EP0867786A1 - Single-pass fusing of multi-layer duplex copies - Google Patents

Single-pass fusing of multi-layer duplex copies Download PDF

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Publication number
EP0867786A1
EP0867786A1 EP98200708A EP98200708A EP0867786A1 EP 0867786 A1 EP0867786 A1 EP 0867786A1 EP 98200708 A EP98200708 A EP 98200708A EP 98200708 A EP98200708 A EP 98200708A EP 0867786 A1 EP0867786 A1 EP 0867786A1
Authority
EP
European Patent Office
Prior art keywords
support material
toner
hot air
fusing
sheet
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Withdrawn
Application number
EP98200708A
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German (de)
French (fr)
Inventor
Marc De Niel
Serge Tavernier
Luc Van Aken
Luc Van Goethem
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Xeikon NV
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Agfa Gevaert NV
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Filing date
Publication date
Priority to EP97200780 priority Critical
Priority to EP97200780 priority
Application filed by Agfa Gevaert NV filed Critical Agfa Gevaert NV
Priority to EP98200708A priority patent/EP0867786A1/en
Publication of EP0867786A1 publication Critical patent/EP0867786A1/en
Withdrawn legal-status Critical Current

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G03PHOTOGRAPHY; CINEMATOGRAPHY; ANALOGOUS TECHNIQUES USING WAVES OTHER THAN OPTICAL WAVES; ELECTROGRAPHY; HOLOGRAPHY
    • G03DAPPARATUS FOR PROCESSING EXPOSED PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIALS; ACCESSORIES THEREFOR
    • G03D15/00Apparatus for treating processed material
    • G03D15/02Drying; Glazing
    • G03D15/022Drying of filmstrips
    • GPHYSICS
    • G03PHOTOGRAPHY; CINEMATOGRAPHY; ANALOGOUS TECHNIQUES USING WAVES OTHER THAN OPTICAL WAVES; ELECTROGRAPHY; HOLOGRAPHY
    • G03GELECTROGRAPHY; ELECTROPHOTOGRAPHY; MAGNETOGRAPHY
    • G03G15/00Apparatus for electrographic processes using a charge pattern
    • G03G15/20Apparatus for electrographic processes using a charge pattern for fixing, e.g. by using heat
    • G03G15/2003Apparatus for electrographic processes using a charge pattern for fixing, e.g. by using heat using heat
    • G03G15/2007Apparatus for electrographic processes using a charge pattern for fixing, e.g. by using heat using heat using radiant heat, e.g. infra-red lamps, microwave heaters
    • GPHYSICS
    • G03PHOTOGRAPHY; CINEMATOGRAPHY; ANALOGOUS TECHNIQUES USING WAVES OTHER THAN OPTICAL WAVES; ELECTROGRAPHY; HOLOGRAPHY
    • G03GELECTROGRAPHY; ELECTROPHOTOGRAPHY; MAGNETOGRAPHY
    • G03G2215/00Apparatus for electrophotographic processes
    • G03G2215/20Details of the fixing device or porcess
    • G03G2215/207Type of toner image to be fixed 
    • G03G2215/2074Type of toner image to be fixed  colour
    • GPHYSICS
    • G03PHOTOGRAPHY; CINEMATOGRAPHY; ANALOGOUS TECHNIQUES USING WAVES OTHER THAN OPTICAL WAVES; ELECTROGRAPHY; HOLOGRAPHY
    • G03GELECTROGRAPHY; ELECTROPHOTOGRAPHY; MAGNETOGRAPHY
    • G03G2215/00Apparatus for electrophotographic processes
    • G03G2215/20Details of the fixing device or porcess
    • G03G2215/207Type of toner image to be fixed 
    • G03G2215/2083Type of toner image to be fixed  duplex

Abstract

A fusing station (25) of an electrographic apparatus fixes in a single pass a duplex resinous powder colour image (8, 18) to a support material (9) as this is moved over a predetermined path (7) through the fusing station. A symmetrical fixing operation on both sides of the support material is provided. Hereto, the station comprises means for applying hot air to both sides of the support material, and hot air is heated by heating sources with substantially identical operational characteristics. Further, hot air is enforced in substantially equal flows (21, 31) to both sides of the support material and the flows of hot air are heated to substantially equal temperatures.

Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a fixing-system to be used within an electrographic copying or printing apparatus capable of fusing, in a single pass, toner material to both sides of a support member. More in particular, it relates to a heat fusing of electrographic multi-layer images on sheets.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In a first kind of electrographic printing, particularly in the process of electrophotography, a light image of an original document to be copied or printed is recorded in the form of a latent electrostatic image on a photosensitive member. The generated electrostatic latent image is subsequently rendered visible by application of electroscopic particles, commonly called toner. The toner particles preferably have a definite electric charge sign and as such are attracted by the electrostatic charge pattern of opposite charge sign in proportion to the field strength of the respective areas defining the pattern.

The toner particles forming the visual image are then transferred from the photosensitive meter to a support member or receptor support, such as a sheet of plain paper or a plastic film, further indicated as "support material" or shortly as "sheet". Since the toner image is then in a loose powdered form which may be easily disturbed or destroyed, it has to be permanently fixed or fused on said sheet in a fusing or fixing device.

In a second kind of electrographic printing, particularly in Direct Electrostatic Printing (DEP), electrostatic printing is performed directly from a toner delivery means, e.g. a magnetic brush assembly, on a receiving member substrate, called "sheet", by means of an electronically addressable printhead structure. Herein, the toner is deposited directly in an imagewise way on said sheet without occurrence of any latent electrostatic image. An overall applied propulsion field between the toner delivery means and a receiving member support projects charged toner particles through a row of apertures of the printhead structure. The intensity of the toner-stream is modulated according to the pattern of potentials applied to the control electrodes. The deposition step is followed by a fusing step.

As a DEP device has already been described, e.g. in US-P-3,689,935 (Pressman) and in EP-A-0 710 898 (Agfa-Gevaert N.V.), no further description is necessary in the present application.

In order to permanently fix a toner image to a sheet, it is well known in the art to apply thermal energy. By elevating the temperature of the toner material to a point at which the constituents of the toner coalesce and become tacky or melt, the toner is absorbed into the fibres of the sheet or fixed to the substrate. As thereafter the toner cools, solidification causes it to be firmly bonded to the sheet.

Several approaches to thermal fusing of electroscopic toner images are known from the prior art. Special attention has to be focused on the production of duplex or recto/verso copies or prints, i.e. copies where images are formed on both sides of the sheet.

The production of duplex or recto/verso copies poses problems due to a severely occurring offset problem, which will be discussed in great detail on the next pages.

Duplex printing in electrographic systems, e.g. in electrophotographic copiers, working according to the two pass method may be carried out in one of the following ways.

  • (i) A so-called "manual two pass method" that requires manual re-feeding of multi-layer imaged simplex sheets, e.g. colour imaged simplex sheets. That is, after the first side of a sheet is imaged and fused, the sheet is transported to an output tray. Then, the operator places this sheet back in one of the input trays, upon which the sheet is again passed through the engine. This time an image is transferred and fused onto the opposite side of each sheet having an image on a first side.
  • (ii) A so-called "automated postponed two pass method", that requires the collection of simplex sheets in a duplex tray. That is, after the first side of a sheet is imaged and fused, the sheet is transported to a duplex tray inside the engine. After the last sheet in a set has been received in this duplex tray, all sheets are again passed automatically through the imaging device. This time an image is transferred and fused onto the opposite side of each sheet having an image on a first side.
  • (iii) A so-called "automated immediate two pass method" that requires reversing the simplex sheets immediately after fusing and interleaving them with sheets receiving the first image on the first side in order to receive an image on the opposite side.
  • These two-pass duplex methods have some very important drawbacks, usually related to the twofold passing through the fuser.

  • (i) Two passes through the fuser require more energy than one pass. This is especially important for the case of multi-layer imaging, e.g. colour imaging, with its high energy requirement for thorough fusing and mixing of the respective layers or colours.
  • (ii) At the same time the fuser needs to operate at twice the speed of the duplex throughput, which again in the case of multi-layer or colour fusing is not at all straightforward.
  • (iii) The change in moisture content (say about 30%) between the first and the second imaging pass results in an image quality that is not equal between the first side imaging and the duplex side imaging.
  • (iv) In addition, this change in moisture content also alters the mechanical properties of the paper, which - combined with the additional complexity of a duplex paper path - results in a highly increased risk for jams in duplex printing.
  • iv) Because of the need for a release agent (eg. silicon oil) in hot roller fusing, silicon oil remaining from the first pass colour imaging may contaminate the image forming elements, resulting again in non constant image quality over time, with possible effects such as image smearing etc.
  • (vi) Excessive paper curl is not only troublesome in the processor but also extremely difficult to handle in output stackers and finishing devices.
  • In other prior art systems, also single pass duplex copying has been disclosed. Three methods are known in the art.

  • (i) According to a first method, first and second images are formed sequentially on a photoreceptor. The first image is transferred from the photoreceptor to the first side of a receptor sheet. Then the sheet is stripped off the photoreceptor, inverted while the first image remains unfixed, and then the second image is transferred to the second side of the receptor sheet. Both images are then fixed onto the receptor sheet in a suitable fuser.
  • (ii) Other single pass duplex printing methods use intermediate image carriers, e.g. a belt or a drum. The first and second images are sequentially formed on a photoreceptor. The first image is transferred to an intermediate image carrier. The receptor sheet is then passed between the photoreceptor and the intermediate image carrier. The receptor sheet is then simultaneously receiving first and second images.
  • (iii) Other systems deal with "single pass duplex" methods employing two photoreceptors and two exposure systems. A first image is deposited on one photoreceptor and a second image is deposited on the other photoreceptor. These systems are considered the ultimate duplex throughput systems since they produce twice the number of images of "two pass duplex" systems at equal process speed.
  • Many problems exist with the traditional single pass duplex systems.

  • (i) One problem is in conveying the duplex receptor sheet to the fuser. In particular, the receptor sheet with the two unfused images on opposite sides, must be transported from the toner transfer station to the fuser. Preferably this is not done with a conventional transport since the transport would make contact with one of the sides of the receptor sheet and smear the unfused toner image. Also, to avoid the leading edge of the sheet from downwards deviating from the path between transfer station and fuser station, it is preferred that this path is very short. Thereto, the fuser must be very close to the photoreceptor. This creates problems in mechanical mounting, problems due to unwanted heating the photoreceptor and problems of contaminating the photoreceptor with fuser release materials, e.g. silicone oil vapour.
  • (ii) In addition there is the problem of the rather uncontrollable velocities of sheets passing through roller fusers. There seems to be an obvious need to accurately match the velocity of the receptor sheet transport with the velocity of the photoreceptor to prevent "skips" and "smears" during transfer. Furthermore, for high resolution digital printing, excessive instantaneous photoreceptor velocity variations (cfr. "jitter") cannot be tolerated. Even in conventional copiers it is preferable to keep the fuser rollers one sheet length away from the transfer zone. For these reasons it is desirable to thermally insulate and mechanically isolate the photoreceptor transfer zones from the hot fuser rollers.
  • (iii) Single pass duplex systems using more than one photoreceptor and more than one exposure system, generally require web paper feed in which the copy is wound up on a roller or cut into individual sheets after fusing. This, unfortunately, introduces additional components and complexity into the system. It is, therefore, also desirable to provide a single pass duplex system having a discrete receptor sheet feed system rather than a web paper feed system.
  • (iv) Moreover, in high quality copying and printing it has to be made sure that both sides of the duplex imaged sheets experience substantially the same "fusing history", referring namely to the temperature-trajectory.
  • Multi-layer electrographic printing, e.g. multi-colour electrophotographic printing, may seem equivalent to multiple monochrome (commonly black and white) printing of various toner layers. Yet, successive part images have to be recorded in superposition. These successive part images may comprise a superposition of different toner separation images. In one embodiment, the traditional colour components cyan C, magenta M and yellow Y, are augmented with at least one extra colour component according to one toner type. This extra colour component may have another density or colouring power (obtained by a different degree of pigmentation) of either cyan, magenta or yellow. In another embodiment, a traditional black component K is added to the three usual colour components. In another embodiment, for each traditional colour component, CMY or CMYK, at least a second colour component, having a lower pigmentation level, C'M'Y' (K') is added. According to another embodiment, some tone levels of the original image are reproduced by applying two different toners, having substantially the same chromaticity, or more specifically by applying two achromatic toners, i.e. greyish or black toners of which the chromaticity is substantially zero.

    In one embodiment each single toner image is transferred to the receptor sheet in superimposed registration, thereby creating a multi-layered toner image on the receptor sheet. Thereafter, the multi-layered toner image is permanently fixed to the receptor sheet creating a multi-layer or colour copy or print. Whereas the fixing of monochrome toner images does not raise major problems in practice, the fixing of multi-layer or colour images is much more difficult. We will base the discussion on colour images, which are a specific case of multi-layer images.

  • (i) As a colour toner image intrinsically is thicker than a monochrome toner image, for a same print-quality and a same print-throughput, the supply of fusing heat has to be increased and even controlled more stringently.
  • (ii) The increased amount of toner requires a longer fusing time. Heat and pressure fixing thus demands a nip with a larger length or a slower rotation of the fuser rollers. It may be remarked that the nip between both rollers, more exactly between the resilient coverings of these rollers, is in fact the area where heat and pressure initiate the fusing and thus the fixing of the toner image on a sheet conveyed between the rollers.
  • (iii) The heat and pressure fixing of multi-layer images is also difficult as compared to the prior art of fixing single layer images, in that it needs a strongly different geometry of the fixing rollers, calling for a dedicated design of the kind and the geometry, e.g. thickness of the resilient layer on each roller, the diameter of the rollers, the pressure applied to the rollers, etc.
  • In view of the above, fusing stations of the type described above are unsuitable for being installed in electrographic apparatus designed for single-pass fusing of sheet-fed multi-layer or colour duplex copies.

    OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

    It is an object of the present application to provide an apparatus and a method providing good fusing quality for single pass duplex copies of multi-layer copies.

    Further objects of the present invention will become clear from the description given hereinafter.

    SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

    The above mentioned objects are realised by the specific features according to the claims.

    Further advantages and embodiments of the present invention will become apparent from the following description and drawings.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

    The invention will be described hereinafter by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawing.

    Fig. 1 is a diagrammatic view of a fusing station comprising a flow of hot air according to the present invention.

    DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

    The fusing station according to the present invention will be described hereinafter and illustrated by means of the accompanying figure, which are not intended to restrict the scope of protection applied for by the present application.

    As an aid to a better understanding of the specification and the claims to follow, the meaning of some specific terms are explained first.

    The terms "support material", "receptor support", "support or substrate member", "receptor sheet" or shortly "sheet" as used further in the present specification stand for a sheet of opaque paper, a white bond paper, a resin coated paper, a transparent film, a plastic, a laminate of both, an adhesive label and the like onto which the transferred image is received. This sheet may be an end-product as such but it may also form an intermediate step in a reproduction process. For example, it may be used, after a suitable treatment, as a so-called transfer element, e.g. as a printing plate for printing images by planographic printing techniques onto a final support. Many experiments carried out by the inventors related to sheets of a so-called "1001 paper", having a specific weight of about 100 g/cm2.

    The term "colour" is not strictly limited to the development of usual colour separation images by conventional magenta, cyan and yellow and optionally also black toners (abbreviated as CMY or CMYK). It encompasses also the production of images by means of less or more than three colours; by means of different shades of one colour, e.g. different grey shades, or even multiple layers of one toner; the covering or coating of an image by an image-wise applied transparent, coloured, fluorescent or otherwise treated varnish, and the like.

    The term "printing" stands in the first place for a printer which creates an output printing image by laying out the image in a series of horizontal scan lines, each line having a given number of pixels or picture-elements per inch. An exposure station for exposing the recording may comprise a laser with a rotating mirror block, a LED array, a uniform light source and a plurality of individually controllable light valves, an arrangement with deformable micro-mirror devices (DMD), etc. However, the term printing encompasses also an apparatus in which the exposure of the recording member occurs by the optical projection of an integral image, such as in a copier. Further, the term printing also encompasses DEP-devices.

    A general overview of an electrographic copying or printing apparatus capable of providing colour images on both sides of sheets of paper is given in pending patent application EP-A-96.203.561.4, entitled "Electrostatic colour printing apparatus" (in the name of Agfa-Gevaert N.V.). In said application, an electrostatographic colour printing apparatus is described which comprises exposure units for forming successive electrostatic colour part images on both surfaces or sides of a recording member in the form of an endless belt. The application addresses developing stations for sequentially developing such electrostatic latent images to form toner images on such belt, and electrostatic transfer stations for sequentially transferring the toner images from such belt in super-position onto a receptor sheet fed through the transfer stations while the receptor sheet is in contact with a belt section to produce a multi-colour duplex image.

    The invention will now be described in detail by referring to the included drawing. This Fig. 1 shows a diagrammatic view of a fusing station comprising a flow of hot air according to the present invention.

    In this preferred embodiment for fixing a multi-layer toner image on a support material, the support material or sheet 9 bearing toner images 8, 18 on both sides is passing through the fusing station 25.

    As can be seen in figure 1, fusing is done nearly contactless (meaning that substantially no rollers, nor plates, nor sensors are in contact with the support material while being fixed) and a controlled stream of hot air is conveyed symmetrically at both sides (front-side and rear-side) of the sheet. Per consequence of this contactless fusing, no toner particles are offset from the sheet 9 to the environment, and vice versa, neither by friction, neither by adhesion.

    The fusing station 25 includes a rectangular frame or housing 26 in order to support other components, such as means for moving the support material along a predetermined path, means for applying hot air to both sides of said support material (comprising at least a blower), heating sources, power controllers, temperature controllers (or thermostats), speed controllers, plates, bolts, etc.

    It may be clear from the foregoing, that a fusing station according to the present invention comprises means for moving the sheet, which may be carried out by different mechanisms. For example: gravity as such _in case of a vertical path, downwards oriented, of the sheet_, a belt, a clamp mechanism gripping the sheet on non-imaged borders, or another transporting or moving means 22, 32 comprises means for keeping a fixed orientation of the sheet and means for keeping contact with an edge of the sheet, etc.

    Such a fusing station also comprises means for simultaneously sheet heating, while moving said sheet, by symmetrically applying hot air, which may be carried out by different mechanisms. For example: by a set of two perforated plates 23,33, localised at both sides of the sheet on the path followed by the sheet.

    Said hot air fulfils two different functions:

  • (i) an air-cushion function which helps the contactless moving of the sheet,
  • (ii) a fusing function by symmetrically and homogeneously heating both sides of the sheet.
  • Air from a blower (not shown in the drawing) is passed over electrically energised heating sources. On passing in contact with the heating sources, a heat exchange takes place to raise the air temperature to a predetermined setpoint of a thermostat. The air flows further pass through openings 24, 34, in plates 23,33 to pass in contact with the support material 9 and then return for recycling. By means of adjustment bolts (not shown), the plates 23, 33 may be spaced accurately any desired distance above the transport plane 7.

    The thermal efficiency of this fusing station 25 is very high because of two reasons:

  • (i) in order to prevent heat loss from the housing to the ambient surroundings, thermal isolation is applied over the housing;
  • (ii) once operating, the air is recirculated such that losses or leakages are kept to a minimum.
  • In summary, a first embodiment of a fusing station 25 for fixing a multi-layer toner image 8, 18 on a support material 9 comprises means for moving 22, 32 said support material via a predetermined path 7 through said fusing station and means for applying hot air to both sides of said support material. An essential characteristic is that said hot air is heated by heating sources (not shown) with substantially identical operational characteristics, that said hot air is enforced in substantially equal flows 21, 31 to both sides of said support material and that said flows of hot air are heated to substantially equal temperatures.

    In a fusing station according to the present invention, the temperature of the air flows 21, 31 may be kept substantially constant at a predetermined value by introducing suitable temperature controllers , such as a thermistor or a bimetal. Preferably, a temperature detecting element is provided near the surface of the support material. More preferably, a contactless temperature sensing is highly preferred for measuring the temperature of the support material 9.
    Even more than one temperature sensor may be used, preferably situated on different positions relative to the support material. For example, one temperature sensor can observe the image zone on the support material, and another temperature sensor can observe outside the image zone.

    In order to get a complete temperature control system, the thermal sensor or temperature controller is connected to a thermostatic control circuit (not shown). In a further preferred embodiment according to the present invention a separate power-control controls each heating source such that the air flows 21, 31 have a substantially equal temperature; say e.g. about 443 K (or 170 °C).

    The temperature of the air is kept substantially constant at a predetermined value, said value being set between the temperature at which the resinous toner powder becomes tacky or melts and the fusing temperature of said toner. Preferably, each heating means has an individual power-control for keeping a substantially equal temperature, the temperature deviation between said air flows being less than 20 K, preferably less than 5 K.

    As the sheet of support material 9 leaves the fusing station 25, it may be taken by suitable means (not shown), as a pair of exit rollers, for further transport to a copy paper tray and for subsequent removal.

    In a further preferred embodiment of a fusing station according to the present invention, said multi-layer toner image 8, 18 has dry toner particles.

    In a further preferred embodiment, the fusing station is arranged for movement of said support material along a path 7 between a toner transfer station and the entrance of said fusing station, wherein said path is substantially rectilinear.

    In a particular method according to the present invention, the path 7 of the sheet 9 of support material is substantially horizontal.

    By the wording substantially horizontal is meant a path within a range of [-5°, +5°] to a horizontal path.

    In another particular method according to the present invention, the path 7 of the sheet 9 of support material is substantially vertical. By the wording substantially vertical is meant a path within a range of [-5°, +5°] to a vertical path.

    Some advantages of a horizontal path comprise:

  • (i) if the sheets in an input paper tray and in an output paper tray lay in a horizontal position, said sheet can follow a rectilinear path, which is very advantageous for a high reliability of the transport system (e.g. a very low risk for paper jam and for wrinkles);
  • (ii) the height of the apparatus can be rather low, which may be extra comfortable for the operator.
  • Some advantages of a vertical path comprise:

  • (i) the operations acting on the sheet may be carried out with a high symmetry, because there is no preferential influence from heat or gravity as it regards both sides of the sheet;
  • (ii) the floor-space necessitated for the apparatus can be rather small.
  • Yet any other orientation of the path 7 of the sheet 9 may be advantageous and is included within the scope of the present invention.

    Aside from the just described different embodiments of a fusing station 25 according to the present invention, also disclosed are different embodiments of fusing methods according to the present invention. It may be remarked again that these embodiments also can be applied to support materials which are not separate sheets in the strict meaning, but which are in web-form.

    A first preferred embodiment of a method for single pass fixing a duplex copy (meaning that said copy has a toner image on both sides of the support material), uses a fusing station according to any one of the above-mentioned descriptions.

    A second preferred embodiment of a method for single pass fixing of duplex or recto/verso copies of resinous powder images to a support material, comprises the simultaneous steps of

  • (i) moving said sheet via a predetermined path through a fusing station,
  • (ii) applying hot air in said fusing station to both sides of said sheet, wherein said fusing station comprises heating sources with substantially identical operational characteristics, and wherein said application of hot air is characterized in that a symmetrical fixing operation on both sides of said sheet is provided by heating said hot air to a substantially equal temperature and by enforcing said hot air in a substantially equal flow to both sides of said sheet.
  • A still further preferred embodiment comprises a method wherein said toner image is a multi-colour image composed of superimposed colour separation images.

    A still further preferred embodiment comprises a method which also has a step of preheating, preferably acting symmetrically on both sides of the support material.

    A still further embodiment comprises a method for single pass fixing of a simplex copy (said copy having a toner image on one side of a support material), uses a fusing station according to any one of the above-mentioned descriptions.

    A still further preferred embodiment comprises a method for fixing of double simplex copies (each copy having a toner image on one side of a support material) in an electrographic apparatus using a fusing station as described above, characterized by the steps of

  • (i) using for a printing cycle two receptor sheets and conveying them back to back in coinciding relationship along a common path through said apparatus,
  • (ii) forming one toner image on one side of one receptor sheet and a toner image on the opposite side of the other sheet while moving both receptor sheets simultaneously through the apparatus thereby to produce two simplex prints, and
  • (iii) fixing the toner images on both sheets.
  • In another preferred embodiment, the amount of toner particles TM being deposited to reach maximum optical density for black follows the equation TM ≤ 0.8 x dv50 x ρ wherein TM is expressed in mg/cm2, dv50 is the average volume diameter of the toner particles expressed in cm, and ρ is the bulk density of the toner particles in g/cm3.

    In still a further embodiment, the amount of toner particles TM being deposited to reach maximum optical density for each of the single colours yellow, magenta, cyan follows the equation TM ≤ 0.8 x dv50 x ρ wherein TM is expressed in mg/cm2, dv50 is the average volume diameter of the toner particles expressed in cm, and ρ is the bulk density of the toner particles in g/cm3.

    It is further highly preferable that in a fusing station 25 according to the present invention, said path 7 of the sheet, at least between the transfer station and the fusing station, is substantially rectilinear.

    Apart from a physical fusing station as disclosed before, also a method is disclosed for single pass fixing of duplex or recto/verso copies _comprising toner images 8 and 18 on both sides of a sheet 9_ using a fusing station 25 as described above.

    In a further preferred embodiment of a method according to the present invention, toner image 8 and 18 is a multi-layer image composed of superimposed colour separation images.

    A further preferred method comprises a preheating step, acting symmetrically on both sides 8 and 18 of the blank sheets 9, thus before said sheets receive any toner particles. By doing so, some mechanical characteristics of the sheets (e.g. moisture contents or differences thereto) may be equalized, so that possibly a still lower jam rate and even a better fusing quality can be attained.

    As will be clear from the background section of this specification, single pass duplex multi-layer toner fusing on sheets nowadays presents some other difficulties to be solved.

    Amongst them:

  • (i) transporting the duplex powdered sheets from the duplex imaging device towards the single pass duplex fuser without damaging the non-fixed images;
  • (ii) providing a specific fusing speed required to obtain stable image quality on a wide variety of base print materials, whereas the imaging portion of the engine usually only has a very limited number of discrete imaging speeds;
  • (iii) moreover, the fusing and imaging speed can hardly be made exactly equal, thereby necessitating a way to decouple both speeds.
  • In a method according to the present invention, these just mentioned difficulties are solved by providing a buffering device between imaging station or transfer station and fusing station. This buffer can handle differences in speed, vibrations, etc.

    The purposes of the just mentioned buffer may be explained more in detail as follows. Fuser station 25 melts the toner images 8, 18 transferred to the sheets 9 in order to affix them. It will be understood that this operation requires a certain minimum time, since the temperature of the fuser is subject to an upper limit which must not be exceeded. In other words, the speed of fuser station 25 is limited. The speed of the image formation stations (not shown), on the other hand, is in principle not limited for any particular reason. On the contrary, it is advantageous to use a high speed of image formation and image transfer, since the (e.g. four) colour separations of each colour image are preferably written by an exposure station in succession. This means that the recording time of one colour image amounts to at least four times the recording time of one part image. All this means a relatively high speed of the photoconductor, and thus of the synchronously moving sheets, as compared with a maximum usable travelling speed through the fuser station. In order to indicate some practical test-results, in an apparatus according to the present invention, the speed of the photoconductor belts amounted to 295 mm.s-1 whereas the fusing speed was 100 mm.s-1.

    Further, it may be desirable to adjust the fusing speed independently from the image processing speed, for obtaining optimum results. It should be noted that the image processing speed in the imaging stations is preferably constant.

    The length of the buffer station needs to be sufficient large for receiving the largest sheet size to be processed in the apparatus.

    Whereas the buffer station operates initially at the speed of the photoconductor (e.g. a photoconductive belt), the speed of this buffer station is reduced to the processing speed of fuser station 25 as the trailing edge of the sheet has left the image forming station.

    As disclosed in European Patent Application EP-A- 0 801 333 (in the name of Agfa-Gevaert N.V.), in a colour toner image, the amount and/or the dispersion of pigment in the toner particles, for a single colour, is preferably adjusted such that a full saturated density in said colour is achieved by the deposition of a thin, almost single, layer of toner particles. By doing so the gloss differences, due to (possibly great) differences in the height of the various layers of deposited toner particles, are minimized.

    In a preferred embodiment, the amount of toner particles per unit area (Toner Mass, TM) being deposited to reach maximum optical density for each of the single colours follows the equation : TM ≤ 0.8 x dv50 x ρ wherein TM is expressed in mg/cm2, dv50 is the average volume diameter of the toner particles expressed in cm), and ρ is the bulk density of the toner particles in g/cm3 (e.g. ρ = 1.1 to 1.3 g/cm3).

    In this application by maximum optical density for each of the single colours is meant an optical density on a reflecting support between 1.4 and 1.6 for yellow, magenta and cyan and an optical density between 1.6 and 2.0 for black.

    Thus, in the production of full-colour images, e.g. with four colour toners YMCK, each of the toners having a dv50 = 8.10-4 cm and a density of 1.25 g/cm3, the very darkly coloured areas will be formed by the overlay of about 2,5 layers, each being made up by 0.8 mg/cm2 of toner. Fixing of a resulting toner layer of about 2,5 mg/cm2 is quite difficult and requires special measures.

    Now, we just have disclosed an apparatus and a method for single pass fixing of a multi-layer toner image toner image to a sheet of support material. Also disclosed was a method particularly suitable for fixing duplex copies.

    In a further embodiment of a method according to the present invention, the amount of toner particles TM being deposited to reach maximum optical density for black (i.e. an optical density between 1.6 and 2.0 on a reflecting support) follows the equation TM ≤ 0.8 x dv50 x ρ wherein TM is expressed in mg/cm2, dv50 is the average volume diameter of the toner particles expressed in cm, and ρ is the bulk density of the toner particles in g/cm3.

    In another preferred embodiment of a method according to the present invention, the amount of toner particles TM being deposited to reach maximum optical density for each of the single colours yellow, magenta, cyan (i.e. an optical density between 1.4 and 1.6 on a reflecting support) also follows the same equation TM ≤ 0.8 x dv50 x ρ wherein TM is expressed in mg/cm2, dv50 is the average volume diameter of the toner particles expressed in cm, and ρ is the bulk density of the toner particles in g/cm3.

    In case the image is developed by means of a colourless toner as exemplified in, e.g., EP-A 0 656 129, EPA 0 629 921, EP-A 0 486 235, US 5 234 783, US 4 828 950, EP-A 0 554 981, WO 93/07541 and Xerox Research Disclosure Journal, Vol.16, N° 1, p. 69 (January/February 1991), this colourless toner is preferably deposited in an amount TM fulfilling the mentioned equation. Also in this case, the present invention remains applicable.

    APPLICABILITY

    For the purposes of the present invention the latent electrostatic image may be formed by an exposure of an electrostatically charged photosensitive member to a light image of an original document. Or, the latent electrostatic image may be generated by exposing the photosensitive member to a plurality of appropriately activated discrete spot-like sources of radiation. Said discrete spot-like sources of radiation may be constituted by a linear array of light emitting diodes (LED's) or by a laser, the beam of which is modulated to determine during each scan movement a plurality of elementary image sites that may receive radiation or not depending on the modulation of the radiation beam.

    Evidently, a method for single pass fixing of simplex copies (comprising toner images on one side of a sheet) using a fusing station 25 according to the present invention, also falls within the scope of protection.

    The present invention also may be used in a method for producing double simplex copies or prints by means of a single pass duplex copier or printer.

    Said method is characterised by the steps of

  • (i) using for a copying or printing cycle two receptor sheets and conveying them back to back in coinciding relationship along a common path through said printer,
  • (ii) forming one toner image on one side of one receptor sheet and another toner image on the opposite side of the other one while both receptor sheets are simultaneously moved through the printer thereby to produce two simplex prints, and
  • (iii) fixing the toner images on both sheets. For more specific information, reference is made to patent application EP-A-96.203.558.0 (in the name of Agfa-Gevaert N.V.).
  • As will be understood, the fusing station 25 is adapted as well for fusing images onto individual cut sheets as well as for fusing images onto continuous webs. In a preferred embodiment it is desirable to provide a single pass duplex system having a discrete receptor sheet feed system. Optionally also a web paper feed system may be used with the concept of a symmetrical fixing operation as laid down in the present application.

    A fusing station 25 according to the present invention may be used in an electrographic apparatus; comprising as well electrophotographic (having an electrical photoconductor), electrophoretic (referring to toner images formed by liquid toner particles), as electrostatic (e.g. DEP-devices) apparatus. Also a method according to the present invention may be carried out, apart from traditional toner images formed by dry toner particles, on toner images formed by liquid toner particles, e.g. applied by electrophoretics.

    As also mentioned in the introduction of this specification, the use of a fixing device according to the present invention is particularly interesting for the fusing of electrographic multi-layer images, e.g. electrophotographic colour images, even for simplex or single-sided copies.

    However, its use is still more interesting in the fusing of duplex colour images since the problem of surface temperature fluctuations of fixing rollers is even more stringent in such application. In this connection, we refer to our above mentioned co-pending EP-A-96.203.561.4.

    It may be clear for people skilled in the art, that the previously mentioned buffering device between imaging and fusing can be used advantageously also in other types of fusing stations, as e.g. in fusing stations using directly radiating radiators (thus not being built in rollers) as short-wave (e.g. infrared lamps), mid-wave or long-wave radiators (e.g. resistive or ceramic elements) or flash lamps, in fusing stations using electromagnetic waves (e.g. microwaves), in fusing stations using hot air, etc.

    Various modifications will become apparent to those skilled in the art based on the teachings of the present disclosure, without departing from the scope thereof.

    Among these modifications, sheets fed from the input-stack can occasionally be subjected to a drying operation prior to the toner image transfer, in order to get a sufficiently low moisture content, e.g. below 60 %.

    Another modification also protected by the present application, comprises a preheating step acting on the blank sheets prior to the fusing step, even prior to the transfer step or even prior to the development step. Although such a preheating increases the construction-cost of the apparatus, the operation-cost of the apparatus decreases; as the fixing energy in the fixing step decreases, the change of moisture in the sheets decreases, the possible jam rate decreases ....

    Parts list

    7
    path
    8, 18
    toner material
    9
    support material
    21, 31
    flow
    22, 32
    means for moving
    23, 33
    plates
    24, 34
    openings
    25
    fusing station
    26
    frame

    Claims (11)

    1. A fusing station (25) for fixing a multi-layer toner image (8, 18) on a support material (9) comprising means for moving said support material via a predetermined path (7) through said fusing station, and means for applying hot air to both sides of said support material, characterised in that said hot air is heated by heating sources with substantially identical operational characteristics, in that said hot air is enforced in substantially equal flows (21, 31) to both sides of said support material and in that said flows of hot air are heated to substantially equal temperatures.
    2. The fusing station according to the preceding claim, wherein said multi-layer toner image (8, 18) has dry toner particles.
    3. The fusing station according to claim 1 or 2, arranged for movement of said support material along a path between a toner transfer station and the entrance of said fusing station, wherein said path is substantially rectilinear.
    4. A method for single pass fixing a duplex copy, said copy having a toner image on both sides of a support material, using a fusing station according to any one of the preceding claims.
    5. A method for single pass fixing of duplex copies of toner images to a support material, comprising the steps of
      (i) moving said support material via a predetermined path through a fusing station,
      (ii) applying hot air to both sides of said support material,
      characterised in that said hot air is heated by heating sources with substantially identical operational characteristics, in that said hot air is enforced in substantially equal flows to both sides of said support material and in that said flows of hot air are heated to substantially equal temperatures.
    6. The method according to claim 4 or 5, wherein said toner image is a multi-colour image composed of superimposed colour separation images.
    7. A method for single pass fixing of a simplex copy, said copy having a toner image on one side of a support material, using a fusing station according to any one of the claims 1 to 3.
    8. A method for fixing of double simplex copies in an electrographic apparatus using a fusing station according to any one of the claims 1 to 3, characterised by the steps of
      (i) using for a printing cycle two receptor sheets and conveying them back to back in coinciding relationship along a common path through said apparatus,
      (ii) forming one toner image on one side of one receptor sheet and a toner image on the opposite side of the other sheet while moving both receptor sheets simultaneously through the apparatus thereby to produce two simplex prints, and
      (iii) fixing the toner images on both sheets.
    9. The method according to any one of the claims 4-8, further comprising the step of preheating, preferably acting symmetrically on both sides of the support material.
    10. The method according to any one of the claims 4-9, wherein the amount of toner particles TM being deposited to reach maximum optical density for black follows the equation TM ≤ 0.8 x dv50 x ρ wherein TN is expressed in mg/cm2, dv50 is the average volume diameter of the toner particles expressed in cm, and ρ is the bulk density of the toner particles in g/cm3.
    11. The method according to any one of the claims 6-9, wherein the amount of toner particles TM being deposited to reach maximum optical density for each of the single colours yellow, magenta, cyan follows the equation TM ≤ 0.8 x dv50 x ρ wherein TM is expressed in mg/cm2, dv50 is the average volume diameter of the toner particles expressed in cm, and ρ is the bulk density of the toner particles in g/cm3.
    EP98200708A 1997-03-14 1998-03-06 Single-pass fusing of multi-layer duplex copies Withdrawn EP0867786A1 (en)

    Priority Applications (3)

    Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
    EP97200780 1997-03-14
    EP97200780 1997-03-14
    EP98200708A EP0867786A1 (en) 1997-03-14 1998-03-06 Single-pass fusing of multi-layer duplex copies

    Applications Claiming Priority (1)

    Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
    EP98200708A EP0867786A1 (en) 1997-03-14 1998-03-06 Single-pass fusing of multi-layer duplex copies

    Publications (1)

    Publication Number Publication Date
    EP0867786A1 true EP0867786A1 (en) 1998-09-30

    Family

    ID=26146253

    Family Applications (1)

    Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
    EP98200708A Withdrawn EP0867786A1 (en) 1997-03-14 1998-03-06 Single-pass fusing of multi-layer duplex copies

    Country Status (1)

    Country Link
    EP (1) EP0867786A1 (en)

    Cited By (1)

    * Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
    Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
    US7092664B2 (en) 2000-12-22 2006-08-15 Eastman Kodak Company Digital printing or copying machine

    Citations (8)

    * Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
    Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
    US3330189A (en) * 1966-09-02 1967-07-11 Nuclear Corp Of America Fixing system for copy machine
    DE2102870A1 (en) * 1971-01-22 1972-08-10 Ece Gmbh
    EP0435516A2 (en) * 1989-12-28 1991-07-03 Am International Incorporated Dryer-fuser apparatus and method for high speed electrophotographic printing device
    JPH03177874A (en) * 1989-12-06 1991-08-01 Hitachi Ltd Heat roller fixing device
    US5051780A (en) * 1990-10-24 1991-09-24 Eastman Kodak Company Fusing temperature control device for a printer or similar apparatus
    EP0486723A1 (en) * 1990-11-22 1992-05-27 Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme Aktiengesellschaft Heating unit for heating an image carrier in a printing or copying machine
    US5563695A (en) * 1992-09-30 1996-10-08 Canon Kabushiki Kaisha Image forming apparatus for preventing release agent from being adhered onto image carrier
    EP0801333A2 (en) * 1996-04-09 1997-10-15 AGFA-GEVAERT naamloze vennootschap Toner composition

    Patent Citations (8)

    * Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
    Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
    US3330189A (en) * 1966-09-02 1967-07-11 Nuclear Corp Of America Fixing system for copy machine
    DE2102870A1 (en) * 1971-01-22 1972-08-10 Ece Gmbh
    JPH03177874A (en) * 1989-12-06 1991-08-01 Hitachi Ltd Heat roller fixing device
    EP0435516A2 (en) * 1989-12-28 1991-07-03 Am International Incorporated Dryer-fuser apparatus and method for high speed electrophotographic printing device
    US5051780A (en) * 1990-10-24 1991-09-24 Eastman Kodak Company Fusing temperature control device for a printer or similar apparatus
    EP0486723A1 (en) * 1990-11-22 1992-05-27 Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme Aktiengesellschaft Heating unit for heating an image carrier in a printing or copying machine
    US5563695A (en) * 1992-09-30 1996-10-08 Canon Kabushiki Kaisha Image forming apparatus for preventing release agent from being adhered onto image carrier
    EP0801333A2 (en) * 1996-04-09 1997-10-15 AGFA-GEVAERT naamloze vennootschap Toner composition

    Non-Patent Citations (1)

    * Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
    Title
    PATENT ABSTRACTS OF JAPAN vol. 015, no. 430 (P - 1270) 31 October 1991 (1991-10-31) *

    Cited By (1)

    * Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
    Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
    US7092664B2 (en) 2000-12-22 2006-08-15 Eastman Kodak Company Digital printing or copying machine

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