primary index table 6, continues movement through its circular path to the next work station 22. In this instance work station 22 is a manual work station whereat the neck of a balloon or other inflatable article is inserted over the depending extending portion of the assembled valve 26 as shown in FIG. 17. So as to provide ease of manual labor, the height of the support structure 4 or for that matter the placement of secondary index table 20 is such that it is at a convenient height to allow access to an operator sitting at station 22. During the dwell time that the secondary index table 20 is at station 22, the operator inspects a balloon, for instance, to see that it is of usable quality and positions it on the valve as shown in FIG. 18, in phantom lines. The secondary table 20 after this dwell time, next indexes to the next work station 24 which comprises a removal station whereat the assembled valve and associated balloon or other inflatable article are removed from the secondary table 20. Referring now to FIGS. 19 and 20, the successive steps that take place for removal at the removal station 24 are seen. A removal member 190 comprises stationary support bracket 192 secured to the support structure 4 by any well known means, and having an extending plate 194 supporting piston cylinder mechanism 196 operatively connected to air hoses 198 and having an extending plunger member 200 operatively connected to removal member 202 reciprocally mounted as by means of guide-ways (not shown) in support member 192. Removal member 202 is provided with depending, integrally formed legs such as 204 spaced apart a sufficient distance to allow clearance of the spindle assemblies 166 and providing on the inside, in-turned surfaces 206 for engaging the undersurface of the annular flat 172 attached to the end of the rods 168. Thus, in the position shown in FIG. 19, the removal or ejector mechanism 190 has not as yet operated but is in the spindle assembly receiving position to initiate its action. Once the secondary indexing table indexes or moves incremently into an aligned position within the depending legs 204 of removal member 202, the piston 196 is operated to move member 202 in the upward position, (as seen in FIG. 20) and to draw the spindle assembly 166 to its uppermost position, thereby drawing the valve into abutting relationship with stop collar 169 and causing disengagement of the spindle end 170 from its frictional engagement with the valve assembly 26 and associated inflatable article or balloon, as shown. The assembled article is freed from its retained position on the secondary indexing table 20 and is allowed to drop to a storage area or into a receiving bin (not shown) provided for that purpose. So as to determine the number of assembled articles produced by the machine, counter mechanism 210 is provided with telescoping actuation arm 212 having one end thereof secured within a slot or other receiving hole 214 provided for that purpose on member 202 as is readily apparent from FIGS. 19 and 20.
Throughout the several views, the various air hoses necessary to operate the pneumatic actuating pistons have been eliminated for purposes of clarity as have other mechanical details of energization and the like all of which are matters well known in the art and which are readily made available to accomplish the desired end results and functioning of the machine of this invention as described. Thus, referring once again to FIG. 1, the air manifold mechanism 220 having the appropriate valving for accomplishing the functions heretofore described is provided with the various hoses and the like shown in fragmented form so as not to obscure the salient features of the machine. Likewise, there is provided a control panel member 222 provided with all of the electrical controls and signal responsive indicators to indicate that the various functions of the device are performing properly. Within the control panel 222 are located the circuitry, timer mechanism and the like for proper operation of the device at each of the work stations described. The sensing members used, as alluded to hereinbefore, are micro-switches of the type that are normally in the open position and if the appropriate sequence of operation is not performed at the various work stations, a micro-switch will not be actuated and because the sensing and energization of the cycle are inter-related the absence of an appropriate signal will prevent further indexing or sequential operation of the device at the various work stations and will indicate by means of a signal light whereat a problem has arisen. For instance, if the micro-switch sensor 74 does not become actuated because of the absence of the plunger member 28 in the receptacle 8 at that location, a signal will be indicated on the control board of member 222 (see H6. 21) thereby stopping the machine, opening circuitry to prevent further operation and indicating where ditficulty has arisen which may be easily rectified. The inter-relationship of the circuitry and sensing members is necessary because of the interrelationship of the functions carried on at the various work stations in successive fashion. The functioning of the various sensors, the circuitry and the means of sensing the various factors are all within the ordinary skill of the art, and will not be dealt with herein since no inventive claim is laid thereto.
Devices like the one described and illustrated have been built wherein the complete cycle of revolution for either of the indexing tables 6 or 20 is approximately 24 seconds and on the basis that each table is provided with eight cooperating working members, e.g., retaining member and transfer spindle, a completed assemblage of valve and balloon is delivered at the ejection or removal station 24 of the device 2 every 3 seconds.
The device 2, of course, may be modified so as to increase or decrease the number of cooperating members in each of the indexing tables and may be utilized for the assembling of valves of various configuration and character differing from that illustrated herein merely by changing the shape of the retaining cup and/or spindle member. Likewise, the device may be easily converted merely by eliminating the work stations such as 14 and 16, the string stations and winding stations respectively, to thereby provide a device which may be used for the assembly of other inflatable articles such as beach balls and the like, with associated valve members similar or different than those described. All of these modifications, subtractions and additions will make themselves readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, all of which will not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention disclosed herein.
1. A device for assembly and insertion of two-element valve members into inflatable articles comprising: a first means to receive and carry the elements of said valve members through a plurality of stations; a first feeding means defining a first station to feed the first element of said valve, in the second-element-receiving position, to said first means in aligned relationship therewith; a second feeding and assembly means defining a second station to feed the second element of said valve in aligned relationship for assembly with said first element when said first means is aligned therewith and to assemble said first and second elements of said valve member a second means to receive the assembled valve from said first means at a transfer station and to carry it through an insertion station whereat it is inserted into said inflatable article and to a removal means defining a removal station to remove said inflatable article from said second means; and operatively associated drive and support means to support and drive all of said means in a synchronous successive-station manner.
2. The device in accordance with claim 1 wherein said first means comprises a primary indexing table having a plurality of spaced retaining cups mounted on the surface thereof each being adapted to retain said first element of said valve therein.
3. The device in accordance with claim 2 wherein said first feeder comprises a vibrationally actuated part-feeding bin feeding a plurality of said first valve elements in end-to-end relationship and includes means to provide one at a time positioning of said first element for placement into each of an aligned retaining cup.
4. The device in accordance with claim 3 wherein said first feeder includes means to place and position said first element in spaced vertical relationship from said cup and a vertically reciprocally mounted member positions said element in said cup.
5. The device in accordance with claim 4 wherein said second feeder is a vibrationally actuated part-feeding bin feeding a plurality of said second elements in end-to-end relationship and includes means to provide for one at a time element placement for subsequent association with said first element in said retaining cup.
6. The device in accordance with claim 5 wherein said second feeder includes means to place and position said second element in spaced vertical relationship from said first element retained in said cup and a second vertically reciprocated member positions said second element into seating engagement with said first element.
7. The device in accordance with claim 6 wherein said first element is a plunger member and said second element is a cylinder member said elements being made of a yieldable material.
8. The device in accordance with claim 7 wherein said vertically reciprocating members are air actuated piston and cylinder assemblages.
9. The device in accordance with claim 8 wherein said second means defining said transfer station is a secondary indexing table having a plurality of spaced spindles corresponding in number to said cups each of which are adapted for oneat-a-time friction fit insertion into each of said assembled valves to remove each of them from said cups at predetermined times.
10. The device in accordance with claim 9 wherein each of said spindles are spring biased and are positioned over each of said retaining members in synchronized manner and periodically actuated when in alignment therewith by a vertically and reciprocally mounted member to depress said spindle member into said assembled valve carried by said retaining member.
ll. The device in accordance with claim 10 wherein said inflatable article has a neck portion which is manually inserted over said depending valve as it is being carried through said in sertion station.
12. The device in accordance with claim ll wherein said removing means comprises a vertically movable member to disengage said spindle from frictional fit engagement with said valve to thereby free said inflatable article and drop it to a receiving position.
13. The device in accordance with claim 12 wherein said vertically movable member to disengage said spindle is air actuated.
14. The device in accordance with claim 12 wherein said first and second valve elements are of a friction fit character and are made of plastic and said second valve member is provided with a spool portion having an extending tab and a third work station intermediate said second station and said transfer station is provided said third station comprising a stapling means to securely staple a length of string to said tab.
15. The device in accordance with claim 14 including means to align said tab for proper placement with the anvil member of said stapling means.
16. The device in accordance with claim 15 wherein said stapling means includes a reciprocally operated cutter to cut selected lengths of string to thereby provide a string segment for the preceding assembled valve.
17. The device in accordance with claim 16 which additionally includes a fourth station intermediate said third station and said transfer station comprising winding means to wind said cut segment of string around the spool portion of said assembled valve element.
18. The device in accordance with claim 17 which includes a vertically movable winding motor and engaging shaft to engage said assembled valve and wind said string around said spool portion.
19. The device in accordance with claim 18 wherein said second means to receive the assembled valve is superposed over said first means to receive and carry the elements of said valve members through said plurality of stations.
20. The device in accordance with claim 19 which additionally includes sensing members to sense for the proper functioning of each of said work stations and to prohibit further successive functions unless the preceding functions have been performed satisfactorily.
21. Apparatus for filling-valve association with inflatable articles comprising: a first means to receive and carry said filling-valve through a plurality of stations, said means being rotatively mounted on support structure and adapted for index movement through a first circular path and said stations being located adjacent arc segments defined by said path; a feeding means operatively mounted on said support structure comprising a first station to intermittently feed said filling-valves to said first means; a second means rotatively mounted on said support structure in superposed relationship to said first means and adapted for synchronous index movement therewith through a second circular path and through a plurality of other work stations located adjacent are ac ments defined by said second path, said first and second pat overlapping to form a transferring point between said first and second means; means operatively associated with said support structure to effect transfer of said filling-valve from said first means to said second means and to carry said filling valve through an association station whereat an inflatable article is associated with said filling-valve; and operatively associated drive and energization means to effect synchronous timed operation of all of said means.
22. Apparatus in accordance with claim 21 wherein said second means carries said filling-valve and associated inflatable article to a removal station for removal thereof from said second means.
23. Apparatus in accordance with claim 22 wherein said feeding means at said first station feeds a first valve element and then a second valve element to form an assembled filling valve to be carried by said first means.
24. Apparatus in accordance with claim 23 wherein said second valve element is annular and is provided with a tab projection adapted to receive a stapled length of string.
25. Apparatus in accordance with claim 24 wherein said first means moves through a string stapling station comprising string stapling means to staple a length of string to said tab projection.
26. Apparatus in accordance with claim 25 wherein said first means moves through a string winding station comprising string winding means to wind said string around said annular second valve element.
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