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1. WO1997017855 - SEPARATOR SCREEN AND SCREENING METHOD

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I CLAIM:
1. A separator screen comprising:
(a) a screen body having a cylindrical inner surface, an input end, and an output end, with the direction from the input end to the output end defining a cutting direction;
(b) a plurality of screen openings formed in the screen body, each screen opening having a cross-sectional size sufficient for enabling a material to be separated to pass therethrough from within the area defined by the cylindrical inner surface of the screen body;
(c) an inner portion of each screen opening having a deflecting surface extending at an acute deflecting angle to the inner surface of the screen body; and
(d) the deflecting surface of each screen opening sloping to meet the inner surface of the screen body in the cutting direction.

2. The separator screen of Claim 1 wherein:
(a) each screen opening includes a cylindrical outer portion; and
(b) the inner portion of each screen opening comprises a frustoconical surface which is disposed coaxially with the cylindrical outer portion, the larger end of the frustoconical shaped surface meeting the inner surface of the screen body.

3. The separator screen of Claim 1 wherein:
(a) each screen opemng includes a cylindrical outer portion; and
(b) the inner portion of each screen opening includes a portion of a second cylinder intersecting the screen body, said second cylinder having substantially the same diameter as the cylinder forming the screen opening outer portion, but with a longitudinal axis at said acute deflecting angle with respect to the screen surface and intersecting the center axis of the cylinder forming the screen opening outer portion.

4. The separator screen of Claim 3 wherein the longitudinal axis of the second cylinder lies in a plane extending parallel to the cutting direction.

5. The separator screen of Claim 1 wherein the acute deflecting angle is in a range from approximately 20 degrees to 15 degrees to the inner surface of the screen body.

6. The separator screen of Claim 1 wherein the deflecting surface comprises a convex curved surface.

7. The separator screen of Claim 1 wherein the inner portion comprises a generally frustoconical inner surface with the large end of the frustoconical shape meeting the inner surface of the separator screen and each screen opening further comprises:
(a) a cylindrical outer portion having a longitudinal axis offset from the longitudinal axis of the frustoconically shaped inner surface in a direction opposite to the cutting direction; and
(b) a convex curved surface extending between the inner surface and the surface defining the cylindrical outer portion.

8. The separator screen of Claim 1 wherein the acute deflecting angle is less than approximately 45 degrees to the inner surface of the screen.

9. The separator screen of Claim 2 wherein each screen opening includes a convex curved transition surface extending between the inner portion and outer portion.

10. The separator screen of Claim 3 wherein each screen opening includes a convex curved transition surface extending between the inner portion and outer portion.

11. A method of screening meat products from bone, the method comprising the steps of:
(a) compressing the combined meat products and bone against a screen surface having a plurality of screen openings therethrough for passing meat products therethrough while substantially blocking pieces of bone;
(b) periodically passing a cutting element across the screen surface in a cutting direction to cut meat product fibers at the screen surface; and
(c) deflecting bone pieces out of the screen openings with a deflecting surface extending at an acute deflecting angle to the screen surface in the cutting direction.

12. The method of Claim 11 wherein the step of deflecting bone pieces out of the screen openings comprises:
(a) contacting the bone pieces extending into the screen openings between the cutting element and the deflecting surface.

13. The method of Claim 11 including the step of:
(a) maintaining a cutting edge of the cutting element substantially peφendicular to the cutting direction during the step of passing the cutting element across the screen surface in the cutting direction.

14. In a separator apparatus for separating meat products from hard material, the apparatus having a separator screen with a plurality of screen openings for enabling said meat products to be separated to pass therethrough, and also having a cutting blade which passes over an inner surface of the separator screen in a cutting direction, the improvement comprising: (a) an inner portion of each screen opening having a deflecting surface extending at an acute deflecting angle less than approximately 45 degrees to the inner surface of the screen body; and
(b) the deflecting surface of each screen opening sloping to meet the inner surface of the screen body in the cutting direction for deflecting hard material pieces out of the respective screen opemng as the cutting blade passes said opening.

15. The apparatus of Claim 14 wherein:
(a) each screen opening includes a cylindrical outer portion; and
(b) the inner portion of each screen opening comprises a frustoconical surface which is disposed coaxially with the cylindrical outer portion, the larger end of the frustoconical shaped surface meeting the inner surface of the screen body.

16. The apparatus of Claim 14 wherein:
(a) each screen opening includes a cylindrical outer portion; and
(b) the inner portion of each screen opening includes a portion of a second cylinder intersecting the screen body, said second cylinder having substantially the same diameter as the cylinder forming the screen opening outer portion, but with a longitudinal axis at said acute deflecting angle with respect to the screen surface and intersecting the center axis of the cylinder forming the screen opening outer portion.

17. The apparatus of Claim 16 wherein the longitudinal axis of the second cylinder lies in a plane extending parallel to the cutting direction.

18. The apparatus of Claim 14 wherein the acute deflecting angle is in the range from approximately 20 degrees to 15 degrees to the inner surface of the screen body.

19. The apparatus of Claim 14 further comprising:
(a) a convex curved portion extending between the deflecting surface and an outer portion of the respective screen opening .

20. The apparatus of Claim 14 wherein the deflecting surface comprises a convex curved surface.

21. The apparatus of Claim 14 wherein the inner portion comprises a generally frustoconical inner surface with the large end of the frustoconical shape meeting the inner surface of the separator screen and each screen opening further comprises:
(a) a cylindrical outer portion having a longitudinal axis offset from the longitudinal axis of the frustoconically shaped inner surface in a direction opposite to the cutting direction; and
(b) a convex curved surface extending between the inner surface and the surface defining the cylindrical outer portion.