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Publication numberUS3143100 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 4, 1964
Filing dateDec 26, 1961
Priority dateDec 26, 1961
Publication numberUS 3143100 A, US 3143100A, US-A-3143100, US3143100 A, US3143100A
InventorsEdward A Krupotich
Original AssigneeThomas W Evans, Howard J Sherman, Edward A Krupotich
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Unfolding mechanism for envelope opening apparatus
US 3143100 A
Images(6)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Aug. 4, 1964 E. A. KRUPOTICH UNFOLDING MECHANISM FOR ENVELOPE OPENING APPARATUS e Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Dec. 26. 1961 INVENTOR. Eowmp A. KRuPor/cb' Aug. 4, 1964 E. A. KRUPOTICH 6 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Dec.

INVENTOR.

A GENT Aug. 4, 1964 E. A. KRUPOTICH 3,143,100

UNFOLDING MECHANISM FOR ENVELOPE OPENING APPARATUS Filed Dec. 26, 1961 6 Sheets-Sheet 5 INVENTOR. E'owmm 4. lflvu or/cll Aug. 4, 1964 E. A. KRUPOTICH 3,143,100

UNFOLDING MECHANISM FOR ENVELOPE OPENING APPARATUS --3O-- 2/ a g I.

INVENTOR. fan/4R0 A. AfiuPoT/cn/ AGENT g. 4, 1964' E. A. KRUPOTICH 3,143,100

UNFOLDING MECHANISM FOR ENVELOPE OPENING APPARATUS Filed Dec. 26. 1961 ll a H II & g

INVENTORQ E'awmw A. KRuPoT/cu I Q I Acllvr "8-. 4, 1-964 E. A. KRuPo-rlcH 3,143,100

- UNFQLDING MECHANISM FOR ENVELOPE OPENING APPARATUS Filed'Dec. 2a, 1961 I e Sheets-Sheet fi FIG- 11;

Ea WARD A. Mar/Parlor Assur- United States Patent 3,143,100 UNFQLDING IVECHANISM FOR ENVELOPE ()PENING APPARATUS Edward A. Krupotich, Los Angeles, Calif., assignor to Thomas W. Evans, Howard J. Sherman, Wilbur Clark, and Edward A. Krupotieh, Beverly Hills, Calif., as partners Filed Dec. 26, 1961, Ser. No. 162,149 9 Claims. (Cl. 120-35) This invention deals, generally, with the opening of envelopes and similar items, such as folded pamphlets, booklets, and the like, and it is particularly concerned with the opening of envelopes, regardless of size, shape, and proportions, and with the extraction of the contents therefrom when handling and processing large volumes of incoming envelopes delivered through the mail services and which require opening in order to expose and extract the contents thereof, this invention being the result of further development and improvement over the inventions disclosed in Letters Patent of Krupotich et al., No. 3,116,718, entitled Envelope Opening and Distribution Apparatus, and in the Letters Patent of Krupotich No. 3,132,629, entitled Envelope Opening and Distributing Apparatus.

An object of this invention is to provide an improved unfolding mechanism in an apparatus that consecutively handles envelopes or the like, one envelope at a time, to destroy the edges of said envelopes and to unfold them and thereby expose the contents thereof to be accessible for manual extraction and removal and distribution. The apparatus is powered and automatically processes the envelopes one by one in consecutive order and delivers said processed envelopes and contents upon a conveyer for manual interception by personnel, or the like. Or, for example, pamphlets and booklets can be opened by the apparatus in order to imprint information on one or more pages thereof.

It is an object of this invention to unfold envelopes having three destroyed edges, so as to expose the contents thereof, by improved unfolding means provided to convey the envelope and its contents and to lift and lay back one side of the envelope relative to the other side.

It is another object of this invention to provide positive traction in the conveying of envelopes as they are unfolded and coupled with the object to stop the envelopes momentarily for pneumatic engagement by means acting to lift and lay back one side of the envelopes. Said positive traction has to do with grasping the envelope to draw it forwardly, there being a secondary function in this connection whereby the bottom side of the envelope is knocked down in case it is accidentally lifted or in case the envelope edges are not sufficiently weakened or destroyed to permit opening and the envelope is lifted, in order to clear the mechanism for processing succeeding envelopes.

It is still another object of this invention to provide stop means to momentarily halt progress of the envelopes and to both position and align the envelopes, whereby pneumatic engagement or suction is assured by the means provided to lift back one side of the envelopes. Said stop means involves an articulated gate moved in timed relationship with the other elements of the mechanism.

he gate permits the movement of different sized envelopes into position and where the leading edge of the envelope is aligned normal to the direction of conveyer movement.

It is still another object of this invention to provide nipping means that reaches for the envelopes that are opened, to draw them onto a discharge conveyer. Said nipping means involves an articulated conveyer char- 3,143,1e0 Patented Aug. 4., 1964 "ice acterized by controlled changes in configuration whereby engagement is made with the envelopes to positively drive the same. This means also acts to press and flatten the envelope in the opened condition.

It is still another object of this invention to withdraw and discharge opened envelopes at a faster rate than they are received by the unfolding mechanism in order to facilitate handling a wide range of envelope sizes. Therefore, the discharge conveyer associated with the nipping means operates substantially faster than the conveyer that delivers to and/ or receives envelopes at the mecha- IlISIll.

The various objects and features of this invention will be fully understood from the following detailed description of the typical and preferred form and application thereof, throughout which description reference is made to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a typical embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention and shows a stack of envelopes as they are received to enter the apparatus to be processed thereby and shows the conveyer onto which the opened envelopes are delivered with the contents thereof exposed for manual selection.

FIG. 2 is a view of a typical envelope to be processed and handled by the apparatus herein disclosed, and FIG. 2a is a view similar to FIG. 2 but showing three edges of the envelope destroyed.

FIG. 3 is a transverse sectional view of a typical conveyer that is employed and is taken as indicated by line 3-3 on FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a longitudinal sectional view of a typical conveyer that is employed and is taken as indicated by line 44 on FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged detailed side elevation of the unfolding mechanism of the present invention and taken as indicated by line 55 on FIG. 1, and FIG. 6 is a transverse sectional view taken as indicated by line 6-6 on FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 5 and taken as indicated by line 77 on FIG. 1, and FIG. 8 is a transverse sectional view taken as indicated by line 8-8 on FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a sectional view similar to FIGS. 5 and 7 and taken as indicated by line 99 on FIG. 1, and FIG. 10 is a transverse sectional view taken as indicated by line 1010 on FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is a side elevation of the mechanism showing the drive thereof.

FIGS. 12 and 13 are side views of the two valves that are employed and the manner in which they are operated by individual cams, and FIG. 14 is a diagrammatic view of the pneumatic system involved in carrying out the invention.

The apparatus herein disclosed is particularly useful in handling and processing envelopes to open and unfold them for the purpose of exposing the contents delivered therein. As clearly illustrated in FIG. 1 of the drawings, envelopes X are fed into the apparatus Z at one position and are delivered at another position in an opened and unfolded condition with the contents Y thereof exposed. The apparatus Z is a unit of construction with interrelated processing means each adapted to perform an operation upon the envelopes that continuously and consecutively pass through the apparatus. The apparatus Z is adapted to handle a stack S of envelopes X which are individually dispensed through the apparatus for opening, for unfolding, and for delivery at spaced intervals onto and along a conveyer and in an opened condition. The handling processes carried out by the apparatus are individually performed by separate processing means operating in timed relationship and driven by a variable speed means so that the frequency and rapidity of delivery can be governed to suit the subsequent handling of the opened a envelopes and contents, namely the manual processing of the contents that are exposed.

In FIG. 2 of the drawings a typical envelope X is shown and which is in the nature of a flattened bag, or wrapper, made of folded sheet material, for example, of paper or the like. The back face of the envelope is shown with the usual folds at three edges, 11, 12 and 13, and so that there are three portions of the sheet material that have overlapped engagement with adhesive securement therebetween, and forming said back face It). The envelope is closed by means of a flap that extends from the fourth edge 14 to fold down and to overlie the above mentioned folds, said fiap having a gummed marginal portion for adhesion to the back face 10 for sealing. It will be apparent that the envelope X is adapted to contain the contents Y in the form of one or more pieces of paper, or the like.

The apparatus Z is a powered device that functions to handle and process envelopes as above recited, and it involves, generally, a housing A, a supply means B, and a plurality of separate processing means, namely separate individual edge-destroying means, preferably three such means, C, D and E, an unfolding mechanism H, and a delivery conveyer J. The housing A provides for support and enclosure of the mechanisms involved, while the supply means B and delivery conveyer J are accessible at two separated positions or opposite ends of the said housing. The said processing means C, D and E include conveyors that operate to move the envelopes X through the apparatus Z for processing to destroy or substantially weaken the edges thereof and to unfold the envelope.

The housing A can vary widely as circumstances require and is preferably an elongate upright cabinet with side Walls 15, a front end 16 and a rear end 17. The cabinet is adapted for support on a flat surface or floor and it has a flat horizontally disposed top 18 open for access to the mechanisms therein. In practice, the top 18 is closed by transparent covers for viewing operations of the processing means C, D and E. The particular apparatus herein disclosed requires a lateral extension 19 projecting normally to one side of the housing, and requires a longitudinal extension 20 at the end 17, said longitudinal extension projecting from the end 17 adjacent the top of the housing. As shown in FIG. 1, the edge-destroying means C is accommodated in the lateral extension 19 of the housing, while the delivery conveyer J is accommodated in the longitudinal extension 20. The supply means B is a self-contained dispensing means accommodated in a housing 22 overlying the housing extension 19 and it operates to dispense envelopes X into and through the apparatus by depositing them onto the processing means C through the open top 18. There is a deflecting shield 21 to overlie the envelopes delivered by means B.

The supply means B is an envelope dispenser that is adapted to receive a stack S of envelopes X and to deliver them continuously one at a time and in a lateral direction and in a horizontal plane. Therefore, the delivery plane of the means B is positioned at about the plane of the top 18 of the housing A to dispense envelopes into the housing extension 19 and for processing by the subsequent processing means.

The edge-destroying means C, D and E are alike and for all intents and purposes can be considered to be identical, the only exception being that they are made right and left-handed as circumstances require. As best illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4, the means C, or the means D or E as the case may be, involves generally, a conveyor 23, a guide 24, and a heater or thermo guide rail 25. Generally speaking, envelopes X are deposited one at a time upon the receiving end of the conveyor 23 and engaged with the guide 24 to be moved past the thermo guide rail 25. In accordance with the invention, it is preferred that the conveyer 23 be inclined transversely in order that the envelope X will slide by gravity into engagement with the guide 24 which extends along one side of the conveyor,

4- said guide being aligned with the therrno guide rail 25 so that one edge of the envelope is processed thereby as the envelope is conveyed forwardly.

Since envelopes are made of paper, or the like, of substantially uniform thickness and character the heater 25 has been provided to destroy the folded edge 11, 12 and 13 or 14 by carbonization. That is, sufiicient heat is applied at or in the proximity of the folded edge to destroy or substantially weaken the paper body forming the same, and this is fully disclosed in my Patent 3,132,629. By the application of suflicient heat without the presence of fire, it has been found to be possible to reduce the folded edge of the paper into carbon particles that are so brittle and so weak as to fail mechanically with the slightest application of force or pressure. In other Words, the envelope edges are substantially Weakened by means of applying heat. Further, thermostatic controls (not shown) can be provided to maintain the desired heat range at the heater or heaters 25, it being the preferred and present practice to provide a heat of 550 F. to 1390" F. at the surface of a heater 25.

The edge-destroying means C, D and E, hereinabove described, are cooperatively related and operated in timed relationship so as to eifectively destroy three edges of the envelope X, for example, the edges 11, 12 and 14. As pointed out above, the edge-destroying means D is housed in the extension 1% of the housing A to process one edge, and the edge-destroying means D and E are arranged in series relationship following the means C and are housed in the main portion of the housing A to process opposite edges. In each case the said means are positioned adjacent to the open top 18 of the housing, the means C being normally related to the other two means D and E that are in longitudinal alignment. As a result, the motion of conveying in the latter two means D and E is at right angles to the motion of conveying in the first mentioned means C.

As hereinabove described, the envelopes X are dropped by the means B, one, one by one, and onto the conveyer 23 of the edge-destroying means C, said means being horizontally disposed with its terminal discharge end at or overlying the rearmost receiving end portion of the conveyer 23 of the edge-destroying means D. Assuming that the envelope edge 14 is dropped into engagement with the guide 24 of the means C, said edge will be destroyed and the edge 11 will then drop toward the guide 24 of means D. In accordance with the invention, the rearmost receiving end of the edge-destroying means D is positioned well below the level of the discharge level of means C, thereby permitting the envelope to drop from means D.

With the edge 14 destroyed by means C, the envelope edge 11 is dropped into engagement with the guide 24 of means D, said edge will be destroyed and the opposite edge 12 will be left remaining. Like the means D, the edge-destroying means E is longitudinally inclined so that the forward discharge end is at about the height or level of the first mentioned means C, the lowermost receiving end of the means E being at or positioned well below the discharge level of the means D. Again, the envelope drops and its inertia carries it into engagement with the guide 24 of the edge-destroying means E. In this latter instance, it is the edge 12 that engages the guide 24 and heater 25, to the end that the three edges 11, 12 and 14 are each destroyed.

The unfolding mechanism H to which this invention is specifically directed is provided to lift and fold back the uppermost side of the envelope X, which side or face has been cut and severed from the opposite side or face by destruction of said three edges 11, 12 and 13 or 14. Thus, it is apparent that the unfolding means H is dependent upon an equivalent article or an apparatus as hereinabove described in general form and as specifically set forth and claimed in my Patent 3,132,629. As shown throughout the drawings, the means H is a mechanical mechanism that involves, generally, a frame F, a receiving conveyer G, a delivery conveyer K, envelope positioning means P, envelope unfolding means 0, and envelope traction means T.

The frame F houses and/or supports elements of the mechanism H and is positioned intermediate the housing A and conveyer J and at the discharge end of the means E. The receiving conveyer G accepts the discharge of the conveyer 23 of means E, with the consecutive envelopes orientated in normal disposition as controlled by the guide 24 of said means E. The said conveyer G carries the envelopes forwardly and into engagement with the envelope positioning means P, whereupon the envelope opening means 0 operates to lift and fold back the uppermost side or face of each envelope. With said envelopes opened (one at a time) the envelope traction means T operates to nip the lowermost side or face of each envelope and to advance each envelope onto the delivery conveyer K. The conveyer K discharges onto the conveyer I hereinafter described, it being understood that, if so desired, either or both of the conveyers G and/or K can be integral with the adjacent conveyer of the main apparatus to which the unfolding mechanism H is related.

The frame F that supports the elements of mechanism H is a rigid structure that is horizontally disposed with spaced side members 30 to carry the various shafts of the conveyers G and K, and to carry the shaft 33 of a drive means M. The side members 30 are parallel vertically disposed plates held rigidly spaced by transverse beams 31. In practice, the upper edges 32 of the two members 30 are straight and in a plane substantially coincidental with the plane of movement of the envelopes X as they are propelled by the conveyers G and K. As it is illus trated, the drive means M involves a shaft 33 that extends transversely of the frame A, preferably at the lowermost forward portion thereof, said shaft 33 being journalled in suitable bearings 34- aligned in the two members 30 respectively. The shaft 33 projects from both sides of the frame F and at what I will designate the left side thereof it has a drive 35 with a drive sprocket 36 to be powered from the main apparatus above described (see FIG. 11).

The receiving conveyer G that accepts the incoming envelopes X to the mechanism H is preferably a usual belt type conveyer having spaced rolls 40 and 41 over which a web-like belt 42 is trained. The two rolls 40 and 41 extend transversely of the frame F in parallel relationship and are fixedly positioned on shafts journalled in suitable bearings aligned in the two members 30 respectively. The shaft of roll 40 projects from the left side, there being a sprocket and chain drive 45 from the shaft stub 35. In order to maintain a tight belt 42 and for ease of belt installation there is a tension roll 46 journalled in bearings 47 that are laterally shiftable of the roll axes, said bearings 47 being selectively positioned by means of screws 48. The top envelope supporting plane of the belt 42 is at the aforementioned plane of the edges 32 of frame F.

The delivery conveyer K that discharges envelopes onto the conveyer J is also preferably a usual belt type conveyer having spaced rolls 50 and 51 over which a weblike belt 52 is trained. In practice, the belt 42 is thicker than the belt 52 so that the supporting plane of the former is higher than the latter. The two rolls 50 and 51 extend transversely of the frame F in parallel relationship and are fixedly positioned on shafts journalled in suitable bearings aligned in the two members 30 respectively. In order to maintain a tight belt 52 and provide for ease of belt installation there is a tension roll 56 journalled in bearings 57 that are laterally shiftable of the roll axes, said bearings 57 being selectively positioned by means of screws 58. The top envelope supporting plane of the belt 52 is at the aforementioned plane of the edges 32 of frame F, and substantially coincidental with the said envelope supporting plane of the belt 42. To drive the conveyer K there is a drive roll 59 over which the belt 52 is extended. As shown, a shaft stub 55 projects from one of the rolls, for example the roll 59 to the left side where it is driven by a sprocket and chain drive 60 from the shaft stub 35.

In accordance with the invention, the two conveyers G and K handle envelopes in substantially the same plane of movement, the conveyer G handling unopened envelopes and the conveyer K handling opened envelopes. A characteristic feature of the conveyers is that they are spaced apart longitudinally of the mechanism, the roll 41 being spaced from the roll 50, said two rolls being on parallel axes. Said spacing of the two conveyers provides an opening to be occupied partially and/ or intermittently by parts of the other means P, O and T, all as hereinafter described.

The envelope positioning means P that engages forwardly moving envelopes is essentially a gate that moves into and out of a position crossing the plane of movement of the envelopes. That is, the gate-like means P intermittently interrupts the plane of movement of the envelope and it operates into or through the above described opening that occurs between the conveyers G and K. Although the positioning means P can vary in form it is shown as a lever operated means having a barrier 65 that swings into and out of an envelope stopping position. As shown, there is a bellcrank 66 pivoted to a frame member at 67 and carrying a transverse bar 68 that normally overlies the plane of the belts 42 and 52. The axis of the pivot at 67 is parallel and spaced from the axis of the drive shaft 33, and there is a roller follower on the bellcrank 66 that engages a cam 69 on a shaft 33. A depression in the cam 69 permits the barrier 65 to drop, by gravity, so as to interrupt the plane of movement of the envelopes. The said barrier 65 is in the form of fingers that together engage the forwardmost edge of the envelope that is delivered forwardly by the conveyer G. Thus, the envelope X (envelopes of different sizes) engaging the barrier 65 is stopped. Notice that the cam depression is steeply inclined whereby the barrier is quickly lifted or retracted from the opening into which it is previously dropped. Also, that the cam has a lobe of maximum radius including an arc of 180, whereby the barrier is held aloft for opening of and withdrawal of the envelope previously stopped. In practice, there is a supporting lever 66' at the other or left side of the mechanism, the cam 69 being on the right side as illustrated.

The envelope opening means 0 that lays back one side or face of the envelope being opened is a mechanopneumatic means operating in the opening between the two conveyers G and K. As shown, the means 0 involves, generally, relatively shiftable envelope engaging heads 70 and that pneumatically attract the opposite upper and lower sides of the envelope X. Obviously, the lowermost side or face of the envelope X faces down at the top plane of the conveyers G and K, in which case the head 70 faces upwardly at said plane, or slightly below said plane. The uppermost side or face of the envelope X faces up, just above the top plane of the conveyers G and K, in which case the head 75 faces downwardly just above said plane when said head 75 is in an envelope engaging position. In accordance with the invention the uppermost head 75 is shiftable so as to separate from the head 70, or to withdraw from the envelope engaging position. In the preferred form, the head 75 is carried by a lever operated means while the head 70 is fixedly mounted between the members 30. As shown, there is a bellcrank-shaped lever 76 that mounts the head 75 so that it swings to and from an envelope engaging position adjacent the head 70 and at the plane of movement of the envelope X. The bellcrank lever 76 is pivoted to a frame member at 77 and it shiftably carries the head 75 to overlie the head 70, operable between raised and lowered po- .sitions.

The axis of the pivot at 77 is parallel and spaced from the axis of the drive shaft 33, and there is a roller follower on the bellcrank lever 76 that engages a cam 79 on the shaft 33. A depression in the cam 79 permits the head 75 to drop, by gravity, so as to stop at the plane of the uppermost envelope side or face. Notice that the cam 79 has a depression rotatably positioned about the same as the depression of cam 69 above described, but shaped so as to permit lowering of the head 75 only after the fingers of the barrier 65 have already stopped the envelope X to be unfolded. The cam 79 has a lobe of maximum radius including an arc of about 180, whereby the head 75 is held aloft, like the barrier 65, after opening of and withdrawal of the envelope previously stopped and unfolded. In practice, there is a bellcrank lever 76 at the other or right side of the mechanism, the lever 76 being on the left side and inside the side member 30 and the cam 79 engaged through an opening in the member 30.

The pivot point at 77 of the bellcrank lever 76 is positioned to underlie the vicinity of the intact edge of the envelope X, the following edge that extends transversely and forms a hinge that joins the two opposite sides of the envelope. Thus, when the head 75 swings about the pivot at 77, it swings the upper side or face of the envelope in a normal manner about its hinge at said intact edge. Also, the fingers of the barrier 65 when lowered, are located at the forward side of the head 70 adjacent the roll 50, and intermediate the head 70 and roll 50. Thus, the lower side or face of the envelope is stopped by its forwardmost edge to overlie the head 70.

The heads 70 and 75 are adapted to attract the envelope sides or faces and in accordance with the invention are pneumatically energized to accomplish this function. The two heads are essentially alike, being characterized by air suction cups 71 and 74, respectively. The head 70 involves a transverse manifold 72 upon which one or more cups 71 are mounted to face upwardly, each with a lip at or just below the plane of the envelope face to be engaged. The head 75 involves a transverse manifold 73 upon which one or more cups 74 are mounted to face downwardly, each with a lip just above the face of the envelope to be engaged, when said head 75 is dropped down for said engagement. In each case, the cups 71 and 74 are of soft pliant and resilient material, such as live rubber, with a central opening therethrough in communication wtih the manifold to which it is mounted. The cup design can be varied as circumstances require, each cup being characterized by a concaved body with a peripheral envelope engaging lip.

In order to pneumatically energize the heads 70 and 75 there is a valve controlled suction means S operated in timed relationship to the operation of the envelope positioning means P. That is, there are valves 86 and 87 controlled in timed relationship to the positioning ofthe cam 69 and controlling suction of air at the cups 71 and 74, respectively. The suction means S includes a suitable suction pump 88 that evacuates a chambered reservoir 89, and it is preferred that the pump 88 run continuously to evacuate or reduce air pressure within said reservoir 89. The valves 86 and 87 are normally closed valves adapted to be operated mechanically through depression of their respective stems. As shown, it is preferred that the valves 86 and 87 be actuated directly by mechanical means associated with the means P and O, as by cams 90 and 91 on the shaft 33. The cam 90 actuates the stem of valve 86, having a lobe of increased radius that depresses the stem to open the valve when the envelope being processed is stopped by the barrier 65, and that re leases the stem to close the valve when the top side or face of the envelope is folded or laid back by the upper head 75. The cam 91 actuates the stem of valve 87, having :a lobe of increased radius that depresses the stem to open the valve when the envelope being processed is stopped by the barrier 65, and that releases the stem to close the valve when the top side or face of the envelope is folded or laid back by the upper head 75. However, in carrying out the invention the lobe of cam 91 is circumferentially longer than the lobe of cam whereby the cups 71 remain energized after the cups 74 are deenergized. It is to be understood that the stems of the valves are spring-biased and that the valves are connected to the manifolds as by flexible lines permitting movement of the head 75, and adjustments, etc. As shown, the cams 90 and 91 are on the shaft 33 at the left side of the mechanism and are carried thereby to turn with turning of the cams 69 and 79.

The traction means T that operates to nip the lowermost side or face of the envelope and to advance said envelope onto the delivery conveyer K is in the form of an articulated conveyer 95 that is operated in opposed relationship to the discharge conveyer K. And, it can be said that the conveyer 95 and conveyer K are cooperatively related to deliver envelopes X that have been previously opened by folding or laying back of the uppermost side or face. The conveyer 95 is characterized by its capability of being extended intermittently in timed relationship to the unfolding of envelopes by the means P and 0 above described. More particularly, it is the extension of the conveyer 95 which is the articulation that is employed to engage an unfolded envelope and to draw the same into positive tractive engagement between the two conveyers 95 and K. Also, extension of the articulated conveyer is such as to engage the leading edges of an envelope that may resist separation of the two sides thereof, and assist in separating said two sides. Therefore, and in accordance with the invention, there is a carriage that overlies the conveyer K, there are spaced rollers 101 and 102 supported by the carriage 100, there is a shiftable roller 103 movable relative to the rollers 101 and 102, there is a belt 105 trained over the aforementioned rollers with a tension roller 106, and there is a pinching roller 107 that is independent of and positioned to oppose the roller 103 when the conveyer 95 is extended.

The carriage 160 is supported over the frame F and is yieldingly urged toward the conveyer K. In the preferred form there is a rail 110 extending transversely and slidably carrying a head 109 for transverse adjustment. The conveyer per se is positioned by a spring-pressed column 111 that is slidable in and which depends from the head 169. The rollers 101 and 102 are carried at the lower end of the column 111, and as shown, said rollers 101 and 102 are rotatable on transverse axes and are independently shiftable upwardly, but in fixed spaced relationship. The shiftable roller 103 is normally positioned above the roll 50 of the conveyor K and it is a lever positioned roller that is extended to a position engaging the pinching roller 107. The said pinching roller 107 is journalled in the opening between the conveyers G and K, below the plane of said conveyers, with the upper periphcry of said roller substantially tangent to said plane so as to have rolling engagement with the underside or face of the envelope X.

In the preferred form, the roller 103 swings into and out of the nipping position where it engages said roller 107, and there is a bellcrank 115 pivoted to a frame member at 116 and carrying a transverse bar 117 that swings over the opening between the two conveyers G and K. The axis of the pivot at 116 is parallel to and spaced from the axes of the rollers 101 and 107, and there is a roller follower on the bellcrank 115 that engages a cam 119 on the shaft 33. The bellcrank 115 is spring-biased to lift the roller 103 to the said normal position and the cam 119 rotates the bellcrank to shift the roller 103 forwardly and downwardly to engage the pinching roller 107. The forward and downward shifting function is positive and ,is made by a lobe of maximum radius on the cam 119, said function occuring just at the closing of the valve 86 that controls the head 70. That is, the engagement of rollers 103 and 107 occurs just at the release of suction which holds the envelope X positioned. In actual practice, however, the belt 105 that is trained over the rollers of conveyer 95 engages the periphery of roller 107.

In order for the conveyer 95 to be articulated, the tension roller 106 is biased into lateral pressured engagement with the belt 105, intermediate the rollers 101 and 103. Thus, the belt 105 remains taut. Further, the roller 101 is opposed by a pressure roll 104 that underlies the belt 52, and in practice the cam 119 does not release the roller 103 from roller 107 until the leading edge of the envelope X passes between the roller 101 and said pressure roll 104. Also, shortly after the roller 103 of the means T engages the envelope to draw it ahead, the valve 87 is closed to release the envelope X from the head 75.

The above described machine or apparatus delivers cut and opened envelopes, or like articles, at the rear end 17 of the housing A in a horizontal plane spaced somewhat below the top thereof and moving or advancing. The delivery conveyer J is provided to receive the unfolded envelopes X, and as best illustrated in FIG. 1 of the drawings, there is a belt type conveyer involving a continuous flexible belt 200 extending between rollers (not shown). The conveyer I forms an extension of the conveyer K and is of substantial length, the opened and unfolded envelopes X being distributed therealong with the contents Y thereof exposed. The belt 200 is slidably supported on a table 202, the envelopes being supported thereon for manual extraction of the contents thereof. In accordance with the preferred form of the invention, the table is a slight box that faces upwardly, and it has suitable lighting therein and a transparent top. Further, the belt 200 is translucent, all to the end that light is shown through the opened envelope in order to make the contents more conspicuous.

From the foregoing, the handling and processing of the envelopes should be clear and each of the above described means functions to perform or facilitate the processes involved. The machine or apparatus is activated by one or more suitable prime movers or motors M that operate through suitable drives, such as vairable speed drives. The conveyer means hereinabove described are driven by the motor or motors M by means of chain drives, as indicated in FIG. 11 of the drawings, and as fully disclosed in my Patent 3,132,629. In order to drive the unfolding means H the above mentioned shaft 33 carries a sprocket driving a chain 215 that is adapted to operate said means. The drive chain 215 extends over and from the said drive sprocket to and over the sprocket 36 on the shaft 33, thereby turning the conveyer rolls connected thereto, all as hereinabove described. Thus, the unifolding means H is operated from and in timed relationship with the apparatus as a whole.

From the foregoing, wherein the operation of each individual means is fully described, it will be apparent how the machine or apparatus of the present invention operates to substantially weaken and destroy the edges of and to unfold envelopes. Particularly, the unfolding means H operates in a positive and direct manner to lay back the uppermost side or face of the envelope X Whereby any contents thereof is exposed. It is important that variations in size, proportions and including thickness of the envelopes are automatically and inherently accommodated by the unfolding means or mechanism H. Further, it is important that ordinary damage and mutilation of the envelopes prior to handling by this apparatus is not critical. Firstly, the conveyer G receives the discharge of the conveyer E, receiving enevelopes that have three destroyed or weakened edges (or the equivalent), and said conveyer G operates at substantially the same linear speed as the preceding conveyer E. Secondly, the envelope X (unopened as yet) engages the gate of the positioning means P and is aligned with a substantial portion of the envelope overlying the opening between conveyers. Thirdly, the air suction is applied in order to energize the attraction of the heads 70 and 75, whereupon the upper head swings down and then away from the lower (fixed) head. Fourthly, the con- 10 veyer is extended to engage the roller 107 whereby a pinching action is obtained in order to nip the envelope from the stopped position and "to withdraw it forwardly between the opposed conveyers 95 and K. (The gate of positioning means P has been retracted.) In carrying out the invention, the conveyer K operates at a speed substantially greater than the preceding conveyers, where by the discharge of envelopes is greatly accelerated. Further, it will be apparent that the conveyer 95 is driven at the same linear speed as the conveyer K by its direct engagement with the first mentioned conveyer. Fifthly, the air suctions are released and the lifted side or face of the envelope trails behind the lowermost side with the content superimposed thereon. It will be apparent that the biased support of the conveyer 95 permits passage of various thicknesses (a wide variety of contents), the rollers 101 and 102 being journalled at opposite ends of carriage on transverse axes.

Having described only a typical preferred form and application of my invention, I do not Wish to be limited or restricted to the specific details herein set forth, but wish to reserve to myself any variations or modifications that may appear to those skilled in the art and fall within the scope of the following claims.

Having described my invention, I claim:

1. In an apparatus for opening envelopes and comprising means destroying three edges of each envelope, an envelope unfolding mechanism including:

(a) a frame,

(b) spaced conveyers carried end to end by the frame and each comprising a belt trained over a pair of spaced rollers, one to receive envelopes from the apparatus and one to deliver opened envelopes,

(c) positioning means to momentarily stop each envelope at the opening between said conveyers,

(d) and unfolding means operating between said conveyers to lay back one side of each stopped envelope for delivery in an opened condition by the second mentioned conveyer.

2. In an apparatus for opening envelopes and comprising means destroying three edges of each envelope, an envelope unfolding mechanism including:

(a) a frame,

(b) spaced conveyers carried end to end by the frame and each comprising a belt trained over a pair of spaced rollers one, to receive envelopes from the apparatus and one to deliver opened envelopes,

(c) positioning means comprising a gate shiftable into the opening between said conveyers to momentarily stop each envelope at said opening,

(d) an unfolding means operating between said conveyers to lay back one side of each stopped envelope for delivery in an opened condition by the second mentioned conveyor.

3. In an apparatus for opening envelopes and comprising means destroying three edges of each envelope, an envelope unfolding mechanism including:

(a) a frame,

(b) spaced conveyers carried end to end by the frame and each comprising a belt trained over a pair of spaced rollers one, to receive envelopes from the apparatus and one to deliver opened envelopes,

(c) positioning means comprising a gate and a cam normally holding the gate aloft and shifting the gate into the opening between said conveyers to momentarily stop each envelope at said opening,

(d) and unfolding means operating between said conveyers to lay back one side of each stopped envelope for delivery in an opened condition by the second mentioned conveyer.

4. In an apparatus for opening envelopes and comprising means destroying three edges of each envelope, an envelope unfolding mechanism including.

(a) a frame,

(b) spaced conveyers carried end to end by the frame and each comprising a belt trained over a pair of spaced rollers, one to receive envelopes from the apparatus and one to deliver opened envelopes,

(c) and unfolding means comprising relatively shiftable heads, one fixed in said opening between the the conveyers and the other supported over the first and operable to attract and lay back the top side of the envelope for its delivery in an opened condition.

5. In an apparatus for opening envelopes and comprising means destroying three edges of each envelope, an envelope unfolding mechanism including:

(a) a frame,

(1)) spaced conveyers carried end to end by the frame and each comprising a belt trained over a pair of spaced rollers, one to receive envelopes from the apparatus and one to deliver opened envelopes,

(c) and unfolding means comprising relatively shiftable heads, one fixed in said opening between the conveyers, and a cam normally holding the other head aloft and shiftable into engagement with the top side of each envelope and operable to attract and lay back said top side for delivery of the envelope in an opened condition.

6. In an apparatus for conveying envelopes and to transfer envelopes from a first conveyer comprising a belt trained over a pair of spaced rollers to a second conveyer comprising a belt trained over a pair of spaced rollers, a traction means including:

(a) spaced rollers journalled over the second conveyer.

(b) and a belt trained over said spaced rollers and engaging said second conveyer, whereby envelopes extended from the first conveyer are engageable between said second conveyer and said belt.

7. In an apparatus for conveying envelopes and to transfer envelopes from a first conveyer comprising a belt trained over a pair of spaced rollers to a second conveyer spaced from the first comprising a belt trained over a pair of spaced rollers and leaving an opening therebetween, traction means including: a shiftable roller and a cam normally holding it aloft and shiftable into opposition to an element between the conveyers, whereby envelopes extended from the first conveyer are engaged therebetween and drawn onto the second conveyer,

8. In an apparatus for opening envelopes and comprising means destroying three edges of each envelope, an envelope unfolding mechanism including:

(a) a frame,

(b) spaced conveyers carried end to end by the frame and each comprising a belt trained over a pair of spaced rollers, leaving an opening therebetween, the first to receive envelopes from the apparatus and the second to deliver unfolded envelopes,

(c) positioning means to stop each envelope at the opening between said conveyers,

- (d) unfolding means operating between said conveyers to lay back one side of each stopped envelope,

(e) and traction means operable to engage envelopes extended from the first conveyer and to draw them onto the second conveyer.

9. In an apparatus for opening envelopes and comprising means destroying three edges of each envelope, an envelope unfolding meachanism including:

(a) a frame,

(b) spaced conveyers carried end to end by the frame and each comprising a belt trained over a pair of spaced rollers, leaving an opening therebetween, the first to receive envelopes from the apparatus and the second to deliver unfolded envelopes,

(c) positioning means comprising a gate shiftable into the opening between said conveyers to momentarily stop each envelope at said opening,

(a!) unfolding means comprising a head shiftable into engagement with each envelope stopped by the gate and adapted to attract a side of the envelope to lay back said side,

(e) and traction means comprising a roller journalled over the second conveyer and engaging the same, whereby envelopes extended from the first conveyer are engageable between said second conveyer and said roller.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 771,852 Wolf et al Oct. 11, 1904 2,291,754 Piazze Aug. 4, 1942 2,972,842 Hitchcock Feb, 28, 1961 3,063,209 Neal et a1 Nov. 13, 1962 3,116,718 Krupotich et a1. Ian. 7, 1964

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Classifications
U.S. Classification53/381.3, 83/912, 53/381.6
International ClassificationB43M7/02
Cooperative ClassificationY10S83/912, B43M7/02
European ClassificationB43M7/02