US 20110065562 A1
Disclosed is a tabbed divider making apparatus preferably adapted for use with smaller, more individualized jobs in an office or the like. The apparatus preferably includes a paper feeder, a film provider, a knife package for shearing a portion of the paper to create a tab, at least one strut, a pivotable arm, at least one spring, and a cam having an oblong shape. The rotation of the cam preferably causes movement between loaded and unloaded positions of the spring, which causes the knife package to shear the paper. Also disclosed is a removable film cartridge for use with the apparatus. The cartridge preferably includes a housing, a roll of film, one or more rollers, a creasing finger for creasing the film, and two or more opposed extensions for folding the film along the crease. Further disclosed is a method of producing a tabbed divider utilizing the above-mentioned apparatus.
1. A removable film cartridge for use with a tabbed divider making apparatus, the cartridge comprising:
a housing including an opening through which the film is passed to the tabbed divider making apparatus;
a roll of film disposed within the housing;
one or more rollers disposed within the housing for advancing the film;
a creasing finger disposed within the housing for providing a crease in the film; and
two or more opposed extensions disposed within the housing for folding the film along the crease.
This application is a divisional of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/369,977, filed on Feb. 12, 2009, entitled “CUSTOMIZED TAB MACHINE,” which claims the benefit of the filing date of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/065,457 filed Feb. 12, 2008, entitled “CUSTOMIZED TAB MACHINE,” the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated herein by reference.
The present invention relates to apparatus and methods for providing paper stock with tabs, and more particularly, to a tab making machine suited for use for smaller, more individualized, jobs in an office or the like.
Tabbed dividers are often utilized in separating sections of binders, presentations, etc. Typically, these tabbed dividers are thickened pieces of paper stock having a tab extending a distance at least slightly beyond that of normal paper length or width for ease of access to different sections of a multi-section document/presentation. Whether punched with holes or utilized with file folders, such tabbed dividers are important in organizing documents and other papers. With the emergence of easy in-house printing and copying and the use of presentation software such as Microsoft® PowerPoint®, the use of such dividers has only increased. Many businesses make use of tabbed dividers on a regular basis, and must therefore have hundreds or even thousands of such dividers on hand. Some may include pre-printed tab portions for particular uses, while others may be generic labels or are simply left blank. No matter what types of tabbed dividers are utilized, their usefulness is evident and such are constantly in demand.
However, with the advent of more self-sufficient offices/businesses comes the need for more personalized or specifically tailored tabs. For example, rather than utilizing generic or blank tabbed dividers, businesses may desire tabs with printing specifically related to their end use. Ordering these customized tabbed dividers from a standard tabbed divider manufacturer can be costly. This is especially true if only a small amount of dividers is required.
The general operation of a known tab making apparatus includes feeding paper stock or other suitable material to a shearing or other cutting apparatus. This step is typically mechanically performed through the use of a series of rollers. Once in position, a portion of the paper stock is sheared to create one or more tab portions. These tab portion(s) may be laminated before cutting in order to provide protection and a more finished look. This is generally done by a single machine, millions of times, to produce millions of tabbed dividers. Stopping and programming such a machine to produce a relatively small amount of customized dividers necessarily lowers the overall efficiency of same. This is, of course, reflected in the cost of the customized dividers.
Therefore, there exists a need for a tab making machine suited for use for performing smaller, more individualized jobs, such as the ready production of customized tabbed dividers.
A first aspect of the present invention is a tabbed divider making apparatus capable of making tabbed dividers from at least one sheet of paper. The apparatus preferably includes a feeder for providing at least one sheet of paper to the apparatus, a film provider for providing film to the at least one sheet of paper traveling through the apparatus, a knife package for shearing a portion of the at least one sheet of paper to create a tab, at least one strut attached to the knife package, a pivotable arm attached to the at least one strut, at least one spring attached to the pivotable arm, the at least one spring having a loaded position and an unloaded position, and a cam having an oblong shape, wherein rotation of the cam causes movement of the at least one spring between the loaded position and the unloaded position and movement of the at least one spring from the loaded position to the unloaded position causes the knife package to shear the portion of the at least one sheet of paper.
In accordance with certain embodiments of this first aspect, the apparatus may further include at least two opposed rollers configured to pull a sheet of paper from the feeder. The at least two opposed rollers may each have a rubber outer portion. The apparatus may further include a film shearing portion having at least one spring and a punch actuated by the at least one spring. In all cases, the film is preferably cut by the tip die. The apparatus may further include a projection to align the film prior to its being cut by the tip die. The film provider may include a roll of film or a removable cartridge having a roll of film. The cartridge may include a housing having an opening through which the film is passed to the film shearing portion, one or more rollers disposed within the housing for advancing the film, a creasing finger disposed within the housing for providing a crease in the film, and two or more opposed extensions disposed within the housing for folding the film along the crease. In other embodiments of this first aspect, the apparatus may include a laminating portion having at least one heated roller that may be capable of at least partially melting the film. The at least one heated roller may include an outer rubber coating and a heating core. The at least one heated roller may rotate with respect to the apparatus while the heating core does not rotate with respect to the apparatus. In still other embodiments, the apparatus may include two springs and two struts, an aluminum frame, and/or an output tray. The knife package may include a standard shear and a cut-out corresponding to the dimensions of a tab. The apparatus may further include a printer, which may be an ink jet printer.
A second aspect of the present invention is a method of producing a tabbed divider. This method may include the steps of feeding a sheet of paper into a tabbed divider making apparatus, providing at least a portion of the sheet of paper with film, at least partially laminating the film onto the sheet of paper, shearing a portion of the laminated sheet of paper to create a tabbed divider, the sheering step including rotating a cam having an oblong shape to cause first and second movements of an arm, the first movement of the arm causing loading of at least one spring and the second movement of the arm allowing for unloading of the at least one spring, the unloading forcing a knife package to shear the portion of the laminated sheet of paper, and outputting the tabbed divider from the apparatus.
In accordance with certain embodiments of this second aspect, the step of shearing may include loading and unloading at least two springs. The step of providing may include shearing a portion of the film and providing the sheared portion of film to the sheet of paper. The method may further include folding the film prior to shearing a portion thereof. The step of providing may include providing the film from a roll of film or providing the film from a cartridge having a roll of film. The method may further include printing on at least a portion of the sheet of paper. The step of printing may be performed by an ink jet printer. The step of printing may include printing on at least a portion of the laminated portion of the sheet of paper. The step of laminating may be performed by at least one heated roller.
A third aspect of the present invention is a removable film cartridge for use with a tabbed divider making apparatus. The cartridge preferably includes a housing having an opening through which the film is passed to the tabbed divider making apparatus, a roll of film disposed within the housing, one or more rollers disposed within the housing for advancing the film, a creasing finger disposed within the housing for providing a crease in the film, and two or more opposed extensions disposed within the housing for folding the film along the crease.
A more complete appreciation of the subject matter of the present invention and the various advantages thereof can be realized by reference to the following detailed description in which reference is made to the accompanying drawings in which:
Referring to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements,
It is to be understood that dividers 10 a-10 e are merely one example of a set of dividers, and there are many different divider configurations that can be used. For instance, dividers with smaller or a greater number of tabs may be provided, and thus, a larger set can be provided. In addition, the size and shape of both the dividers themselves, as well as the tabs, may vary. Likewise, different materials may be utilized in constructing the dividers, such as can differently colored paper and/or lamination for the tabs. Whatever the case, the present invention can be utilized to create sets of dividers like dividers 10 a-10 e, and variations of same.
Turning now to the construction of the present invention, machine 20 preferably includes a carriage 22 that essentially serves as the support structure for all of the other components associated with machine 20 and shown in the figures. Carriage 22 is preferably constructed of a light weight, sturdy material, such as aluminum. This provides the necessary stability to machine 20, while also allowing same to be relatively light in weight and somewhat portable. Other materials may also be employed, such as certain sturdy polymers. Carriage 22 preferably situates the remaining components of machine 20 such that paper stock can be fed into machine 20, laminated with a film material, processed to include a tab, and output as a finished tabbed divider. In addition, machine 20 may be provided with a printer or the like in order to produce tabs having customized indicia set forth thereon. This latter aspect will be discussed more fully below where the various components of machine 20 are discussed with regard to its operation.
First, paper stock, such as that which is utilized in making dividers 10 a-10 e, is preferably fed into machine 20. Although not shown in the figures, machine 20 may include an automated paper feeder capable of feeding individual sheets of paper stock to machine 20 from a reserve of paper stock. The overall size of machine 20 may dictate how much paper stock can be stored in this reserve. One example of a suitable paper feeder is taught in the '830 provisional and the '828 application. However, such would have to be tailored to the particular configuration of the present invention, i.e., a smaller scaled machine. As is best shown in
Machine 20 may be provided with a printer or other marking device (not shown) for printing or etching on a section of the paper stock, such as the portion which will become the tab. The inclusion of such a component would allow for customized/personalized tabs to be made for the dividers. Those of ordinary skill in the art would recognize those devices capable of performing such a function. However, such may have to be modified or otherwise tailored for use with the present invention. It is also to be understood that this printer or the like could be incorporated into machine 20 so that it performs its function at another point during the operation, such as subsequent to laminating the tab portion, where the printing would be done over the lamination. An example of a suitable printer is discussed further below in reference to
Platform 23, or alternatively the aforementioned paper feeder (not shown), preferably allows individual sheets of paper stock to be fed between rollers 24 and 26. Rollers 24 and 26 are preferably situated in an opposed relationship and caused to rotate in opposite directions to one another. In the design shown in the figures, rollers 24 and 26 are situated so as to grab paper from platform 23, and are preferably rotated so that paper stock is pulled from the paper feeder and towards the remaining portions of machine 20. Rollers 24 and 26 are preferably constructed of a solid core surrounded by a pliable material, such as rubber, but others designs may also be employed. The use of a pliable material allows for a certain amount of give between the surfaces of opposed rollers 24 and 26, so as to allow for an unimpeded flow of paper stock therebetween. Prior art devices have traditionally utilized floating rollers having a spring bias or the like to achieve this give or cushioning, thusly preventing the paper stock from binding. Although these prior art designs could be used in conjunction with machine 20, the particular design of rollers 24 and 26 are preferably utilized in order to reduce the overall size of machine 20.
Just subsequent to being pulled into machine 20 by rollers 24 and 26, one edge of the sheet of paper stock is fed into a section of machine 20 in which the sheet is provided with a material, such as a film 31, that is ultimately laminated onto a portion of the paper stock (i.e., the portion used to create the tab). As is shown in
In the embodiment shown in
Film 31 is folded as it travels through director 30. Specifically, after film 31 passes around roller 36, the outer edges of film 31 are directed towards one another such that film 31 is essentially folded in half. The folded film 31 then passes through extensions 38 a and 38 b, through channel 32, and ultimately into engagement with the sheet of paper stock that has been fed into machine 20. At least a portion of the paper stock is therefore provided with some film 31 on both its top and bottom portions, as is typical of fully formed tabs.
Once film 31 enters into channel 32, pullers 40 a and 40 b continue to advance film 31 toward shearing portion 34, which includes a punch 50 between a sealed area 46 and an open area 48. Beneath sealed area 46 is a first die and beneath open area 48 is a second die. Punch 50 includes a wide portion 50 a and a narrow portion 50 b, and the width of each of these portions substantially coincides with the dimensions of the space between the first and second dies. Therefore, when film 31 is disposed beneath punch 50, film 31 is punched or sheared as punch 50 passes between the first and second dies, resulting in a small portion of film 31, often termed a slug, being discarded. Just prior to reaching punch 50, film 31 preferably engages a finger or projection 42 (best shown in
The folded film 31 is preferably fed until at least a portion thereof extends into open area 48. At this point, punch 50 is operated to shear the downstream portion of film 31 from the remaining stream that is still attached to roll 28. This shearing operation will be described further below. An edge of the sheet of paper stock fed into machine 20 by rollers 24 and 26 is preferably allowed to engage the sheared film 31 such that one portion of the folded film 31 is disposed on a top side of the sheet and the other portion of the folded film 31 is disposed on a bottom side of the sheet. This will ultimately result in a tab with lamination on both of its sides.
Arm 57 includes an exposed portion and an internal portion (not shown). The exposed portion of arm 57 is that which is seen in the figures, particularly in
Spring 54 is connected at one end to a fixed body 58 and at the other end to the exposed portion of the moveable arm 57. Spring 54 is biased such that it tends to pull the exposed portion of arm 57 toward fixed body 58.
The configuration of machine 20 is such that when the exposed portion of arm 57 drops in a sudden movement due to the unloading of spring 54, this sudden movement is translated to the sudden closing of punch 50 and the shearing of film 31. Of course, other variations of the mechanical connections of the above-described components of machine 20 are also possible to achieve the same or similar results, and such would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art.
As would further be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, the distance between the axis of axle 53 and the various portions of the circumference of cam 52 can be tailored according to the intended operation of punch 50. This distance is also understood to be the radius of cam 52. The radius of cam 52 throughout its rounded portion may increase as cam 52 is rotated, which would cause the exposed portion of arm 57 to continually move upward and open punch 50. Alternatively, the radius of cam 52 along its rounded portion may be constant such that the space between punch 50 and the first and second dies remains constant. Accordingly, the transition between the rounded portion and the flat portion of cam 52 dictates how suddenly spring 54 is unloaded, and thus, how great of a force is applied by punch 50 during shearing.
Once provided with the sheared portion of folded film 31, the sheet of paper stock is preferably fed through a series of opposed heated rollers in order to at least partially melt film 31, thereby laminating the portion of paper stock which ultimately becomes the tab. Of course, film 31 may alternatively be attached to the paper stock through adhesive or the like. In the figures, machine 20 is shown as having two sets of opposed heated roller pairs 33 and 35, each pair having one heated roller above the next. Of course, any number of heated rollers may be employed. Heated rollers according to the present invention may include a heating core 62, as shown in
Notably, heating core 62 may be fixed with respect to machine 20 such that it is not rotated about its own axis. During the laminating process, a heated roller may then rotate about heating core 62. The heat provided by heating core 62 is emitted about its external surface, which does not require heating core 62 to be rotated during the laminating process.
Heating core 62 preferably includes a heating element (not shown). This heating element is preferably disposed within the core and connected, via a connection, to a controller (not shown). As is best shown in
Subsequent to passing between heated roller pairs 33 and 35, the sheet of at least partially-laminated paper stock is fed into a processing section that includes a knife package unit 70 (best shown in
To achieve an overall reduced size of machine 20, one aspect of the present invention provides a unique shearing mechanism. Whereas prior devices often utilize direct motor power in conjunction with the force of gravity acting on the their relatively heavy shears in order to shear the paper stock, the present invention utilizes a system much like the one discussed above described with respect to punch 50 and the shearing of film 31. As is shown in
In operation, rotation of cam 78 and axle 80 causes different portions of cam 78 to make contact with rounded surface 84. Cam 78 may be rotated such that the rounded portion of the circumference of cam 78 makes contact with rounded surface 84, driving rounded surface 84 and thusly rotating extension 86. This movement forces extension 86 to rotate axle 80, which in turn rotates arms 82 in a downward direction (as shown in
It will be understood that the components associated with the operation of knife package 70 are rigid. Therefore, although cam 78 is positioned to one side of axle 80, the operation of cam 78 rotates the entirety of axle 80. Each of springs 74 is thusly loaded to substantially the same length.
After machine 20 has performed the above-described steps, the sheet of paper stock has essentially become a divider having a laminated tabbed portion. Examples of these dividers are shown in
Machine 20 preferably provides for an automated control of the entire process as described above. Very little, if any, manual operation is required by an operator. In fact, machine 20 is preferably associated with a computer program or the like so that the desired type and amount of dividers can be inputted by a user through the use of a keyboard or a touchscreen type of device. Thereafter, a user can simply provide machine 20 with the necessary paper stock and film material, and machine 20 can create the tabbed dividers accordingly. Of course, in machines in accordance with the present invention that include a printer or the like, the user may also input the information to be printed on the tabs.
The various components of machine 20 have been described above in relation to their operation. It is to be understood that each of these components is preferably mechanically interconnected with other of the components so as to ensure synchronous operation of machine 20. For example, as is best shown in
In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, machine 20 is approximately between 20 and 30, and preferably 27, inches wide to allow for many differently sized dividers to be created. All of this can preferably be done without having to reposition paper stock once it is loaded into machine 20. A preferred machine is capable of producing sets of tabbed dividers at a rate of approximately 300-1200 dividers per hour. All of this can be done with minimal input and under low supervision of an operator. In addition, the automated aspect of machine 20 ensures accuracy and precision during repeated use.
Within body portion 130 is a roll of film 132 similar to roll 28 discussed above. Preferably for the sake of space preservation and portability of machine 120, roll 132 is smaller than roll 28, although different sizes of roll 132 may be utilized. Roll 132 is preferably situated on a post 134 or the like, which allows for the free rotation of roll 132. Again, this is similar to the situation discussed above with respect to roll 28. Film 131 from roll 132 is preferably fed around a second post 136 which essentially orients the film in a direction conducive for feeding same through tube or channel 32. Thus, the function of a majority of the components which make up film director 30, as discussed above, is similar to those of module 128.
Once oriented in the proper direction by second post 136, film 131 from roll 132 engages a rounded finger 138 which acts to place a crease or fold in film 131. Rounded finger 138 need not actually crease film 131, but may alternatively bias film 131 such that it is prepared oriented to be folded when passed through subsequent portions of film module 128. The single piece of film 131 is folded such that its outer edges are directed towards one another after engagement with finger 138, essentially folding film 131 in half. Film 131 then passes through two opposed creasing extensions 140 a and 140 b (best shown in
Although roller 142 a is described as being a component of film module 128 and roller 142 b is described as being a component of machine 120, rollers 142 a and 142 b may both be components of machine 120. Alternatively, both of rollers 142 a and 142 b may be components of film module 128. Regardless of the configuration of rollers 142 a and 142 b, body 130 is preferably designed such that when film module 128 is inserted into machine 120, rollers 142 a and 142 b are positioned adjacent to film 131 such that each contacts film 131 in the above-described manner.
Module 128 further includes additional creasing extensions 147 a and 147 b that may further fold and/or press film 131. A slot 148 formed in body portion 130 allows for the folded film 131 to pass from module 128 into tube or channel 28. Thus, film module 128 is a self-contained and removable/exchangeable means for providing film material to machine 120. It is to be understood that the specific design of module 128 can vary, as those of ordinary skill in the art would recognize. Furthermore, it is also to be understood that module 128 could be exchanged with other cartridge designs, such as one similar to that disclosed in the '830 provisional and the '828 application. Those of ordinary skill in the art would also recognize how such could be incorporated into the machine.
Film 231 is shown as being multicolored, as opposed to being comprised of a single color like that of the aforementioned embodiments. The junction between respective colored sections 231 a-e (shown in
The film material utilized with any embodiment of the present invention may be heat-sensitive or pressure-sensitive, and may include various types of adhesive or the like. Further, an adhesive material may be sprayed or otherwise applied to the paper stock, such as via one or more brushes or rollers, in order to provide a binding connection between the film material and the paper stock.
Although the invention herein has been described with reference to particular embodiments, it is to be understood that these embodiments are merely illustrative of the principles and applications of the present invention. It is therefore to be understood that numerous modifications may be made to the illustrative embodiments and that other arrangements may be devised without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.