US 3576369 A
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O United States Patent  inventors Richard Wick;  References Cited Roland Kohler; Othrnar Schneider, UNITED STATES PATENTS [2 1 App] No ga g: 3,240,114 3/1966 Jonkeretal. ass/41x Filed Dec. 19, 1968 3,259,037 7/1966 W1lk1nson,Jr 355/40X Division of Ser. No. 5li,'8'87, Dec. 3, 1965, P m ry Ex minerSamuel S. Matthews P t, N 3,454,336, Assistant Examiner-Richard A. Wintercorn  Patented Apr. 27, 1971 Attorney-Michael S. Striker  Assignee AGF A Gevaert Aktiengesellschaft Leverkusen, Germany v  Priority Dec. 4,1964 ABSTRACT: method of mak lng paper prints from photo-  Germany graphic negatives which comprises providing customer films  A47,782 with coded information including a frame pd'sitioningmark adjacent to each satisfactory negative, splicing the films to form a strip, and conveying the strip through a printing station where the films are scanned to detect the marks to insure proper positioning of negatives during exposure of ima es on  METHOD OF MAKING PRINTS FROM print paper. Successive marks are counted and appro priate PHOTPGRAPHIQ NEGATIVES serial numbers are applied to the rear sides of prints. A cor- 15 Chums 4 Drawmg rection strip is conveyed with the prints to receive coded in-  US. (I 355/77, formation including the serial numbers of unsatisfactory prints 352/236, 355/132 and information pertaining to the correction of exposure of  Int. Cl G03b 27/32 negatives which yielded unsatisfactory prints. The two strips  Field of Search 355/29, 77, are then returned to the printing station for corrected expo- DDUDDEIIyD OO O UDDDDDDUDUDUU sure of negatives which yielded unsatisfactory prints.
UUUDUUUU PATENTED APR27197| I 3576369 sum 2 OF 2 PR ECOD/NG UNIT DEVELOPING HIV/7" MAIN M PRINTING Fig.4
'7 DE VHOP/NG ,8 CONTROL UNIT 2] CHUPPINO CHOPPING 22 x umr LIN/T INVENTOR.
RICHARD WICK ROLAND KOHLER OTHMAR SCHNEIDER METHOD OF MAKING PRINTS FROM PHOTOGRAPIIIC NEGATIV ES CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION This is a division of our copending application Ser. No. 511,887 filed Dec. 3, 1965 now US. Pat. No. 3,454,336 issued July 8, l969.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to a method of making prints from photographic negatives. More particularly, the invention relates to improvements in automatic production of paper prints.
It is already known to provide a printer for making paper prints from negatives on roll film wherein the film is conveyed in stepwise fashion and wherein the conveyor is automatically arrested in response to detection of frame positioning marks. The conveyor is set in motion in response to completion of consecutive exposures onto print paper. Such automatic feed of roll film saves much time and can be carried out without supervision. It is also known to provide each print with a mark which identifies the print by customer number or by serial number so as to prevent a mixup in sorting of finished prints. However, the devices which apply such customer numbers or serial numbers must be manipulated by hand.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of the present invention to provide a method of automatically applying to each print acustomer number and/or serial number so that such operation can be carried out without resorting to supervising personnel and at'the same speed at which the negatives are being exposed onto print paper.
Another object of the invention is to provide a method of the just outlined characteristics according to which two or more interconnected films may be processed in a fully automatic way, not only to expose the negatives onto print paper but also to provide each print with a customer number, with a serial number and/or with any other suitable information which facilitates sorting of finished prints and their storage with the corresponding negatives.
A further object of the invention is to provide a methodaccording to which each customer film may be provided with identifying symbols even before the film is removed from its magazine for developing and other treatments leadingto the production of paper prints.
An additional object of the invention is to provide a method of the above outlined characteristics according to which information for facilitating identification of films, of individual negatives and/or prints may be applied in readily detectable and decipherable form so that such information may be scanned and decoded by automatic machinery.
Still another object of our invention is to provide a method of making paper prints from photographic'negatives according to which unsatisfactory negatives may be bypassed in a fully automatic way and according to which each satisfactory negative may be automatically placed in an optimum position for exposure onto print paper.
One feature of our present invention resides in the provision of an automatic method of making paper prints from photographic negatives. The method comprises the steps of precoding a plurality of strip-shaped customer filmseach of which includes a series of negatives by providing such films with precoded information preferably including a customer code number; a code mark in the region of the customer code number, and a frame positioning mark in the-region ofeach satisfactory negative, splicing the thus precoded films into an elongated strip, conveying the resulting strip through a printing station, decoding the information as. the strip passes through the printingstation, and utilizing such information for properly positioning the negatives, for exposing the negativesonto print paper to form prints, and'for-providing the prints with customer numbers, serial numbers and/or'other desirableinformation.
The customer code numbers are preferably punched in binary code, and such code numbers are preferably punched into the leading ends of the films before the films are withdrawn from their magazines and while the leading ends extend from the respective magazines.
At the printing station, the strip is scanned for the presence of code marks and, on detection of a code mark, the corresponding film is scanned for the presence of the customer code number. The strip is preferably conveyed in step-by-step fashion and is arrested whenever the scanning system detects a frame positioning mark. During the intervals, the corresponding negative is exposed onto print paper and a customer number and/or other information is applied to the print paper to facilitate rapid identification of prints subsequent to chopping.
The novel features which are considered as characteristic of the invention are set forth in particular in the appended claims. The printing apparatus itself, however, both as to its construction and its mode of operation, will be best understood upon perusal of the followingdetailed description of certain specific embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawing.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS FIG. I shows portions of two exposed 35 mm. films 1 and 2 which are assumed to have been sent in by the customers. The film I is already developed and comprises a series of satisfactory negatives 5a (only one shown) and a last negative 5 which is not satisfactory for making of paper prints. The numerals 4v denote perforations in the trailing portion of the film l which were engaged by conventional film clamps during the developing step. The-film l is further provided with two rows of marginal perforations 3 'which are engaged by the transporting mechanism of the camera during picture taking.
The second film 2 is of identical configuration and its leading end is also provided with perforations 4 for film clamps. In addition, the leading end of the film 2 is provided with a customer code number 6.in binary code and with a code mark 7 which is punched into oneedge in the region of the customer code number 6. The negatives 5b on the film 2 are of the same:
size as the negatives 50 on the film 1. The code number 6 and the code mark 7 are preferably punched into the leading end of the film 2' prior to developing, i.e., even before the remainder of the film 2 is withdrawn from its customary cartridge or magazine.
The code number 6 consists of several rows of punched holes. Such rows'extend transversely of the film 2, and their number preferably does not exceed four. FIG. 1 shows a maximal number of 16 punch holes, i.e., four holes for'each row. By omitting one or more holes and/or by combining ,theholes in accordance with a predetermined pattern, the numbers 6 on consecutive films may constitute binary notations each of which represents a different coded customer number. In the illustrated embodiment, the number. 6 represents a four-digit customer code number. The position of the mark 7 with reference to the customer code number 6 is such that, once the mark 7 is detected, the code number 6 is in requisite position for detection by a..suitable mechanical, pneumatic or photoelectric scanning device as will be fully described hereinafter.
FIG. 2 illustrates, by way of example, a key to a binarycode. It will be. seen that different combinations of punch' holes and/or unpunched zones represent the numerals one to nine. Thus, and by reading the code number 6 of FIG. 1 with reference to the key shown in FIG. 2, one notes that the number 6 indicates the number 9999 in decimal arithmetic. Such a four-digit number normally suffices in an average printing establishment for a reasonably long period of time without risking a mixup of prints and/or negatives. However, it is obvious that the code number 6 may be replaced by a fivedigit or even six-digit number.
FIG. 3 shows an elongated strip which is obtained upon splicing of films l and 2. The two films are severed along the line 8 shown in FIG. 1 and are thereupon joined end-to-end by a tape 9 of adhesive material. The tape 9 overlies the adjoining end portions of the films l and 2.
Each of the two films is further provided with punched frame positioning or frame index marks 10. Such marks 10 are provided in the other edge of the respective film, i.e., one edge is provided with the code mark 7 and the other edge is provided with the marks 10. The marks 10 are scanned by the conveyor of the printing apparatus and serve to initiate stoppage of the strip including the films 1 and 2 in optimum position for exposing the respective negatives 5a or 5b onto print paper. Each mark It) assumes a predetermined position with reference to the corresponding negative 5a or 5b.
FIG. 4 illustrates various devices or instrumentalities which together constitute the high-speed printing apparatus. The numeral ll denotes a precoding unit which receives exposed customer films (such as 1 and 2) while the films are still accommodated in their magazines It is assumed that the leading end of each film extends from its magazine so that a suitable punching device of the precoding unit 11 may apply the customer code numbers 6 and the code marks 7 before the films are withdrawn from their magazines for developing of negatives. Each code number 6 may correspond to a four-digit number ranging from 0000 to 9999.
The precoding unit 11 further accommodates a supply of customer envelopes or boxes which ultimately receive the prints and the corresponding negatives, as well as a first printing device which provides each consecutive envelope with an uncoded customer number, for example, with the number 9999 for the customer who has sent in the film 2 of FIG. 1. The printing device of the precoding unit 11 is operatively connected with the punching device which applies the code numbers 6 so that the uncoded number on each envelope corresponds to the coded number on the corresponding film.
The arrow 15 denotes an auxiliary conveyor which advances imprinted envelopes from the unit 11 to a chopping unit 22 where the films are severed to yield individual negatives or groups of negatives and are introduced into the respective envelopes.
The films l, 2 etc. are then advanced by a conveyor 16 which delivers them to a developing unit 12 of known design. This unit 12 comprises means for individually developing and drying the films, and such films are then advanced to a splicing unit 13 where the films are joined to form a continuous strip in a manner as described in connection with FIG. 3. In the splicing unit 13, the films are sorted according to the size of negatives and the films with negatives of the same size are spliced together in a manner well known from the art of treating motion picture films. At the same time, each film passes an observation post where an operator punches the frame positioning marks 10, always in a predetermined position with reference to the corresponding satisfactory negatives. Only satisfactory negatives are identified by marks 10. This work is preferably done by hand because the spacing of negatives on a film is seldom uniform or, at least, such spacing is not uniform on all of the films. The person in charge observes the running film to see whether or not the variations in spacing between consecutive negatives exceed a permissible range and the operator adjusts the punch for the marks 10 by hand whenever necessary. The same person also controls the operation of the punch for the marks 10 by preventing the application of such marks in the region of unsatisfactory negatives. For example, the punch may include an electric circuit which can be opened by a contact controllable by the hand of the operator so that the circuit is completed only when a satisfactory negative passes the observation window. The strip consisting of spliced films 1, 2, etc. is coiled up into a large roll which is then transferred to a second or main printing unit 14. The splicing operation is carried out in such a way that the customer code number 6 is located at the leading end of the film on the aforementioned roll, i.e., at that end which is first to be uncoiled from the roll.
At the start of the printing operation in the main printing unit 14, the leading end of the outermost film on the roll of convolution strip stock is manually introduced into the printing station, and the unit 14 also comprises a sensing device which is arranged to detect the code mark 7 and to actuate a second sensing device which detects the corresponding customer code number 6. A decoding device then actuates a printing device which applies the customer number in uncoded forrn to all such prints which are being made by exposing the negatives of the first film. For example, and assume that the film l is the first film of the convoluted strip, the customer code number at the leading end of the film 1 (but in uncoded form) will be imprinted on each paper print which is made by exposing satisfactory negatives 5a of the film 1 onto photographic paper. Thus, each print is immediately identified by an uncoded customer number and can be readily located for insertion into the corresponding envelope.
As soon as the customer code number 6 is detected by the corresponding scanning or sensing device of the main printing unit 14, a conveyor feeds the strip in stepwise fashion and is arrested whenever a further scanner detects a frame positioning mark 10, i.e., whenever the corresponding negative 5a is in requisite position for exposure onto print paper. The scanning device for the marks 10 also triggers the actual exposure whereby the required exposure time is selected in a fully automatic way. When the exposure is completed, the conveyor again advances the strip by a step so that the next negative 50 moves into proper position for exposure onto print paper.v
As a rule, the manufacturing plant which produces the films l and 2 provides one marginal portion of the film with serial numbers each of which denotes a film frame. Such numerals are applied by a photographic process. Reference may be had, for example, to German printed publication No. 1,185,472 which discloses a method of applying such serial numbers in binary code so that they may be readily detected by a suitable tracking or scanning device. The main printing unit 14 c0mprises a further mechanical, pneumatic or photoelectric scanner which can detect such serial numbers and actuates a decoding device for a further printing device which applies serial numbers onto the rear sides of the corresponding prints.
Alternatively, the main printing unit 14 may be equipped with a counter which counts the number of frame positioning marks 10 and is coupled with and operates a printer which applies corresponding numerals to the rear sides of the prints. The counter is resettable to zero in a fully automatic way whenever the scanner for customer code numbers 6 detects a fresh number, whenever a freshly convoluted strip consisting of several films is introduced into the main printing unit 14, or whenever a strip is removed from the unit 14.
The rolls of exposed print paper are then introduced into a developing unit 17 and are developed in a manner well known from the art. Once developed and dried, the strips of print paper are fed through a control unit 18 were a person in charge visually inspects each print for quality. Satisfactory prints are allowed to continue their advance through and past the unit 18. However, unsatisfactory prints are held back and the serial number as well as the customer code number of each such unsatisfactory print are applied to a correction strip by means of a suitable printer. The correction strip also receives and stores infonnation pertaining to exposure correction during reprinting of faulty reproductions. The correction strip and corresponding strip of spliced films are advanced in the directions indicated by arrows 20, 19, i.e., back to the main printing unit 14. However, it is equally possible to feed the correction strips and the corresponding strips of spliced films to a separate printing station. A person in charge of such separate printing station or in charge of reproducing unsatisfactory prints in the main printing unit 14 then manually adjusts the exposure time to make sure that the second print will be satisfactory.
By utilizing the aforementioned counter means, the apparatus can apply readily identifiable serial numbers to consecutive prints, preferably in binary code or in another automatically detectable form. Such serial numbers need not coincide with serial numbers which are applied by the manufacturer of films. In making second prints which replace unsatisfactory prints, the reprinting unit will simply count the number of frames on a strip until the desired negative moves to a requisite position for exposure onto print paper.
If the counter is reset to zero in response to detection of a customer number 6, the numbers applied to the prints are the same as or analogous to the customer number and/or serial numbers. On the other hand, and if the counter is reset in response to removal or insertion of a complete strip consisting of several films, the prints will be identified by numbers corresponding to the numbering of strips.
Since the percentage of unsatisfactory prints is very small, the time spent for renewed printing is negligible. The second prints are then conveyed through the units 17 and 18 in the same way as described in connection with the first prints.
As stated above, the coded serial numbers on the films l, 2 and/or the frame positioning marks can be scanned and detected in a fully automatic way. The scanning means for such serial numbers and frame positioning marks may include mechanical, pneumatic or photoelectric scanning devices and actuate suitable printers which apply the numerals onto the rear sides of prints. The aforementioned correction strips also store infonnation in readily detectable form and such information may include the customer code numbers, the serial numbers and data pertaining to proper exposure times. Therefore, the printer which makes second prints on the basis of information stored on correction strips can be operated in a fully automatic way provided of course, that the number of second prints in a reasonably large establishment warrants the utilization of automatic reprinting machinery.
Satisfactory rolls of print paper are thereupon conveyed to a chopping unit 21 wherein the rolls are subdivided into individual prints, or groups of prints. This unit 21 may include a commercially available cutter which scans conventional marks at the rear side of the roll and severs the paper in accordance with the distribution of such marks.
A conveyor 19a advances the strips of spliced films l, 2, etc. to the aforementioned chopping unit 22 where the strip is subdivided into individual negatives or into groups of negatives which are introduced into corresponding imprinted envelopes. The envelopes are supplied by the conveyor 15. For example, regular negatives in the size of 24x36 mm. may be severed in groups of six. If the size of negatives is difierent, the strip supplied to the chopping unit 22 may be subdivided into sections having the same length as a group of six regular negatives.
The numeral 23 denotes a sorting unit wherein all unsatisfactory prints are removed, discarded and replaced by second prints. Also, the prints are introduced into the corresponding envelopes and such envelopes are then ready for delivery to the customer or for storage.
All or nearly all components of the apparatus may be of the commercially available type and, therefore, their exact construction is not shown in the drawings. lt was found that such apparatus can furnish an exceptionally large number of satisfactory prints per unit of time and that it requires a minimum of supervision, i.e., only such operations must be supervised which, according to the present state of art, cannot be performed and/or controlled by automatic machinery.
Without further analysis, the foregoing will so fully reveal the gist of the present invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily adapt it for various applications without omitting features which fairly constitute essential characteristics of the generic and specific aspects of our contribution to the art.
What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent is set forth in the appended claims.
1. A method of making paper prints from photographic negatives, comprising the steps of precoding a plurality of strip-shaped customer films each of which includes a series of negatives by providing such films with coded information which is punched into one end portion of each film and represents a customer number in binary code; splicing the films into an elongated strip, one of said precoding and splicing steps being completed prior to completion of the other steps, conveying the strip through a printing station; and decoding said information as the strip passes through said printing station.
2. A method as set forth in claim 1, wherein said films are stored in magazines and said one end portion of each film extends from the respective magazine, said customer numbers being punched prior to withdrawing the films from their magazines.
3. A method as set forth in claim 1, wherein said precoding step further comprises punching into one edge of each film a code mark in the region of the respective customer number, said decoding step including scanning said one edge of each customer film to detect the code mark and scanning the film for the presence of the respective customer number in response to such detection of a code mark.
4. A method as set forth in claim 1, further comprising the step of decoding the customer numbers at said printing station, storing the thus decoded information in a printer, and
.utilizing the printer to apply customer numbers to-corresponding prints.
5. A method of making paper prints from photographic negatives, comprising the steps of precoding a plurality of strip-shaped customer films each of which includes a series of negatives by providing such films with coded information, said precoding step including punching into each film frame positioning marks in regions adjacent to satisfactory negatives; splicing the films into an elongated strip, one of said .precoding and splicing steps being completed prior to completion of the other step, conveying the strip through a printing station, including scanning the films for the presence of frame positioning marks and arresting the strip in response to detection of consecutive frame positioning marks; and decoding said information as the strip passes through said printing station.
6. A method of making paper prints from photographic negatives, comprising the steps of precoding a plurality of strip-shaped customer films each of which includes a series of negatives by providing such films with coded information; splicing the films into an elongated strip, one of said precoding and splicing steps being completed prior to completion of the other step, conveying the strip through a printing station; decoding said information as the strip passes through said printing station; exposing the negatives seriatim onto print paper while the negatives advance through said printing station; developing said paper to form prints thereon; visually inspecting the prints on developed paper to detect unsatisfactory prints; recording information on detection of unsatisfactory prints; and utilizing such recorded information for renewed exposing of the respective negatives.
7. A method as set forth in claim 6, wherein said recording step comprises storing information pertaining to exposure correction for renewed exposing of the respective negatives.
8. A method of making paper prints from photographic negatives, comprising the steps of precoding a plurality of customer films each of which comprises a series of negatives by providing such films with coded information including a frame positioning mark in the region of the satisfactory negative; splicing the thus precoded films to form an elongated strip; conveying the strip through a printing station; scanning the strip at said station to detect said frame positioning marks;
exposing at said station those negatives which are identified by said frame positioning marks onto print paper to form a successionof prints; counting successive frame positioning marks on said strip and applying to successive prints serial numbers indicating the location of corresponding frame positioning marks on said strips; inspecting successive prints for quality; conveying with such prints a correction strip; and encoding on said correction strip the serial numbers of unsatisfactory prints and information pertaining to the correction of exposure of negatives which yielded unsatisfactory prints.
9. A method as defined in claim 8, wherein the information pertaining to the correction of exposure of negatives which yielded unsatisfactory prints is encoded manually upon visual inspection of prints.
10. A method as defined in claim 8, wherein said serial numbers are applied to the rear sides of the respective prints.
11. A method as defined in claim 8, further comprising the steps of returning said elongated strip with said correction strip to said printing station and automatically exposing those negatives which yielded unsatisfactory prints on the basis of said information pertaining to correction of exposure of such negatives.
12. A method as defined in claim 8, wherein said first mentioned step further comprises applying a code mark to the leading end of each film and wherein said counting step comprises scanning the code marks on said elongated strip and applying to successive prints fresh series of serial numbers in response to detection of successive code marks.
13. A method of makingpaper prints from photographic negatives, comprising the steps of splicing a plurality of customer films each of which comprises a series of negatives to form an elongated strip; precoding the thus spliced films with coded information including a frame positioning mark in the region of each satisfactory negative; conveying the strip through a printing station; scanning the strip at said station to detect said frame positioning marks; exposing at said station those negatives which are identified by said frame positioning marks onto print paper to form a succession of prints; counting successive frame positioning marks on said strip and applying to successive prints serial numbers indicating the location of corresponding frame positioning marks on said strip; in-
specting successive prints for quality; conveying with such prints a correction strip; and encoding on said correction strip the serial numbers of unsatisfactory prints and information pertaining to the correction of, exposure of negatives which yielded unsatisfactory prints.
14. A method as defined in claim 13, wherein the information pertaining to the correction of exposure of negatives which yielded unsatisfactory prints is encoded manually upon visual inspection of prints.
15. A method as defined in claim 13, further comprising the steps of returning said elongated strip with said correction strip to said printing station and automatically exposing those negatives which yielded unsatisfactory prints on the basis of said information pertaining to correction of exposure of such negatives.