Posts Tagged ‘food industry’

A Jelly Depositor is a Positive Displacement Pump

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

    Our last blog introduced a project I oversaw while acting as a design engineer in a food manufacturing plant.   The objective was to deposit fruit jelly into raw pastry dough as it whizzed along a production line conveyor belt before being sent off for baking.   A special piece of equipment known as a depositor would be required to meet this challenge, and we’ll take a look at how one functions today.   In fact, a jelly depositor acts very much as a human heart, as they’re both examples of positive displacement pumps.

    A depositor is a device specifically made for the food industry.   It consists of a hopper to hold the product to be deposited, in this case fruit jelly, which is discharged by the hopper into a rotating diverter valve and then on to a positive displacement piston pump.   See below.

A Jelly Depositor is a Positive Displacement Pump

A Jelly Depositor is a Positive Displacement Pump


    When the diverter valve rotates, a passageway opens to allow jelly to flow from the hopper into the piston pump.   A pneumatic actuator, a device we’ll discuss in more depth next time, moves the pump’s piston to the left, away from the diverter valve, which allows the filling to be released into the pump from the hopper.   At the end of the piston’s travel a set quantity of fruit jelly filling is drawn into the pump’s housing, just enough to fill one pastry. See below.

The Depositor Draws Filling Into The Pump

The Depositor Draws Filling Into The Pump


    When the diverter valve rotates in the opposite direction, a passageway opens inside the valve that allows jelly filling to move from the pump to the nozzle.   As the piston moves back toward the diverter valve the filling is forced out of the pump, through the nozzle, and into the pastry dough.   The pump’s piston moves back and forth, that is, away from and then towards the transfer valve, ushering a set quantity of jelly filling through the mechanism each time.   See below.

The Depositor Deposits The Filling

The Depositor Deposits The Filling


    Now that we know how the depositor works, next time we’ll discuss the pneumatic actuator’s role in the filling process.

Copyright 2018 – Philip J. O’Keefe, PE

Engineering Expert Witness Blog



Determining Patent Eligibility – Part 5, Manufactured Articles

Monday, May 6th, 2013

      Imagine having freshly baked pastries available to you all day long, every day, while at work.   I’m not talking about someone bringing in a box of donuts to share, I’m talking about baked goods on a massive scale.   This is what I experienced in one of my design engineering positions within the food industry.   These baked goods constituted the articles of manufacture of the food plant, and they presented a constant temptation to me.

engineering expert witness food manufacturing

      Just what constitutes an article of manufacture is another aspect of the second hurtle which must be passed to determine patent eligibility.   It is addressed under federal statutes governing the same, 35 USC § 101, and is contained within the same area as the discussion of what constitutes a machine, a subject we took up previously in this series.

      Why bother defining articles of manufacture?   Well, while hearing the patent case of Diamond v. Chakrabarty regarding genetically engineered bacterium capable of eating crude oil, the US Supreme Court saw fit to define the term so as to resolve a conflict between the inventor and the patent office as to whether a living organism could be patented.

      The net result was the Court declared that in order to be deemed a patentable article of manufacture the object must be produced from either raw or man-made materials by either hand labor or machinery and must take on “new forms, qualities, properties, or combinations” that would not naturally occur without human intervention.   In other words, a creation process must take place and something which did not previously exist must be caused to exist.

      The court’s definition of articles of manufacture encompasses an incredible array of products, much too vast to enumerate here.   Suffice it to say that the defining characteristic is that if it should consist of two or more parts, there is no interaction between the parts, otherwise it could be categorized as a machine.   In other words, the relationship between their parts is static, unmoving.   An example would be a hammer.   It’s made up of two parts, a steel head and wooden handle.   These parts are firmly attached to one another, so they act as one.

      Next time we’ll continue our discussion on the second hurtle presented by 35 USC § 101, where we’ll discuss what is meant by composition of matter.