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Publication numberUS3378257 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 16, 1968
Filing dateJun 16, 1966
Priority dateJun 16, 1966
Publication numberUS 3378257 A, US 3378257A, US-A-3378257, US3378257 A, US3378257A
InventorsBode Robert H, Boynton Ira D
Original AssigneeCommerce Usa
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for moving and orienting limp pieces of material
US 3378257 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

April 16, 1968 D. BOYNTON ETAL 3,

APPARATUS FOR MOVING AND OR'lENTlNG LIMP PIECES OF MATERIAL Filed June 16, 1966 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 A E'EL 22 lswmm! n ,|s 2 lSwlTCHI y I 1 I E SUPPLY 1 ---4 ,----1 L --"L- ::J"L- 7 :J-' I r --1 r I 2| 24 I5 |4 L 1 l8 l4 I9 I im H x I?) PICKUP SUPPLY OR I? WORK DEVICE Fig. 1

IO 3 l6 w I I gar Flg. 2

SENS? 2s 30 OR so i I 3112a Y L 3 27 EH3 [n] 4 4 SUPPLY-- 1 x PICKUP WORK Flg. 3 DEVICE 25 Ire D. Boyniton -Q Robert H. Bode 6 37 INVENTORS Fig. 4 BY Attorney April 16, 1968 1. o. BOYNTON ETAL 3,378,257

APPARATUS FOR MOVING AND ORIENTING LIMP PIECES OF MATERIAL 2 Sheets-Sheet Filed June 16, 1966 Fig. 5 Fig 6 AC PHOTO- 67 ELECTRIC SWITCH Fig. 7

7 Ira D. Boynron Robert H. Bode INVENTORS Attorney United States Patent 3,378,257 APPARATUS FOR MOVING AND ORIENTING LIMP PIECES OF MATERIAL Ira D. Boynton, Lexington, and Robert H. Bode, Wenham, Mass., assignors, by mesne assignments, to the United States of America as represented by the Secretary of Commerce Filed June 16, 1966, Ser. No. 557,992 Claims. (Cl. 271-84) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE An arrangement for transporting at least one piece of limp material from an unaligned position on a platform to a delivery point in a desired alignment. The piece may be moved in the x direction by means of gravity and in the y direction by means of vibration, or in the x and y directions by means of vibration. Sensing means monitor the presence of the piece in the desired alignment.

This invention relates to the automatic handling and processing of fabrics and particularly to the positioning of pieces of flexible material, such as limp pieces of fabric, cloth or paper, to move and orient them into a desired location.

In manufacturing certain items formed from woven or nonwoven fabrics or knit fabrics, cloth, or paper it is desirable to be able to perform a number of steps automatically. For example, to place one or more workpieces in a position before the needle of a sewing machine for stitching it is necessary to pick up, move, orient, and align the piece or pieces for stitching. The order of these steps may vary from operation to operation and one or more of them may be omitted or repeated depending upon the workpieces, the manner in which they are supplied, and the operation or operations to be performed. This invention is concerned with the moving and orienting or aligning of one or more pieces of limp material such as a piece of cloth, fabric, or paper. The method and apparatus of this invention are particularly well adapted for incorporation in automated sewing devices.

In the prior art devices the moving of a piece of flex ible material has been accomplished through the use of such apparatus as endless belts, suction devices, and adhesive surfaces. Orientation of the piece or pieces during movement from one location to another has not received serious consideration, the solution normally used being to rely upon the original placement by a human operator of the piece within or on the moving mechanism to insure proper orientation at the delivery point.

If such an operation as sewing either on a single piece of material (e.g., hemming) or on two or more pieces of material (e.g., seaming) is to be fully automated, it is necessary that the piece or pieces be presented at the work point, e.g., sewing machine needle in a properly aligned condition. Such alignment must be completely reproducible and subject to continuous control.

It is therefore a primary object of this invention to provide an apparatus which is capable of moving one or more limp pieces of material through a substantially horizontal plane in a manner to orient the piece or pieces within the plane to present it or them at a desired point in a predetermined orientation. It is another object of 'ice this invention to provide an apparatus of the character described which lends itself to monitoring which in effect is a final determination of the achievement of delivery and orientation of the piece just prior to its being picked up or worked on directly. It is another object of this invention to provide such apparatus which is capable of moving limp pieces of material without wrinkling or buckling them, so aligned that a straight or contoured edge is positioned where desired and in a manner such that the edge is flat and ready to be worked on. It is yet another object to impart a degree of stiffness to the edge of the limp piece during moving and, if desired, during the presentation of the piece to a work point. Other objects of the invention will in part be obvious and will in part be apparent hereinafter.

The invention accordingly comprises features of construction, combinations of elements, and arrangement of parts which will be exemplified in the following detailed disclosure; and the scope of the invention will be indicated in the claims.

For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic drawing of one modification of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross-section through the modification of FIG. 1 taken along line 22 of FIG. 1;.

FIG. 3 is a schematic drawing of another modification of this invention;

FIG. 4 is a cross-section through the modification of FIG. 3 taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 3

FIG. 5 is an end elevational view in detail of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a partial side elevational view of the apparatus of FIG. 1; and

FIGS. 7 and 8 are cross-sectional drawings illustrating two types of sensing means.

The apparatus for moving a limp fabric piece or pieces to a pretermined delivery point, which may be a pickup point or a work point, comprises a substantially horizontal platform, means to vibrate the platform in a direction to advance the limp piece and to bring it into edge contact with an arresting member, and sensing means positioned at the predetermined delivery point to monitor the proper orientation of the limp piece and, if desired, to actuate various other mechanisms including means for starting and stopping the vibrating means and delivery and pickup means. In moving the limp piece, it is generally desirable to be able to orient it and move it in both the x and y directions. The movement and orientation in one of these directions may be performed either through the use of an additional vibrating means or it may be accomplished through the use of gravity. Embodiments of both of these modifications are illustrated in the following description.

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of the apparatus of this invention employing gravity to obtain movement and orientation in the one direction. In the apparatus of FIG. 1, there is provided a substantially horizontal platform defining on its surface the plane over which the limp piece of material is to be moved. The platform 10, as will be apparent in FIG. 2, is positioned with respect to the horizontal at an angle a. This angle is of sufiicient magnitude to cause the limp piece to move by gravity against the vertically-positioned arresting member 11; but it is not great enough to cause the limp piece of fabric to wrinkle or turn over.

Returning to FIG. 1, it will be seen that in this modificalion there is illustrated the movizw and orienting of two pieces of limp material, one on top of the other. The bottom piece 14 is first supplied from a source 15 by any suitable pickup means such as those which include suction means, adhesive surfaces, or an endless belt arrangement. The manner in which the limp fabric pieces are deposited on the platform 10 at the supply point is not part of this invention. In the embodiment in FIG. 1, a second smaller piece of limp material 16 is supplied from source 17 and placed on top of limp piece 14. Two vibrating means 18 and 19, which will be explained in detail with regard to FIGS. 5 and 6, are outlined by dotted lines in the diagram of FIG. 1. Located at the pickup or work point on the horizontal plane is a sensing means 20 which is adapted to determine whether or not proper orientation of limp pieces 14 and 16 has been attained. This sensing may also be used to actuate a suitable pickup device or a work device, e.g., sewing machine needle, designed to perform work on the limp piece or pieces delivered to it. Typical sensing means are described in detail with reference to FIGS. 7 and 8.

In the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2 the movement of orientation in the y direction (as noted on the figures) are achieved through gravity, the vibrating platform 10 being oriented with respect to the horizontal through angle a. In the embodiment in FIGS. 3 and 4 movement in the y direction is achieved through the use of an additional vibrating means which can be vibrated out of phase with the vibrating means which moves the limp piece in the x direction. As will be Seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, in this embodiment the vibrating horizontal platform need not be placed at an angle with the horizontal. In this modification, two substantially vertical members 26 and 27 serve as arresting members so that when the limp piece 36 which is to be moved reaches the desired pickup or work point, it is oriented to make contact along two edges with these vertical arresting members. The embodiment of FIG. 3 also illustrates the use of perforations 28 in the platform 25 at the pickup or Work point. These may be desirable if the pickup means used is one which is based upon the employment of vacuum to lift and hold the limp piece.

In the modification of FIGS. 3 and 4, there are shown two vibrating means 36 and 37 which are capable of being operated out of phase with each other. Thus, for example, as vibrating means 36 is used to move the limp piece in the x direction, vibrating means 37, operating out of phase with means 36, can be used to move the limp piece in the y direction.

FIGS. 5 and 6 are end and side elevational views, respectively, showing an embodiment of the modification of the apparatus of FIG. 1. In these figures, like members refer to like elements in FIGS. 1 and 2. It will be appreciated that any suitable means for vibrating the platform 10 may be used and that those illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6 are illustrative and not limiting. In order to mount the vibrating platform 16, which is positioned at a small angle to achieve gravity movement of limp piece 14, it is necessary to use a Wedge-shaped adaptor piece 39 which is attached to two parallel driven members 40 through a driving member 41. Suitable means for attaching the driven and driving members, such as a plate 42 and screws 43, are provided. The lower ends of the driven members 49 are suitably grounded to a support 47 through the use of plates and screws 46. The driving member 41 is actuated by a solenoid device which is schematically shown in FIG. 6 as being comprised of an armature 5t) oscillating within a suitable stator 51, the device being wired to a source of periodic electric energy such as 110- volt AC current. A number of different vibrating devices are known in the art. For example, one based on the use of an eccentric drive mechanism may also be used.

The vibrating platform may be operated in a number of different ways, two of which are illustrated diagrammatically in FIGS. 1 and 3. It may be continuously vibrated, as in the FIG. 3 modification, in which case it is not necessary to provide means which automatically start and stop the vibrating means. In this case, the mechanism which follows the moving and orienting apparatus of this invention (e.g., pickup or work device) may be so designed as to be actuated through switch 21 at the time the sensing means 20 indicates that the piece has reached the desired orientation. Since movement and orientation with the vibrating platform imparts a degree of stiffness to the edge of the limp piece being handled, the vibrating platform may, if desired, be positioned directly ahead of the work point and be used to introduce the limp piece into the working mechanism. The supply mechanism 31 for depositing the limp material onto the vibrating platform can be so timed as to be coordinated with the arrival and orientation of a preceding piece at the delivery point. The vibrating platform may, of course, handle more than one piece at a time with the various pieces following each other in series in their movement along the platform.

The pickup or work device associated with the point of delivery of the vibrating platform may, on the other hand, require that the vibratory motion be stopped prior to pickup or take-over by working mechanism. Such an embodiment is illustrated in FIG. 1. In this case, the sensing means 20 may have associated with it suitable circuitry which will effect the necessary stopping and restarting of the vibratory means as by switch 22 to coordinate the operation of the platform with supply and delivery of the limp pieces. Such an arrangement will in turn require the use of suitable actuating means associated with the pickup or working device (switch 21) and the supplying means (switches 23 and 24).

FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate two different sensing means which may be incorporated in the vibrating platform at its delivery end as component 20 of FIGS. 1 and 3. The first of these is a photocell device, the second a pressuresensitive device. The figures show a fragmentary crosssection of the delivery end of the vibrating platform along with the vertical arresting member 56. A small aperture 57 is drilled in the vibrating platform which must be of such a size that it defines an opening through the platform somewhat larger than twice the amplitude of the vibration, the limits of which are indicated by the dotted lines. As the limp piece 58 which is being moved approaches the ultimate delivery point it passes over the aperture 57 and in doing so closes it off at least partially. In closing off the aperture the edge of the limp piece activates suitable switching means through the use of the apparatus shown in FIGS. 7 and 8.

In FIG. 7, there is provided a means 59 for supplying a collimated beam of light and passing it through the aperture onto a sensing device. Within this means, which is defined by a light-tight enclosure 60, is a light source 61 and suitable optical elements shown herein as lens 62. The light-tight enclosure has a small aperture 64 which is in axial alignment with the aperture 57 in the vibrating platform. Thus, there is provided a collimated beam 63 of radiant energy to the detecting means which herein consists of a light-tight housing 65 having an aperture 66 in axial alignment with apertures 64- 'and 57. Positioned within this housing is a photocell 67 which is connected through suitable electrical circuitry to a photoelectric switch 68 of any suitable known type. The photoelectric switch, in turn, may be connected to other mechanisms in the apparatus such as the vibrating means, the pickup means associated with the supply of the limp fabric, the pickup means associated with the delivery of the limp fabric, or a working mechanism.

The sensing device of FIG. 8 is based upon the use of fluid pressure, the flow of which is interrupted by the edge of the limp piece 58 as it passes across aperture 57 in the vibrating platform 55. Pressurized fluid, e.g., air, is provided through a suitable line and nozzle 70 from a source not shown. Prior to the time that the edge of the limp piece reaches the central position of aperture 57 a small stream of pressurized fluid is free to pass through aperture 57 into a pressure sensing device 71. This device is made up of a fluid-tight enclosure 72 which is conveniently suspended from a suitable mounting means 73 independent from the v-ibnating platform. The fluidtight-enclosure and the mounting means define a small fluid aperture 74 which is in axial alignment with the aperture 57 in the vibrating platform and with the opening in nozzle 70. Within the enclosure and mounted on a supporting ring 77 is a fluid-actuatable bellows 7 6 which, through a rod 77, is connected to a switch 78 actuatable by the vertical movement of the rod 77. When aperture 57 in the vibrating platform is unobstructed by the fabric 58, a fluid pressure is exerted upon the top of bellows 76. However, when the edge of the limp piece 58 obstructs the flow of fluid through apertures 57 and 74, the force on the bellows is released, rod 77 moves vertically upward, and the switch 78 is actuated. This switch in turn may be connected to any appropriate mechanism within the apparatus.

It has been found in the use of the vibrating platform to move and orient the limp piece that the motion imparted to the limp piece causes a temporary stiffening of its edgesan unexpected and important advantage. This edge stiffening permits accurate orientation through edge contact with the arresting member. It also results in presenting the limp piece in better condition for the next mechanism (e.g., pickup device or sewing machine needle) for it is not desirable to have any of the edges curled or out of line. Moreover, because of this stiffening effect the vibrating platform may be used to feed the limp piece up to the work mechanism.

The frequency at which the platform is vibrated may vary over a wide range, e.g., from 20 to 80 cycles per second; and the rate at which the limp piece is moved is a function of the frequency. However, the size and Weight of the limp piece also affects this rate. As an example, pieces of denim and cotton shirting were moved at a rate between 4 and 6 inches per second using 60 cycles per second vibration.

The apparatus of this invention thus provides an important component in an automated handling device, for it provides means for taking one or more limp pieces of fabric in an unaligned condition and moves it or them to a predetermined delivery point in a desired alignment.

It is therefore not necessary to rely upon accurate alignment in a supply stack to achieve accurate alignment at a delivery or work point.

It will thus be seen that the objects set forth above, among those made apparent from the preceding description, are efficiently attained and; since certain changes may be made in the above construction without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

It is also to be understood that the following claims are intended to cover all of the generic and specific features of the invention herein described, and all statements of the scope of the invention which, as a matter of language, might be said to fall therebetween.

We claim:

1. An apparatus for moving a limp piece of material in a plane and for orienting said piece in said plane, comprising in combination (a) a platform defining said plane on its surface;

(b) first arresting means defining the position of one edge of said piece at a predetermined delivery point;

(e) means for positioning said plane at an angle with a horizontal line sufficient to move said piece without wrinkling by means of gravity toward said first arresting member;

(d) means for vibrating said platform in a direction to advance said material in said plane and to bring its edge in contact with said first arresting means; and

(e) sensing means for monitoring: the arrival of said piece at said delivery point.

2. The apparatus in accordance with claim 1 wherein said platform has an aperture located at a point corresponding to the position of the leading edge of said piece when it has reached said predetermined delivery point, and said sensing means are associated with said aperture, whereby the arrival of said leading edge over at least a portion of said aperture actuates said sensing means.

3. An apparatus in accordance with claim 2 wherein said sensing means comprises in combination (a) means on one side of said platform for directing a collimated beam of light through said aperture;

(b) lightresponsive means on the other side of said platform for detecting said beam of light, and

(0) switch means connected to said detecting means and actuable thereby.

4. An apparatus in accordance with claim 2 wherein said sensing means comprises in combination (a) means on one side of said platform for directing a small stream of a pressurized fluid through said aperture;

(b) pressure-responsive means on the other side of said platform; and

(c) switch means connected to said pressure-responsive means and actuable thereby.

5. An apparatus for moving a limp piece of material in a substantially horizontal plane and for orienting said piece in said plane, comprising in combination (a) a substantially horizontal platform defining said plane on its surface;

(b) first arresting means defining the position of one edge of said piece at a predetermined delivery point;

(e) means for vibrating said platform in one direction to advance said material in said. plane and to bring its first edge in contact with said first arresting means;

(d) second arresting means defining the position of a second edge of said piece at said delivery point;

(e) means for vibrating said platform in another direction to advance said material in said plane and to bring its second edge in contact with said second arresting means; and

(f) sensing means for monitoring the arrival of said piece at said delivery point.

6. An apparatus in accordance with claim 5 wherein at least one of said vibrating means is. adapted to be operated out of phase with said other vibrating means whereby said piece may be moved first in one direction and then in the other direction in said plane.

7. An apparatus in accordance with claim 5 further characterized in that said platform is perforated in the region of said delivery point whereby transfer of said piece from said platform may be accomplished through vacuum pickup means.

8. An apparatus in accordance with claim 5 wherein said substantially horizontal platform has an aperture located at a point corresponding to the position of the leading edge of said limp piece when it has reached said predetermined delivery point, and said sensing means are associated with said aperture, whereby the arrival of said leading edge over at least a portion of said aperture actuates said sensing means.

-9. An apparatus in accordance with claim 5 wherein said sensing means comprises in combination (a) means on one side of said platform for directing a collimated beam of light through said aperture;

(b) light-responsive means on the other side of said platform for detecting said beam of light; and

7 8 (c) switch means connected to said detecting means (c) switch means connected to said pressure-responsive and actuatable thereby. means and actuatable thereby. 10. An apparatus in accordance with claim 5 wherein said sensing means comprises in combination References Cited (a) means on one side of said platform for directing 5 FOREIGN PATENTS gpgirtlgilmstream of a pressurized flllld through said 703,492 2/1954 Great Britain.

(1)) pressure-responsive means on the other side of said platform and EDWARD A. SROKA, Primary Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
GB703492A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4577854 *Feb 16, 1983Mar 25, 1986Veb Kombinat TextimaMethod and apparatus for the positioning of textile surface configurations
US4703926 *Aug 6, 1986Nov 3, 1987State Of Israel, Ministry Of Defense, Rafael, Armament Development AuthoritySheet feeding apparatus including an edge-aligning device
EP0008149A1 *Aug 7, 1979Feb 20, 1980Byttebier, Gaspar A. H.Method and apparatus for the separation of flexible sheets from a stack and their transportation to a processing unit
Classifications
U.S. Classification271/84, 271/227
International ClassificationA41H43/00, A41H43/02
Cooperative ClassificationA41H43/0278
European ClassificationA41H43/02R2