Sept. 5, 1 967 I F. w. GR-ANTHAM 3,339,914
' LAUNDRY- FOLDER Filed June 25, 1964 e Sheets-Sheet 1 v 7 Wk INVENTOR.
. gyzeal-au'cg WMRi/QQ D/ F. W. GRANTHAM Sept. 5, 1967 I LAUNDRY FOLDER 6 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed June 23, 1964 INVENTOR.
Sept. 5, 1967 F. w. GRANTHAM LAUNDRY FOLDER S V a I w I I J MW w Filed June 23, 1964 3 Se t. 5, 1967 W. GRANTHAM LAUNDRY FOLDER 6 Sheets-Sheet 4 Filed June 23, 1964 3 mxwmw VERTICAL In veniar:
p 5, 1967 F. w. GRANTHAM 3,339,914
LAUNDRY FOLDER Filed June 23, 1964' 6 Sheets-Sheet 5 I NVEN TOR.
Sept. 5, 1967 F. w. GRANTHAM LAUNDRY FOLDER 6 Sheets-Sheet 6 Filed June 25, 1964 INVENTOR. 0 @ffigianl l a n/ 2 0 w w w m United States Patent 3,339,914 LAUNDRY FOLDER Frederick W. Grantham, Hollywood, Calif. (152 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif. 90015) Filed June 23, 1964, Scr. No. 377,231 36 Claims. (Cl. 270-66) The present invention relates to a laundry folder, for folding such items as towels and napkins.
A broad object of the invention is to provide a folder of the foregoing general character which is extremely simple, although unusually effective.
Another object is to provide a folder of the foregoing general character which is of such unusual and compact design as to occupy a space much less than folders heretofore have occupied.
The folder of the present invention includes a station at an entrance end at which the operator feeds the towels to be folded and from which the towels pass through the folder; the folder is so designed that the towels, on completion of the folding thereof, are delivered from the folder at a position adjacent the entrance end and under full view of the operator.
Another object, therefore, of the invention is to provide a novel folder which, by reason of the arrangement just referred to, enables the operator to easily observe the progress of the towels through the folder and their condition until they are discharged, whereby to provide the operator with a greater surveillance of the operation of the folder and to perform any desired adjustments therein, dependent upon the observed condition of the towels in the folding operation.
A further object is to provide means in a folder of the foregoing kind, for selectively controlling ejection of towels from the folder under manual control of the operator.
An additional object of the invention is to provide a folder of novel and compact mechanical arrangement whereby the towels may be fed into the folder at a convenient and comfortable level, and further in which the towels on being completely folded are delivered from the folder at an elevated height whereby such folded towels, in a stack, may be handled by another operator at a convenient and comfortable height, or they may be transported by gravity, as in a chute, from the folder into a receptacle or to a station for further handling, thus eliminating a conveyor means for conveying the folded towels from a low point, as in previously known folders, up to a higher point at which they may be conveniently handled.
A further and more specific object is to provide a folder of the general type just referred to, including a novel arrangement for forming at least one of the folds in the towels in an upwardly traveling conveyor which results in the completely folded towels being discharged from the folder at the desired elevated height referred to.
An additional object is to provide a novel folder which is unusually effective for making quarter folds in towels.
Still another object is to provide a novel arrangement and mechanism for forming a fold in the towels in a vertical plane and thereafter transporting such folded towels from said vertical plane to a horizontal plane in which an additional fold is made therein, and the towels with such additional folds are transported through the remaining portion of the folder by means of components all operating on horizontal axes whereby to facilitate positioning the completely folded towels after having the secondmentioned fold made therein, until they are deposited in the final station from which they are conveyed from the folder.
Another and more specific object is to provide a folder of the character just referred to, having novel means for adhering a towel to a conveyor on a surface thereof that of the towels therethrough.
A further object is to provide in a folder of the foregoing character, means for stacking the towels as they are folded, and including an arrangement whereby the stacked towels are so stacked evenly, notwithstanding the increasing height of the stack relative to the means for stacking them.
Still another object is to provide, in a folder of the foregoing general character, a novel wicket and means for operating it, for positively transferring the folded towels onto a stacking table and forming a stack thereon;
An additional object is to provide, in a folder of the foregoing general character, novel means for transferring or transporting towels over gaps existing between adjacent conveying components.
Other objects and advantages will appear from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the novel laundry folder of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the principal moving mechanical components, suspended and not supported by the framework;
FIG. 3 is a longitudinal vertical view immediately inwardly of the near frame side plate;
- FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic flow diagram showing the passing through the machine in in FIG. 2;
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary view showing certain driving gears;
FIG. 11 is a fragmentary view of certain components directly involved in one of the folding steps;
FIG. 12 is a fragmentary view of certain components involved in one of the steps of handling the towels;
FIG. 13 is a face view of the wicket means, according to the arrow 13 in FIG. 3.
. Referring now in detail to the drawings, the laundry folder or machine of the invention is indicated in its entirety at 16, and the articles or towels which it is adapted to fold are indicated at 18. The folder is particularly adapted for folding flat pieces, and is not limited to any particular kind of flat piece and may, for example, effectively fold napkins, steamers (small terrycloth towels), and towels (brigger than steamers). However, for purposes of convenience these items will be referred to herein collectively as towels, and the description and claims are to be interpreted accordingly. The folder is adapted for forming quarter folds in the towels, that is, a first fold and a second fold transverse to the first.
The laundry folder 16 includes a framework 20 which need not be described in detail, this framework being utilized for supporting all of the other operating components, and is shaped and designedfor suitably mounting those components at the proper location and in a functional manner. This framework includes two side plates 22 and 24, spaced apart and interconnected by suitable cross-pieces. On one of the side plates, 22, is detachably mounted a cover 26 for covering various controls and instruments indicated collectively at 28, and certain ones of which will be referred to individually hereinbelow. The controls and instruments '28 may, for the most part, be located according to convenience, except those that must be located at particular places for functional reasons. The exact location of these instruments need not be described in detail, except as pointed out hereinbelow.
The main moving mechanical components of the laundry folder are best shown in FIG. 2, although certain ones of them are shown in FIGS. 1 and 3. These main components include a feed board 30, a vertical fold conveyor belt 32, a twist belt 34, a conversion control plate 36, which may also be referred to as a gap plate, and a fold ing knife 38; others of these components include elevating conveyor means 40, wicket means 42, a stack table 44 and a cross-conveyor 46.
FIG. 4 is a flow diagram showing the progress of a towel through the folder and the various folding steps and other steps provided by the folding machine, the various positions of the towel in this figure corresponding spatially with the positions of the components in FIG. 2 related to those steps in handling the towels. In FIG. 4, the different positions of the towel in the steps referred to are indicated by the capital letters A to I inclusive, and these positions are keyed to the corresponding components in FIG. 2 as follows:
Position A indicates a towel 18 placed on the feed board 30; position B indicates the towel in a first and vertical fold on the vertical fold conveyor belt 32, and in the first portion of the operation performed by the twist beltthe towel in this vertical fold remaining in vertical position at the first portion of the engagement with the twist belt; position C indicates the towel at the latter portion of the twist belt 34 in which it is horizontal or nearly so; position D indicates the towel in a condition at an early portion of a second fold produced by the folding knife 38; position E indicates the towel being conveyed upwardly by the elevating conveyor means 40; position F indicates the towel in a transition position between the elevating conveyor means 40 and the wicket means 42; position G indicates the towel on the wicket means 42; position H indicates the towel on the stack table 44; and position I indicates the towel on the cross-conveyor 46. The arrows associated with the towel in the various positions indicate the direction of movement thereof in the successive steps in the passage of the towel through the folder.
The feed board 30 includes a pair of rolls 48 and 50 over which is trained an endless belt 52 made up of a plurality of belt elements 53, the belt being of canvas, for example, providing high friction for conveying the towel. These rolls are mounted in opposite ends of a pair of side plates 54 (one of which is shown), these side plates being mounted on and supported by a pair of links 56 (only one of which is shown). The links 56 are pivotally mounted at one end in the frame 20, and the side plates 54 are pivotally mounted in the opposite and swinging ends of the links. The links 56 at their points of connection with both the frame means 20 and the side plates 54 preferably are so connected as to provide a high degree of friction to enable the feed board 50 to remain in the position to which it is adjusted, the feed board being adjustable through the pivotal mounting referred to. This adjustment includes movement bodily toward and from the main portion of the machine, and swingably about its connection with the links 56.
Mounted also on the roll 50, in driving relation thereto, is a hump roll 58, which in the present instance is in the form of a grooved pulley, which is disposed substantially midway transversely of the feed board, and positioned between laterally spaced groups of belt elements 53. Trained on this hump roll or pulley 58 is a belt 60 which is also trained on another pulley 62 rotatably mounted on a shaft 64 which is suitably mounted in the frame of the machine, such as, for example, by means of a pair of closely spaced frame elements 66. The hump roll 58 is driven through the belt 60 by means of the pulley 62, through a drive transmission to be described hereinbelow.
The hump roll 58 is of such diameter that the belt 60 in its departure from the belt 52 is above, and inclines upwardly from, the belt 52 at a position rearwardly from the delivery end of the belt, so that as the towel progresses from the feed board onto the belt 60, the leading edge of the towel does not have an opportunity to drop over the leading end of the belt 52. The central portion of the leading edge of the towel rides up on the belt 60 while the side portions drape downwardly therefrom, in the beginning of the first fold imparted to the towel.
The pulley 62 derives its drive from the vertical fold conveyor belt 32, which is preferably of rounded crosssection because of its change in direction of movement, as described below, and the pulley 62, as well as the other pulleys on which this belt is trained, are grooved. The belt 32 is also trained over a pulley supported on a shaft 81 mounted on and between a pair of closely spaced frame elements 82 (FIG. 6) which extend upwardly from other supporting frame elements 84 included in the framework 20. The frame elements 82 and 84 (FIG. 5) also serve to support the conversion control plate 36.
The opposite ends of the upper run of the belt 32 are brought down and trained over respective elements of a double idler pulley 86 (FIG. 3) and the lower end of the continuous belt is trained over a pulley 88 from which the belt derives its drive. The conveyor belt 52, the belt 58 and the belt 32 are driven for transporting the towels from left to right as viewed in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3. The mounting and drive of the pulley 88 will be described below.
A shield 90 is provided at the general location of the vertical fold conveyor belt 32, this shield being of generally inverted U-shape, having an upper narrow web portion 92 and side flanges 94. This shield is mounted on suitable supporting elements such, for example, as the shafts 64 and 81, as well as other elements. The shield is so positioned that the web portion 92 is directly under the upper run of the belt 32, while the side flanges 94 substantially cover and conceal at least a portion of the elements directly thereunder, such as the frame elements 66 and 82, the close spacing referred to above accommodating the narrow dimensions of the shield. The side flanges may extend downwardly as far as the side laps of the towel when the latter is folded over the conveyor belt 32. While the upper run of the conveyor belt 32 is closely adjacent the web portion 32 of the shield as indicated above, it may actually ride thereon.
A forming wheel 96 is rotatably mounted in the closed end of a V-shaped bail 100, the other ends of the legs of which are mounted in a suitable frame element 102 extending transversely between and mounted in the side frame members 22 and 24 of the folder. This bail is pivotally mounted so as to provide limited vertical swinging movement of the forming roll 96. This forming roll is also grooved for accommodating the conveyor belt 32, and is positioned slightly offset from the pulley 62 a slight distance in the direction of the progress of the towels through the machine.
The conversion control plate 36 may be L-shaped for convenience in mounting it, and includes a main longitudinally extending leg 104 and a downwardly extending leg 106. The plate may be mounted on the shaft 81 at the juncture between the legs, and the lower leg may be secured to the frame element 84 (FIGS. 3 and 5) for providing the desired rigid support thereof. The main leg 104 cooperates closely with the twist belt 34 as will be 75 described hereinbelow.
In the first steps of operation of the folder, the towel 18 is placed on the feed board 30 in flattened condition, and centered transversely. The conveyor belt 52 carries the towel forward and the center part of the leading edge migrates up onto the belt 60 as stated above. The towel then progresses over the vertical fold conveyor belt 32, and the side portions or laps of the towel fall downwardly and lie against the sides of the shield 90.
The forming wheel 96 bears downwardly on the belt 32 and thus on the towel when the towel is passing thereunder. The grooved shape of the forming wheel forms a crease, or semi-crease, in the towel and prevents the towel from side-slipping. This is particularly effective in the case of starched napkins, for example, although it does perform a similar function in the case of unstarched towels and other items.
The vertical fold conveyor belt 32 continues to carry the towel into the machine, and as the towel leaves that belt it moves onto the conversion control plate or gap plate 36, and then to the twist belt 34. The plate 36 serves as a means to close the gap between the belt 32 and the twist belt 34, and it performs an additional function, as will be described in detail hereinbelow, in maintaining the towel in'proper position on the twist belt. The towel in moving from the belt 32 to the twist belt does so partially by momentum of the belt, and partially by the pushing action by the rear portion of the belt against the fore portion.
The twist belt 34 is trained over a vertical roll 108, and a horizontal roll 110. The vertical roll 108 is mounted on a shaft 112, which may be pivotally mounted at its upper end in theframe element 102, and at its lower end in another frame element 114 (FIGS. 2 and 3). The pulley 88 referred to above is mounted on the lower end of this shaft 112 which is journalled in a lower frame element 114.
The twist belt 34 is for the purpose of turning the towels after they have been folded once and are in vertical position, to a horizontal position wherein they are given a second fold and carried upwardly in the elevating conveyor means 40. The leg 104 of the conversion control plate 36 is spaced from, but closely proximate to, the adjacent run of the twist belt 34, this spacing being shown best in FIG. 7, at point 115. As the towel progresses along the belt 32, it rides onto the plate 36, still in vertical folded condition, and one lap thereof is frictionally held between the plate and the twist belt. The purpose of the plate is to cooperate with the twist belt in supporting the towel in vertical position and until the towel moves into, or at least approaches, horizontal position. For this purpose, the plate 36 extends a substantial distance along the length of the twist belt, such, for example, in the neighborhood of half of the length of the twist belt, and preferably the plate turns or twists complementally to the twist belt so that the spacing between the plate and twist belt is substantially the same throughout their registration. However, this spacing is not critical, since the belt can yield to a great extent, for effectively gripping the lap of the towel between itself and the plate 36. The twist belt 36 may 'be of suitable material such as canvas for providing a high degree of friction. As the towel leaves the plate 36, the belt closely approaches the horizontal, and the friction between the belt and towel is such that the towel will not slip off of the belt, this phenomenon being aided by the inertia of the towel, which tends to carry the leading end of the towel beyond the plate 36 and onto the more nearly horizontal portion of the twist belt.
The drive for the twist belt 34 is provided by an electric motor 116 (FIG. 3) operating through a gear 118, mounted on a shaft 120 on which the roll 110'is mounted. The motor is continuously operating for driving the various parts continuously. Also mounted on the shaft 120 is another gear 122 (FIGS. 3 and in mesh with an additional gear 124 for driving the elevating conveyor means 40. The gear meshes with a gear 128 secured to a fluted roll 130 (FIGS.
2, 3 and 11) which is adjacent to the delivery end of the twist belt 34 opposite a gap 132. The gear 128 has sufficiently fewer teeth than the gear 122, so that the peripheral speed of the fluted roll is greater than the linear speed of the twist belt 34. As the folded towels progress along the twist belt the leading end thereof 18d moves off of the twist belt and into engagement with the fluted roll. The fluted roll, rotating in the same direction as the roll 110, picks up the leading end or edge of the folded towel and carries it thereover, and the towel then moves onto an apron 134 which is curved quite abruptly downwardly in the direction of the movement of the towel.
The flutes of the fluted roll are of substantial depth radially, whereby to provide a high degree of friction with the towels so that the towels are effectively carried from the twist belt 34 and across the gap 132 onto the apron 134. This high friction, together with the greater speed of the fluted roll, provides effective continuation of the movement of the towels beyond the effectiveness of the twist roll, which is terminated because of the gap 132 which must be provided for the operation of the folding knife 38.
As the leading edge 18d of the towel continues moving down the apron, it engages the actuating finger or lever 136 of a normally open microswitch 138 mounted on the swinging end of an arm 140 pivotally mounted on a shaft 142 in the frame. The finger 136 normally projects through a slot 144 (FIG. 3) in the apron, this slot being elongated in the direction of movement of the towel, and can move in the slot toward and from the fluted roll in response to swinging movement of the arm in those directions and in a manner and for a purpose explained below. A preferred construction of the arm 140 is shown in FIG. 8, where it is shown to have a telescopic construction, including an outer tubular member 146 and an inner element 148 slidable in the element 146. The element 148 is biased radially outwardly by suitable means, such as an internal spring, to a limit position shown in full lines. The element 146 may be retracted to the dot-dash line position by means of a solenoid 150 mounted on the ele-' ment 146 and having an armature 152 connected to the element 148 and operable to so retract the latter upon energization of the solenoid. This construction enables retraction of the finger 136 out of the slot under the manual control ofthe operator for purposes to be described below.
The microswitch 138 functions to control the operation of the knife 38 for producing the second fold in the towel. As the towel progresses down the apron 134, the leading edge 18d engages the finger 136 of the switch 138 here indicated diagrammatically. Actuation of the finger closes the switch, which closes a circuit 154 and energizes a solenoid 156 operably connected with an air valve 158 permitting compressed air to enter through conduit 160 from a suitable source (not shown) into a cylinder 162, whereupon the piston there is raised, thereby raising the folding knife 38 which is mounted on the piston rod 166. The knife is elevated to the dotted position shown (FIG. 11) and in so moving upwardly it engages the towel 18, forming a crease 18e therein, and forces it upwardly into a V gap 168 between the two conveyors of the elevating conveyor belt 40, these two conveyors now being identified as 170 and 172 respectively, to be described again hereinbelow. These two conveyors grip the towel, completing the fold, the towel having the second fold therein having a new leading edge 18 The air valve 158 is normally closed and while the solenoid is energized only momentarily because of abrupt withdrawal of the towel from the lever 136 in the folding operation, the inbuilt lag in closing of the valve enables sufficient compressed air to flow into the cylinder to raise the folding knife sufficiently.
The arm 140 is swingable about the shaft 142 as a pivot for adjusting the finger 136 upwardly or downwardly in the slot to accommodate different lengths of towels. It is desired of course, to fold the towel as the mid-point, and the switch finger 136 is positioned in the slot 144 at such position that upon actuation of the switch lever by the towel, as referred to above, the mid-point will be at the gap 132 in position for engagement by the folding knife 38. For longer towels the switch is moved to a lower position, and of course conversely for shorter towels the switch is moved to an upper position.
The means for adjusting the arm 140 and thus the switch 138 and finger 136 includes an arm 174 (FIG. 3) on the shaft 142 to the swinging end of which is connected a link leading toward the inlet end of the folder where its opposite end is connected with another arm 178 secured to a shaft 180. Secured to the shaft is an external hand wheel 182 actuatable by the operator. As will be understood, rotation of the hand wheel 182 in one direction or the other, produces corresponding swinging movement of the arm 140 and thus of the switch. Suitable indicia 184 (FIG. 1) may be provided on the wheel and frame to indicate the various settings.
Referring now to the elevating conveyor means 40, each of the conveyor belts 170 and 172 thereof includes a plurality of transversely spaced belt elements, which may be four or five in number. These conveyor belts which may be of suitable material, such as canvas, for providing high friction, as in the case of other conveyor belts.
The conveyor belt 170 includes a bottom roll 184, a top roll 186 and a third roll 188. The individual elements of this conveyor belt may be, for convenience, identified as a plurality of outer belt elements 170a and a plurality of inner belt elements (e.g. two) 170b. The outer belt elements 170a are trained directly over the bottom and top rolls 184 and 186, while the intermediate belt elements 17% are trained over those two rolls and a third roll 188, thus following a triangular path. All of the belt elements of the conveyor 172 are trained over a bottom roll 190, and an upper roll 192 near the top and a topmost roll 194, together with a smaller roll 196 near the bottom. The conveyor 170 is driven through the gear 124 referred to above, which is secured to a shaft 196 on which the toll 184 is mounted. The conveyor belt 172 is not powerdriven, but an idling, following through friction engagement with the belt 170. This friction engagement is provided by the lower roll 196, which maintains the lower end of the corresponding up run of the conveyor 172 in engagement with the up run of the conveyor 170. This friction engagement is also established by the position of the topmost roll 194, which produces an overhanging relation between the upper closed end of the belt 172 relative to the top roll 186 of the latter conveyor, which produces not only the desired friction engagement mentioned, but also forces the towel being conveyed over the roll 186 and downwardly onto the top inclined run 1700. This action is represented by position F of FIG. 4, which, as mentioned above, indicates the transition position of the towel leaving the position between the conveyors 170 and 172 onto the run 170c and the wicket means 42.
The yieldability of the conveyor belt 170 enables projection of the folding knife 38 and the crease of the towel thereon to project far into the V notch 168 between the conveyors for complete gripping action, and without any damage to any portion of the conveyors. For example, as indicated in FIG. 11, if the knife should project materially above the dotted line position shown in this figure, the conveyor 170 will merely yield, and the elasticity thereof will produce a greater gripping effect on the towel.
The wicket means 42 is inclined downwardly in the direction of progress of the towels, and includes a fixed grill 200 and a movable wicket 202 (FIGS. 2 and 13). The grill 200 includes a plurality of transversely spaced fixed rods 204 secured to transverse frame elements 206 which in turn are suitably secured in the folder such as to the side plates 22 and 24.
The wicket 202 includes a plurality of rods 208 positioned alternately with the rods 204 of the grill and arranged for swinging movement for transferring the towels from thewicket means onto the stack table 44. These rods 208 of the wicket are secured at their lower ends in a rock shaft 210, the upper ends of the rods, of course, being free and detached. FIG. 3 shows the retracted position of the wicket 202 wherein the upper swinging ends of the rods 208 may engage and rest on suitable stop means such as a bar 212. The rods 208 are each provided with a plurality of generally upwardly projecting needles 214, and in the fully retracted position of the wicket these needles are positioned entirely below the upper surfaces of the rods 204 of the grill. As the folded towel passes the transition position F of FIG. 4 it continues downwardly over the wicket means by the action of the top run 1700 of the conveyor, together with gravity. This action is aided by the smooth sliding surface provided by the rods 204 of the grill, together with side plates 216. It will be noted that the rods 204 of the grill and the rods 208 of the wicket are so spaced and positioned as to provide suitable gaps for receiving the runs 1700 of the conveyor belt 170.
The action of the wicket 202 for transferring the towels is controlled by means of a normally open microswitch 218 (FIGS. 2, 3 and 13). This microswitch 218 is suitably mounted on the frame of the machine and has an actuating lever 220 projecting through the wicket means for engagement by the leading edge 18 of the towel. The means under control of the microswitch 218 includes a power device 222 (FIGS. 2 and 12). Upon actuation of the switch lever 220, the switch closes circuit means 224, which energizes a solenoid 226 and opens a normally closed air valve 228 which permits air from a suitable source (not shown) through a conduit 230 into the cylinder 222. Thereupon the piston 232 therein is lowered, which, acting through the piston rod 234 draws a chain 236 trained over a gear 238 secured to the rock shaft 210. This action rocks the shaft and swings the wicket from the full line position of FIG. 12 to the dot-dash line position, carrying the towel with it and depositing it on the stack table 44, the wicket thereupon being retracted by means of a tension spring 240 connected with the chain 236 and a fixed element of the frame. It will be understood that the air valve 228 closes upon de-energization of the solenoid 226, which is effected after the towel leaves the grill, whereupon the switch 218 moves to open position under the internal bias of the switch. The action of the valve may be similar to that of the valve 158.
Upon the swinging movement of the wicket 202, the needles 214 thereof engage the towel immediately upon their projecting upwardly beyond the top surface of the grill rods 204, and penetrate and grip the towel so that the towel is not thrown off of the wicket by centrifugal force upon the wicket being swung to advanced position. By virtue of this feature, the action of the wicket can be very fast, and thus enable extremely fast operation of the folder.
It is desired that the towels be stacked in the folding operation rather than being issued therefrom singly. This stacking operation is performed on the stack table 44. The stack table 44 is made yieldable so as to lower progressively as the towels are stacked thereon, so that each towel is placed thereon in a position substantially the same as the towel before, and specifically with the rear edges, i.e., the edges 18 nearest the wicket means, in even alignment.
The stack table 44 includes an endless conveyor belt 242, which is normally stationary for receiving the towels in stacked condition up to a predetermined number, whereupon it is moved to carry the stack off of the stack table and move it onto the cross conveyor 46. The construction of the stack table 44 includes rolls 244, 246
over which the belt 242 is trained, and side plates 248, one of which is shown in FIG. 9. These side plates are pivotally mounted on a shaft 250 (FIGS. 3 and 12) on which the roll 244 is mounted. This shaft is suitably mounted in the frame of the machine, and allows the opposite end of the shaft, i.e., roll 246, to movedownwardly under the action of the towels being deposited on the stack table, and the additional impacting action of the wicket 202, which, on depositing each towel on the stack table, forces the latter downwardly.
As shown in FIG. 9, the swinging end of one of the side bars 248 includes a latch element 252 positioned for engaging with teeth 254 provided on a marginal edge of a slot 256 in the adjacent side plate 24 of the frame. The latch element 252 is biased into engagement with the teeth by suitable means such as a compression spring 258, and is retracted out of that engagement by a solenoid 260 mounted on and carried by the arm 248. The stack table is biased upwardly by suitable means such as a compression spring 262 working against a suitable fixed element of the frame, the stack table being raised by the spring upon retraction of the latch element 252. Upon lowering movement of the stack table upon continued deposit of the towels thereon, as mentioned above, the latch element 252 latches in successive ones of the teeth 254, and upon the side plate 246, reaching its lowermost position, it engages a switch button 264 in the lower end of the slot 256. This switch button closes a circuit which energizes the solenoid 260 which retracts the latch element 252 and enables the table to be raised under the action of the spring 262. The circuit also effects operation of a drive motor 266 (FIG. 3) which advances the conveyor belt 242 to carry the stack of towels thereon onto the cross conveyor 46. Such a circuit is of known kind, and need not be disclosed or described in detail, since it may include such conventional features as a holding circuit for retaining the solenoid 260 in energized condition and the latch element retracted until the stack table reaches its uppermost position, and until the conveyor belt 242 has advanced sutficiently to move the stack of towels onto the cross conveyor 46. The circuit for the solenoid 260 may be deenergized by a switch 267 actuated by a pin 269 on the arm 248. It has been found that if the conveyor belt 242 is advanced approximately one-half of a complete cycle, the towels will be moved sufiiciently. For this purpose a wheel 268 (FIG. 3) is provided, and driven in synchronism with the conveyor belt, namely, this wheel is advanced one half revolution for each (complete cyclic) movement of the conveyor belt. The wheel 268 includes an arm 270, which alterantely engages actuating fingers or levers of switches 272, each of which is operative for opening the circuit referred to, stopping the drive motor 266 and de-energizing the solenoid 260. In the succeeding similar action, the opposite switch 272 is actuated with the same effect. The conveyor belt 242 may be of suitable material, such as canvas, for providing the desired friction between itself and the stack of towels thereon.
The teeth or notches 254 may be and preferably are spaced apart approximately corresponding to the movement of the stack table produced by one towel being deposited thereon, and as each such additional towel is so deposited, the latch element 252 latches with the successive tooth. If, for example, a stack of ten towels is desired, the latch element will, at the completion of the stack, have latched against about the tenth tooth. It may be desired to have a greater number of teeth than the number of towels suggested, so as to vary the size of the stack, such, for example, as having approximately 15 teeth so that a stack of as much as 15 towels may be automatically provided for. The control switch button 266 may be actuated at different positions of the table by means of an adjustable downwardly extending pin 274 which, upon beingadjusted to respectively diiferent po- 10 sitions engages the control button 264 at different heights of the stack table.
A plate 276 (FIG. 3) may be provided between the stack table 44 and the cross conveyor 46, to fill the gap therebetween and provide for smooth and continuous movement of the stack of towels onto the cross conveyor. The cross conveyor 46 may be driven by suitable means such as a motor 278 (FIG. 3) which may be continuously operating or automatically controlled by suitable and known means which need not be described herein. If desired, the cross conveyor 46 may be smooth and relatively frictionless relative to the movement of the stack of towels thereacross, but providing friction in the opposite direction so that it will effectively carry the stack of towels without slippage. After the stack of towels is moved off of the cross conveyor, it may be handled in any desired manner, such as moving it onto another conveyor 278, or depositing it in a chute, etc. It will be noted that the folded towels leave the folder adjacent the inlet end, providing for an extremely'short folder. Also it will be noted they leave at quite an elevated height.
Various ones of the elements of the machine, such as the shiled 90, apron 134, side plates 216 and plate 276 are, of course, preferably smooth to facilitate sliding action of the towels, and may be of such material as stainless steel.
While I have herein shown and described a preferred form of the invention, it will be understood that changes may be made therein within the scope of the appended claims.
I claim: a
1. A laundry folder having an inlet end, comprising first conveyor means having a narrow top element running longitudinally into the folder at the inlet end and adapted for receiving a towel thereon and forming a first fold therein without substantial thickness, and in which the laps thereof are disposed vertically and closely adjacent each other, said first conveyor means conveying the towel so folded into the folder, second conveyor means having a receiving end disposed generally vertical and a delivery end disposed substantially horizontal, said receiving end 1 of the second conveyor being disposed adjacent the delivery end of the first conveyor and being disposed for receiving the towel having said first fold therein in position in which the laps thereof are disposed vertically and with the folded towel disposed closely adjacent the vertical surface of the second conveyor at the receiving end of the latter, means cooperating with said second conveyor for moving the towel along said second conveyor and progressively translating it from vertical position to horizontal position whereby the second conveyor is operative for transporting the towel thereolf and therebeyond in horizontal position.
2. The invention set out in claim 1, including means for producing a second fold in the towel transverse to the first fold, and conveyor means cooperating with the means for forming the second fold for carrying the second-folded towel from the delivery end of the second conveyor in such position that the central plane of the second-folded towel is generally transverse to the central plane of the towel when having the first fold and delivered from the second conveyor.
3. A laundry folder having an inlet end, comprising a feed board conveyor having a transversely horizontal run of substantial width and a curved delivery end and adapted for receiving flat towels for folding, a hump roll at the delivery end of the feed board conveyor concentric with the axis of rotation of the delivery end thereof and of greater radius there than a vertical fold conveyor leading forwardly from the delivery end of the feed board conveyor, said vertical fold conveyor being without significant width and leading from said feed board conveyor over said hump roll whereby the vertical fold conveyor begins at a point posterior to the delivery end of the feed board conveyor and rises therefrom whereby to progress from the central portion of the feed board conveyor on an inclined path in direction beyond the delivery end thereof, the vertical fold conveyor supporting the towel in a fold with the fold laps depending from and on opposite sides thereof, and means posterior to said vertical fold conveyor for producing a second fold in the towel transverse to the plane of the first fold.
4. A laundry folder comprising in combination a vertical fold conveyor including a continuous belt having a top run substantially horizontal, a feed board conveyor at an entrance end of the vertical fold conveyor, and including a conveyor belt mounted on longitudinally spaced transverse rolls, said feed board conveyor belt having a transverse intermediate gap, a hump roll at its delivery end of greater radius than the delivery end of the feed board conveyor, conveyor belt means interconnecting the hump roll with said vertical fold conveyor means, means mounting said feed board conveyor for vertical swinging movement about said transverse axis at its delivery end, and for bodily movement toward and from said vertical fold conveyor means, said interconnecting conveyor belt means serving to limit movement of said feed board conveyor away from the vertical fold conveyor, said feed board conveyor being adapted for placement thereon of a towel in flat condition, and the interconnecting conveyor belt means and vertical fold conveyor being adapted for receiving the towel from the feed board conveyor along an intermediate line of the towel whereby the side portions of the towel depend on opposite sides of the vertical fold conveyor as it progresses therealong, a twist belt conveyor beyond said Vertical fold conveyor having an inlet end substantially in vertical position adjacent the delivery end of the vertical fold conveyor and progressing into substantially horizontal position at its delivery end, and means cooperating with said twist belt upon delivery of a towel from said vertical fold conveyor for retaining the towel with a first fold therein in engagement with the twist belt and confining it thereagainst and thereby operative for constraining the towel to move with said twist belt to a substantially horizontal position, and means for producing a second fold in the towel transverse to the first fold therein.
5. The invention set out in claim 4, including a grooved forming wheel biased downwardly and normally engaging said vertical fold conveyor and adapted to receive the towel thereunder and thereby pressing the towel downwardly and forming a crease therein as the towel progresses along said vertical fold conveyor.
6. A laundry folder comprising a vertical fold conveyor adapted to receive a towel to be folded along a mid line thereof with laps depending downwardly on opposite sides of the conveyor, a twist conveyor longitudinally beyond the vertical fold conveyor and including a relatively wide continuous belt having an inlet end adjacent the delivery end of the vertical fold conveyor and disposed on a substantially vertical axis, and continuing in gradually twisting formation to its delivery end in which it is disposed on a substantially horizontal axis, and a conversion control plate of relatively thin dimension disposed vertically and extending forwardly from the delivery end of the vertical fold conveyor and adapted to receive a towel which is thus folded thereon with said laps on opposite sides of and depending vertically therefrom, said conversion control plate extending forwardly in register with said twist belt in closely spaced relation thereto a substantial distance therealong and operable for frictionally confining one of the laps of the folded towel between itself and the twist belt to a point thereon where the friction between the towel and the twist belt, together with their proximity to the horizontal prevent the towel from sliding d the twist belt, the twist belt being operative for delivering the towel with such a fold therein from its delivery end in substantially horizontal position, and means for forming a second fold in the towel in direction substantially transverse to the first fold.
7. The invention set out in claim 6 wherein the conversion control plate possesses a twisted conformation conforming generally with the twisted conformation of the twist belt.
8. A laundry folder comprising a frame, a vertical fold conveyor including an endless belt trained on pulleys, two of which are longitudinally spaced and aligned forming a top run of the belt, said belt being without substantial thickness and the top run thereof being adapted for receiving a towel along its mid line with side laps thereof depending downwardly on opposite sides of the top run, an inverted U-shaped shield having a top web portion directly under said top run of the belt and side flanges depending downwardly therefrom and adapted to receive the side laps of the towel in sliding contact engagement therewith, portions of the conveyor belt other than the top run thereof extending downwardly from said pulleys and extending at least partially under the shield and between the side flanges thereof, a pulley mounted on a vertical axis receiving the lower end of the endless belt and operative for providing drive for the belt, a twist conveyor beyond the vertical fold conveyor of substantial width and having a receiving end adjacent the delivery end of the vertical fold conveyor, disposed on a vertical axis, means mounting said receiving end of the twist conveyor including a vertical shaft supporting at its lower end said pulley which provides the drive for said vertical fold conveyor belt, the twist belt progressively twisting in delivering direction and at its delivery end being substantially horizontal, a conversion control plate positioned and operative for receiving a folded towel from the vertical fold conveyor and operative in conjunction with the twist belt -for confining the towel in engagement with the twist belt throughout a substantial portion of the length of the twist belt whereby the towel, after being moved beyond the conversion control plate, is sufliciently near the horizontal as to be carried by the twist belt without the towel sliding thereoff, and means for producing a second fold in the towel generally transverse to the first fold beyond the delivery end of the twist belt.
9. A laundry folder comprising in combination a vertical fold conveyor adapted for receiving a towel thereover and supporting the towel at a mid line thereof whereby opposite laps of the towel depend from opposite sides of the conveyor, second conveyor means for receiving the towel from the vertical fold conveyor in vertical position and translating it to horizontal position and operative for delivering the towel in such folded position therefrom beyond its delivery end, means spaced beyond the delivery end of the second conveyor means and forming a gap therebetween and adapted to receive the leading end of the folded towel from the second conveyor and thereby operative for supporting that leading end of the towel from dropping immediately over the delivery end of the second conveyor, a folding knife operative for moving through said gap in a direction generally transverse to the delivery end of the second conveyor and thereby forming a second fold generally transverse to the first fold, and third conveyor means operative for receiving the towel as folded by said folding knife and continuing the transmission of the folded towel to an outlet portion of the folder.
10. The invention set out in claim 9 wherein control means is provided for controlling the operation of the folding knife, the control means including a sensing element disposed in the path of the leading end of the towel as the towel passes over the supporting means and operative upon engagement by the leading end of the towel for controlling the actuation of the means for actuating the folding knife.
11. The invention set out in claim 10 wherein said supporting means spaced from the delivery end of the second conveyor includes a roll provided with flutes in its periphery operative upon rotation thereof and engagement with the leading end portion of the towel for providing a high 13 degree of friction for transmitting the towel over the gap and said control switch.
12. The invention set out in claim 11 wherein an apron is disposed posterior to said fluted roll relative to the direction of movement of the towel over the fluted roll, and curves downwardly therefrom, said sensing element projects through an opening in the apron, and manually actuatable adjusting means is provided for adjusting the sensing element toward and from the fluted roll.
13. The invention set out in claim 9 wherein control means is provided for controlling the operation of the folding knife, the control means including a sensing element in the path of the leading end of the towel as the towel passes over the supporting means and operative upon. engagement by the leading end of the towel for controlling the actuation of the means for actuating the folding knife, and further wherein manually actuated means is provided for selectively rendering the sensing element ineffective for engagement by the towel.
' 14. The invention set out in claim 9 where said folding knife is disposed below said gap and extends transversely substantially the full length of the gap, said third conveyor means includes a pair of elevating conveyors having respective up runs in friction inter-engagement and positioned for receiving the towel as folded by the folding knife therebetween and is operative for carrying the towel thus folded upwardly, and means is provided operative for receiving the folded towel after being so carried upwardly and conveying it to an outlet portion of the folder.
15. The invention set out in claim 14 wherein one of the elevating conveyors is power driven and the other is idling and driven by friction engagement with the first conveyor.
16. The invention set out in claim 9 wherein said third conveyor-means includes a first and second conveyor above said gap and having respective up runsiin friction interengagement, one of the conveyors including means at its lower end defining an angular run relative to the up run of the opposite conveyor, thereby defining an inverted V-notch positioned for receiving the upper edge portion of said folding knife upon raisingmovement' of thelatter H y W 17. The invention set out in claim 9 wherein said third conveyor means includes a first and second conveyor above said gap, the first conveyor having a roll at its lower end and the second conveyor having a pair of rolls at its lower end, one of the pair of rolls being higher than the other and laterally offset therefrom the pair of rolls thereby defining a run inclined to the up run of the first conveyor, and forming avV-notch eflectively between the conveyors at the lower end thereof, and the upper one of said pair of rolls biasing the second conveyor into engagement with the first conveyor at a position spaced above the roll in the first conveyor whereby to enable yielding of the up run of the first conveyor in response to insertion of said folding knife into said V-notch to a point above the upper one of the pair of rolls.
18. A laundry folder comprising, a conveyor adapted to receive a towel and delivering it beyond its delivery end in horizontal position, a folding knife immediately beyond the delivery end of the conveyor and disposed therebelow and operative upon raising movement thereof for engaging the towel and forming a fold therein, elevating conveyor means above said folding knife and adapted to receive the towel in response to folding thereof by the folding knife and move-ment of the towel by the folding knife into engagement with the elevating con-' veyor means, the elevating conveyor means including a first and second conveyor respectively having up runs in proximity to each other for receiving the towel folded as stated and elevating it, wicket means, the elevating conveyor means constraining the towel as carried by said up runs to move onto the wicket means, the wicket means having elements disposed rearwardly from a plane on which the towel is received, and including a portion movable forwardly from said plane and carrying the towel therewith, and means for receiving the towel from said movable portion and transporting it from the folder.
19. The invention set out in claim 18, wherein said wicket means includes a grill having a plurality of spaced elements, and a wicket also having a plurality of spaced elements, interspersed with the elements of the grill, and the wicket is mounted on a rock shaft and operative upon rocking of that shaft for swinging the wicket about the axis of the shaft in forward advancing direction.
20. The invention set out in claim 18, wherein the elements of the wicket repose rearwardly from the operative surface of the wicket means, and the elements of the wicket are provided with a plurality of forwardly extending needles which, when the wicket is in retracted position, terminate rearwardly, of the working surface of the grill whereby to enable unimpeded movement of the towels onto the wicket means, and the needles are operative upon forward advancing movement of the wicket for penerating the towel in moving the towel from the wicket means and preventing the towel from moving off of the wicket by centrifugal force in the swinging movement of the wicket. v
21. The invention set out in claim 18 wherein said wicket means is disposed at an angle, including downwardly in advancing direction of the towel in movement onto the wicket means whereby the towel moves onto the wicket means under the action of said upper inclined run of the conveyor, together with gravity.
22. The. invention set outin claim 18 wherein one of the. conveyors has more than two runs spaced apart and defining an enclosed area, said wicket means is effectively positioned within that area, and one of the said runs is incorporated in the wicket. means and that run is effective for conveying the towel onto the wicket means.
23. The invention set out in claim 22 wherein a control switch is provided with a sensing element projecting.
through an opening in the wicket means in the path of movement of the towel onto the wicket means, and power means is provided for moving the wicket forwardly in so carrying the towel, and said control means is operative, in response to; actuation of the sensing means pursuant to engagement therewith by the towel, for moving the wicket forwardly for carrying the towel from the wicket means.
24. The invention set out in claim 18 whereby the wicket means is disposed with a working surface having an upward component of direction of facement, and the wicket in moving forwardly moves in a swinging motion, and a stack table is provided for receiving the towel from the wicket, the stack table being operative for lowering in receding direction pursuant to deposition of a towel thereonto from said wicket.
25. The invention set out in claim 24 including additionally, means for biasing the stack table upwardly to a normal position, means for releasably retaining the table in lowered positions pursuant to successive towels being deposited on the table, and means responsive to the stack table lowering to a predetermined extent operative for releasing said retaining means.
26. The invention set out in claim 25 wherein the stack table includes a normally stationary conveyor belt and driving means for the conveyor belt is provided, and means is also provided operative, in response to the stack table reaching its said lowermost limit and actuating the actuating means, for controlling the driving means for conveying the stack of towels then on the conveyor and delivering it therefrom.
27. The invention set out in claim 26 wherein the conveyor belt is an endless belt, and means is provided for terminating movement of that endless belt at substantially one-half cycle of movement thereof, said last means being controlled by limit means in turn controlled by the movement of the belt.
28. The invention set out in claim 27 wherein said stack table conveyor means terminates adjacent an entry end of the folder and thereby adjacent the position of an operator operating the machine, and a cross conveyor is provided adjacent the delivery end of the stack table conveyor for conveying the stack of towels deposited thereon from the stack table conveyor transversely from the folder, and further wherein drive and control means is provided operative for driving said cross conveyor intermittently in synchronism with the operation of the stack table conveyor and thereby with the deposition of successive stacks of towels thereon.
29. A laundry folder having a leading end, including a first conveyor adapted for receiving towels at said leading end, the first conveyor being adapted for receiving each towel at a mid line thereof with side laps depending downwardly, thereby forming a first and vertical fold, second conveyor means for receiving the towel so folded and conveying it through a portion of the machine, and in so conveying it transmitting it from a vertical position to a horizontal position, said second conveyor means including an endless integral belt of substantial width, the towel being capable of resting against and, immediately after leaving vertical position, being supported by the belt, at all increments transversely of the belt throughout its full travel on the belt, means for forming a second fold in the towel transverse to the first fold, means for conveying the towel with the second fold therein further through the folder and delivering it from the folder at a point closely adjacent the inlet end and above said first conveyor means.
30. The invention set out in claim 29 wherein the last conveying means includes an elevating conveyor operative for carrying the towel to a substantial vertical height, and means below that height for receiving the towels and forming stacks thereof and delivering the stacks from the folder.
31. The invention set out in claim 29 wherein the length of the folder is effectively that from the inlet end to a point beyond but closely proximate the point wherein the towel having the first fold therein is translated to horizontal position.
32. A method of folding towels comprising the steps, forming a first fold in each towel disposed in vertical position, transporting the towel longitudinally with such first fold therein progressively from a vertical position to a horizontal position by contacting the towel at all points transversely with a twisted conveyor belt, which belt changes progressively from a vertical position to a horizontalposition, supporting the towel from below and at all points transversely by the twisted conveyor belt substantially immediately after it leaves vertical position and assumes inclined position in changing into horizontal position and substantially throughout its longitudinal transportation, and forming a second fold therein when it is in horizontal position transverse to the direction of the first fold.
33. A method according to claim 32 wherein each second fold is formed by forming a fold line defining a leading edge of the towel having two folds therein, and conveying the towel having the two folds therein upwardly from the position at which the second fold was produced and thereafter conveying the towel with the two folds therein horizontally from the folding locations.
34. The method set out in claim 33 wherein successive towels with such second folds therein are placed in successive stacks, and the stacks are delivered from the folding location, and in which each two-folded towel is moved continuously linearly from the second fold location to the stacking position in such direction that the fold line of the second fold leads and remains at all times substantially transverse to the original direction of the fold line of the first fold.
35. A laundry folder comprising conveyor means including an endless belt uniform and continuous in width throughout its length, having a receiving end disposed on a vertical axis, and twisting progressively to a delivery end where it is disposed on a horizontal axis, and means at the receiving end and extending a portion of the distance to the delivery end for supporting a towel in vertical position anterior to the belt and operative for supporting it on the belt at the receiving end portion of the latter, the belt being effective for supporting a towel of a width as great as its own width at all points transversely of the towel throughout its own longitudinal travel.
36. The invention set out in claim 35 wherein the towel supporting means is operative for folding the towel at a midpoint with side flaps depending downwardly, and the belt is operative for receiving the towel in such position that the side flaps are fitted flat together and flat on the belt.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 331,281 12/1885 Crowell 270-86 589,083 8/1897 Hart 270--86 2,214,857 9/1940 Johnson 27066 2,464,556 3/ 1949 Clark 27061 2,579,746 12/ 1 Malott 270--66 2,645,476 7/1953 Wood et al 270-66 X 3,154,726 10/1964 McClain 27081 X EUGENE R. CAPOZIO, Primary Examiner.
P. WILLIAMS, Assistant Examiner.