(19)
(11)EP 3 699 105 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
13.10.2021 Bulletin 2021/41

(21)Application number: 19207649.5

(22)Date of filing:  07.11.2019
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B65B 67/02(2006.01)
B65B 59/00(2006.01)
B65B 39/00(2006.01)
B65B 1/06(2006.01)
B65B 39/06(2006.01)
F42B 33/02(2006.01)
B65B 61/28(2006.01)
B65B 1/24(2006.01)
B65B 7/28(2006.01)
(52)Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC):
B65B 39/06; B65B 59/003; B65B 39/00; B65B 39/007; B65B 67/02; B65B 61/28; F42B 33/0207; B65B 1/06; B65B 7/2821; B65B 1/24

(54)

SYSTEM, METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PROCESSING CARTRIDGES EN MASSE

SYSTEM, VERFAHREN UND VORRICHTUNG ZUR MASSENVERARBEITUNG VON PATRONEN

SYSTÈME, PROCÉDÉ ET APPAREIL DE TRAITEMENT DE CARTOUCHES EN MASSE


(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: 20.02.2019 US 201962807942 P
10.09.2019 US 201916565869

(43)Date of publication of application:
26.08.2020 Bulletin 2020/35

(60)Divisional application:
21153198.3 / 3838779

(73)Proprietor: Gravitron, LLC
Austin TX 78744 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • Dodson, Travis
    Austin, TX Texas 78744 (US)
  • Evans, Micah
    Austin, TX Texas 78744 (US)
  • Peirce, Stephan
    Austin, TX Texas 78744 (US)

(74)Representative: Ter Meer Steinmeister & Partner 
Patentanwälte mbB Nymphenburger Straße 4
80335 München
80335 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A2-99/62764
US-A1- 2013 068 348
FR-A1- 3 022 533
  
      
    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] This application generally relates to handling containers for product and, in particular, to a system, method and apparatus for manually processing cartridges en masse.

    BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE



    [0002] Manually loading products into containers can be challenging and time consuming. For example, accurately loading loose and particulate-type products into small containers by hand can be particularly cumbersome. Although existing designs and methods are workable, improvements in loading containers with product continue to be of interest.

    [0003] Document WO 99/62764 A2 discloses an individual portion size food container system that is easy for the consumer to handle, facilitates a uniform dispersion of an edible liquid, such as salad dressing, on the food and can be suitable for use in a standard automobile cup holder. The salad container system permits a quantity of an edible liquid, such as salad dressing, to be added thereto and rapidly and easily substantially uniformly dispersed within the quantity of food contained therein prior to consumption. In addition, an apparatus and method of filling substantially simultaneously a plurality of individual portion size food containers is provided in which a plurality of food containers are contained in a predetermined array.

    [0004] Document US 2013/0068348 A1 discloses a material-channeling tray comprising a tray surface, an opposing bottom surface, and a sidewall extending from the tray surface and bottom surface. The tray surface has a plurality of channel openings and a handle opening extending through the tray surface and the bottom surface. The sidewall has an exterior surface and an interior surface, with the interior surface and tray surface defining a tray volume. The sidewall extends away from the tray surface forming an angle between the interior surface and the tray surface that is at least ninety degrees. The material-channeling tray further comprises a plurality of channel walls, each forming a channel, wherein the plurality of channel walls is attached to and extend from the bottom surface, and each of the channels is positioned subjacent to one of the channel openings.

    [0005] Document FR 3 022 533 A1 discloses a device for series production of capsules containing coffee grounds. The device comprises a plate provided with a plurality of orifices in which empty capsules are inserted by force.

    SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE



    [0006] The above identified problems are solved by the features of the independent claims.

    [0007] The foregoing and other objects and advantages of these embodiments will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the appended claims and the accompanying drawings.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0008] For a detailed description of example embodiments, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings in which:

    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a cartridge processing system, shown assembled.

    FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the system of FIG. 1

    FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the system of FIG. 1, shown with the tamper removed.

    FIG. 4 is a right side view of the system of FIG. 1.

    FIG. 5 is a front view of the system of FIG. 1.

    FIG. 6 is a bottom view of the system of FIG. 1.

    FIG. 7 is a front sectional view of the system of FIG. 1, shown without the tamper.

    FIGS. 8A - 8F depict embodiments of a method of using the system of FIG. 1.

    FIG. 9 is a schematic side view depicting an embodiment of the system shown during unloading of the cartridges from the rack.

    FIG. 10 is a top exploded, isometric view of another embodiment of a cartridge processing system.

    FIG. 11 is bottom exploded, isometric view of the embodiment of FIG. 10.

    FIG. 12 is a top isometric view of the embodiment of FIG. 10 after assembly.

    FIG. 13 is a top exploded, isometric view of an alternate embodiment of a cartridge processing system.

    FIG. 14 is bottom exploded, isometric view of the embodiment of FIG. 13.

    FIG. 15 is a top isometric view of the embodiment of FIG. 13 after assembly.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0009] The following discussion is directed to various embodiments of the invention. Although one or more of these embodiments may be preferred, the embodiments disclosed should not be interpreted, or otherwise used, as limiting the scope of the disclosure, including the claims. In addition, one skilled in the art will understand that the following description has broad application, and the discussion of any embodiment is meant only to be exemplary of that embodiment, and not intended to intimate that the scope of the disclosure, including the claims, is limited to that embodiment.

    [0010] FIGS. 1-9 depict embodiments of a cartridge processing system, method and apparatus. For example, versions of the cartridge processing system 101 can include a support tray or rack 103 configured to support a plurality of cartridges 104. Embodiments of the rack 103 can include a base 105 with base holes 107 (FIG. 2). In some examples, a support 109 can be cantilevered from the base 105. The support 109 can include support holes 111. Versions of the base holes 107 can be substantially coaxial with respective ones of the support holes 111, as shown. In some embodiments, the cartridges 104 can be configured to be supported in respective pairs of the base and support holes 107, 111 (FIG. 1). Examples of the cartridges 104 can be configured to extend through the base holes 107 to an exterior of a bottom of the base 105 (FIG. 7).

    [0011] In some embodiments of the rack 103 (FIG. 7), the base holes 107 can have a base hole diameter 113 that is less than a support hole diameter 115 of the support holes 111. Examples of both the base 105 and the support 109 can be substantially flat. In one version, the base 105 and the support 109 can be substantially parallel to each other and joined by a curved member 117 (FIGS. 1-3) to form a c-shaped side view profile.

    [0012] Embodiments of the cartridge processing system 101 also can include a frame or guide 121. The guide 121 can be configured to be located adjacent, such as around, the rack 103 of cartridges 104. In some versions, the guide 121 can include walls 123 extending substantially vertically therefrom. Examples of the walls 123 can be located on opposite lateral sides of the guide 121. In addition, versions of the guide 121 can include an open front, top and bottom (FIG. 2) configured to receive the rack 103, and a closed back 125 extending between the walls 123. In one example, the closed back 125 can have a shorter vertical height than the walls 123.

    [0013] The cartridge processing system 101 also can include embodiments having a product bowl or tray 131. The tray 131 can be configured to engage the guide 121. For example, the tray 131 can have a lower end 133 with receptacles 135 configured to engage respective ones of the walls 123 of the guide 121. The tray 131 can further include a platform 137 with platform holes 139. During operation, examples of the platform holes 139 can be configured to be substantially coaxial with the base and support holes 107, 111 of the rack 103. Embodiments of the tray 131 can include a funnel 141. The funnel 141 can extend, such as outward and upward, from the platform 137. Versions of the funnel 141 can form a perimeter around the platform 137 and platform holes 139.

    [0014] According to the invention, the cartridge processing system 101 also includes a tamper 151. Versions of the tamper 151 can include a handle 152, which can be configured to engage the tray 131. The tamper 151 includes a plurality of extensions 153. The extensions 153 are configured to extend through respective ones of the platform holes 139 and into respective ones of the cartridges 104. The number of extensions 153 can match the number of platform holes 139, in some embodiments.

    [0015] As shown in FIG. 7, versions of the platform holes 139 can have a platform hole diameter 143 that is less than a cartridge inner diameter 106 of the cartridges 104. In some embodiments, the platform holes 139 can taper down in diameter from an upper vertical elevation to a lower vertical elevation at the platform hole diameter 143, as illustrated.

    [0016] In other embodiments, an underside 145 (herein also referred to as tray bottom) of the tray 131, opposite the platform 137, can include cartridge recesses 147. The cartridge recesses 147 can circumscribe respective ones of the platform holes 139, as shown. In some versions, the cartridge recesses 147 can be configured to receive tops of respective ones of the cartridges 104. For example, the tray 131 can be configured to seat on tops of the cartridges 104. Moreover, the guide 121 can be configured to merely guide alignment of the tray 131 with the guide 121. In one example, the tray 131 can be configured to be vertically spaced apart from (and substantially free of contact with) the guide 121 (see gaps 149 in FIGS. 5 and 7) when the tray 131 is seated on tops of the cartridges 104.

    [0017] Examples of the cartridges 104 can include a particular size. In one version, each cartridge 104 can have an axial length of about 50 mm, an outer diameter of about 12 mm, and an inner diameter of about 10 mm. Versions of the cartridges 104 can be closed, such as sealed, plugged or capped on one or both ends, with a device such as the plugs 108 shown. In one embodiment, each plug 108 can insert into a cartridge 104 at an axial depth of insertion of about 9 mm. Thus, in one example, a cartridge 104 plugged at both ends with plugs 108 (FIG. 8F) would have about 32 mm of axial length to contain product.

    [0018] Embodiments of the extensions 153 of the tamper 151 can comprise cylinders. Each extension 153 can have a distal axial length portion 155 (FIG. 8E) configured to substantially match the plug axial depth of insertion of the upper plugs 108 in the cartridges 104 (FIG. 8F), which again can be about 9 mm.

    [0019] Embodiments of methods of using the cartridge filling system 101 also are included. According to the invention, the method starts as suggested in FIG. 2 with the loading of cartridges 104 in the rack 103. The loaded cartridges 104 can extend above a top of the rack 103, as shown. Bottoms of the loaded cartridges 104 also can be substantially flush with the bottom of the rack 103 and the underlying support surface. In an embodiment, the method can include closing one end of each cartridge 104 with a cap or plug 108 (see FIG. 7). The method can include positioning the frame or guide 121 around the rack 103 of cartridges 104 (see FIGS. 2 and 3), aligning the tray 131 with the frame 121, and seating the tray 131 on tops of the cartridges 104.

    [0020] As shown in FIG. 8A, the method continues by loading the tray 131 with a selected amount of product 420. The product 420 can include, for example, loose particles of material. Thereafter, the method includes manipulating the product 420 in the tray 131 (FIG. 8B) to fall into the cartridges 104. For example, this can be manually such as with a spatula 161 or other device, or by hand. The method continues by tamping the product 420 with the tamper 151 (FIG. 8C) further down into the cartridges 104. Embodiments of the method can include further manipulating the product 420 (FIG. 8D) remaining in the tray 131 to fall into the cartridges 104. Thereafter, the method can include further tamping of and slightly compressing the product 420 (FIG. 8E) in the cartridges 104. After the cartridges 104 are filled with a desired amount of product 420, the method includes removing the tray 131 from the tops of the cartridges 104, and can include removing the rack 103 of cartridges 104 from the frame 121. The method further includes closing the cartridges 104 (FIG. 8F) with upper caps or plugs 108 with the product 420 inside the cartridges 104.

    [0021] In FIG. 9, the method includes removing the loaded and sealed cartridges 104 from the rack 103. For example, this can include sliding (e.g., manually sliding, see large arrows) the rack 103 off of the underlying support surface 102, and supporting (e.g., manually supporting) the rack 103 above a container 100. In this method, the cartridges 104 supported by the rack 103 can fall through the bottom of the rack 103 (and through support holes 111 and base holes 107) into the container 100. In some embodiments, the entire process can be performed and completed with manual labor, such that no machines (e.g., a lever, pulley, etc.) or electronics are required.

    [0022] FIGS. 10-12 depict another embodiment of a cartridge processing system, method and apparatus. The embodiment of FIGS. 10-12 may have same elements as the embodiment as shown in other embodiments, e.g. as shown in FIGS. 1-9, so that unnecessary repetitions are avoided herein. Elements of the another embodiment according to FIGS. 10-12 which may differ from the elements of the embodiment of FIGS. 1-9 may be explicitly mentioned hereinafter. For example, versions of the cartridge processing system 201 can include a base 205 and a support rack 203 configured to support a plurality of cartridges 204. Cartridges 204 can be similar or even identical to cartridges 104 described earlier. In some versions, the base 205 and rack 203 can be separate, individual components (as shown). In other versions, the base 205 and rack 203 can be integrally formed as a single, monolithic component (see, e.g., FIGS. 13-15).

    [0023] Versions of the base 205 can include a generally rectangular, plate-like appearance, such as a plate 207. The plate 207 can include a surface area on which the rack 203 can be supported by the base 205. Examples of the base 205 can include one or more tabs 206 (e.g., two shown) extending laterally from opposite sides of the plate 207. Each tab 206 can include a guide, such as a rod 221. When the base 205 is horizontal, the rods 221 can extend vertically upward therefrom for a selected distance. In the addition, the base 205 can include or more handles 210 (e.g., two shown). The handles 210 can be located opposite from each other along the perimeter of the plate 207, such as the front and back of the base 205. The handles 210 can be configured for manual manipulation of the base 205 (and the rack 203, when it is on the base 205) by a user.

    [0024] Embodiments of the rack 203 can be generally rectangular in shape, and can have a block-like appearance. The rack 203 can include support holes 211. Versions of the support holes 211 can have a larger inner diameter at a top of the rack 203 (FIG. 10), and a smaller inner diameter at a bottom of the rack 203 (FIG. 11). In some embodiments, the cartridges 204 can be configured to have a consistent outer diameter. The outer diameter of the cartridges 204 can be smaller than the inner diameter of the support holes 211 at the top of the rack 203, and larger than the inner diameter of the support holes 211 at the bottom of the rack. The cartridges 204 can be supported and retained (i.e., by gravity) in the support holes 211 of the rack 203, as shown. Cartridges 204 can be included in a plurality of the racks 203 in an operational filling process. The cartridges 204 and racks 203 can be interchangeable.

    [0025] The cartridge processing system 201 also can include embodiments having a product bowl or tray 231. The tray 231 can be configured to substantially the same or even identical to tray 131 described herein. Just as tray 131 can engage guide 121, tray 231 can engage the guides or rods 221. Embodiments of the tray 231 can have a lower end 233 with receptacles 235 configured to slidably and releasably engage respective ones of the rods 221. In one example, the rods 221 can extend through the receptacles 235. The tray 231 can further include a platform 237 with platform holes 239. During operation, examples of the platform holes 239 can be configured to be substantially coaxial with the cartridges 204 in the support holes 211 of the rack 203. Embodiments of the tray 231 can include a funnel 241. The funnel 241 can extend, such as outward and upward, from the platform 237. Versions of the funnel 241 can form a perimeter around the platform 237 and platform holes 239.

    [0026] As previously described for the embodiment of FIG. 7, versions of the platform holes 239 can have a platform hole diameter that is less than a cartridge inner diameter of the cartridges 204. In some embodiments, the platform holes 239 can taper down in diameter from an upper vertical elevation to a lower vertical elevation at the platform hole diameter 243, as described before.

    [0027] In other embodiments, an underside 245 (herein also referred to as tray bottom) (FIG. 11) of the tray 231, opposite the platform 237, can include cartridge recesses 247. The cartridge recesses 247 can be similar or even identical to the cartridge recesses 147 described herein for another embodiment. In some versions, the cartridge recesses 247 can be configured to receive tops of respective ones of the cartridges 204. For example, the tray 231 can be configured to seat on tops of the cartridges 204. Moreover, the guides or rods 221 can be configured to merely guide alignment of the tray 231 with the base 205 and tray 203 of cartridges 204.

    [0028] Examples of the cartridge processing system 201 can include one or more spacers or bushings 222. The bushings 222 can be configured to slidably and releasably mounted to respective ones of the rods 221. The bushings 222 can comprise cylinders with coaxially centered cylindrical holes. The axial dimension of the bushings 222 can be selectively configured. For example, the tray 231 can be configured to be vertically spaced apart from (and substantially free of contact with) the bushings 222 on the rods 221 (e.g., by small gaps) when the tray 231 is seated on tops of the cartridges 204. In some versions, the bushings 222 can have a bushing axial length that is less than a rod axial length of the rods 221. There can be a clearance or gap between the bushings 222 and the tray 231 when the tray 231 is seated on tops of the cartridges 204.

    [0029] The cartridge processing system 201 also includes a tamper 251, which can be similar or even identical to tamper 151 described earlier, and can function in the same way. The tamper 251 can include a handle 252 and includes extensions 253.

    [0030] Embodiments of methods of using the cartridge filling system 201 also are included. The methods can be similar and use similar techniques as described for other embodiments herein. According to the invention, the method starts with the loading of cartridges 204 in the rack 203. One end of each cartridge 204 can be closed with a cap or plug. The method includes positioning the rack 203 on the base 205, can include aligning the receptacles 235 of the tray 231 with the rods 221, and includes seating the tray 231 on tops of the cartridges 204.

    [0031] The method continues by loading the tray 231 with a selected amount of product. The product can include, for example, loose particles of material. Thereafter, the method includes manipulating the product in the tray 231 to fall into the cartridges 204. The method continues by tamping the product with the tamper 251 further down into the cartridges 204. Embodiments of the method can include further manipulating the product remaining in the tray 231 to fall into the cartridges 204. Thereafter, the method can include further tamping of and slightly compressing the product in the cartridges 204. After the cartridges 204 are filled with a desired amount of product, the method includes removing the tray 231 from the tops of the cartridges 204, and can include removing the rack 203 of cartridges 204 from the base 205. Examples of the method includes closing the cartridges 204 with upper caps or plugs with the product inside the cartridges 204. The method includes removing the loaded and sealed cartridges 104 from the rack 103. Another rack 203 of cartridges 204 without product can then be placed on the base 205 such that the method can repeat.

    [0032] FIGS. 13-15 depict another embodiment of a cartridge processing system, method and apparatus. The embodiment of FIGS. 13-15 may have same elements as the embodiment as shown in other embodiments, e.g. as shown in FIGS. 1-9 or FIGS. 10-12, so that unnecessary repetitions are avoided herein. Elements of the another embodiment according to FIGS. 13-15 which may differ from the elements of the embodiment of FIGS. 1-9 or the elements of FIG. 10-12 may be explicitly mentioned hereinafter. For example, versions of the cartridge processing system 301 can be similar and, in some features and components, identical to the embodiment of system 201, including a base 305, support rack 303 and cartridges 304. In this version, the base 205 and rack 203 can be integrally formed as a single, monolithic component. Cartridges 304 can be included in a plurality of the racks 303 in an operational product filling process. The cartridges 304 and racks 303 can be interchangeable.

    [0033] Versions of the base 305 can include a plate 307 with tabs 306 and guides, such as rods 321 on opposite sides. Embodiments also can include a tray 331 with receptacles 335 that can engage rods 321. The tray 331 can further include a platform 337 with platform holes 339, a funnel 341 and a tamper 351, as described for the other embodiments.

    [0034] Examples of the cartridge processing system 301 can include spacers or bushings 322. The bushings 322 can be configured to slidably and releasably mounted to respective ones of the rods 321. The bushings 322 can comprise cylinders with coaxially centered cylindrical holes. The axial dimension of the bushings 322 can be selectively configured. For example, the tray 331 can be vertically spaced apart from the bushings 322 (by small gaps) while engaged with the rods 321 when the tray 331 is seated on tops of the cartridges 304. In some versions, the bushings 322 can have a bushing axial length that is longer than that of bushings 222, since tray 303 is formed in base 305.

    [0035] Embodiments of methods of using the cartridge filling system 301 also are included. The methods can be similar and use similar techniques as described for other embodiments herein. A plurality of racks 303 (and bases 305) of cartridges 304 without product can be used to repeat the method.


    Claims

    1. A cartridge processing system (101; 201; 301), comprising:

    a base (105; 205; 305) configured to support cartridges (104; 204; 304), the base having a rack (103; 203; 303) with support holes (111; 211; 311) for supporting respective ones of the cartridges (104);

    a tray (131; 231; 331) which comprises a tray bottom (145; 245) configured to be removably placed on tops of the cartridges (104; 204; 304), the tray (131; 231; 331) has a platform (137; 237; 337) with platform holes (139; 239; 339) substantially coaxially aligned with respective ones of the support holes (111; 211; 311), and the tray (131; 231; 331) has a funnel (141; 241; 341) extending from the platform (137; 237; 337), the funnel (141; 241; 341) surrounds the platform holes (139; 239; 339), such that the platform holes (139; 239; 339) are conduits for product (420) to be placed in the cartridges (104; 204; 304); and

    a tamper (151; 251; 351) configured to engage the tray (131; 231; 331), the tamper (151; 251; 351) having extensions (153; 253) that are configured to extend through respective ones of the platform holes (139; 239; 339) and into respective ones of the cartridges (104; 204; 304).


     
    2. The cartridge processing system (101; 201; 301) of claim 1, wherein the base (105; 205; 305) and the rack (103; 203; 303) are integrally formed as a single, monolithic structure.
     
    3. The cartridge processing system (101; 201; 301) of claim 1, wherein the base (105; 205; 305) comprises a plurality of bases (105; 205; 305) each of which can be selectively used with the rack (131; 231; 331).
     
    4. The cartridge processing system (101) of one of the preceding claims, wherein the support holes (111) comprise a support hole inner diameter (115) that is greater than a cartridge outer diameter of the cartridges (104).
     
    5. The cartridge processing system (101; 201; 301) of claim 4, wherein a portion of the tray (131; 231; 331) comprises a receptacle that engages a guide (121; 221; 321), wherein the guide (121; 221; 321) is preferably configured to guide alignment of the tray (131; 231; 331) with the base (105; 205; 305).
     
    6. The cartridge processing system (101; 201; 301) of claim 5, wherein the guide (121; 221; 321) extends from the base (105; 205; 305) and/or the guide (121; 221; 321) has guide portions that are located on opposite lateral sides of the base (105; 205; 305).
     
    7. The cartridge processing system (101; 201; 301) of claim 1, wherein the tray (131; 231; 331) is vertically spaced apart from the rack (103; 203; 303) when the tray (131; 231; 331) is seated on tops of the cartridges (104, 204, 304).
     
    8. The cartridge processing system (101; 201; 301) of claim 1, wherein the tray bottom (145; 245) comprises cartridge recesses (147; 247) that circumscribe respective ones of the platform holes (139; 239), and the cartridge recesses (147; 247) receive tops of respective ones of the cartridges (104; 204).
     
    9. The cartridge processing system (101; 201; 301) of claim 1, wherein the platform holes (139; 239) have a platform hole diameter (143; 243) that is less than a cartridge inner diameter (106; 206) of the cartridges (104; 204).
     
    10. The cartridge processing system (101; 201; 301) of claim 1, wherein the platform holes (139; 239) taper down in diameter from the platform (137; 237) to the tray bottom (145; 245).
     
    11. The cartridge processing system (101; 201; 301) of claim 1, wherein the cartridges (104; 204; 304) comprise upper plugs (108) having a plug axial depth of insertion, wherein preferably the extensions (153; 253) of the tamper (151; 251) comprise cylinders, and each cylinder has a distal length portion that is substantially equal to the plug axial depth of insertion.
     
    12. The cartridge processing system (101; 201; 301) of claim 1, wherein the cartridges (104; 204; 304) consist of hollow cylindrical tubes.
     
    13. A method of processing cartridges (104; 204; 304) s the method comprising:

    (a) loading cartridges (104; 204; 304) in a rack (103; 203; 303);

    (b) seating a tray (131; 231; 331) on tops of the cartridges (104, 204 304);

    (c) loading the tray (131; 231; 331) with a selected amount of product;

    (d) manipulating the product in the tray to fall through holes in the tray (131; 231; 331) into the cartridges (104; 204; 304);

    (e) tamping the product in the cartridges (104; 204; 304);

    (f) removing the tray (131; 231; 331) from the tops of the cartridges (104; 204; 304); and then

    (g) closing tops of the cartridges (104; 204; 304) and removing the cartridges (104; 204; 304) from the rack (103; 203; 303),

    wherein in steps (b) through (e), the holes in the tray (131; 231; 331) substantially align with respective ones of the cartridges (104; 204; 304).
     
    14. The method of claim 13 wherein, prior to step (f), the method comprises further manipulating product remaining in the tray (131; 231; 331) to fall through the holes into the cartridges (104; 204; 304) and preferably afterwards further tamping the product in the cartridges (104; 204; 304) prior to step (f).
     
    15. The method of claim 13, wherein tamping comprises pushing the product further down into in the cartridges (104; 204; 304) and preferably step (g) comprises inserting plugs into the cartridges (104; 204; 304).
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Kartuschenverarbeitungssystem (101; 201; 301), das Folgendes umfasst:

    eine Basis (105; 205; 305), die konfiguriert ist, Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) zu tragen, wobei die Basis ein Gestell (103; 203; 303) mit Trägerlöchern (111; 211; 311) zum Tragen jeweiliger Kartuschen (104) aufweist;

    eine Wanne (131; 231; 331), die einen Wannenboden (145; 245) umfasst, der konfiguriert ist, auf entfernbare Weise auf den Oberseiten der Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) angeordnet zu werden, wobei die Wanne (131; 231; 331) eine Plattform (137; 237; 337) mit Plattformlöchem (139; 239; 339), die im Wesentlichen koaxial auf jeweilige der Trägerlöcher (111; 211; 311) ausgerichtet sind, aufweist und die Wanne (131; 231; 331) einen Trichter (141; 241; 341) aufweist, der sich von der Plattform (137; 237; 337) erstreckt, wobei der Trichter (141; 241; 341) die Plattformlöcher (139; 239; 339) umgibt, derart, dass die Plattformlöcher (139; 239; 339) Leitungen für ein in den Kartuschen (104; 204, 304) zu platzierendes Produkt (420) sind; und

    einen Stampfer (151; 251; 351), der konfiguriert ist, mit der Wanne (131; 231; 331) in Eingriff zu gelangen, wobei der Stampfer (151; 251; 351) Erweiterungen (153; 253) aufweist, die konfiguriert sind, sich durch jeweilige Plattformlöcher (139; 239; 339) und in jeweilige Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) zu erstrecken.


     
    2. Kartuschenverarbeitungssystem (101; 201; 301) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Basis (105; 205; 305) und das Gestell (103; 203; 303) als eine einzige, monolithische Struktur einteilig ausgebildet sind.
     
    3. Kartuschenverarbeitungssystem (101; 201; 301) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Basis (105; 205; 305) mehrere Basen (105; 205; 305) umfasst, die jeweils wahlweise mit dem Gestell (131; 231; 331) verwendet werden können.
     
    4. Kartuschenverarbeitungssystem (101; 201; 301) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Trägerlöcher (111) einen Trägerlochinnendurchmesser (115) aufweisen, der größer als ein Kartuschenaußendurchmesser der Kartuschen (104) ist.
     
    5. Kartuschenverarbeitungssystem (101; 201; 301) nach Anspruch 4, wobei ein Abschnitt der Wanne (131; 231; 331) eine Aufnahme umfasst, die mit einer Führung (121; 221; 321) in Eingriff gelangt, wobei die Führung (121; 221; 321) vorzugsweise konfiguriert ist, die Ausrichtung der Wanne (131; 231; 331) auf die Basis (105; 205; 305) zu führen.
     
    6. Kartuschenverarbeitungssystem (101; 201; 301) nach Anspruch 5, wobei sich die Führung (121; 221; 321) von der Basis (105; 205; 305) erstreckt und/oder die Führung (121; 221; 321) Führungsabschnitte aufweist, die auf gegenüberliegenden, seitlichen Seiten der Basis (105; 205; 305) angeordnet sind.
     
    7. Kartuschenverarbeitungssystem (101; 201; 301) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Wanne (131; 231; 331) vom Gestell (103; 203; 303) vertikal beabstandet ist, wenn die Wanne (131; 231; 331) auf die Oberseiten der Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) gesetzt ist.
     
    8. Kartuschenverarbeitungssystem (101; 201; 301) nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Wannenboden (145; 245) Kartuschenvertiefungen (147; 247) umfasst, die jeweilige Plattformlöcher (139; 239) abgrenzen, und die Kartuschenvertiefungen (147; 247) die Oberseiten jeweiliger Kartuschen (104; 204) aufnehmen.
     
    9. Kartuschenverarbeitungssystem (101; 201; 301) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Plattformlöcher (139; 239) einen Plattformlochdurchmesser (143; 243) aufweisen, der kleiner als ein Kartuscheninnendurchmesser (106; 206) der Kartuschen (104; 204) ist.
     
    10. Kartuschenverarbeitungssystem (101; 201; 301) nach Anspruch 1, wobei sich die Plattformlöcher (139; 239) bezüglich des Durchmessers von der Plattform (137; 237) zum Wannenboden (145; 245) verjüngen.
     
    11. Kartuschenverarbeitungssystem (101; 201; 301) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) obere Stopfen (108) mit einer axialen Stopfeneinsetztiefe umfassen, wobei die Erweiterungen (153; 253) des Stampfers (151; 251) vorzugsweise Zylinder umfassen und jeder Zylinder einen distalen Längenabschnitt aufweist, der im Wesentlichen gleich der axialen Stopfeneinsetztiefe ist.
     
    12. Kartuschenverarbeitungssystem (101; 201; 301) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) aus hohlen, zylindrischen Rohren bestehen.
     
    13. Verfahren zum Verarbeiten von Kartuschen (104; 204; 304), wobei das Verfahren Folgendes umfasst:

    (a) Laden von Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) in ein Gestell (103; 203; 303);

    (b) Setzen einer Wanne (131; 231; 331) auf die Oberseiten der Kartuschen (104; 204; 304);

    (c) Beladen der Wanne (131; 231; 331) mit einer ausgewählten Menge eines Produkts;

    (d) Manipulieren des Produkts in der Wanne, derart, dass es durch Löcher in der Wanne (131; 231; 331) in die Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) fällt;

    (e) Stampfen des Produkts in den Kartuschen (104; 204; 304);

    (f) Entfernen der Wanne (131; 231; 331) von den Oberseiten der Kartuschen (104; 204; 304); und anschließend

    (g) Verschließen der Oberseiten der Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) und Entfernen der Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) aus dem Gestell (103; 203; 303),

    wobei sich die Löcher in der Wanne (131; 231; 331) in den Schritten (b) bis (e) im Wesentlichen auf jeweilige der Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) ausrichten.
     
    14. Verfahren nach Anspruch 13, wobei das Verfahren vor Schritt (f) ferner das Manipulieren eines Produkts, das in der Wanne (131; 231; 331) zurückbleibt, derart, dass es durch die Löcher in die Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) fällt, und vorzugsweise danach ferner das Stampfen des Produkts in den Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) vor Schritt (f) umfasst.
     
    15. Verfahren nach Anspruch 13, wobei das Stampfen das Schieben des Produkts weiter nach unten in das Innere der Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) umfasst und der Schritt (g) vorzugsweise das Einsetzen von Stopfen in die Kartuschen (104; 204; 304) umfasst.
     


    Revendications

    1. Système de traitement de cartouches (101 ; 201 ; 301), comportant :

    une base (105 ; 205 ; 305) configurée pour supporter des cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304), la base ayant un râtelier (103 ; 203 ; 303) avec des trous de support (111 ; 211 ; 311) pour supporter des cartouches respectives parmi les cartouches (104) ;

    un bac (131 ; 231 ; 331) qui comporte un fond de bac (145 ; 245) configuré pour être placé de manière amovible sur des dessus des cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304), le bac (131 ; 231 ; 331) a une plate-forme (137 ; 237 ; 337) avec des trous de plate-forme (139 ; 239 ; 339) alignés de manière sensiblement coaxiale avec des trous respectifs parmi les trous de support (111 ; 211 ; 311), et le bac (131 ; 231 ; 331) a un entonnoir (141 ; 241 ; 341) s'étendant à partir de la plate-forme (137 ; 237 ; 337), l'entonnoir (141 ; 241 ; 341) entoure les trous de plate-forme (139 ; 239 ; 339), de telle sorte que les trous de plate-forme (139 ; 239 ; 339) sont des conduits pour le produit (420) à placer dans les cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) ; et

    un dameur (151 ; 251 ; 351) configuré pour s'engager dans le bac (131 ; 231 ; 331), le dameur (151 ; 251 ; 351) ayant des extensions (153 ; 253) qui sont configurées pour s'étendre à travers des trous respectifs parmi les trous de plate-forme (139 ; 239 ; 339) et dans des cartouches respectives parmi les cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304).


     
    2. Système de traitement de cartouches (101 ; 201 ; 301) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la base (105 ; 205 ; 305) et le râtelier (103 ; 203 ; 303) sont formés de manière solidaire comme une seule structure monolithique.
     
    3. Système de traitement de cartouches (101 ; 201 ; 301) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la base (105 ; 205 ; 305) comporte une pluralité de bases (105 ; 205 ; 305) dont chacune peut être sélectivement utilisée avec le râtelier (131 ; 231 ; 331).
     
    4. Système de traitement de cartouches (101) selon l'une des revendications précédentes, dans lequel les trous de support (111) ont un diamètre intérieur de trou de support (115) qui est supérieur à un diamètre extérieur de cartouche des cartouches (104).
     
    5. Système de traitement de cartouches (101 ; 201 ; 301) selon la revendication 4, dans lequel une partie du bac (131 ; 231 ; 331) comporte un logement qui vient en prise avec un guide (121 ; 221 ; 321), dans lequel le guide (121 ; 221 ; 321) est de préférence configuré pour guider un alignement du bac (131 ; 231 ; 331) avec la base (105 ; 205 ; 305).
     
    6. Système de traitement de cartouches (101 ; 201 ; 301) selon la revendication 5, dans lequel le guide (121 ; 221 ; 321) s'étend à partir de la base (105 ; 205 ; 305) et/ou le guide (121 ; 221 ; 321) a des parties de guidage qui sont situées sur des côtés latéraux opposés de la base (105 ; 205 ; 305).
     
    7. Système de traitement de cartouches (101 ; 201 ; 301) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le bac (131 ; 231 ; 331) est verticalement espacé du râtelier (103 ; 203 ; 303) lorsque le râtelier est en appui sur des dessus des cartouches (104, 204, 304).
     
    8. Système de traitement de cartouches (101 ; 201 ; 301) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le fond de bac (145 ; 245) comporte des évidements de cartouches (147 ; 247) qui circonscrivent des trous respectifs parmi les trous de plate-forme (139 ; 239), et les évidements de cartouches (147 ; 247) reçoivent des dessus de cartouches respectives parmi les cartouches (104 ; 204).
     
    9. Système de traitement de cartouches (101 ; 201 ; 301) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel les trous de plate-forme (139 ; 239) ont un diamètre de trou de plate-forme (143 ; 243) qui est inférieur à un diamètre intérieur de cartouche (106 ; 246) des cartouches (104 ; 204).
     
    10. Système de traitement de cartouches (101 ; 201 ; 301) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel les trous de plate-forme (139 ; 239) diminuent en diamètre à partir de la plate-forme (137 ; 237) jusqu'au fond de bac (145 ; 245).
     
    11. Système de traitement de cartouches (101 ; 201 ; 301) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel les cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) comportent des bouchons supérieurs (108) ayant une profondeur axiale d'insertion de bouchon, dans lequel les extensions (153 ; 253) du dameur (151 ; 251) comportent de préférence des cylindres, et chaque cylindre à une partie de longueur distale qui est sensiblement égale à la profondeur axiale d'insertion de bouchon.
     
    12. Système de traitement de cartouches (101 ; 201 ; 301) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel les cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) sont constituées de tubes cylindriques creux.
     
    13. Procédé de traitement de cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304), le procédé comportant les étapes consistant à :

    (a) charger des cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) dans un râtelier (103 ; 203 ; 303) ;

    (b) mettre en appui un râtelier (103 ; 203 ; 303) sur des dessus des cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) ;

    (c) charger le bac (131 ; 231 ; 331) avec une quantité de produit sélectionnée ;

    (d) manipuler le produit dans le bac pour qu'il tombe à travers des trous dans le bac (131 ; 231 ; 331) dans les cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) ;

    (e) damer le produit dans les cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) ;

    (f) retirer le bac (131 ; 231 ; 331) des dessus des cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) ; et ensuite

    (g) fermer les dessus des cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) et retirer les cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) du râtelier (103 ; 203 ; 303),

    dans lequel aux étapes (b) à (e), les trous dans le bac (131 ; 231 ; 331) sont sensiblement alignés avec des cartouches respectives parmi les cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304).
     
    14. Procédé selon la revendication 13, dans lequel, avant l'étape (f), le procédé comporte en outre la manipulation de produit restant dans le bac (131 ; 231 ; 331) pour qu'il tombe à travers les trous dans les cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) et de préférence ensuite, le damage du produit dans les cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) avant l'étape (f).
     
    15. Procédé selon la revendication 13, dans lequel le damage comporte l'avancée par poussée du produit vers le bas dans les cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304) et l'étape (g) comporte de préférence l'insertion de bouchons dans les cartouches (104 ; 204 ; 304).
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description