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1. CA2599840 - APPARATUSES AND METHODS

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CLAIMS
1. Apparatus, comprising carousel means (5), operating devices (4; 29; 58) associated with said carousel means and arranged for interacting with objects (16; 28; 40) and conveying units (170) supported by said carousel means (5) and movable in relation to said carousel means (5) to transfer said objects (16; 28; 40), characterised in that each of said conveying units (170) supports a plurality of said operating devices (4; 29; 58).
2. Apparatus according to claim 1, and further comprising driving means arranged for rotating continuously said carousel means (5).
3. Apparatus according to claim 1, and further comprising driving means arranged for angularly indexing said carousel means (5).
4. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein said conveying units (170) comprise carousels (6) rotatably supported on said carousel means (5).
5. Apparatus according to claim 4, wherein said carousels (6) are arranged curcumferentially on said carousel means (5).
6. Apparatus according to claim 4, or 5, wherein said carousels (6) are arranged in a peripheral zone of said carousel means (5).
7. Apparatus according to any one of claims 4 to 6, wherein said carousels (6) are positioned on said carousel means (5) at substantially constant angular intervals.
8. Apparatus according to any one of claims 4 to 7, and further comprising further driving means arranged for rotating continuously said carousels (6).
9. Apparatus according to any one of claims 4 to 7, and further comprising further driving means arranged for angularly indexing said carousels (6).
10. Apparatus according to any one of claims 4 to 9,
wherein said carousels (6) are arranged substantially parallel to said carousel means (5).
11. Apparatus according to any one of claims 4 to 9, wherein said carousels (6) are arranged substantially transversely in relation to said carousel means (5).
12. Apparatus according to claim 11, wherein said carousels (6) are arranged substantially radially in relation to said carousel means (5).
13. Apparatus according to any one of claims 4 to 12, wherein said operating devices (4; 29; 58) are arranged circumferentially on each of said carousels (6).
14. Apparatus according to any one of claims 4 to 12, wherein said operating devices (4; 29; 58) are arranged in a peripheral zone of each of said carousels (6).
15. Apparatus according to any one of claims 4 to 12, wherein said operating devices (4; 29; 58) are positioned on said carousels (6) at substantially constant angular intervals.
16. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein said conveying units (170) comprise loop conveying units (171).
17. Apparatus according to claim 16, wherein said loop conveying units (171) comprise flexible loop elements (172) movable in relation to said carousel means (5) and arranged for receiving said objects (16; 28; 40).
18. Apparatus according to claim 16, or 17, wherein said loop conveying units (171) are arranged circumferentially on said carousel means (5).
19. Apparatus according to any one of claims 16 to 18, wherein said loop conveying units (171) are positioned on said carousel means (5) at substantially constant angular intervals.
20. Apparatus according to any one of claims 16 to 19, and further comprising still further driving means arranged for driving continuously said loop conveying units (171).
21. Apparatus according to any one of claims 16 to 19, and further comprising still further driving means arranged for indexing said loop conveying units (171).
22. Apparatus according to claim 17, or according to any one of claims 18 to 21 as appended to claim 17, wherein said flexible loop elements (172) extend between a peripheral region (175) of said carousel means (5) and a central region (176) of said carousel means (5).
23. Apparatus according to claim 22, wherein said flexible loop elements (172) extend substantially parallel to said carousel means (5).
24. Apparatus according to claim 17, or according to any one of claims 18 to 21 as appended to claim 17, wherein said flexible loop elements (172) comprise a portion nearer to said carousel means (5) and a portion farther from said carousel means (5).
25. Apparatus according to claim 24, wherein said flexible loop elements (172) extend transversely in relation to said carousel means (5).
26. Apparatus according to claim 25, wherein said flexible loop elements (102) extend substantially perpendicularly in relation to said carousel means (11).
27. Apparatus according to any one of claims 16 to 26, wherein said operating devices (4; 29; 58) are positioned on said loop conveying units (101) at substantially constant intervals.
28. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 27 and further comprising moving means (22; 8) arranged for transferring said objects (16; 28; 40) to, and/or removing said objects (16; 28; 40) from, said carousel means (5).
29. Apparatus according to claim 28, wherein said moving means comprises flexible moving means (22).
30. Apparatus according to claim 29, wherein said flexible moving means (22) comprises a flexible moving element
(10) provided with containing portions (11) that is arranged for receiving said objects (16; 28; 40) and for transferring said objects (16; 28; 40) to said conveying units (170) and/or removing said objects (16; 28; 40) from said conveying units (170).
31. Apparatus according to claim 30, wherein said flexible moving element (10) comprises a branch (43) that is partially wound around a cylindrical surface (K) concentric with rotation axis means (B) of said carousel means (5).
32. Apparatus according to claim 31, wherein said branch (43) extends along a portion of a trajectory travelled by said operating devices (4; 29; 58).
33. Apparatus according to any one of claims 30 to 32, wherein said containing portions (11) are substantially angularly equidistant from one another.
34. Apparatus according to any one of claims 30 to 33, wherein said flexible moving means (22) comprises a first discoidal element (9') and a second discoidal element (9") on which is partially wound said flexible moving element (10).
35. Apparatus according to claim 34, wherein said first discoidal element (9') and said second discoidal element (9") are rotatable around respective rotation axes (E).
36. Apparatus according to claim 34, or 35, wherein said first discoidal element (9') and said second discoidal element (9") are arranged so as to partially overlap a peripheral zone of said carousel means (5) to interact with said conveying units (170).
37. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 36, and further comprising receiving means (15) cooperating with said conveying units (170) and arranged peripherally on said carousel means (5).
38. Apparatus according to claim 37, wherein said receiving means (15) is arranged at substantially constant
angular intervals.
39. Apparatus according to claim 37, or 38, wherein said receiving means comprises a plurality of receiving elements (15), said receiving elements (15) being more numerous than said conveying units (170).
40. Apparatus according to claim 39, wherein the number of said receiving elements (15) is the same as the number of said conveying units (170) multiplied by the number of supplying devices (8) arranged for supplying said objects (40) to said conveying units (170).
41. Apparatus according to any one of claims 37 to 40, wherein with each conveying unit (170) an arm element is associated (17) arranged for moving said objects (16; 28) between said conveying unit (170) and said receiving means (15).
42. Apparatus according to claim 41, wherein each arm element (17) is connected to a peripheral edge portion (14) of said carousel means (5).
43. Apparatus according to claim 41, or 42, wherein said arm elements (17) are rotatably supported on said carousel means (5).
44. Apparatus according to claim 43, wherein said arm elements (17) can be rotated around respective moving axes (F), between a position in which said arm elements (17) are oriented towards said conveying units (170) in a direction that is substantially radial in relation to said carousel means (5), and a position in which said arm elements (17) are oriented in a direction that is tangential in relation to said carousel means (5).
45. Apparatus according to any one of claims 41 to 44, wherein said arm elements (17) are extendible and retractable parallel to a longitudinal axis thereof.
46. Apparatus according to claim 45, wherein said arm elements (17) are movable, substantially tangentially in relation to said carousel means (5) towards, and away from, said receiving means (15).
47. Apparatus according to claim 45, or 46, wherein said arm elements (17) are radially movable in relation to said carousel means (5) towards, and away from, said conveying units (170).
48. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 47, and further comprising moving wheel means (34) arranged for transferring said objects (16; 28; 40) between conveying means (33) and said carousel means (5).
49. Apparatus according to claim 48, wherein said moving wheel means (34) comprises removing arm means (35) that is movable between a removing position, in which said removing arm means (35) interacts with said conveying means (33), and an unloading position, in which said removing arm means (35) interacts with said conveying units (170).
50. Apparatus according to claim 49, wherein said removing arm means (35) comprises a plurality of removing arms (35).
51. Apparatus according to claim 50, wherein said removing arms (35) is radially movable in relation to a rotation axis (R) of said moving wheel means (34).
52. Apparatus according to claim 50, or 51, wherein said removing arms (35) comprise guiding means (36) engaged in groove means (37) that defines a cam profile.
53. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 52, wherein said operating devices comprise mould means (4).
54. Apparatus according to claim 53, wherein said mould means comprises moulds (4) for compression moulding of plastics.
55. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 52, and further comprising filling means for filling said objects with a product, whereas said objects are supported by said operating devices.
56. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 52, and further comprising sealing means for sealing said
objects, whereas said objects are supported by said operating devices.
57. Apparatus according to claim 56, wherein said sealing means comprises closing means arranged for associating a cap with an opening of a container.
58. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 52, and further comprising applying means for applying labels to said objects, while said objects are supported by said operating devices.
59. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 52, and further comprising decorating means arranged for decorating said objects, while said objects are supported by said operating devices.
60. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 52, wherein said operating devices comprise moulds for injection-compression moulding.
61. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 52, wherein said operating devices comprises moulds (58) for blow-moulding preforms (28) made of plastics.
62. Apparatus, comprising rotatable carousel means (5), operating means (4; 29; 58) associated with said carousel means (5) and arranged for interacting with objects (16; 28; 40) and moving means arranged for transferring said objects (16; 28; 40) to, and/or removing said objects (16; 28; 40) from, said carousel means (5), said moving means comprising flexible moving means (22), said flexible moving means (22) comprising a flexible moving element (10) provided with containing portions (11) that are arranged for receiving said objects (16; 28; 40) and for transferring said objects (16; 28; 40) to said carousel means (5) and/or removing said objects (16; 2B; 40) from said carousel means (5), said flexible moving element (10) comprising a branch (43) that is partially wound around a cylindrical surface (K) concentric with rotation axis means (B) of said carousel means (5).
63. Apparatus according to claim 62, wherein said branch (43) extends along a portion of the trajectory travelled by said operating means (4; 29; 58).
64. Apparatus according to claim 62, or 63, wherein said containing portions (11) are substantially angularly equidistant from one another.
65. Apparatus according to any one of claims 62 to 64, wherein said flexible moving means (22) comprises a first discoidal element (9') and a second discoidal element (9") on which is partially wound said flexible moving element (10).
66. Apparatus according to claim 65, wherein said first discoidal element (9') and said second discoidal element (9") are rotatable around respective rotation axes (E).
67. Apparatus according to claim 65, or 66, wherein said first discoidal element (9') and said second discoidal element (9") are arranged so as to partially overlap a peripheral zone of said carousel means (5) to interact with said operating means (4; 29; 58).
68. Apparatus according to any one of claims 62 to 67, and further comprising a plurality of conveying units (170) associated with said carousel means (5) and movable in relation to said carousel means (5), said operating means being positioned on said conveying units (170).
69. Apparatus according to claim 68, and further comprising receiving means (15) cooperating with said conveying units (170) and arranged peripherally on said carousel means (5).
70. Apparatus according to claim 69, wherein said receiving means (15) is arranged at substantially constant angular intervals.
71. Apparatus according to claim 69, or 70, wherein said receiving means comprises a plurality of receiving elements (15), said receiving elements (15) being more numerous than said conveying units (170).
72. Apparatus according to claim 71, wherein the number of said receiving elements (15) is the same as the number of said conveying units (170) multiplied by the number of supplying devices (8) arranged for supplying said objects (40) to said conveying units (170).
73. Apparatus according to any one of claims 68 to 72, wherein with each conveying unit (170) an arm element is associated (17) arranged for moving said objects (16; 28) between said conveying unit (170) and said receiving means (15).
74. Apparatus according to claim 73, wherein each arm element (17) is connected to a peripheral edge portion (14) of said carousel means (5).
75. Apparatus according to claim 73, or 74, wherein said arm elements (17) are rotatably supported on said carousel means (5).
76. Apparatus according to claim 75, wherein said arm elements (17) can be rotated around respective moving axes (F), between a position in which said arm elements (17) are oriented towards said conveying units (170) in a direction that is substantially radial in relation to said carousel means (5), and a position in which said arm elements (17) are oriented in a direction that is tangential in relation to said carousel means (5).
77. Apparatus according to any one of claims 73 to 76, wherein said arm elements (17) are extendible and retractable parallel to a longitudinal axis thereof.
78. Apparatus according to claim 77, wherein said arm elements (17) are movable substantially tangentially in relation to said carousel means (5) towards, and away from, said receiving means (15).
79. Apparatus according to claim 77, or 78, wherein said arm elements (17) are radially movable in relation to said carousel means (5) towards, and away from, said conveying units (170).
80. Apparatus according to any one of claims 68 to 79,
wherein said conveying units (170) comprise carousels (6) rotatably supported on said carousel means (5).
81. Apparatus according to any one of claims 68 to 79, wherein said conveying units (170) comprise loop conveying units (171).
82. Apparatus according to claim 81, wherein said loop conveying units (171) comprise flexible loop elements (172).
83. Apparatus, comprising rotatable carousel means (5), operating units (4; 29; 58) associated with said carousel means (5) and arranged for interacting with objects (16; 28; 40), receiving elements (15) associated with said carousel means (5) and arranged for receiving said objects (16; 28; 40) coming from, or directed to, said operating units (4; 29; 58), wherein said receiving elements (15) are more numerous than said operating units (4; 29; 58), characterised in that said,operating units (4, 29; 58) are arranged on said carousel means (5).
84. Apparatus according to claim 83, wherein said receiving elements (15) is arranged peripherally on said carousel means (5).
85. Apparatus according to claim 84, wherein said receiving elements (15) is arranged at substantially constant angular intervals.
86. Apparatus according to any one of claims 83 to 85, wherein the number of said receiving elements (15) is the same as the number of said operating units (4; 29; 58) multiplied by the number of supplying devices (8) arranged for supplying said objects (40) to said carousel means (5).
87. Apparatus according to any one of claims 83 to 86, wherein with each operating unit (4; 29; 58) an arm element is associated (17) arranged for moving said objects (16; 28) between said operating unit (4; 29; 58) and said receiving elements (15).
88. Apparatus according to claim 87, wherein each arm element (17) is connected to a peripheral edge portion (14) of said carousel means (5).
89. Apparatus according to claim 87, or 88, wherein said arm elements (17) are rotatably supported on said carousel means (5).
90. Apparatus according to claim 89, wherein said arm elements (17) can be rotated around respective moving axes (F), between a position in which said arm elements (17) are oriented towards said operating units (4; 29; 58) in a direction that is substantially radial to said carousel means (5), and a position in which said arm elements (17) are oriented in a direction that is tangential to said carousel means (5).
91. Apparatus according to any one of claims 87 to 90, wherein said arm elements (17) are extendible and retractable parallel to a longitudinal axis thereof.
92. Apparatus according to claim 91, wherein said arm elements (17) are movable substantially tangentially in relation to said carousel means (5) towards, and away from, said receiving means (15).
93. Apparatus according to claim 91, or 92, wherein said arm elements (17) are radially movable in relation to said carousel means (5) towards, and away from, said operating units (4; 29; 58).
94. Apparatus according to any one of claims 83 to 93, wherein said operating units comprise a plurality of conveying units (170) associated with said carousel means (5) and movable in relation to said carousel means (5), on each conveying unit (170) operating means (4; 29; 58) being positioned arranged for interacting with said objects (16; 28; 40).
95. Apparatus according to any one of claims 83 to 94, and further comprising moving means (22; 8) arranged for transferring said objects (16; 28; 40) to, and/or removing said objects (16; 28; 40) from, said carousel
means (5).
96. Apparatus according to claim 95, wherein said moving means comprises flexible moving means (22).
91. Apparatus according to claim 96, wherein said flexible moving means (22) comprises a flexible moving element (10) provided with containing portions (11) that is arranged for receiving said objects (16; 28; 40) and for transferring said objects (16; 28; 40) to said carousel means (5) and/or removing said objects (16; 28; 40) from said carousel means (5).
98. Apparatus according to claim 97, wherein said flexible moving element (10) comprises a branch (43) that is partially wound around a cylindrical surface (K) concentric with rotation axis means (B) of said carousel means (5).
99. Apparatus according to claim 98, wherein said branch (43) extends along a portion of the trajectory travelled from said operating units (4; 29; 58).
100. Apparatus according to any one of claims 97 to 99, wherein said containing portions (11) are substantially angularly equidistant from one another.
101. Apparatus according to any one of claims 97 to 100, wherein said flexible moving means (22) comprises a first discoidal element (9') and a second discoidal element (9") on which is partially wound said flexible moving element (10).
102. Apparatus according to claim 101, wherein said first discoidal element (9') and said second discoidal element (9") can be rotated around respective rotation axes (E).
103. Apparatus according to claim 101, or 102, wherein said first discoidal element (9') and said second discoidal element (9") are arranged so as to partially overlap a peripheral zone of said carousel means (5) to interact with said operating units (4; 29; 58).
104. Apparatus according to claim 94, or according to any
one of claims 95 to 103 as appended to claim 94, wherein said conveying units (170) comprise carousels (6) rotatably supported on said carousel means (5).
105. Apparatus according to claim 94, or according to any one of claims 95 to 103 as appended to claim 94, wherein said conveying units (170) comprise loop conveying units (171).
106. Apparatus according to claim 105, wherein said loop conveying units (171) comprise flexible loop elements (172).
107. Apparatus, comprising rotatable carousel means (5), operating means (4; 29; 58) associated with said carousel means (5) and arranged for interacting with objects (16; 28; 40), actuating means (72) arranged for moving said operating means (4; 29; 58) between an open position (X) and a closed position (Y), maintaining means (74; 157) arranged for maintaining said operating means (4; 29; 58) in said closed position (Y), said actuating means comprising a linear actuator (72) shaped in such a way as to act along a longitudinal axis (Z) of said operating means (4; 29; 58), characterised in that said maintaining means (74; 157) is distinct from said actuating means (72).
108. Apparatus according to claim 107, wherein said actuating means (72) comprises electromechanical actuating means.
109. Apparatus according to claim 107, wherein said actuating means (72) comprises hydraulic cylinder means.
110. Apparatus according to claim 107, wherein said actuating means (72) comprises pneumatic cylinder means.
111. Apparatus according to any one of claims 107 to 110, wherein said maintaining means comprises track means (74) suitable for interacting with a movable element (69, 71) of said operating means (4; 29; 58).
112. Apparatus according to any one of claims 107 to 110, wherein said maintaining means comprises latch means (157) movable between a rest configuration (W1), in which said latch means (157) enables said operating means (4) to be shifted between said open position (X) and said closed position (Y), and an operational configuration in which said latch means (157) interacts with a movable part (4a) of said operating means (4) for maintaining said operating means (4) in said closed configuration (Y).
113. Apparatus according to any one of claims 107 to 110, wherein said maintaining means comprises pneumatic maintaining means.
114. Apparatus according to claim 113, wherein said pneumatic maintaining means comprises chamber means (160) inside which a movable part (4a) of said operating means (4) is slidable.
115. Apparatus according to claim 114, wherein said pneumatic maintaining means further comprises dispensing means (162) arranged for dispensing pressurised fluid into said chamber means (160).
116. Apparatus according to claim 115, and further comprising evacuating means (162) arranged for evacuating said pressurised fluid from said chamber means (160).
117. Apparatus according to any one of claims 113 to 116, and further comprising elastic means arranged for promoting the shift of said operating means (5) from said closed position (Y) to said open position (X).
118. Apparatus according to any one of claims 107 to 117, and further comprising a plurality of conveying units (170) rotatably supported by said carousel means (5), said operating means (4; 29; 58) being positioned on said conveying units (170).
119. Apparatus according to claim 118, wherein said conveying units (170) are arranged circumferentially on
said carousel means (5).
120. Apparatus according to claim 118, or 119, wherein said conveying units (170) are arranged in a peripheral zone of said carousel means (5).
121. Apparatus according to any one of claims 118 to 120, wherein each conveying unit (170) comprises a plurality of operating elements (4; 29; 58) of said operating means.
122. Apparatus according to claim 121, wherein said operating elements (4; 29; 58) are arranged circumferentially on each of said conveying units (170).
123. Apparatus according to any one of claims 107 to 122, wherein said actuating means (72) are positioned on said carousel means (5).
124. Apparatus according to any one of claims 118 to 122, wherein said actuating means (72) is arranged in a fixed position in relation to said conveying units (170).
125. Apparatus according to any one of claims 118 to 122, or according to claim 123 as appended to any one of claims 118 to 122, or according to claim 124, wherein said actuating means comprises a plurality of actuating elements (72), each actuating element (72) of said plurality of actuating elements being associated with a corresponding conveying unit (170) of said plurality of conveying units.
126. Apparatus according to claim 125, wherein each actuating element (72) successively drives the operating elements (4; 29; 58) positioned on a conveying unit (170) corresponding thereto.
127. Apparatus according to any one of claims 107 to 122, wherein said actuating means (72) is arranged in a fixed position in relation to said carousel means (5).
128. Apparatus according to claim 127, wherein said actuating means (72) comprises a first actuating
element and a second actuating element arranged in such a way as to interact with zones of said carousel means (5) that are separated from one another by an angular interval of preset amplitude.
129. Apparatus according to any one of claims 118 to 122, or according to any one of claims 123 to 128 as appended to any one of claims 118 to 122, wherein said conveying units (170) comprise carousels (6) rotatably supported on said carousel means (5).
130. Apparatus according to any one of claims 118 to 122, or according to any one of claims 123 to 128 as appended to any one of claims 118 to 122, wherein said conveying units (170) comprise loop conveying units (171).
131. Apparatus according to claim 130, wherein said loop conveying units (171) comprise flexible loop elements (172).
132. Apparatus, comprising carousel means (5), conveying unit means (170) supported by said carousel means (5) and movable in relation to said carousel means (5) to transfer objects (16; 28; 40) and driving means arranged for moving said conveying unit means (170) in relation to said carousel means (5), characterised in that said driving means comprises cam driving means (250) which drives rotationally said conveying unit means (170) with respect to said carousel means (5).
133. Apparatus according to claim 132, wherein said cam driving means comprises a cam element (259) arranged in a fixed position in relation to said carousel means (5) and moving means (258) associated with said carousel (5) and cooperating with said cam element (259).
134. Apparatus according to claim 133, wherein said moving means comprises rolling means (258) that engages said cam element (259).
135. Apparatus according to claim 133, or 134, wherein said moving means (258) is fixed to arm means (272) that is rotatably supported on said carousel means (5) and
arranged for rotating driving shaft means (251) of said conveying unit means (170).
136. Apparatus according to claim 135, wherein said arm means (252) comprises pivot means (255) arranged for removably connecting said arm means (272) to said driving shaft means (251).
137. Apparatus according to claim 136, and further comprising controlling means (263) arranged for moving said pivot means (255) between a first operating position (Z1), in which said pivot means connect said arm means (272) to said driving shaft means (251), and a second operating position, in which said pivot means (255) does not interact with said driving shaft means (251).
138. Apparatus according to claim 137, wherein said driving shaft means (251) comprises disc means (253) provided with slot means (254) arranged for receiving said pivot means (255), when said pivot means (255) is in said first operating position (Z1).
139. Apparatus according to claim 138, wherein said slot means comprises a plurality of slots (254) arranged peripherally on said disc means (253).
140. Apparatus according to any one of claims 137 to 139, wherein said controlling means (263) comprises a further cam element (279) arranged in a fixed position in relation to said carousel means (5) and further moving means (278) associated with said carousel (5) and cooperating with said further cam element (278).
141. Apparatus according to claim 140, wherein said further moving means comprises further rolling means (278) that engages said cam element (279).
142. Apparatus according to claim 140, or 141, wherein said controlling means (263) comprises lever means (264) that supports said further moving means (278).
143. Apparatus according to claim 142, wherein said lever means (264) comprises an end (267) arranged for being
received in cavity means (274) obtained in supporting body means (256) from which said arm means (272) protrude.
144. Apparatus according to claim 138, or 139, or according to any one of claims 140 to 143 as appended to claim 138, or 139, wherein on said disc means (253) rolling means (284) is rotatably supported that cooperates with track means (285), arranged in a fixed position in relation to said carousel means (5) to prevent said shaft means (251) from rotating, when said pivot means (255) is in said second operating position.
145. Apparatus according to any one of claims 133 to 144, wherein said cam element (259) comprises a loop groove (286).
146. Apparatus according to any one of claims 133 to 145, wherein said cam element (259) comprises an active cam portion (281) shaped in such a way as to cause said arm means (272) to rotate in relation to said carousel means (5) in a rotating direction (Q1) when said moving means (258) engages said active cam portion (281).
147. Apparatus according to claim 146, wherein said active cam portion (281) is shaped in such a way that said rotating direction (Q1) is opposite a further rotating direction in which said carousel means (5) rotates.
148. Apparatus according to claim 146, or 147, wherein said cam element (259) comprises a further active cam portion (282) shaped in such a way as to cause said arm means (272) to rotate in relation to said carousel means (5) in a still further rotating direction, opposite said rotating direction (Q1), when said moving means (258) engages said further active cam portion (281).
149. Apparatus according to claim 148, wherein between said active cam portion (281) and said further active cam portion (282) connecting portions (287) are provided that are shaped as arcs of a circumference.
150. Apparatus according to claim 149, wherein rotation axis means (B) of said carousel means (5) substantially pass through the centre of said circumference.
151. Apparatus according to any one of claims 132 to 150, and further comprising conveying means (34) arranged for removing said objects (16; 28; 40) from, and/or delivering said objects (16; 28; 40) to, said conveying unit means (170).
152. Apparatus according to claim 151 as appended to any one of claims 146 to 150, wherein said active cam portion (281) is positioned near a zone (290) of said apparatus in which said carousel means (5) interacts with said conveying means (34).
153. Apparatus according to any one of claims 132 to 152, and further comprising controlling means arranged for rotating continuously said carousel means (5).
154. Apparatus according to any one of claims 132 to 152, and further comprising controlling means arranged for angularly indexing said carousel means (11).
155. Apparatus according to any one of claims 132 to 154, wherein said conveying unit means comprises further carousel means (6).
156. Apparatus according to claim 155, wherein said further carousel means comprises a plurality of carousels (6).
157. Apparatus according to claim 156, wherein said carousels (6) are arranged circumferentially on said carousel means (5).
158. Apparatus according to claim 156, or 157, wherein said carousels (6) are arranged in a peripheral zone of said carousel means (5).
159. Apparatus according to any one of claims 156 to 158, wherein said carousels (6) are positioned on said carousel means (5) at substantially constant angular intervals.
160. Apparatus according to any one of claims 156 to 159, wherein said carousels (6) are arranged substantially
parallel to said carousel means (5).
161. Apparatus according to any one of claims 158 to 159, wherein said carousels (6) are arranged substantially transversely to said carousel means (5).
162. Apparatus according to claim 161, wherein said carousels (6) are arranged substantially radially in relation to said carousel means (5).
163. Apparatus according to any one of claims 156 to 162, wherein each of said carousels (6) comprises a plurality of operating devices (4; 29; 58) arranged for interacting with said objects (16; 28; 40).
164. Apparatus according to claim 163, wherein said operating devices (4; 29; 58) are arranged circumferentially on each of said carousels (6).
165. Apparatus according to claim 163, or 164, wherein said operating devices (4; 29; 58) are arranged in a peripheral zone of each of said carousels (6).
166. Apparatus according to any one of claims 163 to 165, wherein said operating devices (4; 29; 58) are positioned on said carousels (6) at substantially constant angular intervals.
167. Apparatus according to any one of claims 132 to 154, wherein said conveying unit means (170) comprises loop conveying unit means (171).
168. Apparatus according to claim 167, wherein said loop conveying unit means comprises a plurality of loop conveying units (171).
169. Apparatus according to claim 168, wherein said loop conveying units (171) comprise flexible loop elements (172) movable in relation to said carousel means (5) and arranged for receiving said objects (16; 28; 40).
170. Apparatus according to claim 168, or 169, wherein said loop conveying units (171) are arranged circumferentially on said carousel means (5).
171. Apparatus according to any one of claims 168 to 170, wherein said loop conveying units (171) are positioned
on said carousel means (5) at substantially constant angular intervals.
172. Apparatus according to claim 169, or according to claim 170, or 171, as appended to claim 169, wherein said flexible loop elements (172) extend between a peripheral region (175) of said carousel means (11) and a central region (176) of said carousel means (5).
173. Apparatus according to claim 172, wherein said flexible loop elements (172) extend substantially parallel to said carousel means (5).
174. Apparatus according to claim 169, or according to claim 170, or 171, as appended to claim 169, wherein said flexible loop elements (172) comprise a portion nearer to said carousel means (5) and a portion farther from said carousel means (5).
175. Apparatus according to claim 174, wherein said flexible loop elements (172) extend transversely in relation to said carousel means (5).
176. Apparatus according to claim 175, wherein said flexible loop elements (172) extend substantially perpendicularly in relation to said carousel means (5).
177. Apparatus according to any one of claims 168 to 176, wherein each of said loop conveying units (171) comprises a plurality of operating devices (4; 29; 58) arranged for interacting with said objects (16; 28; 40).
178. Apparatus according to claim 177, wherein said operating devices (4; 29; 58) are positioned on said loop conveying units (171) at substantially constant intervals.
179. Apparatus, comprising carousel means (217), arm means (35) slidingly coupled with said carousel means (217) and removing means (220) rotatably supported by said arm means (35) and arranged for interacting with objects (16; 28; 40), cam driving means (231, 232) arranged for moving said arm means (35) in relation to
said carousel means (217) and further cam driving means (228, 229) arranged for moving said removing means (220) in relation to said arm means (35), said arm means (35) comprising rod elements (218) overlapping one another, said rod elements (218) comprising a removing element (220) of said removing means associated with an end portion and a further removing element (220) of said removing means associated with a further end portion, opposite said end portion.
180. Apparatus according to claim 179, wherein said rod elements (218) comprises intermediate zones, at which said rod elements (218) overlap one another, and coupling zones, at which said rod elements are slidingly coupled with said carousel means (217).
181. Apparatus according to claim 180, wherein said intermediate zones have a transverse dimension that is smaller than a further transverse dimension of said coupling zones.
182. Apparatus according to claim 181, wherein said rod elements further comprise end zones having a still further transverse dimension that is smaller than said further transverse dimension.
183. Apparatus according to any one of claims 179 to 182, wherein on said rod elements (218) rolling elements (231) of said first cam means are rotatably supported, said rolling elements (231) being suitable for engaging a cam element (232) arranged in a fixed position in relation to said carousel means (217).
184. Apparatus according to any one of claims 179 to 183, wherein said removing means (220) comprises lever means (224) rotatably supported on supporting block means fixed to said rod elements (218).
185. Apparatus according to claim 184, wherein further rolling elements (228) of said further cam means are rotatably supported on said lever means (224), said further rolling elements (228) being suitable for
engaging a further cam element (229) arranged in a fixed position in relation to said carousel means (217).
186. Apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 61 and/or according to any one of claims 62 to 82 and/or according to any one of claims 83 to 106 and/or according to any one of claims 107 to 131 and/or according to any one of claims 132 to 178 and/or according to any one of claims 179 to 185.
187. Method comprising providing a rotatable carousel (5) and rotating said carousel (5), wherein during said rotating arranging an object (16; 28; 40) in a conveying unit (170) is provided, said conveying unit (170) being associated with said carousel (5) and movable in relation to said carousel (5), and further arranging a further object (16; 28; 40) in a further conveying unit (170) is provided, said further conveying unit (110) being associated with said carousel (5) and movable in relation to said carousel (5), said arranging comprising positioning a first object (16; 28; 40) in a first operating element (4; 29; 58) of a plurality of operating elements associated with said conveying unit (170) and said further arranging comprising further positioning a further first object (16; 28; 40) in a further first operating element (4; 29; 58) of a further plurality of operating elements associated with said further conveying unit (170), after said arranging, moving said conveying unit (170) being provided, after said moving associating a second object (16; 28; 40) to a second operating element (4; 29; 58) of said plurality of operating elements being provided.
188. Method according to claim 187, wherein said moving comprises advancing by one step said conveying unit (170).
189. Method according to claim 187, or 188, wherein said
associating occurs after said carousel (5) has made a complete rotation around a rotation axis (B) thereof.
190. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 189, wherein, after said positioning, maintaining said first object (16; 28; 40) in said first operating element (4; 29; 58) is provided while said carousel (5) performs a number of rotations around a rotation axis (B) thereof, said number of rotations being equal to the number of operating elements of said plurality of operating elements.
191. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 190, wherein before said arranging removing an object (16; 28; 40) from said first operating element (4; 29; 58) is provided.
192. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 191, wherein, after said further arranging, further moving said conveying unit (170) is provided.
193. Method according to claim 192, wherein said further moving comprises further advancing by one step said conveying unit (170).
194. Method according to claim 192, or 193, wherein after said further moving further associating a further second object (16; 28; 40) with a further second operating element (4; 29; 58) of said further plurality of operating elements is provided.
195. Method according to claim 194, wherein said further associating occurs after said carousel (5) has finished a complete rotation around a rotation axis (B) thereof.
196. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 195, wherein after said further positioning further maintaining said further first object (16; 28; 40) in said further first operating element (4; 29; 58) is provided while said carousel (5) performs a number of rotations around a rotation axis (B) thereof, said number of rotations being equal to the number of operating elements of said further plurality of
operating elements.
197. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 196, wherein before said further arranging removing an object (16; 28; 40) from said further first operating element (4; 29; 58) is provided.
198. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 197, wherein said rotating comprises rotating in a continuous manner said carousel (5).
199. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 198, wherein said conveying unit (170) and said further conveying unit (170) comprises, respectively, a further carousel (6) and a still further carousel (6) rotatably supported an said carousel (5).
200. Method comprising providing a rotatable carousel (5) that supports a conveying unit (170) that is movable in relation to said carousel (5) and a further conveying unit (170) that is movable in relation to said carousel (5), said conveying unit (170) and said further conveying unit (170) being provided with a plurality of operating units (4; 29; 58) arranged for interacting with objects (16; 28; 40), arranging an object (16; 28; 40) in each operating unit (4; 29; 58) of said conveying unit (170) and subsequently further arranging a further object (16; 28; 40) in each operating unit (4; 29; 58) of said further conveying unit (170).
201. Method according to claim 200, wherein after said arranging and before said further arranging rotating said carousel (5) is provided.
202. Method according to claim 201, wherein said rotating comprises angularly indexing said carousel (5).
203. Method according to any one of claims 200 to 202, wherein, during said arranging, moving said conveying unit (170) is provided.
204. Method according to any one of claims 200 to 203, wherein, during said further arranging, further moving said further conveying unit (170) is provided.
205. Method according to claim 203, or 204, wherein said moving and said further moving comprise moving continuously.
206. Method according to claim 203, or 204, wherein said moving and said further moving comprise indexing.
207. Method according to any one of claims 200 to 206, wherein said conveying unit (170) and said further conveying unit (170) comprise, respectively, a further carousel (6) and a still further carousel (6) that are rotatably supported on said carousel (5).
208. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 207, wherein said arranging and said further arranging comprise distributing to said carousel (5) doses of plastics (40) in pasty state.
209. Method according to claim 208, and further comprising moulding by compression said doses of plastics (40).
210. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 207, wherein said arranging and said further arranging comprise distributing to said carousel (5) objects to be thermally conditioned.
211. Method according to claim 210, wherein said distributing comprises delivering to said carousel (5) preforms (28) of containers, said preforms (28) being made of plastics.
212. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 207, wherein said arranging and said further arranging comprise distributing containers to be filled to said carousel (5).
213. Method according to claim 212, and further comprising filling said containers while said containers are supported by said carousel (5).
214. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 207, wherein said arranging and said further arranging comprise distributing containers to be sealed to said carousel (5).
215. Method according to claim 214, and further comprising
sealing said containers while said containers are supported by said carousel (5).
216. Method according to claim 215, wherein said sealing comprises applying cap means to said containers to close opening means of said containers.
217. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 207, wherein said arranging and said further arranging comprise distributing objects to which labels have to be applied to said carousel (5).
218. Method according to claim 217, and further comprising applying said labels to said objects while said containers are supported by said carousel (5).
219. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 207, wherein said arranging and said further arranging comprise distributing objects to be decorated to said carousel (5).
220. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 207, wherein said arranging and said further arranging comprise supplying to said carousel (5) plastics to be injection-compression moulded.
221. Method according to any one of claims 187 to 207, wherein said arranging and said further arranging comprise distributing preforms of containers to be blow-moulded to said carousel (5).
222. Method, comprising rotating carousel means (5) in a rotating direction (Q), conveying unit means (170) being associated with said carousel means (5), which conveying unit means (170) is movable in relation to said carousel means (5) and is provided with housing means (7) arranged for receiving objects (16; 28; 40), transferring said objects between said housing means (7) and conveying means (34) arranged for conveying said objects, said transferring being provided in a zone (290) wherein said conveying means (34) interacts with said carousel means (5), moving said housing means (7), near to said zone (290), in an advancing direction
(Q) that is substantially opposite said rotating direction (Q1).
223. Method according to claim 222, wherein said moving occurs prevalently upstream of said zone (290) in relation to said rotating direction (Q1).
224. Method according to claim 222, or 223, wherein said moving comprises indexing said conveying unit means (170).
225. Method according to claim 222, or 223, wherein said moving comprises advancing continuously said conveying unit means (170).
226. Method according to any one of claims 222 to 225, wherein said rotating comprises rotating continuously said carousel means (5).
227. Method according to any one of claims 222 to 225, wherein said rotating comprises angularly indexing said carousel means (5).
228. Method according to any one of claims 222 to 227, wherein said conveying unit means (170) comprises further carousel means (6) rotatably supported on said carousel means (5).
229. Method according to claim 228, wherein said moving comprises rotating said further carousel means (6) in relation to said carousel means (5).
230. Method according to claim 229, wherein said advancing direction comprises a further rotating direction (Q1) opposite said rotating direction (Q).
231. Method according to any one of claims 228 to 230, wherein said further carousel means comprises a plurality of carousels (6).
232. Method according to any one of claims 222 to 227, wherein said conveying unit means (170) comprises loop conveying unit means (171).
233. Method according to claim 232, wherein said loop conveying unit means comprises a plurality of loop conveying units (171).
234. Method according to claim 233, wherein said loop conveying units (171) comprise flexible loop elements (172).
235. Method according to any one of claims 222 to 234, wherein said conveying means comprises still further carousel means (34).
236. Method according to claim 235, and further comprising rotating said still further carousel means (34) in a still further rotating direction (S) opposite said rotating direction (Q).
237. Method according to any one of claims 222 to 236, wherein said housing means comprises a plurality of housings (7).
238. Method according to claim 237, wherein said housings are arranged in a peripheral zone of said conveying unit means (170).
239. Method according to claim 237, or 238, wherein said housings (7) are arranged on said conveying unit means (170) at substantially constant intervals.
240. Method according to any one of claims 237 to 239, wherein said carousel means comprises operating devices (4; 29; 58) associated with said housings (7).
241. Method according to claim 240, wherein said operating devices comprise mould means (4).
242. Method according to claim 241, wherein said mould means comprises moulds (4) for compression moulding of plastics.
243. Method according to claim 240, and further comprising filling means for filling said objects with a product, while said objects are supported by said operating devices.
244. Method according to claim 240, and further comprising sealing means for sealing said objects, while said objects are supported by said operating devices.
245. Method according to claim 244, wherein said sealing means comprises closing means arranged for associating
a cap with an opening of a container.
246. Method according to claim 240, and further comprising applying means for applying labels to said objects, while said objects are supported by said operating devices.
247. Method according to claim 240, and further comprising decorating means arranged for decorating said objects, while said objects are supported by said operating devices.
248. Method according to claim 240, wherein said operating devices comprises moulds for injection-compression moulding.
249. Method according to claim 240, wherein said operating devices comprises moulds (58) for blow-moulding preforms (28), said preforms (28) being made of plastics.
250. Method according to claim 240, wherein said operating devices comprise thermal conditioning means (29).
251. Method according to claim 250, wherein said thermal conditioning means comprises devices for cooling preforms (28) of containers, said preforms (28) being made of plastics.