US 3198315 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Aug. 3, 1965 A. 0. LONG, SR
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FEEDING FLATWORK IRONERS 3 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Jan. 25, 1962 I z l/ 7 g AT'TORNEYS.
Aug. 3, 1965 A. 0. LONG, SR
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FEEDING FLATWORK IRONERS 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Jan. 25, 1962 INVENTOR. 4/46 0. 40/24, 5/;
Aug. 3, 1965 A. 0. LONG, SR 3,198,315
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FEEDING FLATWORK IRONERS Filed Jan. 25, 1962 5 Sheets-Sheet Z INVENTOR. Arch 0. Lang, 5
This invention relates generally to improvements in the feeding of flatwork to flatwork ironers of the type used in commercial laundries, and refers more particularly to a method and apparatus for feeding fiatwork to such ironers.
In the use of the conventional commercial fiatwork ironer, it is necessary to hand feed'the work, whether it be bed sheets, towels, pillow cases or the like, to the input end of the ironer. This is a time-consuming task "involving the services of at least two workers and requiring many motions on the part of each worker. The problem is particularly aggravating in feeding relatively narrow pieces, for example, towels or pillow cases. The ordinary ironer is capable of taking, in side-by-side relationship, several of these pieces at one time. However, with only two workers, it is not possible to keep the ironer at all times full to capacity. At the most two pieces at a time can be fed, leaving unfilled gaps on the conveyor which moves the material through the ironer. Consequently, the ironer usually is operated at but a fraction of its total capacity.
One object of the present invention is to provide a method and apparatus for use with ironing machines of the character described which makes it possible to feed simultaneously to the ironer a plurality of workpieces, and in which, during the feeding operation, the operators or workers are free to prepare additional pieces for feeding. While eflicient operation of the feeder apparatus still requires the services of two Workers, the arrangement and operation is such that the feeding is accomplished with much less effort and motion than has heretofore been the case, resulting in easing the task for the workers and at the same time, increasing their production measurably.
Still another object of the invention is to provide an automatic feeder for ironers which is equally valuable in handling narrow items like hand towels, roller towels or pillow cases and larger items ranging up to bed sheets. It is a special characteristic of the invention that the flatwork is evenly fed to the ironer by mechanism that causes the leading end portions of the fiatwork to be deposited on the input conveyor of the ironer in smooth, unwrinkledcondition, and in such position that the reminder will be drawn into and through the ironer with ease and facility.
A further object of the invention is to provide a feeder for flatwork ironers which is so constructed that it can easily be incorporated with conventional ironers already in use without requiring changes or modifications in the ironer itself.
Yet another object of the invention is to provide a feeder for flatwork ironers which is relatively simple in construction, inexpensive to operate, and which is sufficiently rugged to withstand long use.
Other. and further objects of the invention together with the features of novelty appurtenant thereto will appear in the course of the following description.
In the accompanying drawings which form a part of the specification and are to be read in conjunction therewith, and in which like reference numerals indicate like parts in the various views.
FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a preferred feeder embodying the invention, the feeder being shown in United States Patent ice conjunction with the input end of a conventional flatwork ironer;
FIG. 2 is a partly sectional view taken generally along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1 in the direction of the arrows;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary end view taken from the left side of FIG. 1, showing only the near side;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of one of the carrier rods having pieces of flatwork hung thereon;
FIGS. 5, 6 and 7 are schematic views illustrating succeeding steps in the operation of the feeder.
Referring to the drawings, and initially to FIG. 1, reference numeral 10 indicates generally one of the ironing rolls of a conventional fiatwork ironer. The roll is (not shown). Located beneath the roll is the steam chest 12 having an undulated upper surface which registers with the roll. An endless carrier web 13 moves between the roll 10 and upper surface of the steam chest 12 and provides a moving base for fiatwork introduced into the ironing mechanism.
Located ahead of the leading ironing roll 10 and forming part of the input end of the ironer is the endless belt 14 trained around the rollers 15 and 16. The upper flight of the belt 14 is guided by an apron 17. The usual pressure roller 18 is disposed above the upper flight of the belt 14 and lightly rests thereon. It will be understood that the roller 16 is powered by any suitable means (not shown) in order to cause the belt to move in a direction in which the upper flight advances toward the main ironing mechanism.
The parts described thus far, with prehaps minor modifications, are common in fiatwork ironers of the type presently in use, and further explanation of these components will be unnecessary to those skilled in the art.
The feeder unit is stationed at the input end of the ironer and is supported on the floor F. In the preferred embodiment the support structure for the feeding mechanism includes a base plate 19 having a width somewhat greater than the width of the ironer, as may best be understood by referring to FIG. 2 wherein the end roll 15 of the ironer is shown in broken lines. It will be noted that the base plate extends well under the input conveyor 14, the reason for which will subsequently be explained. The base preferably is provided with leveling feet 19a near its opposite side edges.
Firmly anchored to the base plate 19 and rising vertically therefrom are the widely spaced front legs 20' (FIG. 2). The legs 20 are so spaced from one another that they exceed the span of the ironer. While only one can be seen in FIGS. 1 and 3, there are also two similarly spaced rear legs 21, these likewise being firmly anchored to the base 1%.
The legs and 21 are preferably made adjustable in height. For this purpose each leg is composed of two lengthwise sections joined by a clamping bolt 22. The 'lower section Zita, 21a, which conveniently can be an angle section, is provided with an elongated slot 20b, 21b through which the bolt extends. A tie brace 23 joins the front and rear legs at each side of the frame structure. The near side of the frame structure as viewed in FIG. 1 also has secured between the upper sections 200, 210 of the front and rear legs a beam member 24 on which is supported an electric motor 25 and speed reducer 26. Motor 25 is connected wit-h the input shaft of the speed reducer by belt 27.
The upper ends of the pairs of legs 20, 21 on each side of the unit have resting thereon the horizontal flange 28a of an angle section 28. The angle sections 28 form parallel beams at each side of the frame, spanning the front and rear legs and extending forwardly from the front legs on the opposite sides of the belt 14.
The vertical flange of each beam section 28 has secured thereto near its forward end by bolts 29 an upstanding side plate 36. The bolt are received in elongate slots 29a in the plate, so as to permit lengthwise adjustment of the plate relative to the beam section. A front shaft 31 (FIG. 2) extends between and is supported at its opposite ends by the side plates 30. The ends of the shaft 31 are journaled in bearings 32 secured to the inside faces of the plates; A cross brace member 32a of channel cross section also extends between and is secured at its ends to the-respective plates 39. The shaft 3-1 has keyed thereto a pair of spaced chain sprockets 33, the sprockets being spaced from each other approximately the width of the belt 14 and its roller 15. I
Plate members 36, similar in shape to the plate members 36, are also connected with the beam sections 2-8 ne r the rearward ends thereof. Like the front plate members 31, the rear plate members are tied together by a cross brace 37 and support therebctween a shaft 38. The shaft is journaled insuitable bearings 39 secured to the plate, and is provided with an extension portion 38a to which is keyed a sheave 49. The sheave 4th is driv-ingly connected with pulley 41 on the output shaft of speed reducer 26. A pair of rear chain sprockets 42 are keyed to shaft 38, being spaced on the shaft at the same spacing employed for the front sprockets 33. Each pair of front and rear-sprockets 33 and 4-2 carries an endless chain 4-3.
It will be observed that the rear plate members are also mounted for limited adjustment lengthwise of the beam sections 28. To establish a sliding connection between the plate members and beam section, the mounting bolts 44 are received in elongate slots 36a formed in the plate members. A thrust screw 45 having one end swivelly connected with a bracket 46 secured to beam section 28 is threadedly connected with lugs 47 which project from the side of the plate 36. It will be evident that once bolts 44 are loosened, the plates 36 can be shifted forwardly or rearwardly by turning screw 45. The plate members are guided on the respective beam sections by the lugs 48 and 49 which are welded or otherwise secured to the plate members and respectively engage the top surface of the horizontal leg 28a and the lower edge of the vertical leg of the beam section.
Each of the chains 43 have secured thereto at equispaced intervals a plurality of hook-like members 50 The hooks on one chain are aligned with the corresponding hooks on the other chain. The hooks are so disposed with respect to the vertical plane of the respective carrier chains that, as they reach the roll 15, they will move past the ends thereof without interference, and with the lowermost portions of the hooks below the level of the upper flight of the belt 14.
The hook members th are designed to impel from the rear of the feed mechanism to the front, and then back to the rear again, a work carrying rod 51. In FIG. 1, I have shown four such rods, one adjacent the roll 15, one immediately below the sheave 4%), one on the upper return path, and one in standby condition at the extreme rear of the machine. A's may be seen in FIGS. 2 and 5, the rods 50 each comprise a generally cylindrical element having sufficient length as to stand between and overlie at its opposite ends the horizontal flanges 28a of the fore and aft beam sections 23. Each rod is provided over the major portion of its length with an outer skin 51a composed of a material which has a high degree of frictional resistance to sliding of textile fabrics thereover. I have found that a resilient flexible polyurethane foam is eminently suit-able, although other skin materials, such as sandpaper or the like which provide a roughened surface, will also serve. The skin terminates well inwardly of the ends of the rod to provide relatively smooth cylindrical susrfaces 51b. It is these surfaces which are engaged by the hook member 50 as will be seen from FIG, 2. At the very ends the rods are provided with a cross sectional shape other than circular so that at least two opposed i parallel flat faces are provided. Preferably the ends are formed square, as at 51c, so that there are two sets of opposed parallel flat surfaces.
The rods are carried forwardly from the rear of the feeding mechanism toward the ironer in a horizontal path with the ends 51c loosely confined between upper and lower guides 52 and 53. The lower guides 53 on each side comprise a strip superposed on the horizontal leg 28a of the beam section 28. It will be noted from FIG. 1 that the horizontal plane of the lower guides 53 intersects the slightly inclined plane of the upper flight of the belt '14 so that as a rod is moved past the roller 15 toward the ironer, it will be engaged by the belt and ride upwardly thereon, thus departing from the lower guides.
Each upper guide 52 is spaced above its associated lower guide a'd'istancc sufficient to permit and end 510 of the rod 51 to slide freely therebetween while still preventing rotation of the rod. In the preferred embodiment the upper guide 52 on each side of the machine is formed as the lower horizontal flange of an angle section 54 having the vertical flange 55 which is secured at its end to the inside faces of the front and rear plate members 30 and 36. The flange or guide 53 is not continuous between the plates 30 and 36; instead, it terminates at its forward end in edge 56 which is located approximately at the point where the advancing rod engages and rides upwardly on the belt 14. Thus, as the rod is moved onto the belt 14 the ends 510 of the rod are freed from the restraint against rotation afforded by the guides up to this point. At the forward or leading end the guide 52 is bent upwardly to provide a throat area which facilitates entry of the ends 510 between the guides.
It will be noted that the bottom legs of the hooks 50 are so spaced from the chain that during movement of the rods forwardly with the ends 510 between the respective guides 52 and 53, the rods are supported on the lower guide 53, and are moved therealong by the upright legs of the hooks. These legs continue to roll the rods upwardly along and on belt 14 until the angular position of the hooks is such that the hooks pick the rod from the belt and move it upwardly over the front sprockets 33.
The rods are successively returned toward the rear of the machine on an upper return platform 57 which is supported from the cross braces 32a and 37 by the intervening channel sections 58; The forward end of the platform 57 is. bent downwardly as at 57a to promote smooth interception of the rods on their up and rearward swing, and likewise is inclined at its other end, as at 57b, so that the rods will roll by gravity out of the hooks before the latter make their turns around the rear sprockets. If desired, the inclined discharge portion 571) can lead to a storage area or magazine (not shown). The return platform is desirable inasmuch as it relieves the chain of the weight of the rods during the return movement.
' Although not necessary for the handling of short pieces, such as ordinary hand towels and pillow cases, the preferred feeder is also provided with an endless belt conveyor 60 which is trained about the rollers 61 and 62. These rollers are supported from base 19 by trunnions 63. A motor and speed reducer 64 serves to drive the conveyor 60 in the direction of the arrow. At the discharge end an inclined pickup platform 65 is provided, this platform forming with a vertical end plate 66 a trough-like Zone into which the portions carried by conveyor 60 will be discharged.
The basic steps involved in the feeding operation are best illustrated in and will be explained in conjunction with FIGS. 4-7, inclusive. As shown in FIG. 4, the initial step in handling items such as towels T is to drape a plurality of them were rod 51 leaving a slight space between adjacent towels. During the draping the rod i supported in any convenient fashion, but held so that it cannot rotate..
The towels are so draped that the major portion of the length hangs on one side of the rod with a short tail on" the other. Despite the imbalance, the skin surface 51a will prevent the towels from slipping from the rod.
The rod is now advanced t-oward the ironer conveyor belt 14 with the long portion of thetowel foremost, while still holding the rod against rotation. In the preferred embodiment of the apparatus, this step is performed by the chain carried hooks 5t acting in cooperation with the guides 52 and 53. 'The guides 52 and '53,'due to their en gagement with the opposed flat surfaces on rod ends 510, hold the rod against rotation during the advance of the rod.
As the rod reaches the belt 14, it is moved inwardly thereon with a rolling motion. To effectthigthe rod must be advanced at a greater lineal rate'of movement than the lineal speed of belt 14. In the preferred apparatus this is accomplished by driving the chains 43 at a greater lineal rate than the rate of belt 14. As will be observed from FIG. 6, when the rod reaches the point of rolling contact with the belt 14, it is no longer restrained against rotation since the upper guide 52 has terminated. Thus, the force exerted on the rodby hooks 50 causes it to roll upwardly on the belt, and as therod rolls, it deposits the upper end of the t-owels'T thereon so that from this point they will be carried into the ironer by the belt 14. The rolling action of the rod serves to smoothly deposit the leading end of the towels on the conveyor belt 14.
As the rod continues its motion under the influence of hooks 50, it rides off the end of the towel andupwardly on belt 14 until such time as it is picked up by the hooks and deposited on the upper return platform 57. As earlier described, the rod is returned on the platform 57 to the rear end of the feeder where it is again made available for loading.
It will be understood that in the operation of the preferred apparatus, the rods are fed individually into the input end of the feeder so that only one rod is engaged by a pair of hooks. The spacing of the hooks is preselected in accordance with the length of the flatwork. The spacing should be such that the trailing end of one piece will be followed, and not overlapped, by the leading end of the next piece. The number of hooks on the chain, the over-all length of the feeder, and rate of drive of the chains will depend on the type of flatwork generally to be handled. However, it will be evident that by proper selection of these factors it is possible to have the leading end of one piece of flatwork closely follow the trailing end of a preceding piece, and consequently, the ironer can be run to full capacity.
In the handling and feeding of relatively short lengths of flatwork, the feeder is of suflicient height that the lower ends of the flatwork will not contact the base 19. However, for handling long items, the conveyor 60 is also utilized. This conveyor is driven at a lineal rate slightly greater than the lineal rate of movement of chains 43. When the rod 51 is placed in feeding position, the lower portion of the flatwork carried thereby is deposited on the left-hand end of the lower conveyor (a viewed in FIG. 1). Because of the differing speeds of chains 43 and conveyor as, the portion carried by the conveyor 60 will advance more rapidly and, thus, the work on separate rods will be maintained sufiiciently apart that there is little danger of entanglement. Moreover, should the length of the work be sufliciently great that the lower ends of work on one rod not be completely drawn from the trough as the lower ends on the next rod arrive, the latter will, in effect, be pushed under the portions of the work till in the trough and, consequently, the work will feed relatively freely therefrom as it is drawn toward and into the ironer.
Where the length of the work is such that only a small portion would be carried by lower conveyor 60, the latter can move approximately at the same speed as chains 43. However, if a substantial portion of the length is carried by the conveyor 60, the speed should differ, as previously described. In the latter case the relative movement of the lower portions with respect to the carrier rod serves not only to prevent piling in the 6 trough, as previously described, but also would tend to draw additional material from the mass deposited on the conveyor prior to the deposit of the leading end of the belt 14.
Adjustment of the position of the feeder relative to the belt 14 can be made through operation of the thrust screws 45.
From the foregoing it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all of the ends and objects hereinabove set forth together with other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the method and structure.
It will be understood thatcertain features and subcombinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and subcombinations. This is contemplated by and is within the scope of the claims;
As many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope thereof, ,it is to be understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
Having thus described my invention, I claim:
1. Apparatus for feeding flatwork to the conveying belt of an ironing machine comprising a rod member, and means for supporting and advancing said rod member from a point remote from said'belt to engagement with the belt and thereafter roll it on the surface of the belt for a selected distance from the contact point.
2. Apparatus as in claim 1 including means cooperating with said rod and operating to restrain said rod against rotation about its own axis during the advance of said rod toward said contact.
3. Apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said rod has a portion of its surface covered with a material having high frictional resistance to the sliding of fabric thereover.
4. Apparatus as in claim 3 wherein said material is flexible urethane foam.
5. Apparatus for feeding fiatwork to the conveying surface of the conveying belt of an ironing machine comprising a rod over which fiatwork can be draped, track means for said rod extending toward said surface and positioned to engage the ends of said rod and support same in a horizontal position at a location remote from said surface, means operable to advance said rod along said track means toward said surface, deposit said rod on said surface then roll it therealong, and means operable to restrain said rod against rotation during said advance until said rod is adjacent said surface.
6. Apparatus as in claim 5 including a. lower conveyor positioned beneath the level of said track means, and means driving said lower conveyor in the direction of advance of said rod, the speed of said lower conveyor being at least equal to the speed of advance of said rod.
7. Apparatus for feeding flatwork to the conveying surface of the conveying belt of an ironing machine comprising a rod over which flatwork can be draped, a pair of spaced parallel substantially horizontal supporting tracks extending toward said surface and located in a common plane intersecting the plane of said surface, said rod extending between and resting near its opposite ends on said tracks, thrust means operable to advance said rod along said tracks toward and onto said surface, said tracks terminating near said surface whereby the rod moves from the tracks onto said surface, said thrust means operable to roll said rod along said surface for a selected distance, and means operable to prevent rotation of said rod during its travel along said tracks.
8. Apparatus as in claim 7 wherein said thrust means is so constructed as to lift said rod from said surface following the movement of the rod over said surface for said selected distance.
9. Apparatus as in claim 7 wherein said thrust means comprises a pair of carrier members positioned adjacent the respective tracks, and members secured to said carrier members and positioned to engage said rod at points adjacent said tracks and near the opposite ends of said rod.
10. Apparatus as in claim 7 wherein said last named means comprises guide means parallel to said tracks and spaced thereabove, and surfaces on said rod which cooperate with said guide means during the advance of said rod.
, 11. Apparatus as in claim 8 including means operable to return said rod toward the far end of said tracks in a path remote from the path of advance of said rod.
12. Apparatus for feeding flatwork to the conveying surface of the conveying belt of an ironing machine comprising a pair of spaced parallel substantially horizontal supporting tracks extending toward said surface and located in a common plane intersecting the plane of said surface, a rod member extending between and resting near its opposite ends on said tracks, a pair of endless flexible drive chains, each positioned adjacent a track and having one flight near and parallel with its associated track, means operable to drive said chains in 'a direction whereby the lower flights advance toward said surface, thrust members secured to said chains and operable to engage said rod member and advance 2 same along said tracks toward and onto said surface, said tracks terminating near said surface whereby the rod member moves from the tracks onto said surface under the influence of said thrust members, said chains driven at a lineal ratewhich is greater than the lineal rate of movement of said surface and said thrust members operable to roll said rod along on said surface for a selected distance, and means operable to prevent rotation of said rod member during its advance on said tracks;
13. Apparatus as in claim 12 wherein said thrust members have hook portions which lift said rod member from said surface upon the completion of the rolling movement.
14. Apparatus as in claim 13 including a return track spaced above said first named tracks, and operable to receive and guide said rod member back toward the far end of the first named tracks after it has been lifted from said surface.v
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,607,776 11/26 Mustee. 1,686,680 10/28 Case 198lO2 X 1,827,336 10/31 Sager 38-143 1,997,267 4/35 Remington. 2,855,089 10/58 Griflin 198-21 FOREIGN PATENTS 735,435 8/55 Great Britain.
SAMUEL F. COLEMAN, Primary Examiner.
WILLIAM F. LABORDE, Examiner.