(19)
(11)EP 3 487 329 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
02.09.2020 Bulletin 2020/36

(21)Application number: 17754813.8

(22)Date of filing:  18.07.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A24F 40/70(2020.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/NL2017/050484
(87)International publication number:
WO 2018/016950 (25.01.2018 Gazette  2018/04)

(54)

SIMULATED CIGARETTE PARTS REORIENTING APPARATUS

VORRICHTUNG ZUR NEUAUSRICHTUNG SIMULIERTER ZIGARETTENTEILE

APPAREIL DE RÉORIENTATION DE PARTIES DE CIGARETTE SIMULÉE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 20.07.2016 NL 2017196

(43)Date of publication of application:
29.05.2019 Bulletin 2019/22

(73)Proprietor: Sluis Cigar Machinery B.V.
8263 BC Kampen (NL)

(72)Inventor:
  • SLURINK, Oscar
    8141 AJ Heino (NL)

(74)Representative: EP&C 
P.O. Box 3241
2280 GE Rijswijk
2280 GE Rijswijk (NL)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2012/077147
DE-A1- 3 728 291
US-A1- 2015 083 550
WO-A1-2016/105191
US-A- 3 119 482
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    Field of the invention



    [0001] The present invention relates to a reorienting device for reorienting simulated cigarette parts (also: parts) relative to a product carrier in which they are supported to a predetermined orientation. The parts are received from a first track, reoriented and delivered to a second track in the predetermined orientation relative to the product carrier. The present invention also relates to a method of reorienting simulated cigarette parts.

    Background of the invention



    [0002] In a manufacturing process of parts of a simulated cigarette (or e-cigarette) various processing operations generally need to be carried out on the parts. The parts are generally carried by a product carrier. The parts may be relatively small and may be quite fragile. The processing operations may need to be carried out in a specific way.

    [0003] In the present invention it was recognized that the possibilities of controlling the position and orientation of these parts relative to the product carrier during the various processing steps in an assembly line are limited. In particular, the orientation of the parts may be random during the conveying of the parts through an assembly line, and this may seriously hinder a processing operation. For instance, the parts may simply have a wrong orientation so that it becomes impossible to carry out the processing operation.

    [0004] WO 2012/077147 A1 discloses a series of article-handling machines comprising a common first rotating element rotatable about an axis, wherein each article-handling machine comprises a carousel for conveying a plurality of articles along a path and a first connecting element which is angularly integral with carousel and is releasably connected to first rotating element.

    [0005] DE 37 28 291 A1 discloses a process and apparatus for arranging and holding a plurality of pack units in a common receiving container. Individual bottles are to be placed and held in the compartments of the bottle case in such a rotary position that the label remains visible on the outside.

    Object of the invention



    [0006] It is an object of the invention to provide a reorienting device which reorients simulated cigarette parts which are carried by a product carrier in an assembly line from a first orientation to a second, predetermined orientation. The first orientation may be a random orientation.

    [0007] It is yet another objective to provide a device that continuously performs the reorientation of the simulated cigarette parts, and does so in a reliable manner.

    [0008] The same objects apply to the methods according to the invention.

    Summary of the invention



    [0009] In order to achieve at least one of the mentioned objects, the invention relates to a reorienting device for reorienting simulated cigarette parts which are carried by a product carrier about a vertical product axis from a first angular orientation to a second, predetermined orientation relative to said product carrier, the reorienting device comprising:
    • a main vertical rotation axis;
    • a first cam track extending at least partially around the main vertical rotation axis;
    • a rotary carrousel configured to rotate about the main vertical rotation axis, the rotary carrousel comprising;

      ∘ a rotary support frame;

      ∘ a plurality of reorienting units connected to the rotary support frame and arranged in a circular configuration when viewed in top view, each reorienting unit comprising an engagement member, wherein each engagement member is configured to engage the simulated cigarette part and to reorient it about the vertical product axis, wherein each reorienting unit comprises a first section which is rotatable relative to the rotary support frame about a vertical unit axis and is movable in a vertical direction between an upper position and a lower position, the upper position being a retracted position and the lower position being an engagement position;

      ∘ a plurality of transmission mechanisms connected to the rotary support frame, each transmission mechanism being associated with a respective reorienting unit, each transmission mechanism comprising a cam which moves along the first cam track during the rotation of the rotary support frame, wherein the transmission mechanisms convert a movement of the cam into a rotation of the first section of the reorienting unit about the vertical unit axis relative to the rotary support frame;

    • a moving device for moving the product carriers, the moving device comprising:

      ∘ a circular track located underneath the reorienting units and configured to guide the product carriers holding the simulated cigarette parts;

      ∘ a plurality of product carrier movers for moving the product carriers along the circular track underneath the reorienting units,

    • a second cam track configured to vertically displace the first section of the reorienting units.


    [0010] The present invention was found to provide a reliable and effective way of reorienting the products in their product carriers.

    [0011] In an embodiment, the first section of the reorienting unit is movable between an upper position and a lower position and the second section is fixed in a direction of the unit axis.

    [0012] In an embodiment, the resilient member of the reorienting unit vertically displaces the first section and biases the first section in a downward direction.

    [0013] In an embodiment, the first cam track has a varying radius R relative to the main axis of rotation causing a radial movement of the cam when the cam travels along the first cam track during the rotary movement of the rotary carrousel.

    [0014] In an embodiment, each transmission mechanism comprises a transmission gear which is attached to the cam. Each reorienting unit comprises an actuating gear. The actuating gear extends around the unit axis and engages the transmission gear of the transmission mechanism. A radial movement of the cam results in a movement of the transmission gear. The movement of the transmission gear results in turn in a movement of the actuating gear.

    [0015] In an embodiment, the second cam track comprises:
    • an upward slope section wherein each reorienting unit arrives at an upstream end of the upward slope section in a lower position and in an engaged state with a simulated cigarette part, wherein the reorienting units engage the upward slope section and are moved upwards by the upward slope section, thereby causing a disengagement of the reorienting units from the simulated cigarette parts;
    • a downward slope section located downstream from the upward slope section. The downward slope section displaces the first section of each reorienting unit in a downward direction. This makes it possible to engage the first section of each reorienting unit with a next simulated cigarette part.


    [0016] In an embodiment, the second cam track further comprises a substantially horizontal section located downstream from the upward slope section and upstream from the downward slope section, wherein the reorienting units arrive at the substantially horizontal section after having been moved upward by the upward slope section, wherein the first section of each reorienting unit is in the upper position when travelling along the substantially horizontal section.

    [0017] In an embodiment, the first cam track extends in a plane substantially perpendicular to the main vertical rotation axis.

    [0018] In an embodiment, the first and second cam tracks are stationary.

    [0019] In an embodiment, the first cam track is endless.

    [0020] In an embodiment, the second cam track extends along a part of the trajectory of the reorienting units.

    [0021] The rotary carrousel may make a continuous movement, in particular a rotary movement.

    [0022] In an embodiment, each engagement member is provided at the lower end of the respective reorienting unit and engages an upper side of the simulated cigarette part.

    [0023] In an embodiment, the first section comprises the engagement member which comprises a first mating part configured to engage a second mating part provided at the upper side of the simulated cigarette part.

    [0024] In an embodiment, the first mating part comprises a male or female centering part configured to concentrically align the engagement member with the simulated cigarette part, wherein a center of the first mating part is located on the vertical unit axis, and wherein the centering part protrudes beyond one or more side protrusions, which one or more side protrusions extend radially outward from the vertical unit axis.

    [0025] In an embodiment, the male or female centering part is conical.

    [0026] In an embodiment, the first section has the engagement member which in turn has a protrusion which engages a mating shape provided in the upper side of the simulated cigarette part.

    [0027] In an embodiment, the first angular orientation of the simulated cigarette parts is arbitrary and the engagement member:
    • engages the simulated cigarette part and
    • slides over the upper surface of the simulated cigarette part in a rotary manner until it fits into the mating shape of the simulated cigarette part, and
    • subsequently presses into the mating shape by the force of the resilient member, and
    • subsequently rotates the simulated cigarette part relative to the product carrier to the second, predetermined orientation.


    [0028] In an embodiment, the second angular orientation is a predetermined orientation.

    [0029] In an embodiment, the product carrier movers maintain the angular position of the product carriers when the simulated cigarette parts which are held by the product carriers are reoriented.

    [0030] The present invention further relates to a method for reorienting simulated cigarette parts, the method comprising:
    • feeding product carriers to the track of the reorienting device, and moving the product carriers along said track, wherein each product carrier carries a simulated cigarette part;
    • engaging the simulated cigarette part with the engagement member of the first section of each reorienting unit by a downward movement of the first section of the reorienting unit, and;
    • rotating the simulated cigarette part relative to the product carrier by a rotary movement of the reorienting unit.


    [0031] In an embodiment of the method:
    • each cam is moved along the first cam track during the rotary movement of the carrousel, wherein the first cam track has a varying radius R causing a radial movement of the cam when the cam travels along the first cam track;
    • each transmission gear attached to its respective cam rotates about its axis when the cam moves radially and engages the actuating gear of the reorienting unit and rotates the reorienting unit;


    [0032] In an embodiment of the method, the vertical displacement of the first section of the reorienting units comprises the steps:
    1. a) moving the reorienting unit by the rotary support frame, wherein the first section of the reorienting unit is in the lower position and is engaged with a simulated cigarette part;
    2. b) moving the reorienting unit along the upward slope section of the second cam track, wherein the first section of each reorienting unit is moved upward and disengages from the simulated cigarette part;
    3. c) moving the reorienting unit along the substantially horizontal section of the second cam track, wherein the first section of each reorienting unit is in the upper position and not engaged with any simulated cigarette part;
    4. d) moving the reorienting unit along the downward slope section, wherein the first section of each reorienting unit is vertically displaced in a downward direction as it moves along the downward slope section and engages a new simulated cigarette part;
    5. e) moving the reorienting unit further along the track and rotating the reorienting unit, thereby reorienting the simulated cigarette part relative to the product carrier.


    [0033] In an embodiment of the method step e) entails pressing the protrusion into a recess of the simulated cigarette part due to the force of the resilient member, thereby reaching the lowest position of the first section of the reorienting unit.

    [0034] In an embodiment of the method the first angular orientation of the simulated cigarette parts is arbitrary and the engagement member engages the simulated cigarette part carried by a product carrier, the method comprising:
    • sliding the engagement member over the upper surface of the simulated cigarette part in a rotary manner until the engagement member fits into the mating shape of the simulated cigarette part, and
    • pressing the engagement member into the mating shape by the force of the resilient member, and
    • subsequently rotating the simulated cigarette part relative to the product carrier.


    [0035] In an embodiment of the method the vertical displacement of the first section of the reorienting units takes place during the rotary movement of the reorienting units about the main vertical rotation axis.

    [0036] These and other aspects of the invention will be more readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description and considered in connection with the accompanying drawings in which like reference symbols designate like parts.

    Brief description of the figures



    [0037] 

    Figure 1 shows a general isometric view of an embodiment of the invention.

    Figure 2 shows an isometric view of an embodiment of the invention with a horizontal cross-section through the first cam track.

    Figure 3 shows an isometric view of the rotary support frame with a transmission mechanism and a reorienting unit.

    Figure 4 shows a schematic view of the simulated cigarette parts in the product carriers being engaged, reoriented and disengaged with the engagement member of the reorienting unit.

    Figure 5 shows an isometric view and a cross-sectional view of a transmission mechanism and a reorienting unit.

    Figure 6 shows a schematic view of the simulated cigarette parts in the product carriers being reoriented from a first, arbitrary orientation to a second, predetermined orientation.

    Figure 7 shows an isometric view of an embodiment of the invention, in particular the second cam track.

    Figure 8 shows an isometric view of the second cam track.

    Figure 9 shows an isometric view of the moving device with a product carrier holding a simulated cigarette part, with a reorienting device being engaged with the simulated cigarette part.

    Figure 10 shows a top view of an embodiment of the invention.

    Figures 11A and 11B show a schematic view of embodiments of the engagement member.

    Figures 11C and 11D show a schematic view of embodiments of mating parts.


    Detailed description of the figures



    [0038] Turning to figures 1 and 6, a simulated cigarette part reorienting device 10 is shown for reorienting simulated cigarette parts 12 which are carried by a product carrier 14. The simulated cigarette parts 12 are reoriented about a vertical product axis 16 from a first angular orientation 18 to a second, predetermined orientation 20 relative to said product carrier.

    [0039] The product carriers carrying the parts are transported along a track starting at entrance 90 and ending at exit 92. The product carriers are guided by the conveyors 94, 96, 97 and 98 in the direction indicated by the arrows 91. The reorienting device is located downstream from conveyor 97 and upstream from conveyor 98. The tracks are supported by the track support frame 100.

    [0040] The reorienting device has a first cam track 22 (shown in figure 2) extending around a main vertical rotation axis 24 and having a varying radius R. The cam track is supported by a cam track support 34. Due to the varying radius R, cams 52 following the cam track move radially during the rotary movement of a rotary carrousel 30. The rotary carrousel rotates about the main vertical rotation axis and comprises a rotary support frame 32 configured to rotate about the main vertical rotation axis.

    [0041] The first cam track 22 has a varying radius R relative to the main vertical rotation axis 24. The varying radius R causes a radial movement of the cam 52 when the cam travels along the first cam track during the rotary movement of the rotary carrousel. The first cam track is also endless and extends in a plane substantially perpendicular to the main vertical rotation axis 24.

    [0042] Turning to figures 1, 2 and 8, a second cam track 70 is provided around a trajectory of the circular track 62. The second cam track 70 induces a vertical displacement of the first section of the reorienting units 40. Both the first cam track 22 and the second cam track are stationary.

    [0043] Figure 3 shows the rotary carrousel 30. A plurality of reorienting units 40 are connected to the rotary support frame 32. Although only one reorienting unit is shown, the skilled person will understand that the invention comprises a plurality of reorienting units. They are arranged in a circular configuration when viewed in top view. Each reorienting unit 40 projects downward from the rotary support frame through an opening in the rotary support frame.

    [0044] Each reorienting unit 40 is constructed with a second section 45 which is fixed in vertical direction relative to the rotary support frame 32.

    [0045] The rotary carrousel 30 further comprises a plurality of transmission mechanisms 50 connected to the rotary support frame 32. Figure 3 only shows one transmission mechanism, but the skilled person will understand that the invention discloses a plurality of transmission mechanisms. Each transmission mechanism is associated with a reorienting unit 40. The transmission mechanism comprises a cam 52 which moves along the first cam track 22 during the rotation of the rotary support frame. The transmission mechanism converts a movement of the cam into a rotation of the first section 44 of the reorienting unit about the vertical unit axis relative to the rotary support frame.

    [0046] The transmission mechanism 50 as shown in figure 3 and 5 comprises a transmission gear 54 which is attached to the cam 52. Each reorienting unit comprises an actuating gear 41 which extends around the unit axis and engages the transmission gear of the transmission mechanism. A radial movement of the cam results in a movement of the transmission gear. This will result in turn in a movement of the actuating gear.

    [0047] Turning to figure 4, each reorienting unit 40 consists of an engagement member 42 which engages the simulated cigarette part. The engagement member may comprise a protrusion 80 and/or a recess. After engaging the simulated cigarette part, the engagement member reorients it about the vertical product axis 16 relative to the product carrier. The reorienting unit itself comprises a first section 44 that rotates about a vertical unit axis 46 relative to the rotary support frame. The first section can move in a vertical direction between an upper position 48 and a lower position 49. The upper position is a retracted position and the lower position is an engagement position.

    [0048] Each engagement member 42 is provided at the lower end of the respective reorienting unit 40. The first section of the reorienting unit comprises the said engagement member. An upper side of the simulated cigarette parts comprises a mating shape. This may be a protrusion or a recess, or a combination. In case of a recess, the engagement member comprises a mating protrusion 80. The protrusion then engages and fit in the mating shape of the simulated cigarette part during operation.

    [0049] Figure 4 shows a schematic view of the vertical movement of the first section, wherein figures 4A and 4H depict the upper position and figures 4D-4G depict the lower, engagement position. In figure 4B and 4C the first section is also engaged, but not in its lower position. The skilled person will understand that the reorienting units are configured in a circular manner instead of the linear representation of figure 4.

    [0050] Figure 4A shows the reorienting unit 40 in the upper position 48. Figure 4B shows the engagement member 42, the protrusion 80 in contact with the upper side of the simulated cigarette part. From figure 4B to figure 4C, the protrusion slides over the upper side of the part carried by the product carrier in a rotary manner. The protrusion keeps on rotating and sliding over the upper side until the protrusion is positioned exactly above the mating shape 82, in this case a recess. The resilient member 47 (figure 5) forces the protrusion into the mating shape. This is shown in figure 4D and the first section 44 of the reorienting unit is in the lower position 49.

    [0051] Figures 11A-11D show more generally a first mating part 81 provided on the engagement member 42. In figure 11A the first mating part 81 is a protruding part, whereas the first mating part 81 in figure 11B is a recess. Both configurations are possible, as long as the simulated cigarette part has a second mating part 83 at an upper side thereof which mates with the first mating part. If the first mating part 81 is protruding, then the second mating part 83 has at least a recess to accommodate the protruding part of the fist mating part 81, or vice versa.

    [0052] Figure 11A further shows the first mating shape 81 comprising a male or female centering part 84 configured to concentrically align the engagement member with the simulated cigarette part. This speeds up the engagement of the engagement member with the simulated cigarette part. It also increases the reliability. A center 85 of the first mating shape is located on the vertical unit axis 46. The centering part 84 protrudes beyond one or more side protrusions 86, in the shown embodiment beyond two side protrusions 86. The side protrusions 86 extend radially outward from the vertical unit axis 46. The male or female centering part is conical.

    [0053] Next the reorienting unit, and thus the protrusion rotates due to the varying radius R of the first cam track 52. Figures 4D to 4G show the reorienting of the simulated cigarette part. Figure 4G also shows the second, predetermined orientation 20 of the part carried by the product carrier. With the part in the second, predetermined orientation, the reorienting unit arrives upstream from the upward slope section 72 of the second cam track 70, see figure 1. Due to the upward slope section the engagement member moves upwards and disengages the simulated cigarette part. This is shown in figure 4H. At this stage the part is in the second, predetermined orientation and the first section of the reorienting unit is in the upper position.

    [0054] Turning to figures 4 and 5, the reorienting unit 40 comprises a first section 44 which moves between an upper position 48 and a lower position 49. A resilient member 47 in the form of a helical spring is provided in the reorienting unit and vertically displaces the first section and biases the first section in a downward direction. The resilient member acts on a second section 45 of the reorienting unit. The second section is fixed in the direction of a vertical unit axis 46.

    [0055] Turning to figures 9 and 10, the reorienting device further comprises a moving device 60 for moving the product carriers. The moving device consists of a circular track 62 that is located underneath the reorienting units 40 and guides the product carriers 14 holding the simulated cigarette parts. The moving device comprises a plurality of product carrier movers 64 which move the product carriers along the said circular track underneath the reorienting units. The product carrier movers 64 are provided in a body which resembles a gear.

    [0056] The product carriers are supported by the circular track 62 and are only pushed forward in a horizontal direction by the moving device.

    [0057] The product carrier movers 64 maintain the angular position of the product carriers during the reorientation of the simulated cigarette part. The simulated cigarette parts are held by the product carriers.

    [0058] The second cam track 70 as shown in figure 8 consists of an upward slope 72, a substantially horizontal section 76 and a downward slope section 74. The reorienting units arrive at an upstream end of the upward slope section in the lower position 49 and in an engaged state with a simulated cigarette part. Subsequently, the reorienting units engage the upward slope section and are displaced upwards by the upward slope section. This causes a disengagement of the reorienting units from the simulated cigarette parts. The reorienting units are then guided over the substantially horizontal section located downstream from the upward slope section and upstream from the downward slope section.

    [0059] During the movement along the substantially horizontal section the first section of the reorienting units are in the upper position. At the downward slope section, downstream from the substantially horizontal section, the first section of the reorienting units is vertically displaced in a downward direction as it travels along the downward slope section. This makes it possible to engage the first section of each reorienting unit with a next simulated cigarette part.

    [0060] The first cam track 22 extends in a plane which is substantially perpendicular to the main vertical rotation axis 24. The first cam track may be also stationary and/or endless. The second cam track is also stationary. However, the second cam track extends along a part of a trajectory of the reorienting units.

    [0061] The rotary carrousel is intended to make a continuous movement in particular a rotary movement. This has the advantage of a high production rate.

    Operation



    [0062] In operation the following steps are carried out:
    • feeding product carriers to the (circular) track of the reorienting device, and moving the product carriers along said track, wherein each product carrier carries a simulated cigarette part;
    • engaging the simulated cigarette part with the engagement member of the first section of each reorienting unit by a downward movement of the first section of the reorienting unit, and;
    • rotating the simulated cigarette part relative to the product carrier by a rotary movement of the reorienting unit to the second, predetermined orientation.


    [0063] In the abovementioned steps:
    • each cam is moved along the first cam track during the rotary movement of the carrousel, wherein the first cam track has a varying radius R causing a radial movement of the cam when the cam travels along the first cam track;
    • each transmission gear attached to its respective cam rotates about its axis when the cam moves radially and engages the actuating gear of the reorienting unit and rotates the reorienting unit;


    [0064] In operation the vertical displacement of the first section of the reorienting unit involves the steps:
    1. a) moving the reorienting unit by the rotary support frame, wherein the first section of the reorienting unit is in the lower position and is engaged with a simulated cigarette part;
    2. b) moving the reorienting unit along the upward slope section of the second cam track, wherein the first section of each reorienting unit is moved upward and disengages from the simulated cigarette part;
    3. c) moving the reorienting unit along the substantially horizontal section of the second cam track, wherein the first section of each reorienting unit is in the upper position and not engaged with any simulated cigarette part;
    4. d) moving the reorienting unit along the downward slope section, wherein the first section of each reorienting unit is vertically displaced in a downward direction as it moves along the downward slope section and engages a new simulated cigarette part;
    5. e) moving the reorienting unit further along the track and rotating the reorienting unit, and subsequently reorienting the simulated cigarette part.


    [0065] The abovementioned step e) comprises pressing the protrusion into a recess of the simulated cigarette part. The pressing is achieved due to the force of the resilient member. Thereby the lowest position of the first section of the reorienting unit is reached. In case the engagement member has a recess and the simulated cigarette part has a protrusion, a skilled person will understand the recess is pressed over the protrusion.

    [0066] In operation, the first angular orientation of the simulated cigarette parts is arbitrary. The engagement member engages the simulated cigarette part carried by a product carrier. After engaging, the simulated cigarette part is rotated relative to the product carrier. So the following steps are carried out:
    • sliding the engagement member over the upper surface of the simulated cigarette part in a rotary manner until the engagement member fits into or over a mating shape of the simulated cigarette part, and
    • pressing the engagement member into or over the mating shape by the force of the resilient member, and
    • subsequently rotating the simulated cigarette part relative to the product carrier.


    [0067] During the rotary movement of the reorienting units about the main vertical rotation axis, the first section of the reorienting units is displaced vertically.

    [0068] It will be recognised that an embodiment may not achieve all of the stated objects.

    [0069] As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention, which can be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed structure. Further, the terms and phrases used herein are not intended to be limiting, but rather, to provide an understandable description of the invention.

    [0070] The terms "a" or "an", as used herein, defined as one or more than one. The term plurality, as used herein, is defined as two or more than two. The term another, as used herein, is defined as at least a second or more. The terms including and/or having, as used herein, are defined as comprising (i.e., open language, not excluding other elements or steps). Any reference signs in the claims should not be construed as limiting the scope of the claims or the invention.

    [0071] The mere fact that certain measures are recited in mutually different dependent claims does not indicate that a combination of these measures cannot be used to advantage.


    Claims

    1. Reorienting device (10) for reorienting simulated cigarette parts (12) which are carried by a product carrier (14) about a vertical product axis (16) from a first angular orientation (18) to a second, predetermined orientation (20) relative to said product carrier, wherein the device comprises:

    - a main vertical rotation axis (24);

    - a first cam track (22) extending at least partially around the main vertical rotation axis (24);

    - a rotary carrousel (30) configured to rotate about the main vertical rotation axis, the rotary carrousel comprising;

    ∘ a rotary support frame (32);

    ∘ a plurality of reorienting units (40) connected to the rotary support frame and arranged in a circular configuration when viewed in top view, each reorienting unit comprising an engagement member (42), wherein each engagement member is configured to engage the simulated cigarette part and to reorient it about a vertical product axis, wherein each reorienting unit comprises a first section (44) which is rotatable relative to the rotary support frame about a vertical unit axis (46) and is movable in a vertical direction between an upper position (48) and a lower position (49), the upper position being a retracted position and the lower position being an engagement position;

    ∘ a plurality of transmission mechanisms (50) connected to the rotary support frame, each transmission mechanism being associated with a respective reorienting unit, each transmission mechanism comprising a cam (52) which moves along the first cam track during the rotation of the rotary support frame, wherein the transmission mechanisms convert a movement of the cam into a rotation of the first section of the reorienting unit about the vertical unit axis relative to the rotary support frame;

    - a moving device (60) for moving the product carriers, the moving device comprising:

    ∘ a circular track (62) located underneath the reorienting units and configured to guide the product carriers which hold the simulated cigarette parts;

    ∘ a plurality of product carrier movers (64) for moving the product carriers along the circular track underneath the reorienting units,

    - a second cam track (70) configured to vertically displace the first section of the reorienting units.


     
    2. Reorienting device according to claim 1, wherein the reorienting unit comprises:

    - the first section (44) which is movable between an upper position and a lower position and a second section (45) which is fixed in a direction of the vertical unit axis;

    - a resilient member (47) configured to vertically displace the first section and to bias the first section in a downward direction.


     
    3. Reorienting device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the first cam track has a varying radius (R) relative to the main axis of rotation configured to cause a radial movement of the cam when the cam travels along the first cam track during the rotary movement of the rotary carrousel.
     
    4. Reorienting device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein each transmission mechanism comprises a transmission gear (54) which is attached to the cam, and wherein each reorienting unit comprises an actuating gear (41) which extends around the unit axis and engages the transmission gear (54) of the transmission mechanism.
     
    5. Reorienting device according to claim 4, wherein a radial movement of the cam results in a movement of the transmission gear, and results in turn in a movement of the actuating gear.
     
    6. Reorienting device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the second cam track (70) comprises:

    - an upward slope section (72), wherein each reorienting unit is configured to arrive at an upstream end of the upward slope section in a lower position and in an engaged state with a simulated cigarette part, wherein the reorienting units are configured to engage the upward slope section and are moved upwards by the upward slope section, thereby causing a disengagement of the reorienting units from the simulated cigarette part;

    - a downward slope section (74) located downstream from the upward slope section, wherein the downward slope section is configured to displace the first section of each reorienting unit in a downward direction in order to engage the first section of each reorienting unit with a next simulated cigarette part.


     
    7. Reorienting device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the first and second cam tracks are stationary.
     
    8. Reorienting device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the rotary carrousel is configured to make a continuous movement, in particular a rotary movement.
     
    9. Reorienting device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the first section comprises the engagement member which comprises a first mating part (81) configured to engage a second mating part (83) provided at the upper side of the simulated cigarette part.
     
    10. Reorienting device according to the previous claim, wherein the first mating part comprises a male or female centering part (84) configured to concentrically align the engagement member with the simulated cigarette part, wherein a center (85) of the first mating part is located on the vertical unit axis (46), and wherein the centering part protrudes beyond one or more side protrusions (86), which one or more side protrusions extend radially outward from the vertical unit axis (46).
     
    11. Reorienting device according to the previous claim, wherein the male or female centering part is conical.
     
    12. Reorienting device according to any of the claims 9-11, wherein the first section comprises the engagement member which comprises a protrusion (80) configured to engage the mating shape (82) provided in the upper side of the simulated cigarette part.
     
    13. Reorienting device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the first angular orientation of the simulated cigarette parts is arbitrary and wherein the engagement member is configured to:

    - engage simulated cigarette part and

    - slide over the upper surface of the simulated cigarette part in a rotary manner until it fits into or over the mating shape of the simulated cigarette part, and to

    - subsequently be pressed into or over the mating shape by the force of the resilient member, and to

    - subsequently rotate the simulated cigarette part relative to the product carrier.


     
    14. Reorienting device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the product carrier movers are constructed to maintain the angular position of the product carriers when the simulated cigarette parts which are held by the product carriers are reoriented.
     
    15. Method for reorienting simulated cigarette parts, the method comprising:

    - feeding product carriers to the track of the reorienting device according to any of the preceding claims, and moving the product carriers along said track, wherein each product carrier carries a simulated cigarette part;

    - engaging the simulated cigarette part with the engagement member of the first section of a reorienting unit by a downward movement of the first section of the reorienting unit, and;

    - rotating the simulated cigarette part relative to the product carrier by a rotary movement of the reorienting unit to the second, predetermined orientation.


     


    Ansprüche

    1. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung (10) zum Neuorientieren simulierter Zigarettenteile (12), die durch einen Produktträger (14) geführt werden, um eine vertikale Produktachse (16) von einer ersten Winkelorientierung (18) in eine zweite vorgegebenen Orientierung (20) in Bezug auf den Produktträger, wobei die Vorrichtung Folgendes umfasst:

    - eine vertikale Hauptrotationsachse (24);

    - eine erste Nockenbahn (22), die mindestens teilweise um die vertikale Hauptrotationsachse (24) verläuft;

    - ein Drehkarussell (30), das konfiguriert ist, sich um die vertikale Hauptdrehachse zu drehen, wobei das Drehkarussell Folgendes umfasst:

    ∘ einen drehenden Tragrahmen (32);

    ∘ mehrere Neuorientierungseinheiten (40), die mit dem drehenden Tragrahmen verbunden sind und in einer Draufsicht in einer kreisförmigen Konfiguration angeordnet sind, wobei jede Neuorientierungseinheit ein Eingriffselement (42) umfasst, jedes Eingriffselement konfiguriert ist, mit dem simulierten Zigarettenteil in Eingriff zu sein und ihn um eine vertikale Produktachse neu zu orientieren, jede Neuorientierungseinheit einen ersten Abschnitt (44) umfasst, der in Bezug auf den drehbaren Tragrahmen um eine vertikale Einheitsachse (46) drehbar ist und in einer Vertikalrichtung zwischen einer oberen Stellung (48) und einer unteren Stellung (49) beweglich ist, die obere Stellung eine eingezogene Stellung ist und die untere Stellung eine Eingriffsstellung ist; und

    ∘ mehrere Übertragungsmechanismen (50), die mit dem drehenden Tragrahmen verbunden sind, wobei jeder Übertragungsmechanismus mit einer entsprechenden Neuorientierungseinheit verbunden ist, jeder Übertragungsmechanismus einen Nocken (52) umfasst, der sich während der Drehung des drehenden Tragrahmens entlang der ersten Nockenbahn bewegt, und die Übertragungsmechanismen eine Bewegung des Nockens in eine Drehung des ersten Abschnitts der Neuorientierungseinheit um die vertikale Einheitsachse in Bezug auf den drehenden Tragrahmen umwandeln;

    - eine Bewegungsvorrichtung (60) zum Bewegen der Produktträger, wobei die Bewegungsvorrichtung Folgendes umfasst:

    ∘ eine kreisförmige Bahn (62), die sich unter den Neuorientierungseinheiten befindet und konfiguriert ist, die Produktträger, die die simulierten Zigarettenteile halten, zu leiten; und

    ∘ mehrere Produktträgerbewegungseinrichtungen (64) zum Bewegen der Produktträger entlang der kreisförmigen Bahn unter den Neuorientierungseinheiten, und

    - eine zweite Nockenbahn (70), die konfiguriert ist, den ersten Abschnitt der Neuorientierungseinheiten vertikal zu versetzen.


     
    2. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Neuorientierungseinheit Folgendes umfasst:

    - den ersten Abschnitt (44), der zwischen einer oberen Stellung und einer unteren Stellung beweglich ist, und einen zweiten Abschnitt (45), der in einer Richtung der vertikalen Einheitsachse fest ist; und

    - ein elastisches Element (47), das konfiguriert ist, den ersten Abschnitt vertikal zu versetzen und den ersten Abschnitt in einer Abwärtsrichtung vorzubelasten.


     
    3. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die erste Nockenbahn einen in Bezug auf die Hauptdrehachse variierenden Radius (R) besitzt, der konfiguriert ist, eine Radialbewegung des Nockens zu bewirken, wenn der Nocken sich während der Drehbewegung des Drehkarussells entlang der ersten Nockenbahn bewegt.
     
    4. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei jeder Übertragungsmechanismus ein Übertragungszahnrad (54) umfasst, das am Nocken angebracht ist, und wobei jede Neuorientierungseinheit ein Betätigungszahnrad (41) umfasst, das um die Einheitsachse verläuft und mit dem Übertragungszahnrad (54) des Übertragungsmechanismus in Eingriff ist.
     
    5. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 4, wobei eine Radialbewegung des Nockens in einer Bewegung des Übertragungszahnrads resultiert und wiederum in einer Bewegung des Betätigungszahnrads resultiert.
     
    6. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die zweite Nockenbahn (70) Folgendes umfasst:

    - einen Aufwärtsneigungsabschnitt (72), wobei jede Neuorientierungseinheit konfiguriert ist, bei einem stromaufseitigen Ende des Aufwärtsneigungsabschnitts in einer unteren Stellung und in einem in Eingriff befindlichen Zustand mit dem simulierten Zigarettenteil anzukommen, und die Neuorientierungseinheiten konfiguriert sind, mit dem Aufwärtsneigungsabschnitt in Eingriff zu gelangen, und über den Aufwärtsneigungsabschnitt nach oben bewegt werden, wodurch ein Lösen der Neuorientierungseinheiten vom simulierten Zigarettenteil bewirkt wird; und

    - einen Abwärtsneigungsabschnitt (74), der sich stromabwärts des Aufwärtsneigungsabschnitts befindet, wobei der Abwärtsneigungsabschnitt konfiguriert ist, den ersten Abschnitt jeder Neuorientierungseinheit in einer Abwärtsrichtung zu versetzen, um den ersten Abschnitt jeder Neuorientierungseinheit mit einem nächsten simulierten Zigarettenteil in Eingriff zu bringen.


     
    7. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die erste und die zweite Nockenbahn ortsfest sind.
     
    8. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei das Drehkarussell konfiguriert ist, eine kontinuierliche Bewegung, insbesondere eine Drehbewegung vorzunehmen.
     
    9. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei der erste Abschnitt das Eingriffselement umfasst, das einen ersten Verbindungsteil (81) umfasst, der konfiguriert ist, mit einem zweiten Verbindungsteil (83), der auf der Oberseite des simulierten Zigarettenteils vorgesehen ist, in Eingriff zu sein.
     
    10. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach dem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei der erste Verbindungsteil einen Bolzen- oder Buchsen-Zentrierteil (84) umfasst, der konfiguriert ist, das Eingriffselement auf den simulierten Zigarettenteil konzentrisch auszurichten, ein Zentrum (85) des ersten Verbindungsteils sich auf der vertikalen Einheitsachse (46) befindet und der Zentrierteil über einen oder mehrere Seitenüberstände (86) vorsteht, wobei ein oder mehrere Seitenüberstände von der vertikalen Einheitsachse (46) radial nach außen verlaufen.
     
    11. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach dem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei der Bolzen- oder Buchsen-Zentrierteil konisch ist.
     
    12. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach einem der Ansprüche 9-11, wobei der erste Abschnitt das Eingriffselement umfasst, das einen Überstand (80) umfasst, der konfiguriert ist, mit der Verbindungsform (82), die in der Oberseite des simulierten Zigarettenteils vorgesehen ist, in Eingriff zu sein.
     
    13. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die erste Winkelorientierung der simulierten Zigarettenteile beliebig ist und das Eingriffselement konfiguriert ist,

    - mit dem simulierten Zigarettenteil in Eingriff zu gelangen,

    - über die Oberfläche des simulierten Zigarettenteils in einer drehenden Weise zu gleiten, bis es in oder über die Verbindungsform des simulierten Zigarettenteils passt,

    - anschließend durch die Kraft des elastischen Elements in oder über die Verbindungsform gepresst zu werden und

    - anschließend den simulierten Zigarettenteil in Bezug auf den Produktträger zu drehen.


     
    14. Neuorientierungsvorrichtung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Produktträgerbewegungseinrichtungen derart konstruiert sind, dass sie die Winkelstellung der Produktträger beibehalten, wenn die simulierten Zigarettenteile, die durch die Produktträger gehalten werden, neu orientiert werden.
     
    15. Verfahren zum Neuorientieren simulierter Zigarettenteile, wobei das Verfahren Folgendes umfasst:

    - Einspeisen von Produktträgern in die Bahn der Neuorientierungsvorrichtung gemäß einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche und Bewegen der Produktträger entlang der Bahn, wobei jeder Produktträger einen simulierten Zigarettenteil führt;

    - in Eingriff Bringen des simulierten Zigarettenteils mit dem Eingriffselement des ersten Abschnitts einer Neuorientierungseinheit durch eine Abwärtsbewegung des ersten Abschnitts der Neuorientierungseinheit; und

    - Drehen des simulierten Zigarettenteils in Bezug auf den Produktträger durch eine Drehbewegung der Neuorientierungseinheit zur zweiten vorgegebenen Orientierung.


     


    Revendications

    1. Dispositif de réorientation (10) pour réorienter des pièces de cigarettes électroniques (12) qui sont portées par un support de produit (14) autour d'un axe vertical (16) de produit d'une première orientation angulaire (18) à une deuxième orientation (20) prédéterminée relative audit support de produit, dans lequel le dispositif comprend:

    - un axe de rotation vertical principal (24);

    - un premier chemin de came (22) s'étendant au moins partiellement autour de l'axe de rotation vertical principal (24);

    - un carrousel rotatif (30) configuré pour tourner autour de l'axe de rotation vertical principal, le carrousel rotatif comprenant :

    ∘ une structure de support rotative (32);

    ∘ une pluralité d'unités de réorientation (40) connectées à la structure de support rotative et disposées dans une configuration circulaire lorsqu'elles sont vues en vue de dessus, chaque unité de réorientation comprenant un élément d'engagement (42), dans lequel chaque élément d'engagement est configuré pour engager la pièce de cigarette électronique et pour la réorienter autour d'un axe vertical de produit, dans lequel chaque unité de réorientation comprend une première section (44) qui peut tourner par rapport à la structure de support rotative autour d'un axe d'unité vertical (46) et est mobile dans une direction verticale entre une position supérieure (48) et une position inférieure (49), la position supérieure étant une position rétractée et la position inférieure étant une position d'engagement;

    ∘ une pluralité de mécanismes de transmission (50) connectés à la structure de support rotative, chaque mécanisme de transmission étant associé à une unité de réorientation respective, chaque mécanisme de transmission comprenant une came (52) qui se déplace le long du premier chemin de came pendant la rotation de la structure de support rotative, dans lequel les mécanismes de transmission convertissent un mouvement de la came en une rotation de la première section de l'unité de réorientation autour de l'axe d'unité vertical par rapport à la structure de support rotative;

    - un dispositif de déplacement (60) pour déplacer les supports de produit, le dispositif de déplacement comprenant:

    ∘ un chemin circulaire (62) situé sous les unités de réorientation et configurée pour guider les supports de produit qui maintiennent les pièces de cigarette électroniques;

    ∘ une pluralité de dispositifs de déplacement de supports de produit (64) pour déplacer les supports de produit le long du chemin circulaire sous les unités de réorientation,

    - un deuxième chemin de came (70) configurée pour déplacer verticalement la première section des unités de réorientation.


     
    2. Dispositif de réorientation selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'unité de réorientation comprend:

    - la première section (44) qui est mobile entre une position supérieure et une position inférieure et une deuxième section (45) qui est fixée dans une direction de l'axe d'unité vertical;

    - un élément élastique (47) configuré pour déplacer verticalement la première section et pour solliciter la première section vers le bas.


     
    3. Dispositif de réorientation selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la première piste de came a un rayon variable (R) par rapport à l'axe de rotation principal configuré pour provoquer un mouvement radial de la came lorsque la came se déplace le long de la première piste de came pendant le mouvement de rotation du carrousel rotatif.
     
    4. Dispositif de réorientation selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel chaque mécanisme de transmission comprend un engrenage de transmission (54) qui est fixé à la came, et dans lequel chaque unité de réorientation comprend un engrenage d'actionnement (41) qui s'étend autour de l'axe d'unité et engage l'engrenage de transmission (54) du mécanisme de transmission.
     
    5. Dispositif de réorientation selon la revendication 4, dans lequel un mouvement radial de la came entraîne un mouvement de l'engrenage de transmission, et entraîne à son tour un mouvement de l'engrenage d'actionnement.
     
    6. Dispositif de réorientation selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la deuxième piste de came (70) comprend:

    - une section de pente ascendante (72), dans laquelle chaque unité de réorientation est configurée pour arriver à une extrémité amont de la section de pente ascendante dans une position inférieure et dans un état engagé avec une pièce de cigarette électronique, dans lequel les unités de réorientation sont configurées pour engager la section de pente ascendante et sont déplacées vers le haut par la section de pente ascendante, provoquant ainsi un désengagement des unités de réorientation de la pièce de cigarette électronique;

    - une section de pente descendante (74) située en aval de la section de pente ascendante, dans laquelle la section de pente descendante est configurée pour déplacer la première section de chaque unité de réorientation dans une direction descendante afin d'engager la première section de chaque unité de réorientation avec une pièce de cigarette électronique suivante.


     
    7. Dispositif de réorientation selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel les première et deuxième pistes de came sont fixes.
     
    8. Dispositif de réorientation selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le carrousel rotatif est configuré pour effectuer un mouvement continu, en particulier un mouvement rotatif.
     
    9. Dispositif de réorientation selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la première section comprend l'élément d'engagement qui comprend une première partie de couplage (81) configurée pour engager une deuxième partie de couplage (83) prévue sur le côté supérieur de la pièce de cigarette électronique.
     
    10. Dispositif de réorientation selon la revendication précédente, dans lequel la première partie de couplage comprend une partie de centrage mâle ou femelle (84) configurée pour aligner concentriquement l'élément d'engagement avec la pièce de cigarette électronique, dans lequel un centre (85) de la première partie de couplage est situé sur l'axe d'unité vertical (46), et dans lequel la partie de centrage fait saillie au-delà d'une ou plusieurs saillies latérales (86), lesquelles une ou plusieurs saillies latérales s'étendent radialement vers l'extérieur à partir de l'axe d'unité vertical (46).
     
    11. Dispositif de réorientation selon la revendication précédente, dans lequel la partie de centrage mâle ou femelle est conique.
     
    12. Dispositif de réorientation selon l'une quelconque des revendications 9 à 11, dans lequel la première section comprend l'élément d'engagement qui comprend une saillie (80) configurée pour engager la forme de couplage (82) prévue dans le côté supérieur de la pièce de cigarette électronique.
     
    13. Dispositif de réorientation selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la première orientation angulaire des pièces de cigarette électroniques est arbitraire et dans lequel l'élément d'engagement est configuré pour:

    - engager une pièce de cigarette électronique, et

    - glisser sur la surface supérieure de la pièce de cigarette électronique en rotation jusqu'à ce qu'elle s'adapte dans ou au-dessus de la forme de couplage de la pièce de cigarette électronique, et

    - être ensuite pressée dans ou sur la forme de couplage par la force de l'élément élastique, et

    - faire ensuite tourner la pièce de cigarette électronique par rapport au support de produit.


     
    14. Dispositif de réorientation selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel les dispositifs de déplacement de support de produit sont construits pour maintenir la position angulaire des supports de produit lorsque les pièces de cigarette électroniques qui sont maintenues par les supports de produit sont réorientées.
     
    15. Procédé pour réorienter des pièces de cigarettes électroniques, le procédé comprenant les étapes de:

    - alimenter en supports de produit la piste du dispositif de réorientation selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, et déplacer des supports de produit le long de ladite piste, dans lequel chaque support de produit porte une pièce de cigarette électronique;

    - engager la pièce de cigarette électronique avec l'élément d'engagement de la première section d'une unité de réorientation par un mouvement vers le bas de la première section de l'unité de réorientation, et;

    - faire tourner la pièce de cigarette électronique par rapport au support de produit par un mouvement rotatif de l'unité de réorientation vers la deuxième orientation prédéterminée.


     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description