US 3453648 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
July 1, 1969 I STEGENGA 3,453,648
THERMAL PRINTING DEVICE Filed Aug. 29, 1967 Sheet of 2 PRODUCT BATCH LABEL DELIVER 2:
SOURCE COUNTER FORMER ADDRESS STATIONS INVENTOR WV JERRY A. STEGENGA ATTORNEYS July 1, 1969 STEGENGA 3,453,648,
THERMAL PRINTING DEVICE Filed Aug. 29, 1967 FIG. 6
INVENTOR JERRY A. STEGENGA 13 BIT ENCODER ATTORNEYv United States Patent US. Cl. 346-76 4 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Stored address and other data for legend print-out is encoded and fed to a print-out head, each character being printed as a set of simultaneously heated strips of a module, the modules of a legend being selected in a sequence according to the order of storage read-out. All strip elements of the head are connected individually by way of control rectifier switching means, the elements of each character being simultaneously turned on while the characters are selected successively as by a ring counter in control of the common connection for elements of the character to 'a power supply. The energization of modules is in successive like half cycles of AC. or in successive opposite half cycles according to diode poling, no mechanical switching being required so that operation at 100/sec. is possible with a large character printer.
A number of previous arrangements have required the use of electrically selectable characters for various printing purposes but the available imprinting methods and apparatus have not included a suitable arrangement for computer-controlled operations or for the rapid selection of a character for a particular location of imprinting immediately prior to the print-out at a rate of 100 characters per second or more. In automatic processing equip ment it is often necessary to print a wide tape record including graphs of the several process variants in which numerical or letter characters are required. For this purpose automatic plotting is available as illustrated in Patent No. 3,145,070. Other print-out devices have required the electrical selection of characters to be printed where mechanical movement of fixed type elements and the like becomes inconvenient or impossible and is too slow of operation. Particularly in high speed printing press output where the product is to be batched or packaged in variable size groups, each labeled as to destination or content, lack of any means of imprinting in response to a computer output has been a hindrance to more complete automation of the process. It has also been recognized that automatic labeling of a product is needed when production of the product is automated, but this need has not been met for the lack of suitable character selection and imprinting means. Computer control of variable product output is thus dependent upon computer control of the batching and labeling of the product.
Previous efforts at introduction of computers into manufacturing and delivering operations on a real time basis have thus been hampered or prevented by unavailability of the necessary means and method for labeling a packaged product as to contents, destination, and other data. Previous efforts have included hand marking, prepared stencils, Addressograph plates and other devices prepared in advance, printing machines mounted on conveyor lines (generally available only where the same label is to be repeated throughout the run) and preprinted labels applied selectively according to indicated need at the machine output. It is now appreciated that none of these methods are well adapted to the computer-con trolled system operating on a real time basis as contrasted to a prestored program of operations. Manual marking or stenciling is both slow and expensive, while systems which use pre-prepared information lack the necessary flexibility when last minute changes in quantity or destination are required.
Especially the newspaper and periodical printing industries illustrate a need for computer control since large quantities of product must be turned out in a very short time, and this product must often be separated into hundreds of order groups of variable size and destination during each hour of a production run. Automatic batching, bundling, labeling and addressing are desirably accomplished by real time computer control whenever changes in order size may occur after a production run has begun so as to prevent reliance upon stored data alone. Furthermore, such an operation cannot be easily eifected by hand methods in large magazine and newspaper production runs. Such a system requires a type of print-out not previously available, one which can be operated entirely by electrical signals from the computer itself, and is etfective to print on ordinary wrapping materials. Newspapers are generally packaged in bundles according to the particular location at which the delivery truck is to deposit them. Bundles contain from 20 to 50 or more papers depending upon the paper size as well as the thickness of the particular edition being published. In the past it has been the practice to produce a standard bundle from an automatic stacker of perhaps 25 papers, and when the delivery requirement is for a number different from 25 a mail room operator must manually add the required number of papers or delete papers from the established bundle. He would then mark a sheet or top wrap paper which would be placed on top of the bundle to identify that particular bundle as to destination and quantity. Such bundles are then tied by the use of a conventional wire-tying machine and then passed to a loading dock. When a very large number of bundles of different sizes are required this operation requires many operators in order to effect the rate of delivery customarily required in a large newspaper operation.
Previous efforts at producing machine-printable characters by electrical selection, as from a computer, have run into difiiculty in that an efficient and small size composite character from which the desired elements may be selected has not been available for use on a real time print-out basis except by the use of special printing papers and other arrangements such as electrostatic application of ink or powder. These methods are not practicable in an automated production where ordinary grades of paper or plastic materials are used in packaging and addressing.
It is accordingly an object of the present invention to provide a computer-controlled batching, labeling and delivering system in which order changes may be made effective on a real time basis.
Another object of the invention is to provide a printing module for use in an automatic print-out mechanism in which each module is effective to print any of the numerals or letters of the alpha-numeric system.
A further object of the invention is to provide means and methods for selecting a character to be imprinted at a particular location without mechanical movement or interchange of such characters and which may be made elfective without the mechanism and noise associated with impact printing.
A further object of the invention is to provide a means and method of imprinting addresses and labels according to a demand signal registered during preparation of a package to be labeled.
A still further object of the invention is to provide electrical operating means for a group of printing modules to simultaneously print all like characters contained in a particular label to shorten the time for printing.
These and other objects of the invention will be apparent as the invention is described in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a computer-controlled batching and labeling device operative according to this invention;
FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a label-printing device utilizing the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a plan view of the printing portion of the apparatus of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a plan view of a printing module according to this invention showing a composite of elements selectable electrically to print alpha-numeric characters;
FIG. 5 is a vertical cross section taken along line 55 of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is a wiring diagram suitable for interconnection of modules for computer print-out in real time; and
FIG. 7 illustrates characters produced by a device according to this invention.
Basically the invention consists of a system utilizing modules each containing elements selectable to produce all desired characters, energized upon electrical selection to sufliciently heat an adjacently positioned carbon paper to transfer therefrom to a printing medium the selected elements of the characters to be printed. The carbon paper is of the heat releasable type and the printing medium is plastic, paper, or other packaging material. The invention includes control coding of input signals to effect selection of character elements of each module sequentially or in parallel and includes a computerized input from a group of demand stations to effect a variable quantity output and a corresponding signal in control of the labeling and addressing operation. A general arrangement for use in a computer-controlled print-out is shown in FIG. 1 in which a product source 10, assumed for the purpose of this description to be a newspaper printing press, or the like, passes a product from the source to counter 11, having means for registering the appropriate count at any instant in a computer or visible display, or both. As the product passes counter 11 it may be grouped in cartons or other packages, or may be stacked, as in the case of newspapers. Thence the product passes, ordinarily by a second conveyor, to the delivery station by way of a labeling or addressing station 13 and thence to any one of delivery stations 14 whence it is picked-up by delivery trucks. In an operation in which batches are produced in accordance with individual orders from the delivery stations via channels 16, computer 15 totals the orders for each delivery station and for the quantity to be delivered in that run. A storage and comparison section 17 in computer 15 serves as a control for keeping track of the computer or the account to which a particular batch may be charged, and often may further include comparison with previous orders. Thus each order from a station 14 via a channel 16 to the storage and comparison unit or section 17 results in automatic processing of the order and of information necessary to prepare the batches at a suitable time and order of delivery in accordance with the layout of the plant and the order of departure of the delivery trucks. Thus a signal may be provided to govern the quantity to be delivered in each batch and the size of individual batches for a particular delivery station. This information goes to the batching and labeling section 18 of the computer for control of the batches in the product line and to the order section 19 from which the printing press may be further controlled.
After a delivery sequence has been established by the computer and the run has commenced, each delivery station is supplied according to information from the batching section 18 to the batch former 12 for the successive delivery quantities. When a counter 11 is employed between the product source and the batch former, it supplies an instantaneous count to the computer which then orders terminations of batches in the batch former 12 according to the computers stored sequence. While many difierent organizations of a computer control may be adopted; that illustrated in FIG. 1 forms a suitable setting in which the label and address unit 13 of the present invention operates to complete automatic scheduling, distributing and labeling operations for delivery in response to the orders via channels 16, by which the delivery process is largely automated.
The general organization of addressing and labeling apparatus according to the present invention is shown in FIG. 2 and in somewhat better detail in FIG. 3. At 20 is shown a carbon paper in continuous strip form taken from supply reel 21 and transported to takeup reel 22 by way of guide rolls 23, causing the paper 20 to pass by the printing location. Carbon paper 20 is preferably of the kind which has on one surface thereof an ink carried as a powder in a fusible emulsion or other carrier. One surface only of the paper 20 is coated and the binding material is preferably of the kind which melts at a temperature substantially above ambient temperature. Such a carbon paper may be caused to deposit an ink impression adjacent to any portion thereof which is heated sufficiently above the environmental temperature.
The label printing apparatus is mounted on support 24 over which the carbon paper is caused to pass in one direction while the printing medium is preferably traversed thereacross. Adjacent to base 24 is a further base 25 in support of brackets or supports 26 while brackets 27 support guide rolls 23, and supports 26 hold a supply reel for the paper, plastic, or other medium on which the label is to be imprinted. Printing medium 28 passes below carbon paper 20 beneath the printing head 30, and is shown at 29 in position to be severed for application to the batch then being labeled. Printing head 30- is supported by brackets 31 suitably supported as on base 24 to receive the pressure from a padded platen 32 urged thereagainst by pneumatic cylinder 33 and piston 34 disposed, preferably beneath the paper 28 as it passes beneath printing head 30. Piston 34 may be driven hydraulically or electrically in response to a signal from computer section 18 to the label and address station of FIGS. 2 and 3.
FIG. 4 illustrates a module 35 for use in the apparatus 13 of FIG. 1 according to a preferred arrangement of printing elements, comprising a composite assembly of elements electrically selectable to produce any of the characters in the alpha-numeric system. A printing module is shown having a face plate 40 of insulating material on the exposed face of which are located the character elements to be impressed against the uncoated side of paper 20. Horizontal character elements 36, 36 and 36" are located at the upper, center and lower portions of face plate 40, or slightly indented thereinto so as to leave the elements in contact with paper 20 as it is passed along the surface of head 30. Vertical elements 37, 37' and 37" are at the upper portion of the module while vertical elements 38,38 and 38" are at the lower portion of the module. Diagonal elements 39 and 39 extend from upper corners towards the center of the module whereas diagonal elements 41 and 41' extend from the lower corners towards the center position. Face plate 40 is perforated as at 42 at each end at each of the elements of the module in order that the metallic strips comprising the elements may be connected to suitable leads for energization.
In a module 35 thirteen elements are sufficient to write all characters in the form shown in FIG. 7. Face plate 40 is perforated so as to permit ends of the elements to be passed therethrough without contact with each other by placing holes 42 in close spacing at the desired end positions of the elements.
In FIG. 5 a vertical section is shown through a module 35 illustrating the arrangement of elements 36 inserted through holes 42 connecting to leads 43 and 44 and diodes 45 for connection to pins 46 arranged on a base plate 47 for plugging into a suitable receptacle of conventional design mounted in head 30. The space between face plate 40 and base plate 47 is preferably potted to retain leads 43, 44 and diodes 45 in proper position and to properly space the plates. Potting is shown generally at 50 having an initial potting portion 48 and a second potted portion 49 successively applied as the elements are asse-mbled in face plate 40 and connected to the leads, diodes and pins.
Elements as illustrated at 36 may have a length of approximately /2 inch to provide an overall size of each character approximating 1 inch by /2 inch. Each element is preferably formed of flat strip material of relatively high resistance in order to heat with a moderate current, and may be of about .002 x .010 inch in section. The overall module comprises an array of elements which may then have dimensions on face plate 40 of inch by 1 /2 inch and a module thickness of about 1 inch. Such dimensions are of course variable but provide easily read characters for labeling packages which are visible without difficulty at a distance under poor or moderate lighting conditions in a shipping area.
It is convenient to connect one end of each of the elements to a common pin such as 46' and to provide an additional pin 46 for each of the opposite ends of character-forming elements connected by way of diodes 45. Encoder 51 serves to switchedly connect selected elements to form desired characters to a source of heating current, while the ring counter and silicon controlled rectifiers select modules in successive order according to the data signals.
FIG. 6 is a diagram of one manner of interconnecting modules 35, three being shown at 60, 61, and 80. The number of modules required in a printing head 30 depends on the number of characters required in multi-line labeling and addressing of the product being produced, or a smaller number needed to print one line at a time of an address.
For modules as illustrated in FIG. 6 at 60, 61 and 80, each having 13 printing elements, a 13-bit encoder 51 (not shown in detail) is supplied with data as from computer section 18 which provides a code for selection of the character elements as required to form the particular character to be represented during that particular character imprinting operation. Such encoders are known in the prior art and serve to convert data of any familiar code to a switching signal for element energization. It will be evident that a 13-bit encoder is needed for this purpose when 13 elements comprise a module.
Selection of the elements is accomplished according to code signal by connecting one terminal of each element, optionally connected to a common point, as at 46', by way of a silicon controlled rectifier 54 for each module, and common lead 54' to one side of an A.C. source, such as the secondary of a transformer 53. Leads 52 from the 13-bit encoder 51 extend to control elements in silicon controlled rectifiers A, B M, as illustrated in FIG. 6, with A.C. supplied from power source 53 having connections respectively to the leads 55 which extend to all like elements of the modules by way of diodes 45 in a matrix arrangement generally as illustrated. Leads 56 from diodes 45 connect to the open ends of the printing elements in modules 60, 61, 80, etc. Silicon controlled rectifiers A-M perform the function of switches in which power from secondary 53 is transferred to diodes 45 by leads 55 whenever a code signal occurs in the corresponding lead 52 from the encoder 51.
In this manner an actuating signal and power supply is provided wherein the signal in lines 52 occurs only in those silicon controlled rectifiers for which an element imprint is desired in the composite character to be printed. The signal in line 52 eflectively opens switch A, B, etc., and passes power during the positive half of the A.C. cycle through diodes 45 to the elements of the module. A return path extends topower source 53 from common pin 46 by way of silicon controlled rectifiers 54, numbered 1, 2 N. Silicon controlled rectifiers 54 operate in a manner similar to silicon controlled rectifiers A, B M, to permit imprinting one character at a time in the printing head 30, successive printing operations occurring during successive half cycles of an A.C. voltage wave. Silicon controlled rectifiers A-M and 1-N are of sufiicient capacity to provide current for heating the elements within a half cycle of A.C. at the voltage determined by a power supply transformer secondary 53. When it is desired that the characters print one at a time the elements of these characters are energized through the use of the 13-bit encoder 51 and the silicon controlled rectifiers. All modules may be commonly con nected to lead 54, since silicon controlled rectifiers 54 are individually turned on by a ring counter 58 having discrete output leads 57 each extending to a control terminal of one of the silicon controlled rectifiers 54. In this arrangement the number of leads from counter 58 is the same as the number of steps in the ring counter and is equal to the number of modules, illustrated as N in the diagram.
A 13-bit encoder may be employed to select one or more elements to form the desired character for each module in the head 30 the modules being successively energized via enabling silicon controlled rectifiers 54individually, or in any parallel arrangement which may be appropriate. As illustrated, the selection is of a single character via counter 58 and a silicon controlled rectifier 54 in one of the modules, to which the encoder 51 provides parallel output to all elements required for printing the selected character. As soon as this character has been imprinted, which requires one-half cycle of A.C. wave, ring counter 58 is advanced one step in synchronism with the advancement of encoding in the encoder 51 and the second module is then enabled by way of ring counter 58 and lead 57 from the corresponding leads 52 for elements of that character designated by the coded data, to provide printing current in the second module, as at '61.
In accordance with this arrangement some sixty characters .per second can be imprinted using only onehalf cycle of the A.C. wave. Printing speed may of course be doubled by also employing, posite half of the A.C. wave.
FIG. 7 illustrates a set of characters which may be selected and arranged in any order or position as required for an address or delivery code with quantity, date, and other data as may be desired. Illustrated is a threeline imprinting showing the alphabetical characters and the numerical characters selectable in various orders, not illustrated, to effect print-out of labeling and accounting data which may be applied by a computer in an automated process where packaging or stacking is in variable numbers per group and labeling is according to information provided substantially at the same time that delivery is commenced.
It will be appreciated that computerized batching, accounting and labeling may be practiced other than as described, and that the packing may be of bulk materials in which a weighing operation may substitute for the counting operation illustrated at 11, or in which items are grouped and packaged without the use of a batch former as such, but in which the product is delivered to the delivery stations as directed by the computer in response to orders entered at the several stations 14. By the use of an alternate arrangement in lieu of ring counter 58 it is also feasible to cause simultaneous imprinting of multiple characters, provided only that a 13-bit encoder is available to separately select elements for energization of each of the modules to be operated at the same time.
1. A printing module for effecting print-out of each alphanumeric character according to character identifying input signals, comprising:
an insulating module body having a face plate for engagement with a surface receiving print-out,
a plurality of electrically heatable strips arranged on the face of said plate having leads thereto through after inversion, the opsaid body to form selectable elements as constituent portions of each character identified,
electronic switch actuation means operative during a half cycle of an A.C. power source,
switch means responsive to said actuation means for connecting leads of said elements in common to said power source,
a plurality of control rectifier means in series, respectively, with second leads of said elements and said source for energizing said elements selectively in response to control pulses individual thereto,
a source of control pulses encoded according to said identifying signals for selective control of a plurality of said rectifier means to energize elements comprising said character identified whenever said switch means is actuated, and
a diode connected in series with each said element so as to limit heating current to the same half cycle of A.C. power for elements of said module. 2. A module'according to claim 1, said switch means comprising a control rectifier triggered to conduction during a selected half cycle of A.C. power when said module is to be energized for print-out, being triggered to nonconduction when said actuation means is not operated.
3. A legend printer for effecting print-out of alphanumeric characters of a group forming a legend according to legend data to be imprinted, comprising:
a plurality of character printing modules arranged in a printing head for simultaneous engagement with a heat-sensitive printing medium disposed adjacently thereto,
each said module comprising an insulated body having on the printing face thereof a plurality of heating elements arranged along the printing surface in a configuration of elements selectable as constituents portions of each of the characters to be imprinted of which each element has one end connected to a common lead,
ring counter means for providing an enabling signal during successive like half cycles of current from an A.C. power source for selected said modules in succession according to the character locations in said head selected for the legend,
means connecting said common lead of each module to an A.C. power source in response to one said enabling signal, said power source being adequate to cause heating for print-out in a single half cycle,
control rectifier means individual to and in series with each said element of said plurality of modules for "connecting a second element lead to the A.C. source upon receiving a rectifier actuating pulse,
a source of control pulses for activating each said rectifier means controlling those elements constituting the portions of a character to be imprinted by that module according to said data then applied, and
means connecting said control pulses in parallel to control points of each of said rectifier means,
whereby the elements of each character are selected simultaneously for all selected modules and the.
modules are selected sequentially by successive operation of said means connecting the common lead of a module to said power source.
4. A printer according to claim 3, including like poled diodes in series with said elements of each module of one group of modules, and otherwise poled diodes in series with said elements of each module of another group of modules alternately energized, said otherwise poled diodes accepting current of alternate half cycles of A.C. power, whereby said modules are enabled to print on successive alternating half cycles of A.C. power.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,917,996 12/1959 Epstein et al. 10l-93 2,951,121 8/1960 Conrad 178-23 2,967,083 1/1961 Gallentine 346139 3,161,457 12/1964 Schroeder et al. 34676 3,190,957 6/1965 Foley et a1. 17830 RICHARD B. WILKINSON, Primary Examiner.
I. W. HARTARY, Assistant Examiner.
US. Cl. X.R.