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Publication numberUS20030080486 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/035,298
Publication dateMay 1, 2003
Filing dateOct 26, 2001
Priority dateOct 26, 2001
Publication number035298, 10035298, US 2003/0080486 A1, US 2003/080486 A1, US 20030080486 A1, US 20030080486A1, US 2003080486 A1, US 2003080486A1, US-A1-20030080486, US-A1-2003080486, US2003/0080486A1, US2003/080486A1, US20030080486 A1, US20030080486A1, US2003080486 A1, US2003080486A1
InventorsEdward Ifkovits, Gail Pfeifer, James Spiers, Joseph Trudeau, Joseph Zuzick
Original AssigneeIfkovits Edward M., Pfeifer Gail A., Spiers James A., Trudeau Joseph A., Zuzick Joseph F.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Inserting machine with interchangeable modules
US 20030080486 A1
Abstract
A mail inserter having an insertion station for inserting mailing material into an envelope. The mail inserter further comprises a sheet provider module for providing sheets of mailing material, an exit module for conveying the mailing material to the insertion station, and an intermediate module, which can be a sheet folder or a sheet transport disposed between the sheet provider module and the exit module. The sheet provider can be a cut sheet feeder or a burster for separating individual sheets from a continuous web. The sheet provider and the burster are mechanically interchangeable. The folder and the sheet transport are also mechanically interchangeable. The exit module can additionally has a trap stage to temporarily hold the mailing material until the insertion station is ready to receive the next mailing material, and a slitter to trim off an edge of the mailing material.
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Claims(6)
What is claimed is:
1. A mail inserter for mass mailing having an insertion station for inserting mailing material into an envelope, said inserter comprising:
a sheet provider module for providing sheets of the mailing material;
an exit module for conveying the mailing material to the insertion station; and
an intermediate module, disposed between the sheet provider module and the exit module for performing a predetermined intermediate task; wherein
the sheet provider module can be a cut sheet feeder for providing the sheets of the mailing material, or a burster module for separating a continuous web of printed documents into the sheets of the mailing material;
the intermediate module can be a folder module adapted to receive the sheets provided by either the sheet feeder or the burster module for folding the sheets into folded pieces, or a sheet transport module adapted to receive the sheets provided by either the sheet feeder or the burster module and relaying the sheets to the exit module; and
the exit module is adapted to receive the folded pieces from the folder module when the predetermined task is to fold the sheets into the folded pieces, or to receive the sheets from the sheet transport module when the predetermined task is to relay the sheets from the sheet provider module to the insertion station.
2. The mail inserter of claim 1, wherein each of the sheets provided by the sheet provider module has parallel lateral edges and one of the parallel lateral edges may be used for printing mail-related identification information, and the exit module comprises a cutter for trimming said one of the parallel lateral edges off the sheets for removing the printed identification information from the mailing material.
3. The mail inserter of claim 1, wherein the exit module comprises a trap stage for temporarily holding the mailing material provided by the intermediate module prior to conveying the mailing material to the insertion station for synchronization purposes.
4. The mail inserter of claim 1, wherein the mail inserter has a chassis and the sheet provider module, the intermediate module and the exit module are removably mounted on the chassis.
5. The mail inserter of claim 4, wherein the sheet provider module has a driving mechanism for moving the sheets and a connector for conveying electrical power from the chassis.
6. The mail inserter of claim 1, wherein the intermediate module and the exit module share a driving mechanism for moving the mailing material.
Description
    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    The present invention generally relates to an inserting machine and, more particularly, an inserting machine having interchangeable, modular equipment.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    In an inserting machine for mass mailing, there is a gathering section where enclosure material is gathered before it is inserted into an envelope at an envelope insertion area. The gathering section is sometimes referred to as a chassis subsystem, which includes a gathering transport with pusher fingers rigidly attached to a conveyor belt and a plurality of enclosure feeders mounted above the transport. If the enclosure material contains many documents, these documents must be separately fed from different enclosure feeders.
  • [0003]
    Inserting machines are well-known. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,501,417 (Foster et al.) discloses an inserter feeder assembly for feeding enclosures; U.S. Pat. No. 4,753,429 (Irvin et al.) discloses a collating station; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,660,030 (Auerbach et al.) discloses an envelope inserter station, wherein envelopes are separately provided to an envelope supporting deck to allow enclosure materials to be stuffed into the envelopes. An exemplary portion of an inserting machine is shown in FIG. 1. As shown, an enclosure feeding portion of inserting machine 900 typically includes a plurality of enclosure feeders 920 for releasing documents 922 onto a long deck 926. The released documents 922 are collated as they are pushed by a plurality of pusher fingers 940 driven by one or more endless belts or chains 942 from an upstream end 902 to an downstream end 904. At the same time, a stack of envelopes 914 are placed on the envelope feeder 912 so that one envelope at a time is released from the envelope feeder 912 into the envelope insertion area 906 where the envelope is spread open to allow the collated documents to be stuffed into the envelope. The enclosure feeders 920 are mounted along the long deck 926 at regular intervals such that each of the enclosure feeders 920 occupies 13.5 inches (34.29 cm). The distance between the front end of two adjacent pusher fingers 940 is also equal to 13.5 inches. This separation distance is also known as a pitch.
  • [0004]
    As shown in FIG. 1, the enclosure feeders 920 can be used to provide only cut sheets. They cannot be used to provide documents printed on a continuous web, for example. Thus, it is advantageous and desirable to include in an inserting machine a burster for separating a continuous web of printed documents into individual sheets. It is also advantageous and desirable that the inserting machine is capable of folding the sheets into folded pieces before they are conveyed to the insertion area and inserted into envelopes.
  • [0005]
    Folding machines are well known. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,701,233 (Beck et al.) discloses a method and system for folding a sheet by bulging a portion of the sheet and then folding the bulged portion through a roller nip. U.S. Pat. No. 4,875,965 (Marzullo) discloses a folding apparatus, wherein a buckle chute is used for stopping a sheet, causing the sheet to enter a roller nip for folding.
  • [0006]
    In prior art inserting machines, the various components such as the folder machines, the cut sheet feeders, the bursters and other related equipment are not designed to be truly modular in that one component cannot be substituted for another. For example, a folder cannot replace a burster in the same location in an inserting machine. Furthermore, when folding is not required, it is also desirable that the folder be taken out and a straight-through sheet transport is used to replace the folder at the same location. Currently, some or all of the various components must be designed to suit the specific need in an inserting machine. This is an extensive problem in that customers may want to substitute one module for another in the machine they have purchased.
  • [0007]
    Thus, it is advantageous and desirable to provide an inserting machine for mass mailing, wherein some or all of the various components are designed as interchangeable modules so that one module can be replaced by another.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0008]
    According to the present invention, a mail inserter for mass mailing having an insertion station for inserting mailing material into an envelope, said inserter comprising:
  • [0009]
    a sheet provider module for providing sheets of the mailing material;
  • [0010]
    an exit module for conveying the mailing material to the insertion station; and
  • [0011]
    an intermediate module, disposed between the sheet provider module and the exit module for performing a predetermined intermediate task; wherein
  • [0012]
    the sheet provider module can be a cut sheet feeder for providing the sheets of the mailing material, or a burster module for separating a continuous web of printed documents into the sheets of the mailing material;
  • [0013]
    the intermediate module can be a folder module adapted to receive the sheets provided by either the sheet feeder or the burster module for folding the sheets into folded pieces, or a sheet transport module adapted to receive the sheets provided by either the sheet feeder or the burster module and relaying the sheets to the exit module; and
  • [0014]
    the exit module is adapted to receive the folded pieces from the folder module when the predetermined task is to fold the sheets into the folded pieces, or to receive the sheets from the sheet transport module when the predetermined task is to relay the sheets from the sheet provider module to the insertion station.
  • [0015]
    According to the present invention, each of the sheets provided by the sheet provider module has parallel lateral edges and one of the parallel lateral edges may be used for printing mail-related identification information, and the exit module comprises a cutter for trimming said one of the parallel lateral edges for removing the printed identification information from the mailing material.
  • [0016]
    According to the present invention, the exit module comprises a trap stage for temporarily holding the mailing material provided by the intermediate module prior to conveying the mailing material to the insertion station for synchronization purposes.
  • [0017]
    The present invention will become apparent upon reading the description taken in conjunction with FIGS. 2 to 9.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0018]
    [0018]FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing a prior art enclosure feeding portion of an inserting machine.
  • [0019]
    [0019]FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic representation showing a plurality of modules in an inserting machine, according to the present invention.
  • [0020]
    [0020]FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic representation showing a sheet feeder, according to the present invention.
  • [0021]
    [0021]FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic representation showing a burster, according to the present invention.
  • [0022]
    [0022]FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic representation showing a sheet transport, according to the present invention.
  • [0023]
    [0023]FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic representation showing a folder, according to the present invention.
  • [0024]
    [0024]FIG. 7 is an isometric view showing an exit module, according to the present invention.
  • [0025]
    [0025]FIG. 8 is an isometric view showing a cutter being included in the exit module of FIG. 7 for trimming one of the lateral edges of the sheet or folded piece.
  • [0026]
    [0026]FIG. 9 is a top view showing a sheet having a portion to be trimmed off by a slitter in the exit module.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0027]
    [0027]FIG. 2 shows an inserting machine 1 wherein three modules are used to provide enclosure materials to an insertion station 40 wherein the enclosure materials are inserted into envelopes for mass mailing. The three modules, according to the present invention, are a sheet provider module 10, an intermediate module 20 and an exit module 30. Preferably, the modules 10, 20 and 30, along with the insertion station 40, are mounted on a common chassis 50. The sheet provider module 10 can be a cut sheet feeder 100, as shown in FIG. 3, or a burster 150, as shown in FIG. 4. Preferably, the sheet provider module 10 is used to provide a single sheet 3 of enclosure document at an exit point 14 to the intermediate module 20. However, it is possible to use a sheet provider module 10 to provide a collation of two or more sheets of enclosure documents to the intermediate module 20. In order that the cut sheet feeder 100 is interchangeable with a burster 150, it is preferable that the exit point of the sheet feeder 100 and the exit point of the burster 150 have substantially the same height h1, from the chassis 50. As shown in FIG. 2, the intermediate module 20 has an entry point 22 having an appropriate height h2 from the chassis 50 to receive the sheet 3 from the sheet provider module 10. The intermediate module 20 can be a sheet folder 250 for folding a sheet 3 into a folded piece, as shown in FIG. 6, and for providing the folded piece at an exit point 24 to an entry point 32 of the exit module 30. The intermediate module 20 can also be a sheet transport module 200 as shown in FIG. 5. The function of the sheet transport 200 is to convey the sheet 3 received from either the cut sheet feeder 100 or the burster 150 to the exit module 30. Preferably, the entry point of the folder 250 and the entry point of the sheet transport module 200 have substantially the same height h2 and their exit points also have substantially the same height h3 from the chassis 50. The entry point 32 of the exit module 30 has an appropriate height h4 to receive an item 5, which can be a folded piece from the folder 250 or a sheet from the sheet transport module 200.
  • [0028]
    The exit module 30 is a transport link between the intermediate module 20 and the insertion station 40. It is used to convey at an exit point 36 the received item 5 to the insertion station 50. Thus, the height h5 of the exit point 36 on the exit module 30 and the height h6 of the entry point 42 of the insertion station 40 must be compatible. If the feeding rate of the sheet provider module 10 and the intermediate module 20 is the same as the envelope insertion rate of the insertion station 40, then the feeding rate of the exit module 30 can be substantially the same as that of the modules 10, 20. However, if the feeding rate of the modules 10, 20 is higher than the envelope insertion rate of the insertion station 40, then a trap is provided on the exit module 30 to temporarily holding the received item 5, and a sensing device will be used to coordinate the feeding of sheets by the sheet provider module 10. It should be noted that a bar code or other machine-readable mark is sometimes printed near one of the lateral edges of the sheets 3 for sorting or identification purposes. It is desirable to trim off part of that edge to rid the sheets 3 of the printed mark. In that case, a slitter is provided on the exit module 30 for trimming. Preferably, the length of the sheet provider module 10 is designed to occupy the length of two pitches of a regular inserting machine. Thus, P1 is equal to 27 inches (68.58 cm). The intermediate module 20, together with the exit module 30 is also designed to occupy the length of two pitches, or P2 is substantially equal to 27 inches.
  • [0029]
    With the modular design, according to the present invention, it is possible to have the following combinations of modules on an inserting machine:
  • [0030]
    (A) a sheet feeder, a sheet transport, and an exit module;
  • [0031]
    (B) a sheet feeder, a sheet transport, and an exit module with a trap;
  • [0032]
    (C) a sheet feeder, a sheet transport, and an exit module with a slitter;
  • [0033]
    (D) a sheet feeder, a sheet transport, and an exit module with a slitter and a trap;
  • [0034]
    (E) a sheet feeder, a folder, and an exit module;
  • [0035]
    (F) a sheet feeder, a folder, and an exit module with a trap;
  • [0036]
    (G) a sheet feeder, a folder, and an exit module with a slitter;
  • [0037]
    (H) a sheet feeder, a folder, and an exit module with a slitter and a trap;
  • [0038]
    (I) a burster, a sheet transport, and an exit module;
  • [0039]
    (J) a burster, a sheet transport, and an exit module with a trap;
  • [0040]
    (K) a burster, a sheet transport, and an exit module with a slitter;
  • [0041]
    (L) a burster, a sheet transport, and an exit module with a slitter and a trap;
  • [0042]
    (M) a burster, a folder, and an exit module;
  • [0043]
    (N) a burster, a folder, and an exit module with a trap;
  • [0044]
    (O) a burster, a folder, and an exit module with a slitter; and
  • [0045]
    (P) a burster, a folder, and an exit module with a slitter and a trap.
  • [0046]
    FIGS. 3 to 6 are schematic representations of the sheet provider module 10 and the intermediate module 20. In particular, FIG. 3 represents a sheet feeder 100 having a tray 110 to support a stack of sheets 3. A take-up roller 124 is used to move a sheet 3 forward so as to allow the release nip 120 formed by rollers 122 to release the sheet 3 via an exit channel 114. Preferably, the sheet feeder 100 has a motor 130 for driving the rollers 122, 124 via a driving belt 132 and pulleys 126. Furthermore, a clutch 134 is used to control the release of the sheets 3 in synchronism with the other modules 20, 30, 40. In order to provide power to the motor 130, a power connector 136 is used to bring in electrical power from the chassis 50. The release of the sheets 3 is controlled by a signal provided by a central processor (not shown) through a signal connector 140. A mounting mechanism 142 is used for mounting the sheet feeder 100 to the chassis 50, preferably, using the mounting holes or mounting devices provided on the chassis of an existing insertion machine.
  • [0047]
    As shown in FIG. 4, the burster 150 uses an input mechanism 152 to bring in a continuous web 82 of printed documents. For example, if the web 82 has sprocket holes on the lateral edges of the web 82, then the input mechanism 152 can have matched sprockets 138 driven by a belt 132 to bring the leading edge of the web 82 to a take-up nip 160 formed by rollers 162 and further to the release nip 170 formed by release rollers 172. Preferably, a motor 180 is used to drive the rollers 162, 172 via a driving belt 182 and pulleys 164, 166. A clutch 184 is used to disengage the pulley 164 from the motor 180 and temporarily stop the take-up rollers 162 from rotating while the release rollers 172 continue to rotate. As such, the portion of the web 82 driven by the release nip 170 is forcefully separated from the rest of the continuous web 82. It is known that the web 82 has perforations so that individual sheets can be separated in a bursting motion. As shown in FIG. 4, an individual sheet 3 is separated from the web 82 and moved through an exit channel 158. Preferably, a trim remover 154 is used to remove the sprocket hole sections of the web 82 prior to the individual sheets 3 being separated from the web 82. Similar to the mounting mechanism 142 of the sheet feeder 100, a mounting mechanism 192 is used for mounting the burster 150 to the chassis 50. A power connector 186 and a signal connector 190 are used to provide electrical power to the motor 180 and to control the bursting by the rollers 162, 172.
  • [0048]
    [0048]FIG. 5 shows a sheet transport module 200, which is used to receive a sheet 3 from the exit channel 114 of the sheet feeder 100 or the exit channel 158 of the burster 150, and then move the sheet 3 to exit channel 214. As shown, the sheet transport module 200 has an intake nip 212 formed by a driven roller 222 and an idler roller 220. An internal sheet guide 240, together with rollers 222, 224, 228 and an idler 230, is used to guide the sheet 3 along a path 600 to the exit channel 214. Preferably, the sheet transport module 200 shares a motor 360 and a driving belt 232 with the exit module 30. As shown in FIG. 5, the driving belt 232, with the aid of a plurality of tension idlers 226, is used to drive a plurality of pulleys 234 of the sheet transport module 200 and the pulleys 342 of the exit module 30. A mounting mechanism 248 is used to mount the sheet transport 200 to the chassis 50.
  • [0049]
    [0049]FIG. 6 is a schematic representation of a folder module 250 capable of making four folded edges on a sheet 3 received from the cut sheet feeder 100 or the burster 150. As shown, the folder 250 has six rollers 261, 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 to form a plurality of roller nips 253, 254, 255, 256, 257 to drive the sheet 3 from an entry path 650 through an input nip 252 to the exit channel 290. The folder 250 also has four buckle chutes 281, 283, 285, 287 with stops 282, 284, 286, 288 to cause the sheet 3 to buckle for forming folded edges. Folders and buckle chutes are well known and they are not part of the present invention. The present invention is concerned with the folder 250 being interchangeable with the sheet transport 200 and adapted to receive a sheet 3 from either the cut sheet feeder 100 or the burster 150 and then to fold the received sheet 3 into a folded piece 4. The folder 250 is further adapted to provide the folded piece 4 to the exit module 30. As shown, the rollers 261-266 are driven by the motor 360 in the exit module 30 and the driving belt 270 via a plurality of pulleys 268, with the aid of a plurality of tension idlers 272. Similar to the mounting mechanism 248 of the sheet transport 200, a mounting mechanism 298 is used to mount the folder 250 to the chassis 50.
  • [0050]
    As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, the exit module 30 has a driving mechanism 300, which includes a motor 360 mounted on a drive shaft 340, together with a pulley 342 to drive the pulleys 234 of the sheet transport 200 via the belt 232, or the pulleys 268 of the folder 250 via the belt 270. The motor 360 also drives a plurality of rollers 330 in the exit module 30, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. The exit module 30 also comprises a plurality of idler rollers 320 to move the sheet 3 from the sheet transport 200, or the folded piece 4 from the folder 250, to the insertion station 40, as shown in FIG. 2. As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, a clutch 350 is used to provide a trap stage to temporarily hold the sheet 3 or the folded piece 4 until the insertion station 40 is ready to receive the sheet 3 or the folded piece 4 for envelope insertion. Furthermore, the exit module 30 may comprise a slitter 400 (see FIG. 9) to trim off a portion of the sheet 3 or folded piece 4 along one of the lateral edges. As shown in FIG. 9, a portion 500 of sheet 3 is trimmed off near the lateral edge 502 along a trim line 512. The trimmed portion 500 is usually used to print a bar code 520 or other machine-readable information for sorting or identification purposes. Only the remaining portion 510 of the sheet 3 will be inserted into an envelope (not shown) in the insertion station 40.
  • [0051]
    It should be noted that FIGS. 3 to 6 are schematic representations of various modules for use in an inserting machine. For example, the folder 250 comprises four buckle chutes. However, the folder 250 can have only one buckle chute or more than four buckle chutes. Furthermore, the exit channel 290 may be replaced by a support plate or the like to guide the folded piece 4 to reach the exit module 30. Moreover, the exit module 30, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, shares the motor 360 with the sheet transport 200, or with the folder 250. However, it is possible that the sheet transport 200 and the folder 250 each have a separate motor.
  • [0052]
    Thus, although the invention has been described with respect to a preferred embodiment thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the foregoing and various other changes, omissions and deviations in the form and detail thereof may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7125374Mar 23, 2004Oct 24, 2006The Hedman CompanyFolding machine with stacking arm
US7156799Jan 13, 2005Jan 2, 2007The Hedman CompanyFolding machine with stacking arm
US7214176Mar 22, 2004May 8, 2007The Hedman CompanyFolding machine with removable plate
US7226049 *Feb 24, 2004Jun 5, 2007Xerox CorporationUniversal flexible plural printer to plural finisher sheet integration system
US7320461Jun 3, 2004Jan 22, 2008Xerox CorporationMultifunction flexible media interface system
US20040247365 *Jun 3, 2004Dec 9, 2004Xerox CorporationUniversal flexible plural printer to plural finisher sheet integration system
US20040253033 *Feb 24, 2004Dec 16, 2004Xerox Corporation.Universal flexible plural printer to plural finisher sheet integration system
US20050209077 *Mar 22, 2004Sep 22, 2005Richard AbramsonFolding machine with removable plate
US20050215407 *Jan 13, 2005Sep 29, 2005Richard AbramsonFolding machine with stacking arm
US20050215409 *Mar 23, 2004Sep 29, 2005Richard AbramsonFolding machine with stacking arm
Classifications
U.S. Classification270/52.14, 271/2
International ClassificationB65H39/02, B43M3/04
Cooperative ClassificationB65H39/02, B43M3/045, B65H2511/40, B65H2701/1916, B65H2402/10
European ClassificationB43M3/04E, B65H39/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 28, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: PITNEY BOWES INC., CONNECTICUT
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:IFKOVITS, EDWARD;PFEIFER, GAIL A.;SPIERS, JAMES A.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:012689/0902
Effective date: 20020215