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Title:
A MACHINE AND METHOD FOR MAKING A CONTINUOUS TUBULAR ELEMENT WITH FILLING HAVING A SPACER AND/OR FILTER FUNCTION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/171186
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Described is a machine (M) for making a continuous tubular element with filling from web material, comprising first and second means (10, 30) for feeding respective continuous webs (A, B), a forming station (20) configured to perform a folding and/or deformation of a first continuous web (A) in a shaped configuration, and a wrapping station (50) wherein the second continuous web (B) is wound in a tubular shape around the first continuous shaped web (A) to obtain the continuous tubular element (T). Between the forming station (20) and the wrapping station (50) there is at least one guide bar (23) about which the first continuous web (A) is at least partly formed and/or guided.

Inventors:
EUSEPI IVAN (IT)
BALDANZA NICOLA (IT)
ESPOSTI MARCO (IT)
RIZZO GENNARO (IT)
GAMBERINI GIULIANO (IT)
Application Number:
PCT/IB2021/051529
Publication Date:
September 02, 2021
Filing Date:
February 24, 2021
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
GD SPA (IT)
International Classes:
B31C5/00; A24C5/46; A24D3/02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BIANCIARDI, Ezio (IT)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A machine (M) for making a continuous tubular element (T) with filling having a spacer and/or filter function, comprising:

- first feed means (10) for feeding at least a first continuous web (A) and configured to feed the at least a first continuous web (A) along at least a first feed path;

- second feed means (30) for feeding at least a second continuous web (B) and configured to feed the at least one second continuous web (B) along a respective second feed path, said first and second feed paths converging towards a superposing zone (40);

- a forming station (20) positioned on the first feed path and configured to perform a folding and/or a deformation of the first continuous web (A) in a shaped configuration wherein said first continuous web (A) adopts a non circular shape, in particular three-dimensional and/or curved, in section transversal to the first feed path;

- downstream of said superposing zone (40), a wrapping station (50) wherein said second web (B) is wrapped in a tubular shape around said first shaped web (A), obtaining a continuous tubular element (T), wherein at least one between said forming (20) and wrapping (50) stations comprises at least one guide bar (23), extending longitudinally along said first feed path and/or about which said first continuous web (A) is at least partly formed and/or guided.

2. The machine (M) according to claim 1 , wherein said guide bar (23) extends for an entire longitudinal extension of the wrapping station (50), preferably until the complete wrapping of the second web (B) in a tubular shape about the first web (A).

3. The machine (M) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein said guide bar (23) extends in the forming station (20), longitudinally along said first feed path, and in the wrapping station (50). 4. The machine (M) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the guide bar (23) is fixed to a frame of the machine (M) at, or close to, the forming station (20).

5. The machine (M) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said guide bar (23) has a constant transversal cross-section and has preferably a solid section.

6. The machine (M) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said at least one between said forming (20) and wrapping (50) stations comprises two or more guide bars (23) parallel and/or placed side by side and about which respective portions of said first continuous web (A) are at least partly formed and/or guided.

7. The machine (M) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said forming station (20) comprises a pair of pre-forming rollers (21 , 22) between which the first continuous web (A) is fed, said pre forming rollers (21 , 22) being positioned upstream of said guide bar (23) and having respective outer profiles shaped to match each other to impart a first permanent shaping to said first continuous web (A).

8. The machine (M) according to claim 7, wherein said forming station (20) also comprises, downstream of the pre-forming rollers (21 , 22), a pair of forming elements (26, 27) opposite each other and acting in conjunction with said guide bar (23) for performing a second permanent shaping of said first continuous web (A) whilst said first continuous web (A) is at least partly wrapped around the guide bar (23), preferably said forming elements (26, 27) comprising two fixed folders, in particular defined by respective plates fixed to the frame of the machine (M), and having respective folding edges (26a, 27a) which are convergent and configured for moving towards each other and permanently deforming respective longitudinal portions of the first continuous web (A).

9. The machine (M) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said wrapping station (50) comprises a forming beam (50a) configured for making a progressive wrapping of the second continuous web (B) around the first continuous web (A) in the shaped configuration, preferably using a guide and folding belt for the second continuous web (B), and wherein said at least one guide bar (23) extends along at least one stretch of the wrapping station (50), preferably for the entire extension of the wrapping station (50), for supporting a corresponding configuration of the first continuous web (A) in the shaped configuration during the wrapping of the second continuous web (B).

10. The machine (M) according to claim 9, wherein said wrapping station (50) also comprises a fixed shaped body (52) interposed, at least for a stretch of said wrapping station (50), between said at least one guide bar (23) and the forming beam (50a) for defining a folding reference surface of the second continuous web (B) around the first continuous web (A) in the shaped configuration, in particular said fixed shaped body (52) being configured to be positioned around said at least one guide bar (23) for a predetermined overlapping angle, preferably greater than 180° and even more preferably greater than 270°.

11. The machine (M) according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a first gluing device (31) positioned upstream and/or close to said wrapping station (50) and configured for applying an adhesive substance on said second web (B) according to one or more lines preferably parallel each other.

12. The machine (M) according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising, downstream of said wrapping station (50), a compression device (100) having a first and a second compression roller (101 , 102) mutually facing each other and having respective shaped profiles to define a gap for the passage of the continuous tubular element (T), and wherein said compression rollers (101, 102) are adjustable towards/away from each other for adjusting the gap for passage of said continuous tubular element (T) in such a way as to model a transversal cross-section of said continuous tubular element (T) according to a desired shape, in particular circular.

13. A method for making a continuous tubular element (T) with filling having a spacer and/or filter function, comprising the following steps:

- feeding at least a first continuous web (A) along a first feed path;

- feeding at least a second continuous web (B) along at least a respective second feed path;

- forming the first continuous web (A) in such a way as to give the first continuous web (A) a non-circular shaped configuration, in particular three-dimensional and/or curved;

- wrapping said second continuous web (B) around said first shaped web (A) to obtain a continuous tubular element (T) defined by a tubular covering containing said first continuous web (A) in a shaped configuration; wherein at least one of said forming and wrapping steps is performed using a guide bar (23) about which the first continuous web (A) is formed and/or guided.

14. The method according to claim 13, wherein said forming step is performed continuously by gradual folding and/or wrapping the first continuous web (A) about the guide bar (23) and wherein the first continuous web (A) is made to slide and kept wrapped around the guide bar (23) until completion of said step of wrapping the second continuous web (B) around the first continuous web (A).

15. The method according to claim 13 or 14, wherein said forming step comprises a first step of imparting a first permanent deformation to said first continuous web (A), in particular using a pair of pre-forming rollers (21 , 22) positioned upstream of said guide bar (23) and having respective outer profiles which are shaped to match each other, and preferably comprises a second step of carrying out a second permanent deformation of said first continuous web (A), previously pre-formed, around the guide bar (23), in particular using a pair of forming elements (26, 27) opposite each other and comprising two fixed folding devices having respective folding edges (26a, 27a) which are convergent and configured for moving towards each other and permanently deforming respective longitudinal portions of the first continuous web (A).

16. The method according to any one of claims 13 to 15, wherein said wrapping step is performed by progressive wrapping of the second continuous web (B) about the first continuous web (A) whilst at least one portion of the first continuous web (A) is guided in a gap between said guide bar (23) and a fixed shaped body (52), and wherein said progressive wrapping of the second continuous web (B) about the first continuous web (A) is made by wrapping the second continuous web (B) around an outer surface of the fixed shaped body (52).

17. The method according to claim 16, wherein said progressive wrapping of the second continuous web (B) around the first continuous web (A) is made whilst one or more end flaps (1b) of the first continuous web (A) are positioned outside said gap and are progressively folded around said outer surface of the fixed shaped body (52) in such a way that said second continuous web (B) is superposed on said one or more end flaps (1b).

Description:
DESCRIPTION

A MACHINE AND METHOD FOR MAKING A CONTINUOUS TUBULAR ELEMENT WITH FILLING HAVING A SPACER AND/OR FILTER FUNCTION

Technical field

The invention relates to a machine and a method for making a continuous tubular element from web material, in particular paper-based material, formed by the outer tubular element and a filling obtained from a material in the form of a web.

More specifically, the continuous tubular element obtained in the context of this invention may be used (after cutting) to form a succession of segments (for example, filtration, spacers or cooling means) suitable for use in cigarettes or aerosol generators with a spacer, filter and/or cooling function.

Background art

A prior art hand-made cigarette consists of a paper tube rolled around a paper filling in the form of an insert or obtained using a piece of the selfsame paper.

In a manual method for making the tube, an outer sheet of paper material is rolled into the shape of a tube and a filling insert (normally made of a piece of paper folded manually) is then placed inside the outer tube to partly fill the cavity defined by the outer tube.

These cigarettes, made basically using ready-cut paper sheets, are very convenient to make by hand but do not lend themselves to industrial production for evident reasons of incompatibility with the production processes, in particular on account of the very low productivity attainable by working separate sheets. Working on the inserts individually is, indeed, highly time-consuming and, what is more, does not allow repeatability of the quality of the result. There are also prior art machines which are able to produce a continuous tubular element comprising an outer tubular element and an internal filling obtained by the shaping of a web which is also continuous. In these machines, the inner web undergoes a shaping operation in such a way as to form the insert and then a wrapping operation wherein the outer web wraps the insert in such a way as to obtain the continuous tubular element.

Disadvantageously, the above-mentioned machines have some problems relating to maintaining the shaping of the internal web.

More specifically, during the process for wrapping the outer web the inner web may undergo deformations (for example elastic returns) and/or undesired folds which alter the profile obtained during shaping.

This results in a continuous tubular element being obtained which is not precise in terms of transversal cross-section and having an insert whose shape does not correspond to the desired shape.

Moreover, in order to wrap the filling insert in the outer web, the prior art machines require that the filling insert fills the tubular element completely. In other words, after being collected in a tubular shape, the transversal cross-section of the filling insert must be substantially the same as that of the continuous tubular element to be obtained.

Aim of the invention

In this context, the technical purpose which forms the basis of the invention is to provide a machine and a method for making a continuous tubular element with filling having a spacer and/or filter function which overcomes the above-mentioned drawbacks of the prior art.

More specifically, the aim of the invention is to provide a machine and a method for making a continuous tubular element with filling having a spacer and/or filter function which allow an effective shape control on the end product.

The technical purpose indicated and the aim specified are substantially achieved by a machine and a method for making a continuous tubular element with filling and having a spacer and/or filter function with the technical features described in claims 1 and 13 and/or in one or more of the claims dependent thereon.

Brief description of the drawings

Further features and advantages of the present invention are more apparent in the detailed description below, with reference to a preferred, but non-exclusive embodiment of a machine and a method continuous tubular element with filling having a spacer and/or filter function, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which:

• - Figure 1 shows a schematic view of an embodiment of a machine for making a continuous tubular element from a web material according to the invention;

Figure 2 is a schematic view of a variant embodiment of the machine of Figure 1 ;

Figures 3A-3L show a succession of cross-section views of the machine of Figures 1 and/or Figure 2 referred to corresponding cross- section lines identified in Figures 1 and 2;

Figure 4 shows a cross-section of a continuous tubular element obtained using the machine of Figure 2;

Figure 4A shows an enlarged detail of the view of Figure 4;

Figure 5 is a perspective view of a component of a station of the machine of Figure 1 or Figure 2;

Figure 6 shows a variant embodiment of the detail of Figure 3E;

Figure 7 shows a variant embodiment of the detail of Figure 3A.

Detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention

With reference to Figures 1 and 2, the reference label "M" denotes a machine for making a continuous tubular element "T" according to the invention, obtained from two continuous webs preferably made of paper. More specifically, the continuous tubular element "T" has an insert or filling made from a first suitably shaped continuous web "A" and an outer cover made by wrapping a second continuous web "B" around the first, previously shaped continuous web "A".

In the preferred embodiment, the first and second continuous webs "A", "B" are made of paper material. However, the materials used may be different without altering the inventive concept of the invention, even though they are made with reduced thickness to have an adequate flexibility and bending.

More specifically, for one or both of the continuous webs, a different material might be used, selected from the following materials (individually or mixed together):

- materials derived from cellulose: for example cellulose acetate (tow);

- tobacco, reconstituted tobacco (recon) or other materials of plant origin: for example, wheat, maize, sugar cane, hemp, sugar beet, palm, pawpaw;

- polymeric plastic materials: for example, polylactic acid (PLA), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyvinylchloride (PVC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET);

- biodegradable or compostable materials, such as the following bio plastics: Mater-Bi, PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates);

- metals: for example aluminium, stainless steel.

These materials may also contain:

- plasticizers, solvents or humectants: for example, triacetin (glycerin triacetate), TEC (triethyl citrate), PEG 400 (low molecular weight polyethylene glycol);

- materials which in turn generate vapours, fumes or aerosols: for example, water, glycerol, propylene glycol;

- natural or artificial flavours such as, for example, menthol, fruit extracts, sugars, liquorice, liqueur flavourings, cocoa;

- materials having a selective or adsorbent filtering effect: for example, activated carbons, silica-gel;

- materials that facilitate joining the web components by gluing: typically, PVA, plant- or animal-derived glue, starches, alginates, fats.

The above materials may be present simultaneously in the web of the tube or of the insert or they may be chemically mixed or mechanically joined, for example by rolling, pressing, moulding, compression, extrusion, coating, impregnation, sintering, gluing, powder or granule or wire inclusion.

The web can be made using methods similar to those used for preparing paper or recon tobacco or plastic tapes (for example, pressing) or it might also be a mesh, a textile or a non-woven web.

The machine "M" comprises first means 10 for feeding the first continuous web "A" configured to feed the first continuous web "A" along a first feed path and second means 30 for feeding the second continuous web "B" configured to feed the second continuous web "B" along a second feed path. Preferably, the first and second feed means 10, 30 comprise respective reels from which the continuous webs "A", "B" are progressively unwound and suitable guide rollers positioned along the feed paths.

The machines of Figures 1 and 2 are identical in the majority of their features and differ exclusively in that in the machine of Figure 1 the second continuous web "B" (defining the outer tubular element) keeps its thickness unchanged from the respective reel to the end of the processing process, and in particular adopts a single layer configuration, whilst in the machine of Figure 2 the second continuous web "B" is subjected to double folding along respective longitudinal lines for adopting (prior to the tubular shape) a tri-layer configuration.

For this purpose, the machine "M" comprises a folding unit 32 configured for folding longitudinal bands of the second continuous web "B" about respective longitudinal fold lines, in particular in such a way as to obtain a tri-layer web wherein the lateral edges 2a, 2b have, respectively, a lowered zone 2a and a prominent joining zone 2b (illustrated in Figure 4A) designed to favour a closing of the continuous tubular element "T" as described in detail below.

As described above, the remaining part of the machine "M" remains identical for both the embodiments of Figures 1 and 2.

The machine “M” also comprises a forming station (20) positioned on the first feed path and configured to perform a folding and/or a deformation of the first continuous web “A” in a shaped configuration wherein the first continuous web “A” receives a predetermined shape, in particular three- dimensional and/or curved, in section transversal to the first feed path; In the context of this invention the specific shaping does not limit the invention, since it may be any but not circular. The accompanying drawings, however, illustrate a non-limiting example embodiment.

More in detail, the forming station 20 comprises a pair of pre-forming rollers 21 , 22 having outer profiles which are shaped to match each other (therefore geometrically engaged to form a slit with a preferably constant thickness) and defining between them a gap through which the first continuous web "A" is fed to undergo a first permanent forming during the rotation of the pre-forming rollers 21 , 22.

In the embodiment illustrated in Figure 3A, the pre-forming rollers 21 , 22 have, in a cross-section made in a plane passing through their axes, respective profiles shaped to match comprising a substantially semi circular stretch interposed between two straight stretches.

In this embodiment, the pre-forming rollers 21 , 22 give the first continuous web "A" a first permanent forming having, in a transversal cross-section, a central portion 1a substantially in the shape of an upturned “U” and two flat lateral portions 1 b.

In a further possible embodiment, the profiles of the pre-forming rollers 21 , 22 may be formed by a succession of curved stretches and in particular by a spline in such a way as to make shapes which have different undulated stretches.

In a further possible embodiment, the profiles of the pre-forming rollers 21 , 22 may be defined by straight stretches alternated with curved portions or spline in such a way as to give the first continuous web "A" any shaping.

In a different embodiment, according to Figure 7, the pre-forming rollers 21 , 22 have outer profiles shaped in such a way as to form a slit with a non-constant thickness, that is to say, in any case having a protrusion- recess coupling but without a shape correspondence.

Downstream of the pre-forming rollers 21 , 22, the machine "M" comprises a guide bar 23 about which the first continuous web "A" is at least partly formed and/or guided. The guide bar 23 therefore forms a core around which the first pre-shaped continuous web "A" is fed.

Advantageously, thanks to the presence of the guide bar 23 undesired deformations and/or folds of the first continuous web "A" are avoided, for example preventing the first continuous web "A" from deforming relative to the shaped configuration obtained during the first forming step.

The guide bar 23 is fixed, at the back, to a frame of the machine "M" close to or at the forming station 20 and extends longitudinally along the first feed path.

Preferably, the guide bar 23 is made as a rod-like body having a constant and full transversal cross-section.

Even more preferably, the outer surface of the guide bar 23 is smooth in such a way as to prevent jolting of the first continuous web "A" during its sliding/forming about the guide bar 23.

In the embodiment illustrated in the accompanying drawings, the machine M comprises a single guide bar 23 having a substantially circular cross- section in such a way as to support the central portion 1a of the first continuous web "A" in the shaped configuration according to the first forming.

According to a further embodiment wherein the pre-forming rollers 21 , 22 apply a first forming on the first continuous web "A" which is different to that shown in the accompanying drawings, the machine "M" could comprise two or more guide bars 23 which are parallel and/or side by side or otherwise positioned and about which respective portions of the first continuous web "A" are at least partly formed and/or guided. In that case, the guide bars 23 might also have a cross-section which is different in shape from the circular shape, in particular a shape compatible with the matching imparted by the pre-forming rollers 21 , 22.

An example of a different arrangement of the guide bars 23 and of a different matching shape imparted by the pre-forming rollers 21, 22 is illustrated in Figure 6 where two guide bars 23 are positioned parallel to each other in such a way as to receive the first continuous web "A" substantially M-shaped.

Operatively, at the outfeed from the pre-forming rollers 21 , 22, the first continuous web "A" is fitted on the guide bar 23 in such a way that the pre shaped (central) portion 1a of the first continuous web "A" rests on the guide bar 23 wrapping round it at least partly.

Downstream of the pair of pre-forming rollers 21 , 22, in order to prevent an elastic return of the first continuous web "A", the guide bar 23 may act in conjunction with a pair of guide elements 24, 25 made, for example, in the form of metal bars or blocks extending parallel to the first feed path.

As illustrated in Figure 3B, the pair of guide elements 24, 25 delimits a gap for the passage of the first continuous web "A" in such a way that longitudinal portions of the first continuous web "A" slide substantially in contact with a respective guide element 24, 25.

The pair of guide elements 24, 25 thus defines a passage with fixed width such as to keep the first continuous web "A" in the configuration adopted after the first forming, preventing the relative longitudinal portions from being moved away from each other, for example on account of an elastic return of the material of the first continuous web "A".

Downstream of the pre-forming rollers 21 , 22 and downstream of the guide elements 24, 25 (where present), the forming station 20 also comprises a pair of forming elements 26, 27 opposite each other and acting in conjunction with the guide bar 23 to produce a second permanent forming of the first continuous web "A". Preferably, the forming elements 26, 27 comprise two fixed folding units defined by respective plates pivoted to the frame of the machine "M" and having respective folding edges 26a, 27a converging and configured to move towards each other and permanently deform respective longitudinal portions of the first continuous web "A".

In the embodiment illustrated in Figure 3C, the forming elements 26, 27 push towards each other the longitudinal portions of the first continuous web "A" in such a way that the transversal cross-section of the first continuous web "A" adopts a substantially "omega" shape (“W”). More specifically, during the passage of the first continuous web "A" between the forming elements 26, 27, the flat lateral portions 1b move towards each other whilst the central portion 1a is curved in such a way as to wrap further around the guide bar 23.

The forming station 20 allows continuous forming of the first web "A" in such a way that as it feeds out of the station the first continuous web "A" is shaped and ready to be introduced as an insert into the continuous tubular element "T".

The forming process which causes the first continuous web "A" to adopt the shaped configuration is accomplished by gradual folding and/or wrapping of the first continuous web "A" around the guide bar 23 in which there are, respectively, a first step, wherein the first permanent forming is imparted by the pre-forming rollers 21 , 22, and a second step in which the second permanent forming is performed by means of the forming elements 26, 27.

According to variant embodiments not illustrated, the forming station 20 might be configured to perform only one of the above-mentioned pre forming and forming operations and, therefore, it might have only one of the respective forming means (more specifically, only one between the pair of pre-forming rollers 21 , 22 and the pair of forming elements 26, 27). According to an embodiment not illustrated, the machine "M" may comprise a sensor, for example optical, located downstream of the pre- forming rollers 21 , 22 for detecting any failure in the first continuous web "A" and/or for controlling the centring of the first continuous web "A" downstream of the pre-forming rollers 21, 22. Substantially, the sensor is positioned for detecting the first continuous web "A" at one end of the guide bar 23. The machine M may also comprise a control unit which receives the data measured by the sensor and, based on this data, controls (by feedback) the first feed means 10.

As shown in Figures 1 and 2, downstream of the forming station 20, the machine M comprises a superposing zone 40 wherein the first and second feed paths are joined to each other in such a way that some portions of the first continuous web "A" are superposed with respective portions of the second continuous web "B".

Advantageously, this superposing occurs at pre-glued zones of the first and/or the second continuous web "A", "B". More specifically, the gluing is preferably made on the second continuous web "B" upstream of the superposing zone.

In order to perform the gluing of the continuous webs "A", "B", the machine "M" comprises a first gluing device 31 positioned upstream of the superposing zone 40 along the first and/or the second feed path and configured for applying at least one longitudinal line of glue 33 respectively on the first and/or on the second continuous web "A", "B".

In the case of the embodiment illustrated in the accompanying drawings, the first gluing device 31 is located along the second feed path in such a way as to apply the glue line 33 along the second continuous web "B".

The position of each of the longitudinal lines of glue 33 defines respective gluing zones on which portions of the first continuous web "A" are applied in such a way that the continuous tubular element "T" has separate contact lines and/or surfaces extending longitudinally (along the tubular element "T"), between the continuous webs "A", "B". In other words, the number and/or the arrangement of these longitudinal lines of glue 33 is selected in such a way that they correspond to respective separate superposing zones between the two continuous webs "A", "B". The term "discrete" means longitudinal lines or surfaces which are laterally separate and/or spaced from each other.

Preferably, the first gluing device 31 is adjustable at least in a relative lateral position, in particular perpendicular to the second feed path, to allow an adaptation of the longitudinal lines of glue 33 in the case of a format changeover.

In the embodiment illustrated in the accompanying drawings, the gluing device 31 comprises two dispensing nozzles and applies to the second continuous web "B" two longitudinal (and parallel) lines of glue 33 in such a way as to define two gluing zones designed to receive the flat lateral portions 1 b of the first continuous web "A" shaped in the form of an “W”. In this situation, the second continuous web "B" is in a flat configuration and is positioned below the first continuous web "A" in such a way as to subsequently come into contact with at least a part of the flat lateral portions 1 b to define the separate contact surfaces between the webs "A", "B" present inside the continuous tubular web "T". It will be understood that the number of nozzles of the gluing device 31 may vary according to the number of longitudinal lines to be made.

In a further possible embodiment not illustrated, the first gluing device 31 is located upstream of the superposing zone 40, preferably along the first feed path and still more preferably downstream of the forming station 20, in such a way as to apply longitudinal lines of glue 33 on the first continuous web "A". More specifically, in this embodiment, the longitudinal lines of glue 33 are applied from below on a part of the lateral portions 1 b of the first continuous web "A" in such a way as to define two gluing zones designed to receive respective portions of the second continuous web "B". In order to prevent, during the gluing step, the first continuous web "A" from being folded and/or deformed such as to modify the shaped configuration, the guide bar 23 also extends through the superposing zone 40 in such a way that it is inserted between the first continuous web "A" and the second continuous web "B".

In the embodiment illustrated, there is a first pair of rollers 41 , 42 located at the superposing zone 40. More specifically, the lower roller 42 of the pair of rollers 41 , 42 drives a guide belt 51 of a forming beam 50a of a wrapping station 50 which is described in more detail below. The roller 42 has a substantially smooth lateral surface. The second continuous web "B" is fed along the second feed path until the roller 42 is partly wound (in contact with the guide belt 51) so as to pass from the superposing zone 40 to the wrapping station 50.

The upper roller 41 of the pair of rollers 41 , 42 is shaped to allow the guide bar 23 and the shaped continuous web "A" to pass through it. Preferably, the upper roller 41 is made of rubber. More specifically, the outer lateral surface of the roller 41 is rubberised.

The first pair of rollers 41 , 42 act in conjunction with the guide bar 23 in such a way as to keep the first continuous web "A" in the shaped configuration, preventing a flattening of the first web "A" during gluing on the second continuous web "B".

The machine M may also comprise a second pair of rollers 43, 44 which are located upstream of the superposing zone 40 along the first conveying path. This second pair of rollers 43, 44 acts on the first pre-shaped continuous web "A" and keeps the longitudinal portions of the first continuous web "A" at least partly wound around the guide bar 23 whilst the guide bar 23 prevents a flattening of the central portion 1a of the first continuous web "A", thus facilitating maintaining the shaped configuration. Further, the second pair of rollers 43, 44 contribute to the unwrapping and tensioning of the first continuous web "A" in the forming zone 20. Downstream of the superposing zone 40, the machine "M" comprises a wrapping station 50 wherein the second continuous web "B" is wound around the first pre-shaped continuous web "A", until it adopts a closed tubular shape, in particular with a circular cross-section. More specifically, the superposing zone 40 is at the infeed of the wrapping station 50 in such a way that the second continuous web "B" can be positioned between the roller 42 and the above-mentioned guide belt 51.

As illustrated in Figures 3E and 3F, the wrapping station 50 comprises the forming beam 50a configured for progressively wrapping the second continuous web "B" around the first continuous web "A" in a shaped configuration, preferably by using the guide and folding belt 51 for the second continuous web "B".

Advantageously, the guide bar 23 extends up to the wrapping station 50 and, in particular, until the second continuous web "B" is completely wound around the first pre-shaped continuous web "A".

The wrapping station 50 also comprises a fixed shaped body 52 which, at least for a stretch of the wrapping station 50, is interposed between the guide bar 23 and the forming beam 50a to form a contact for folding the second continuous web "B" around the first pre-shaped continuous web "A". More specifically, the fixed shaped body 52 is configured to be positioned around the guide bar 23 by a predetermined superposing angle, preferably greater than 180° and even more preferably greater than 270°, as shown in Figures 3E and 3F.

The fixed shaped body 52 is shown in detail in Figure 5, where it may be noted that it comprises a first portion 52a, having a supporting function, and a second portion 52b having a guiding and folding function.

The first portion 52a has a substantially plate-like shape extending vertically for anchoring to an upper supporting structure (not illustrated). For example of a trapezoidal shape. The second portion 52b has a cylindrical tubular shape, with an open bottom cross section, and is configured to impress a tubular shape to the second continuous web "B" during a gradual folding around an outer surface of the second portion 52b. The second portion 52b has an inner surface which faces the guide bar 23 and an outer surface around which the continuous web "B" is progressively folded.

In another embodiment, not illustrated, the second portion 52b of the fixed shaped body 52 may have a different shape (for example, elliptic, multi- lobed, irregular or others) depending on the shape of the guide bar 23 and therefore depending on the shape given to the first continuous web "A" in the forming station 20.

Operatively, at the outfeed from the superposing zone 40, the first continuous web "A" and the second continuous web "B" are glued at the flat lateral portions 1 b of the first continuous web "A" and slide along the first feed path in such a way that the second continuous web "B" rests on the belt 51 whilst the first continuous web "A" is supported by the guide bar 23.

In an initial section of the wrapping station 50 (Figure 3E), the belt 51 starts to wrap the second continuous web "B" around the outer surface of the fixed shaped body 52, in particular around the second portion 52b. At the same time, the first continuous web "A" in the shaped configuration is supported and guided by the guide bar 23 inside the second portion 52b of the shaped body 52 in such a way as to be positioned in a gap delimited by the guide bar 23 and by the shaped body 52, in particular by the inner surface of the second portion 52b of the shaped body 52.

In this situation, the central portion 1a of the first web "A" is fed inside the gap in such a way as to prevent deformations or elastic returns whilst one or more of the end flaps, represented in the accompanying drawings by the rectilinear portions 1b, feed outside the gap and are progressively folded around the outer surface of the shaped body 52.

More specifically, as shown in the sequence in Figures 3D-3F, during the progressive wrapping of the second continuous web "B", the belt 51 compresses the first continuous web "A" and the second continuous web "B" relative to each other at least at the longitudinal glue lines 33, that is to say, at the surfaces of contact between the end flaps 1b of the first continuous web "A" and the second continuous web "B".

In this way, as illustrated in Figure 3F, the fixed shaped body 52 forms a supporting contact element for compressing the separate contact surfaces between the two webs "A", "B" wherein the second continuous web "B" is superposed on the end flaps 1 b.

Advantageously, the combined action of the fixed shaped body 52 and the belt 51 guarantees that the webs "A", "B" are glued even during wrapping of the second continuous web "B" around the first "A".

The machine "M" also comprises, upstream and/or close to the wrapping station 50, a second gluing device 60 configured for applying an adhesive substance, for example glue, on the second continuous web "B" according to one or more lines preferably parallel to each other designed for closing the outer tubular element.

More in detail, as shown in Figure 3G, during the progressive wrapping of the second continuous web "B", the second gluing device 60 applies at least one glue line along a lateral band 2b of the second continuous web "B" in such a way that, in an outfeed section of the wrapping station 50, said lateral band 2b of the second continuous web "B" is superposed on a further lateral band 2a to close the tubular element "T".

In the preferred embodiment, the second gluing device 60 applies the glue line along the prominent joining zone 2b in such a way that the lowered zone 2a can be placed over it to form a smooth continuous tubular element "T" without interruptions generated by the superposing of the lateral bands 2a, 2b. More generally speaking, the second gluing device 60 applies the glue line along the first lateral band 2a of the second continuous web "B" on which the second lateral band 2b will be superposed.

Advantageously, the second gluing device 60 allows progressive gluing of the lateral bands 2a, 2b of the second continuous web "B" during its wrapping in such a way as to deposit the glue line in a more controlled manner.

Advantageously, the second gluing device 60 allows progressive gluing of the lateral bands 2a, 2b of the second continuous web "B" minimising the rough edges of the glue line on the outer walls of the continuous tubular element "T".

Downstream of the wrapping station 50, in particular downstream of the second gluing device 60, the continuous tubular element "T" is fed by a lower support 45, preferably defining part or an extension of the forming beam 50a in such a way as to slide under a pressing unit 70. The presser unit 70 is configured to keep the second lateral band 2a superposed on the first lateral band 2b of the second continuous web "B" in such a way as to maintain the closing of the continuous tubular element "T".

As shown in Figure 3H, the pressing unit 70 acts as a contact element for the first and the second lateral band 2a, 2b, preventing the risk of mutual detachment of the lateral bands 2a, 2b with consequent opening of the continuous tubular element "T".

Preferably, in order to prevent that, during the sliding of the continuous tubular element "T" beneath the pressing unit 70, the continuous tubular element "T" can be flattened such as to modify the shape of the cross- section, the guide bar 23 extends up to the pressing unit 70. In that case, the guide bar 23 acts as a supporting contact for the pressing unit 70 preventing a flattening of the transversal cross-section of the continuous tubular element "T".

As shown in Figure 3H, the machine "M" also comprises, downstream of the wrapping station 50, and preferably downstream of the second gluing device 60, an activation device 80 configured to perform a heat exchange on the continuous tubular element in such a way as to promote a variation of the temperature of the glue line released by the second gluing device 60.

More in detail, if the glue line is made from a glue of the "hot melt" type, the activation device 80 cools the glue line itself.

On the other hand, if the glue line is made from a different glue, for example from PVA glue, the activation device 80 heats the glue line itself. The activation device 80 is integrated the presser unit 70 in such a way as to activate the adhesive properties of the glue line and simultaneously promote and maintain the reciprocal adhesion of the lateral bands 2a, 2b of the second continuous web "B".

In another possible embodiment, the activation device 80 is distinct from the presser unit 70 so that it can activate the adhesive properties of the glue line at a later stage.

The machine "M" also comprises, downstream of the wrapping station 50 and in particular downstream of or at the presser and/or activation device 70, 80, a cooling/heating station 90. In particular, similarly to what is described above with reference to the activation device 80, if the glue line is made from a glue of the "hot melt" type, the station 90 is a cooling station and cools the glue line itself. In contrast, if the glue line is made from a different glue, for example with PVA glue, the station 90 is a heating station and the selfsame glue line is heated.

The cooling/heating station 90 comprises a cooling/heating element 91 positioned facing the continuous tubular element "T" with the superposing of the lateral bands 2a, 2b of the second continuous web "B".

As illustrated in Figure 3I, the cooling/heating element 91 has an integrated cooling/heating system and has the shape of a plate shaped to match the continuous tubular element "T". The plate has a concave portion with the concavity facing downwards in such a way as to face the continuous tubular element "T". More in detail, the concave portion is shaped to match the continuous tubular element "T" to be cooled/heated in such a way as to facilitate the sliding of the continuous tubular element "T" preventing the risk of it flattening in the part in contact with the plate. Advantageously, the presence of the cooling/heating station 90 allows the fixing of the lateral bands 2a, 2b.

Advantageously, the cooling/heating element 91 allows the glue line to dry quickly in such a way as to avoid problem linked to a possible opening of the continuous tubular element "T".

In one embodiment, the cooling/heating element 91 is made in one piece; in other words, the cooling/heating element 91 consists of a single plate shaped to match the continuous tubular element "T". In an alternative embodiment, the cooling/heating element 91 may comprise a plurality of plates shaped to match the continuous tubular element "T" and positioned one after the other. Advantageously, the use of the plurality of plates allows optimisation of cooling/heating.

In the preferred embodiment, downstream of the wrapping station 50 and preferably downstream of the cooling/heating station 90, the machine "M" also comprises a compression device 100 configured to model the cross- section of the continuous tubular element "T".

In fact it is possible that during the steps for making the continuous tubular element "T" through the various stations of the machine "M" the continuous tubular element "T" is slightly deformed, for example flattened to adopt a slight lateral convexity.

The compression device 100 comprises a first and a second compression roller 101 , 102 which face each other and have respective profiles shaped to define a gap for the passage of the continuous tubular element "T".

More specifically, the compression rollers 101 , 102 are adjustable towards/away from each other preferably independently, for example by means of actuators 103, for varying a passageway for the continuous tubular element "T" in such a way as to model the cross-section of the continuous tubular element "T" according to a desired shape, in particular circular.

Preferably, the compression rollers 101 , 102 are idle.

According to another aspect of the invention, the machine “M” may be followed by a device for cutting the continuous tubular element "T" into discrete tubular segments equipped with a shaped insert made using a portion of the first continuous web "A" in the shaped configuration. In this situation, the machine "M" is configured as a machine for making discrete segments.

The invention achieves the above-mentioned aims, eliminating the drawbacks highlighted in the prior art. The presence of the guide bar 23 eliminates the problems relating to the accidental and unwanted deformation and/or folding of the first continuous web "A" with respect to the shaped configuration.

In particular, the guide bar 23 acts as a support and forming guide for the first continuous web "A" during its feed between the stations of the machine "M" promoting a precise shaping of the first continuous web "A". The guide bar 23 also acts as a contact for the components of the various stations of the machine "M" in such a way that each component can perform the respective operating step whilst the first continuous web "A" is kept in the shaped configuration.

The guide bar 23 is also adaptable to any type of shaping imparted to the first continuous web "A" thus allowing any type of desired shape of insert to be processed. More specifically, the shaping of the first continuous web "A" may be any but not circular and may therefore differ from the shaping (circular) adopted by the second continuous web "B". Preferably, in a cross-section, the first continuous web "A" has a shape such that it passes transversely through the second wound continuous web "B" (that is to say, such as to cross transversally, between two or more opposite points of contact, the inner space defined by the final tubular element formed by the wrapping of the second continuous web "B").

The method for making the continuous tubular element "T" performed using the machine "M" is efficient and reliable, especially during the step of wrapping the second continuous web "B" around the first continuous web "A", since it guarantees that the continuous tubular element "T" (outer wrapper and inner insert) is formed with a regular shape.