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Title:
APPARATUS FOR FORMING A COLLAR OF A DOUBLE PACKET AND PACKAGING LINE FOR FORMING A DOUBLE PACKET
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/162982
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Apparatus for forming a collar (26) of a double packet, wherein said collar (26) comprises at least a base sheet (27) on which at least a central rib (25) and at least two lateral flaps (29) protruding from said base sheet (27) are made. The forming apparatus comprises a forming dev ice (34) rotatable intermittently and provided with one or more heads (35) to hold the base sheet (27) of the collar (26) in position in an extended condition, in order to move the base sheet (27) along a segment of a circular operating path (P) between a supply station (P1), a folding station (P2) and a transfer station (P3). The intermittent rotation of the forming device (34) is coordinated with the angular position of the supply station (P1), folding station (P2) and transfer station (P3) along the operating path (P). The forming device (34) is configured to cooperate selectively and by means of the intermittent rotation along the operating path (P).

Inventors:
DRAGHETTI, Fiorenzo (121/A, OZZANO DELL'EMILIA, 40064, IT)
Application Number:
IT2019/050042
Publication Date:
August 29, 2019
Filing Date:
February 26, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
GIMA TT S.P.A. (Via Tolara di Sotto, 121/A, OZZANO DELL'EMILIA, 40064, IT)
International Classes:
B65B19/16; B31B50/44; B31B50/52; B65B19/22; B65B49/08
Foreign References:
US20060005514A12006-01-12
GB367111A1932-02-18
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PETRAZ, Davide Luigi et al. (GLP SRL, Viale Europa Unita 171, UDINE, 33100, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Apparatus for forming a collar (26) of a double packet, wherein said collar (26) comprises at least a base sheet (27) on which at least a central rib (25) and at least two lateral flaps (29) protruding from said base sheet (27) are made, said forming apparatus being characterized in that it comprises a forming device (34) rotatable intermittently and provided with one or more heads (35) to hold the base sheet (27) of the collar (26) in position in an extended condition, in order to move said base sheet (27) along at least one segment of a circular operating path (P) between a supply station (PI), a folding station (P2) and a transfer station (P3), wherein the intermittent rotation of said forming device (34) is coordinated at least with the angular position of said supply station (PI), folding station (P2) and transfer station (P3) along said operating path (P), said forming device (34) being configured to cooperate selectively and by means of said intermittent rotation along said operating path (P) with:

a supply device (36) to supply said base sheet (27), disposed at said supply station (PI) and provided with at least a support element (54) to support the base sheet (27) translatable with respect to said forming device (34);

a folding device (37) to fold said base sheet (27), disposed at said folding station (P2) and provided with at least a folding element (38) translatable in a folding direction (B2) with respect to the base sheet (27) and by means of which at least a partial folding of the base sheet (27) is performed;

and a mobile transfer device (41), disposed at said transfer station (P3) and configured to transfer the at least partly folded collar (26) from said head (35) of the forming device (34) to a wrapping device (21), intermittently rotatable in a manner coordinated with the intermittent rotation of said forming device (34) and provided with one or more pockets (22) to complete the folding of the collar (26), wherein said one or more pockets of the wrapping device (21) comprise at least one pair of opposite lateral walls (23) to complete the forming or folding of the collar (26), said lateral walls (23) being configured to form said lateral flaps (29) of the collar (26), which therefore assumes a final double U-shape inside the pocket (22) during the insertion of the T-shaped collar (26) into the pocket (22) itself.

2. Forming apparatus as in claim 1 , characterized in that said forming device (34) is able to selectively stop, along said operating path (P), in at least said supply station (PI) in order to remove the base sheet (27), in which said forming device (34) cooperates with said supply device (36), at least said folding station (P2) for the at least partial folding of the base sheet (27), in which said forming device (34) cooperates with said folding device (37), and at least said transfer station (P3) in order to deliver said collar (26) to said pocket (22), in which said forming device (34) cooperates with said transfer device (41).

3. Forming apparatus as in claim 1 or 2, characterized in that said forming device (34) is configured to make the central rib (25) of the collar (26) and said pocket (22) of the wrapping device (21) is configured to make said lateral flaps (29) of the collar (26).

4. Forming apparatus as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that said folding element (38) is a flat and elongated element, in particular a blade or a knife.

5. Forming apparatus as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that said head (35) comprises contrast elements (48) between which a slit (49) is made, said folding element (38) being able to translate in said folding direction (B2) so as to insert a pair of flaps (30) of the base sheet (27) into said slit (49).

6. Forming apparatus as in claim 5, characterized in that said contrast elements (48) comprise air suction holes (56).

7. Forming apparatus as in claim 5 or 6, characterized in that said contrast elements (48) comprise rolling elements (50) configured to facilitate the sliding of the base sheet (27) between the contrast elements (48).

8. Forming apparatus as in claims 6 and 7, characterized in that said air suction holes (56) are comprised in, or associated with, said rolling elements (50).

9. Forming apparatus as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that said head (35) comprises elements (51) for holding the base sheet (27), able to define a lying plane (G) of the base sheet (27).

10. Forming apparatus as in claim 9, characterized in that said folding direction (B2) of the folding element (38) is perpendicular to said lying plane (G) of the base sheet (27).

11. Forming apparatus as in claims 9 and 10, characterized in that said folding element (38) is provided with an abutment member (39) comprising striker portions (40) and drivable at least to keep the base sheet (27) with the corresponding lateral flaps (29) on said lying plane (G).

12. Forming apparatus as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that said wrapping device (21) is rotatable around an axis (Al) of rotation which is parallel to the axis (A2) of rotation of the forming device (34).

13. Forming apparatus as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that said pocket (22) of the wrapping device (21) comprises a central element (24) for positioning the central rib (25) of the collar (26).

14. Forming apparatus as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that said transfer device (41) comprises a thruster (43) provided with holding elements (45) to hold the base sheet (27) of the collar (26).

15. Forming apparatus as in claims 9 and 14, characterized in that the holding elements (51) of the head (35) of the forming device (34) are offset with respect to the holding elements (45) of said thruster (43) of the transfer device (41).

16. Method for forming a collar (26) of a double packet, characterized in that it provides to make at least one base sheet (27) rotate intermittently, by means of a forming device (34) able to hold said base sheet (27), along at least one segment of a circular operating path (P) between a supply station (PI), a folding station (P2) and a transfer station (P3), wherein said method comprises a step of supplying at least one base sheet (27) to the forming device (34) at said supply station (PI), a step of at least partly folding the base sheet (27) at said folding station (P2) and a step of transferring, at said transfer station (P3), the at least partly folded collar (26) from the forming device (34) to a pocket (22) of a wrapping device (21) intermittently rotatable in a coordinated manner with the intermittent rotation of said forming device (34) in which the folding of the collar (26) is completed.

17. Forming method as in claim 16, characterized in that during the step of at least partial folding of the base sheet (27), the holding of the base sheet (27) on a corresponding lying plane (G) by the forming device (34) is at least partly deactivated in coordination with the execution of the at least partial folding step, until said at least partial folding step is completed and then reactivated so as to pass to the subsequent step of transferring the at least partly folded collar (26).

18. Forming method as in claim 17, characterized in that during the step of at least partial folding of the base sheet (27), it provides to form at least one central rib (25) of the collar (26), and in that during the deactivation of the holding of the base sheet (27) it provides, in coordination with the execution of the at least partial folding step and until said at least partial folding step is completed, at least a step of restoring the planarity on the plane (G) of parts of the base sheet (27) situated laterally to said central rib (25) being formed, and which tend to translate away from said lying plane (G) and in a direction opposite to the direction (Tl) along which said at least partial folding occurs.

19. Forming method as in claim 18, characterized in that said restoration step is completed by means of a translation (Tl) of said lateral portions and of said lateral flaps (29) of the base sheet (27) toward said lying plane (G).

20. Forming method as in any of the claims from 16 to 19, characterized in that, between the supply step and the transfer step, each collar (26) is always kept on said forming device (34) intermittently rotating along said at least one segment of the circular operating path (P).

21. Packaging line for forming a double packet, characterized in that it comprises a forming apparatus (33) for forming a collar (26) as in any of the claims from 1 to 15, and a feed device (31) able to cooperate with at least one of the pockets (22) of the wrapping device (21) in which a completely shaped collar (26) is positioned and into which at least two sets (32) of smoking articles are introduced.

22. Packaging method for forming a double packet using a packaging line as in claim 19, characterized in that it comprises the formation of a collar (26) according to a method as in any of the claims from 16 to 20, and the introduction of at least two sets (32) of smoking articles into at least one pocket (22) of the wrapping device (21) using said feed device (31).

Description:
“APPARATUS FOR FORMING A COLLAR OF A DOUBLE PACKET AND PACKAGING LINE FOR FORMING A DOUBLE PACKET”

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments described here concern an apparatus for forming a collar of a double packet, the corresponding method and a packaging line for forming a double packet.

Here and hereafter in the description, the term“double packet” means a packet consisting of two half-packets, or“bundles”, each of which is formed by a set of smoking articles organized and wrapped in an internal sheet of wrapping paper, or casing, for example foil or suchlike. The two half-packets are coupled with a single collar, a central portion of which is folded book-wise and interposed between the two half-packets themselves, and are disposed adjacent inside a same external casing.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

As is known, in a normal process for forming double packets, substantially double U-shaped collars are used, which, therefore, have a base sheet from which a rib and two lateral flaps protrude centrally, which protrude from opposite sides of the base sheet from the side of the central rib and which are substantially parallel to the central rib.

Packaging lines or apparatuses for double packets are known.

Known apparatuses provide to fold the central portion of the collars book-wise and to use lead-in elements which are combined with the actual folding means of the collars.

The lead-in elements, which are given the function of exerting a first deforming action on the collar disposed in a plane configuration, are usually fixed and the collar is directed toward them fed by suitable conveyor means.

The impact that occurs between the moving collar in plane configuration and the lead-in element can be harmful to the collar itself, especially when the relative speed between the lead-in element and the collar is high.

In order to solve this problem, packaging lines for forming packets have been produced, see patent IT-B-1320910 for example, which comprise a first rotatable conveyor with pockets, in each of which two half-packets are housed, and a second rotatable conveyor with pockets, in each of which an already shaped collar is positioned.

The rotatable conveyors with pockets are put adjacent to each other so that in at least one position the collar, located in a pocket of the second conveyor, can be associated with a pair of half-packets housed in a pocket of the first conveyor.

Outside the two rotatable conveyors, the known packaging line comprises a device to cut and shape the collar, with which a unit to grip and transfer the double U-shaped collar toward the second rotatable conveyor with pockets is associated.

The known packaging line is, however, rather complex and cumbersome, having to provide, for example, a rotatable conveyor whose main function is to house the collars, already double U-shaped, in different angular positions and directed radially with respect to the center of the conveyor.

The collars, in fact, are cut, folded and shaped in another cutting and folding station, separate from the conveyor, so it is necessary to provide another unit to grip and transfer the collars cut and formed by the cutting and folding station in order to insert them on each occasion in the conveyor.

It is evident that the packaging line thus formed is not very compact and determines the use of several parts and structural and functional elements to obtain, on each occasion, a double U-shaped collar to be associated with a double packet.

In fact, in addition to the rotatable conveyor on which the double U-shaped collars are disposed, and in addition to the unit to grip and transfer the double U- shaped collars from the cutting and forming station separate from the conveyor, it is also necessary to provide the rotatable conveyor with pockets, where the half- packets or“bundles” are housed.

Other limitations and disadvantages of conventional solutions and technologies will be clear to a person of skill after reading the remaining part of the present description with reference to the drawings and the description of the embodiments that follow, although it is clear that the description of the state of the art connected to the present description must not be considered an admission that what is described here is already known from the state of the prior art.

There is therefore the need to perfect an apparatus for forming a collar of a double packet and a packaging line for a double packet which can overcome at least one of the disadvantages of the prior art.

In particular, one purpose of the present invention is therefore to produce an apparatus for forming a collar of a double packet, which is provided with at least one substantially multi-functional forming device and which allows, in an automatic, quick and efficient manner, to remove a base sheet for the formation of the collar, fold it and then deliver it to a packaging line in which it will be associated with a double packet.

Another purpose of the present invention is to produce an apparatus for forming a collar of a double packet which allows to make the whole packaging line or apparatus extremely compact, thus allowing to reduce its constructive complexity and/or the number and the type of operating elements provided in the packaging line.

Another purpose of the present invention is to perfect a method for forming a collar for a double packet, which is quick, effective and economical.

Another purpose of the present invention is to provide a packaging line for double packets which, compared to known packaging lines or apparatuses, has an improved efficiency and compactness, thanks, in particular, to the use of a multi- functional forming device.

Another purpose of the present invention is to perfect a method for packaging a double packet which is extremely fast, efficient and economical.

The Applicant has devised, tested and embodied the present invention to overcome the shortcomings of the state of the art and to obtain these and other purposes and advantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is set forth and characterized in the independent claims, while the dependent claims describe other characteristics of the invention or variants to the main inventive idea.

In accordance with the above purposes, one object of the invention is an apparatus for forming a collar of a double packet, wherein the collar comprises at least a base sheet on which at least a central rib and at least two lateral flaps protruding from said base sheet are made.

According to one aspect of the invention, the forming apparatus comprises a forming device intermitently rotatable and provided with one or more heads to hold the base sheet of the collar in position in an extended condition, in order to move the base sheet along at least one segment of a circular operating path between a supply station, a folding station and a transfer station, wherein the intermitent rotation of the forming device is coordinated at least with the angular position of the supply station, folding station and transfer station along the operating path; the forming device is configured to cooperate selectively and by means of the intermitent rotation along the operating path with:

a supply device to supply the base sheet, disposed at the supply station and provided with at least a support element to support the base sheet translatable with respect to the forming device;

a folding device to fold the base sheet, disposed at the folding station and provided with at least a folding element translatable in a folding direction with respect to the base sheet and by means of which at least a partial folding of the base sheet is performed;

and a mobile transfer device, disposed at the transfer station and configured to transfer the at least partly folded collar from the head of the forming device to a wrapping device, intermitently rotatable in a manner coordinated with the intermitent rotation of the forming device and provided with one or more pockets to complete the folding of the collar.

Advantageously, therefore, in the present forming apparatus, the double U- shaped collar is at least partly formed in a substantially multi-functional forming device and able to cooperate with a supply device, a folding device and a transfer device, while the completion of the collar takes place directly in the pockets of the wrapping device, which, therefore, can be considered part of the forming apparatus.

The present forming apparatus therefore allows to automatically, quickly and efficiently remove a base sheet to form the collar, fold it and associate it with at least two sets of smoking articles supplied by a feed device of a packaging line, in which the collar will be associated with the two sets to form a double packet.

The forming device can be able to selectively stop, along the operating path, in at least the supply station in order to remove the base sheet, in which the forming device cooperates with the supply device, at least the folding station for the at least partial folding of the base sheet, in which the forming device cooperates with the folding device, and at least the transfer station in order to deliver the collar to the pocket, in which the forming device cooperates with the transfer device.

The forming device can be configured to make the central rib of the collar and the pocket of the wrapping device can be configured to make the lateral flaps of the collar.

The folding element of the folding device can be a flat and elongated element, in particular a blade or a knife.

The head of the forming device can comprise contrast elements between which a slit is made; the folding element is able to translate in the folding direction so as to insert a pair of flaps of the base sheet into the slit.

The contrast elements of the head can comprise, or be associated with, air suction holes.

Furthermore, in some embodiments, the contrast elements can comprise rolling elements configured to facilitate the sliding of the base sheet between the contrast elements.

In possible implementations, the air suction holes can be comprised in, or associated with, the rolling elements, for example incorporated, integrated or made on board the rolling elements.

In some embodiments, the head can comprise elements to hold the base sheet, able to define a lying plane of the base sheet.

Furthermore, in some embodiments the folding direction of the folding element can be perpendicular to the lying plane of the base sheet.

Moreover, in possible embodiments, the folding element can be provided with an abutment member comprising striker portions and drivable to keep the base sheet with the corresponding lateral flaps on the lying plane, therefore advantageously contrasting the tendency of the base sheet to fold forward toward the outside when it is deformed by the folding action.

Furthermore, in some embodiments the wrapping device can be rotatable around an axis of rotation which is parallel to the axis of rotation of the forming device.

The pocket of the wrapping device can comprise at least one pair of opposite lateral walls to complete the formation or folding of the collar.

Also, in some embodiments, the pocket of the wrapping device can comprise a central element to position the central rib of the collar.

According to other embodiments, the transfer device can comprise a thruster provided with holding elements to hold the base sheet of the collar.

The holding elements of the head of the forming device can be offset with respect to the holding elements of the thruster of the transfer device.

Another aspect of the invention is a method for forming a collar of a double packet, which provides to make at least one base sheet rotate intermittently, by means of a forming device able to hold the base sheet, along at least one segment of a circular operating path between a supply station, a folding station and a transfer station, wherein the method comprises a step of supplying at least one base sheet to the forming device at the supply station, a step of at least partly folding the base sheet at the folding station and a step of transferring, at the transfer station, the at least partly folded collar from the forming device to a pocket of a wrapping device intermittently rotatable in a coordinated manner with the intermittent rotation of the forming device in which the folding of the collar is completed.

During the step of at least partial folding of the base sheet, the holding of the base sheet on a corresponding lying plane by the forming device can be at least partly deactivated in coordination with the execution of the at least partial folding step, until the at least partial folding step is completed and then reactivated so as to pass to the subsequent step of transferring the at least partly folded collar.

During the step of deactivation of the holding of the base sheet, in coordination with the execution of the at least partial folding step and until the at least partial folding step is completed, at least a step of restoring the planarity of the base sheet can be provided, whose lateral portions and therefore lateral flaps tend, due to the deforming action of the folding, to flex and to translate away from the lying plane of the base sheet and in a direction opposite the direction in which the at least partial folding occurs.

The step of restoring the planarity can be completed by means of a counter- rotation and translation of the lateral portions and of the lateral flaps of the base sheet toward the lying plane. Between the supply step and the transfer step, each collar can always be kept on the forming device intermittently rotating along the at least one segment of the circular operating path.

Another aspect of the invention is a packaging line for forming a double packet, comprising a forming apparatus for forming a collar as defined above, and a feed device able to cooperate with at least one of the pockets of the wrapping device in which a completely shaped collar is positioned and into which at least two sets of smoking articles are introduced.

Another aspect of the invention is a packaging method for forming a double packet, comprising the formation of a collar according to a forming method as defined above and the introduction of at least two sets of smoking articles into at least one pocket of the wrapping device using the feed device.

These and other aspects, characteristics and advantages of the present disclosure will be better understood with reference to the following description, drawings and attached claims. The drawings, which are integrated and form part of the present description, show some embodiments of the present invention, and together with the description, are intended to describe the principles of the disclosure.

The various aspects and characteristics described in the present description can be applied individually where possible. These individual aspects, for example aspects and characteristics described in the attached dependent claims, can be the object of divisional applications.

It is understood that any aspect or characteristic that is discovered, during the patenting process, to be already known, shall not be claimed and shall be the object of a disclaimer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other characteristics of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of some embodiments, given as a non-restrictive example with reference to the attached drawings wherein:

- fig. 1 is a schematic lateral view, partly in section, of a packaging line for forming a double packet according to the present invention;

- fig. 2 is a lateral view of a forming apparatus according to the present invention;

- fig. 3 is a schematic three-dimensional view of a collar for a double packet in a plane configuration;

- fig. 4 is a schematic three-dimensional view of a collar for a double packet in a final folded configuration;

- fig. 5 is a first front view of part of a folding station of the base sheet;

- fig. 6 is a second front view of part of the folding station;

- figs. 7 to 11 are schematic views of forming steps of a collar;

- fig. 12 is a lateral view, partly in section, of a part of the present forming apparatus.

To facilitate comprehension, the same reference numbers have been used, where possible, to identify identical common elements in the drawings. It is understood that elements and characteristics of one embodiment can conveniently be incorporated into other embodiments without further clarifications.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SOME EMBODIMENTS

We will now refer in detail to the various embodiments of the present invention, of which one or more examples are shown in the attached drawings. Each example is supplied by way of illustration of the invention and shall not be understood as a limitation thereof. For example, the characteristics shown or described insomuch as they are part of one embodiment can be adopted on, or in association with, other embodiments to produce another embodiment. It is understood that the present invention shall include all such modifications and variants.

Before describing these embodiments, we must also clarify that the present description is not limited in its application to details of the construction and disposition of the components as described in the following description using the attached drawings. The present description can provide other embodiments and can be obtained or executed in various other ways. We must also clarify that the phraseology and terminology used here is for the purposes of description only, and cannot be considered as limitative.

Fig. 1 is a schematic illustration used to describe embodiments of a packaging line 20 for forming double packets and an apparatus 33 for forming collars 26 for the double packets, according to the present description.

In possible embodiments, the packaging line 20 comprises the apparatus 33 for forming collars 26 of double packets. In particular, the collars 26, once shaped and formed completely, assume a so-called double-U configuration.

The forming apparatus 33 substantially comprises a forming device 34 intermittently rotatable around an axis A2 and is configured to perform at least a first partial forming of the collar 26.

Furthermore, the forming apparatus 33 can provide a wrapping device 21, or wheel, intermittently rotatable around an axis A1 and which completes the final forming of the collar 26. In these embodiments, both the forming device 34 and the wrapping device 21 are rotatable intermittently synchronously with one another.

In some embodiments, the forming device 34 is provided with one or more heads 35 to hold the base sheet 27 of the collar 26 in position in an extended condition, in order to move the base sheet 27 along at least one segment of a circular operating path P (see fig. 2 for example) between a supply station, or first position PI, a folding station, or second position P2, and a transfer station, or third position P3.

The intermittent rotation of the forming device 34 is coordinated at least with the angular position of the supply station PI, folding station P2 and transfer station P3 along the operating path P. In the attached drawings the rotation along the operating path P between the various operating stations PI, P2, P3 is shown, merely by way of example, in an anti-clockwise direction.

For example, the intermittent rotation of the forming device 34, as well as of the wrapping device 21 as described hereafter, can be obtained by means of suitable electric stepper motors, advantageously controlled by means of a position transducer, in particular an angular encoder.

In some embodiments, the forming apparatus 33 also comprises:

a supply device 36 to supply the base sheet 27, disposed at the supply station PI and provided with at least one support element 54 to support the base sheet 27 translatable with respect to the forming device 34;

a folding device 37 to fold the base sheet 27, disposed at the folding station P2 and provided with at least a folding element 38 translatable along a folding axis or direction B2 with respect to the base sheet 27 and by means of which at least a partial folding of the base sheet 27 is performed;

and a mobile transfer device 41 , disposed at the transfer station P3, configured to transfer the at least partly folded collar 26 from the head 35 of the forming device 34 to the wrapping device 21, intermittently rotatable in a manner coordinated with the intermittent rotation of the forming device 34 and provided with one or more pockets 22 to complete the folding of the collar 26.

The forming device 34 is substantially multi-functional and is configured to cooperate selectively, along the operating path P, with the supply device 36 of the base sheet 27, with the folding device 37 and with the transfer device 41 of the collar 26.

As we said, the forming device 34 is intermittently rotatable, or stepwise, around the axis A2 and in particular in direction R2, so as to arrive and stop on each occasion, in the different operating stations Pl, P2, P3 identified above, in correspondence with the various devices 36, 27, 41 with which it cooperates.

The forming device 34 therefore completes at least a part of the circular operating path P to arrive and stop in correspondence with the supply device 36, the folding device 37 and the transfer device 41.

As we said, the wrapping device 21 is intermittently rotatable, or stepwise, in particular in direction R1 around the axis Al, so that one of the pockets 22 arrives at the appropriate moment in front of the transfer device 41.

The rotations in direction R1 and R2 of the wrapping device 21 and of the forming device 34 will be controlled and coordinated by a control unit 55.

As we said, the wrapping device 21 comprises on the periphery a series of pockets 22, directed radially with respect to the axis of rotation Al .

Each of the pockets 22 is provided with two lateral walls 23 located on opposite sides of the pocket 22 and with a central positioning element 24.

The central element 24 is substantially parallel to the lateral walls 23 and a central rib 25 of the collar 26 is positioned thereon, see fig. 4 and fig. 12 for example.

The collar 26 is formed by a base sheet 27, made for example from a reel of strip and suitably shaped by a cutting device, so that it assumes the shape of fig. 3.

Several predefined folding lines 28 are present on the base sheet 27.

The collar 26, once the forming is complete, has a double U-shape configuration, as shown in fig. 4, thus having the central rib 25 and two lateral flaps 29, protruding from the same side from which the central rib 25 protrudes with respect to the base sheet 27.

The central rib 25, in turn, is formed by two close-up central flaps 30 of the base sheet 27.

The flaps 30 of the central rib 25 of the collar 26, once inserted into the pocket 22, will therefore be fitted onto the central element 24 to position the pocket 22.

In correspondence with at least one angular position of the wrapping device 21 in which it is provided to stop at least one of the pockets 22, a feed device 31 is positioned to feed at least two sets 32 of smoking articles.

In particular, the sets 32 are formed by organized smoking articles, for example cigarettes, and wrapped by a first wrapping sheet, or internal wrapping sheet, for example generally foil or suchlike. Each of the sets 32 therefore forms a half-packet or“bundle”.

Substantially, the two sets 32 of smoking articles will be introduced, by means of the feed device 31, into the pocket 22 which at a given moment of the packaging process is in front of the feed device 31 and in which there is a double U-shaped collar 26.

The forming device 34 of the forming apparatus 33 is provided with one or more heads 35 to hold the base sheet 27 of the collar 26, see in particular fig. 2.

The heads 35 are disposed on the periphery of the forming device 34 and are directed radially with respect to the axis of rotation A2 of the forming device 34.

In the present embodiment, given by way of non-restrictive example, of the forming apparatus 33, the forming device 34 is substantially cross-shaped and comprises four heads 35 reciprocally disposed at 90° with respect to the axis of rotation A2.

Naturally, it is possible to provide that the forming device 34 comprises a different number of heads 35 with respect to what is shown, even a single head 35.

Preferably, the axis of rotation A2 of the forming device 34 is parallel to the axis of rotation Al of the wrapping device 21.

Furthermore, the axes of rotation Al and A2 of the forming device 34 and of the wrapping device 21 are preferably disposed substantially horizontally. Consequently, in these embodiments both the wrapping device 21 and the forming device 34 lie on a respective vertical lying plane. In particular, both the wrapping device 21 and the forming device 34 can lie on the same vertical lying plane.

The supply device 36 of the base sheet 27 is positioned in correspondence with the supply station, or first position PI of the forming device 34.

The supply device 36 will transfer the base sheet 27 to the head 35 which is in correspondence with the supply station PI and in front of it.

The support element 54 of the supply device 36 is translatable toward and away from the forming device 34 along an axis Bl, by means of suitable drive means.

The axis Bl therefore substantially represents one direction of supply of the base sheet 27 to the forming device 34.

The axis B 1 preferably intersects the axis of rotation A2 of the forming device 34.

The supply device 36 could comprise a device for cutting and shaping the base sheet 27, so as to obtain the collar 26 in a flat configuration as in fig. 3, therefore, ultimately, the base sheets 27 are supplied to the forming device 34 already cut to size.

Alternatively, the device for cutting and shaping the base sheet 27 can be disposed upstream of the supply device 36.

The folding device 37 is positioned in correspondence with the folding station, or second position P2 of the forming device 34, provided with the folding element 38.

The folding element 38 is a flat and elongated element in the form of a knife, blade or suchlike.

The folding element 38 is suitable to translate in the direction of an axis B2 toward and away from the forming device 34 by means of suitable drive means.

The axis B2 therefore substantially represents a folding direction of the base sheet 27.

The folding element 38 can be associated, for example, with an arm 52 sliding in the direction of the axis B2, in one sense or the other, by means of suitable actuators or drive means.

The folding element 38 is positioned substantially in the center of an abutment member 39 provided with striker portions 40.

The axis of translation B2 of the folding element 38 and the axis of translation B1 of the supply device 36 are disposed at 90° with respect to the axis A2, on which the axes B 1 and B2 intersect.

Therefore, ultimately, the folding station P2 of the forming device 34 is disposed at 90° with respect to the supply station PI, therefore the supply device 36 and the folding device 37 are disposed at 90° with respect to each other.

In correspondence with the transfer station, or third position P3 of the forming device 34, one of the heads 35 faces in front of one of the pockets 22 of the wrapping device 21.

The transfer station P3 is preferably diametrically opposite the folding station P2, in particular with respective angular positions, along the operating path P, which are aligned along the axis of translation B2 of the folding element 38.

Therefore, as can be seen, the three stations PI, P2 and P3 are defined at 90°, or multiples of 90°, with respect to each other.

In the transfer station P3, the head 35 of the forming device 34 cooperates with the transfer device 41, located outside the forming device 34.

The transfer device 41, again see fig. 2, comprises a head 42 to hold the base sheet 27 of a collar 26 and a thruster 43 which carries the head 42.

The thruster 43 is translatable in a bidirectional manner, preferably in direction B2, and can be supported by drive and transmission means 44 of the four-bar linkage type.

The head 42 of the thruster 43 is provided with suckers 45 to hold the base sheet 27 of the collar 26.

The suckers 45 can be associated with suitable activation and deactivation means, so that the base sheet 27 can be associated with the thruster 43 in an automatically releasable manner.

For example, it is possible to provide that the suckers 45 can be associated with air suction means suitable to temporarily create the necessary adherence to the base sheet 27.

The suckers 45 could naturally be replaced by other releasable elements to hold the base sheet 27.

As well as by the thruster 43, the base sheet 27 can also be held in position by the heads 35 of the forming device 34.

Each of the heads 35, see also fig. 5 and fig. 6 and the large-scale view in fig. 12, comprises surfaces 46 to support the base sheet 27.

The surfaces 46 to support the base sheet 27 are separated by a seating 47 in which two contrast elements 48 are housed, between which a slit 49 is made.

The slit 49, see for example the slit 49 of the pocket 22 facing, in position P2, toward the folding element 38, is aligned with the folding element 38, in particular along axis B2.

The contrast elements 48 can comprise rolling elements 50, between which, during folding, the two adjacent flaps 30 of the collar 26 are inserted which will form the central rib 25, following the action of the folding element 38.

The rolling elements 50, for example rollers, facilitate the sliding of the base sheet 27 of the collar 26 and its insertion into the slit 49 made between the contrast elements 48.

Furthermore, the contrast elements 48 can be provided with suction holes 56, by means of which it is possible to stabilize the position of the collar 26 during the folding operation.

The suction holes 56 can be made directly on board the rolling elements 50.

On the sides of the seating 47, the head 35 comprises suckers 51 to hold the base sheet 27 of the collar 26 in position.

The suckers 51 can be associated with suitable activation and deactivation means, for example the control unit 55, so that the base sheet 27 can be associated with the head 35 in an automatically releasable manner.

For example, it is possible to provide that the suckers 51 can be associated with air suction means suitable to temporarily create the necessary adherence to the base sheet 27.

The suckers 51 could naturally be replaced by other releasable elements to hold the base sheet 27.

As can be seen in fig. 2, the suckers 45 of the thruster 43 of the transfer device 41 are offset with respect to the suckers 51 of the head 35 and to the contrast elements 48, so that the suckers 45 do not interfere with the suckers 51 and the contrast elements 48.

In particular, apertures 53 are made between the suckers 51 and the contrast elements 48, see fig. 6 for example, through which the suckers 45 of the transfer device 41 can pass.

Furthermore, the support surfaces 46 of the head 35 lie on a plane G, see fig. 7, which is preferably perpendicular to the folding element 38, in particular to the axis B2 with respect to which it is aligned. The base sheet 27 of the collar 26 lies on plane G.

The process of forming a double U-shaped collar 26 begins substantially by supplying a base sheet 27 from the supply device 36, facing the forming device 34 in the supply station PI.

As previously stated, the base sheet 27 has a shape as shown in fig. 3, therefore it appears as a collar 26 in a flat configuration, thanks to the action of the cutting and shaping means located upstream of the supply device 36, or associated therewith.

By means of translation along the axis B1 of the support element 54 of the supply device 36, the base sheet 27 is taken into correspondence with the head 35 of the forming device 34 which is in position PI, see fig. 2 for example.

The suckers 51 of the head 35 are activated, for example by air suction systems, so as to hold the base sheet 27 in the supply station PI .

The forming device 34 is then rotated in direction Rl, in this case by 90°, so that the head 35 which carries the base sheet 27 and therefore the collar 26 in a flat configuration are taken into the folding station P2.

In this position P2, the head 35 is in front of the folding device 37 and the situation can be that shown for example in fig. 7.

The folding element 38 of the folding device 37 is driven so as to perform a translation Tl, in particular along the axis B2, toward the base sheet 27.

The folding element 38 is then translated toward the central portion of the base sheet 27 which is positioned in correspondence with the slit 49 made between the contrast elements 48.

The folding element 38, continuing in its translation Tl toward the base sheet 27, see fig. 8 and fig. 9, begins to fold the base sheet 27 so that the central rib 25 begins to form in the slit 49 made between the contrast elements 48, said central rib 25 consisting of the two close-up flaps 30, and between which, at the moment, the folding element 38 is present. The insertion of the base sheet 27 inside the slit 49 is further facilitated by the rolling elements 50.

In the folding step, as can be seen from fig. 8 and fig. 9, the suckers 51 of the head 35 are deactivated, so that the base sheet 27 can be deformed optimally and without being tom.

The translation T1 of the folding element 38 in direction B2 and the deactivation of the suckers 51 can cause a deformation of the portions of the base sheet 27 located laterally to the central rib 25 being formed, therefore for example of the lateral flaps 29 and also of segments of the base sheet 27 close to the lateral flaps 29.

The lateral portions of the base sheet 27 tend to fold away from the lying plane G in the opposite direction to the direction of translation Tl .

The abutment member 39, which is integral with the folding element 38, then performs a translation Tl so as to contrast, thanks to the striker portions 40, the folding of the lateral portions of the base sheet 27 moving away from the lying plane G.

During the forming and folding steps, it is possible to suck air from the suction holes 56 of the contrast elements 48, acting on the flaps 30 of the collar 26 being formed so as to stabilize the collar 26 being formed.

Continuing with the translation Tl, see fig. 10, the folding element 38 fully enters the slit 49 made between the contrast elements 48, and the central rib 25 is thus completely formed, while the lateral flaps 29 and the lateral segments of the base sheet 27 are held in position by the abutment member 39, thanks to the striker portions 40.

The extension of the folding element 38 and the travel in direction B2 that it must perform, therefore, will be correlated with the height of the central rib 25 which has to be made in the collar 26.

The complete insertion of the folding element 38 into the slit 49 also entails that the striker portions 40 of the abutment member 39 take the base sheet 27 back into contact with the suckers 51.

The collar 26, as can again be seen in fig. 10, assumes a T-shape conformation thanks to the creation of the central rib 25.

The central rib 25 is therefore substantially made along the axis B2, which preferably lies on a median plane of the head 35.

Thanks to the striker portions 40 of the abutment member 39, therefore, the T- shaped collar 26 is again connected to the suckers 51 and can be transferred, by rotation of the forming device 34, into the transfer station P3.

The suckers 51 of the head 35 which retains the T-shaped collar 26 can then be activated again and therefore the folding element 38 can perform a translation T2 away from the head 35, see fig. 11.

Once the collar 26 has been formed into a T-shape, the forming device 34 is rotated so that the head 35 that carries the T-shaped collar 26 moves as stated into position P3, that is, facing toward one of the pockets 22 of the wrapping device 21.

As can be seen in fig. 12, it is possible to provide an intermediate station, or position P4 of the head 35 that carries the T-shaped collar 26, where it is possible to perform another operation on the collar 26, possibly a control and verification operation, for example between the folding station P2 and the transfer station P3 along the operating path P.

Naturally, as shown schematically in fig. 1 , in the process of forming several collars 26, the heads 35 of the forming device 34 can all be engaged, so that when, for example, a base sheet 27 is removed from the supply device 36 in position PI, a preceding base sheet 27 is folded in position P2, a T-shaped collar 26 is in position P3 and so on, so as to guarantee continuity, speed and efficiency to the process of forming several collars.

When the T-shaped collar 26 is in position P3, see fig. 1 and fig. 12, the transfer device 41 is driven so as to perform a translation T3, in particular along the axis B2, so as to introduce the collar 26 into the pocket 22.

The introduction of the T-shaped collar 26 into the pocket 22 occurs by engaging the base sheet 27 by the suckers 45 of the thruster 43 of the transfer device 41 and by deactivating the suckers 51 of the forming device 34.

The insertion of the T-shaped collar 26 into the pocket 22 entails that the lateral walls 23 form the lateral flaps 29 of the collar 26, which therefore assumes a final double U- shape inside the pocket 22.

At this point, the suckers 45 of the thruster 43 of the transfer device 41 can be deactivated and the thruster 43 can be translated outside the pocket 22. The wrapping device 21 can then be rotated in direction R1 so that the pocket 22 that carries the double U-shaped collar 26 is positioned in correspondence with the feed device 31, in order to be associated with the two sets 32 of smoking articles.

Advantageously, therefore, the present forming apparatus 33 comprises a substantially multi-functional forming device 34 and provides to shape or at least partly form the collar 26 in the forming device 34 and to then complete the forming or shaping directly in a pocket 22 of the wrapping device 21.

In particular, the central rib 25 of the collar 26 is formed in the forming device 34, while the lateral flaps 29 of the collar are formed in the wrapping device 21.

It is clear that modifications and/or additions of parts may be made to the apparatus 33 for forming the collar of a double packet and to the packaging line 20 for forming a double packet as described heretofore, without departing from the field and scope of the present invention.

It is also clear that, although the present invention has been described with reference to some specific examples, a person of skill in the art shall certainly be able to achieve many other equivalent forms of apparatus 33 for forming the collar of a double packet and packaging line 20 for forming a double packet, having the characteristics as set forth in the claims and hence all coming within the field of protection defined thereby.

In the following claims, the sole purpose of the references in brackets is to facilitate reading: they must not be considered as restrictive factors with regard to the field of protection claimed in the specific claims.