(19)
(11)EP 3 515 691 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
09.09.2020 Bulletin 2020/37

(21)Application number: 17791143.5

(22)Date of filing:  21.09.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B29C 65/08(2006.01)
A24F 47/00(2020.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/IB2017/055738
(87)International publication number:
WO 2018/055552 (29.03.2018 Gazette  2018/13)

(54)

METHOD AND DEVICE FOR THE ULTRASONIC WELDING OF PLASTIC COMPONENTS OF AN ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE OR OF AN ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE CARTRIDGE

VERFAHREN UND VORRICHTUNG ZUM ULTRASCHALLSCHWEISSEN VON KUNSTSTOFFKOMPONENTEN EINER ELEKTRONISCHEN ZIGARETTE ODER EINER ELEKTRONISCHEN ZIGARETTENKARTUSCHE

PROCÉDÉ ET DISPOSITIF DE SOUDAGE PAR ULTRASONS DE COMPOSANTS EN PLASTIQUE D'UNE CIGARETTE ÉLECTRONIQUE OU D'UNE CARTOUCHE DE CIGARETTE ÉLECTRONIQUE


(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: 21.09.2016 IT 201600094855

(43)Date of publication of application:
31.07.2019 Bulletin 2019/31

(73)Proprietor: G.D Società per Azioni
40133 Bologna (IT)

(72)Inventors:
  • GHIOTTI, Roberto
    40050 Monte S. Pietro (IT)
  • FEDERICI, Luca
    40135 Bologna (IT)

(74)Representative: Musconi, Roberta et al
Studio Torta S.p.A. Via Viotti, 9
10121 Torino
10121 Torino (IT)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 2 818 304
JP-A- 2000 335 539
CN-A- 103 416 853
JP-A- 2004 209 659
  
      
    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

    TECHNICAL FIELD



    [0001] The present invention relates to a method and a device for the ultrasonic welding of plastic components of an electronic cigarette or of an electronic cigarette cartridge.

    PRIOR ART



    [0002] Recently, disposable (i.e. for single use) cartridges for electronic cigarettes have been proposed, which comprise a casing made of a tubular-shaped plastic material with a micro-perforated bottom wall, the inside of which contains a certain amount of tobacco powder topped by a piece of filtering material; and closed at an upper end with a sealing ring.

    [0003] The production of such cartridges involves filling the casings with a calibrated amount of tobacco powder, slightly compressing the mass of tobacco powder inside each casing to achieve the desired density, and then sealing the cartridges by applying both the piece of filtering material and the sealing ring to the upper open end. The cartridges are then individually weighed in order to allow the non-conforming ones containing, on the inside, an insufficient or excessive amount of tobacco powder to be discarded.

    [0004] Once the production of the cartridges is completed, the latter are inserted in packages, typically blister packages, which comprise an electronic cigarette and a plurality of said disposable cartridges.

    [0005] Currently, the production of both the blister packages and the cartridges contained within these packages is mostly performed manually or with rudimentary packing machines involving constant labour force; consequently, the production of cartridges and blister packs is slow (i.e. with low productivity) and with a highly variable (but generally poor) quality.

    [0006] In order to overcome these drawbacks, automatic machines for the packaging of disposable cartridges have been proposed, which comprise a conveyor that receives an orderly mass of empty casings and along which a station for filling the empty casings with tobacco powder, a station for feeding the pieces of filtering material and a station for feeding the sealing rings and, subsequently, a station for welding said sealing rings onto the casings are arranged in succession. Typically, the welding station performs an ultrasonic welding and comprises a plurality of sonotrodes (e.g. fifteen sonotrodes), each cooperating with a respective support (or anvil) in order to be able to simultaneously weld a plurality of disposable cartridges, but with considerable increase in costs and overall dimensions.

    [0007] In order to solve this drawback, ultrasonic welding devices have been proposed in which a single generator can simultaneously weld a plurality of first components to a plurality of respective second components. For example, a device for the ultrasonic welding of a first component to a second component of an electronic cigarette, wherein both components are made of a plastic material, is described in document CN103416853. However, these devices have the drawback of not being able to control the individual welding processes and of generating welds that vary considerably from one another.

    DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



    [0008] One object of the present invention is to provide a device for the ultrasonic welding of plastic components of an electronic cigarette or of an electronic cigarette cartridge, which device ensures high productivity, guaranteeing high quality standards and, at the same time, is cheap and easy to produce.

    [0009] A further object of the present invention is to provide a method for the ultrasonic welding of plastic components of an electronic cigarette or of an electronic cigarette cartridge, which method is free from the drawbacks of the state of the art and, at the same time, is cheap and easy to produce.

    [0010] In accordance with the present invention, a method and a device for the ultrasonic welding of plastic components of an electronic cigarette are provided as claimed in the appended claims.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0011] The present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, which illustrate a non-limiting embodiment thereof, in which:
    • Figure 1 is a sectional view of a disposable cartridge for electronic cigarettes; and
    • Figure 2 is a schematic view of a device for the ultrasonic welding of plastic components provided in accordance with the present invention.

    PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION



    [0012] In Figure 1, numeral 1 indicates, as a whole, a disposable cartridge, comprising a casing 2 made of a plastic material and formed as a tubular containment body 3 having a micro-perforated bottom wall 4 and a substantially cylindrical side wall 5; the inside of the casing 2 contains a certain amount of tobacco powder topped by a piece of filtering material 6; a sealing ring 7 also made of a plastic material is coupled to an upper end of the casing 2.

    [0013] In Figure 2, numeral 10 indicates, as a whole, a device for welding the sealing rings 7 to the casings 2. The welding device 10 performs an ultrasonic welding.

    [0014] The welding device 10 comprises a single ultrasound generator, which delivers a high-frequency sinusoidal electrical pulse to a vibrating assembly VA, which, in turn, comprises a converter designed to turn the electric pulse into a mechanical vibration movement, a booster, which amplifies the mechanical vibration movement and transfers it to a sonotrode 11, which directly transmits the energy in the form of vibrations to the casing 2 and the sealing ring 7 to be secured to one another and applies a welding pressure P.

    [0015] As shown in Figure 2, the sonotrode 11 comprises a body 12, which extends longitudinally along an axis X. The body 12 comprises one end 13 that can be connected to the single ultrasound generator, and one end 14, opposite the first end 13, defining an opening in communication with the outside of the sonotrode 11.

    [0016] The end 14 is designed to at least partially receive, on the inside, a plurality of sealing rings 7 to be welded.

    [0017] In particular, at its end 14, the sonotrode 11 has a profile designed to at least partially come into contact with a plurality n1 of sealing rings 7 to be simultaneously welded (in particular, seven or eight sealing rings 7 to be welded).

    [0018] The sonotrode 11 cooperates with a respective anvil 15 (or support) for raising the disposable cartridges 1 towards the welding head of said sonotrode 11.

    [0019] A support member 16 for supporting a plurality of disposable cartridges 1 is interposed between the sonotrode 11 and the anvil 15; the support member 16 is provided with a plurality of seats 17, each of which is in turn provided with jaws, which retain a respective disposable cartridge 1 during transport and release it to allow welding. The anvil 15, in turn, comprises a support body 18 internally housing a plurality of pneumatic or electrical pistons 19 (of the known type and not described in detail). Each piston 19 is movable along the substantially longitudinal direction H (and parallel to the axis X) between an upper extreme position and a rest position; and vice versa. A raised operating position (shown in Figure 2) is further provided, in which each piston 19 supports a respective disposable cartridge 1 so that the sealing ring 7 is at least partially in contact with the sonotrode 11 in order to achieve a welding that is intermediate between the upper extreme position and a rest position.

    [0020] Lastly, each piston 19 is connected to a respective sensor 20. According to a preferred variant, the sensor 20 is a linear encoder. The sensor 20 is designed to read the linear movement of the piston 19 along the direction H.

    [0021] Importantly, the sonotrode 11 is designed to simultaneously weld a plurality n1 of sealing rings 7 to the respective casings 2, whose number n1 is equal to the number n1 of pistons 19 of the anvil 15. In other words, for each disposable cartridge 1 to be subjected to welding, a respective piston 19 is provided.

    [0022] In use, the support member 16 transfers the plurality n1 of disposable cartridges 1 containing the certain amount of tobacco powder topped by a piece of filtering material 6 and fitted with the sealing ring 7 to be welded in the area of the device 10 for the ultrasonic welding, so that each disposable cartridge 1 (i.e. each seat 17 of the support member 16 that conveys the disposable cartridges 1) is arranged in a position facing, and exactly in the area of, a respective piston 19 and the end 14 of the sonotrode 11. The jaws of the seats 17 release the disposable cartridges 1, and the welding is carried out through the raising of the disposable cartridge 1 performed by the respective piston.

    [0023] In particular, the following steps occur in succession:
    • the support member 16 carries the casings 2 containing the certain amount of tobacco powder topped by a piece of filtering material 6 and fitted with the sealing ring 7 to be welded below the sonotrode 11;
    • each piston 19 places itself in the rest position along the direction H in which it is located below a respective casing 2;
    • the jaws of the seats 17 release the respective casings 2, each of which is supported by a respective piston 19;
    • the piston 19 is operated again so that it moves to the raised operating position, in which the sealing ring 7 abuts against the end 14 of the sonotrode 11;
    • each sensor 20 detects the linear movement X0 made by the respective piston 19 so that it reaches the raised operating position, i.e. to place the sealing ring 7 in abutment against the end 14 of the sonotrode 11;
    • the vibrating assembly VA is turned on so that the mechanical vibration movement generates a heat that allows the plastic materials of the casing 2 and of the sealing ring 7 to melt at the desired positions;
    • the piston 19 continues to move upward from the raised operating position along the direction H, and each sensor 20 continues to detect the linear movement X1 made by the respective piston 19 from the raised operating position;
    • when the sensor 20 detects that the linear movement X1 made by the respective piston 19 from the raised operating position is equal to a reference value Xref, the upward movement along the direction H of the piston 19 is stopped.


    [0024] The reference value Xref is determined in a step for setting up the ultrasonic welding device 10, and so as to ensure that the casing 2 has been welded to the sealing ring 7 of each disposable cartridge 1. Once the upward movement of all the pistons 19 of the anvil 15 along the direction H has been stopped, the vibrating assembly VA is turned off.

    [0025] At this point, the pistons 19 are again operated upwards along the direction H from the raised operating position, in which the sealing ring 7 abuts against the end 14 of the sonotrode 11, so as to allow the joining area between the casing 2 and the sealing ring 7 of each disposable cartridge 1 to cool down. The step of cooling the joining area between the casing 2 and the sealing ring 7 of each disposable cartridge 1 has a duration t1, which is determined in a step for setting up the ultrasonic welding device 10, and so as to ensure that the casing 2 is joined to the sealing ring 7 of each disposable cartridge 1 in a compact manner.

    [0026] Once the cooling step is completed, the pistons move downwards, again along the direction H, from the raised operating position to the rest position, in which the disposable cartridges 1 are transferred again into a respective seat 17 where they are retained by the jaws of the respective seat.

    [0027] According to a first variant, when the sensor 20 detects that the linear movement X1 made by the respective piston 19 from the raised operating position is equal to a reference value Xref and the upward movement along the direction H of the piston 19 is stopped, the piston 19 places itself in the raised operating position, in which the sealing ring 7 still abuts against the end 14 of the sonotrode 11.

    [0028] According to a further variant, when the sensor 20 detects that the linear movement X1 made by the respective piston 19 from the raised operating position is equal to a reference value Xref and the upward movement along the direction H of the piston 19 is stopped, said piston 19 moves downward along the direction H so that the sealing ring 7 faces, but from a distance, the end 14 of the sonotrode 11.

    [0029] It will also be apparent that the piston 19 can advantageously be replaced by a spring device; and the sensor 20 can advantageously be of the piezoelectric type to detect a reduction in current.

    [0030] Clearly, the ultrasonic welding device 10 described above can be used to weld other electronic cigarette plastic components to each other. The ultrasonic welding device 10 described above has numerous advantages.

    [0031] In the first place, the ultrasonic welding device 10 described above allows high hourly productivity to be achieved, while ensuring high quality standards through the use of a single sonotrode 11 manufactured so as to simultaneously weld a plurality n1 of sealing rings 7 to the respective casings 2. In addition, the use of the sensors 20 allows for taking into account the differences between the various pistons 19.


    Claims

    1. A device (10) for the ultrasonic welding of a first component (2) to a second component (7) of an electronic cigarette or of an electronic cigarette cartridge (1), wherein both components (2, 7) are made of a plastic material; the device comprises an ultrasound generator, which delivers an electric pulse to a vibrating assembly (VA), which, in turn, comprises a converter designed to turn the electric pulse into a mechanical vibration movement and transfers it to a sonotrode, which directly transmits the energy in the form of vibrations to the two components (2, 7) to be welded; the sonotrode (11) is designed so as to simultaneously weld a plurality (n1) of first components (2) to the respective second components (7) and cooperates with a plurality of striker elements (19), each associated to a respective first component (2) and to a respective second component (7) to be welded; the device is characterised in that each striker element (19) is connected to a sensor (20), which is designed to detect a parameter (X1) of the welding process carried out to weld the first component (2) to the second component (7) and to control the welding process carried out to weld the first component (2) to the second component (7) as a function of the parameter (X1).
     
    2. The device according to claim 1, wherein the sonotrode (11) comprises a body (12), which extends longitudinally along an axis (X) and comprises a first end (13), which is connected to the ultrasound generator, as well as a second end (14), opposite the first end (13), which is designed to at least partially receive, on the inside, a plurality (n1) of second components (7) to be simultaneously welded to the respective first components (2).
     
    3. The device according to any of the previous claims, wherein the sensor (20) is designed to detect the linear movement of the striker element (19) along a longitudinal direction (H).
     
    4. The device according to any of the previous claims, wherein each striker element (19) is movable along a longitudinal direction (H) between an upper extreme position and a rest position, and vice versa; and wherein a raised operating position is provided between the upper extreme position and the rest position, in which each striker element (19) causes the second component (7) to be welded to at least partially come into contact with the sonotrode (11).
     
    5. The device according to any of the previous claims, wherein the striker element (19) is a pneumatically or electrically operated piston.
     
    6. A method for the ultrasonic welding of a first component (2) to a second component (7) of an electronic cigarette or of an electronic cigarette cartridge (1), wherein both components (2, 7) are made of a plastic material; said method being carried out by means of a welding device (10) according to any of the claims from 1 to 5; the method comprises the steps of:

    simultaneously placing the plurality of first components (2) and second components (7) to be welded in the area of the respective striker elements (19);

    moving each striker element (19) along a longitudinal direction (H), so that it is in a raised operating position, in which the second component (7) to be welded is at least partially in contact with the sonotrode (11);

    controlling the turning on of the vibrating assembly (VA), so that the mechanical vibration movement generates a heat that allows each second component (7) to be welded to the respective first component (2);

    detecting, by means of the sensor (20), the parameter (X1) of the welding process carried out to weld the first component (2) to the second component (7); and

    stopping the movement of the striker element (19) when the parameter (X1) of the welding process carried out to weld the first component (2) to the second component (7) is equal to a reference value (Xref).


     
    7. The method according to claim 6, wherein the reference value (Xref) is determined in a set up phase and so as to ensure that each second component (7) has been welded to the respective first component (2).
     
    8. A method according to claim 6 or 7, wherein, after having detected that the parameter (X1) of the welding process carried out to weld the first component (2) to the second component (7) is equal to the reference value (Xref), the striker element (19) moves to the raised operating position, in which the second component (7) to be welded is at least partially in contact with the sonotrode (11).
     
    9. The method according to claim 6 or 7, wherein, after having detected that the parameter (X1) of the welding process carried out to weld the first component (2) to the second component (7) is equal to the reference value (Xref), the striker element (19) moves along the longitudinal direction (H) in such a way that the second component (7) faces, but from a distance, the sonotrode (11).
     
    10. The method according to any of the claims from 6 to 9 and comprising the further step of ordering the turning off of the vibrating assembly (VA) when the movement of all striker elements (19) has been stopped.
     
    11. The method according to claim 10 and comprising the further steps of moving each striker element (19) along the longitudinal direction (H) so that it reaches the raised operating position, in which the second component (7) is at least partially in contact with the sonotrode (11), so as to allow the joining area between the first component (2) and the second component (7) to cool down.
     
    12. The method according to any of the claims from 6 to 11, wherein the parameter (X1) of the welding process carried out to weld the first component (2) to the second component (7) is the linear movement (X1) made by the respective striker element (19) relative to the raised operating position.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Vorrichtung (10) zum Ultraschallschweißen einer ersten Komponente (2) an eine zweite Komponente (7) einer elektronischen Zigarette oder einer Kartusche (1) einer elektronischen Zigarette, wobei beide Komponenten (2, 7) aus einem Kunststoffmaterial hergestellt sind; wobei die Vorrichtung einen Ultraschallgenerator umfasst, der einen elektrischen Puls an eine Schwingungsbaugruppe (VA) liefert, die wiederum einen Konverter umfasst, der ausgelegt ist, den elektrischen Puls in eine mechanische Schwingungsbewegung umzusetzen, und diese auf eine Sonotrode überträgt, die die Energie in der Form von Schwingungen direkt auf die zwei zu schweißenden Komponenten (2, 7) überträgt; wobei die Sonotrode (11) ausgelegt ist, gleichzeitig mehrere (n1) der ersten Komponenten (2) an die jeweiligen zweiten Komponenten (7) zu schweißen, und mit mehreren Stößelelementen (19) zusammenwirkt, die jeweils einer jeweiligen ersten Komponente (2) und einer jeweiligen zweiten Komponente (7), die geschweißt werden sollen, zugeordnet sind; wobei die Vorrichtung dadurch gekennzeichnet ist, dass jedes Stößelelement (19) mit einem Sensor (20) verbunden ist, der ausgelegt ist, einen Parameter (X1) des Schweißprozesses, der ausgeführt wird, um die erste Komponente (2) an die zweite Komponente (7) zu schweißen, zu detektieren und den Schweißprozess, der ausgeführt wird, um die erste Komponente (2) an die zweite Komponente (7) zu schweißen, als eine Funktion des Parameters (X1) zu steuern.
     
    2. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Sonotrode (11) einen Körper (12) umfasst, der sich entlang einer Achse (X) in Längsrichtung erstreckt und ein erstes Ende (13), das mit dem Ultraschallgenerator verbunden ist, sowie ein zweites, dem ersten Ende (13) gegenüberliegendes Ende (14), das ausgelegt ist, auf der Innenseite zumindest teilweise mehrere (n1) von zweiten Komponenten (7) aufzunehmen, die gleichzeitig an die jeweiligen ersten Komponenten (2) geschweißt werden sollen, umfasst.
     
    3. Vorrichtung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei der Sensor (20) ausgelegt ist, die lineare Bewegung des Stößelelements (19) entlang einer Längsrichtung (H) zu detektieren.
     
    4. Vorrichtung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei jedes Stößelelement (19) entlang einer Längsrichtung (H) zwischen einer oberen Extremposition und einer Ruheposition und umgekehrt beweglich ist; und wobei eine angehobene Arbeitsposition zwischen der oberen Extremposition und der Ruheposition vorgesehen ist, in der jedes Stößelelement (19) bewirkt, dass die zu schweißende zweite Komponente (7) zumindest teilweise mit der Sonotrode (11) in Kontakt gelangt.
     
    5. Vorrichtung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei das Stößelelement (19) ein pneumatisch oder elektrisch betriebener Kolben ist.
     
    6. Verfahren zum Ultraschallschweißen einer ersten Komponente (2) an eine zweite Komponente (7) einer elektronischen Zigarette oder einer Kartusche (1) einer elektronischen Zigarette, wobei beide Komponenten (2, 7) aus einem Kunststoffmaterial hergestellt sind; wobei das Verfahren mittels einer Schweißvorrichtung (10) nach einem der Ansprüche von 1 bis 5 ausgeführt wird;
    wobei das Verfahren die Schritte umfasst:

    gleichzeitiges Anordnen der mehreren zu schweißenden ersten Komponenten (2) und zweiten Komponenten (7) im Bereich der jeweiligen Stößelelemente (19);

    Bewegen jedes Stößelelements (19) entlang einer Längsrichtung (H), derart, dass es sich in einer angehobenen Arbeitsposition befindet, in der die zu schweißende zweite Komponente (7) zumindest teilweise mit der Sonotrode (11) in Kontakt ist;

    Steuern des Einschaltens der Schwingungsbaugruppe (VA), derart, dass die mechanische Schwingungsbewegung Wärme erzeugt, die ermöglicht, dass jede zu schweißende zweite Komponente (7) an die jeweilige erste Komponente (2) geschweißt wird;

    Detektieren des Parameters (X1) des Schweißprozesses, der ausgeführt wird, um die erste Komponente (2) an die zweite Komponente (7) zu schweißen, mittels des Sensors (20); und

    Anhalten der Bewegung des Stößelelements (19), wenn der Parameter (X1) des Schweißprozesses, der ausgeführt wird, um die erste Komponente (2) an die zweite Komponente (7) zu schweißen, gleich einem Referenzwert (Xref) ist.


     
    7. Verfahren nach Anspruch 6, wobei der Referenzwert (Xref) in einer Einrichtphase bestimmt wird und derart, dass sichergestellt ist, dass jede zweite Komponente (7) an die jeweilige erste Komponente (2) geschweißt worden ist.
     
    8. Verfahren nach Anspruch 6 oder 7, wobei, nachdem detektiert worden ist, dass der Parameter (X1) des Schweißprozesses, der ausgeführt wird, um die erste Komponente (2) an die zweite Komponente (7) zu schweißen, gleich dem Referenzwert (Xref) ist, sich das Stößelelemente (19) in die angehobene Arbeitsposition bewegt, in der die zu schweißende zweite Komponente (7) zumindest teilweise mit der Sonotrode (11) in Kontakt ist.
     
    9. Verfahren nach Anspruch 6 oder 7, wobei, nachdem detektiert worden ist, dass der Parameter (X1) des Schweißprozesses, der ausgeführt wird, um die erste Komponente (2) an die zweite Komponente (7) zu schweißen, gleich dem Referenzwert (Xref) ist, sich das Stößelelement (19) auf eine derartige Weise entlang der Längsrichtung (H) bewegt, dass die zweite Komponente (7) der Sonotrode (11) zugewandt ist, allerdings mit einem Abstand.
     
    10. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche von 6 bis 9 und umfassend den weiteren Schritt des Anforderns des Ausschaltens der Schwingungsbaugruppe (VA), wenn die Bewegung aller Stößelelemente (19) angehalten worden ist.
     
    11. Verfahren nach Anspruch 10 und umfassend die weiteren Schritte des Bewegens jedes Stößelelements (19) entlang der Längsrichtung (H), derart, dass es die angehobene Arbeitsposition erreicht, in der die zweite Komponente (7) zumindest teilweise mit der Sonotrode (11) in Kontakt ist, um zu ermöglichen, dass sich der Verbindungsbereich zwischen der ersten Komponente (2) und der zweiten Komponente (7) abkühlt.
     
    12. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche von 6 bis 11, wobei der Parameter (X1) des Schweißprozesses, der ausgeführt wird, um die erste Komponente (2) an die zweite Komponente (7) zu schweißen, die lineare Bewegung (X1) ist, die durch das jeweilige Stößelelement (19) relativ zur angehobenen Arbeitsposition durchgeführt wird.
     


    Revendications

    1. Dispositif (10) pour le soudage par ultrasons d'un premier composant (2) à un deuxième composant (7) d'une cigarette électronique ou d'une cartouche de cigarette électronique (1), où les deux composants (2, 7) sont réalisés en une matière plastique ; le dispositif comprend un générateur d'ultrasons, qui distribue une impulsion électrique à un ensemble vibrant (VA), qui, à son tour, comprend un convertisseur conçu pour transformer l'impulsion électrique en un mouvement de vibration mécanique, et la transfère à une sonotrode, qui transmet directement l'énergie sous forme de vibrations aux deux composants (2, 7) devant être soudés ; la sonotrode (11) est conçue de manière à souder simultanément une pluralité (n1) de premiers composants (2) aux deuxièmes composants (7) respectifs et coopère avec une pluralité d'éléments percuteurs (19), chacun étant associé à un premier composant (2) respectif et à un deuxième composant (7) respectif devant être soudés ; le dispositif est caractérisé en ce que chaque élément percuteur (19) est connecté à un capteur (20), qui est conçu pour détecter un paramètre (X1) du processus de soudage effectué pour souder le premier composant (2) au deuxième composant (7) et pour commander le processus de soudage effectué pour souder le premier composant (2) au deuxième composant (7) en fonction du paramètre (X1).
     
    2. Dispositif selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la sonotrode (11) comprend un corps (12), qui s'étend longitudinalement le long d'un axe (X) et comprend une première extrémité (13), qui est connectée au générateur d'ultrasons, ainsi qu'une deuxième extrémité (14), opposée à la première extrémité (13), qui est conçue pour recevoir au moins partiellement, à l'intérieur, une pluralité (n1) de deuxièmes composants (7) devant être soudés simultanément aux premiers composants (2) respectifs.
     
    3. Dispositif selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le capteur (20) est conçu pour détecter le mouvement linéaire de l'élément percuteur (19) le long d'une direction longitudinale (H).
     
    4. Dispositif selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel chaque élément percuteur (19) est mobile le long d'une direction longitudinale (H) entre une position extrême supérieure et une position de repos, et vice versa ; et dans lequel une position de fonctionnement relevée est prévue entre la position extrême supérieure et la position de repos, dans laquelle chaque élément percuteur (19) amène le deuxième composant (7) devant être soudé à venir au moins partiellement en contact avec la sonotrode (11).
     
    5. Dispositif selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel l'élément percuteur (19) est un piston à fonctionnement pneumatique ou électrique.
     
    6. Procédé pour le soudage par ultrasons d'un premier composant (2) à un deuxième composant (7) d'une cigarette électronique ou d'une cartouche de cigarette électronique (1), où les deux composants (2, 7) sont réalisés en une matière plastique ; ledit procédé étant effectué au moyen d'un dispositif de soudage (10) selon l'une quelconque des revendications de 1 à 5 ; le procédé comprenant les étapes consistant à :

    placer simultanément la pluralité de premiers composants (2) et deuxièmes composants (7) devant être soudés dans la zone des éléments percuteurs (19) respectifs ;

    déplacer chaque élément percuteur (19) le long d'une direction longitudinale (H), de sorte qu'il se trouve dans une position de fonctionnement relevée, dans laquelle le deuxième composant (7) devant être soudé est au moins partiellement en contact avec la sonotrode (11) ;

    commander la mise en marche de l'ensemble vibrant (VA), de sorte que le mouvement de vibration mécanique génère une chaleur qui permet à chaque deuxième composant (7) d'être soudé au premier composant (2) respectif ;

    détecter, au moyen du capteur (20), le paramètre (X1) du processus de soudage effectué pour souder le premier composant (2) au deuxième composant (7) ; et

    arrêter le mouvement de l'élément percuteur (19) lorsque le paramètre (X1) du processus de soudage effectué pour souder le premier composant (2) au deuxième composant (7) est égal à une valeur de référence (Xref).


     
    7. Procédé selon la revendication 6, dans lequel la valeur de référence (Xref) est déterminée lors d'une phase de réglage et de manière à garantir que chaque deuxième composant (7) a été soudé au premier composant (2) respectif.
     
    8. Procédé selon la revendication 6 ou 7, dans lequel, après avoir détecté que le paramètre (X1) du processus de soudage effectué pour souder le premier composant (2) au deuxième composant (7) est égal à la valeur de référence (Xref), l'élément percuteur (19) passe à la position de fonctionnement relevée, dans laquelle le deuxième composant (7) devant être soudé est au moins partiellement en contact avec la sonotrode (11).
     
    9. Procédé selon la revendication 6 ou 7, dans lequel, après avoir détecté que le paramètre (X1) du processus de soudage effectué pour souder le premier composant (2) au deuxième composant (7) est égal à la valeur de référence (Xref), l'élément percuteur (19) se déplace le long de la direction longitudinale (H) d'une manière telle que le deuxième composant (7) se trouve tourné vers la sonotrode (11) mais à distance de celle-ci.
     
    10. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 6 à 9 et comprenant l'étape supplémentaire consistant à ordonner l'arrêt de l'ensemble vibrant (VA) lorsque le mouvement de tous les éléments percuteurs (19) a été arrêté.
     
    11. Procédé selon la revendication 10 et comprenant l'étape supplémentaire consistant à déplacer chaque élément percuteur (19) le long de la direction longitudinale (H) de sorte qu'il atteigne la position de fonctionnement relevée, dans laquelle le deuxième composant (7) est au moins partiellement en contact avec la sonotrode (11), de manière à permettre à la zone de jonction entre le premier composant (2) et le deuxième composant (7) de refroidir.
     
    12. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 6 à 11, dans lequel le paramètre (X1) du processus de soudage effectué pour souder la premier composant (2) au deuxième composant (7) est le mouvement linéaire (X1) effectué par l'élément percuteur (19) respectif par rapport à la position de fonctionnement relevée.
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description