Bottle Filling Machine

I’m trying to wrap my brain around starting a project to build a small bottle liquid filling machine.

I am about to start with pencil and paper from the ground up, but before I start, I wanted to ask around to see if anyone has done something similar and be willing to help me not start from square one.

I have lots of experience in a lot of different areas (hello, MakerSpace) - but just enough to be safe and get the job done in most of them (I can physically build most things I need - wood, metal, 3D printing, etc - and can learn the syntax of code I’ve never used in order to take someone else’s groundwork and get it to do what I need it to do - but to start from scratch will be a challenge).

What I’m trying to accomplish is something very similar to this Accutek Mini-Doser:

Automatic Precision Mini Dose Filling/Dispensing Machine - Accu-Doser - Accutek Packaging Equipment

I was about to go with peristaltic pump, but the syringe, several fills at a time, has me considering the cleanup as I switch colors (forgot to mention the use-case… we make and bottle small jars of ceramic stains and paints).

When I saw the Mini-Doser in person, it reminded me of my 3D printers with their stepper motors and lead screws, etc. which got me thinking it’s conceivable to build… you know?

Any resources or tips before I jump in with both feet would be appreciated! Thanks!!

Welcome to the forum…

I built a dispenser for epoxy once … what a nightmare! Paint should be easier?

Here is how I would attack this project. Lots of unanswered design questions here…

I would start by researching the subsystems method and components of commercial machines with the intention of making initial design decisions for a prototype.
Commercial machine to expensive??

Such as…

Pinch fill: Timed Flow Volumetric Filler - Pinch Series - Accutek Packaging Equipment Companies, Inc. - YouTube
Syringe: Automatic Precision Mini Dose Filling/Dispensing Machine - Accu-Doser - Accutek Packaging Equipment - YouTube
Perhaps a cleaning cycle prior to changing paint color. Move to a trash tray, expel the paint and then switch to a solvent and pressure clean the dispenser. [how do you know it’s clean].
A mechanism for accurately plunging the syringe?
Nozzle clogging is likely to be a problem.

Pumping: a peristaltic pump is a good start. You can find small versions on amazon to experiment with. Test how well the paint can be pumped with this approach. What type & size of tubing works the best? What valves can be employed and are they compatible with the paint?

x/y Motion: this is probably the easiest. Mimic and build a CNC machine whose y axis moves the filling array. If you use an array you really don’t need an X.

Material movement: how do you get the bottles in an out from under the filling array. You could do this manually for the prototype and then work on this problem last.

Control problems: Lots of uprocessor choices for this but I would start with an arduino Mega that sends gcode to an embedded controller on the CNC machine. The embedded controller converts the gcode to movements and dispensing activity.

  • How accurate does the fill have to be and can you control a pump that accurately.
  • One dispenser or a horizontal array?
  • Head cleaning process? A cleaning station and process?
  • Gcode can be used to program the dispensers movements.
  • What type/amount of sensors are needed to control the dispensing, cleaning and material movement.

After the research I would build a prototype intending to prove out key design choices:

  • Small CNC machine: make one or alternately buy one from china
  • CNC controller using an arduino that has open source Gcode [you may find a china one that includes a controller].
  • You could hack the controllers code or alternately have a second uprocessor that monitors the CNC and sends the CNC controller gcode commands.
  • a single plunging dispenser mounted on the CNC with only x axis movement. The syringe approach seems like an easy starting point
  • build dispensing program and run a single syringe system to learn about how to move, dispense, clean & change colors.

Control association examples:
If you can map the dispenser functions to a standard CNC machines operation you can control it with gcode.

  • Y movement: standard x Gcode commands
  • Dispense: Z axis commands
  • Clean: have a specific x/y location for the trash bin and use movement commands to get there and dispense.
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