Wisconsin Patent of the Month – June 2021

Rotary machines are used to dispense controlled volumes of dry materials into containers from above. They traditionally use a rotated turret located beneath a combination scale. The turret has drop buckets with openings that coordinate with a funnel beneath. The drop buckets contain x volume of product which is dropped through the funnel into the final container. This process can be limited depending on the material being deposited. If it’s sticky or tacky it often clogs up the funnels and drop buckets. Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery has developed a new rotary system that better handles these difficult materials.

These difficult materials are called “bridgeable” materials as they are able to build on each other, across the gap and block flow of the remaining product. A common bridgeable material are gummy candies – like gummy bears. Their rotary filling machine is set to receive x x volume of product and dispense these into the required end-use bottles or containers. Similar to standard machines, the product is passed through a container and funnel. The funnels and drop buckets are instead made of  stainless steels, since they have a low coefficient of sliding friction. They are also designed with dimples to create a non-smooth surface and reduce adhesion. They have also modified the funnel assembly with  a non-linear tapering to dilate the bridgeable materials as it gets passed through the fill opening. This tapering causes the bridgeable product to bounce off the walls and break up clumps. This helps to dispense them in a single file rather than in clumps and provides better final dispensing. Single file dispensing along with reduced adhesion helps prevent this bridgeable materials from clumping and clogging the machine.

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