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Title:
APPARATUS AND METHODS FOR MAKING GLOVES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/109759
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
Glove making apparatus (10) for making a glove on a hand comprises a glove material joining device (22) for joining portions of glove material, a hand locating device (16, 18) for locating a hand at a glove forming position and glove material supply apparatus (34, 38, 40, 42) for supplying portions of glove material such that hand positioned at the glove making position is positionable between a first portion of glove making material and a second portion of glove making material. The glove material joining device (22) is operable to join the first and second portions of glove material around a hand positioned at the glove forming position to form a glove on that hand.

Inventors:
FAIRCLOUGH, William, James (Chapel Mill Farm, Lenham, Kent ME17 2BJ, GB)
Application Number:
GB2009/000607
Publication Date:
September 11, 2009
Filing Date:
March 04, 2009
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
FAIRCLOUGH, William, James (Chapel Mill Farm, Lenham, Kent ME17 2BJ, GB)
International Classes:
B29C65/74; A41D19/00; B29D99/00; B29L31/48
Domestic Patent References:
1991-11-14
Foreign References:
US4931115A1990-06-05
FR1308248A1962-11-03
JP2002266130A2002-09-18
JP2006118073A2006-05-11
GB2358785A2001-08-08
GB2343359A2000-05-10
US5728255A1998-03-17
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BALDWIN, Mark (Firebird IP, 40 Bowling Green Lane, London EC1R 0NE, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:

Claims

1. A method of making a glove, the method comprising providing two spaced apart portions of glove material at a glove forming position, pressing a hand against a first of said portions of glove material and into a designated hand location and bringing a second of said portions of glove material into engagement with said first portion and joining said portions around said hand to form a glove around the hand.

2. A method of making a glove as claimed in claim 1, wherein said designated hand location is a recess in a mould member.

3. A method of making a glove as claimed in claim 1 or 2, wherein said second portion of glove material is pressed against said first portion by a movable mould member that defines a recess that at least partially receives said hand.

4. A method of making a glove as claimed in claim 1, 2 or 3, comprising joining said first and second portions of glove material around said hand by applying heat to said portions of glove making material.

5. A method of making a glove as claimed in claim 4, wherein said heat is applied by an electrical resistance device having a contacting portion shaped to define a hand-shaped profile.

6. A method of making a glove as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, comprising applying a fluid that at least disinfects to said glove making material.

7. A method of making a glove as claimed in any one of the preceding claims comprising applying a release agent to said glove making material such as to facilitate removal of the glove from the hand.

8. A method of making a glove as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein said first and second portions of glove material are in generally opposed spaced apart relation such that said hand can be inserted into a space therebetween prior to pressing said hand into said designated hand location.

9. A method of making a glove claimed in any one of the preceding claims, drawing said portions of glove making material from at least one supply reel of sheet glove making material.

10. A method of making a glove as claimed in claim 10, comprising drawing waste glove making material from said glove forming position while drawing said portions of glove making material from said at least one supply reel.

11. Glove making apparatus for making a glove on a hand, said apparatus comprising a glove material joining device for causing joining of portions of glove material, a hand locating device for locating a hand at a glove forming position and glove material supply apparatus for supplying portions of glove material such that a hand positioned at said glove making position is positionable between a first portion of glove making material and a second portion of glove making material, said glove material joining device being operable to join said first and second portions of glove material around said hand positioned at said glove forming position to form a glove on said hand.

12. Glove making apparatus for making a glove on a hand as claimed in claim 11, wherein said hand locating device comprises at least one member defining a recess for receiving a hand.

13. Glove making apparatus for making a glove on a hand as claimed in claim 11 or 12, wherein said hand locating device defines respective glove making positions for a left hand and a right hand.

14. Glove making apparatus for making a glove on a hand as claimed in claim 11, 12 or 13, wherein said glove material joining device comprises at least one heat applying element.

15. Glove making apparatus for making a glove on a hand as claimed in any one of claims 11 to 14, wherein said glove material joining device has a hand-shaped profile.

16. Glove making apparatus for making a glove on a hand as claimed in any one of claims 11 to 15, wherein said glove material joining device is operable to separate the formed glove from said portions of glove material.

17. Glove making apparatus for making a glove on a hand as claimed in any one of claims 11 to 16, comprising at least one sensing device for sensing a hand located at said glove forming position and issuing a signal indicating that a hand is located at said glove forming position, said glove material joining device being operable in response to a said signal.

18. Glove making apparatus for making a glove on a hand as claimed in claim 17, wherein said at least one sensing device is operable to issue a different signal when a hand is removed from said glove making position and said glove material supply apparatus is operable to supply new said portions of glove material in response to said different signal.

19. Glove making apparatus for making a glove on a hand as claimed in any one of claims 11 to 16, comprising at least one sensor for sensing removal of a hand from said glove making position and issuing a signal indicating a hand has been removed from said glove making position, said glove material supply apparatus being operable to supply replacement said portions of glove material in response to a said signal.

20. Glove making apparatus for making a glove on a hand as claimed in any one of claims 11 to 19, comprising at least one device for disinfecting or sterilising said portions of glove making material and/or said glove.

21. Glove making apparatus for making a glove on a hand as claimed in any one of claims 11 to 20, wherein said glove material supply apparatus is configured to supply said first and second portions of glove material from a sheet or film supply such that said first and second portions are in generally opposed spaced apart relation so as to permit insertion of a hand therebetween.

22. Apparatus for making a glove on a human hand, the apparatus comprising a glove forming station comprising glove material joining means, a first mould member and second mould member disposed generally opposite said first mould member, and glove material supplying means for supplying a glove material between the mould members of said glove forming station such that there is a space between generally opposed portions of the glove material into which a human hand can be inserted, at least one of said mould members defining a recess for receiving a hand and said glove material joining means being operable to join said generally opposed portions of glove material around a said human hand that is received in said recess such that the joined portions form a glove around the human hand.

23. Apparatus for making a glove on the hand of a wearer as claimed in claim 22, wherein said glove material joining means is operable to separate the formed glove from the supply of glove material.

24. Apparatus for making a glove on the hand of a wearer as claimed in claim 22 or 23, wherein said glove material joining means comprises an electric heating element.

25. Apparatus for making a glove on the hand of a wearer as claimed in claim 22, 23 or 24, wherein said glove material joining means defines a hand shaped joining line.

26. Apparatus for making a glove on the hand of a wearer as claimed in any one of claims 22 to 25, wherein said at least one recess is hand shaped and includes respective finger and thumb receiving portions and said glove material joining means extends around a perimeter of a said at least one recess.

27. Apparatus for making a glove on the hand of a wearer as claimed in any one of claims 22 to 27, wherein each of said first and second mould members defines a said recess, said recesses being arranged such that when said mould members are in a closed position a cavity is defined in which said hand is contained between said portions of glove material.

28. Apparatus for making a glove on the hand of a wearer as claimed in any one of the claims 20 to 25, comprising two said glove forming stations for respectively forming a left handed glove and a right handed glove.

29. A method of making a glove on the hand of a human comprising drawing separate opposed portions of glove making material from at least one reel of sheet glove making material, inserting a human hand between said opposed portions of glove making material, bringing said opposed portions of glove making material into contact and joining said portions around said human hand to form a glove on said hand and separating said glove from said glove making material.

30. A method as claimed in claim 29, wherein joining said portions around said human hand causes separation of the glove from said glove making material.

31. Apparatus for making a glove on a human hand, said apparatus comprising a supply system for drawing sheet glove making material from at least one reel of said material to provide opposed portions of said glove making material at a glove making position such that a human hand can be inserted between said opposed portions, a hand locator for locating said hand between said opposed portions of glove making material and a joining device for joining said opposed portions of glove making material around a said hand to form a glove on the hand.

Description:

APPARATUS AND METHODS FOR MAKING GLOVES

Field of the Invention

The invention relates to apparatus and methods for making gloves and particularly, but not exclusively, to apparatus and methods for making sterile gloves on the hands of a wearer.

Background to the Invention

There are many situations in which disposable gloves are used. For example, disposable gloves are often provided at petrol stations by the diesel pumps. Disposable gloves are also often used in doctor's and dentist's surgeries, in hospitals, laboratories and catering environments. Typically, such gloves are provided in a cardboard box or other form of packaging from which users extract individual gloves as required. Where such gloves are provided in a cardboard box, the box typically has a restricted access opening through which the gloves are extracted. Extracting gloves from such a box can be an awkward process, particularly when the box is near to empty and the user has to reach to the bottom of the box.

Summary of the Invention

The invention provides a method of making a glove, the method comprising providing two spaced apart portions of glove material at a glove forming position, pressing a hand against a first of said portions of glove material and into a designated hand location and bringing a second of said portions of glove material into engagement with said first portion and joining said portions around said hand to form a glove around the hand.

The invention also includes a glove making apparatus for making a glove on a hand, said apparatus comprising a glove material joining device for causing joining of portions of glove material, a hand locating device for locating a hand at a glove forming position and glove material supply apparatus for supplying portions of glove material such that a hand positioned at said glove making position is positionable between a first portion of glove making material and a second portion of glove

making material, said glove material joining device being operable to join said first and second portions of glove material around said hand positioned at said glove forming position to form a glove on said hand.

The invention also includes an apparatus for making a glove on a human hand, the apparatus comprising a glove forming station comprising glove material joining means, a first mould member and second mould member disposed generally opposite said first mould member, and glove material supplying means for supplying a glove material between the mould members of said glove forming station such that there is a space between generally opposed portions of the glove material into which a human hand can be inserted, at least one of said mould members defining a recess for receiving a hand and said glove material joining means being operable to join said generally opposed portions of glove material around a said human hand that is received in said recess such that the joined portions form a glove around the human hand.

The invention also includes a method of making a glove on the hand of a human comprising drawing separate opposed portions of glove making material from at least one reel of sheet glove making material, inserting a human hand between said opposed portions of glove making material, bringing said opposed portions of glove making material into contact and joining said portions around said human hand to form a glove on said hand and separating said glove from said glove making material.

The invention also includes an apparatus for making a glove on a human hand, said apparatus comprising a supply system for drawing sheet glove making material from at least one reel of said material to provide opposed portions of said glove making material at a glove making position such that a human hand can be inserted between said opposed portions, a hand locator for locating said hand between said opposed portions of glove making material and a joining device for joining said opposed portions of glove making material around a said hand to form a glove on the hand.

Brief Description of the Drawings

In order that the invention may be well understood, embodiments thereof, which are given by way of example only, will now be described with reference to the drawings in which:

Figure 1 is a schematic plan view of an apparatus for making gloves on a human hand taken along line I-I in Figure 2 and with the glove making material omitted;

Figure 2 is a schematic section view on line II-II in Figure 1 ;

Figure 3 is an enlargement of a portion of Figure 2 showing a system for moving a welding element between retracted and extended positions;

Figure 4 is a perspective view of another apparatus for making gloves on a human hand;

Figure 5 is a schematic elevation of the apparatus for making gloves on a human hand shown in Figure 4; and

Figure 6 is a perspective view of a waste collector of the apparatus for making gloves on a human hand of Figures 4 and 5.

Detailed Description of the Illustrated Embodiment

Referring to Figures 1 to 3, an apparatus 10 for making gloves on a human hand comprises a left hand glove forming station 12 and a right hand glove forming station 14. Each glove forming station 12, 14 comprises two generally oppositely disposed mould members 16, 18. The mould members 16, 18 each define a recess 20 for receiving the hand of a human (not shown). The recesses 20 are shaped and positioned such that when the moulds 16 engage the respective moulds 18, they define a recess that can contain a human hand. The recesses 20 of the glove forming station 12 are configured for receiving a left hand and the recesses 20 of the glove forming station 14 are configured for receiving a right hand and each includes respective portions 2OP, 2OF, 2OT for receiving the palm, fingers and thumb of a hand. The respective moulds 18 of the glove forming stations 12, 14 are each equipped with

electrical resistance welding elements 22 that surround the perimeter of the recesses 20.

The moulds 16 are mounted on guides 24 on which they are slideable between an open position shown in Figure 2, in which they are spaced from the respective moulds

18, and a closed position (not shown) in which they press against the moulds 18. The moulds 16 are connected with suitable drive equipment 26 by which they can be moved between the open and closed positions. Operation of the drive equipment is controlled by a control unit 28. The drive equipment 26 may comprise one or more hydraulic or pneumatic rams, or one or more electric motors. The control unit 28 may comprise a microprocessor and/or other suitable circuitry for controlling the operation of the drive equipment and other parts of the glove making apparatus 10.

The drive equipment 26 is provided with one or more load sensors 30 connected to the control unit 28. The load sensor(s) 30 provide signals indicative of the loading on the drive equipment 26. The force required to move the moulds 16 into engagement with the moulds 18 is relatively small and when, during a movement of the moulds 16 towards the moulds 18, the load sensor 30 detects a load on the drive equipment that is a set amount above that small force, the control unit 28 causes the drive equipment 26 to reverse the direction of movement of the moulds 16. This is a safety feature intended to prevent a person's hands from being injured by movement of the moulds

16 into engagement with the moulds 18.

The glove making stations 12, 14 are provided with respective sensors 32 for sensing when the moulds 16, 18 have closed. The sensors 32 may, for example, be normally open push switches that are caused to close when the moulds 16, 18 engage. The closing of the switches 32 causes respective inputs to the control unit 28 to switch from low to high, which provides an indication to the control unit 28 that the moulds 16, 18 have closed.

Referring particularly to Figure 3, the welding elements 22 are mounted on moving equipment 33 by which they are movable between a retracted position in which they are housed within the respective moulds 18 and an extended position in which they are able to transfer heat to the portions 46, 48 of the glove making material.

Operation of the moving equipment 33 is controlled by the control unit 28. The control unit 28 is operable to signal the moving equipment 33 to move the welding elements 22 to their extended positions on receipt of a signal from the sensors 32 indicating that the respective mould pairs 16, 18 have closed and to retract them after a set time delay. The moving equipment 33 may, for example, comprise a link mechanism actuated by an electric motor or pneumatic or hydraulic ram. The control unit 28 may be configured to allow users to adjust the time delay according to the type and/or thickness of the glove material. The control unit 28 may, for example, be provided with a touch screen and operate a menu system to assist the user in entering the required data.

The glove making apparatus 10 additionally comprises glove material supplying apparatus comprising a supply roller 34 on which a reel 36 of glove making material is mounted, a guide roller 38 and a pair of pinch rollers 40, 42. The pinch roller 42 is driven by, for example, an electric motor (not shown) for pulling the glove making material through the glove making apparatus 10. For some applications, it may be desirable to also drive the supply roller 34 and/or the guide roller 38.

The glove forming stations 12, 14 are disposed side-by-side between the supply roller 34 and the guide roller 38 such that the glove material, which is typically a plastics film or sheet, passes from the reel 36 through the space between the moulds 16, 18 around the guide roller 38, back through the space between the moulds and then between the pinch rollers 40, 42 from where it feeds into a bin 44. The arrangement of the components of the glove material supplying apparatus is such that there are two generally opposed portions 46, 48 of glove material extending generally horizontally in the space between the moulds 16, 18. The portions 46, 48 of glove material are spaced apart to define a space 50 between them into which a hand can be inserted.

As shown in Figure 1, each mould 18 may be provided with a suitable sensing device 52 for sensing when a hand is pressed into the associated recess 20. The sensing devices 52 are connected with the control unit 28. The sensing devices 52 may, for example, be proximity sensors or pressure sensors. For example, the sensing devices 52 could be normally open switches that are closed when a hand is pressed into the

associated recess 20, thus causing respective inputs to the control unit 28 to switch from low to high.

In order to make a pair of gloves, a person inserts his/her hands into the space 50 between the portions 46, 48 of glove making material and presses them down against the portion 48 and into the respective recesses 20 defined by the moulds 18. The pressure exerted by the hands is detected by the sensing devices 52 causing the associated inputs to the control unit 28 to switch from low to high. When inputs from the sensing devices 52 switch from low to high, indicating to the control unit 28 the presence of hands in the recesses 20, the control unit signals the drive equipment 26 to move the moulds 16 into engagement with the moulds 18. As the moulds 16 move towards the moulds 18, the portion 46 of the glove making material is pressed down over the hands that are in the recesses 20 of the moulds 18 and into engagement with the portion 48 of the glove making material. Once the moulds 16, 18 have closed, each hand is contained in a cavity defined by the recesses 20 of the moulds 16, 18 of the respective glove forming stations 12, 14 and covered on each side by the portions 46, 48 of glove material.

When the control unit 28 receives signals from the sensors 32 indicating that the moulds 16, 18 have closed, it outputs a signal that causes the moving equipment 33 to move the welding elements 22 to their extended positions and an electric current to be supplied to cause the bars to heat up. The heat from the welding elements 22 causes the portions 46, 48 of the glove making material to be joined together along lines extending around the perimeter of the recesses 20 to form respective gloves around the hands that are in the recesses. At the same time, heat from the welding elements

22 separates the gloves from the remainder of the portions 46, 48 of the glove making material. After the elapse of a predetermined amount of time, the control unit 28 signals the drive equipment 26 to retract the moulds 16, which allows the user to withdraw his/her gloved hands.

When the user removes his/her hands from the recesses 20 in the moulds 18, this is sensed by the sensing devices 52, which cause the associated inputs to the control unit 28 to go low. When this happens, the control unit 28 outputs a signal that causes the

pinch roller 42 to be rotated. The rotation of the pinch roller 42 causes fresh glove making material to be drawn from the reel 36.

Since the glove forming stations 12, 14 are separate. This makes it possible for the glove forming stations to be operated separately. For example, the apparatus 10 for making a glove on a human hand may be provided with switches and or other input means, such as a keyboard, touch pad or touch screen, that would allow users to indicate that only one glove is required. On receipt of such an indication, the control unit 28 would run a cycle in which only the required one of the glove forming stations 12, 14 is operated.

Figures 4 and 5 illustrate another apparatus 100 for making a glove on a human hand that has many features that are the same as, or similar to features of the apparatus 10 and operates in a similar fashion to that apparatus.

The apparatus 100 for making a glove on a human hand comprises a housing 102 mounted on a pedestal 104. The housing 102 has a front face 106 provided with an elongate rectangular aperture 108 through which a person's hands can be inserted into the housing.

The housing 102 houses a left hand lower mould 110, a right hand lower mould 112 and an upper mould 114. The upper mould 114 has recesses 116 that cooperate with generally opposed recesses 118 defined by the lower moulds 110, 112 to form respective cavities for receiving and surrounding a left and right hand. The upper mould 114 can be raised and lowered relative to the lower moulds 110, 112 guided by guide posts 120 that are fixed in the housing 102. The upper mould 114 may be raised and lowered by a system such as that shown in Figure 2 or any other suitable means. In the same way as the apparatus 10, the apparatus 100 for making a glove on a human hand may have a load sensor(s) for use in preventing a person's hands from being injured by closing of the moulds, sensors for detecting closure of the moulds and sensors, or switches, in the lower moulds 110, 112 for detecting the presence of a human hand for triggering actuation of the upper mould 114.

In this embodiment, the recesses 116 in the upper mould 114 include indentations shaped to replicate the fingers and thumb of a human hand, while the recesses 118 are simply flat bottomed depressions shaped to receive a hand. It will be appreciated that this is not essential and that the recesses 116 could be simple depressions and the recesses 118 provided with indentations shaped to replicate fingers and thumbs.

Although not shown, the moulds 110, 112 or the mould 114 are provided with a welding element or other suitable heating device in similar fashion to the glove forming stations 12, 14 of the apparatus 10.

The apparatus 100 for making a glove on a human hand differs from the apparatus 10 in having separate systems for supplying the opposed portions of glove making material between the moulds 110, 112 and mould 114 that are joined to from gloves. A first of these systems is associated with the upper mould 114 and comprises a supply reel 122 on which a roll of glove making material can be fitted, an idler roller 124 for guiding glove making material 126 under the upper mould 114 and an idler roller 128 downstream of the mould for guiding waste glove making material that has been passed between the moulds onto an associated waste collector 130. The waste collector 130 may be a roller to which a free end of the waste material is secured. Alternatively, the waste collector 130 may be as shown in Figure 6. The waste collector 130 shown in Figure 6 comprises a disc 132 that is configured to be rotatably mounted in the housing 102 and two rods 134 that extend in parallel spaced apart relation from the disc. The axis of rotation of the waster collector 130 extends perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the glove making material and the rods 134 extend parallel to the axis of rotation. One or both of the idler rollers 124, 128 may be equipped with a suitable biasing mechanism for tensioning the glove making material.

The second system for supplying glove making material is associated with the lower moulds 110, 122 and comprises a supply reel 136, idler roller 138, idler roller 140 and waste collector 142. These components may be identical, or similar, to the like components of the first supply system.

At least one of the supply reel 122, 136 and waste collector 130, 142, typically the waste collector, in each supply system may be driven. There may be separate drives

for each supply system or the driven members may be driven from a single drive source, for example and electric motor, via suitable linkages, chains gearing and other suitable drive transmission devices that will be known to those skilled in the art. In the illustrated embodiment, the waste collectors 130, 142 are driven by a common drive motor.

As an alternative to having two waste collectors, the idler rollers downstream of the moulds, possibly in conjunction with further guide devices, may be configured to guide the glove material onto a single waste collector.

Although not essential, it may be desirable to make at least a portion of the housing 102 from a transparent material such as Perspex ®. For example a window 144 made of a transparent plastics material or glass may be provided in the top of the housing 102 or a top portion or the whole of the housing could be made of a transparent plastics material. It is believed that allowing a user to see their hands once inserted in the housing 102 will provide the user with greater confidence while using the apparatus.

In operation of the apparatus 100 for making a glove on a human hand, a user inserts their hands into the recesses 118 in the lower moulds 110, 112. This is sensed by sensors, or switches, in the recesses 118. Signals indicating the presence of a hand in the recesses 118 are received by the control unit, which causes the moulds to be closed. With the moulds closed, opposed portions of the glove making material envelope the hands and the welding element is moved into contact with the glove making material and energised to cause the opposed portions to be joined together to form gloves on the hands. The heating of the glove making material preferably causes the gloves to be separated from the supply of glove making material. At a preset time, the control unit causes the upper mould 114 to be raised to allow the user to remove his/her hands from the apparatus. The removal of the user's hands is detected by the sensors in the recesses 118 and in response to signals indicating the removal of the hands, the control unit causes the waste collectors 130, 142 to be rotated to draw fresh glove making material from the supply reels 122, '130 into the space between the moulds and wind waste material from between the moulds onto the collectors. At this

stage, the apparatus 100 for making a glove on a human hand is ready to commence a new glove making cycle.

The apparatus for making a glove on a human hand may be equipped to provide coatings on the glove material, or on the finished glove. For example, if the glove making apparatus is intended to provide gloves for use in areas in which cleanliness is of particular importance, suitable equipment may be provided for applying a sterilising fluid, disinfectant or other suitable material onto the glove making material. Alternatively or additionally, equipment may be provided for applying a release agent such as talcum powder to the glove making material to help prevent the gloves sticking to a user's hands. Additionally, or alternatively, the apparatus may be provided with a device or devices for irradiating the glove material or finished glove. For example, the apparatus 10 for making a glove on a human hand shown in Figure 2 may optionally be provided with an irradiating device 60 disposed upstream of the glove forming stations 12, 14 and a device 62 for applying a release agent also disposed upstream of the glove forming stations. The devices 60, 62 may be controlled by the control unit 28. The connection between the device 62 and control unit 28 has been omitted to improve the overall clarity of the drawing.

It will be understood that while in the illustrated embodiments the recesses in the moulds include respective portions for the palm, fingers and thumbs, this is not essential. For some applications it may be sufficient to provide a generally hand- shaped recess that does not define individual portions for the fingers and thumb such that the glove formed does not have finger and thumb portions and simply encloses the whole of the hand like a mitten. This may be sufficient where the glove making material is very thin and/or the user is not expected to undertake tasks requiring much dexterity, for example, for users carrying out visual inspection in a clean environment. It is envisaged this will provide the possibility of making a cheaper apparatus since the mould(s) and welding elements would be simpler and one mould pair could be used for both hands.

It will be appreciated that instead of providing hand shaped recesses in both of two opposed moulds, recesses may be provided in just one of the moulds. In this case, the recess would have to be deep enough to receive the entire hand such that it would not

be pinched or crushed when the parts close. For example, in the apparatus 10 instead of a mould 16, the glove forming stations may be provided with a clamp(s) movable from a retracted position into engagement with the portion 46 of the glove making material to clamp it and the portion 48 against the mould 18 and a hand shaped heating element moveable from a retracted position into engagement with the portion 46 to join the portion 46 to the portion 48 around the perimeter of the recess 20 in the mould 18.

It will be understood that instead of having moulds as shown in the embodiments, the apparatus for making a glove on a human hand may comprise a hand locating arrangement configured to allow users to locate a hand at a glove forming position within the apparatus, apparatus for supplying glove material on either side of a hand at that position and a joining device for joining the portions of glove material around the hand to form a glove. The hand locating arrangement may comprise a hand-shaped outline marked on a surface. To reduce the possibility of users not correctly placing their hands in the apparatus, it is preferable to provide a locating formation or barrier that at least loosely constrains the hand. The locating formation could be a suitably shaped recess, such as a recess in the mould or projections, for example pegs projecting from a support surface and defining an area into which a hand can be inserted.

In the embodiments, the welding elements are operable to join the opposing glove material portions and separate the formed gloves from the remainder of the glove making material. It will be understood that this is not essential and a dedicated separating device, for example a cutting device, may be provided. The cutting device may comprise a serrated edge situated alongside the heating element (see Figure 3) and be operated simultaneously, optionally, by the moving equipment 33 that moves the heating element.

It will be appreciated that the glove material supply apparatus may be provided with additional guide rollers and/or fixed guides and/or tensioning devices for guiding and regulating the progress of the glove making material through the glove making apparatus.

It will be appreciated that the apparatus for making a glove on a human hand may be provided with a proximity sensor or other suitable sensor operable to provide a signal to the control unit indicating that a person has passed the apparatus or a particular location close to the apparatus. The control unit would be configured such that on receiving such a signal it operates to determine that the or at least one glove forming station has cycled within a set period prior to receiving the signal, and if not, it issues a signal to trigger an audio and/or visual alarm/warning. This is envisaged as providing the person that triggers the alarm with a reminder that he/she needs to glove up.

It will be appreciated that the glove material does not have to be supplied from a single reel of material as shown in Figure 2. As shown in Figure 5, the two portions could be supplied from respective reels. In this case, the two supply paths could be controlled and driven by common parts, or separately by dedicated parts. Having separate supply reels provides the possibility of supplying different types or quality of glove making material to make up the glove. For example, the portion that is to make up the 'palm-side' of the glove may be thicker and/or provided with ribbing or similar grip enhancing features.

It will be understood that it is not essential that the glove forming stations have a welding or heating element for joining the portions of the glove making material together. For example, the glove making stations may by provided with a hot air system or other suitable non-contact energy transfer device for joining the pieces of glove material together.

It will be appreciated that the apparatus for making a glove on a human hand allows a quick and hygienic barrier to the transfer of bacteria from the hands to be formed at locations in which cleanliness is important.

It will be appreciated that while not limited to such use, the apparatus for making a glove on a human hand may by used in food processing, food retailing and other food handling environments, medical environments and in laboratories.

It will be appreciated that the apparatus for making a glove on a human hand may be provided as a standalone device with its own support, such as a pedestal as shown in Figure 4. Alternatively, the apparatus may, for example, be configured for wall, trolley, table or worktop mounting.

In this specification, references are made to upper and lower and raising and lowering. These directions are given for ease of understanding the particular embodiment being described and should not be taken as limiting. For example, the upper moulds shown in the Figures could provided in place of the lower moulds and the lower moulds in place of the upper moulds. Similarly, the lower moulds in the illustrated embodiments could be movable so as to be raised towards the upper mould when the gloves are made.