|Publication number||US2930170 A|
|Publication date||29 Mar 1960|
|Filing date||29 Mar 1954|
|Priority date||29 Mar 1954|
|Publication number||US 2930170 A, US 2930170A, US-A-2930170, US2930170 A, US2930170A|
|Inventors||Holsman Henry T, Potts Lindley W|
|Original Assignee||Aseptic Food Fillers Inc|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (7), Referenced by (52), Classifications (15)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
March 29, 1960 I H. T. HOLSMAN ET AL 2,930,170
MEANS AND METHOD FOR ASEPTIC PACKAGING Filed March 29, 1954 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 5; V v 59 as 38 36 INVENTORS. HfiNAY T HoLsMe/v L/NDLEY W. Poms BY THE/l? flTTORNEKS. HHRR/S, KIL-ZCH, Fos TEJ? a HARRIS Unitfid StQIQS NIEANS AND METHOD FOR ASEPTIC PACKAGING Henry T. Holsman and Lindley W; Potts, Santa Barbara,
Calif., assignors to Aseptic Food Fillers, lnc., a corporation of California Application March 29, .1954, Serial No. 419,186
"8 Claims. (Cl; 53--37) This invention relates to. a filling head for containers, and a method of using the same to fill a closed, sterile container with an aseptic product.
In recentyears it has become conventional practice to aseptically can various food and other products, one
. commercial form of such conventional process and apchest by conventinoal capping equipment. In such conventional process, the canning equipment is quite. bulky, complicated, and expensive, and will handle only a small range of can sizes in the 400 neighborhood. By such conventional process it has not been possible to employ large containers of five-gallon or more capacity.
.It. is a primary object of our invention to provide a filling head for the aseptic packaging of food or other substances which is relatively small, inexpensive, and easy to use, and which may be employed to fill cn tainers of relatively large size, such as those of fivegallon or greater capacity.
It is an equally important object of the invention to provide a novel method of aseptic canning by which an aseptic food or other product may be packaged in a sealed, sterile container without contamination.
A further objection to the conventional canning process describedabove is that the equipment must include means for sterilizing cans located at the canning site,.thus requiring expensive can sterilization equipment as an integral part of the canning equipment. Our invention obviates this difiiculty by permitting the use of previously sterilized and sealed containers, which may be supplied to the canner by a centrally located can company and which may be stored for indefinite periods'in their sealed condition. pending use by the canner withoutdanger of contamination.
A further object of the invention is to provide a filling head having means for isolating a portion of a sealed container, sterilizing such isolated portion, puncturing the isolated portion and conveying an asepticizing product into the container through the opening made by the puncture, and then closing and sealing the opening, all while such isolated portion is maintained sterile, so as to prevent contamination of the product during the'filling operation.
Another object of the invention is to provide such a filling head which is adapted to receive and securely grip the tubular spout or neck of a container and having movable cutting means adapted to be operated to cut an openin'g in the neck while the same'isret'ainedin a predeter- Patented Mar. 29, 1960 2 mined position, so as to provide an opening through which a product may be conveyed into the container.
Still another object of the invention is 'to' provide in such a filling head a tubular cutter adapted to form the opening in the container and through which the product to be packaged is conveyed into the container.
-An'other object of the invention is to" provide in such a filling head means for cooling the product to be packaged before his conveyed into the container.
Other objects and advantages will be evident from the following specification and the drawings, 'whichare for the purpose of illustration only, and in which:
Fig. 1 is a vertical sectional view-of the filling head of our invention; i
Fig. 2 is a' cross-sectional view taken on the line 2 2 "of Fig. 1; and
Fig. 3 is a' cross-sectional view taken on the line 3-3 of Fig. '1.
In Fig. l of the drawings there is shown a filling head 10 of the invention positioned with a hollow cavity 11 of a lower body 12 surroundinga flexible neck 15 at- 'tached to the'top 16 of'a sealed aseptic container 17. This neck 15 has arelatively rigid or stilt top side wall 18 and a flat top portion '19, and is composed of'a thermoplastic resin such as polyvinyl chloride, polyvinyl acetate, methyl methacrylate, polyethylene or the like which can 'be heat-sealed relatively easily, and yet which is of a high enough molecular weight so as to-beable to withstand steam sterilization fora short period; 7
The cavity 11- within the body '12 is of a cylindrical shape, and has a top end 21 and a bottom end 22 which is provided with an outwardly extending internal flange 23 formed to fit over a complementary shaped member 24 upon the container top 16. If desired, a gasket of a rubber or other scalable material can be secured to either the member 24 or the flange 23 so that when the head 10 is placed upon the container 17 a tight joint can be obtained.
As is shown inFigs. 1 and 2 of the drawings, flat welders 26 are disposed in slots 27 on opposed sides of the cavity 11 within the body 12 and are connected externally of the body 12 by means of push rods 28 leading to air cylinders 29 which are designed to force the opposed edges 30 of the welders26 towards one another within the cavity 11 when actuated. Appropriate seals 31 are provided around the rods 28 within the body 12.
slots 37 on opposed sides of thecavity ll-and whichare connected externally of the body 12 by means of push rods 38 passing to air cylinders 39. These cylinders 39 are. designed so as to force the opposed edges 40 of the grippers 36 towards one another so as to hold the wall 18 of the container 17 in a fixed position. Both of the edges 40 are curved so as to be of the same shapeas the neck 15. Seals 41 of a standard variety are placed around the rods 38 within the body 1 2.
The top end 21 of the cavity 11 is provided with a reciprocating tubular cutter assembly 44, around which there is positioned a seal 45 within the body 12. -The lower portion 46 of this assembly 44 contains a centrally located tubular cutter 47 which is adapted to puncture the top portion 19, when the'assembly 44 is reciprocated,
to provide a filling opening, as by partially or completely 3 merely dropping into the container with the construction shown. Within the portion 46 there is located a filling passage 48 terminating in the area surrounded by the cutter 47. This passage 48 has adjacent to its top a valve seat 51 formed upon the portion 46. Side walls 52 of the portion 46 are provided with an inlet 53 and an outlet 54 for cooling passages 55 and 56 which are connected together at their lower extremities by passages 57 surrounding the filling passage 48 in the portion 46.
The upper portion 59 of the assembly 44 is provided with an inlet 60 for liquid or the like within the upper side wall 61 and with a top closure 63 surrounding a circular passage 64 which is aligned with the passage 48. This passage 64 is traversed by a cooling tube 66 having walls 67 defining an inner passage 68 and an outer passage 69 connected to an inlet 71 and an outlet 72, respectively. The lower end of the tube 66 is provided with a valve body 74 which seals the lower ends of the passages 68 and 69, except for small openings 75 connecting these passages, and which carries a flange 76. This flange 76 is adapted to coact with the valve seat 51 forming a fluid-tight joint. Guides 77 are connected to the body 74 for the purpose of governing movement of this body within the assembly 44.
In aseptic packaging with the filling head this head is positioned as shown in Fig. 1 of the drawings with respect to a container 17 and the grippers 36 are placed tightly against the neck of the container 17 by means of air pressure from a source (not shown) actuating the air cylinders 39, these grippers rigidly holding the container 17 and the head 10 in fixed positions with respect to one another. Then steam is introduced into the cavity 11 through a passage 79 from an inlet pipe 80 in order to sterilize the exposed items within the cavity 11 and the exposed parts of the cavity 11 itself. Inert gases and spent steam during this process are removed through another passage 31 and an outlet pipe 82.
Next, during the use of the head 10, the cutter assembly 44 is moved downward so as to cause the cutter 47 to form a filling opening in the top portion 19. At this point the cooling tube 66 is moved upward within the assembly 44, breaking the seal between the valve seat 51 and the flange 76, permitting material to flow from the inlet 60 into the container 17 under sterile conditions. During this iiow cooling water is continuously passed through the cooling tube 66 and through the passages 55 and 56 if the material being introduced into the container is hot, as from being pasteurized.
After the container 17 is filled, the cooling tube 66 is moved downward, forming a seal between the valve seat 51 and the flange 76, preventing the entry of further material into the container 1'7. Then the welders 26 are pressed against the neck 15 by means of air pressure introduced into the air cylinders 29, and the opposed sides of the neck 15 are held together while power is transmitted to the heating elements 33 to fuse the adjacent sides of the neck together. Obviously these heating elements can be preheated if desired. At this point the welders 26 and the grippers 36 are withdrawn by means of air pressure transmitted to the air cylinders 29 and 39. The head 10 is then removed from the container 17. If desired, the sealed flexible neck 15 can be placed internally of the container by the use of hand pressure for ease of packaging. the inverted neck.
Those skilled in the art will realize that a number of modifications can be made within the broad scope of the present disclosure. As an example of one such modification, a small cavity 84 in communication with a steam inlet 85 and a steam outlet 86 can be placed directly above the cutter assembly 84 so as to aid in keeping the portion of the cooling tube which is alternately removed from and projected into this assembly sterile. The var ious parts shown can obviously be changed in shape A cover may then be afiixed over r 4 Without departing from the essential teachings as to function as indicated herein. All such changes or modifications are to be considered as a part of the inventive concept insofar as they are defined by the appended claims.
We claim as our invention:
1. A filling head for a container, including: structure providing chamber means for receiving the closed tubular neck of a sealed container; means for introducing a sterilizing agent into said chamber means to render sterile the exterior of said tubular neck; means carried by said structure for gripping said tubular neck to retain the same in a desired predetermined position relative to said chamber means; means in said chamber means and carried by said structure for forming an opening in said tubular neck while the same is maintained sterile; means for introducing an aseptic product through said opening into the container while said tubular neck is maintained sterile; and means in said chamber means and carried by said structure for closing and sealing said opening while said tubular neck is maintained sterile.
2. A filling head for a sealed container having a tubular neck formed of plastic material, including: chamber means for receiving the tubular neck; means for introducing a sterilizing agent into said chamber means to render sterile the exterior of said tubular neck; means for forming an opening in the upper portion of said tubular neck while the same is maintained sterile; means for introducing an aseptic product through said opening and into the container while said tubular neck is maintained sterile; and means for pinching the walls of said neck together below said opening and sealing the same while said neck is maintained sterile.
3. A filling head for a sealed container having a tubular neck formed of plastic material, including: chamber means for receiving the tubular neck; means for introducing a sterilizing agent into said chamber means to render sterile the exterior of said tubular neck; reciprocable cutter means movable in said chamber means toward said tubular neck for forming an opening in the upper portion of said tubular neck while the same is maintained sterile; means for introducing an aseptic product through said opening and into the container while said tubular neck is maintained sterile; and reciprocable sealing means disposed in said chamber means and movable toward said tubular neck for pinching the walls of said neck together below said opening and sealing the same while said neck is maintained sterile.
4. A filling head for a sealed container having a tubular neck formed of plastic material, including: chamber means for receiving the tubular neck; means for introducing a sterilizing agent into said chamber means to render sterile the exterior of said tubular neck; means for forming an opening in the upper portion of said tubular neck while the same is maintained sterile; means for introducing an aseptic product through said opening and into the container while said tubular neck is maintained sterile; means for pinching the walls of said neck together below said opening; and heating means carried by said pinching means and adapted to heat said pinching means to a temperature sufiicient to seal said walls together so as to close said opening, while said neck is maintained sterile.
5. In a method of filling a sealed sterile container hav ing a heat scalable neck, the steps of: isolating the exterior of said neck; sterilizing the exterior of said neck; forming an opening in said neck while the same is maintained sterile; introducing an aseptic product through said opening and into said container while said neck is maintained sterile; and closing and heat sealing said neck below said opening while said neck is maintained sterile.
6. In a method of filling a sealed sterile container having a closed, flexible neck, the steps of: isolating the exterior of said neck; sterilizing the exterior of said neck; forming an opening in said neck while the same is maintained sterile; introducing a product through said opening and into said container while said neck is maintained sterile; closing and sealing said neck below said opening while said neck is maintained sterile; depressing said neck so that the same inverts into the container; and affixing a protective cover to said container over said neck.
7. In a method of packaging an aseptic product in a sealed, sterile container, the steps of: continuously exposing an exterior portion of the container to superheated steam so as to render such portion sterile; forming an opening in such portion while the same is maintained sterile by said steam; introducing an aseptic product through said opening and into the container while said portion is maintained sterile by said steam; and closing and heat sealing said opening while said portion is main tained sterile by said steam.
8. A filling head for a sealed container having a tubular neck formed of heat sealable plastic material, including: chamber means for receiving the tubular neck; means for introducing a sterilizing agent into said chamber means to render sterile the exterior of said tubular neck; means for forming an opening in the upper portion ofsaid tubular neck while the same is maintained sterile; means for introducing an aseptic product through said opening and into the container while said tubular neck is maintained sterile; means for pinching the walls of said neck together below said opening; and heating means I carried by said pinching means and adapted to seal said walls together so as to close said opening, while said neck is maintained sterile.
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|U.S. Classification||53/426, 53/268, 53/477, 53/375.3, 53/374.8, 53/88, 53/468|
|International Classification||B65B55/04, B65B31/04, B65B55/10, B65B31/08|
|Cooperative Classification||B65B31/08, B65B55/10|
|European Classification||B65B55/10, B65B31/08|