US20060214353A1 - Integrated media input tray with manual feeder - Google Patents

Integrated media input tray with manual feeder Download PDF

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Publication number
US20060214353A1
US20060214353A1 US11087301 US8730105A US2006214353A1 US 20060214353 A1 US20060214353 A1 US 20060214353A1 US 11087301 US11087301 US 11087301 US 8730105 A US8730105 A US 8730105A US 2006214353 A1 US2006214353 A1 US 2006214353A1
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
media
device
section
media path
positioned
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.)
Abandoned
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US11087301
Inventor
Daniel Carter
Phill Cole
Niko Murrell
Edward Triplett
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Lexmark International Inc
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Lexmark International Inc
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H5/00Feeding articles separated from piles; Feeding articles to machines
    • B65H5/26Duplicate, alternate, selective, or coacting feeds
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H3/00Separating articles from piles
    • B65H3/44Simultaneously, alternately, or selectively separating articles from two or more piles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2301/00Handling processes for sheets or webs
    • B65H2301/30Orientation, displacement, position of the handled material
    • B65H2301/33Modifying, selecting, changing orientation
    • B65H2301/333Inverting
    • B65H2301/3331Involving forward reverse transporting means
    • B65H2301/33312Involving forward reverse transporting means forward reverse rollers pairs
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2404/00Parts for transporting or guiding the handled material
    • B65H2404/10Rollers
    • B65H2404/15Roller assembly, particular roller arrangement
    • B65H2404/153Arrangements of rollers facing a transport surface
    • B65H2404/1531Arrangements of rollers facing a transport surface the transport surface being a cylinder
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65HHANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL, e.g. SHEETS, WEBS, CABLES
    • B65H2404/00Parts for transporting or guiding the handled material
    • B65H2404/50Surface of the elements in contact with the forwarded or guided material
    • B65H2404/54Surface including rotary elements, e.g. balls or rollers

Abstract

An image forming device having a body that receives a removable media input tray. The media input tray comprises a manual feed section and an input tray section each for feeding a media sheet to an aligner nip. The manual feed section includes a channel through which a user slides a media sheet into a main media path. The input tray section includes a space for holding a stack of media sheets that are individually picked and moved into the main media path.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • Many image forming devices; copiers; multi-function machines, i.e., those that combine two or more functions such as fax, scan, copy, and print; and the like (all of which are encompassed herein by the term “image forming device”), contain a removable primary media tray that an end user removes from the machine to load with a stack of media sheets, such as print paper. Many devices also contain a manual media feed slot for feeding specialty media such as transparencies, card stock, and envelopes. This architecture has caused several issues.
  • First, the primary media tray and the manual feed slot are two discreet modules. This requires that the device be substantially sized to accommodate both modules. The increased size is a negative for a user who wants to conserve desk space and wants a device having a small size. The larger size also makes it more difficult for moving the device from a first location to another location, such as when the user changes offices at work, moves from a first home to a second home, etc. The increased size also usually increases the cost of the device.
  • Second, the two discreet modules have higher serviceability costs than a single unit. The two module system has twice the likelihood of a problem that requires service than a single module system.
  • Third, the discrete modules cause source-to-source variation in media skew and print margin location due to the tolerances involved in locating the modules to the machine frame structure.
  • SUMMARY
  • The present invention is directed to embodiments of an input device for inputting media sheets into an image forming apparatus. In one embodiment, the device includes an input section having a holding area sized to accommodate a stack of media sheets, and a manual feed section having an elongated channel sized to receive media sheets. The input section and the manual feed section may be housed in a single unit removably positioned within the image forming apparatus.
  • Another embodiment is directed to an image forming device having a body having a front face, and an image formation section positioned within the body and having a media path. An input section may be removably positioned within the body, and have a tray section sized to accommodate a plurality of media sheets in a stacked configuration and a first media path extending between the tray section and an exit port. The input section may also include a manual feed section having a channel that extends from an inlet to the exit port. The input section may be movably positioned within the body between a closed orientation and an open orientation.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 side schematic view of an input tray mounted within an image forming device according to one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a partial side section view of an input tray according to one embodiment of the present;
  • FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the input tray in an open orientation according to one embodiment of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the input tray according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • FIG. 1 depicts a representative image forming device, indicated generally by the numeral 10. The image forming device 10 comprises a body 12 having a front face 14 and a removable media input tray 16. The tray 16 may be removed from the image forming device 10 by pulling it from the front 14 of the image forming device body 12, as indicated by the arrows. The media input tray 16 comprises a manual feed section 50 and an input tray section 20 each for feeding a media sheet to an aligner nip 40.
  • FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate one embodiment of the input tray 16 comprising a plurality of media paths for moving media sheets to an exit port 30 where the media sheet is introduced into a main media path at an aligner nip 40. A first media path A extends from the input tray section 20 to the exit port 30. A second media path B extends from the manual feed section 50 to the exit port 30.
  • Input tray section 20 comprises a holding area 21 sized to receive a stack of media sheets 18. The holding area 21 may be adjustable to accommodate media sheets of differing lengths and widths. A pick mechanism 22 is operative to select the uppermost single media sheet from the stack 18 and transfer it along the first media path A to the exit port 30. The dotted-line depictions of the pick mechanism 22 in FIG. 1 illustrates the movement as media sheets are depleted from the underlying stack 18. In one embodiment, pick mechanism 22 includes a tire 23 having an outer surface that contacts the top-most sheet in the stack 18. Rotation of the tire 23 drives the top-most media sheet from the stack 18 and towards the exit port 30. The pick mechanism 22 may be attached to the input tray section 20, or may be attached to the body 12.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, manual feed section 50 is positioned opposite from the input tray section 20 within the input tray 16. The manual feed section 50 includes a media path B that leads from an inlet 51 on the front face 14 to an outlet 52 at the exit port 30. The media path B is formed between an upper member 53 and a lower member 54 which are spaced a distance apart thus forming the path. The inlet 51 is positioned in the front face 14 to receive the leading edge of the media sheet that is being fed by the user. In one embodiment, the inlet 51 narrows from a wide inlet 51 through the middle sections of the path B through to the outlet 52. As illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3, and 4, an edge guide 59 may be positioned within the inlet 51 for laterally aligning an edge of the media sheets as they are introduced into the section 50. The manual feed section 50 is sized for the user to insert the media sheet and push it until the leading edge contacts the aligner nip 40. At this point, the leading edge is gripped at the aligner nip 40 and pulled into the main media path of the device 10.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 2, media path B within the manual feed section 50 has an overall larger radius of curvature than media path A within the input tray section 20. This larger radius allows for a stiffer media sheet to be fed through the manual feed section 50. The tighter radius is adequate for normal media sheets with a standard beam strength, but may cause jams or pick errors with heavier media. The radius along each path may vary, such as shown by the different radius R and R′ along the media path B, and r and r′ along the media path A. However, each of the radius of curvature in the manual feed path B are greater than the radius in path A.
  • A third media path C extends from an inlet 36 of the tray 16 to the exit port 30. Media path C extends from additional tray or trays positioned below the input tray 16. Media path C may provide access for the media sheets from one or more media storage locations. In one embodiment as illustrated in FIG. 1, media path C provides for moving sheets from a large capacity input tray 38 that holds large quantities (for example, counts on the order of 500) of media sheets. The large-capacity supply 38 includes its own motor, drive train, sensors, and pick mechanism (not shown), and is operative to selectively deliver media sheets into the inlet port 36 and through to the exit port 30. Media path C may share a portion of its length with another media path, such as A.
  • The input tray 16 is removably positioned within the body 12 between a first closed orientation (FIG. 1) and a second open orientation (FIG. 3). In the closed orientation, media sheets within the holding area 21 of the input tray section 20 can be picked and fed towards the registration rollers 40. Additionally, media sheets may be inserted into the manual feed section 50 and pushed to the registration rollers 40. The closed orientation also establishes the position of the exit port 30 and exit sections of the media paths A, B, C, relative to the aligner nip 40.
  • Pulling the tray 16 outward from the body 12 moves it to the open position. The tray 16 may be completely separated from the body 12, or may be pulled outward a defined amount to access the input tray section 20. In the open position, additional media sheets may be loaded into the holding area 21. Media sheets that may have become jammed in media paths A, B, or C may be accessed with the tray 16 in the open orientation. Tray 16 may include rails 19 for sliding into and out of the body 12.
  • The media paths A, B, C terminate at the exit port 30 adjacent to the aligner nip 40. A media sheet sensor 32 is disposed in the exit port 30 and operative to sense the presence of media sheets therein. In one embodiment as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, sensor 32 comprises a pivoting arm that extends across the media paths A, B, C. The arm is biased towards a first orientation extending across the media paths and pivots away from the paths when a media sheet moves along the path. After the sheet passes, the arm again returns to the first orientation. The sheet sensor 32 is operatively connected to a controller 90 that oversees the operation of the media sheets. Controller 90 may be, for example, a single microprocessor or multiple microprocessors configured to generally control the overall operation of image forming device 10.
  • Sensor 32 is operative to sense media sheets from a variety of sources. The sensor 32 may thus be advantageously employed to obviate the need for a plurality of media-related sensors common in removable media trays of the prior art. For example, in one embodiment, the sensor 32 is also able to determine the size of media sheets within the input section 20 and trays 38. Upon insertion of the removable media input tray 16 into the image forming device body 12, an initial media sheet may be picked from the stack 18 or from within the tray 38. The presence of the media sheet in the exit port 30 is detected by the sensor 32. By measuring the duration of time that the media sheet is in the exit port 30 and combining this information with the precise speed of the media sheet movement through registration roller 40, the image forming device 10 can calculate the length of the media sheet.
  • Registration rollers 40 are positioned downstream from the sensor 32. Registration rollers 40 function to laterally align the media sheet prior to it entering the main media path. In one embodiment, the registration rollers 40 initially rotate in a reverse direction. As the media sheet continues to be fed forward in the media path A, B, C, reverse rotation stops the leading edge causing the sheet to obtain a bowed or buckled configuration. This forces the leading edge to seat within the nip and removes and/or reduces lateral skew in the sheet. After a predetermined period, the registration rollers 40 are rotated in a forward direction to move the media sheet into the main media path. In one embodiment, the registration rollers 40 begin rotating in a reverse direction when the leading edge of the media sheet is initially detected by the sensor 32. Other embodiments feature the reverse rotation to start after the leading edge has contacted the registration rollers 40.
  • The pick arm 22 may be attached to the input tray 16 such that it is removed from the body 12 when the tray 16 is moved to the open orientation. In another embodiment, the pick arm 22 is attached within the body 12 and remains within the body 12 when the tray 16 is moved to the open orientation. Likewise, the sensor 32 may be attached to the input tray 16, or may be attached to the body 12.
  • Referring to FIG. 1, within the image forming device body 12, the image forming device 10 includes, in addition to the registration rollers 40, a media sheet transfer belt 42, one or more toner cartridges 43, a printhead 44, a fuser 46, and exit rollers 48, as well as various rollers, actuators, sensors, optics, and electronics (not shown) as are conventionally known in the image forming device arts, and which are not further explicated herein
  • The operation of image forming device 10 is conventionally known. Upon command from control electronics, a single media sheet is “picked,” or selected, from either the media stack 18, the manual feeder 50, or additional tray 38. The media sheet moves through the corresponding media path A, B, or C, and the presence of the media sheet in the exit port 30 is sensed by a primary sensor 32. A media width sensor 33 (not illustrated), also located in the exit port 30, may optionally additionally determine a width of the media sheets therein.
  • Upon passing through the exit port 30 of the removable media sheet input tray 16 and into the image forming device body 12, the media sheet is presented at the nip of a registration roller 40, which aligns the sheet and precisely controls its further movement into the print path. The media sheet passes the registration roller 40 and electrostatically adheres to transport belt 42, which carries the media sheet successively past at least one toner cartridge 43 (in the case of color printing, four toner cartridges 43 may each contain different colored toner, such as Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black). At each toner cartridge 43, a latent image is formed by printhead 44 onto the respective photoconductive (PC) drum in each toner cartridge 43. Toner is applied to the PC drum, which is subsequently deposited on the media sheet as it is conveyed past the toner cartridge 43 by the transport belt 42. The toner is thermally fused to the media sheet by the fuser 46, and the sheet then passes through reversible exit rollers 48, to land facedown in the output stack 52 formed on the exterior of the image forming device body 12.
  • The removable media input tray 16 of the present invention present numerous advantages over removable media trays of the prior art. First, since the input tray section 20 and manual feeder section 50 are largely co-planar (with respect to the paper path through the image forming device 10), the height of the image forming device body 12 may be reduced substantially, as compared to prior art image forming devices where the manual feed section 50 is above the primary media tray. An additional advantage of placing the input tray section 20 and manual feed section 50 in the same part is that the reference features for the media may be precisely aligned. This leads to more accurate alignment of media sheets from each source, relative to the other, and may reduce the left margin variation caused by source-to-source errors, common in image forming devices with separate primary media and manual feed inputs.
  • Still another advantage of the present invention over the prior art relates to serviceability. The input tray 16 is a Customer Replaceable Unit (CRU). Any failure or anomalous operation of these components may be addressed by simply sending the customer a new tray 16. This eliminates the need for service calls to the customer's location by technicians, and dramatically reduces the down time of the unit, increasing perceived reliability and customer satisfaction.
  • As used herein, the term “image forming device” includes a device that includes a print mechanism operative to fix text and/or images on media sheets. The term image forming device includes known technologies of computer image forming devices, including electrophotographic, ink jet, dot matrix, thermal, sublimation, and the like, as well as all devices that include a print mechanism, such as traditional stand-alone image forming devices, copiers, multi-function integrating scan, copy, print, fax, and similar operations, or the like. “Image forming device” also applies to secondary transfer machines in which a toner image is formed by toner cartridges onto an intermediate member, which image is subsequently transferred to a media sheet, as well as the direct transfer mechanism depicted in FIG. 1. Further, the image forming device 10 may include a duplex path for forming an image on a second side of the media sheet.
  • As used herein, the term “media sheet” refers to any medium on which images are formed by the image forming device, and includes a wide range of sizes and types of paper sheets, as well as transparencies, envelopes, postcards, checks, iron-on transfers, and the like.
  • A variety of sensors 32 may be used in the present invention. A pivoting arm that extends across the media path is used in one embodiment. Another embodiment may include an optical sensor or sensors that emit and detect an amount of optical energy relative across the media paths A, B, C. Co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ entitled “Integrated Media and Media Tray Sensing in an Image Forming Device” filed Feb. 22, 2005, (Attorney Docket No. 4670-352) discloses a sensor for detecting conditions within an image forming apparatus. This co-pending application is also assigned to Lexmark International, Inc. of Lexington, Ky., USA, and is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • Co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/630,045 entitled “Integrated Media Input Tray Including Electronics” filed Jul. 30, 2003 discloses an image forming apparatus having combined media inputs. This co-pending application is also assigned to Lexmark International, Inc. of Lexington, Ky., USA, and is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 2, the edge guide 59 is positioned to partially extend outward from the media path inlet 51, as well as into the inlet. The edge guide 59 prevents a media sheet from becoming skewed as it is fed into the path B. In one embodiment, about one third of the length of the edge guide 59 extends outward from the front face 14. In one specific embodiment, the edge guide 59 has an overall length of about 49 mm and is positioned along the media path B with about 15 mm extending outward beyond the front face 14.
  • Although the present invention has been described herein with respect to particular features, aspects and embodiments thereof, it will be apparent that numerous variations, modifications, and other embodiments are possible within the broad scope of the present invention, and accordingly, all variations, modifications and embodiments are to be regarded as being within the scope of the invention. In one embodiment, more than one high capacity tray 38 is positioned below input tray 16. Sensor 76 may be used to determine when the input tray 16 is in the closed orientation. The sensor 76 may be positioned at a variety of positions in the receiving port of the body 12, and is operatively connected to the controller 90. The present embodiments are therefore to be construed in all aspects as illustrative and not restrictive and all changes coming within the meaning and equivalency range of the appended claims are intended to be embraced therein.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. An input device for inputting media sheets into an image forming apparatus, the device comprising:
    an input section having a holding area sized to accommodate a stack of the media sheets; and
    a manual feed section having an elongated channel sized to receive media sheets;
    the input section and the manual feed section being in substantially planar alignment and housed in a single unit removably positioned within the image forming apparatus.
  2. 2. The device of claim 1, wherein a first media path extends through the input section to an exit port and a second media path extends through the manual feed section to the exit port.
  3. 3. The device of claim 2, further comprising a sensor positioned at the exit port to detect media sheets moving along the first and second media paths.
  4. 4. The device of claim 1, wherein a first media path extending through the input section has a smaller radius than a second media path extending through the manual feed section.
  5. 5. The device of claim 1, further comprising an edge guide positioned at the entrance to the elongated channel to aligning a side edge of the media sheets, the edge guide having an elongated shape with about one-third of the length extending outward from the entrance, and a remaining two-thirds of the length being positioned within the elongated channel.
  6. 6. An input device for inputting media sheets into an image forming apparatus, the device comprising:
    an input tray section having a holding area sized to receive media sheets;
    a first media path leading from the holding area to an exit port;
    a manual feed section having a channel that extends from an inlet to the exit port, and
    a second media path leading from the inlet to the exit port;
    the input section and the manual feed section being housed in a single unit removably positioned within the image forming apparatus.
  7. 7. The device of claim 6, further comprising a third media path extending from a top side to a bottom side of the device.
  8. 8. The device of claim 7, wherein the inlet of the second media path is on a front side of the device.
  9. 9. The device of claim 8, further comprising an edge guide positioned at the inlet to aligning side edges of the media sheets, the edge guide partially extending outward from the inlet.
  10. 10. The device of claim 6, wherein a radius of the second media path is larger than the first media path.
  11. 11. The device of claim 6, wherein the exit port is positioned vertically above the inlet and the holding area.
  12. 12. The device of claim 6, wherein the input section and the manual feed section are in a substantially planar alignment.
  13. 13. The device of claim 6, further comprising a media sensor positioned to detect the media sheets moving along each of the first and second media paths.
  14. 14. An image forming device comprising:
    a body having a front face
    an image formation section positioned within the body and having a media path;
    an input section removably positioned within the body, the input section having a tray section sized to accommodate a plurality of media sheets in a stacked configuration and a first media path extending between the tray section and an exit port, the input section further having a manual feed section having a channel that extends from an inlet to the exit port;
    the input section being movably positioned within the body between a closed orientation with the exit port aligned with the media path, and an open orientation extending outward from the front face with the tray section accessible.
  15. 15. The device of claim 14, wherein the media path extends substantially vertically through the body, and with the input section in the closed orientation the input section is aligned on a first side of the media path and the manual feed section is aligned on a second side of the media path.
  16. 16. The device of claim 14, wherein the input section is positioned below the media path.
  17. 17. The device of claim 14, wherein the tray section and the manual feed section are aligned in a substantially planar arrangement.
  18. 18. The device of claim 14, further comprising rails positioned along the sides of the input section that mate with corresponding rails in the body to laterally slide the input section into and out of the image forming apparatus.
  19. 19. The device of claim 14, further comprising an aligner roll positioned within the body and being aligned with the exit port when the input section is in the closed orientation.
  20. 20. The device of claim 19, further comprising a sensor to detect the media sheet moving along channel and the first media path and causing the aligner roll to rotate in a reverse direction for a predetermined time period.
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Cited By (4)

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US20080012199A1 (en) * 2006-07-14 2008-01-17 Young-Min Kim Paper cassette having manual paper feeder and image forming apparatus including the same
US20090085275A1 (en) * 2007-09-27 2009-04-02 Konica Minolta Business Technologies, Inc. Image forming apparatus
US20100276874A1 (en) * 2006-05-11 2010-11-04 Shigeo Nanno Manual sheet-feeding device and image forming apparatus

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