US 3572688 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Dan D. Mazzolla 2464 Raleigh Drive, York, Pa. 17402 [21 1 Appl. No. 773,766
 Filed Nov. 6, 1968  Patented Mar. 30, 1971  lnventor  FINAL FOLDER FOR FLATWORK 2 Claims, 10 Drawing Figs.
Primary Examiner-Jerome Schnall Assistant Examiner-Paul V. Williams Attorney-C. Hercus Just ABSTRACT: A flatwork final folder arranged to be used with a preliminary folder of the type capable of folding a flatwork piece such as a sheet or the like into an elongated arrangement of a multiplicity of overlying similar plies and then folding said elongated arrangement transversely onto itself a plurality of times in order to form a substantially square configuration, said final folder being arranged to receive said substantially square folded flatwork piece from said preliminary folder in a position wherein the leading edge is completely rounded-while the trailing edge consists of a pair of overlapping ends lowermost and another rounded edge overlying the same, said final.
folder comprising a conveyor, a first manipulating means and a second manipulating means spaced longitudinally along said conveyor, said manipulating means being similar and each including in combination, a stationary anvil, a clamping member, retractable guide means, power means to operate said clamping member and guide means, and control means for said power means actuated by advancing flatwork pieces and adjusted and arranged to cause the first manipulating means to completely reverse the flatwork piece to dispose the entirely rounded, initial leading edge thereof so as to be the trailing edge and the second manipulating means being arranged to fold the substantially square flatwork piece about a transverse axis and in a direction that the folded leading edge thereof is completely rounded and the ends of said piece are sandwiched between trailing rounded edges and thereby facilitate the engagement of said rounded leading edge by an operator in stacking said folded flatwork pieces for storage or the like.
Patented March 30, 1971 3 Sheets-Sheet l INVENTQR. 17ml D. MAZZOLLA Patented March 30, 1971 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR. BAN 17. MAZZOLL=4 FINAL FOLDER FOR FLATWORK BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The aforementioned preliminary folder is of a standard commercial type which is constructed so that the folded product thereof, especially in regard to handling sheets, tablecloths, and the like, is too large for conventional packaging, storage, or the like, without requiring an additional transverse fold being formed which such preliminary folder is not capable of producing. At present, such additional final transverse fold is accomplished manually. Further, the ends of the folded piece are lowermost among the overlying plies and are in trailing position when discharged from the preliminary folder.
In view of the fact that preliminary folders of the type referred to which are employed in institutional laundries, commercial laundries and the like, operate at relatively high speeds; it has been found to be unsatisfactory, at leas under many circumstances, to employ an additional operator to effect such final, transverse fold under these'operating conditions for various reasons, including the weight of the finally folded sheets or other flatwork pieces of similar size, the speed of operation not permitting the formation of even folds in addition to the expense of having to hire an additional operator to perform such final transverse fold of the flatwork pieces otherwise automatically folded by such preliminary folder,
and simple folding of the rounded leading half upon the trailing half of the folded piece leaving the ends on the bottom of the finally folded piece which is not neat because of such condition.
In an effort to produce such final transverse fold automatically, the present inventor developed a flatwork manipulating means in which a substantially square type prefolded flatwork piece of the type described above was moved by a conveyor onto an anvil to permit the leading edge thereof to be elevated above the conveyor and clamped while the trailing portion of the flatwork piece was partially moved forwardly, followed by release of the leading end at the end of a time interval adequate to permit the forwardly moving trailing portion to drag the original leading end off of the anvil and dispose it evenly on top of the original trailing portion of the flatwork piece. In view of the fact that the initial position of the prefolded flatwork piece upon the conveyor was such that the leading end thereof was a single rounded edge and the opposite ends of the folded piece were lowermost and in trailing position, after the aforementioned transverse fold was formed in the piece, the leading edge was fully rounded but the opposite ends of the folded piece were still on the bottom and this was unsightly and subject to handling thereof, rumpling especially the lowermost ends of the piece.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The principal purpose of the present invention is to provide a final flatwork folder adapted to receive from a preliminary folder pieces of flatwork and especially large pieces such as sheets, tablecloths, an the like, which have been prefolded both longitudinally and transversely automatically by such preliminary folder into a multiply configuration which is sub stantially square, although conceivably somewhat rectangular, and of such an area that an additional transverse fold is required in order to form a finally folded configuration of the piece readily capable of being easily handled for storage purposes, wrapping, or otherwise. Further, the opposite ends of the piece are folded into overlying relationship lowermost in the piece and in trailing position.
Such final flatwork folder has means to perform two principal functions, one of which is to reverse such prefolded multiply piece as described above, end for end, and then fold the same transversely upon itself so as to form a finally folded configuration of substantially half the area of the prefolded piece as delivered from the preliminary folder, the final flatwork folder having a conveyor to advance the finally folded piece in a manner so that the leading edge thereof comprises a relative LII ly thick, leading edge of singly rounded configuration which may readily be grasped by an operator for purposes of stacking, thereby placing the same in condition for packaging, or otherwise, without danger of the finally folded piece accidentally being partially unfolded or rumpled, as is frequently experienced in forming such final fold therein manually as done at present. The opposite ends of the piece also are still in trailing relation in the finally folded piece but they are sandwiched between rounded trailing folded edges of said piece.
It is another object of the invention to provide readily adjustable and relatively simple manipulating means which include clamping members arranged to engage and hold the advancing edge of a prefolded flatwork piece while the trailing end thereof continues to be advanced by a conveyor, such leading end being released at a predetermined time by a first manipulating means to effect such aforementioned reversal of the piece in end-for-end manner and thereby arranged with the overlying opposite ends uppermost and in leading position, while a second manipulating unit clamps the leading end of the reversed piece a shorter period of time than the first manipulating unit and thereby effects the desired final transverse fold in the piece by the leading half being folded backward upon the trailing half and in which final condition a single rounded leading edge is formed for ready engagement by an operator and the overlying ends of the piece are sandwiched between rounded ends to provide a neat appearance as well as one which resists rumpling while being handled.
It is a further object of the invention to provide a series of control switches by which manipulation of clamping means as well as retractable guide means is effected by advancing flatwork pieces engaging actuating members on the switches, the switches controlling solenoids of valves for fluid-operated cylinder units by which the clamping means and retractable guide means are actuated.
Details of the invention and of the foregoing objects, as well as other objects thereof, are set forth in the following specifi cation and illustrated in the accompanying drawings comprising a part thereof.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a side elevation of a flatwork final folder embodying the principles of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the folder shown in FIG. I.
FIG. 3 is a front elevation of the folder shown in FIGS. I and FIG. 4 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view of the clamping mechanism and retractable guide means.
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view, as seen at a right angle to the view in FIG. 4, and showing details of a clamping member illustrated in the preceding FIGS.
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary plan view of an anvil of the type employed in the two manipulating units shown in FIGS. 1-4.
FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic side elevation illustrating, in succession, the operations of the first and second manipulating units and also illustrating in successive views the arrangement of the various plies of a flatwork piece as manipulated and handled by the manipulating units of the final folder comprising the present invention.
FIG. 8 is an exaggerated end elevation of a flatwork piece as received from a preliminary folder and including arrows to indicate dire etions of movement thereof relative to the final folder of the invention.
FIG. 9 is a view similar to FIG. 8 showing the same flatwork piece after it has been reversed end-for-end by said final folder.
FIG. 10 is an exaggerated end view of the flatwork piece shown in FIG. 9 after it has been finally folded by said final folder and showing the discharge movement therefrom.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS opposite side plates 12 and 14 which are connected by a suitable transverse frame member 16. Appropriate legs 18 support the frame in elevated position upon a supporting floor surface or the like.
Supported on transverse axes in opposite ends of the frame 10 are a pair of belt-supporting rollers 20 and 22 having shaft projections on opposite ends thereof which respectively are supported in suitable bearings 24 attached to the side plates 12 and 14. Certain of the transverse frame members 16 support a series of transversely spaced and longitudinally extending runner plates 26 which may be formed from suitable metal or the like, said plates slidably supporting the upper courses of a series of belts 28 which, in combination with each other, provide a substantially horizontal conveyor 30. The belts 28 may be formed of appropriate webbing of the type commonly employed in various types of industrial laundry equipment.
A subframe 32 extends below frame 10 and supports power means such as an electric motor 34. Through a series of different sizes of speed-reducing pulleys 36, 38 and 40, and belts 42 and 44, the power of motor 34 is connected to a driving pulley affixed to one end of roller 22. By means of such arrangement, the conveyor is driven so that the upper course thereof moves unidirectionally from the entrance 48 to the discharge end 50 of the conveyor 30, An appropriate control switch 51 is conveniently located on 'one of the side plates and is connected in the circuit between the motor 34 and a suitable source of electric current, not shown.
A pair of manipulating means or units 52 and 54 are mounted in longitudinally spaced relationship to each other relative to conveyor 30, the same respectively also being spaced longitudinally from the entrance and discharge ends 48 and 50 of the conveyor 30. Said manipulating units are similar and the means for actuating the same likewise are similar, except for certain operating differences described hereinafter. Each of said units comprises an upwardly and forwardly sloping anvil 56 which conveniently maybe formed from stiff sheet metal plate stock and supported fixedly by several appropriate bars 58 which extend transversely between the opposite sideplates 12 and 14. The lower, leading edge of each anvil is also provided with a plurality of similar, transversely spaced parallel slots 60 which are coincident with relatively narrow spaces 62 between the belts 28.
Each of the manipulating units 52 and 54 also include retractable guide means 64 which comprise a series of parallel fingers 66 connected rigidly at one end to a transverse supporting bar 68. Opposite ends of the bar 68 are respectively supported in appropriate bearings in the sideplates 12 and 14.
Referring to FlG. 4, it will be seen that the fingers 66 of the retractable guide means 64 have an offset portion 70 intermediately of the ends thereof. The retractable guide means 64 are arranged to be moved pivotally from the full line, inoperative position thereof shown in FIG. 4, to the dotted line, extended or operative position in which it will be seen that the outer ends of the fingers 66 extend within the slots 62 between the belts 28 of conveyor 30. When they are in said latter position, the outer end portions of the fingers 66 are disposed within a continuation of the plane of the platelike anvil 56. Portions of the fingers 66 are also disposed within the slots 60 of the anvil 56, as clearly shown in FIG. 4 to insure the operating function thereof, described hereinafter.
Each manipulating unit 52 and 54 also includes clamping means 72, details of which are best shown in F168. l5. Each of said clamping means preferably is composed of a number of connected parts including a transverse shaft 74 which extends between bearings 76 supported by the sideplates 12 and 14. Pairs of radially extending arms 78 are each connected at one end to the shaft 74 to support between each pair thereof a preferably compressible clamping bar or roller 80 which, for example, may comprise a sponge rubber sleeve mounted upon a supporting bar 82 which extends centrally therethrough, as best shown in FIG. 5. As will be seen from FIGS. 2 and 5, a pair of the clamping bars 80 are supported respectively between pairs of the arms 78, the bars 80 of each unit, however, being in rigid axial alignment.
The retractable guide means 64 are movable between the inoperative and operative positions, respectively shown in full and dotted lines in FIG. 4, by means of a small spur gear 84 which is fixed to one end of the shaft 68 and meshes with a larger diameter driving gear 86 which is supported by a suitable pintle carried by the adjacent side plate of frame 10. An actuating crank arm 88 is fixed relative to gear 86 and the outer end thereof is connected to a piston rod extension 90 of fluid-actuated cylinder unit 92.
Opposite ends of the cylinder of unit 92 are connected by conduits 94'and 96 to opposite ends of fluid valve 98 which is actuated by a solenoid 100. On the other end of said solenoid, a limit switch 10 is mounted, the same preferably being of an adjustable type to adapt the same to operate at desired, but different, time intervals respectively to activate and deactivate the solenoid 100. The limit switch 102 is connected by an appropriate circuit 104 to appropriately located switch-actuating means to be described hereinafter.
Fluid, such as compressed air, is delivered under pressure to inlet line 106 from a suitable source, not shown, and said line delivers such fluid to suitable filter and lubricant-introducing units 108 and 110, the pressure preferably being maintained at a constant rate by an adjustable pressure control valve 112.
Each clamping member 72 of the manipulating units 52 and 54 is actuated by another fluid cylinder unit 114 having a piston rod extension or clevis 116 which is connected to a crank arm 118 affixed to one end of shaft 74 upon which the arm 78 and clamping bars 80 are supported. Opposite ends of the cylinder of the unit 114 are connected by conduits 120 and 122 to the opposite ends of a fluid control valve 124 which is actuated by a solenoid 126. The solenoid 126 is controlled by a limit switch 128, which preferably is adjustable for different periods of duration, and is connected by a circuit 130 between a source of electric current and certain switch-actuating members to be described in detail hereinafter.
Referring to FIGS. 2 and 7, it will be seen that a series of limit switches 132, 134, 136, 138, and 142, each of which have an upstanding actuating member arranged to be engaged by an advancing folded flatwork piece, are mounted at certain locations along the path of movement of such pieces and upon anvils 56. Said limit switches control the retractable guide means 64 and clamping members 72 of each of the manipulating units 52 and 54 in desired sequence to accomplish the following manipulation of the partially prefolded flatwork pieces 143, shown in exemplary manner, for example, at the lefthand end of P10. 7 and in FIG. 8.
The flatwork pieces 143 are prefolded by a preliminary folder, not shown in the drawings because it does not actually comprise part of the present invention. Such folder is of a well-known type and capable, for example, of automatically folding a large piece of flatwork such as a sheet or tablecloth initially into four overlapping plies to form an elongated laminated arrangement which quickly and subsequently is folded several times upon itself into the prefolded configuration 143 shown at the left-hand end of P10. 7 and also in FIG. 8.
It will be understood that in F l6. 7, for simplicity, the folded arrangement is only represented by single lines, while in the more enlarged diagrammatic showings in FIGS. 8--10, said folded arrangement is shown by pairs of spaced lines. Respectively in FIGS. 7 and FlGS. 8-10, said single or double line representation represents four plies of fabric material. Accordingly, the prefolded flatwork piece 143 actually will comprise sixteen plies of fabric in the arrangement illustrated and the configuration nonnally, in plan view, is more or less square. Depending upon the shape of the original flatwork piece, the plan view may be somewhat rectangular. ln any event, for purposes of explaining the present invention, said folded pieces are of an area that is too large to be conveniently packaged, such as in a commercial laundry, or to be stored, such as in an institutional laundry or the like.
The aforementioned arrangement therefore requires an additional transverse fold to dispose approximately one-half of the prefolded arrangement on top of the other half thereof and thereby produce, for example, a finally folded arrangement comprising 32 plies of fabric. Such limitation is not to be regarded as restrictive, however, since the number of plies actually will depend upon the size of the flatwork piece prior to receiving any folding of any kind and the area desired in the finally folded product.
Another important feature of the folded flatwork piece 143 shown at the left-hand end of FIG. 7 and in FIG. 8 is that the arrangement of overlying plies, which each represent an exemplary lamination of four thicknesses of fabric, is as the piece is received from the conventional, preliminary folder referred to above. In this arrangement, it will be seen that the leading end 144 is completely rounded, as seen in a vertical plane, said leading rounded end extending transversely with respect to the direction of movement of the flatwork piece upon the conveyor 30, as indicated by the direction arrow shown at the left-hand end of FIG. 7 and also in FIG. 8. The opposite ends 146 and 148 of the elongated arrangement of four plies of the flatwork piece prior to being folded twice upon itself are disposed lowermost in the multiply arrangement comprising folded piece 143. Such opposite ends are beneath another folded and rounded trailing end 150.
When the foldedpiece 143 is folded manually to produce a final intermediate fold therein, it is normal practice to engage the opposite side edges of the piece 143 manually and lift the same to cause the ends to depend downwardly, and then flip such ends outwardly while lowering the folded edge onto a surface. This will dispose the opposite ends 146 and 148 inwardly between outermost plies having rounded ends which, by the manual operation, is time-consuming and requires another operator solely to perform the operation. It is cheaper to make the final fold automatically but, to perform the same solely by the first manipulating unit 52, such as by folding the leading end 144 backwardly upon the trailing half, the overlying ends 146 and 148 would be outermost on the final folded formation, and therefore be subject to rumpling and also present an undesirable, unsightly appearance.
The present invention obviates the foregoing difficulties by using a pair of successive manipulating units 52 and 54 and first introducing the leading ends 144 of the partially prefolded flatwork pieces 143 to the entrance end 48 of conveyor 311 disposed in the arrangement shown in FIG. 8. Movement of the conveyor advances said leading end 144 into engagement with the upwardly projecting actuating finger of the first limit switch 132 which is associated with the first manipulating unit 52 and forwardly thereof. Switch 132 instantly causes solenoid 1611 to actuate fluid valve 124 to cause the fluid cylinder 92 instantly to move the retractable fingers 66 of guide means 64 of manipulating unit 52 from the full line inoperative position shown in FIG. 4 to the dotted line operative position thereof, wherein the fingers 66 are positioned within the plane anvil 56 of said manipulating unit.
As soon as the leading end 144 of the flatwork piece 142 engages said fingers 66 of unit 52,said piece will be shunted upwardly onto anvil 56 and thereby engage the actuating finger of a second limit switch 134 en route. Switch 134 controls solenoid 126 of fluid valve 124 which activates fluid cylinder unit 114 and thereby moves the clamping member 72 of manipulating unit 52 clockwise to bring the clamping bar unit 60 into engagement with the leading end of the flatwork piece 143 and hold it momentarily upon anvil 56. Switch 134 also is connected in circuit with switch 128 of solenoid I26 and causes the same to'reverse the core thereof and thereby reversely move the piston of cylinder unit 114 to restore fingers 66 instantly to the inoperative position thereof shown in full lines in FIGS. 4 and 7. When this occurs, the initially trailing end of the piece 143 is moved by conveyor 30 into the broken line position thereof illustrated with respect to manipulating unit 52 which, in FIG. 7, becomes the leading end.
After the original leading end of the flatwork piece 143 is clamped by clamping member 72 against the anvil 56 of manipulating unit 52, the upper course of the conveyor 30 will move the initial trailing end of the flatwork piece forwardly and will bring the same into engagement with the actuating finger of limit switch 136. Said switch preferably is adjustably mounted longitudinally with respect to said upper course of the conveyor 36 and the actuating finger thereof projects through one of the spaces between a pair of adjacent belts 28 of said conveyor. The switch 136 also is connected in series with switch 132.
The position of the actuating finger of switch 136 with respect to the leading edge of the anvil 56 of unit 52 also is such that after the initially trailing end of flatwork piece 143 has been reversed around the lowermost edge of said anvil 56 of unit 52, the pulling movement of the conveyor 30 will move the folded piece 143 out of engagement with the finger of switch 136 and when this occurs, the circuit is such that solenoid switch 128 will be actuated in a manner to shift the fluid control valve 124 in a direction to cause the fluid cylinder 114 to move the clamping member 72 counterclockwise as viewed in FIGS. 1, 4 and 7,'thereby releasing the end 144 of the folded flatwork piece.
Continued pulling movement of the conveyor 30 with respect to said flatwork piece will cause the previously clamped end 144 thereof to drop from anvil 56 and thereby assume the position thereof shown in FIG. 7 midway between the manipulating units 52 and 53. Meanwhile, the finger 66 of the retractable guide means 64 of the unit 52 will remain in the inoperative position and thereby offer no obstruction to such passage of the flatwork piece 144 beneath the anvil 56 for arrangement of the same into said reversed position which also is illustrated diagrammatically in FIG. 9 on a larger scale than shown in FIG. 7. In this position, the flatwork piece 143 has been reversed end-for-end over the position in which it was initially introduced to the first manipulating unit 52, said initial position also being illustrated in FIG. 8. The directional arrows figuratively shown at opposite ends of the arrangement in FIG. 8 indicate the reversal of the piece which is caused by the operation of the first manipulating unit 52 and particularly by the relative arrangement of switches 132, I34 and 136 with respect to each other relative to said manipulating unit.
For efficient operation, it is preferred that the conveyor 30 operate at a relatively rapid speed. Accordingly, the various limit switches are also selected and adjusted, as well as being positioned with respect to their various supports, to function as described above with respect to their various supports, to function as described above with respect to the first manipulating unit 52 in accordance with the speed of conveyor 30. In view of such preferred relatively high speed of conveyor 30, however, fourth limit switch 136 is positioned with its actuating finger projecting upwardly through one of the spaces 62 between a pair of adjacent belts 28 of conveyor 30, and longitudinallyarranged interrnediately between the first and second manipulating units 52 and 54 as clearly shown in FIG. 7.
When the reversed flatwork piece 143 leaves the first manipulating unit 52 entirely, it will activate switch 138 and said switch is in series with another similar limit switch 140 which is positioned near the leading end of the second manipulating unit 54. Said switches 138 and 140 are connected in the control circuit of solenoid switch 102 of solenoid 101) which activates the fluid control valve 98 of the fluid cylinder unit 92 which shifts the retractable guide means 64 of the second manipulating unit 54. Such control and actuating mechanism is shown in the upper right-hand portion of FIG. 2 with respect to the second manipulating unit 54 but it will be understood that in side elevation, the arrangement will generally be similar to that shown in FIG 1 with respect to the control and actuating mechanism for the first manipulating unit 52.
Under the foregoing circumstances, the rapidly advancing flatwork piece 143, upon engaging the actuating finger of switch 138, will cause the finger 66 of the retractable guide means 64 of the second manipulating unit 54 to be shifted to the broken line position thereof shown in FIG. 4, for example, whereby the feeding end of the flatwork piece 143 will be guided up onto the anvil 56 of unit 54. contacting the actuating finger of switch 142 while doing so. This results in the clamping bar 80 of clamping member 72 to be brought into clamping engagement against the leading end of the flatwork piece 143 shown in unit 54 in FIG. 7, but continued movement of the opposite end thereof by conveyor 30 causes the lefthand portion of the flatwork piece 143 in unit 54, as viewed in FIG. 7, to pass to the right, beneath the lower edge of anvil 56.
Very soon after such aforementioned movement is initiated, however, the trailing end of flatwork piece 143 passes from engagement with the actuating finger of switch 140. This causes the clamping bar 80 of clamping member 72 of unit 54 to be released. As a result of this, the previously clamped end of the flatwork piece 143 will be pulled down the anvil 56 and thus be disposed in overlying relationship upon the trailing latter half of the flatwork piece 143 as the same is moved beneath the lower edge of anvil 56. This will result in a transverse fold being formed in the flatwork piece 143 intermediately of the opposite ends thereof and thus form a finally folded flatwork piece covering substantially half the area of the piece as initially introduced into the final folding apparatus comprising the present invention.
Particularly by referring to FIG. 10, wherein said finally folded configuration of the flatwork piece 143 is shown in side elevation in somewhat exploded and diagrammatic manner to better illustrate the advantages of the invention, it will be seen that there is provided a single, smoothly curved and transversely extending leading edge 152. More importantly, the overlying opposite ends 146 and 148 of the flatwork piece are disposed inwardly of the finally folded arrangement; sandwiched between folded and rounded trailing ends 144 and 150. This presents not only a neat appearance which is desired in stacked arrangement of finally folded flatwork pieces, but, in addition, in any further handling of the thus finally folded flatwork pieces, such as in stacking the same in packages for customers or for storage on shelves or tables, or in transportation carts of the like in various types of commercial use, there is much less possibility of disarranging the finally folded flat work pieces. This is due particularly to the disposition of the opposite ends 146 and 148 of said pieces being disposed in shielded or protected positions as illustrated particularly in FIG. 10 and also as shown at the right-hand end of FIG. 7 in a smaller scale.
Although the general arrangement of the pair of similar manipulating units 52 and 54 is relatively similar as referred to above, it nevertheless will be seen that the functioning of these respective manipulating units is different and the difference is achieved primarily through the arrangement of the various control switches 132, 134 and 136 on unit 52, as well as the arrangement of switches 138, 140 and 142 which essentially are for purposes of controlling the operation of the various elements and units comprising the second manipulating unit 54.
The mechanism also is capable of substantial adjustment commensurate with the speed at which it is desired to operate the final folder comprising the present invention and particularly the speed at which the conveyor 30 is driven. By utilizing said final folder, it also will be seen that formation of such final transverse folds in flatwork pieces, which now is commonly done manually, may be performed automatically on a machine comprising the present invention and thus eliminate the salary of such presently required operator from the cost of operating the laundry establishment of the type to which the present invention pertains. In addition, the production rate of said final folder may be set, as desired, to be far greater than that which is possible by placing such final fold in the product by human operators folding the same manually.
Although the foregoing description has centered around placing the final fold in a relatively large, partially prefolded flatwork piece, it is to be understood that the folder comprising the present invention may be employed advantageously otherwise. For example, small flatwork pieces which, in general, must now be folded manually after being smoothed on an industrial ironer, may be folded upon themselves, automatically, into a four-ply arrangement by such final folder. This applies to such items as bath or hand towels, pillow cases,
and other items of similar size. By suitably adjusting the location of the various control or limit switches relative to the several manipulating means of the folder, smaller flatwork pieces of at least uniform length may be folded as described above.
l. A flatwork final folder adapted to receive from a preliminary folder pieces of flatwork which have been folded transversely into an elongated multiply arrangement and then folded upon itself to form a rectangular configuration as it advances with a folded leading edge which is entirely rounded and a trailing edge composed of superimposed ends of said piece disposed lowermost and overlaid by a rounded edge of a preliminary fold, said final folder comprising in combination:
a. a conveyor composed of a series of belts in spaced sideby-side relationship and having receiving and discharge ends and power means to drive the same unidirectionally between said ends;
b. first manipulating means spaced nearer said receiving end than said discharge end of said conveyor and having control means engageable by a flatwork piece as advanced by said conveyor and operable to reverse the same about an axis transverse to said conveyor to dispose said original leading entirely rounded edge in trailing relationship;
. second manipulating means operable to fold the leading half of said reversed flatwork piece over upon itself to form a finish-folded piece of twice the thickness of the piece as received by said second manipulating means and substantially half the area and having a fully rounded leading edge and said ends of said piece being sandwiched between trailing rounded ends, thereby to facilitate an operator engaging and stacking the same for compact storage;
d. said first and second manipulating means being similar and each comprising a stationary anvil mounted in spaced relationship above said conveyor and extending angularly upwardly and forwardly relative thereto, a clamping member mounted for movement toward and from each anvil, retractable guide means individually mounted adjacent each anvil and movable between inoperative and projected operative positions respectively to permit pieces to pass beneath said anvil or be shunted onto the same, said retractable guide means each comprising a series of guide fingers substantially parallel to each other and connected at one end to a bar extending transversely to the path of movement of said conveyor and supported for oscillation about a stationary axis beneath said anvil, said bar being mounted to swing said fingers downwardly between said belts between a forward inoperative position and a rearward operative position relative to the direction of movement of said conveyor and in which latter position said fingers extend from between the belts of said conveyor to said anvil to insure guided movement of flatwork pieces onto said anvil above said conveyor, and said fingers being shaped so that when in said operative position they underlie said anvil and have outer offset portions positioned within the same plane as said anvil and extend downwardly from the lower edge of said anvil to said belts; and
e. control means for said retractable guide means and clamping member operable respectively to actuate the same in predetermined timed relationship, said control means being actuated by engagement of a flatwork piece therewith.
2. The flatwork folder according to claim 1 in which the lower edge of each anvil has slots extending upwardly a limited distance therefrom and spaced in alignment with the spaces between said belts, said slots being sufficiently wide to receive said fingers of said retractable guide means and said offsets in said fingers being adapted to dispose portions of said fingers within said slots when each retractable guide means is in the operative position thereof, thereby to provide a continuous guide surface for pieces to pass along from said belts to said anvils.