Patent application title: System and Method for Assembly of Packettes Having Closures
David Moreau (Fayetteville, NY, US)
Thomas Larkin (Marathon, NY, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65B4304FI
Class name: Methods forming or partial forming a receptacle and subsequent filling making a pocket in web material by folding and side sealing (e.g., flat bag making)
Publication date: 2011-11-03
Patent application number: 20110265429
A method of automatically manufacturing a filled packette having a
closure where a film is advanced from a feed roller to a punch that
produces a series of holes in the film. Individual closures are then
positioned into each punched hole and ultrasonically welded into place.
The film is folded and oriented vertically so that heat sealing may be
used to form the side and bottom edges of individual pockets. The film is
then clipped to form individual pockets and filed with the appropriate
amount of desired material from a bulk feeder. The filled pockets may be
sealed along the top edge to form a closed packette and die cut to form
the final packette shape.
1. An apparatus for making a packette, comprising: a feed roll for
supplying a substrate; at least one roller for advancing said substrate
provided by said feed roll in a horizontal orientation; a punch
positioned to form a hole in said substrate as said substrate is advance
passed said punch. a feeder bowl having a weld nest and a pick and place
mechanism for positioning a closure in said substrate in alignment with
said hole formed in said substrate; a welder for adhering said closure to
said substrate; a guide for orienting said substrate and said closure
vertically; a first sealing mechanism positioned to form side and bottom
seals in said substrate around said closure, thereby defining a pocket in
said substrate; a filling station positioned to fill said pocket with a
predetermined amount of material from a bulk source; a second sealing
mechanism positioned to form a top seal in said substrate, thereby
forming a closed pocket; and cutting knives for cutting said substrate in
a predetermined location to sever said pocket from said substrate.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprises a roller positioned to grasp said substrate on said feed roll and advance said substrate to said punch.
3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said welder is an ultrasonic welder.
4. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising an inspection station positioned downstream of said filling station.
5. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein said vision inspection system comprises an vision camera aligned to capture images of said pocket after filling with said material and verify that said pocket has been properly filled.
6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said guide comprises a plurality of adjustable guide rods.
7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said guide rods are positioned to fold said substrate and reorient said substrate from a horizontal to a vertical alignment.
8. A method of forming a packette, comprising the steps of: advancing a film of substrate; punching a hole in said substrate; attaching a closure to said substrate so that said closure is aligned with said hole; folding said substrate; forming first and second side seams and a bottom seam in said substrate around said closure and said hole to form a pocket in said substrate; filling said pocket with material from a bulk source; and forming a top seam in said filled pocket.
9. The method of claim 8, further comprising the step of clipping said substrate to isolate said pocket from any adjacent substrate.
10. The method of claim 9, further comprising the step of inspecting said filled pocket.
11. The method of claim 10, wherein the step of inspecting said filled pocket comprising capturing a digital image of said filled pocket and analyzing the captured image to verify that the step of filling said pocket with material was performed correctly.
12. The method of claim 10, wherein said step of forming comprises heat sealing,
13. The method of claim 12, where said step of attaching said closure to said substrate comprises the step of ultrasonically welding said closure to said substrate.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein said step of ultrasonically welding said closure to said substrate comprises ultrasonically welding said closure to said substrate with 20,000 Hz.
15. The method of claim 9, further comprising the step of die cutting said filled pocket after forming the top seam.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates to systems and methods for forming packaging and, more particularly, to a system and method for automatically manufacturing packettes having individual resealable closures.
 2. Description of the Related Art
 The conventional method for forming and filling packettes having closures involves hand loading, orienting, and manually filling and sealing individual packettes. While horizontal conventional feed filling machines are able to automatically fill and seal pre-formed pouches or pockets, there is no known method or system for automatically creating forming packettes having individual closures or, more specifically, forming such packettes as part of the filling and sealing process. Instead, conventional systems require the separate manual formation of the packets apart from the filling and sealing process. Additionally, convention feed systems route the film material through rollers and sharp angles that will tear any inflexible attachments off of the film due to the inability of the attachments to turn in the same radius as the film. As a result, such systems are prone to human error, very labor intensive, and more expensive than a fully automated system, and incapable of handling attachments to the film.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 It is therefore a principal object and advantage of the present invention to provide a system and method for automatically creating and filling packettes having closures.
 It is an additional object and advantage of the present invention to provide a system and method for creating and filling packettes having closures that improves the ease of inspection.
 It is an additional object and advantage of the present invention to provide a system and method for creating and filling packettes having closures that improves the quality of the finished packette.
 In accordance with the foregoing objects and advantages, the present invention provides an automated system for manufacturing packettes having closures and filling the packettes with bulk materials. First, the desired film for forming the packette is loaded onto a feed roller and advanced horizontally before a punch. As the film is advanced, the punch forms holes in the film dimensioned to correspond to the closure. Individual closures are then positioned into each punched hole and ultrasonically welded into place. The film containing the welded closures is then folded and oriented vertically and then heat sealed to define the side and bottom edges of each individual pocket that will include one of the welded closures. The film is then clipped to form individual pockets and filed with the appropriate amount of desired material from a bulk feeder. The filled pockets may be sealed along the top edge to form a closed packette and die cut, if required, to form the final packette shape. Automated or manual inspection stations may be positioned at critical locations in the process, such as after the welding of the closure to the film.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)
 The present invention will be more fully understood and appreciated by reading the following Detailed Description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
 FIG. 1 is a top view schematic of a manufacturing process according to the present invention.
 FIG. 2 is a side view schematic of a manufacturing process according to the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 Referring now to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout, there is seen in FIG. 1 a system 10 according to the present invention for automatically manufacturing and filling packettes with bulk materials. System 10 comprises feed roll 12 for supplying a film 14 of a packette substrate in a horizontal direction (Position A). Packette substrate may comprise various plastics, laminates and other know packaging materials. System 10 further includes a pair of rollers 16 or support guides for advancing film 14 from feed roll 12. A hole punch 18 is positioned downstream of rollers 16 and adapted to punch a series of holes in film 14 as it is advanced along.
 System 10 further comprises a feeder bowl 20 positioned downstream of punch 18 and including a pick and place device 22 for positioning a packette closure, such as a resealable closure 40 shown in FIG. 3, in each hole that is punched in film 14. Feeder bowl 20 further includes an ultrasonic welder 24 for attaching the closures when positioned in an associated weld nest 26 located inline or downstream from the location of the placement of the closure on film 14. If welder 24 is located downstream, a mechanism for temporarily holding the closure to the film while it travels to the weld station may be used, such as a vacuum, belt, linear conveyor or the like. Welder 24 preferably comprises a 20,000 Hz ultrasonic welder, such as a Model 910W available from Branson Ultrasonics Corp. of Danbury, Conn. An inspection station 28 may be located downstream of weld nest 26 for automatic or manual verification that the closures have been properly located and welded to film 14.
 System 10 further comprises adjustable guide rods 30 or a formed sheet of metal or smooth material positioned downstream of inspection station 28 for folding film 14 and reorienting film 14 vertically for filling and sealing operations. Guides 30 are preferably of sufficient length, angle, and initial starting height to evenly transition film 14 from a horizontal orientation to a vertical orientation (Position B). Referring to FIG. 2, film 14 comprises a series of closures 31 welded along a given length of film 14 at this point. Drive rollers 32 may be positioned proximately to guides 30 for further advancing film 14.
 System 10 additionally comprises seal bars 34 are also positioned downstream of guides 30 to form a pocket in film 14 by seal forming side and bottom edges around each closure welded to film 14. Cutting knives 36 are then positioned to cut film 14 to form individual pockets in film 14, each of which is associated with a welded closure. Cut pockets may be advanced by a clipped chain 38 and located before a second inspection station 40, to automatically or manually ensure that the closure is properly in place prior to filling.
 A filling station 42 is positioned downstream of clipped chain 38 for filing each pocket with whatever bulk supplies are desired. Another visual inspection station 44 may be positioned after filling station 42. Preferably, inspection station 44 employs a vision camera for automatically checking the filled pocket to verify that it has been properly formed and filled. A Model 3G7 or 3G1 vision sensor system available from Cognex of Natick, Mass.
 Finally, a sealing device 46 for sealing the top of the pockets is used to form a sealed packette. A die cutter 48 is positioned downstream from sealing device 46 to cut the packettes into the final, desired shape. Completed packets may be collected or dropped onto an offload conveyor for transportation elsewhere, such as to a location for packing multiple packets for shipment to consumers.
 It should be recognized by those of skill in the art that a conventional horizontal pouch packaging machine, such as a Bartelt® IM Fill and Seal Machine may be adapted for transferring the formed pockets once the film is oriented horizontally by guides 30, placing the pockets within the leading and trailing clamps of chain 38, and opening, filling and sealing the pockets to form the closured packettes.
 As seen in FIG. 3, finished packette 40 includes a closure 42 welded to one major side surface thereof for selectively permitting access to an internal cavity 44 of packette 40. Closure 42 preferably comprises a body 46 that provides a point of adherence to film 14 and a cover 48 pivotally mounted to body 48 for movement between a open position, where cover 46 allows communication with cavity 44, and a closed position, where cover 46 prohibits communication with cavity 44.
 The method of the present invention involves loading a desired film onto a feed roller and advancing the film horizontally before a punch. As the film is advanced, the punch produces a series of holes in the film that are dimensioned to correspond to the packette closure device to be used. Individual closures are then positioned into each punched hole and ultrasonically welded into place by fusing the closure to the film. After optional inspection, the film is folded and oriented vertically so that heat sealing may be used to form the side and bottom edges of individual pockets around each welded closure. The film is then clipped to form individual pockets, optionally inspected and filed with the appropriate amount of desired material from a bulk feeder. After another optional inspection step, the filled pockets may be sealed along the top edge to form a closed packette, die cut to form the final packette shape, and offloaded onto a conveyor for further handling and shipment.
Patent applications in class Making a pocket in web material by folding and side sealing (e.g., flat bag making)
Patent applications in all subclasses Making a pocket in web material by folding and side sealing (e.g., flat bag making)