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Title:
APPARATUS FOR MAKING A PRODUCT, PREFERABLY A FOOD PRODUCT FOR MAKING A DRINK BY INFUSION IN A RESPECTIVE LIQUID
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/017515
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An apparatus (10) for making a product, preferably a food product for making a drink by infusion in a respective liquid, preferably in water, especially in hot water; the product being obtained from a raw material comprising or formed by respective particles, in particular powder, granules, pieces or the like, for example of roasted and ground coffee; the apparatus comprises supporting means (12) for means (14) for making respective products starting from a respective predetermined or measured portion of raw material, which making means (14) comprise means (16) for aggregating particles of the predetermined portion of raw material.

Inventors:
VERRI, Marco (Via Otello Selleri 58, San Lazzaro di Savena, 40068, IT)
RAMPONI, Marcello (Via della Pieve 33, Castenaso, 40055, IT)
Application Number:
IB2016/001036
Publication Date:
February 02, 2017
Filing Date:
July 20, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
VERRI, Marco (Via Otello Selleri 58, San Lazzaro di Savena, 40068, IT)
RAMPONI, Marcello (Via della Pieve 33, Castenaso, 40055, IT)
International Classes:
B65B1/02; B65B1/06; B65B1/22; B65B5/02; B65B7/02; B65B29/02; B65B35/20; B65B41/08; B65B47/10; B65B51/10
Domestic Patent References:
WO2013143622A12013-10-03
Foreign References:
US20080314003A12008-12-25
EP1648776A12006-04-26
EP1705122A12006-09-27
EP2229818A12010-09-22
US20130084360A12013-04-04
US5846584A1998-12-08
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. An apparatus (10) for making products (P), in particular food products, preferably food products for obtaining a corresponding drink by infusion in a respective liquid, preferably in water, especially in hot water; the respective product being obtained from a raw material comprising or formed by respective particles, in particular powder, granules, pieces or the like, for example of roasted and ground coffee; the apparatus comprising supporting means (12) for means (14) for making respective products starting from a corresponding predetermined portion of raw material, and is characterised in that the means (14) for making respective products comprise means (16) for aggregating, in particular for reciprocally adhering, particles of raw material of the respective predetermined portion, preferably to form a corresponding compact tablet of the raw material.

2. The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims or according to the preamble to claim 1 , characterised in that the means (14) for making the product comprise means (16, 18) for preparing an outer or surface layer about the portion of raw material, in particular in the form of a film of biodegradable and/or compostable material, especially of PLA, and preferably of filter material for the infusion liquid or infused liquid.

3. The apparatus according to claim 2, characterised in that the outer or surface layer is designed to surround or completely enclose the raw material, in particular thus forming means for containing the raw material during the steps of preparing the product.

4. The apparatus according to claim 2 or 3, characterised in that the means for preparing an outer or surface layer about the portion of raw material comprise means (16) designed to make the same outer or surface layer adhere to the portion of raw material.

5. The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the means for aggregating, in particular for reciprocally adhering, particles of raw material of the respective predetermined portion, and/or the means designed to make the same outer or surface layer adhere to the portion of raw material, are in the form of means (16) for dispensing vibrating energy, in particular ultrasonic energy, to the predetermined portion of raw material, in particular provided with the outer or surface layer.

6. The apparatus according to claim 5, characterised in that vibrating or ultrasonic energy in a quantity between 500 and 6,000 Joules, at a frequency between 16,000 and 35,000 Hertz, and for a time between 0.5 and 20 seconds, is imparted to the predetermined portion of raw material and/or to the respective outer or surface layer.

7. The apparatus according to claim 5 or 6, characterised in that the means for dispensing vibrating energy comprise respective sonotrode means (16).

8. The apparatus according to any one of claims 5 to 7, characterised in that the sonotrode means (16) can be activated and deactivated respectively in a condition of dispensing energy to the predetermined portion of raw material and/or to the respective outer or surface layer, and in a rest condition.

9. The apparatus according to any one of claims 5 to 8, characterised in that the means for dispensing vibrating energy are movable between a position, in particular lowered, of dispensing energy to the respective portion of raw material and/or to the respective outer or surface layer, and a position, in particular raised, of freely feeding the product.

10. The apparatus according to any one of claims 5 to 9, characterised in that the means for dispensing vibrating energy comprise a plurality of elements or devices, in particular a plurality of sonotrodes (16), in particular which are designed to dispense vibrating energy to a plurality of products simultaneously.

11. The apparatus according to claim 10, characterised in that the elements or devices, in particular the sonotrodes (16), are positioned in an orderly fashion in one or more transversal rows of the elements or devices, that is of the sonotrodes, and/or in one or more longitudinal rows of the same elements or devices, that is of the sonotrodes.

12. The apparatus according to any one of claims 5 to 11 , characterised in that the sonotrode means (16) have a respective face for engaging an opposite face of the product, in particular of the corresponding outer layer of it, which face for engaging the sonotrode is suitably shaped to form, in the opposite face of product, in particular in the corresponding outer layer of it, respective preferential percolating punches or recesses for the infusion liquid in and through the product.

13. The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims or according to the preamble to claim 1 , characterised in that it comprises means (18) for assembling product components, in particular forming means for preparing an outer or surface layer about the respective predetermined portion of raw material, in particular in dissolved condition.

14. The apparatus according to claim 13, characterised in that the means (18) for assembling product components comprise means (20) with seats for receiving material forming the outer or surface layer of the product, and/or of the respective predetermined portion of raw material.

15. The apparatus according to claim 14, characterised in that the means with seats for receiving material forming the outer or surface layer and/or the respective predetermined portion of raw material comprise a plurality of seats (20), in particular positioned in an orderly fashion in one or more transversal rows of the seats and/or one or more longitudinal or circumferential rows of the same seats.

16. The apparatus according to claim 14 or 15, characterised in that the seat means (20) are movable at respective operating stations for assembling product components.

17. The apparatus according to any one of claims 14 to 16, characterised in that the means (20) with seats for receiving material forming the outer or surface layer and/or the respective predetermined portion of raw material are carried on a respective revolving wheel (22), in particular with a transversal or horizontal axis.

18. The apparatus according to claim 17, characterised in that the wheel (22) supporting the respective seat means (20) is movable in rotation, in particular with alternating feed motion and having respective feed steps between corresponding assembly stations and the subsequent stations, which are alternated with dwell steps at the respective assembly stations and at which respective assembly operations of product components are performed.

19. The apparatus according to any one of claims 13 to 18, characterised in that the means (18) for assembling product components comprise means (24) for preparing, or cutting by a respective film (24'), a respective sheet of material for making an outer or surface layer of product.

20. The apparatus according to any one of claims 13 to 19, characterised in that the means (18) for assembling product components comprise means (24) for applying a respective sheet of material for making an outer or surface layer of product to the corresponding seat means (20) of the same assembly means.

21. The apparatus according to any one of claims 13 to 20, characterised in that the means (24) for applying a respective sheet of material for making an outer or surface layer of product to the corresponding seat means (20) of the same assembly means are formed by the means for preparing, or cutting by a respective film (24'), a respective sheet of material for making an outer or surface layer of product.

22. The apparatus according to any one of claims 13 to 21 , characterised in that the means (18) for assembling product components comprise means (26) for shaping or forming, in particular on the seat means (20), a respective sheet of material for making an outer or surface layer of the product to form a tray-like shape for receiving the portion of raw material, in particular in dissolved condition.

23. The apparatus according to claim 22, characterised in that the means (26) for shaping or for forming a respective sheet of material for making an outer or surface layer of the product are positioned, according to the feed direction of the seat means (20), downstream, in particular immediately downstream, of the means (24) for applying the respective sheet on the seat means (20).

24. The apparatus according to any one of claims 13 to 23, characterised in that the means (18) for assembling product components comprise means (28) for dispensing the respective predetermined portion of raw material, in particular in dissolved condition, to the seat means (20), in particular on the respective sheet, preferably tray-shaped, of material forming the respective outer or surface layer of product.

25. The apparatus according to claim 24, characterised in that the means (28) for dispensing the respective predetermined portion of raw material are positioned, according to the feed direction of the seat means (20), downstream, in particular immediately downstream, of the means (26) for shaping the respective sheet on the seat means (20).

26. The apparatus according to any one of claims 13 to 25, characterised in that the means (18) for assembling product components comprise means (30) for preparing, or cutting by a respective film (30'), a respective second sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product.

27. The apparatus according to any one of claims 13 to 26, characterised in that the means (18) for assembling product components comprise means (30) for applying the second sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product on the first sheet, in particular containing the predetermined portion of raw material, preferably in dissolved condition, in particular on the seat means (20).

28. The apparatus according to claim 27, characterised in that the means (30) for applying a respective second sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product to the corresponding seat means (20) of the same assembly means are formed by the same means for preparing, or cutting by a respective film (30'), a respective second sheet of material for making the same outer or surface layer of product.

29. The apparatus according to claim 27 or 28, characterised in that the means (30) for applying a respective second sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product to the corresponding seat means (20) are positioned, according to the feed direction of the seat means (20), downstream, in particular immediately downstream, of the means (28) for dispensing the respective predetermined portion of raw material.

30. The apparatus according to any one of claims 13 to 29, characterised in that the means (18) for assembling product components comprise, in particular on the seat means (20), means (32) for joining, in particular sealing, the second sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product to the first sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product, in particular at the respective peripheral edge surrounding the predetermined portion of raw material, preferably in dissolved condition.

31. The apparatus according to claim 30, characterised in that the means (32) for joining, in particular sealing, the second sheet to the first sheet of the outer or surface layer of product are positioned according to the feed direction of the seat means (20), downstream, in particular immediately downstream, of the means (30) for applying the second sheet on the seat means (20).

32. The apparatus according to any one of claims 13 to 31 , characterised in that the means (18) for assembling product components comprise means (34) for cutting an excessive peripheral portion of the outer or surface layer of product, especially of the second sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product, in particular on the seat means (20).

33. The apparatus according to claim 32, characterised in that the means (34) for cutting an excessive peripheral portion of the outer or surface layer of product are positioned, according to the feed direction of the seat means (20), downstream, in particular immediately downstream, of the means (32) for joining, or sealing, the first and second sheets forming the outer or surface layer of the product.

34. The apparatus according to any one of claims 13 to 33, characterised in that the means (18) for assembling product components comprise means (36) for removing the waste material or excessive peripheral portion of the outer or surface layer of product, in particular at the seat means (20).

35. The apparatus according to any one of claims 13 to 34, characterised in that the means (18) for assembling product components comprise means (38) for unloading the product from the seat means (20).

36. The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the means (16) for making or for compacting the product are provided downstream of the means (18) for assembling product components.

37. The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims or according to the preamble to claim 1 , characterised in that it comprises means (40) for feeding the raw material.

38. The apparatus according to claim 37, characterised in that the means (40) for feeding the raw material comprise means designed to release respective predetermined portions of raw material, in particular onto the seat means (20), preferably onto the first sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product, especially positioned on the seat means (20).

39. The apparatus according to claim 37 or 38, characterised in that the means for feeding the raw material comprise hopper means (40) for loading the raw material.

40. The apparatus according to any one of claims 37 to 39, characterised in that the means (40) for feeding the raw material are provided above the means (18), in particular with a revolving wheel, for assembling product components.

41. The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims or according to the preamble to claim 1 , characterised in that it comprises means (42) for feeding a film (24') for forming the outer or surface layer of product, in particular comprising corresponding means for supporting a respective reel of the film.

42. The apparatus according to claim 41 , characterised in that it comprises means (44) for feeding a second film (30') for forming the outer or surface layer of product, in particular comprising corresponding means for supporting a respective reel of the film.

43. The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the means (42, 44) for feeding the first and/or the second film (24', 30') for forming the outer layer are provided upstream and/or downstream of the means (18) for assembling product components.

44. The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims or according to the preamble to claim 1 , characterised in that it comprises means (50) for packaging the product in a respective outer package, in particular in the form of a respective outer wrapper.

45. The apparatus according to claim 44, characterised in that the outer package, or outer wrapper, is formed by a corresponding film of material, in particular by an aluminium film.

46. The apparatus according to claim 44 or 45, characterised in that the means (50) for packaging the product in a respective outer package, or outer wrapper, comprise means (52) for wrapping a corresponding film (50') about the respective product.

47. The apparatus according to claim 46, characterised in that the means for winding the film about the respective product comprise means (49) for pushing the product against a respective film (50') of corresponding material for the package or wrapper, and for pushing the product together with the film until wrapping the product in the same film. 48. The apparatus according to any one of claims 44 to 47, characterised in that the packaging means (50), in particular the wrapping means (52), comprise a respective surface (54), in particular fixed, for supporting, and preferably sliding, products.

49. The apparatus according to claim 47 or 48, characterised in that the means (49) for pushing products of the wrapping means (52) operate on

5 products which are supported on the supporting surface (54).

50. The apparatus according to any one of claims 44 to 49, characterised in that the film (50') for making the packaging or wrapper passes through, in particular perpendicularly, the supporting surface (54), in particular at an end upstream of the same surface (54).

10 51. The apparatus according to any one of claims 44 to 50, characterised in that the packaging means (50) comprise means (56) for joining or sealing opposite ends of respective flaps of the film forming the outer wrapper (50') in condition of wrapped about the respective product.

52. The apparatus according to any one of claims 44 to 51 , 15. characterised in that the packaging means (50) comprise means (58) for reciprocally joining, or sealing, opposite and matching flaps of the film forming the outer wrapper (50') with the respective product interposed therein.

53. The apparatus according to any one of claims 44 to 52, 20 characterised in that the packaging means (50) comprise means (60) for separating or cutting the package or wrapper containing the product, from the respective film (50') forming the outer wrapper.

54. The apparatus according to any one of claims 44 to 53, characterised in that the packaging means (50) comprise means (62) for

25 unloading the packaged product.

55. The apparatus according to any one of claims 44 to 54, characterised in that the means (50) for packaging the product are positioned downstream, in particular longitudinally aligned downstream, of the means (16) for making the product, or sonotrode means.

30 56. The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims or according to the preamble to claim 1 , characterised in that there are provided means (70) for conveying products along the apparatus, in particular between means (18) for assembling product components and means (50) for packaging the same products and/or at the means (16) for making products, in particular at the means for aggregating or dispensing mechanical vibrating energy, preferably ultrasonic, to the same products.

57. The apparatus according to claim 56, characterised in that the means (70) for conveying products are provided under the means (16) for aggregating particles of raw material of the respective predetermined portion, and/or of the means designed to make the same outer or surface layer adhere to the portion of raw material, aggregation means or means for dispensing vibrating mechanical energy to the same products.

58. The apparatus according to claim 56 or 57, characterised in that the means (70) for conveying products comprise means (72, 74, 76) for supporting corresponding products forming part of the means for making the product, in particular part of the means (16) for aggregating the particles of raw material before the respective predetermined portion, and/or part of the means designed to make the same outer or surface layer adhere to the respective predetermined portion of raw material, especially thus forming means (72, 74, 76) for supporting engaged products of the aggregation sonotrode means (16)

59. The apparatus according to claim 58, characterised in that the means (70) for conveying products comprise first means (72) for supporting respective products and second means (74) for supporting respective products, and possibly third means (76) for supporting respective products, which are movable separately from and/or independently of each other, respectively at the means (16) for making products, at the means (50) for packaging products or at the means (18) for assembling components of the same products.

60. The apparatus according to claim 59, characterised in that the means (70) for conveying products comprise first movement means for corresponding first means for supporting products (72) and second movement means for corresponding second means for supporting products (74) and possibly third movement means for corresponding third means for supporting products (76).

61. The apparatus according to any one of claims 58 to 60, characterised in that the respective means (72, 74, 76) for supporting products of the conveyor means (70) comprise a plurality of seats (71) for housing a respective product, in particular positioned in an orderly fashion according to one or more transversal rows of the seats (71) and/or according to one or more longitudinal rows the same seats (71).

62. The apparatus according any one of claims 58 to 61 , characterised in that the respective means (72, 74, 76) for supporting products of the conveyor means (70) are carried by respective movement means, which are movable, in particular separately from and independently of each other.

63. The apparatus according to claim 62, characterised in that the movement means are in the form of respective endless, elongate, continuous means carried on respective operating and drive end wheels of the continuous means, in particular in the form of a first and a second elongate, continuous element for corresponding means or plate (72, 74, 76) for supporting respective products, and extending parallel to and transversally spaced from each other, between which extend corresponding means for supporting products (72, 74, 76).

64. The apparatus according to any one of claims 48 to 63, characterised in that there are provided means (48) for product passage from the conveyor means (70), in particular from the respective supporting means (72, 74, 76), to the packaging means (50).

65. The apparatus according to claim 64, characterised in that the means for product passage are in the form of means (48) for picking products from the conveyor means (70) and releasing them onto the packaging means (50), in particular onto a respective supporting and sliding surface of them.

66. The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims or according to the preamble to claim 1 , characterised in that the supporting means (12) comprise an intermediate wall (121), in particular extending longitudinally, which separates the side provided with respective operating means, in particular the means (18) for assembling product components, the means (16) for making products, the means (70) for conveying products and the means (50) for packaging the same products, from the side provided with the respective actuator means.

67. The apparatus according to claim 66, characterised in that the respective operating means, in particular the means (18) for assembling product components, the means (16) for making products, the means (70) for conveying products and/or the means (50) for packaging the same products, extend in cantilever fashion from the intermediate separating wall (121).

68. The apparatus according to claim 66 or 67, characterised in that the intermediate wall (121) separates the means for supporting the reel of the respective film (24', 30'), for the respective or for both sheets forming the outer layer of material, and/or separates the means for supporting the reel for the packaging wrapper (50'), from the operating means, in particular from the means (18) for assembling product components, from the means (16) for making products, from the means (70) for conveying products and/or from the means (50) for packaging the same products, and on which side the respective film is passed through corresponding slot means provided in the separating wall (121).

69. The apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the respective operating means, in particular the means (18) for assembling product components, the means (16) for making products, the means (70) for conveying products, the means for product passage, and/or the means (50) for packaging the same products, comprise a plurality of parallel rows or lines for making the product.

70. The apparatus according to any one of claims 47 to 69, characterised in that the means for pushing the product against a respective film of the packaging means (50) are in the form of a corresponding element, or comb unit (49), forming respective seat means open at the front (49') for receiving the back part of the respective product, in particular extending transversely and having a plurality of seats (49') open at the front for receiving corresponding products.

71 . The apparatus characterised in that it is made as described in any one of the preceding claims and/or as described and illustrated with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Description:
DESCRIPTION

APPARATUS FOR MAKING A PRODUCT, PREFERABLY A FOOD PRODUCT FOR MAKING A DRINK BY INFUSION IN A RESPECTIVE LIQUID Technical field

The present invention relates to an apparatus for making a product, in particular for making a food product, preferably a food product for obtaining a drink by infusion in a respective liquid, preferably in water, especially in hot water.

Background art

Apparatuses are known for making a product, in particular for making a food product, preferably a food product for obtaining a drink by infusion in hot water, in which coffee or another infusion product is used as raw material.

The known apparatuses comprise respective supporting means for means for making respective products starting from a corresponding predetermined portion of raw material, in dissolved condition, which is inserted into a respective wrapper or container, for example, in the form of a bag of filter paper, or the like, or of a rigid capsule made of plastic material to be inserted into the infusion machine and then packaged in a protective outer packaging.

The need is felt in the trade for an apparatus which allows obtaining alternative and/or improved new products of the above type, relative to those currently on the market.

Moreover, the known apparatuses have a problem in the movement and handling of the bulk material, or particles, for making the respective product, which is to be inserted into the respective wrapper or capsule and which is to be suitably fed into the respective apparatus. This material, which is kept in bulk condition, risks dirtying the apparatus and the ambient which it is a part of, with subsequent hygienic problems and the need to perform frequent cleaning, which in any case may not always be performed successfully.

The need therefore is felt in the trade for an apparatus which limits, to the maximum degree possible, the risk for the treated product to dirty the same apparatus and/or the ambient in which it is a part of.

Moreover, the need is felt in the trade for apparatuses which are easy to clean.

Moreover, the need is felt in the trade for apparatuses which have at least relatively high production outputs.

Moreover, the need is felt in the trade for apparatuses which are reliable and long-lasting.

Moreover, the need is felt in the trade for apparatuses which are easy to maintain and/or to manufacture, and also preferably have an at least relatively contained manufacturing cost.

Moreover, the need is equally felt in the trade for apparatuses which have a size, in particular a length, which is as contained as possible.

Disclosure of the invention

The present invention therefore proposes a new solution as an alternative to the solutions known up to now and, more specifically, proposes to overcome one or more of the above mentioned drawbacks or problems and/or to meet one or more of the needs felt in the trade or inferable from the above.

Therefore, an apparatus is provided for making products, in particular food products, preferably food products for obtaining a corresponding drink by infusion in a respective liquid, preferably in water, especially in hot water; the respective product being obtained from a raw material comprising or formed by respective particles, in particular powder, granules, pieces or the like, for example of roasted and ground coffee; the apparatus comprising supporting means for means for making respective products starting from a corresponding predetermined portion of raw material, and is characterised in that the means for making respective products comprise means for aggregating, in particular for reciprocally adhering, particles of raw material of the respective predetermined portion, preferably to form a corresponding compact tablet of the raw material. In this way, it is possible to obtain a new, alternative product to the ones currently on the market.

Brief description of the drawings

These and other innovative aspects of the invention, or specific advantageous features, are set out in the appended claims and its technical features and advantages are apparent from the detailed description which follows of a preferred, advantageous embodiment of it, which must be considered purely as a non-limiting example; the description is made with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

- Figures from 1a) to 1 h) are respective perspective views of four different embodiments of packages which can be made using the present apparatus according to the present invention;

- Figures from 2a) to 2q) are respective perspective views of the preferred steps of the preferred method implemented by the present apparatus to obtain a respective product;

- Figure 3 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the apparatus according to the present invention;

- Figure 4 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the apparatus according to the present invention, from the side opposite the one of Figure 3;

- Figure 5 is a perspective view of a detail relative to the assembly means of the product components of the preferred embodiment of the apparatus according to the present invention;

- Figure 6 is a perspective view of a detail relative to the assembly means of the product components taken from a different side relative to the one of Figure 5, of the preferred embodiment of the apparatus according to the present invention;

- Figure 7 is a perspective view of a detail relative to the conveyor means of the product of the preferred embodiment of the apparatus according to the present invention;

- Figure 8 is a perspective view of a detail relative to the packaging means of the product of the preferred embodiment of the apparatus according to the present invention.

Detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention

Accompanying Figures 1 and 2 show a preferred embodiment 10 of an apparatus for making a product P, in particular a food product, preferably a food product for making a drink by infusion in a respective liquid, preferably in water, especially in hot water, in particular in a respective infusion machine, into which the product inserted.

The product being obtained from a raw material comprising or formed by respective particles, in particular powder, granules, pieces or the like, for example and preferably of roasted and ground coffee.

As may be inferred from Figures 1a) and 1b), in conformity with a first preferred embodiment, the product P comprises a tablet of raw material M, for example roasted and ground coffee, the particles of which are adhering to each other, which tablet M is wrapped in an outer and surface layer adhering to it. The compress thus obtained is preferably, but not exclusively, packaged in an external wrapper, preferably in aluminium film I.

The product P of this first preferred embodiment advantageously comprises a respective front or upper face in which outer layer S there are provided respective punches or recesses R for the preferential percolating or directing of the infusion liquid in and through the same product.

A second embodiment of product P is shown in Figures 1c) and 1d), a third embodiment of product P is shown in Figures 1e) and 1f) and a fourth embodiment of product P is shown in Figures 1g) and 1 h). These further embodiments have the same components as the first embodiment and differ from it in that they do not have the recesses for directing the infusion liquid, and in the shape of the outer layer.

As shown, the apparatus 10 comprises respective supporting means 12 for means 14 for making respective products starting from a corresponding predetermined portion of raw material.

Advantageously, the means 14 for making a respective product comprise means 16 for aggregating, in particular for reciprocally adhering, particles of raw material of the respective predetermined portion, preferably to form a compact tablet of the raw material.

This phase of aggregating, or compacting, is shown in Figure 2i) which places the present step in a preferred embodiment method of a respective product implemented by the present preferred embodiment of the apparatus.

Advantageously, the means 14 for making the product also comprise means 16, 18 for preparing an outer surface layer about the portion of raw material, which surface or outer layer is in particular in the form of a film of biodegradable and/or compostable material, especially of PI_A, and preferably of filter material for the infusion liquid, and preferably is designed to completely surround or enclose the raw material.

Advantageously, the outer or surface layer is designed in particular to form means for containing the raw material during the steps of preparing the product.

Advantageously, the means 16, 18 for preparing an outer surface layer about the portion of raw material comprise means 16 designed to make the same outer or surface layer adhere to the portion of raw material.

Advantageously, the means for aggregating, in particular for reciprocally adhering, particles of raw material of the respective predetermined portion, and/or the means designed to make the same outer or surface layer adhere to the portion of raw material, are in the form of means for dispensing vibrating energy, in particular ultrasonic energy, to the predetermined portion of raw material, in particular provided with the outer or surface layer.

Advantageously, vibrating or ultrasonic energy in a quantity between 500 and 6000 Joules, at a frequency between 16,000 and 35,000 Hertz, and for a time between 0.5 and 20 seconds, is imparted to the predetermined portion of raw material and/or to the respective outer or surface layer.

Advantageously, the means for dispensing vibrating energy comprise respective sonotrode means 16.

The sonotrode means 16 can be activated and deactivated respectively between a condition of dispensing energy to the predetermined portion of raw material and/or to the respective outer surface layer, and a rest condition.

Advantageously, the means for dispensing vibrating energy comprise respective sonotrode means 16 which are movable between a position, in particular lowered, of dispensing energy to the respective portion of raw material and/or to the respective outer surface layer, and a position, in particular raised, of freely feeding the product.

Advantageously, the means for dispensing vibrating energy, or sonotrode means, comprise a plurality of elements or devices, especially a plurality of sonotrodes 16, in particular which are designed to dispense vibrating energy to a plurality of products simultaneously.

Advantageously, the sonotrode means 16, in particular the respective sonotrode 16, have a respective face for engaging an opposite face of the product, in particular of the corresponding outer layer of it, which face for engaging the sonotrode is suitably shaped to form, in the opposite face of product, in particular in the corresponding outer layer of it, respective preferential percolating punches or recesses for the infusion liquid in and through the product.

Advantageously, as shown, the elements or devices, in particular the sonotrodes 16, are positioned in an orderly fashion in one or more transversal rows of the elements or devices, in particular the sonotrodes, and in one or more longitudinal rows of the same elements or devices, in particular of the sonotrodes, the transversal and/or longitudinal rows preferably being parallel to one another.

Advantageously, as may be inferred also with reference to Figure 3, there are provided means 18 for assembling product components, in particular forming means for preparing an outer surface layer about the respective predetermined portion of raw material, in particular in dissolved condition. In particular, the means 18 for assembling product components comprise means 20 with seats for receiving and supporting the material forming the outer layer and/or the respective predetermined portion of raw material. In particular, the means with seats for receiving material forming the outer or surface layer and/or the respective predetermined portion of raw material advantageously comprise a plurality of seats 20, in particular positioned in an orderly fashion in one or more transversal rows of the seats and/or one or more longitudinal or circumferential rows of the same seats.

Advantageously, the seat means 20 are movable at respective operating stations for assembling product components.

Advantageously, as shown, the means 20 with seats for receiving material forming the outer surface layer and/or the respective predetermined portion of raw material are carried on a respective revolving wheel 22, in particular with an axis of rotation which extends transversal or horizontal. Further advantageously, the wheel 22 supporting the respective seat means 20 is movable in rotation, in particular with alternating feed motion and preferably having respective feed steps of the seat means between corresponding assembly stations and the subsequent stations, which are alternated with dwell steps at the respective assembly stations and at which respective assembly operations of product components are performed. As shown, the means 18 for assembling product components advantageously comprise means 24 for preparing, or cutting by the respective film 24', a respective sheet of material for making an outer or surface layer of the product, as may be inferred from Figure 2a).

Advantageously, the means 18 for assembling product components comprise means 26 for applying a respective sheet of material for making an outer or surface layer of product to the corresponding seat means 20 of the same assembly means 18.

Advantageously, the means 24 for applying a respective sheet of material for making an outer or surface layer of product to the corresponding seat means 20 of the same assembly means are formed by the same means for preparing, or cutting by a respective film 24', a respective sheet of material for making an outer or surface layer of product.

Advantageously, the means 18 for assembling product components comprise means 26 for shaping or forming, in particular on the seat means 20, a respective sheet of material for making an outer or surface layer of product to form a tray-like shape for receiving the portion of raw material, in particular in dissolved condition, as may be inferred from Figure 2b). Advantageously, as shown, the means 26 for shaping or for forming a respective sheet of material for making an outer or surface layer of the product are positioned, according to the feed direction of the seat means, downstream, in particular immediately downstream, of the means 24 for applying the respective sheet of material on the seat means 20.

Advantageously, the means 18 for assembling product components comprise means 28 for dispensing the respective predetermined portion of raw material, in particular in dissolved condition, to the seat means 20, in particular on the respective sheet, preferably tray-shaped, of material forming the respective outer or surface layer of the product, as may be inferred from Figure 2c).

In particular, the means 28 for dispensing the respective predetermined portion of raw material are positioned, according to the feed direction of the seat means 20, downstream, in particular immediately downstream, of the means 26 for shaping the respective sheet on the seat means 20.

Advantageously, the means 18 for assembling product components comprise means 30 for preparing, or cutting by a respective film 30', a respective second sheet of material for making the outer surface layer of product.

Advantageously, the means 18 for assembling product components comprise means 30 for applying the second sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product on the first sheet, in particular containing the predetermined portion of raw material, in particular in dissolved condition, especially on the seat means 20, as may be inferred from Figure 2d).

Advantageously, the means 30 for applying a respective second sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product to the corresponding seat means 20 of the same assembly means 18 are formed by the means for preparing, or cutting by a respective film 30', a respective second sheet of material for making the same outer surface layer of product.

Advantageously, as shown, the means 30 for applying a respective second sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product to the corresponding seat means 20, in particular on the corresponding first sheet of material for making the outer layer, with the interposition of the predetermined portion of raw material, in particular in dissolved condition, are positioned, according to the feed direction of the seat means 20, downstream, in particular immediately downstream, of the means 28 for dispensing the respective predetermined portion of raw material.

Advantageously, the means 18 for assembling product components comprise, in particular on the seat means 20, means 32 for joining, in particular sealing, the second sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product to the first sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product, in particular at the respective peripheral edge surrounding the predetermined portion of raw material, preferably in dissolved condition, as may be inferred from Figure 2e).

Advantageously, the means 32 for joining, in particular sealing, the second sheet to the first sheet of the surface or outer layer of product are positioned, according to the feed direction of the seat means 20, downstream, in particular immediately downstream, of the means 30 for applying the second sheet on the seat means 20.

Advantageously, the means 18 for assembling product components comprise means 34 for cutting an excessive peripheral portion of the outer or surface layer of product, especially of the second sheet of material for making the outer or surface layer of product, in particular on the seat means 20, as may be inferred from Figure 2f).

Advantageously, as shown, the means 34 for cutting an excessive peripheral portion of the outer or surface layer of product are positioned, according to the feed direction of the seat means 20, downstream, in particular immediately downstream, of the means 32 for joining, or sealing, the first and second sheets forming the outer or surface layer of the product.

Advantageously, the means 18 which are designed to assemble the product components comprise means 36 for removing the waste material or the excessive peripheral portion of the outer or surface layer of product, in particular at the seat means 20, which element they are provided downstream of the means for cutting the excessive peripheral portion of the outer surface layer of product, in particular of the second sheet, as may be inferred from Figure 2g).

Further advantageously, the means 18 for assembling the product components comprise means 38 for unloading the product from the same seat means 20, which, as will be more apparent from the following description, dispense product onto corresponding conveyor means, in particular towards the compacting or ultrasonic treatment area and therefore, possibly, towards the packaging means, as may be inferred from Figure 2h).

In particular, as shown, the means 16 for making or for compacting the product advantageously are provided downstream of the means 18 for assembling product components, according to the direction of longitudinal extension of the apparatus.

Advantageously, there are provided means 40 for feeding the raw material.

Advantageously, the means 40 for feeding the raw material comprise means designed to release respective predetermined portions of raw material, in particular onto the seat means 20, preferably onto the first sheet of material for making the outer surface layer of product, especially positioned on the seat means 20.

In particular, as shown, the means for feeding the raw material advantageously comprise hopper means 40 for loading the same raw material.

Advantageously, the means 40 for feeding the raw material are provided above the means 18, in particular with a revolving wheel, for assembling product components.

Advantageously, there are provided means 42 for feeding a film 24' for forming the outer or surface layer of the product, in particular comprising corresponding means for supporting a respective reel of the film.

Further advantageously, there are provided means 44 for feeding a second film 30' for forming the outer or surface layer of the product, in particular comprising means for supporting a respective reel of the film. Advantageously, the means 42, 44 for feeding the first 24' and second film 30' for forming the outer or surface layer of the product are provided upstream and/or downstream of the means 18 for assembling product components, in particular respectively provided upstream and downstream of the assembly means 18.

Advantageously, the present apparatus comprises means 50 for packaging the product in a respective outer package, in particular in the form of a respective outer wrapper.

In particular, the outer package, or outer wrapper, advantageously is formed by a corresponding film of material, in particular by aluminium film. Advantageously, the means 50 for packaging the product in a respective outer package, or outer wrapper, comprise means 52 for wrapping a corresponding film about the respective product, as may be inferred from Figure 2m).

Advantageously, the means for wrapping the film about the respective product comprise means 49 for pushing the product against a respective film, in particular transversal to the pushing direction, of corresponding material for the package or wrapper, and for further pushing the product together with the film until wrapping the product in the same film.

In this way, a single reel or film is used to make the outer package, thus advantageously achieving a compact configuration of apparatus, in particular which may be made with particularly contained length.

Advantageously, the packaging means 50, in particular the wrapping means 52, comprise a respective surface 54, in particular fixed, for supporting and preferably sliding products.

As may be inferred, the means 49 for pushing products of the wrapping means 52 advantageously operate on products which are supported on the supporting surface 54.

As shown, the means for pushing the product against a respective film are in the form of a corresponding element, or comb unit 49, forming respective seat means 49' open at the front for receiving the back part of the respective product, and in particular extending transversely and having a plurality of seats 49' open at the front for receiving corresponding products.

As shown, the film 50' for making the package or wrapper advantageously passes through, in particular perpendicularly, the supporting surface 54, especially at or close to an end upstream of the same surface 54.

Advantageously, the packaging means 50 comprise means 56 for joining opposite ends of respective opposite flaps of the film 50' forming the outer wrapper, which are positioned in condition of wrapped about the respective product, as may be inferred from Figure 2n).

Advantageously, the packaging means 50 comprise means 58 for reciprocally joining, or sealing, opposite and matching flaps, or tabs, of the film forming the outer wrapper 50' with the respective product interposed therein, as may be inferred from Figure 2o. The joining or sealing of the opposite flaps, or tabs, being performed along the respective perimeter surrounding the compact product.

As shown, the packaging means 50 advantageously comprise means 60 for separating, or cutting, the package or wrapper containing the product from the respective film 50' forming the outer wrapper, as may be inferred from Figure 2p).

Moreover, the packaging means 50 comprise means 62 for unloading the packaged product, as may be inferred from Figure 2q).

Advantageously, as shown, the means 50 for packaging the product are positioned downstream, in particular longitudinally aligned downstream, of the means 16 for making the product, or sonotrode means.

Advantageously, there are provided means 70 for conveying products along the apparatus, in particular between means 18 for assembling product components and means 50 for packaging the same products and/or at the means 16 for making products, in particular the means 16 for aggregating or dispensing mechanical vibrating energy, preferably ultrasonic, to the same products.

Advantageously, the means 70 for conveying products are provided under the means 16 for aggregating particles of raw material of the respective predetermined portion, and/or of the means designed to make the same outer or surface layer adhere to the portion of raw material, that is means for aggregating or means for dispensing vibrating mechanical energy to the same products.

Advantageously, the means 70 for conveying products comprise means 72, 74, 76 for supporting corresponding products forming part of the means for making the product, in particular part of the means 16 for aggregating the particles of raw material of the respective predetermined portion, and/or part of the means designed to make the same outer surface layer adhere to the respective predetermined portion of raw material, especially thus forming means 72, 74, 76 for supporting the engaged products of the sonotrode means 16.

Advantageously, the means 70 for conveying products comprise first means 72 for supporting respective products and second means 74 for supporting respective products, and possibly third means 76 for supporting respective products, which are movable separately from and/or independently of each other, respectively at the means 16 for making products, at the means 50 for packaging products or at the means 18 for assembling components of the same products.

Although it is not particularly shown in the accompanying figures, the means 70 for conveying products comprise first movement means for corresponding first means 72 for supporting products and second movement means for corresponding second means 74 for supporting products and possibly third movement means for corresponding third means 76 for supporting products.

Advantageously, the respective means 72, 74, 76 for supporting products of the conveyor means 70 comprise a plurality of seats 71 for housing a respective product, in particular positioned in an orderly fashion according to one or more transversal rows of the seats 71 and/or according to one or more longitudinal rows of the same seats 71.

Advantageously, the respective means 72, 74, 76 for supporting products of the conveyor means 70 are carried by respective movement means, which are movable, in particular separately from and independently of each other. These movement means not being particularly shown in the accompanying figures and in any case preferably being in the form of respective endless, elongate, continuous means, in particular in the form of a first and a second elongate, continuous element for corresponding means, or plates, 72, 74 or 76 for supporting respective products. The continuous elongate elements extend parallel to one another and transversely spaced apart and the corresponding means, or plates, 72, 74, 76 for supporting products extend between them.

As shown, there are provided advantageous means 48 for product passage from the conveyor means 70, in particular from the respective supporting means 72, 74, 76, to the packaging means 50, as may be inferred from Figure 21).

Advantageously, as shown, the means for product passage are in the form of means 48 for picking the same products from the conveyor means 70 and for releasing them onto the packaging means 50, in particular onto a respective supporting and sliding surface of them, preferably by positioning them at the end upstream of this supporting and sliding surface.

Advantageously, as shown, the supporting means 12 of the apparatus comprise an intermediate wall 121 , in particular extending longitudinally, which separates the side provided with respective operating means, respectively the means 18 for assembling product components, the means 16 for making the product, the means 70 for conveying products and/or the means 48 for product passage and/or the means 50 for packaging the same products, from the side provided with the respective actuator means. In particular, as shown, the respective operating means, in particular the means 18 for assembling product components, the means 16 for making products, the means 70 for conveying products, the means 48 for product passage, and/or the means 50 for packaging the same products, extend in cantilever fashion from the intermediate separating wall 121.

Advantageously, as shown, the intermediate wall 121 separates the means for supporting the reel of the respective film 24', 30' for the respective or for both sheets forming the outer layer of material, and/or separates the means for supporting the reel for the packaging wrapper 50' from the operating means, in particular from the means 18 for assembling product components, from the means 16 for making products, from the means 70 for conveying products, from the means 48 for product passage, and/or from the means 50 for packaging the same products, and on which side the respective film is passed through corresponding slot means provided in the separating wall 121.

In this way, an apparatus with a particularly reduced size in length may be obtained.

In particular, the respective operating means, in particular the means 18 for assembling product components, the means 16 for making products, the means 70 for conveying products, the means 48 for product passage, and/or the means 50 for packaging the same products, comprise a plurality of parallel rows or lines for making the product.

Thus, an apparatus has been provided with respective features, shown above, which allow obtaining alternative and/or improved new products of the above type, relative to those currently on the market.

An apparatus has also been provided with respective features, shown above, which allow avoiding the apparatus and ambient in which it is inserted from being dirtied.

An apparatus has also been provided with respective features, shown above, which allow easy cleaning.

An apparatus has also been provided with respective features, shown above, which allow at least relatively high production outputs.

An apparatus has also been provided with respective features, shown above, which allow having a reliable and long-lasting apparatus available. An apparatus has also been provided with respective features, shown above, which allow obtaining easy maintenance and/or manufacturing of the apparatus, and also an at least relatively contained manufacturing cost.

An apparatus has also been provided with respective features, shown above, which allow avoiding an excessive size, in particular a length. The invention described has evident industrial applications. It would be obvious to one skilled in the art that several changes and modifications can be made to the invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, described in depth above. It is also easy to imagine further embodiments of the invention comprising one or more of the features described herein. Moreover, it will be understood that all the details of the invention may be substituted for technically equivalent elements.