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Title:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR SELECTIVELY SHEAR A SUPPORT ELEMENT, PREFERABLY A CONTINUOUS STRIP
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/106701
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Apparatus (10) and method to selectively shear at least a support element (11), preferably a continuous strip, even more preferably provided with cells (12), comprising one or more shearing devices (26) each of which is provided with a shearing member (27) and is selectively drivable between an idle position, in which it does not interfere with the support element (11), and two distinct operating shearing positions, in which it interferes totally or partly with the support element (11). Each shearing device (26) also comprises an actuation device with cam means configured to actuate the corresponding shearing member (27) and selectively take it into two operating conditions to which the two distinct shearing positions correspond, one to completely shear the support element, the other for partial interference so that a unitay section (14) remains attached to the lateral cut-off of the support element (11).

Inventors:
BRILLANTI VENTURA, Gianluca (428/442, Ozzano Dell'Emilia, 40064, IT)
BETTI, Cristian (428/442, Ozzano Dell'Emilia, 40064, IT)
Application Number:
IT2018/050232
Publication Date:
June 06, 2019
Filing Date:
November 28, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
I.M.A. INDUSTRIA MACCHINE AUTOMATICHE S.P.A. (Via Emilia, 428/442, Ozzano Dell'Emilia, 40064, IT)
International Classes:
B26F1/40; B26D5/12
Domestic Patent References:
WO2005105574A12005-11-10
Foreign References:
GB2001002A1979-01-24
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PETRAZ, Davide Luigi et al. (GLP SRL, Viale Europa Unita 171, Udine, 33100, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Shearing apparatus (50) to selectively shear at least a support element (11), preferably a continuous strip, even more preferably provided with cells (12), mobile in a direction of feed (D), said shearing apparatus (50) comprising at least a first shearing device (26) that is provided with a shearing member (27) and selectively drivable between an idle position, in which said shearing member (27) does not interfere with said support element (11), and an operating shearing position, in which said shearing member (27) at least partly interferes with said support element (11), by driving a drive member (24), characterized in that said first shearing device (26) is mounted on a slider (19) mobile along a travel (C) in a direction perpendicular to said direction of feed (D), by means of said drive member (24), between a position distanced from said support element (11), which corresponds to said idle position of said shearing member (27), and a position of interference with said support element (11), which corresponds to said operating shearing position of said shearing member (27), wherein said first shearing device (26) also comprises an actuation device (29) configured to actuate said shearing member (27) and selectively take it into a first operating condition, in which said shearing member (27) totally interferes with said support element (11), shearing it completely and thus achieving at least a unitary section (14) of the latter which detaches from a lateral off-cut thereof, or into a second operating condition, in which said shearing member (27) only partly interferes with said support element (11), so the corresponding unitary section (14), not completed, remains attached to the lateral off-cut of the latter, wherein in said two operating conditions of the shearing member (27), said shearing member (27) assumes two different positions with respect to said slider (19), while said travel (C) performed by said slider (19) is the same, so that said two operating conditions are obtained with the same travel of the drive member (24).

2. Shearing apparatus as in claim 1, characterized in that said actuation device (29) comprises a command device (31) that comprises a motion conversion mechanism (60) configured to condition the position of said shearing member (27) with respect to said slider (19) so as to pass from said first operating condition to said second operating condition.

3. Shearing apparatus as in claim 2, characterized in that said motion conversion mechanism (60) comprises a piston (33) mobile axially along a longitudinal axis (X).

4. Shearing apparatus as in claim 3, characterized in that said mobile piston (33) is provided with cam means (34, 134; 35, 135; 36) configured to condition the position of said shearing member (27) with respect to said slider (19).

5. Shearing apparatus as in claim 3 or 4, characterized in that said mobile piston (33) is shaped to define said cam means (34, 134; 35, 135; 36), wherein said cam means (34, 134; 35, 135; 36) comprise at least a first upper support surface (34) and a corresponding lower support surface (134) disposed at a first distance from said longitudinal axis (X), and at least a second upper support surface (35) and a second lower support surface (135) disposed at a second distance from said longitudinal axis (X), smaller than said first distance.

6. Shearing apparatus as in claim 5, characterized in that inclined planes (36) are present between the first upper (34) and lower (134) support surfaces and, respectively, the second upper (35) and lower (135) support surfaces.

7. Shearing apparatus as in claim 5 or 6, characterized in that said shearing member (27) comprises upper contact means (37) and lower abutment means (25) configured to be in contact, respectively, with said first upper support surface (34) and said first lower support surface (134) in said first operating condition, or with said second upper support surface (35) and said second lower support surface (135) in said second operating condition.

8. Shearing apparatus as in claim 7, characterized in that said upper contact means comprises a fork (37) integral with the shearing member (27).

9. Shearing apparatus as in claim 7 or 8, characterized in that said upper contact means (37) and said lower abutment means (25) are comprised in said motion conversion mechanism (60).

10. Shearing apparatus as in any claim from 3 to 9, characterized in that said longitudinal axis (X) is parallel to said direction of feed (D) of said support element (11).

11. Shearing apparatus as in claim 2, characterized in that said motion conversion mechanism (60) comprises a rotatable shaped member of the eccentric type (61).

12. Shearing apparatus as in claim 1 1 , characterized in that said rotatable shaped member of the eccentric type (61) is mounted on a shaft (63) driven by a motor member (62).

13. Shearing apparatus as in any claim from 2 to 12, characterized in that said command device (31) is the fluid-dynamic type.

14. Shearing apparatus as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that it comprises at least a second shearing device associated with said first shearing device (26) and driven by the same drive member (24).

15. Shearing apparatus as in claim 14, characterized in that said first and second shearing devices (26) are both mounted on said slider (19).

16. Shearing apparatus as in claim 14 or 15, wherein said support element (11) has a determinate overall width (LC) that is a multiple of the standardized width (LS) of a strip (13) from which to make unitary sections (14) of said support element (11), characterized in that said shearing devices (26) are adjacent to each other, with their respective longitudinal axes (X) parallel to each other, and in that each of said shearing devices (26) has a width (LA) substantially equal to said standardized width (LS).

17. Shearing apparatus as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that each shearing member (27) is associated with motor means able to take it, independently from the other shearing members (27), into the respective complete or partial cutting position.

18. Shearing method to selectively shear a support element (11), preferably a continuous strip, to define a plurality of cells, by means of a shearing apparatus (50) that comprises at least a first shearing device (26) that is provided with a shearing member (27) and is selectively drivable, during a shearing step, between an idle position, in which said shearing member (27) does not interfere with said support element (11), and an operating shearing position in which said shearing member (27) at least partly interferes with said support element (11), characterized in that it also comprises a preparation step, during which actuation means (29), comprised or associated with said shearing device (26), selectively translate said shearing member (27) into a first operating condition, in which said shearing member (27), when it is in said operating shearing position, totally interferes with said support element (1 1), shearing it completely and thus achieving a unitary section (14) of the latter that detaches from a lateral off-cut thereof, or into a second operating condition, in which said shearing member (27), when it is in said operating shearing position, only partly interferes with said support element (11), so that the corresponding unitary section (14), not completed, remains attached to the lateral off-cut of the latter.

Description:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR SELECTIVELY SHEAR A SUPPORT ELEMENT,

PREFERABLY A CONTINUOUS STRIP

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The field of application of the present invention is that of packaging small-size products, for example products in the pharmaceutical sector, which are in the form of tablets, pills, capsules, suppositories, or other, in the food industry, such as candies, sugared almonds, fruit drops, bonbons, or suchlike, and in the field of smoking products, such as capsules or cartridges for electronic cigarettes, or other, in which each product is preferably contained in a sealed dome-shaped cell, made on a containing support, also called a blister, which can consist, for example, of a thin sheet of aluminum. More particularly, the present invention concerns a shearing apparatus and method to selectively, partly or totally shear a support element, preferably a continuous strip, in order to obtain in sequence a plurality of blisters with the corresponding products inside it, and thus create a small-sized unitary section, which can be inserted into a pocket-sized container.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In the packaging sector of small-sized products, such as those of the pharmaceutical sector, part of the food sector, and the smoking products sector, in which each product is contained in a cell made on a containing support, it is known to make single sections of small size, which can be inserted into pocket- sized containers, starting from a continuous strip, already provided with the cells that will contain the products, which is fed intermittently and cut to size by shearing.

Normally, the continuous strip has a width of a few tens of millimeters, so that the blisters that are obtained can be inserted into a pocket-sized container, and comprises one or more columns of cells, the number of which depends on the size of each product, in relation to the width of the continuous strip. Therefore, a shearing device is normally provided which shears the strip to divide it into single sections, each of which has a width substantially equal to that of the strip.

If the continuous strip is the same width as the individual blisters that are obtained, it is called a“mono-row” strip.

In the same sector of packaging small-sized products, in order to increase the hourly production of the packaging machines, the need arose to also shear continuous strips having a width that is a multiple of the standard one, in order to simultaneously produce multiple sections of products, or multiple parallel and adjacent strips, called “two-row” if the width of the strip substantially corresponds to the width of two blisters, net of the off-cuts that are eliminated.

From the publication of the international patent application WO-A- 2005/105574 a method and corresponding unit is known, for producing packages of products contained in blisters, by selectively cutting a strip. The shearing operation is performed by a shearing device, which comprises a shearing member linearly mobile in a direction perpendicular to the direction of feed of the strip, between an idle position, distanced from the strip, and two shearing positions, one final, for a total shearing, and one intermediate, for a partial shearing. The shearing member is commanded by a connecting rod mechanism, which transforms the rotational movement of a rotatable shaft, selectively commanded by an electric motor, into a rectilinear movement of the shearing member. The travel of the latter can be complete, when it is desired to carry out a total shearing of the strip with the blisters, or partial, when only a partial shearing of the strip is desired, for example if a detection member detects a possible anomaly in the strip in correspondence with the position of one or more blisters to be sheared. In this way, thanks to the partial shearing, the defective blister is easily distinguished from the“good” blisters and prevents that, inadvertently, a defective blister can in any case be fed toward the subsequent operations and/or inserted in a container to be sent for packaging.

In the first case, that is, for total shearing, the electric motor commands a complete rotation of the rotatable shaft, while in the second case, that is, for partial shearing, the same electric motor commands only a partial rotation of the rotatable shaft, for example of 325°, thus generating a shorter travel of the shearing member.

However, although effective and reliable, this known device has the disadvantage of being rather bulky and cannot be adapted, even by duplicating it, to make independent cuts either on a very wide strip, to divide it into several parallel strips, from each of which the specific sections each containing a specific number of blisters can be obtained, or on several strips located adjacent to each other.

In fact, in the case of two-row or multi-row strip in general, it can happen that an anomaly or defect can be found only in one blister to be cut from the strip, while the adjacent one or more do not have any type of anomaly or defect.

In this specific case, known solutions generally do not allow to perform a partial travel only of one shearing member, corresponding to the blister to be discarded; therefore, when this occurs, the blisters of both rows are discarded, therefore also a blister which should not have been discarded. This leads to a reduction in the efficiency and productivity of known shearing machines.

There is therefore a need to perfect a shearing apparatus, and the corresponding method, to selectively shear at least one support element, preferably a continuous strip, which can overcome at least one of the disadvantages of the state of the art.

In particular, a first purpose of the present invention is therefore to obtain a shearing apparatus, and to perfect the corresponding method, to selectively shear at least one support element, preferably a continuous strip, to form blisters, which allow to shear the support element in a simple and reliable way, also guaranteeing high productivity, both in the longitudinal direction, that is, in the direction of the length, and also in the transverse direction, that is in the direction of the width, in order to simultaneously obtain a plurality of single sections, or blisters, in each of which a certain number of products inserted in the respective cells can be contained.

In particular, a main purpose of the invention is, in the case of a two-row or in general a multi-row strip, to allow to partly shear a single blister, instead completely shearing the blister in the adjacent row, so as to allow to distinguish a defective blister without necessarily eliminating also the adjacent non-defective blister.

Another purpose of the present invention is to provide a shearing apparatus and to perfect the corresponding method in which it is possible to selectively and autonomously shear at least one support element, preferably a continuous strip, having a width at least double a standardized width, dividing it virtually or practically into a plurality of adjacent and parallel strips, each having a standardized width, so that from each strip it is possible to obtain the single sections, and so that each blister can be sheared independently of the adjacent blister, to independently obtain a complete or partial cut.

Another purpose of the invention is to provide such a type of independent cut between two or more adjacent blisters using a simple device which can also be applied to already existing shearing apparatuses, and which does not require significant modifications of the structures connected to the shearing apparatus, even in the case of apparatuses equipped with traditional motorizations that do not allow modification of their movement travel.

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

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

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

In accordance with the above purposes, an apparatus according to the present invention, to selectively shear at least a support element, preferably a continuous strip, even more preferably provided with cells already sealed to form a plurality of blisters, mobile in a direction of feed. The shearing apparatus comprises at least a first shearing device that is provided with a shearing member and is selectively drivable between an idle position, in which the shearing member does not interfere with the support element, and an operating shearing position, in which the shearing member at least partly interferes with the support element. The shearing member is moved by driving a drive member, rotatable for example, for example an electric motor associated with a connecting rod mechanism that transforms the rotation motion into a rectilinear motion.

The shearing device, in a known manner, defines the so-called“format” part of the machine, that is, the replaceable part based on the size of the continuous support strip, the size of the blisters, the number and the size of the cells, and so on, while the rotary drive member forms a distinct, unified and normally non- replaceable part of the shearing apparatus.

In accordance with one characteristic of the present invention, the first shearing device also comprises actuation means configured to actuate the shearing member and selectively take it into a first operating condition, in which the same shearing member, when it is in the operating shearing position, totally interferes with the support element, shearing it completely and thus achieving at least a unitary section of the latter, which detaches from the remaining part of it, also called lateral off-cut, or into a second operating condition, in which the same shearing member, when it is in the operating shearing position, only partly interferes with the support element, so that the corresponding unitary section, not completed, remains attached to the lateral off-cut of the latter, wherein, in the two operating conditions of the shearing member, the position of the shearing member with respect to the slider is different, while the travel of the slider is the same, so that the two operating conditions of the shearing member are obtained with the same travel of the drive member, that is, without modifying the travel of the drive member.

In other words, the selective drive of the actuation means allows to move the starting and finishing points of the travel of the shearing member so that, given the same travel of the rotating drive member, and therefore of the shearing member itself, either a total cutting of the strip is obtained, when the starting and finishing points are in a first position, or a partial shearing is obtained, when the starting and finishing points are in a second position.

Since the actuation means are located in or are associated with the so-called “format” part apparatus, that is, that part of the apparatus that is replaceable according to the size and shape of the strip from which the blisters are obtained following shearing, the present invention has the advantage that it does not require any intervention to modify the travel of the rotary movement member, which instead is a unified part of the apparatus, and greatly simplifies the management and control of the movements. Moreover, it allows the solution of the invention to be applied also as an intervention on existing machines, even on those equipped with a conventional motorization which does not allow modification of the travel of the drive element.

In accordance with another characteristic of the present invention, the first shearing device is mounted on a slider mobile along a travel, in a direction perpendicular to the direction of feed of the support element, by means of the drive member, between a position distanced from the support element, which corresponds to the idle position of the shearing member, and a position of interference with the support element, which corresponds to the operating shearing position of the shearing member.

In accordance with another characteristic of the present invention, the actuation means comprise a command device that comprises a motion conversion mechanism configured to condition the position of the shearing member with respect to the slider so as to pass from the first operating condition to the second operating condition.

In accordance with other aspects, the motion conversion mechanism in turn comprises a piston, mobile axially along a longitudinal axis provided with cam means configured to condition the position of the shearing member with respect to the slider.

In accordance with some aspects, the mobile piston is shaped to define the cam means.

In accordance with another characteristic of the present invention, the cam means comprise a cam profile comprising at least a first upper support surface disposed at a first distance from the longitudinal axis and at least a second upper support surface disposed at a second distance from the same longitudinal axis, smaller than the first distance.

In accordance with other aspects, inclined planes are present between the first upper and lower support surfaces and, respectively, the second upper and lower support surfaces.

Moreover, according to other aspects, the shearing member comprises contact means configured to be in contact with the first support surface in the first operating condition, or with the second support surface in the second operating condition.

In accordance with still other aspects, the motion conversion mechanism comprises a rotatable shaped member of the eccentric type.

In accordance with another characteristic of the present invention, one or more shearing devices, for example two or more than two, substantially identical to the first shearing device, are associated with the first shearing device.

In accordance with another characteristic of the present invention, the shearing devices are adjacent to each other, with their respective longitudinal axes parallel to each other. Moreover, each of the shearing devices has a width substantially equal to the standardized width of a single unit into which the support element is divided.

In accordance with this embodiment, each of the shearing devices can be motorized internally so that it can be taken, independently of the other shearing devices, into a complete shearing position or into a partial shearing position.

In accordance with another characteristic of the present invention, the shearing method to selectively shear a support element, preferably a continuous strip, even more preferably provided with cells to define, after the shearing, a plurality of blisters, by means of a shearing apparatus that comprises at least a first shearing device that is provided with a shearing member and is selectively drivable, by a drive member, during a shearing step, between an idle position, in which the shearing member does not interfere with the support element, and an operating shearing position in which the shearing member at least partly interferes with the support element, also comprises a preparation step, during which actuation means, making up part of the first shearing device, selectively take the same shearing member into a first operating condition, in which the shearing member, when it is in the operating shearing position, totally interferes with the support element, shearing it completely and thus achieving a unitary section of the latter that detaches from the lateral off-cut thereof, or into a second operating condition, in which the same shearing member, when it is in the operating shearing position, only partly interferes with the support element, so that the corresponding unitary section, not completed, remains attached to the lateral off- cut of the latter, without modifying the travel of the drive member.

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

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

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

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

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

- fig. 1 is a three-dimensional view of a shearing apparatus according to aspects described here;

- fig. 2 is a front view of the apparatus in fig. 1 ;

- fig. 3 is a cross section of the apparatus in fig. 1 in an idle position, while it is in a first operating condition;

- fig. 4 is a cross section of the apparatus in fig. 3 in a first operating shearing position, that is, of complete shearing;

- fig. 5 is a cross section of the apparatus in fig. 1 in an idle position, while it is in a second operating condition;

- fig. 6 is a cross section of the apparatus in fig. 5 in a second operating shearing position, that is, of partial shearing;

- fig. 7 is a schematic view from above of the apparatus in fig. 1 associated with the support element,

- fig. 8 is another cross section of the apparatus according to aspects described here;

- fig. 9 is a cross section of a variant of the apparatus in fig. 1 in an idle position, while it is in a first operating condition;

- fig. 10 is a cross section of the apparatus in fig. 9 in a first operating shearing position, that is, of complete shearing;

- fig. 11 is a cross section of a variant of the apparatus in fig. 1 in an idle position, while it is in a second operating condition;

- fig. 12 is a cross section of the apparatus in fig. 11 in a second operating shearing position, that is, of partial shearing;

- figs. 13 and 14 are details of schematized cross sections of the apparatus respectively in fig. 9 and fig. 11. To facilitate comprehension, the same reference numbers have been used, where possible, to identify identical common elements in the drawings. It is understood that elements and characteristics of one embodiment can conveniently be incorporated into other embodiments without further clarifications.

We must clarify that in the present description and in the claims the terms high, low, vertical, horizontal, upper, lower and internal, with their declinations, have the sole function of better illustrating the present invention with reference to the drawings and must not be in any way used to limit the scope of the invention itself, or the field of protection defined by the claims. For example, by the term horizontal we mean a plane that can be either parallel to the line of the horizon, or inclined, even by several degrees, with respect to the latter.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SOME EMBODIMENTS

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

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

Fig. 1 is used to describe schematically in its entirety a shearing apparatus 50 according to possible aspects of the present invention. The shearing apparatus 50 comprises a shearing device 26 and a drive member, which in the present case is schematically represented by a piston 22 moved by an actuator 24. In general, the actuator 24 can be part of a drive system that comprises, in a known manner, an electric motor and a connecting rod system which transforms the rotational motion of the electric motor into an alternative rectilinear movement of the piston 22, and therefore of the shearing device 26.

The shearing device 26 defines the so-called“format” part of the shearing apparatus 50, that is, the part that is replaced on each occasion according to the type of product to be obtained, as will be described in more detail below.

The shearing apparatus 50 is configured to selectively shear a support element 11 (figs. 1 to 7), which in the example provided here is a continuous strip fed, in particular intermittently, in a direction of feed D (figs. 3 to 7). One way of feeding the support element 11 with respect to the shearing apparatus 50 is described in the international patent application WO-A-2005/105574 cited above, and which is incorporated here by way of reference.

The support element 11 is the type provided with a plurality of inverted dome shaped cells 12 (figs. 1 to 7), each of which is sealed in the upper part, for example by a thin sheet of aluminum, and contains a small-sized product. For example, each cell 12 has a substantially cylindrical shape and has a diameter of about 2-8 mm or even more.

In the example provided here, the support element 11 has an overall width LC (figs. 2 and 7) and is suitable to be divided into three strips 13, each of which has a standard width which corresponds substantially to 1/3 of the overall width LC.

In this case, each strip 13 comprises three parallel columns of cells 12. In this specific case, each unitary section 14 (fig. 7) of the support element 11, after the latter has been cut by the shearing apparatus 50, as will be described in detail later, comprises two rows of cells 12, so that in each single unitary section 14 there are six cells 12.

The shearing device 26 comprises a frame 15 (figs. 1 to 6), which in turn comprises a lower plate 16 and an upper plate 17, disposed, in the representation shown, horizontally and each having substantially the shape of a parallelepiped with a rectangular base. Vertical uprights 18, for example four in number and for example of a cylindrical shape, connect the two plates 16 and 17 together, keeping them at a certain distance, and act as guide members for a slider 19 interposed between the two plates 16 and 17, in order to be parallel to the latter.

An intermediate plate 20 is attached to the lower surface of the upper plate 17 and acts as a support member for the support element 11. The latter, in fact, is configured to pass between the upper plate 17 and the intermediate plate 20, on a work plane P (figs. 2 to 6) of the latter.

The slider 19 comprises a connection plate 21 (figs. 1 to 6), also having substantially the shape of a parallelepiped with a rectangular base, the lower part of which is connected to the piston 22 of the drive member 24. The piston 22 slides inside a corresponding guide through hole 23 present in the lower plate 16 of the frame 15.

The slider 19 is mobile along a travel C, for example vertically, that is, for example along a vertical travel C, between an idle position, lowered, shown in figs 1, 2, 3 and 5, and an operating position, shown in figs. 4 and 6, by means of the drive member 24.

The travel C (figs. 4 and 6) of the slider 19 is, for example, about 15 mm, even if this value is purely indicative and given by way of example, but not binding.

One or more shearing devices 26, for example three in number and identical to each other, are mounted on the slider 19 so as to be adjacent in a longitudinal direction, that is, parallel to the direction of feed D of the support element 11.

Each shearing device 26 comprises in the upper part a shearing member 27, essentially consisting of a blade 28 with its profile corresponding to the outline of the unitary section 14 (fig. 7) to be cut by the support element 11, which in this specific case is a rectangle with rounded angles, and a blade holder 38. Each blade 28, seen in cross section (figs. 3 to 6), has an inclined profile, with a higher part (on the left in figs. 3 to 6) and a lower part (on the right in figs. 3 to 6).

According to possible embodiments, the blade 28 can have other different types of profile, such as for example L-shaped or V-shaped or other.

The position of each shearing member 27 with respect to the slider 19 is variable by means of an actuation device 29, between a first operating condition, shown in figs. 3 and 4, in which the shearing member 27 is more raised with respect to the connection plate 21 , and a second operating condition, shown in figs. 5 and 6, in which the shearing member 27 is lowered with respect to the connection plate 21. Advantageously, in the two operating conditions of the shearing member 27, the position of the shearing member 27 is different with respect to the slider 19, while the travel C of the slider 19 is the same, so that the two operating conditions are obtained with the same travel of the drive member 24.

Usually, an actuation device, as used in association with embodiments described here, can be an actuator with an intrinsically linear or circular movement, or be configured to convert a circular movement into a linear movement, or a linear movement into a circular movement. Conversion can be commonly done by means of mechanism types selected from a group consisting of: screw actuators, such as a screw jack, ball screw and roller screw actuators, or wheel and axle, for example drum, gear, pulley or shaft, actuators, such as a lifting cable, a winch, a rack and a pinion assembly, a chain drive, a strip or belt drive, actuators with a rigid chain and rigid strip, or belt.

According to some aspects, in some variant embodiments each actuation device 29 comprises a command device 31 which comprises or is associated with a motion conversion mechanism 60 configured to condition the position of the shearing member 27 with respect to the slider 19 in order to pass from the first operating condition to the second operating condition. The command device 31 can, in some variants, be a fluid-dynamic device, or second fluid-dynamic device.

According to some embodiments, the motion conversion mechanism 60 comprises a piston 33 mobile along a longitudinal axis X. Therefore, in possible variants, the piston 33 can be comprised in the command device 31.

In these variant embodiments, each actuation device 29 comprises a cylinder 30 having said longitudinal axis X which can be parallel to the direction of feed D of the support element 11. Inside each cylinder 30, the piston 33 is mobile axially, between a first operating condition which corresponds to the first operating condition of the shearing member 27 (figs. 3 and 4), and a second operating condition which corresponds to the second operating condition of the shearing member 27 (figs. 5 and 6). The piston 33 is mobile, in particular, under the command of the command device 31. The latter, as we said, can be the fluid- dynamic type, for example pneumatic, or oil-based, and can comprise feed pipes 32.

According to some variant embodiments, each mobile piston 33 is provided with cam means 34, 134; 35, 135; 36 configured to condition the position of the shearing member 27 with respect to the slider 19.

In some variants, each mobile piston 33 is shaped to define the cam means 34, 134; 35, 135; 36.

According to some variants, the cam means comprise a cam profile 34, 134; 35, 135; 36.

In particular, each piston 33 can have the external part shaped so as to form a cam profile which comprises two first support surfaces, respectively upper 34 and lower 134, substantially cylindrical, disposed at a first distance from the longitudinal axis X, and two second support surfaces, respectively upper 35 and lower 135, also substantially cylindrical, disposed at a second distance from the longitudinal axis X, which is smaller than that of the first support surfaces 34, 134. Inclined planes 36 are present between the first support surfaces 34, 134 and, respectively, the second support surfaces 35, 135. Advantageously, the first upper support surfaces 34 are offset axially along the longitudinal axis X with respect to the second lower support surfaces 135 and the second upper support surfaces 35 are offset axially along the longitudinal axis X with respect to the second lower support surfaces 134. According to some embodiments, the shearing member 27 comprises upper contact means 37 and lower abutment means 25 configured to be in contact respectively with the first upper support surface 34 and the first lower support surface 134 in the first operating condition, or with the second upper support surface 35 and the second lower support surface 135 in the second operating condition.

In particular, according to some aspects, the first upper support surfaces 34 and the second lower support surfaces 135 are portions protruding from the piston 33, while the second upper support surfaces 35 and the second lower support surfaces 134 are seatings, recesses or grooves made in the thickness of the piston 33.

In particular, the upper contact means 37 and the lower abutment means 25 are integral with the shearing member 27, in particular mobile integrally with it. In a possible variant, the upper contact means 37 and the lower abutment means 25 can be made in a single body.

For example, the upper contact means comprise a fork 37 integral with the shearing member 27. The fork 37, which can be shaped like an inverted U, integral with the shearing member 27, more particularly the blade holder 38, can be configured to be in constant contact with the first upper support surfaces 34, or with the second upper support surfaces 35, as a function of the axial position of the corresponding piston 33.

In possible variant embodiments, the upper contact means 37 and the lower abutment means 25 are comprised in the motion conversion mechanism 60.

Each shearing device 26 described heretofore is very limited in size; in particular, its width LA (fig. 2) is substantially equal to the standard width LS of each strip 13 of the support element 11.

Both the first fluid-dynamic device 24 and the three second command devices 31 , for example fluid-dynamic, of the three shearing devices 26 of the apparatus 10, which selectively command the movement of the three shearing members 27, are controlled and commanded by a programmable processor of a known type and not shown in the drawings.

In accordance with some embodiments, as shown in fig. 8, each shearing member 27 is connected to the blade holders 38, each of which is integrally attached to at least two columns 40, in this embodiment there being four columns 40.

The columns 40 are guided, and can slide, on sliding bushes 41 which are mounted on the slider 19. In this way each blade 28 is mobile independently with respect to the slider 19, driven by the respective actuation devices 29 (visible in figs. 3 to 6).

In particular, the number of sliding bushes 41 is equal to the number of columns 40 attached to the shearing members 27. In this specific case the slider 19 is provided with a total of twelve sliding bushes 41.

The functioning of the shearing apparatus 50 as described heretofore, which also defines the method to selectively shear the support element 11 , is as follows.

We must clarify that we will now describe the cycle of an individual shearing device 26, even if the apparatus 10 allows to shear simultaneously the three strips 13 of the support element 11 and to shear each one of them autonomously, independently of the others, in order to obtain unitary sections 14, which detach from the remaining part, or lateral off-cut, of the support element 11, or partial shearing thereof, so that the part of it that has been only partly sheared does not detach from the lateral off-cut thereof (fig. 7).

In the embodiment described, the apparatus 10 is also provided with knives 39 suitable to cut the lateral off-cuts, with a direction substantially transverse to the direction of feed of the strip of blisters. By doing so, the handling and management of the respective individual strips of discarded lateral off-cuts which are reduced to the size of the individual blister are considerably facilitated, and do not form long strips which are difficult to manage.

Moreover, the presence of the knives 39 causes the discarded blister not to remain attached to the remaining strip, but a piece of lateral off-cut (as seen in fig. 4) remains attached to it, thus distinguishing the discarded blister from the good ones.

In the idle position (figs. 1, 2, 3 and 5) the shearing device 26 is located with the slider 19 lowered, so that all three shearing members 27 are with their blades 28 just below the intermediate plate 20.

When it is desired to perform a complete shearing of a strip 13 of the support element 11, to thus produce a unitary section 14, in a first step of the method the command device is driven, for example the second fluid-dynamic device 31 of the corresponding shearing device 26, to take the piston 33 into its first operating condition (fig. 3). It is obvious that if the piston 33 is already in this first operating condition, because, for example, it has been there from the previous shearing, this first step is understood to have been carried out and it is not necessary to repeat it.

In the first operating condition, the first upper support surfaces 34 are in correspondence and in contact with the fork 37 integral with the shearing member 27, and the second lower support surfaces 134 are resting on, that is, in contact with, the lower abutment means 25, for example abutment surfaces 25.

With a second step of the method the first fluid-dynamic device 24 is driven and the slider 19 is taken upward until, at the end of its travel C (fig. 4), the blade 28 performs the complete shearing of the support element 11 and thus produces a unitary section 14 (fig. 7), completely detaching it from the lateral off-cut of the same support element 11.

The second step ends with the repositioning of the slider 19 in its initial lowered position, by driving the actuator 24 in the reverse direction.

When, on the contrary, it is desired to perform only a partial shearing of a strip 13 of the support element 1 1, for example because the blister in that particular zone that is above the shearing member 27 has defects or anomalies detected in any known manner, upstream of the shearing apparatus 10 in the first step of the method, the command device is driven, for example the second fluid-dynamic device 31 of the corresponding shearing device 26 ,to take the piston 33 into its second operating condition (fig. 5). It is obvious that if the piston 33 is already in the second operating condition, because, for example, it has been there since the previous shearing, the first step is understood to have been carried out and it is not necessary to repeat it.

In the second operating condition, it is the second upper support surfaces 35 that are located in correspondence with the fork 37 integral with the shearing member 27, and it is the second lower surfaces 135 that are resting on the abutment surfaces 25.

Therefore, in this position, the shearing member 27 is in a lower starting position than that which it assumes in the first operating condition.

The inclined planes 36 on the external surface of the piston 33 facilitate the passage of the fork 37 from one operating condition to the other.

The second step of the method is then repeated, so that the first fluid-dynamic device 24 is driven and the slider 19 is taken upward as far as the end of its travel C (fig. 6). In this second operating condition, however, the blade 28 does not completely enter the support element 11 and thus performs only a partial shearing of the latter, and does not make any unitary section 14 (fig. 7).

In this second operating condition as well, the second step ends with the repositioning of the slider 19 in its initial lowered position, by driving the first fluid-dynamic device 24 in the opposite direction.

It should be noted that, advantageously, the travel C of the slider 19 is the same, both in the first operating condition and also in the second operating condition. Therefore, the drive of the actuator 24 is not modified either, and this represents a considerable advantage over the state of the art, where it was necessary to modify the travel of the main drive in order to configure the shearing device to perform a total shearing or partial shearing.

The solution of the present invention therefore has the advantage that it does not require any intervention on the drive member which moves the entire slider 19, and therefore it is able to easily adapt also as an intervention on existing shearing apparatuses equipped with traditional movement which does not allow to modify the rotation travel.

Moreover, since, as we have seen, the actuation system of the piston 33 is independent for adjacent shearing members 27, the invention allows to act independently on adjacent portions of support element 11, as occurs in the case of a two-row or multi-row strip in general, allowing to partly shear a defective blister, and to totally shear a non-defective blister at the same time, an action which cannot be done in known solutions in which intervention was made on the travel of the main drive member.

In particular, each shearing member 27 can be taken, independently of the other shearing members 27, to the position of complete cutting or partial cutting, since each shearing member 27 is supported by its own support plate and is mobile independently of the others. This means that, with each cycle, a possibly defective blister can be discarded while the two good blisters on the same row can continue for the subsequent operating step.

It is clear that modifications and/or additions of parts and/or steps can be made to the shearing apparatus 10 and the corresponding method as described heretofore, without departing from the field and scope of the present invention.

For example, according to a first variant, instead of shearing a single support element 11 divided into a plurality of strips 13, the shearing apparatus 50 could simultaneously shear a plurality of support elements 11 , also independently of one another.

Moreover, according to another variant, instead of a single slider 19, the shearing apparatus 50 could comprise several sliders distinct from each other and independently drivable with respect to each other, so that each shearing member 27 can be driven independently.

Again, according to another variant, described for example using figs. 9 to 14, the motion conversion mechanism 60 can comprise a rotatable shaped member of an eccentric type 61. Thus, in these variants, the rotatable shaped member of the eccentric type 61 can be comprised in the command device 31.

In this case, in possible variant embodiments, the command device 31 comprises a motor member 62. The motor member 62 is provided to make the rotatable shaped member of the eccentric type 61 rotate. In particular, the motor member 62 can be a motor provided with an actuator with an intrinsically rotary movement, or be configured to convert a linear movement into a circular movement. For example, therefore, a motor member 62 as used in association with the embodiments described here can be a motor member chosen from a group comprising: an electric motor, an electric step motor, a magnetic motor, a linear axle with a motor, a linear motor, such as a mechanical linear motor, a piezoelectric linear motor, an electromagnetic linear motor, an electromechanical motor, an electromagnet, a gear motor, in particular a direct current gear motor. Conversion can be commonly done by means of mechanism types selected from a group consisting of: screw actuators, such as a screw jack, ball screw and roller screw actuators, or wheel and axle, for example drum, gear, pulley or shaft, actuators, such as a lifting cable, a winch, a rack and a pinion assembly, a chain drive, a strip or belt drive, actuators with a rigid chain and rigid strip, or belt.

The command device 31, in these variant embodiments, can also comprise a shaft 63, or drive shaft (see figs. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14). The shaft 63 develops along the longitudinal axis X. The shaft 63 can be rotatably supported by bearings. The rotatable shaped member of the eccentric type 61 is mounted on the shaft 63. The shaft 63 is connected to the motor member 62. The shaft 63 can be driven, in particular made to rotate, by the motor member 62.

Driving the rotatable shaped member of the eccentric type 61 by means of the command device 31 , in particular by means of the motor member 62, allows it to selectively assume, in the idle position of the shearing device 26 with the slider 19 lowered, respectively the first operating condition shown in fig. 9 or the second operating condition shown in fig. 11 , similar to what is described with reference to figs. 3 and 5. By carrying out the second step of the method, starting respectively from the first or second operating condition, the shearing member 27 is taken into the operating shearing position where, depending on the starting position, the complete shearing is carried out (first operating position of complete shearing), or the partial shearing (second operating position of partial shearing) respectively in fig. 10 and in fig. 12, similar to what is described respectively with reference to figs. 4 and 6.

Figs. 13 and 14 show the positions that the rotatable shaped member of the eccentric type 61 can assume by rotating in the idle position in the respective first operating condition (as in fig. 9) and second operating condition (as in fig. 11).

It is also clear that, although the present invention has been described with reference to some specific examples, a person of skill in the art shall certainly be able to achieve many other equivalent forms of apparatuses and/or methods to selectively shear a support element, preferably a continuous strip, having the characteristics as set forth in the claims and hence all coming within the field of protection defined thereby.

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