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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
DONUT DEPOSITOR AND METHODS TO USE THE SAME
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/039126
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A yeast-based donut (99) depositor may include a hopper (18) for receiving donut (99) forming dough (88), a meter tube assembly (22) disposed in the hopper (18) and moveable between a first meter tube (64) position and a second meter tube (64) position, a lower piston assembly (15) at least partially disposed in the meter tube (64) and moveable between a first lower piston (29) position and a second lower piston (29) position, and a slider assembly (17) at least partially disposed in the meter tube assembly (22) and moveable between a first slider position and a second slider position. A head of a piston of the slider assembly (17) can sealingly engage with an interior surface of the meter tube assembly (22) as the head moves between the first slider position and the second slider position to draw donut dough (88) in the meter tube assembly (22) via a fluidly communicative path between the hopper (18) and the meter tube (64) lumen (70) via the at least one orifice. Related methods and devices are also provided.

Inventors:
HILLEBRANDT, Jay (Inc.814 44th Street Northwest,Suite 10, Auburn Washington, 98001, US)
NELSON, Joseph V., (Inc.814 44th Street Northwest,Suite 10, Auburn Washington, 98001, US)
LABORN, John (Inc.814 44th Street Northwest,Suite 10, Auburn Washington, 98001, US)
Application Number:
US2017/047811
Publication Date:
March 01, 2018
Filing Date:
August 21, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BELSHAW BROS., INC. (814 44th Street Northwest, Suite 103Auburn, Washington, 98001, US)
International Classes:
A21C11/16
Foreign References:
US3129675A1964-04-21
US1968808A1934-08-07
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ABEDI, Syed et al. (Seed Intellectual Property Law Group LLP, Suite 5400701 Fifth Avenu, Seattle Washington, 98104-7064, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . A yeast-based donut depositor, comprising: a hopper sized and shaped to receive donut dough; a frame having a first link;

a meter assembly disposed in the hopper and moveable between a first meter tube position and a second meter tube position, the meter assembly including:

a meter tube disposed in an interior of the hopper, the meter tube having an interior surface that forms a meter tube lumen and at least one orifice which provides a fluidiy communicative path between the meter tube lumen and the hopper when the meter tube is in the first meter tube position;

a plunger assembly including:

a lower piston assembly at least partially disposed in the meter tube, the lower piston assembly having a lower piston which is moveable between a first lower piston position and a second lower piston position;

a slider assembly coupled to the frame and at least partially disposed in the meter tube, the slider assembly including a piston having a head, the head slideabiy received in the meter tube lumen for movement therein between a first slider position and a second slider position, the head in sealing engagement with an interior surface of the meter tube lumen and coupled to the first link which moves the head between the first slider position and the second slider position, movement of the head from the first slider position to the second slider position which draws donut dough in the meter tube lumen via the fluidiy communicative path between the hopper and the meter tube lumen via the at least one orifice.

2. The donut depositor of claim 1 , further comprising:

a cylinder assembly coupled to the hopper, the cylinder assembly including an aperture sized and shaped to receive the donut dough from the meter tube lumen and form a desired shape of a donut.

3. The donut depositor of claim 2 wherein the aperture includes an exit through which the donut is expelled to an exterior of the donut depositor when the head of the piston moves from the second slider position to the first slider position.

4. The donut depositor of claim 3 wherein the lower piston is sized and shaped to seaiingly engage with an interior surface of the cylinder assembly when the lower piston is in the first lower piston position, the sealing engagement closing a fluidiy communicative path between the meter tube lumen and the exit of the aperture.

5. The donut depositor of claim 3 wherein the lower piston traverses the donut to form a ring-shaped donut when the lower piston moves from the second lower piston position to the first lower piston position.

6. The donut depositor of claim 1 wherein the hopper includes a neck-down portion, the meter tube of the meter tube assembly moveable in the neck-down portion from the first meter tube position to the second meter tube position, the neck-down portion covering the at least one orifice to close the fluidiy communicative path between the hopper and the meter tube lumen.

7. The donut depositor of claim 1 wherein the frame includes a second link, the second link coupled to the meter tube assembly and configured to move the meter tube assembly between the first meter tube position and the second meter tube position.

8. The donut depositor of claim 7 wherein the second link is coupled to the lower piston assembly, the lower piston assembly concurrently moveable with the meter tube assembly.

9. The donut depositor of claim 1 , further comprising:

a motor operably coupled to the plunger assembly and the meter tube assembly, the motor configured to independently move the meter tube assembly and the lower piston assembly relative to the slider assembly.

10. The donut depositor of claim 1 wherein the meter tube lumen of the meter tube optionally includes sealing material which facilitates sealing engagement of the head of the piston and the interior surface of the meter tube lumen.

1 1 . The donut depositor of claim 10 wherein the sealing material includes a mixture of flour and water.

12. A device for depositing donuts, the device comprising: a hopper sized and shaped to receive donut dough; a cylinder assembly coupled to the hopper, the cylinder assembly including an exit orifice;

a meter assembly at least partially disposed in the hopper and moveable between a first meter tube position and a second meter tube position, the meter assembly including:

a meter tube having an interior surface that forms a meter tube lumen and at least one orifice which provides a fiuidly communicative path between the meter tube lumen and the hopper when the meter tube is in the first meter tube position;

a plunger assembly including: a lower piston assembly at least partially disposed in the cylinder assembly, the lower piston assembly having a lower piston which is moveable between a first lower piston position and a second lower piston position, the lower piston in the first lower piston position closing a fiuidly communicative path from the hopper to the exit orifice of the cylinder assembly and the lower piston in the second lower piston position opening the fiuidly communicative path from the hopper to the exit orifice of the cylinder assembly; and

a slider assembly at least partially disposed in the meter tube, the slider assembly including a piston having a head, the head slideably received in the meter tube lumen for movement therein between a first slider position and a second slider position, the head in sealing engagement with an interior surface of the meter tube lumen, movement of the head from the first slider position to the second slider position drawing the donut dough in the meter tube lumen via the fiuidly communicative path between the hopper and the meter tube lumen via the at least one orifice while the lower piston is in the first lower piston position to close the fiuidly communicative path from the hopper to the exit orifice of the cylinder assembly,

13. The device of claim 12 wherein movement of the meter tube from the first meter tube position to the second meter tube position closes the fiuidly communicative path between the hopper and meter tube lumen via the at least one orifice and movement of the lower piston assembly from the first lower piston position to the second lower piston position opens the fiuidly communicative path from the hopper to the exit orifice of the cylinder assembly to expel a donut formed from the donut dough received in the hopper.

14. The device of claim 12, further comprising:

a frame having a first link coupled to the lower piston assembly and a second link coupled to the slider assembly; and a motor mounted on the frame and operably coupled to the first and the second links, the motor configured to rotatabiy move the first and the second links,

15, The device of claim 13 wherein the lower piston of the lower piston assembly moves from the second lower position to the first lower position to traverse a body of the expelled donut to form a ring-shaped donut.

16, A method for depositing donuts via a device which includes a hopper, a meter tube assembly at least partially disposed in the hopper and moveable between a first meter tube position and a second meter tube position, a lower piston assembly moveable between a first lower piston position and a second lower piston position, and a slider assembly moveable between a first slider position and a second slider position, the method comprising:

in response to movement of the slider assembly from the first slider position to the second slider position, drawing donut dough disposed in the hopper while maintaining the lower piston assembly in the first lower piston position;

in response to movement of the slider assembly from the second slider position to the first slider position, forming a donut from the donut dough and expelling the donut while maintaining the lower piston assembly in the second lower piston position.

17, The method of claim 16, further comprising: in response to movement of the lower piston assembly from the second lower piston position to the first lower piston position, traversing the donut to form a ring-shaped donut.

18. The method of claim 16, further comprising: providing a motor which is operabiy coupled to the meter tube assembly, the slider assembly, and the lower piston assembly, the motor configured to move:

the meter tube assembly between the first meter tube position and the second meter tube position;

the lower piston assembly between the first lower piston position and the second lower piston position; and

the slider assembly between the first slider position and the second slider position.

19. The method of claim 16 wherein drawing donut dough from the hopper includes drawing a vacuum in an interior lumen of the meter tube assembly via a sealing material disposed in the interior lumen of the meter tube assembly.

20. The method of claim 19 wherein the sealing material comprises a mixture of water and flour.

Description:
DONUT DEPOSITOR AND METHODS TO USE THE SAME

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. ยง 1 19(e) to U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/380,303 filed August 26, 2016, which application is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Technical Field

The present disclosure relates to donut machines and, more particularly, to yeast-based donut depositor machines. Description of the Related Art

Yeast-based donuts are a form of donufs which depend on yeast action and require specific treatment such as, for example, kneading and allowing them to rise for long durations. Yeast-based donuts are also cooked in a specific manner at high temperatures and relatively long durations, leading to their fluffy texture. Cake donuts, in contrast, are chemical based and made from cake batter. The chemical composition of the cake batter allows them to be cooked relatively quickly at lower temperatures, resulting in a crumbly and dense texture. Unlike cake donuts, yeast-based donuts are typically not suited for being deposited via automated machines.

More particularly, yeast-based donuts are typically prepared using a sheeter machine, which flattens the yeast-based dough on a conveyor and thereafter, the dough is hand-cut into the desired shape of the donuts. In other instances, in lieu of hand-cutting the dough, the machine may use a cutting wheel to cut the dough into the desired shape of the donuts. Attempts to automate depositing of yeast-based donuts have typically involved using a pressurized cutting machine. Such machines use a pressurized hopper to force the dough into and out of a bottom portion of the hopper. Pressurized hopper machines, however, are expensive to manufacture, complex to assemble and use, and slower in use due to the additional time required for pressurizing and depressurizing. BRIEF SUMMARY

Embodiments described herein provide methods, devices, and apparatuses with efficient and robust form factors for forming donuts.

According to one embodiment, a yeast-based donut depositor can include a hopper sized and shaped to receive donut dough, a frame having a first link, a meter assembly disposed in the hopper and moveable between a first meter tube position and a second meter tube position, and a plunger assembly. The meter assembly can include a meter tube disposed in an interior of the hopper, the meter tube having an interior surface that forms a meter tube lumen and at least one orifice which provides a fluidiy communicative path between the meter tube lumen and the hopper when the meter tube is in the first meter tube position. The plunger assembly can include a lower piston assembly at least partially disposed in the meter tube, the lower piston assembly having a lower piston which is moveable between a first lower piston position and a second lower piston position. The plunger assembly can also include a slider assembly coupled to the frame and at least partially disposed in the meter tube. The slider assembly can include a piston having a head, the head slideabiy received in the meter tube lumen for movement therein between a first slider position and a second slider position, with the head in sealing engagement with an interior surface of the meter tube lumen and coupled to the first link which moves the head between the first slider position and the second slider position. Movement of the head from the first slider position to the second slider position can draw donut dough in the meter tube lumen via the fluidiy communicative path between the hopper and the meter tube lumen via the at least one orifice. According to another embodiment, a device for depositing donuts can include a hopper sized and shaped to receive donut dough, a cylinder assembly coupled to the hopper, the cylinder assembly including an exit orifice, a meter assembly at least partially disposed in the hopper and moveable between a first meter tube position and a second meter tube position, and a plunger assembly. The meter assembly can include a meter tube having an interior surface that forms a meter tube lumen and at least one orifice which provides a fiuidly communicative path between the meter tube lumen and the hopper when the meter tube is in the first meter tube position. The plunger assembly can include a lower piston assembly at least partially disposed in the cylinder assembly, the lower piston assembly having a lower piston which is moveable between a first lower piston position and a second lower piston position, the lower piston in the first lower piston position closing a fiuidly communicative path from the hopper to the exit orifice of the cylinder assembly and the lower piston in the second lower piston position opening the fiuidly communicative path from the hopper to the exit orifice of the cylinder assembly. The plunger assembly can also include a slider assembly at least partially disposed in the meter tube, the slider assembly including a piston having a head, with the head siideably received in the meter tube lumen for movement therein between a first slider position and a second slider position. The head can be in sealing engagement with an interior surface of the meter tube lumen, where movement of the head from the first slider position to the second slider position draws the donut dough in the meter tube lumen via the fiuidly communicative path between the hopper and the meter tube lumen via the at least one orifice while the lower piston is in the first lower piston position to close the fiuidly communicative path from the hopper to the exit orifice of the cylinder assembly.

According to another embodiment, a method for depositing donuts via a device which includes a hopper, a meter tube assembly at least partially disposed in the hopper and moveable between a first meter tube position and a second meter tube position, a lower piston assembly moveable between a first lower piston position and a second lower piston position, and a slider assembly moveable between a first slider position and a second slider position can include, in response to movement of the slider assembly from the first slider position to the second slider position, drawing donut dough disposed in the hopper while maintaining the lower piston assembly in the first lower piston position. The method can also include, in response to movement of the slider assembly from the second slider position to the first slider position, forming a donut from the donut dough and expelling the donut while maintaining the lower piston assembly in the second lower piston position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 is a perspective view of a donut depositor device according to one example embodiment.

Figure 2 is an exploded view of the donut depositor device of Figure !

Figure 3 is a cross-sectional view of the donut depositor device of Figure 1 , illustrating the donut depositor device in a resting configuration.

Figure 4 is a cross-sectional view of the donut depositor device of Figure 1 , illustrating the donut depositor device in a withdrawal configuration.

Figure 5 is a cross-sectional view of the donut depositor device of

Figure 1 , illustrating the donut depositor device in a first intermediate expulsion configuration.

Figure 6 is a cross-sectional view of the donut depositor device of Figure 1 , illustrating the donut depositor device in a second intermediate expulsion configuration.

Figure 7 is a cross-sectional view of the donut depositor device of Figure 1 , illustrating the donut depositor device in a post-expulsion

configuration. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description, certain specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of various disclosed embodiments. One skilled in the relevant art will recognize that embodiments may be practiced without one or more of these specific details. In other instances, well- known structures and devices associated with donut depositors and related apparatuses and methods may not be shown or described in detail to avoid unnecessarily obscuring descriptions of the embodiments.

Unless the context requires otherwise, throughout the specification and claims which follow, the word "comprise" and variations thereof, such as, "comprises" and "comprising" are to be construed in an open, inclusive sense, that is, as "including, but not limited to."

Reference throughout this specification to "one embodiment" or "an embodiment" means that a particular feature, structure or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment. Thus, the appearances of the phrases "in one embodiment" or "in an embodiment " in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments.

As used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms "a," "an," and "the" include plural referents unless the content clearly dictates otherwise. It should also be noted that the term "or" is generally employed in its sense including "and/or unless the content clearly dictates otherwise.

Figures 1 through 7 illustrate a device 10 which can be used to form yeast-based donuts and can be used for depositing the same in a fryer, a conveyor belt, screen for proofing, or similar device or structure. For example, the device 10 can be mounted to a structure such as a wall and positioned proximate to a fryer or a conveyor belt. Accordingly, the formed donuts can be expelled to the conveyor or the fryer for further processing which may result in a final edible form of the donuts.

Unlike conventional yeast-based donut depositors, the device 10 advantageously creates a vacuum to draw yeast-based dough and automates the donut forming process. The device 10 advantageously eliminates use of pressurized vessels which are expensive to manufacture, potentially create an unsafe environment, and are complex to use. In particular, Figures 1 and 2 illustrate various components of the device 10, including a perspective view of the device 10 (Figure 1 ) and an exploded view of the device 10 (Figure 2). Figures 3 through 7 illustrate the device 10 in operation under various configurations.

With reference to Figures 1 and 2, the device 10 includes a frame assembly 12, a motor 14 mounted on the frame assembly 12, a plunger assembly 16, a hopper 18, a cylinder assembly 20, and a meter tube assembly 22. The frame assembly 12 includes a first arm 24, which couples to the plunger assembly 16, and a second arm 26, which couples to the cylinder assembly 20. The plunger assembly 16 includes a lower piston assembly 15 and a slider assembly 17. The lower piston assembly 15 includes a plunger shaft 28 and a lower piston 29. The plunger shaft 28 extends from an end of the plunger assembly 16 to the lower piston 29. At or near the end opposite the location of the lower piston 29, the plunger assembly 16 is coupled to the first arm 24 of the frame assembly 12.

In particular, at a distal end, the first arm 24 includes a first annular coupling portion 32. The first annular coupling portion 32 couples to the plunger assembly 16 via a fastening member 33. The fastening member 33 includes a cylinder, through which the plunger shaft 28 extends, and a dial or a nut which is rotatabiy coupled to the cylinder. The fastening member 33 couples the lower piston assembly 15 to the annular coupling portion 32 such that the lower piston assembly 15 is moveable with respect to the annular coupling portion 32 in an axial direction, i.e., up-down direction. The slider assembly 17 of the plunger assembly 16 includes an upper piston 34, a pair of spaced apart side shafts 35, and a connecting member 36, The side shafts 35 extend from the upper piston 34 to the connecting member 36. !n particular, the upper piston 34 includes a first plunger aperture 38 and the connecting member 36 includes a second plunger aperture 39, where the first and second plunger apertures 38, 39 are sized and shaped such that the plunger shaft 28 of the lower piston assembly 15 extends therethrough and allows the plunger shaft 28 of the lower piston assembly 15 to be moveable relative to the slider assembly 17 in the axial direction.

The cylinder assembly 20 includes a main body 42, a first end member 44, and a second end member 46. The first end member 44 radially protrudes outwardly from the main body 42 and is located proximate one end of the main body 42. The second end member 46 also radially protrudes outwardly from the main body 42 and is positioned proximate another end of the main body 42, which positioning defines a lip portion 47 of the main body 42 and a hopper receiving surface 50 of the second end member 46. The lip portion 47 generally has an outer diameter which is greater than an outer diameter of the portion of the main body 42 between the first and second end members 44, 46. More particularly, the lip portion 47 is generally annular which defines a meter tube receiving region 51 on an interior side of the lip portion 47 and hopper receiving region 52 on an exterior side of the lip portion 47. The main body 42 further includes an aperture 54 which extends therethrough. The aperture 54 is sized and shaped such that the lower piston assembly 15 is moveable in the axial direction. In particular, the plunger shaft 28 of the lower piston assembly 15 extends through the aperture 54 with the lower piston 29 received in the aperture 54 forming a sealing engagement with an interior surface of the main body 42 and moveable in and out of the aperture 54.

As noted above, the second arm 26 of the frame assembly 12 couples to the cylinder assembly 20. In particular, the second arm 26 includes a second annular coupling portion 60. The second annular coupling portion 60 is sized and shaped to surround a portion of the main body 42 between the first and second end members 44, 46 and couple thereto via a rotatably moveable portion. The second annular coupling portion 60 can secure the frame 12 to the main body 42 via fastening members, for example, a combination of a fastener 61 and a nut 62.

The meter tube assembly 22 includes a tube 64, a pair of coupling rods 65, and a coupling member 66. Each coupling rod 65 extends from an end of the tube 64 and couples to the coupling member 66. The coupling member 66 includes a plunger aperture 67 through which the plunger shaft 28 of the lower piston assembly 15 extends and protrudes therethrough. The plunger assembly 16 is coupled to the meter tube assembly 22 via a fastening member, for example, a nut, which more specifically couples the plunger shaft 28 to the coupling member 66. In some embodiments, the tube 64 can comprise metallic materials, such as steel, copper, aluminum, etc. !n some embodiments, the tube 64 can advantageously be coated with or comprise nonstick material, for example, polytetrafiuoroethlyne, ceramic, etc., which can resist adherence of substances such as the donut dough.

The tube includes a cavity 69 which extends therethrough and is sized and shaped to receive and surround the plunger assembly 16. More particularly, the cavity 69 of the tube 64 defines an inferior space or lumen 70. The upper piston 34 of the slider assembly 17 sealingiy engages the interior surface of the tube 64 which forms the interior space or lumen 70 of the tube 64. At a lower end, the tube 64 includes a plurality of radially spaced apart dough receiving regions 71 . An outer diameter of the tube 64 is sized and shaped such that an outer surface of the tube 64 can sealingiy engage a surface of the meter tube receiving region 51 of the cylinder assembly 20 when moveabiy received therein, which allows a portion of the tube 64 to be received in the aperture 54. In particular, when the tube 64 is received in the meter tube receiving region 51 , the dough receiving regions 71 can be sealed or covered by the cylinder assembly 20, as explained in more detail below. The hopper 18 is sized and shaped to receive donut forming dough and includes a portion which is generally shaped like a bowl. In some embodiments, the hopper 18 can comprise metallic materials, such as steel, copper, aluminum, etc. !n some embodiments, the hopper 18 can

advantageously comprise or be coated with non-stick material, for example, polytetraf!uoroethiyne, ceramic, etc., which can resist adherence of substances such as the donut dough. The hopper 18 is coupled to the frame assembly 12 at least partially via the cylinder assembly 20. In particular, the hopper 18 includes a neck-down portion 80 extending from a bowl-shaped portion 82. A coupling aperture 84 extends through the neck-down portion 80 to define a cylinder receiving region 86 (Figures 3-7). The cylinder receiving region 86 is sized and shaped to coupieably receive the lip portion 47 of the cylinder assembly 20, with a lower surface of the neck-down portion 80 mating with the hopper receiving surface 50 of the cylinder assembly 20. In this manner, when the hopper 18 is coupled to the cylinder assembly 20, the meter tube assembly 22 and the plunger assembly 16 are disposed in the hopper 18 and, thus, received therein.

The frame assembly 12 includes a first link 72 and a second link 74, which are operabiy coupled to the motor 14. The first link includes a first clevis 75 which couples to the connecting member 36 of the slider assembly 17 via a first pin 76. The second link 74 also includes a second clevis 77 which couples to the plunger shaft 28 of the lower piston assembly 15 via a second pin 79. In particular, the first and second links 72, 74 are pivotabiy mounted with respect to the motor 14. The motor 14 includes a drive mechanism which is configured to rotate the first and second links 72, 74. For example, the drive mechanism can include gears, cam structures, such as cam members, cam followers, bell cranks, actuators, and drive yokes, etc., which independently rotate the first and second links 72, 74 when the motor 14 is activated. More generally, the drive mechanism is configured to convert the rotational motion of one or more of its components, for example, cam members and cam followers, to a iransiaiiona! motion of plunger assembly 16 and the meter tube assembly 22 via the first and second links 72, 74. Further, although the embodiment illustrated in Figures 1 through 7 is operated via the motor 14, in other embodiments, the device 10 may be operable manually. For example, the device 10 can include a hand-crank mechanism, in lieu of the motor 14, which hand-crank mechanism is configured to be manually rotatabie to transfer its rotational motion to the first and second links 72, 74.

Thus, in operation, when the motor 14 of the device 10 is activated, the device 10 is configured to draw donut dough 88 (Figures 3 through 7) disposed in the hopper 18 into the meter tube assembly 22, form a desired shape of a donut, and expel the donut. In particular, Figures 3 through 7 illustrate various operational configurations of the device 10. Figure 3 illustrates the device 10 when the plunger assembly 16 and the meter tube assembly 22 are both in a first or resting configuration. When the meter tube assembly 22 is in the first or resting configuration, at least a portion of the dough receiving regions 71 or orifices are exposed to an interior of the bowl- shaped portion 82 of the hopper 18.

When the plunger assembly 16 is in the first or resting configuration, the slider assembly 17 is also in a first or resting configuration, such that the upper piston 34 is positioned proximal to the donut receiving regions 71 of the meter tube assembly 22. In addition, when the plunger assembly 16 is in the first or resting configuration, the lower piston assembly 15 is also in a first or resting configuration, such that the lower piston 29 is positioned within the cylinder assembly 20.

As illustrated in Figure 3, when the plunger assembly 16 and the meter tube assembly 22 are in the first or resting configurations, the interior of the bowl-shaped portion 82 of the hopper 18 is at least partially filled with donut dough 88, which may be yeast-based or other donut forming dough. A portion of the interior space or lumen 70 of the tube 64 is optionally filled with sealing material 89. The sealing material 89 may comprise flour and water to form a siurry-based material. In particular, the sealing material 89 is selected to optionally facilitate additional sealing of the upper piston 34 with the interior lumen 70 of the tube 84, if desired.

Figure 4 illustrates the device 10 in a withdrawal configuration. In particular, a user can depress a trigger disposed on the frame assembly 12 to activate the motor 14. Activating the motor 14 causes the first link 72 to displace the slider assembly 17 in the axial direction, i.e., in an upward direction indicated by arrows 91 to a withdrawal configuration. Axial movement of the slider assembly 17 moves the upper piston 34 which can cause a vacuum to be created during movement of the upper piston 34 and open a fluidiy

communicative path from the hopper 18 to the meter tube assembly 22, For example, distal or upward movement of the upper piston 34 in the interior lumen 70 of the tube 84 creates a negative pressure relative to a pressure in the hopper 18 which draws the donut dough 88 from the hopper 18 into the interior lumen 70 of the tube 64. Moreover, as the upper piston 34 moves distaily or upwardly to the withdrawal configuration, the donut dough 88 is drawn into the interior lumen 70 of the tube 64 via the donut receiving regions 71 as indicated by arrows 92, In a similar manner, proximal or downward movement of the upper piston 34 in the interior lumen 70 of the tube 64 creates a positive pressure relative to the pressure in the hopper 18 which expels the donut dough 88, as explained in more detail below.

Figure 5 illustrates the donut device 10 in a first intermediate expulsion configuration. In particular, as the motor 14 continues to operate, it causes the second link 74 to axially move the meter tube assembly 22 and the lower piston assembly 15 proximally or downwardly indicated by arrows 93 to first intermediate expulsion configurations. As the meter tube assembly 22 moves downwardly, it moves into the neck-down portion 80 and the cylinder assembly 20 such that the donut receiving regions 71 are covered or sealed by an interior surface of the neck-down portion 80 and/or the interior surface of the cylinder assembly 20, with the donut dough 88 disposed at least partially in the interior space or lumen 70 of the tube 64. As the lower piston assembly 15 moves downwardly, the lower piston 29 protrudes out of the cylinder assembly 20 such that an exit 95 of the aperture 54 is no longer covered or sealed by the lower piston 29. In addition, as shown in Figure 5, in the first intermediate expulsion configuration, the operation of the motor 14 causes the first link 72 to move the slider assembly 17 proxima!!y or downwardly to move or at least partially expel the donut dough 88 from the interior space or lumen 70 of the tube 64 toward and into the cylinder assembly 20. As the donut receiving regions 71 are covered or sealed by the interior surfaces of the neck-down portion 80 and/or the cylinder assembly 20, the positive pressure created in the interior space or lumen 70 of the tube 64 causes the upper piston 34 to move or at least partially expel the donut dough 88 into and toward the exit 95 of the aperture 54 of the cylinder assembly 20,

Figure 6 illustrates the device 10 in a second intermediate expulsion configuration. In particular, as the motor 14 continues to operate, it causes the first link 72 to continue to axiaily move the slider assembly 17 proximaily or downwardly indicated by arrows 97 to a second intermediate expulsion configuration. In particular, the upper piston 34 of the slider assembly 17 moves or expels the donut dough 88 disposed in the interior space or lumen 70 of the tube 64 through the exit 95 of the aperture 54 of the cylinder assembly 20 as indicated by arrows 98. Further the pressure differential created by the positioning of the meter tube assembly 22, the lower piston assembly 15, and the slider assembly 17 facilitates sealing engagement of the donut dough 88 with the interior surfaces thereof to facilitate forming of a desired shape of a donut from the donut dough, for example, a cylindrical shaped-donut 99,

Figure 7 illustrates the device in a post-expulsion configuration. In the post-expulsion configuration, the donut 99 is expelled from the exit 95 of the aperture 54 of cylinder assembly 20. In particular, as the motor 14 continues to operate, it causes the first link 72 to axiaily move the slider assembly 17 to its rest configuration indicated by arrows 100. In addition, the motor 14 continues to operate to cause the second link 74 to axia!iy move the meter tube assembly 22 and the lower piston assembly 15 toward the rest configuration. As the lower piston assembly 15 moves toward the rest configuration, the lower piston 29 traverses through the donut 99 to form a ring-shaped donut 101 . Thereafter, the donut forming steps described above are repeated to continue forming more donuts until the dough 88 has been used.

Moreover, the various embodiments described above can be combined to provide further embodiments. These and other changes can be made to the embodiments in light of the above-detailed description. In general, in the following claims, the terms used should not be construed to limit the claims to the specific embodiments disclosed in the specification and the claims, but should be construed to include all possible embodiments along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled. Accordingly, the claims are not limited by the disclosure.