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Cigarette-making machines and methods of using the same

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Cigarette-making machines and methods of using the same


Cigarette-making machines that provide improved safety and improved user ergonomics are disclosed. A disclosed example cigarette-making machine of the tobacco-injecting type includes a faceted handgrip that projects upward from a top surface of the machine and partially encloses a pivot axis of an actuator. The faceted handgrip being configured to enable a user to apply a counter-rotational force to the machine to prevent the machine from sliding on a surface as the actuator is operated. In a disclosed embodiment, the faceted handgrip includes a knob having a plurality of facets and a semi-circular riser integrally formed between the knob and the top surface, an axis of the knob substantially coinciding with the pivot axis of the actuator. The semi-circular riser may circularly extend around or partially enclose an end of a shaft and a nut that couples an end of the actuator to the shaft.
Related Terms: Ergonomics

Browse recent Republic Tobacco L.p. patents - Glenview, IL, US
Inventor: Mei Lin
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120312311 - Class: 131 70 (USPTO) - 12/13/12 - Class 131 
Tobacco > Cigar Or Cigarette Making >Wrapping Devices >Tube Filling Type

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120312311, Cigarette-making machines and methods of using the same.

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FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

This disclosure pertains generally to injector-type cigarette-making machines, and, more particularly, to improved injector-type cigarette-making machines and methods of using the same.

BACKGROUND

Injector-type cigarette-making machines are well known. U.S. Pat. No. 2,731,971, to Kastner for “Cigarette Making Machine,” issued Jan. 24, 1956, describes a cigarette-making machine for domestic use that compresses a portion of loose tobacco equivalent to one cigarette and then injects the compressed tobacco into a pre-formed cigarette tube by means of a plunger. The pre-formed empty cigarette tube is held at one end of a hollow nipple of the cigarette-making machine during the injection of the portion of tobacco. Once the compressed tobacco is fully injected into the pre-formed cigarette tube, it is released from the cigarette-making machine to be smoked or stored for later smoking thereof.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,127,900 to Kastner for “Cigarette Machine,” issued Apr. 7, 1964, U.S. Pat. No. 4,411,278 to Kastner for “Cigarette Making Machine,” issued Oct. 25, 1983, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,557,560 to Kastner for “Cigarette Making Machine,” issued May 6, 2003 provide various improvements to the cigarette-making machine described in U.S. Pat. No. 2,731,971. For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 3,127,900 describes modifications to the above-described cigarette-making machine to adapt it for making cigarettes with pre-formed cigarette tubes having a filter. U.S. Pat. No. 4,411,278 describes a cigarette-making machine of the same general type as discussed above, but providing a new manufacturing method for substantially reducing the cost of production of the prior devices. All of the foregoing patents are expired. While the aforementioned patents provide various useful improvements for injector-type machines, which have achieved substantial commercial success, such machines still have problems that have remained unsolved until now.

SUMMARY

Cigarette-making machines that provide improved safety and improved user ergonomics are disclosed. A disclosed example cigarette-making machine of the tobacco-injecting type includes a faceted handgrip to improve safety and ergonomics. The faceted handgrip projects upward from a top surface of the machine and partially encloses a pivot axis of an actuator of the machine. The faceted handgrip is configured to enable the user to apply a counter-rotational force to prevent the machine from sliding or rotating on a surface as the actuator is operated. In a disclosed embodiment, the faceted handgrip includes a knob having a plurality of facets, and a semi-circular riser integrally formed between the knob and the top surface. An axis of the knob may substantially coincide with the pivot axis of the actuator. The semi-circular riser circularly extends around or partially encloses an end of a shaft and a nut that couples an end of the actuator to the shaft. In another aspect, methods of using an improved cigarette-making machine are disclosed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a prior-art injector-type cigarette-making machine.

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of an improved injector-type cigarette-making machine according to a disclosed embodiment.

FIG. 3 shows an example method of using the embodiment of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 shows a top plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 2.

FIGS. 5-8 shows a front elevation view, a side elevation view, a back elevation view and an opposite side elevation view, respectively, of the embodiment of FIG. 2.

FIG. 9 shows a bottom view of the embodiment of FIG. 2, partially illustrating internal components.

FIG. 10 is a cross-section view of the embodiment of FIG. 2 taken along line 300-300 of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Use of existing cigarette-making machines occasionally results in injury to a user of the machine, particularly users that fail to familiarize themselves with operation of the machine, fail to fully read the operating instructions, fail to fully read safety instructions, or to fail to heed warnings provided therein. Referring now to FIG. 1, which illustrates use of a machine as illustrated in FIG. 8 of U.S. Pat. No. 3,127,900, the cigarette-making machine 10 presents two potential hazards during use to such users. After filling a compacting chamber 12, in which a compacting member 14 moves, with a quantity of tobacco, a user grasps the ejector handle 16, which is oriented at the starting position, with a first hand. The user may then place his or her other hand on the machine 10 to exert a downward force thereon for preventing the machine 10 from sliding on a surface during clockwise rotation of the ejector handle 16. As shown, some users incorrectly positions his or her hand on a corner of the machine 10 proximate the compacting chamber 12 and a hollow nipple 18, through which an injector spoon (not shown) projects. In the illustrated hand position, the user may be subject to a pinching injury from the compacting member 14 and/or a laceration-type injury from the injector spoon. To this end, cigarette-making machines of the injector type are sold or otherwise provided with warnings such as stickers or decals placed on the machine, and operating instructions for educating and alerting inexperienced users as to proper machine operation.

While warnings have been generally effective in substantially reducing user injuries, the warnings have caused many users to operate the machines improperly, resulting in broken or otherwise malfunctioning machines. In particular, some users noticing the warnings may tend to overcautiously operate the machine. For example, users may operate the machine solely with a hand on the ejector handle 16. These overcautious users may rotate the handle 16 clockwise while exerting a downward force on the handle 16 to prevent the machine 10 from sliding on a surface during clockwise rotation of the ejector handle 16. While exerting the downward force on the handle 16 does prevent the machine 10 from sliding, the downward force undesirably causes additional wear and tear on the machine components (e.g., rotating shaft, shaft bushing, linkage assembly, etc.) that couple the handle 16 with the compacting member 14. Many manufacturers of cigarette-making machines offer a warranty for repairing/replacing damaged machines at no cost to the user, which results in lost revenue. To this end, it is desirable to provide a machine that improves ergonomics, improves user safety and reduces improper machine operation. Example injector-type cigarette-making machines that overcome at least these deficiencies are disclosed herein.

FIGS. 2-8 illustrate a disclosed embodiment of an improved cigarette-making machine 100 of the injector-type where a supply of tobacco for a single cigarette is compacted within a compacting chamber and is then injected into a preformed paper cigarette tube by means of an injector. The example machine 100 includes a generally rectangular-shaped housing that includes an upper portion 110 and a lower portion 130. The upper and lower portions 110, 130 may be made of any suitable material such as metal, plastic, etc. The upper portion 110 includes a generally planar top surface 112 and front, rear, right and left sides 114, 116, 118, 120, respectively, depending downward and generally perpendicular to the top surface 112. The lower portion 130, as shown, also includes front, rear, right and left sides 132, 134, 136, 138 depending downward and obliquely outward from the front, rear, right and left sides 114, 116, 118, 120, respectively. As such, the top surface 112 and sides 114-120 of the upper portion 110 and sides 132-138 of the lower portion 130 define an internal cavity for housing moving component parts (e.g., linkage assembly, cam, operating arm, injector, etc.) of the machine 100. Component parts of the machine 100 are well known (see, for example, the patents discussed hereinabove) and, therefore, are not discussed here in detail for brevity. As shown, the lower portion 130 may include a base 102 that may be removably attached to a bottom of the lower portion 130 for the purpose of providing access to the moving component parts to facilitate cleaning, maintenance, repair, etc. The base 102 may be made of any suitable material, but it is preferred that the base 102 be a non-skid material such as rubber or the like to reduce movement (e.g., sliding) of the machine 100 on a surface during use.

As further shown in FIGS. 2-4, the top surface 112 includes an aperture 142 defining an opening to a compacting chamber (not shown) in which a compacting member 144 translates to compress a quantity of tobacco that is disposed in the chamber 140. The machine 100 includes on the left side 120 of the upper portion 110 proximate the front side 114 a hollow nipple 146 in communication with the compacting chamber 140. Furthermore, a clamp member 148 is configured proximate the nipple 146. As is known, a compressed, generally cylindrical tobacco portion is moved from the compacting chamber 140 by an injector (FIG. 9, 230) through the hollow nipple 146 and into a paper cigarette tube disposed on the nipple 146. The clamp member 148 cooperates with the nipple 146 to retain the prefabricated paper cigarette tube on the nipple 146 during tobacco insertion. The machine 100, as shown, also includes on the top surface 112 an actuator 150 and a faceted handgrip 160. The actuator 150 can be rotated through an angle of approximately 180 degrees in a plane above the top surface 112 to drive the internal component parts that, among other things, couple the actuator 150 with the compacting member 144.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, the actuator 150 may be moved in an arcuate path (i.e., moved or rotated about a pivot axis) from a starting orientation (i.e., projecting generally rearward and rightward), which is indicated in FIG. 2 by a dashed-line representation labeled “S”, to a compacting orientation (i.e., projecting generally rightward and slightly forward), which is indicated by a solid-line representation labeled “C”, and then to an ejecting orientation (i.e., projecting generally forward and slightly leftward), which is indicated by a dashed-line representation labeled “I”. When the actuator 150 is in the starting orientation S, the compacting member 144 is fully retracted (i.e., translated rearward) to permit loading of the compacting chamber 140 with tobacco. As the actuator 150 is rotated from the starting orientation S to the compacting orientation C, the compacting member 144 moves forward (i.e., toward the front side 114) to compress the tobacco in the compacting chamber 140. As the actuator 150 is further rotated from the compacting orientation C to the injecting orientation I, the compacting member 144 remains generally stationary and an injector (not shown) translates leftward through the compacting chamber 140 and hollow nipple 146 to move the compressed tobacco into the paper cigarette tube disposed on the nipple 146. By moving the actuator 150 from the injecting position I in an opposite (i.e., counterclockwise) direction, the injector is retracted into the internal cavity so that the completed cigarette may be removed from the nipple 146, and the compacting member 144 is translated rearward to ready the machine 100 for making another cigarette.

One can appreciate that, despite the presence of the optional slip-minimizing (e.g., rubber) base 102, the machine 100 may still undesirably move on a surface during rotation of the actuator 150. To this end, the faceted handgrip 160 is provided so that a user can grip the faceted handgrip 160 as shown in FIG. 2 to apply a counter-rotational force to the machine 100 to substantially obviate or reduce rotational movement of the machine 100 during cigarette-making without causing damage to the machine 100 (e.g., the shaft bushing 152 of FIG. 5, the internal component parts, etc.), which generally occurs if a downward force were applied to the actuator 150. Furthermore, the faceted handgrip 160 is configured on the top surface 112 to provide improved ergonomics to a user of the machine 100. Moreover, the faceted handgrip 160 provides a convenient means to carry and transport the machine 100.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120312311 A1
Publish Date
12/13/2012
Document #
13157517
File Date
06/10/2011
USPTO Class
131 70
Other USPTO Classes
131280
International Class
/
Drawings
8


Ergonomics


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