US 3405627 A
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Oct. 15, 1968 DAY ET AL 3,405,627
FILM PROCESSOR Filed Aug. 17, 1965 3 Sheets-Sheet 1 J //v VENIOAS KENNETH H. DAY
LLOYD C. SANFORD 29V M Get. 15, 1968 K. H. DAY ET AL FILM PROCESSOR 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Aug. 17, 1965 TO PUMP FIG] UQFEFER 1 INVENTOAS KENNETH H. DAY LLOYD AIR SQUEEGEE SANFORD ATTORNEYS Oct. 15, 1968 K. H. DAY ET AL 3,405,627
FILM PROCESSOR Filed Aug. 17, 1965 3 Sheets-Sheet 3 Fifi M INVENTOAS KENNETH H. DAY LLOYD C. SANFORD ATTORNEYS United States Patent O M 3,405,627 FILM PROCESSOR Kenneth Howard Day, Sudhury, and Lloyd Clifford Sanford, West Acton, Massa, assignors to Itelr Corporation, Lexington, Mass, a corporation of Delaware Filed Aug. 17, 1965, Ser. No. 480,450 31 Claims. (Cl. 95-94) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A rollerless film processor wherein a portion of the processing fluid emanating from a number of distributors on either side of the film is directed in a liquid wedge at an angle solely within spaced intervals along the film in such a manner as to both support and propel the film through a narrow film channel. Another quantity of the fiuid from the distributors impinges upon a bafiie structure which redirects the processing liquid in a path substantially perpendicular to the film plane.
The present invention relates to film processors and more particularly to film processors wherein the film does not contact guide means and film tension is sharply reduced.
It has become desirable to process film of any width at speeds well over 100 ft. per minute without any degradation in the quality of the photographic image. Film processors almost universally comprise vertically oriented processing fluid containing tanks having a large plurality of upper and lower rollers over which vertically oriented film passes. For example, a typical conventional vertical loop processor requires 39 rollers, each of which provide a 180 reversal of vertically oriented film. A high output processor of this type (eg, 100 f. p.rn.), may require up to two hundred and forty rollers. The greater the requisite film speed, the greater must be the number of loops to thereby maintain the film in contact with the various processing fluids for longer time periods. The use of these prior art processors presents numerous problems and has numerous disadvantages. Hand threading of the film through the processor is initially required, which threading is tedious and slow. Each roller contributes a certain amount of abrasion to the film surface which interferes with the requirements for greater and greater image quality. This action is in part caused by the accumulation of sediment on the roller surfaces. The higher the processing speed, the greater the required path length and the greater the number of rollers resuired for a given tank and, therefore, the greater the total effect of the aforesaid abrasion. Additionally, each roller causes considerable tension to be induced in the film thereby increasing breaking risks, along with film distortion, which is obviously undesirable. Additional tension is produced due to the weight of the vertically oriented film. Breaking results in excessive loss of film and longer leader is required. Over and above the foregoing, the use of rollers introduces roller alignment and film tracking problems. A leader for initial threading is also required. Any significant alignment variations cause wandering of the film which may lead to film destruction or shut down of the machine.
In addition to the foregoing, nearly all of the vertical loop processors of the prior art suffer from nonuniformity in the development of the film, which in turn results in nonuniform film density manifested by mottling and streaking. Where the vertical processors are of the spray type, the liquid is often applied nonuniformly to the film to produce nonuniformity in development. Owing to the affect of gravity, more liquid Will accumulate on the lower portions of the film loops than at upper portions of the 3,405,627 Patented Oct. 15, 1968 ICC loops. In addition, chemical byproducts of development and fixation will tend to accumulate at the lower portions of the loops and are not always properly removed, all to the detriment of development uniformity.
The use of long, shallow, horizontal solution tanks in order to overcome some of the foregoing problems has been found to be impracitcal. Film sag between horizontal oriented rollers requires the use of many rollers to support the film adequately along the length of the horizontal path. Also a long, shallow solution developer tank having a high surface-to-volume ratio would be required, which ratio is detrimental to the processing fluids. Fluid agitation helps to increase the rate of processing, since the laminar layer of oxidized developer is continuously removed. However, the degree of agitation in the priro art processors has been limited thereby to cause certain degrees of nonuniformity in development to occur. Where very wide film is processed, it is particularly desirable to employ very high degrees of agitation to obtain uniformity of development.
Accordingly, it is the principal object of the present invention to provide a unique film processor capable of very high film processing speeds together with high development uniformity,
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a unique high speed film processor which is capable of rapidly and uniformly processing film of virtually any width.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a unique high speed film processor which does not employ mechanical rollers, or for that matter, any other guide members which are in contact with the film, thereby to eliminate film abrasion.
It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a unique high speed film processor which virtually eliminates tension within the film being processed.
It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a unique high speed film processor which develops film very uniformly through the employment of very high agitation techniques.
It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a high speed film processor which is completely self-threading.
It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a unique high speed film processor which lends itself to flexible modular construction, which may save considerable space for certain installations and yet readily provide for enlargement or contraction of an installed processor.
It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a novel high speed film processor which is selfcleaning.
It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a unique film processor which utilizes virtually no moving parts and is, therefore, highly reliable.
It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a processor to process film having its emulsion side up or down.
It is still yet a further object of the present invention to provide a unique film processor which may be readily fabricated to transport film along curved, or any desired tortuous path.
Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent as the following description taken in conjunction with the following drawings proceeds:
FIGURE 1 discloses a first embodiment of the present invention.
FIGURE 2 discloses a fluid distributor utilized in the first embodiment.
FIGURE 3 discloses a second embodiment.
FIGURE 4 discloses a third embodiment of the present invention.
FIGURES 9 disclose additional embodiments of the present invention.
In accordance with the present invention a continuous horizontal liquid bed of processing fluid, having considerable length, is provided by passing the film through a plurality of tandernly coupled fluid applicators, each of which individually applies fluid to the film for the purpose of simultaneously processing, supporting and driving the film through the system. The elongated beds, or tiers, are coupled together at their terminal portions by direction changing or turnabout stations which may comprise a plurality of tandernly coupled fluid applicators, similar to the aforesaid applicators utilized in the horizontal tiers, for continuously changing the direction of the film while processing, propelling and supporting same. At least some of the individual fluid applicators apply processing fluid in both the spray mode and direct contact mode, and since there are generally a considerable number of them in tandem, a high degree of development uniformity is attained due to the resulting averaging out of solution application nonuniformities. Highly eflicient solution agitation provided by the processor of the present invention permits the use of either shorter film paths, or in the alternative, faster transport speeds or both. Since the high velocity processing fluid itself supports the film while processing, agitation is very high, thereby resulting in excellent development uniformity. As each bed, or tier, has considerable length, only a few direction reversing stations need be provided, in sharp contrast with the implementation of numerous rollers in the prior art processors mentioned hereinbefore. Of course, if Space is not limited, no reversing stations need be provided. With a single tier, solution contamination may be avoided by the use of barrier stations which apply drying air to the film passing therethrough. The direction reversing stations may comprise a structure similar to the structure of the horizontal tiers, or beds, so that processing may be continued, if desired, as the film is turned about. Where the connected beds contain different fluids which must not be intermixed, the direction reversing stations may apply a drying gas, such as air, to the film which aids in removing residual fluid previously applied before a different fluid is applied in the next tier, or bed. Owing to the manner of construction of the modules and their modes of operation, the fluid applicators may readily be fabricated as wide as desired to accommodate film of any desired width or to simultaneously process a number of film strips having the same or various widths. Each spray bar, or fluid distributor, associated with the applicators is separated from its neighboring spray bar by means of curved fluid directing baifles which define a narrow film guide conduit and which are generally shaped to form converging channels about the film guide conduit to aid in the application of processing fluids to the film, all in a manner to be discussed hereinbelow in further detail.
FIGURE 1 discloses a portion of the preferred embodiment of the present invention. Individual fluid applicators 1 are positioned in tandem above and below a film plane having film 2 lying therein. Each applicator comprises a distributor spray bar 3 and a baflle 4 associated therewith. If the fluid bed portion of FIGURE 1 represents a film developing station, liquid developer is applied to all of the spray bars 3.
A typical spray bar is disclosed in FIGURE 2. A first row of orifices '7 is formed within spray bar 3 to produce a relatively light stream of developer which is sprayed at the lower surface of film 2, as shown, while a second row of orifices 8 causes a heavier stream of developer to be directed at the film. The leading edge of the film may be initially introduced by hand; These streams propel the film through the liquid bed process and support the film to prevent mechanical contact between the film and guide structure. After leaving the first applicator, the film is introduced into the second applicator to be treated in like maner. Since the fluid applicators are tandernly connected and the film is propelled by the fluid, it should now be apparent that the liquid bed processor of the present invention is entirely self-threading. The rows of orifices 7 which are shown in FIGURE 2 produce relatively light spray streams whereas rows 8 form the heavier direct contact streams which are further concentrated and applied to film 2 by means of bafiles 4. Obviously, a considerable amount of fluid will be continuously falling away from the tandernly connected applicators to a sump where the liquid is returned via pump 13 (not shown) connected to the spray bars lying along a first horizontal line above film 2 and along a second horizontal line below film 2 and parallel therewith.
Batfles 4 are so positioned about film 2 so that a narrow film guide conduit is defined as shown in the various figures. A liquid wedge is produced at the converging sections of the baffles to support the film and propel it forward. The upward force component of this Wedge will be made equal to the weight of fluid and film over the wedge, plus the downward force of the upper fluid wedge produced by the upper jets 9. The fluid velocity of the forwardly oriented jets 9 is quite high thereby to apply suflicient force to propel the film through the bed and to agitate the liquid within the converging baflle portions to a very high degree, thereby to achieve the aforesaid uniformity and high rate of development. Since a considerable number of fluid applicators 1 are positioned in tandem, the effects of any nonuniformities in fluid application in particular applicators are canceled.
In the 70 mm. liquid bed processor constructed in accordance with the present invention, the liquid appli cators were spaced 2 inches apart along the film path and the deflectors were 4 inches wide. The spray bars were 5 inches long with a inch outside diameter and a A inch inside diameter. Each spray bar had 100 spray holes of .030 inch diameter which were arranged in the parallel rows mentioned hereinbefore. The baflles were stainless steel or plastic. Normal development of 50-132, 136 or 190 emulsions may be achieved with D/ 10 at F. at ft. per minute.
It should be noted at this time that the emulsion side of film 2 may be either up or down since the system is symmetrical about the horizontal film plane.
Further configurations of fluid applicators which may be constructed in accordance with the present invention are shown in FIGURES 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9.
FIGURE 4 discloses a plurality of individual distributors above and below the film in positions similar to that shown in FIGURE 3 in conjunction with a like plurality of bafiles which converge in the direction of film travel. The baffle structure shown in FIGURE 4 in cross section is a smooth, almost exponentially, shaped baflle.
FIGURES 5 and 6 disclose unitary or continuous corrugated sheets which function as a plurality of tandemly positioned baffles. It is quite possible that manufacturing costs may be reduced with the unitary corrugated sheet arrangement.
In the embodiment of FIGURE 3 there is no separate light stream discussed hereinbefore but such may not be necessary for certain operations such as washing, etc.
The liquid applicator structure shown in FIGURE 9 has been designed to direct an extremely high velocity jet of processing fluid at spaced intervals above and below the film surfaces 2. Note that the liquid emanating from the inner orifice of the distributor is propelled therefrom in a spiral toward the exit orifice. The latter orifice is formed by a pair of converging side walls. As the cross sectional area of the orifice formed by the baflle decreases, kinetic energy of the fluid increases, resulting in a jet of fluid of extremely high velocity. The high velocity and turbulence created by the jet streams of the distributors of FIGURE 9 penetrate the emulsion of the film, freeing any stale developer which may be entrapped therein and provide a source of fresh emulsion thereby greatly increasing the processing rate.
A single liquid processing bed may be of any length since the film is continuously supported and propelled by each individual fluid applicator.
Again, it may be pointed out that the arrangement of the unique processor of the present invention is such that film processing will be uniform across the width of the film, which may be as wide as desired.
The liquid beds may be stacked in module fashion. For instance, FIGURE 7 discloses a terminal portion of an upper tier 16 and a terminal portion of a lower tier 17. In a typical processor, upper tier 16 could effect the application of liquid developer to the film travelling therethrough, where as lower tier 17 would eflfect the application of a fixing agent to the film travelling therethrough. A film diverting or turna'bout module 18 causes a complete reversal in the direction of the film thereby to cause it to be applied to lower tier 17. Module 18 may comprise a plurality of tandemly connected fluid applicators as previously shown and described so that the FIGURE 7 configuration is self-threading and incorporates the aforesaid advantages that accrue from the novel processor of the present invention. In this particular setting air pump 19 could be attached to distributors 21 so that air would be the medium which supports, propels and drives the film travelling through diverting module 18. Moisture removed from the film, by virtue of the application of air in module 18, could be drained by drainpipe 22. Air squeege units 23 could also be provided as shown to further isolate the development liquid in upper tier 16 from the fixing liquid in lower tier 17 It should now be apparent that through the use of the novel configuration of FIGURE 7 very little tension, if any, would be induced in the film, unlike the aforesaid rollers of the prior art, while self-threading of the entire system is maintained thereby. Air pressures of 2 to 4 inches of water will yield satisfactory results.
FIGURE 7 discloses one terminal arrangement of a pair of horizontal liquid bed processors fabricated in accordance with the present invention. Obviously, numerous horizontal beds may be provided having diverting modules 18 connected at their terminal portions, thereby to provide for very long film processing paths which eliminate all of the aforesaid disadvantages of the prior art methods.
In FIGURE 8 distributor pipe 27 supplies fluid to a single nozzle 26, centrally positioned as shown, to produce a fan of fluid.
While there has been described what is at present considered to be the preferred embodiment of this invention, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the invention, and it is, therefore, intended in the appended claims to cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.
What is claimed is:
1. A liquid film processing bed comprising:
a plurality of processing fluid distributors spaced along a horizontal line;
a plurality of baflles interposed between said fluid distributors for deflecting fluid emitted by said fluid distributors upwardly at an acute angle less than 45 with respect to said horizontal line; and
means for positioning film closely adjacent and above said fluid distributors.
2. The combination as set forth in claim 1 wherein said fluid distributors additionally comprise means for directing fluid streams upwardly and in a direction substantially normal to said horizontal line.
3. A film processor comprising a first plurality of fluid applicators spaced along a first line;
a second plurality of fluid applicators spaced along a second line which is substantially parallel with said first line and closely spaced thereto to form a film guide conduit containing a film plane substantially parallel with said first and second lines;
said fluid applicators comprising a plurality of fluid distributors having at least one orifice therein and bafiles associated therewith for directing fluid emerging from said orifices at said film solely within spaced intervals along the channel length and at an angle to support and propel the film through the film guide conduit.
4. The combination as set forth in claim 3 wherein a plurality of said baflles comprise a continuous corrugated sheet.
5. The combination as set forth in claim 3 wherein said first and second lines are substantially horizontally oriented to form an elongated fluid film bed.
6. The combination as set forth in claim 3 wherein said processing fluid is substantially incompressible.
7. The combination as set forth in claim 3 wherein said distributors are separated from one another by said baflies.
8. The combination as set forth in claim 7 wherein said fluid distributors comprise a spray bar having a plurality of orifices formed therein and extending transverse to the direction of film travel through said narrow film guide conduit.
9. The combination that is set forth in claim 3 wherein said baflles are shaped to form said channel about said narrow film guide conduit such that said channel converges in respect to the direction of travel of said film.
10. The combination as set forth in claim 9 wherein said first and second lines are substantially horizontally oriented to form an elongated fluid film bed.
11. The combination as set forth in claim 9 wherein said processing fluid is substantially incompressible so that said film is supported in said converging channels by virtue of fluid wedge action therein.
12. The combination as set forth in claim 9 wherein some of said orifices associated with said fluid distributors are formed and oriented to spray said processing liquid on light streams at said film whereas others of said orifices are formed and oriented to direct streams of said streams of said processing liquid at said film at an angle to support said film in said film plane and propel said film through said film plane.
13. The combination as set forth in claim 12 wherein said processing fluid is substantially incompressible so that said film is supported in said converging channels by virtue of fluid wedge action therein.
14. The combination as set forth in claim 9 wherein said first and second parallel lines are curved thereby to form a curved fluid film bed.
15. The combination as set forth in claim 14 wherein said first and second parallel lines define semicircles thereby to form a direction reversing fluid film bed.
16. In a film processor having first and second fluid applicator means substantially parallel to one another and forming a narrow channel therebetween for the passage of film therein, each of the applicator means comprising:
means for applying jets of fluid directly from said applicators to the surfaces of the film only at spaced intervals along the film surface to support and to propel the film through the channel on a discontinuous cushion of fluid without physical contact between the applicator means and the film.
17. The processor of claim 16 wherein the means for applying fluid to the film is the sole means necessary to support and to propel the film through the channel.
18. The processor of claim 16 wherein said means for applying fluid directly to the film comprises a plurality of fluid distributors wherein each of said distributors applies fluid directly at the film with a velocity suflicient to rid the film of processing fluid adhering thereto as a result of fluid applied by preceding distributors.
19. In the processor of claim 16 each of the applicator means further comprises:
means for applying jets of fluid directly to the film at a first and a second angle with respect to the film.
20. The processor of claim 19 wherein the flow rate of 7 fluid applied to the fiilm at said first angle is greater than that flow rate applied at said second angle.
21. The processor of claim 19 wherein said means for applying said jets at said second angle comprises bafile means for redirecting a portion of the fluid emerging from said jets applied at said first angle.
22. The processor of claim 19 wherein said jets applied at said first and second angles emanate from a plurality of distributors each having at least a first and a second aperture therein, the first aperture directing fluid at said film within first spaced intervals and the second aperture directing fluid at the film within second spaced intervals in said intervals are spaced with respect to the direction of travel of the film between said first intervals.
23. The processor of claim 22 wherein the fluid applied to the film within said second intervals is wiped by the action of the fluid supplied to the film within said first spaced intervals.
24. A film processor comprising:
a first plurality of fluid applicators spaced along a first line;
a second plurality of fluid applicators spaced along a second line which is substantially parallel with said first line and closely spaced thereto to form a first narrow film guide conduit containing a first film plane substantially parallel with said first and second lines and having a film entrance and exit portion;
a third plurality of fluid applicators spaced along a third line;
a fourth plurality of fluid applicators spaced along a fourth line which is substantially parallel with said third line and closely spaced thereto to form a second narrow film guide conduit containing a second film plane substantially parallel with said third and fourth lines and having entrance and exit portions;
means for applying processing fluid to said first, second, third and fourth plurality of fluid applicators, said fluid applied to the film solely within spaced intervals along the film plane length at an angle to support and propel the film along the said first and second film planes; and
diverting means for changing the direction of said film emerging from the exit portion of said first film plane and introducing the said film to the entrance portion of said second film plane so as to provide a dual module liquid bed processor.
25. The combination as set forth in claim 24 wherein said diverting means includes a fifth plurality of fluid applicators spaced along a fifth line which is curved; and
a sixth plurality of fluid applicators spaced along a sixth line which is curved, said fifth and sixth lines being substantially parallel with one another and closely spaced together to form a third narrow film guide conduit.
26. The combination as set forth in claim 25 further including an air ump; and
means for coupling the fifth and sixth plurality of fluid applicators to said air pump.
27. The combination as set forth in claim 25 wherein the fifth and sixth lines of said diverting means are so curved in space to cause a complete turnabout in the direction of film travelling through said diverting means.
28. The combination as set forth in claim 25 wherein at least a fifth plurality of said fluid applicators comprise fluid distributors having at least one orifice therein and baflles associated therewith for directing fluid emerging from said orifices at said film.
29. The combination as set forth in claim 28 wherein said baflles are shaped to form converging channels about said third narrow film guide conduit.
30. The combination as set forth in claim 28 wherein said fluid distributors are separated from one another by said baffles.
31. The combination as set forth in claim 30 wherein said fluid distributors comprise a spray bar having a plurality of orifices formed therein and extending transverse to the direction of film travel through said narrow film guide conduit.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,634,221 4/1953 McAlpine et al. -94 XR 2,779,183 1/ 1957 Fornelli. 3,060,594- 10/1962 Meier-WindhoI'St 34-156 3,192,845 7/1965 Schmidt 9589 FOREIGN PATENTS 939,598 10/1963 Great Britain.
NORTON ANSHER, Primaly Examiner.
FRED L. BRA-UN, Assistant Examiner.