Albert M. Ceja - Upland CA, US Efren Navarro - Rialto CA, US
An automated machine for pre-shaping dough balls in a high speed tortilla machine. A main frame contains a holding press plate with a set of regularly distributed openings, and where a press box is located over the regular openings. Each press box contains a catching ball tube, and a press gate. Each dough ball is sequentially deposited onto a pre-shaper catching ball tube to permit balls to pass through open press gates and onto the surface of a transport band, where they are kept in a predetermined position. Once all of the dough balls reach a predetermined location, they are pre-pressed in place by means of a set of press gates. The flattener press gates close the ball entrance in the catching ball tubes to prevent dough balls entering any further into the press boxes. The press gate devices are actuated to open the catching ball tube and separate the pressing gate device from the pre-pressed balls. The transport band advances the pre-pressed balls towards the main press area. The main frame lowers its position towards the transport band.