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Publication numberUS3638937 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 1, 1972
Filing dateOct 1, 1969
Priority dateOct 1, 1969
Also published asCA923515A1, DE2048981A1, DE2048981B2, DE2048981C3
Publication numberUS 3638937 A, US 3638937A, US-A-3638937, US3638937 A, US3638937A
InventorsSchulz Leo J, Warner George L
Original AssigneeMinnesota Mining & Mfg
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Collator
US 3638937 A
Abstract
A collation distributor for use with a document-copying machine, a printer, stack feeder or the like which distributor is adapted to receive and collate sheets according to a predetermined pattern. The distributor comprises a plurality of shelves for receiving the copies, a conveyor of varying length for distributing sheets to the shelves of the receiver according to a predetermined pattern, and a transport conveyor which directs sheets fed the collating machine into the distributing conveyor or passes sheets through the collating machine into cooperating similar machines in accordance with a predetermined pattern. The collator can be adapted to accept sheets fed from either of two sides of the collator thus retaining or inverting in the receiver the uppermost side of the sheets as fed to effect a desired sheet orientation in the receiver.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1151 3,638,937

Schulz et al. 1 Feb. 1, 1972 s41 COLLATOR 3,414,256 12/1968 Mestre ..270/58 [72] Inventors: Leo Schulz woodbury Township, 3,430,950 3/1969 Marsh et a1 ..27l/64 Washington County; George Warner Primary Examiner-Jerome Schnall Roscvme both of Minn Assistant Examiner-L. R. Oremland [73] Assignee: Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Attorney-Kinney AleXandel', Sell, Steldl & h t

Company, St. Paul, Minn.

22 Filed: Oct. 1,1969 1 21 Appl.No.: 862,791

[5 7] ABSTRACT A collation distributor for use with a document-copying machine, a printer, stack feeder or the like which distributor is adapted to receive and collate sheets according to a predeter- [52] 11.5. CI ..;...270/58, 271/64 mined t The distributor Comprises a plurality of shelves 5 1 1111. C1 ..B65h 39/06 9 receiving the copies Conveyor of varying length for [58] Field of Search ..27o/5s; 271/64, 65, 67, 68 "lbutmg Sheets to Shelves of the receiver according to a predetermined pattern, and a transport conveyor which [56] References Cited directs sheets fed the collating machine into the distributing conveyor or passes sheets through the collating machine into UNITED STATES PATENTS cooperating similar machines in accordance with a predetermined pattern. The collator can be adapted to accept sheets 3,152,701 10/1964 Weiland ..271/68 X fed f either f two Sides of the collator thus retaining or 3,273,882 9/1966 Pears 1 1 "271/64 X verting in the receiver the uppermost side of the sheets as fed 3,372,922 3/ l 968 Snellman et a1. ..270 to effect a desired sheet orientation in the receiver.

3,395,913 8/1968 Del Vecchio et al. ..27l/64 3,414,254 12/1968 Snellman et al. ..270/58 10 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures [I II mama] ma nan SHEET 3 0F 4 LY M i F I CZ 5/NVENTORS G5 2 L, WlR/VER 1 m MJM' ATTORNEYS PATENTEU FEB 1 1372 3.633.937 SHEU 40F 4 I \fa R 44 92 55 1 c 49 57 k 54 g! Y 3 52 6 I 43 f 59 5/ a .42

' Q. FIG. 7 1;

l/vvE/vroxas LEO J JcHULZ GEORGE L. Mia/ma? A T TORNE Y5 This invention relates to an apparatus affording the distribution of sheet material and in one aspect relates to a collating machine for distributing copies or printings of the sheets of a document in a predetermined pattern.

The prior art is replete with collating machines associated with copying or printing machines which are used to sort a set of sheets according to a predetermined pattern into a compartment of a receiver ready for binding, stapling or other handling. Collating machines such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,273,882 issued Sept. 20, 1966, No. 3,414,256 dated Dec. 3, 1968; No. 3,414,254 dated Dec. 3, 1968; No. 3,372,922 dated Mar. I2, 1968; and No. 3,395,913 dated Aug. 6, 1968 are able with varying versatility to preform this function. However, an examination of the mechanism in these machines reveals that of those sheet collators sufficiently compact for office use some have required extensive and complex mechanisms to transport the sheets between two moving surfaces through the multiplicity of paths required for distribution of the sheets, while the others have attempted to avoid this complexity by transporting the sheets in some areas of the path between only one moving and one static surface. This latter approach has certain limitations caused by friction between the sheets and the nonmoving portion of the distribution track. In the invention of the present application all of these aforementioned problems have been minimized. This has been accomplished by the use of a compact, mechanically simple belt conveyor of variable effective length which positively transports the sheets to be distributed between opposing moving belts and deposits them in a receiver in accordance with a predetermined pattern.

Additionally, the use of this simple conveyor allows great speed of distribution attainable because of the positive driving contact between the sheets and the belts.

Another problem with prior art collators arises because of the variety of copying machines in general ofiice use today. Some produce copies discharged with the information facing upward, while other copies discharge with the information downward. In distributing copies of a multipage document which are sequentially fed to a collator, it is often necessary to invert the sheets while transporting them to the shelves in order to reproduce in the copy the order of the original document. Collating machines of the prior art are arranged to either retain the same side of the sheets uppermost as fed or to invert the sheets before placing them in their receivers, however, the individual machines offer no choice in this matter to the user.

In the invention of the present application the collating machine can be easily adapted to accept sheets from either of two sides which allows inverting or retaining the sheets as fed in the receiver as desired. This versatility allows ease of use with copy machines feeding sheets in either a printing-up or a printing-down attitude.

The invention of the present application, therefore, fills a present need and provides a novel sheet distributor and a versatile system for sorting sheets produced by the duplication or printing of documents.

The above and added advantages of the present invention will be more apparent after reading the following detailed description which refers to the accompanying drawing wherein:

FIG. 1 is a vertical sectional view, illustrating a collating machine according to the present invention and diagrammatically illustrating a portion of a document feeding machine;

FIG. 2 is a transverse sectional view taken approximately along the lines 2-2 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary detail vertical sectional view showing a detail of the collating machine of FIG. I taken approximately along line 33 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary detail vertical sectional view of the collating machine of FIG. I;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentaryhorizontal sectional view, taken approximately along the line 5--5 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view showing a pair of collating machines and illustrating a modification of collating machine of FIG. I; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective detail view of the carriage of the distributing conveyor of the collating machine of FIG. 1.

Referring now to the drawings there is shown in FIG. 1 a sheet-collating machine utilizing the present invention and generally designated by the reference numeral 10. The ap-,

paratus includes a generally right rectangular parallelepiped frame 11 having brackets and protrusions upon which the other elements of the machine are mounted including a control console (not shown). The frame 11 comprising a transversely extending first side 13, an opposed parallel second side 14, a back side 15, a front side 16, a top cover 17, and a bottom plate 18 to which casters 19 for supporting the frame are attached. Transversely extended slotted openings 20 are formed in the sides 13 and 14 adjacent the upper edges.

A receiver means is provided for collecting sheets. The receiver means illustrated in the drawings (FIGS. 1 and 5) is generally designated by the numeral 21 and comprises a plurality of parallel stacked shelves 22 with the front edges aligned in a row parallel with the first side 13 and with each shelf inclined relative to the first side 13 of the frame 11, and slanted toward the bottom 18. The frame of the receiver includes a wall 23 parallel to side 14, a wall 24 with openings to each shelf, and a sidewall 25 connected between the wall 23 and the wall 24. The front side 16 of the frame 11 has an enlarged opening to permit access to each shelf 22 through which sheets may be removed from the shelves 22. The side of the receiver adjacent the front side 16 of the frame 11 is open so that distributed sheets may be withdrawn therefrom. The effective length of all the shelves 22 is simultaneously established by an adjustable end plate 26 which is more narrow than the shelves 22 and is located in a slot therein. The end plate 26 is essentially parallel to and adjustably supported off the rear wall 23 by a pair of first support arms 27 and a pair of second support arms 28. The arms 27 and 28 are pivotably mounted at one end by a pin-and-slot connection to the end plate 26 and are pivotably attached approximately at their midpoints to a pin 29. The first support arms 27 are pivotably attached to the rear wall 23, the second support arms 28 being pivotably mounted by a pin-and-slot connection thereon. An adjustment arm 31 is pivotably mounted by a fixed pin on the wall 23 and is attached by a slot near its midpoint to the pin 29. A rod 32 extending through the upper end of the adjustment arm 31 can be manually caused to engage one of a plurality of detents on the receiver 21, thus establishingan angle 33 between the first support arm 27 and the second support arms 28, which angle 33 defines the position of the end plate 26 relative to the rear wall 23 of the receiver and thus the useable length of the shelves 22 for receiving sheets. To facilitate neat and orderly stacking of the sheets as they are received in the shelves 22, in addition to the aforementioned adjustable end plate 26, there are provided a sideplate 34 against which the sides of the distributed sheets are aligned which plate 34 is attached to and runs parallel with the sidewall 25 the full length of the stack of shelves 22, a grounding strip 35 positioned across the inlet to each shelf, and a holddown roller 36 in each shelf 22 of the receiver 21. The receiver 21 is removably supported on the frame 11 by a pair of slide rails 37 attached to the frame 11 which engage a mating rail 38 formed on the top edge of the wall 24 and a mating rail 39 formed on the wall 23 of the receiver 21.

A distributing conveyor having a variable effective length and generally designated by the reference numeral 41, (FIGS. 1, 2, 6 and 7) serves to deliver sheets from an inlet end 42 which on the illustrated apparatus is fixed in position, to a discharge end 43 which in this apparatus can vary in position along the wall 24 of the receiver 21. The conveyor 41 comprises a first set of endless belts 44 and a second set of endless belts 45 supported on rotatable rollers with the portions of their exterior surfaces which extend between the nips of a first roller set 46 and a second roller set 47, being in opposed relationship and normally in contact defining a conveyor reach 48. The second roller set 47, which in the accompanying illustration is located at the discharge end 43 of the conveyor 41, comprises a primary roller 49 and a secondary roller 51. Both rollers 49 and 51 are longer than the width of the front wall 24 of the receiver 21 and are rotatably mounted between a first end 52 and a second end 53 ofa carriage 54 (FIG. 1, 2,5 and 7). The roller 49 is parallel to and is located normally above the roller 51 so that a sheet passing through the nip formed by the rollers 49 and 51 toward the receiver 21 would be discharged normally horizontally toward the receiver 21. The carriage 54 is a frame like member guided at opposite ends on a circular rod 55 and a circular rod 56. The rods 55 and 56 are parallel with and run the entire length of the front wall 24 of the receiver 21. The ends of the rod 55 are attached to side 15 of the frame by a pair of brackets 57 and the ends of the rod 56 are rigidly supported on side 16 of the frame by a pair of brackets 58.

Rotatably mounted on the end 52 of the carriage 54 are a pair of contour rollers 59 and 61, and a cylindrical roller 62 positioned with their axis parallel to the roller 49 and mounted at right angles with the axis of the rod 55. The contour rollers 59 and 61 each have a V-shaped groove 63 cut around their periphery which groove 63 is sized to make two-point contact when disposed against the surface of rod 55 thus preventing lateral movement of the rollers 59 and 61, and thus the carriage 54, with respect to the axis of the rod 55. The contour rollers 59 and 61 are mounted with the roller 59 normally vertically above the roller 61 and with the rollers 59 and 61 contacting the rod 55 on the side adjacent the receiver 21. The cylindrical roller 62 is located normally vertically between the rollers 59 and 61 and contacts the rod 55 on the side opposite the receiver 21.

On the end 53 of the carriage 54 are rotatably mounted a pair of cylindrical rollers 64 and 65 with their axes parallel to the roller 49 and with their surfaces contacting the rod 56. The rod 56 is tangent to the roller 64 on the side of the rod 56 adjacent the receiver 21, and the roller 65 contacts the rod 56 on the side opposite the receiver 21 and is located normally above the roller 64. Thus, the carriage 54 is slidably supported on the frame 11 and located so as to travel in a path adjacent to the receiver 21, and parallel to the first side 13 of the frame 11, the carriage 54 being able to transverse the entire length of the row of shelves 22 in the receiver 21, so that sheets discharged from the discharge end 43 of the conveyor will be deposited in the receiver 21.

The first roller set 46 which in the illustrated collating machine is located at the inlet end 42 of the distributing conveyor 41 comprises a pair of parallel rollers 66 and 69. Roller 66 comprises a set of four cylindrical sections 67 laterally spaced on a shaft 68 and roller 69 comprises a set of four cylindrical sections 71 laterally spaced on a shaft 72. The rollers 66 and 69 are rotatably and transversely mounted between the back side and the front side 16 of the frame 11 parallel to roller 49 and normally above the path transversed by the carriage 54. The rollers 66 and 69 are so located that a plane commonly tangent to the periphery of the roller 49 and the roller 69 on the side opposite the receiver 21 is essentially parallel with the path transversed by the carriage 54 and a plane through the axis of the rollers 66 and 69 would form essentially a right angle with the path transversed by the carriage 54.

Additional roller means to support the sections of the two sets of endless belts 44 and 45 of the conveyor 41 which are not supported in the conveyor reach 48 and to provide appropriate tension in the endless belts 44 and 45 is provided.

The additional rollers include, for the first set of endless belts 44, a transversely extending slide roller 73 supported parallel with roller 49. The bearing supports for the ends of the shaft of roller 73 are slidable along parallel tracks 70 supported on sides 5 and 16 of the frame 11. The roller 73 slides along a path of equal length with and essentially at right angles to the path traversed by the carriage 54, so that a plane commonly tangent to the periphery of the roller 73 and to the periphery of the roller 69 on the sides opposite the receiver 21 is essentially at right angles with the path traversed by the carriage 54. A turn roller 74 is rotatably mounted between the back side 15 and the front side 16 of the frame 11 parallel with roller 49 in such a position that a plane commonly tangent to the periphery of the turn roller 74 on the side opposite the receiver 21 and to the roller 49 on the side adjacent the receiver 21 is essentially parallel with the path traversed by the carriage 54 and a plane commonly tangent to the periphery of the turn roller 74 on the side opposite the receiver 21 and to the sliding roller 73 on the side adjacent the receiver 21 is essentially parallel with the path of the sliding roller 73.

For the second set of endless belts 45 the aforementioned additional rollers comprise a driven roller 75 rotatably and transversely mounted between the back side 15 and the front side 16 of the frame 11 parallel with roller 49, and so located that a plane commonly tangent to the driven roll 75 and the roller 51 on the side adjacent to the receiver 21 is essentially parallel with the path traversed by the carriage 54.

A means for driving the conveyor 41 is provided so that the two sets of endless belts 44 and 45 move in the same direction in the conveyor reach 48 and so that sheets fed between the opposed exterior surfaces of the belts 44 and 45 of the conveyor 41 at the first roller set 46 are contacted on both sides by the belts 44 and 45 to be transported through the conveyor reach 48 to the second roller set 47 and discharged into the receiver 21. For the illustrated apparatus the driving means comprises a motor 76 attached to the bottom plate 18 of the frame 11 which motor 76 drives a suitable pulley or sprocket 77 attached to the roller 75 through a suitable belt or chain 79. The roller 75 is properly positioned to tension the second set of endless belts 45 and drive the same, which in turn drive the first set of endless belts 44 through frictional engagement of their exterior surfaces in the reach 48.

Means are provided for moving the carriage 54 to any desired predetermined position on the path traversed by the carriage 54. In the accompanying illustration the carriage is positioned along the rods 55 and 56 by a roller chain 80 attached adjacent end 52 of the carriage 54 and a roller chain 81 attached adjacent end 53 of the carriage 54. The chains 80 and 81 normally extend vertically downward thence around a sprocket 82 and a sprocket 83 attached to opposite ends of a shaft 85 which is rotatable and mounted transversely between the back side 15 and the front side 16 of the frame 11 parallel to roller 49 normally below the end of the path traversed by the carriage 54. The chain 80 is attached to a cable 86 at a point 87 and the chain 81 is joined to a cable 88 at a point 89. The cables 86 and 88 pass generally horizontally under the receiver 21 thence around idler pulleys rotatably mounted on the frame 11 on an axis parallel to the roller 49 near the intersection of the bottom plate 18 and second side 14 of the frame 11. The points of joinder 87 and 89 are positioned so they will not pass over either the sprockets 82 and 83 or the idler pulleys 90 when the carrier 54 is at any point along its path. Thence the cables 86 and 88 pass vertically to a set of idler pulleys 91 located near the second side 14 of the frame 11 and so positioned that a plane through the axis of the slide roller 73 and tangent with the normally top surface of the pulleys 91 is parallel with the path traversed by the slide roller 73. After passing around pulleys 91 the cables 86 and 88 are attached to rotatable pulleys on opposite ends of the slide roller 73 and connect the roller 73 to the carriage 54. The cables 92 and 93 pass around a set of pulleys 94 mounted on opposite ends of the turn roller 74. The pulleys 94 are of the proper diameter so as to position respective lengths of the cables 92 and 93 parallel with the path traversed by the carriage 54 and the slide roller 73. A suitable gear-reduced motor 95 driving a sprocket 96 attached to the shaft 85 through a chain 97 provides power to rotate the sprockets 82 and 83 and move the carriage 54 to any desired predetermined position on the path traversed by the carriage 54 along the receiver 21. Movement of the carriage by the chains 80 and 81 and the cables 86, 88, 92 and 93 extends or contracts the conveyor reach 48 so that sheets transported through the conveyor reach 48 will be discharged into preselected shelves 22 of the receiver 21.

. Means is provided for controlling the motor 95 which drives the carriage 54 so as to move the carriage 54 according to a present program when a predetermined number of sheets have passed through the conveyor reach 48. Sensing means is provided to detect the movement of the sheets and such sensing means may include a photoelectric cell 98 and a light source 99 which are centrally located at opposite ends of the wall 24 of the receiver 21 positioned so that sheets passing from the conveyor 41 to the shelves 22 of the receiver 21 will interrupt the light path from source 99, causing the photoelectric cell 98 to produce a signal for operation of the motor 95 to make the adjustments in the position of the carriage 54 appropriate to that event, thereby achieving the desired sorting of sheets passing through the conveyor reach 48 in accordance with a predetermined program. A suitable switching circuit for the program desired is provided.

In the apparatus illustrated a transport conveyor 100 is positioned in the upper portion of the frame 11 and comprises two opposed sets of belts, supporting rollers 105 and a feed roller to convey a sheet between the sides 13 and 14. The first set of belts comprises three transversely spaced endless belts 101 tensioned and extending normally horizontally between a roller 102 and a roller 103, both roller 102 and 103 being rotatably supported between the back side and the front side 16 of the frame 11 parallel to roller 49. The roller 102 is located adjacent to the first side 13 of the frame 11, and the roller 103 is located adjacent to the second side 14 of the frame. The feed roller 105 is located nonnally vertically below and mounted parallel to the roller 102. The roller 105 comprises a set of three laterally spaced cylindrical sections 106 attached to a shaft 107 which is rotatably mounted on the frame 11. The cylindrical sections 106 are in rolling contact with the three endless belts 101 and the sections 106 are spaced between the four cylindrical sections 67 of the roller 66 so that the axis of the two rollers 105 and 66 may operate in closer proximity than a distance equivalent to the combined radii of the cylindrical sections 67 and 106. A second set of belts 112 are supported by a first roller 108 rotatably mounted parallel with the roller 105. The roller 108 comprises a set of three cylindrical sections 109 laterally spaced similar to the spacing of the sections 106 and attached to a shaft 110 mounted parallel with the shaft 107 on the frame 11 with the three sections 109 of roller 108 spaced between the four sections 71 on roller 69. The roller 69 being so located that the nip between the rollers 105 and 108 is centered normally vertically above the nip between the first set of rollers 66 and 69. Located parallel to and normally horizontal with the roller 108 and vertically below the roller 103 is a roller 1 11 supporting the other end of a set of three belts 112. The xterior surfaces of the belts 112 are opposed to and in con ct with the exterior surface of the belts 101 throughout the section in which they are adjacent.

The opposed exterior surfaces of the endless belts 101 and the endless belts 1 12 in the transport conveyor 100 are caused to move in the same direction by a gear 115 attached to the end of the roller 103 which engages a gear 1 16 attached to the roller 1 11 as can best be seen in FIG. 4. As depicted in FIG. 3, the shaft 107 of the roller 105 has attached near one end a pulley 117 opposite a pulley 118 attached to the shaft 110 of the roller 108. The pulleys 117 and 118 are connected by a suitable belt 119. The transport conveyor 100 is driven by the distributing conveyor 41 in a direction of feed from the first side 13 toward the second side 14 of the frame 11 by attaching a gear 120 to the end of the shaft 110 of the roller 108 in mesh with a gear 121 attached to the shaft 72 of the roller 69 as shown in FIG. 3. Alternatively, in the other embodiment the transport conveyor 100 can be driven by the distributing conveyor 41 in a direction of feed from the second side 14 toward the first side 13 of the frame 11 by attaching the gear 120 to the end of the shaft 107 of the roller 105 in mesh with the gear 121 attached to the shaft 68 of the roller 66 (not shown). A multiposition sheet-directing means best seen in FIG. 3 is located adjacent to the inlet 42 of the conveyoi' reach 48 and one end of the transport conveyor for directing sheets. The directing means illustrated is in the form of a deflector 123 spaced in the nip between the roller and the roller 108 and comprising four transversely spaced shoes 124 attached to a shaft 125 rotatably supported between the back side 15 and the front side 16 of the frame 11 parallel to the roller 105 and 108. The shoes 124 are equally spaced between the three sections 106 of the roller 105, the three belts 101 and the three sections 109 of the roller 108. The deflector shoes 124 are five-sided members with the shaft 125 extending through two opposed parallel sides and with a pair of connected equal active sides 126 and 127 which are concave with a radius slightly larger than that of the roller 105. The curved sides 126 and 127 are joined by a base 128. The shoes 124 are normally mounted with the bases 128 uppermost and inclined to the horizontal so that the center of curvature of the equal sides 126 are generally coincident with the axis of the roller 105. In this position of the deflector 123 sheets entering the frame through the first side 13 and between rollers 102 and 105 will be deflected into the nip of the first set of rollers 66 and 69. The shoes 124 are so mounted that they may be rotated to a position where a plane defined by the bases 128 is tangent to the periphery of the roller 105 on the side adjacent the belts 101. In this position of the deflector 123, sheets entering the frame 13 between rollers 102 and 105 will pass through the transport conveyor. In one embodiment of the device illustrated, (FIG. 6), the shoes 124 may be positioned so that the center of curvature of the side 127 is approximately coincident with the axis of the roller 108 such that sheets entering the collating machine 10 initially through side 14 into the transport conveyor 100 will be deflected into the nip of rollers 66 and 69 of the distributing conveyor 41.

A means for changing the position of the deflector 123 so that sheets may be either continued in the transport conveyor 100 so as to be discharged into other devices or directed into the distributing conveyor 41 of the collating machine 10 is provided. On the apparatus illustrated, the means for positioning the deflector 123 comprises a solenoid 132 having a plunger 133 which is connected to the deflector 123 through a two-positioned mechanical linkage including a link for rotating a crank member which in turn pulls a link to turn a radial arm on the shaft 125, (FIGS. 1 and 6). The radial arm on the shaft 125 has two points of connection with the link attached thereto such that the part may be used with either embodiment of the collator. The points of connection cause the center of curvature of the side 126 to be generally coincident with the axis of the roller 105 or the side 127 to be concentric with roller 108 when the plunger 133 is extended.

A means for cooperatively controlling the position of the deflector 123 and of the position of the carriage 54 along the path it traverses so as to distribute sheets in a predetermined manner with the illustrated apparatus is provided by the use of an electronic programmer which controls a switching circuit (not shown). A counter either mounted on the collating machine or associated with a copying or printing machine generally designated 135, (see FIG. 1), feeding sheets to the collator is operatively connected to the switching circuit. The programmer may be set for one of three modes of operation, a collate mode, a noncollate mode, or a progressive sort mode.

In the collate mode the switching circuit is adapted by the programmer to cause sheets, such as copies of an original in a quantity preset into the counter, to be directed seriatim into separate shelves 22 of the receiver 21. In the event the number of sheets to be distributed exceeds the number of shelves 22 in the receiver the excess sheets are directed through the transport conveyor 100 into other cooperating aligned collating machines for like distribution. The collate mode isparticularly well suited for preparing numerous copies of a multipage document. A copy of each document will be deposited in a different one of the shelves 22 of the receiver 21 in proper order for stapling or binding. The user is not limited in the number of document copies he can make at one time by the number of shelves 22 in the receiver 21 of a single collating machine 10, as additional collating machines may be aligned to receive the additional copies as each previous machine is filled. (See FIG. 6.)

If the number set in the counter representing the number of sheets to be distributed exceeds the number of shelves 22 in the receiver 21, the previously described sequence is repeated until the conveyor 41 is opposite the bottom shelf 22 of the receiver 21 where the corresponding position of the roller 73 trips a limit switch 139, thereby causing the switching circuit to energize solenoid 132 to move the bases 128 of the deflector shoes 124 to a horizontal position after the next sheet is distributed. Successive sheets of the present number of sheets to be distributed will then pass through the transport conveyor 100 into cooperating similar apparatus until the counter is satisfied. When the counter is satisfied, the switching circuit reestablishes the initial conditions, and the collating machine is ready for additional sheets which will be distributed in like manner.

In the noncollate mode the programmer adapts the switching circuit to retain the deflector 123 and the carriage 54 is the aforementioned initial condition for all sheets distributed, thus placing all sheets distributed in the normally uppermost shelf 22 of the receiver 21. Typical applications for this noncollate mode are handling single copies of a multipage document or handling small numbers of copies from various master sheets for which no sorting is desired.

In the collate mode the programmer first brings the collating machine 10 to an initial condition. In the initial condition the distributing conveyor 41 and the transport conveyor 100 are being driven. The deflector 123 is in one of the alternate positions which will direct sheets from the transport conveyor 100 into the inlet end 42 of the distributing conveyor 41, the discharge end 43 of the distributing conveyor 41 on the carriage 54 is positioned opposite the uppermost shelf 22 of the receiver 21, and a preselected number of set into the counter. In this position of the carriage 54 the roller 73 contacts a limit switch 138 producing a signal to the switching circuit. The next sheet fed into the transport conveyor 100 is deflected by the deflector 123 through the reach 48 of the distributing conveyor 41 and discharged into the uppermost shelf 22 of the receiver 21. As the sheet passes between the discharge end 43 of the distributing conveyor 41 and the wall 24 of the receiver 21 the photoelectric cell 98 produces a signal which via the switching circuit operates the motor 95 to move the carriage and therefore the discharge end 43 of the conveyor 41 to a position opposite the successively lower shelf 22, and decreases by one in the counter the number of sheets required. Unless the number of sheets to be distributed exceeds the number of shelves 22 in the receiver 21, this sequence is repeated for each sheet fed into the apparatus until the counter is satisfied. When satisfied, the counter produces a signal to the switching circuit which operates the motor 95 to return the carriage 54 to the initial position and reset the counter so that the collating machine 10 is again in the initial condition awaiting a second set of sheets or copies of page 2 of a document, etc.

In the progressive sort mode the programmer adapts the switching circuit to cause a predetermined quantity of successive sheets to be placed in the uppermost shelf 22 of the receiver 21, thereafter the same predetermined quantity of successive sheets are placed on each of the consecutively lower shelves 22 in the receiver 21. One typical use of the progressive sort mode is collecting numerous copies of several single-sheet documents in separate shelves 22 where the documents bear no relationship one to the other.

In the progressive sort mode the programmer first brings the collator 10 to the aforedescribed initial condition. The next sheet fed into the feed conveyor 1001is placed in the uppermost shelf 22 of the receiver 21 and the photoelectric cell 98 produces a signal adjusting the counter for the sheet that has entered. Each successive sheet also enters the uppermost shelf 22 and is similarly counted until the number preset on the counter is reached whereupon the counter sends a signal to the switching circuit which operates the motor to move the carriage 54 to a position in which the discharge end 43 of the conveyor 41 is opposite the successively lower shelf 22 on the receiver 21. The switching circuit then resets the counter to the original preselected number. The quantity of sheets set on the counter is then placed on the shelf 22 now opposite the discharge end 43 of the conveyor 41. The cycle is repeated until the carriage 54 reaches the bottom most shelf. In that position the roller 62 engages the limit switch 139 thereby signalling the switching circuit that after the counter is again satisfied the solenoid 132 should be energized placing the bases 128 of the deflector 123 in a normally horizontal position to send subsequent sheets to a similar cooperatively operated apparatus for like sorting. FIG. 6 shows a pair of collators 10 in aligned position to illustrate how the machines are positioned to receive and sort copies exceeding the number of shelves 22 in any one machine. FIG. 6 is also used to illustrate an alternative embodiment of the collator 10 wherein the sheets or copies will enter from side 14 rather than from side 13.

It will be noted that by the expedient acts of positioning the deflector 123 by selecting the proper point of connection between the link joining the radial arm on shaft 125 of the deflector 123 and causing the transport conveyor to operate in the required direction by selecting the proper alternate mounting positions of the gear 120 and 121, sheets fed into the transport conveyor 100 from the first side 13 of the frame 11 between the rollers 102 and 105 with the printed side up will enter the shelves 22 with the same side up. In the alternative positions a sheet entering the transport conveyor 100 from the second side 14 will be inverted before entering the shelves 22 of the receiver 21. Thus, in the collate mode single-sided copies of a multipage document fed into the feed conveyor 100 from the first side 13 in numerical order with the nonprinted side of the sheets upward, from the first side 13 in reverse numerical order with the printed side upward from the second side 14 in numerical order with the printed side upward, and from the second side 14 in reverse numerical order with the nonprinted side of the ,sheet upward will all be deposited in the receiver 21 in the proper order for stapling or binding.

It is easily seen that many other applications can be envisioned which involve combining more complex operational modes with the distribution capabilities of this collator 10. These combinations are far too numerous to be listed, but all fall within the scope of the invention. It should also be noted that by the addition of programmed sheet feeding apparatus in the shelves of the receiver and by driving the distributing conveyor 41 in the opposite direction, the collating machine 10 could serve as a device for asembling stacks of individual sheets into a multipage document which could be separated utilizing a cooperating collating machine operating in one of the modes herein described.

Having thus described the present invention what is claimed 1. An apparatus for distributing sheets in a predetermined manner comprising:

a frame:

a conveyor comprising:

a carriage movably mounted on said frame for movement along a linear path with respect to said frame:

two endless belts;

roller means supported on said frame for supporting said belts for movement along predetermined paths including a first roller set and a second roller set, each said roller set including at least two parallel rollers, said first roller set being rotatably mounted on said frame so that a line joining the axes of said rollers is generally perpendicular to said path of said carriage, and said rollers of said second roller set being rotatably mounted on said carriage so that a line joining their axis is generally parallel to said path, said belts being supported on said roller means to pass through and extend between the nip of said rollers of said first roller set and the nip of said rollers of said second roller set with a portion of their exterior surfaces between said sets in opposed relationship defining a conveyor reach;

means for driving at least one roller of said roller means to move said endless belts in the same direction through said conveyor reach 'whereby sheets fed between the opposing exterior surfaces of the endless belts of said conveyor at said first roller set will be transported through said conveyor reach and discharged from said second roller set at an angle generally normal to said reach; and

means for moving said carriage to change the length of said conveyor reach; 1

feeding means for feeding sheets into said reach; and

receiver means for receiving sheets discharged from said conveyor reach comprising a plurality of parallel shelves aligned with one end of each shelf in a row oriented so that a plane along said ends of the shelves is parallel with the path of said carriage and located adjacent to said second roller set on the side toward which the sheets will be discharged, said carriage being movable by said moving means by transverse said row so that sheets may be discharged into any one of said shelves.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1 comprising sensing means for producing a signal when a sheet has passed through said conveyor reach and wherein said moving means includes means includes means for receiving said signal and for moving said carriage in response thereto.

3. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said feeding means comprises: w l

a transport conveyor means supported on said frame for transporting sheets along a predetermined path;

a sheet-directing means rotatably mounted on said frame and located adjacent to said first roller set of said conveyor and in said predetermined path for directing sheets into said conveyor reach at said first roller set; and

means for moving said sheet-directing means out of said path so that sheets may be continued in said path of said transport conveyor means.

4. An apparatus according to claim 3 wherein said transport conveyor means includes moveable belt means for defining a predetermined path for said sheets in a plane parallel with a line joining the axes of said rollers of said first roller set.

5. An apparatus according to claim 3 comprising means for positioning said directing means and said carriage according to a predetermined pattern to distribute sheets in a predetermined manner with said apparatus.

6. An apparatus for sorting sheets in a predetermined manner comprising:

a frame;

a receiver, comprising a plurality of parallel stacked shelves inclined relative to a first side of said frame, the ends of the shelves along said first side being aligned in a row and being open so that sheets may enter therein, one side of the shelves being open so that distributed sheets may be withdrawn therefrom;

a conveyor comprising:

two endless belts;

a carriage slidably mounted on said frame for movement along a linear path adjacent to said receiver and parallel to said first side of said frame, and extending the entire length of the row of shelves in said receiver;

roller means for supporting said belts for movement along predetermined paths including a second roller set comprising two rollers rotatably mounted on said carriage and a first roller set comprising two rollers rotatably mounted on said frame at one end of the path traversed by said carriage;

each of said endless belts being supported with its interior surface about one roller of each said roller set, and said roller sets being positioned to direct said belts between said roller sets with a portion of their exterior surfaces in opposed relationship defining a conveyor reach positioned parallel with said linear path of said carriage, said second roller set being positioned on said carriage to direct said opposed portion of said belts generally normal to said path; and for supporting and tensioning the sections of the two sets of endless belts of said conveyor not supported in said conveyor reach; means for driving said conveyor to move said endless belts in the same direction through said conveyor reach, so that sheets fed between the opposed exterior surfaces of the endless belts of said conveyor at said first roller set, being contacted on both sides by the belts, will be transported through said conveyor reach to said second roller set and discharged into said receiver; means for moving said carriage to any desired position on the path for said carriage along said receiver thereby changing the length of said conveyor reach so that sheets transported through said conveyor reach may be discharged into any shelf of said receiver; means for signaling said carriage-moving means when a sheet has passed through said conveyor reach to afford control of said carriage in accordance with a predetermined pattern, thereby achieving the desired sorting of sheets passing through said conveyor reach; transport conveyor means rotatably mounted on said frame adjacent said first roller set for conveying sheets in a direction essentially at a right angle to the path for said carriage, said transport conveyor means having an inlet at the end opposite the direction of conveyance for accepting sheets from printers, reproduction machines, sheet feeders and the like; sheet-directing means rotatably mounted on said frame adjacent the first roller set of said conveyor and said transport conveyor means and movable between a first position for directing sheetsfrom said transport conveyor means into said conveyor reach, and a second position for affording movement of sheets through said transport conveyor means; means for changing the position of said directing means;

and means for cooperatively controlling the position of said directing means and said means for moving said carriage to distribute sheets in a predetermined manner with said apparatus. 7. An apparatus for distributing sheets in a predetermined manner comprising:

a frame: a conveyor comprising:

a carriage movably mounted on said frame for movement along a linear path with respect to said frame; two endless belts; roller means supported on said frame for supporting said belts for movement along predetermined paths including a first parallel roller set rotatably mounted on said frame and a second parallel roller set rotatably mounted on said frame and a second parallel roller set rotatably mounted on said carriage, each of said belts being supported with its interior surface about one roller of each said roller set, and said roller sets being positioned to direct said belts between said roller sets with a portion of the exterior surfaces in opposed relationship and defining a conveyor reach positioned parallel with said linear path of said carriage, said second roller set being positioned on said carriage to direct said opposed portion of said belts generally normal to said path; means for driving at least one roller of said roller means to move said endless belts in the same direction through said conveyor reach whereby sheets fed between the opposed exterior surfaces of the endless belts of said conveyor adjacent said first roller set will be transported through said conveyor reach and discharged from said second roller set at an angle generally normal to said reach; and moving means for moving said carriage along said path,

thereby changing the length of said conveyor reach; feeding means for feeding sheets into said reach; and receiver means for receiving sheets discharged from said conveyor reach comprising a plurality of parallel shelves aligned with one end of each shelf in a row oriented so that a plane along said ends of the shelves is parallel with the path of said carriage and located adjacent to said second roller set on the side toward which the sheets will be discharged, said carriage being movable by said moving means to traverse said row so that sheets may be discharged into any one of said shelves. 8. An apparatus according to claim 7 comprising sensing means for producing a signal when a sheet has passed through said conveyor reach and wherein said moving means includes means for receiving said signals and for moving said carriage in response thereto.

9. An apparatus according to claim 7 wherein said feeding means comprises:

a transport conveyor means supported on said frame for transporting sheets along a predetermined path;

a sheet-directing means rotatably mounted on said frame and located adjacent to said first roller set of said conveyor and in said predetermined path for directing sheets into said conveyor reach at said first roller set; and

means for moving said sheet directing means out of said path so that sheets may be continued in path of said transport conveyor means.

10. An apparatus according to claim 9 comprising means for positioning said directing means and said carriage according to a predeten'nined pattern to distribute sheets in a predetermined manner with said apparatus.

. UNITED STATES PATENT OFF-ICE CERTIFICATE OFv CORRECTION Patent No.3, 3 s 37 Dated February 97 I v t r( Leo J. Schulz and George ,1... Warner It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent 'and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:

i The line numbers throughout the Patent do not properly correspond with the lines. Line numbers referred to in this Certificate of Correction were determined by counting the lines.

Column 3, line 71, change "5" to 15--.

Column L, line 6 after "73" (first occurrence) insert ens .can'best be seen in Figure 4. Additional cables 92 and-93 are connected at one end to the rotatable pulleys on roller 73 Column 7, the two paragraphs between lines 8 to 31 should appear between lines 60 and 61.

Column 9, line 27, change "by" to to and line 32, after "means" (first occurrence) delete includes means Y Signed and sealed this 27th day of June 1972.

(SEAL) Attest:

EDWARD M.FLETCHER,JR. 1 ROBERT GOT'ISCHALK At'testing Officer Commissioner of Patents FORM PO-1050 (10-69) USCOMNPDC Goa-hp u.s. covsmmzm' mnmue omc: was o-aes-cm

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3765670 *Sep 13, 1972Oct 16, 1973NorfinRetainer for sheet transfer in sorting machine
US3802694 *Oct 8, 1971Apr 9, 1974Olivetti & Co SpaCollator
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US5692747 *Apr 27, 1995Dec 2, 1997Hewlett-Packard CompanyCombination flipper sorter stacker and mail box for printing devices
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Classifications
U.S. Classification271/290, 271/296
International ClassificationB65H31/24, B65H29/60, B65H39/11
Cooperative ClassificationB65H31/24, B65H39/11, B65H2801/06, B65H2408/118, B65H2301/5133, B65H2408/112, B65H29/60
European ClassificationB65H39/11, B65H29/60, B65H31/24