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Title:
UNIT FOR PROCESSING A SEMIFINISHED PRODUCT.
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2022/029612
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A unit for processing a continuous or discrete semifinished product comprises an element (2) rotating about an axis (R2) of rotation, a plurality of working units (5) supported by the rotary element (2), a structure (6) for supporting the rotary element; the supporting structure (6) comprises a first 5 frame (7) and a second frame (8) movable between a position close to the first frame (7) and a position far from the first frame (7), and the rotary element (2) has a first portion (3) rotatably connected to the first frame (7) and a second portion (4) which can be rotatably constrained to the second frame (8) when the second frame is in the position close to the first frame.

Inventors:
DUCHINI ANDREA (IT)
RESMINI GABRIELE (IT)
PIANTONI MATTEO (IT)
ROSANI MARCO (IT)
FUSAR POLI ALDO (IT)
SPATTI MAURIZIO (IT)
Application Number:
PCT/IB2021/057079
Publication Date:
February 10, 2022
Filing Date:
August 03, 2021
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
GDM SPA (IT)
International Classes:
B29C65/02; B29C65/78; A61F13/15; B29C65/08; B29L31/48
Domestic Patent References:
WO2011099297A12011-08-18
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PUGGIOLI, Tommaso (IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A unit (1 ) for processing a continuous or discrete semifinished product, said processing unit (1 ) comprising an element (2) rotating about an axis (R2) of rotation, a plurality of working units (5) supported by said rotary element (2), a structure (6) for supporting the rotary element (2), said processing unit (1 ) being characterised in that said supporting structure (6) comprises a first frame (7) and a second frame (8) movable between a position close to the first frame (7) and a position far from the first frame (7), said rotary element (2) having a first portion (3) rotatably connected to the first frame (7) and a second portion (4) which can be rotatably constrained to the second frame (8) when the second frame (8) is in the position close to the first frame (7), said first and second portions (3, 4) being located respectively at a first end (2a) of the rotary element (2) and at a second end (2b) of the rotary element (2), said first and second ends (2a, 2b) being away from each other along said axis (R2) of rotation.

2. The processing unit according to claim 1 , wherein said rotary element (2) comprises, at said second end (2b), an engagement element (1 1 ) for coupling with said second frame (8).

3. The processing unit according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said second frame (8) is movable between a lowered position at which it is disengaged from said rotary element (2) and a raised position at which it is connected to said rotary element (2).

4. The processing unit according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said second frame (8) is movable between said close-together and far-apart positions along a direction (D) parallel to the axis (R2) of rotation of the rotary element (2).

5. The processing unit according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said second frame (8) comprises a plurality of wheels (13) movable between a raised position and a lowered position for a movement of said second frame (8), said second frame (8) being in the form of a carriage.

6. The processing unit according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a system (16) for coupling said second frame (8) with said first frame (7) in said close-together position.

7. The processing unit according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising at least one operating element (17) acting, in use, on said semifinished product, wherein said operating element (17) is supported by said second frame (8) and movable with it.

8. The processing unit according to claim 7, wherein said operating element (17) is a roller preferably having an axis of rotation (R17) parallel to the axis of rotation (R2) of the rotary element (2).

9. The processing unit according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said working units (5) are movable towards the axis (R2) of rotation of the rotary element (2) and away from the axis (R2) of rotation of the rotary element (2) for varying a processing spacing on the semi-finished product.

10. The processing unit according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said working units (5) are units for welding the semifinished product which are angularly spaced from each other and each configured to pass from a non-operating position to an operating position, and vice versa, during a rotation of the processing unit.

1 1. The processing unit according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said first frame (7) is configured for supporting said rotary element (2) at least when said rotary element (2) is stationary.

12. A process for maintenance of a processing unit comprising a rotary element (2) and a structure (6) for supporting the rotary element (2), said process comprising a step of moving a first part (8) of the supporting structure (6) away from a second part (7) of the supporting structure (6) to make the rotary element (2) accessible, at least partly.

13. The maintenance process according to claim 12, comprising a step of moving a first part (8) of the supporting structure (6) towards the second part (7) of the supporting structure (6) for supporting, in use, the rotary element (2).

14. The maintenance process according to claim 12 or 13, wherein the step of moving a first part (8) of the supporting structure (6) towards and/or away from the second part (7) of the supporting structure (6) comprises a step of translating the first part (8) of the supporting structure (6) along a direction (D) parallel to an axis of rotation (R2) of the rotary element (2).

15. The maintenance process according to any one of claims 12 to 14, comprising a step of uncoupling the first part (8) of the supporting structure (6) from the second part (7) of the supporting structure (6).

16. The maintenance process according to any one of claims 12 to 15, comprising a step of supporting the rotary element (2) only by means of the second part (7) of the supporting structure (6), said rotary element (2) being stationary.

17. The maintenance process according to any one of claims 12 to 16, comprising a step of releasing the rotary element (2) from the first part (8) of the supporting structure (6).

18. The maintenance process according to any one of claims 12 to 17, wherein said movement step comprises a step of moving away from the rotary element (2) at least one operating element (17) of the processing unit.

19. A machine for making articles, in particular absorbent products for sanitary use, comprising the processing unit according to any one of claims 1 to 1 1 .

Description:
DESCRIPTION

UNIT FOR PROCESSING A SEMIFINISHED PRODUCT

Technical field

This invention relates to a unit for processing a continuous or discrete semifinished product and the like, such as, for example, a continuous web or web segments, and in particular, relates to a rotary operating unit.

Background art

Typically, in machines for the production of articles or packages involving processes performed on continuous webs or segments thereof, there are operating units or wheels or processing units or wheels which allow operations, such as welding the continuous web, rotating the web segments or other operations, to be performed while the web or web segments are being fed.

In a prior art embodiment, these operating units comprise a rotary element, which generally turns about a horizontal axis, and a plurality of working units or assemblies, for example, welders, rotary supports and other parts, engaged with the rotary element and angularly spaced from each other around the axis of rotation of the rotary element, and a structure for supporting the rotary element.

In use, the working units rotate in synchrony with the rotary element and, generally, with the web or web segments, allowing the working assemblies to work on the semifinished product as it moves along the machine in which the wheel is mounted.

For example, the rotary operating unit may be used to weld a continuous composite web to make absorbent articles or nappies, for example, to weld the side gathers of nappy pants.

In other examples, the rotary operating unit concerned may be used to weld a continuous web for packaging food and confectionery products, be they solid, such as chocolates or sweets, or liquid or semi-solid; for making beverage bottles and brick packs; for making pouches and bags to contain products of the tobacco industry, products of the cosmetic industry, products of the pharmaceutical industry or products of the personal and home care industry. Generally speaking, the continuous web processable with the operating unit according to this disclosure may be used to make packages, pouches or bags to contain liquid or solid products.

In recent times, in the market there has been a demand for devices capable of processing the continuous web or segments of continuous web or, more generally speaking, continuous or discrete semifinished products to make finished products in different formats with a single device.

It is easily understandable that a device capable of processing the semifinished product to make a multiplicity of formats such as, for example, from an XS format to an L format, is much larger in size and weight than a single device designed to make a single format.

Based on the format of the product to be made, prior art processing units are typically relatively heavy and cumbersome.

In particular, the supporting structure of the rotary element must be large enough to support the rotary element and to sustain rotation even at high speeds.

The complexity of the supporting structures makes it awkward to gain access to the rotary element and to the working units, for example, to perform maintenance or routine cleaning operations.

The need therefore remains for rotary operating units which are manageable in maintenance, for example, on their working units, even in the case of heavy rotary elements which require supporting structures of adequate strength.

In this context, this disclosure proposes a rotary operating unit capable of overcoming at least some of the disadvantages of the prior art described above and of meeting the above mentioned need.

Aim of the invention More specifically, this invention has for an aim to provide a rotary operating unit or wheel for processing continuous or discrete semifinished products and which allows maintenance on the components of the wheel to be carried out in a practical manner.

This aim is achieved by a rotary operating unit comprising the technical features set out in one or more of the appended claims. The dependent claims correspond to possible different embodiments of the invention.

According to a first aspect of it, this invention regards a unit for processing a continuous or discrete semifinished product comprising an element rotating about an axis of rotation, a plurality of working units supported by the rotary element and a supporting structure for supporting the rotary element.

Advantageously, the supporting structure comprises a first frame and a second frame movable between a position close to the first frame and a position far from the first frame.

The rotary element has, for example, a first portion and a second portion located, respectively, at a first end of the rotary element and at a second end of the rotary element, away from each other along the axis of rotation of the rotary element.

According to an aspect, the first portion of the rotary element is rotatably connected to the first frame and the second portion can be rotatably constrained to the second frame when the second frame is in the position close to the first frame.

The first frame is preferably configured for supporting the rotary element at least when the rotary element is stationary.

That way, when the processing unit is stationary, the second frame can be removed, the first frame can support the rotary element in cantilever fashion and access to the rotary element itself is easier.

When the processing unit is in operation and the loads on the supporting structure are greater, for example, because the rotary element is rotating, the second frame acts in conjunction with the first frame to ensure further, adequate support for the rotary element.

Particularly in the case of relatively large rotary elements, a cantilevered support for them would be excessively large, whilst a single supporting structure for supporting the rotary element at both axial ends would not allow convenient access to the rotary element, for example, for maintenance operations.

According to an aspect of the disclosure, the rotary element comprises, at the second end, an engagement element for coupling with the second frame.

Advantageously, the engagement element ensures, for example, that the rotary element is positioned correctly relative to the second frame.

According to an aspect, the second frame is movable between a lowered position at which it is disengaged from the rotary element and a raised position at which it is connected to the rotary element.

Thus, the second frame can be conveniently disengaged from the rotary element and removed or moved away.

According to an aspect, the second frame is movable from the close- together position to the far-apart position along a direction parallel to the axis of rotation of the rotary element.

Advantageously, any devices for moving the second frame can thus work in a straight line.

In an embodiment, the second frame is in the form of a carriage and comprises a plurality of wheels that are movable between a raised position and a lowered position in order to move the second frame.

The wheels can thus be extracted and/or retracted and/or the second frame can be lowered and/or raised so it can be moved easily when it has to be shifted but must remain stable at the position close to the first frame.

According to an aspect, to ensure the supporting structure has adequate stability, the processing unit comprises a coupling system for coupling the second frame to the first frame at the close-together position.

According to an aspect, the processing unit comprises at least one operating element which, in use, operates on the semifinished product which is supported by the second frame and movable therewith.

That way, moving the second frame away from the first frame causes the operating element to be removed as well, thus making the rotary element more accessible.

The operating element is preferably a roller whose axis of rotation is preferably parallel to the axis of rotation of the rotary element so that it can slide conveniently along the direction of translation of the second frame.

According to an aspect, the working units are movable towards the axis of rotation of the rotary element and away from the axis of rotation of the rotary element to vary a processing spacing on the semifinished product, that is to say, the processing unit can handle products and semifinished products of different formats.

The processing unit is more complex and the possibility of removing part of the supporting structure of the rotary element is very advantageous.

According to an aspect, this disclosure relates to a process for performing maintenance on a processing unit comprising a rotary element and a supporting structure for supporting the rotary element.

The process comprises a step of moving a first part of the supporting structure away from a second part of the supporting structure to make the rotary element and the working units supported thereon at least partly accessible.

According to an aspect, the step of moving comprises a step of translating the first part of the supporting structure along a direction parallel to an axis of rotation of the rotary element.

The process comprises a step of uncoupling the first part of the supporting structure from the second part of the supporting structure.

The process comprises a step of supporting the rotary element only by the second part of the supporting structure: that is to say, when the rotary element is stationary, it is supported on one side only and is accessible for maintenance operations. The process comprises a step of releasing the rotary element from the first part of the supporting structure.

According to an aspect, the step of moving comprises a step of moving at least one operating element of the processing unit away from the rotary element so that the remaining parts supported by the fixed part are even more accessible.

Further features and advantages of the above mentioned aspects are more apparent in the exemplary, hence non-limiting description which follows of a preferred but non-exclusive embodiment of a unit for processing a continuous or discrete semifinished product.

Brief description of the drawings

The description is set out below with reference to the accompanying drawings which are provided solely for purposes of illustration without restricting the scope of the invention and in which:

- Figure 1 illustrates a possible embodiment of the processing unit according to aspects of this disclosure in a schematic front view of it in an operating configuration;

- Figure 2 illustrates the processing unit of Figure 1 in a schematic front view of it in a maintenance configuration;

- Figure 3 illustrates a possible embodiment of the processing unit according to aspects of this disclosure in a schematic perspective view.

Detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention

With reference to Figure 1 , the numeral 1 denotes in its entirety a unit or wheel for processing a continuous or discrete semifinished product, not illustrated, for example, a composite web or segments of web.

The unit 1 comprises a rotary element 2 that rotates about an axis of rotation R2 that substantially defines a hub of the unit 1 .

The element 2 has a first portion 3, located at a first end 2a of the rotary element 2, and a second portion 4, located at a second end 2b of the rotary element 2.

The first and second ends 2a, 2b are spaced apart along the axis R2 of rotation of the rotary element 2, that is to say, they are its axial ends.

The processing unit 1 comprises a plurality of working units or assemblies 5, that is to say, units which are used to perform the required processes, such as welding, for example, and which are supported by the rotary element 2 and illustrated, for example, in Figure 3.

For simplicity and greater clarity, Figures 1 and 2 illustrate a single assembly between the element 2 and the working units 5.

Generally speaking, the working units 5 are movable between a configuration where they are disengaged from the semifinished product, and a configuration where they are engaged with the semifinished product to perform the specific process they are designed for.

In practice, the semifinished product is processed - for example, welded - by the working units 5 as the wheel 1 rotates, with at least some of the units 5 in the configuration where they are engaged with the semifinished product. In the preferred embodiment where processing comprises welding, the units 5 may comprise, for example, a gripper mechanism that is movable between an open configuration, corresponding to the non-operating configuration, and a closed configuration, corresponding to the operating configuration.

The gripper mechanism comprises, for example, a sonotrode and an anvil which are movable between a far-apart position where they are disengaged from the semifinished product, and a close-together position where they are engaged with the web to weld the web by ultrasonic welding.

In a preferred embodiment illustrated by way of example, the units 5 extend radially from the rotary means 2 and are angularly spaced from each other around the axis R2 of rotation; in the example illustrated in Figure 3, the units 5 are equidistant from each other.

In a preferred embodiment, the units 5 are movable towards and away from the axis R2 of rotation, for example, to vary the spacing between the corresponding processes performed on the semifinished product.

The unit 1 comprises a supporting structure 6 for supporting the rotary element 2.

The supporting structure 6 comprises a first frame 7 and a second frame 8. The frame 7 is preferably configured and sized so it can independently support the rotary element 2 at least when the element 2 is stationary.

In practice, as illustrated in Figure 2, the frame 7 is advantageously able to support, by itself, the rotary element 2 and the working units 5 mounted thereon, at least when the element 2 is stationary, that is, when the unit 1 is not in operation.

In the embodiments illustrated by way of example, the frame 7 comprises a floor mounting base 9 from which there rises a column or vertical wall 10 to which the rotary element 2 is connected.

The frame 8 is movable between a position close to the frame 7, illustrated in Figures 1 and 3, and a position far from the frame 7, illustrated in Figure 2.

Preferably, the frame 8 is movable between said close-together and far- apart positions along a direction D parallel to the axis R2 of rotation of the rotary element 2.

As illustrated, the first portion 3 of the rotary element 2 is rotatably connected to the first frame 7 and, more specifically, to the wall 10 thereof. The second portion 4 of the element 2 can be rotatably constrained to the second frame 8, in particular, when the second frame 8 is in the position close to the first frame 7, as illustrated in Figures 1 and 3.

To couple the portion 4 of the rotary element to the frame 8, the rotary element, at its second end 2b, comprises an engagement element 1 1 for coupling with the frame 8.

Advantageously, the frame 8 comprises an abutment element 12 for coming into contact with the engagement element 1 1 and which rotatably engages with the element 11 itself.

In the preferred embodiment illustrated, the frame 8 is also movable between a lowered position, at which it is disengaged from the rotary element 2, that is to say, where the elements 1 1 and 12 are not engaged with each other, and a raised position, at which it is connected to the rotary element 2 and contributes to defining the supporting structure 6.

Preferably, the frame 8 is in the form of a carriage and comprises a plurality of wheels 13 which are movable between a raised position and a lowered position when the frame 8 needs to be moved, as illustrated, for example, in Figures 1 and 2.

In the embodiment illustrated in Figure 3, the frame 8 is configured to be moved with specific machinery, for example, with what is known as a “pallet truck”.

In the examples illustrated, the frame 8 comprises a base portion 14 from a which there rises a turret 15 that supports the element 12.

The unit 1 comprises a fastening system, generically denoted by the reference numeral 16 in Figure 3, for fastening the frame 8 to the frame 7 at the close-together position to give the supporting structure 6 greater rigidity.

Preferably, the system 16 operates between the base 9 of the frame 7 and the base portion 18 of the frame 8.

As illustrated, at least one operating element 17 acting, in use, on the semifinished product, such as, for example, a transmission roller or pulley for a continuous semifinished product such as a web, is supported by the second frame 8 and is movable therewith away from the frame 7.

That way, the operating element 17, or operating elements, supported by the carriage 8 can also be removed when maintenance on the rotary element 2 has to be carried out.

In the accompanying drawings, only one operating element 17 is shown but the preferred embodiments illustrated comprise a pair of elements 17, specifically transfer rollers.

The rollers 17 each have a respective axis R17 of rotation, preferably parallel to the axis of rotation R2 of the rotary element 2, and in the example illustrated, are supported by the turret 15.

Also an object of this disclosure is a process for performing maintenance on a processing unit such as the one described in the foregoing.

The process comprises a step of moving a first part of the supporting structure 6, for example, the frame 8, away from a second part of the supporting structure 6, for example, the frame 7, to make the rotary element 2 at least partly accessible.

The step of moving preferably comprises a step of translating the first part

7 of the supporting structure 6 in the direction parallel to the axis R2.

The process comprises a step of supporting the rotary element 2 only by means of the second part 7 of the supporting structure 6 at least when the rotary element 2 is stationary.

The rotary element 2 is supported in cantilever fashion by the column 10 and is accessible, together with the working units 5, for example, for maintenance operations.

The maintenance process comprises a step of uncoupling the first part 8 of the supporting structure 6 from the second part 7 of the supporting structure, since the two parts are rigidly connected to each other at least when the processing unit is in operation.

The maintenance process comprises a step of releasing the rotary element 2 from the first part 8 of the supporting structure 6 so that the part 8 can be moved away from the part 7.

In a preferred embodiment, the step of moving comprises a step of moving at least one operating element 17 of the processing unit 1 away from the rotary element 2 so as to further clear a zone at the front of the machine.

Once the operations on the rotary element 2 and/or on the working units 5 have been completed, the process comprises a step of coupling the frame

8 to the frame 7 so that the unit 1 can be started up.

Also an object of this invention is a machine for making articles, in particular absorbent products for sanitary use, comprising the processing unit 1 .

In such a case, the unit 1 is preferably used for welding a continuous web.