US 3673960 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Ricci et a1.
 TRAVELING CYLINDER PRINTER WITH PLATEN ROLLER DRIVEN IN CLOSED PATH  Inventors: Vero Ricci, 106 E. Stiles Ave., Collingswood, NJ. 08108; Edward P. Colalillo, 23 Colwick Road, Cherry Hill, NJ. 08034  Filed: Nov.2l, 1969  Appl.No.: 878,814
 US. Cl ..101/269, 101/56  Int. Cl. ..B4lt 3/20  Field of Search ..101/269, 270-274, 101/232-235, 214, 216, 242, 245,250, 283, 284, 285, 55, 56
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,145,936 7/1915 Stevens ..101/283 2,703,017 3/1955 Smith..... ...10l/283 X 2,931,291 4/1960 Hopp ..101/19 3,058,416 10/1962 Grant ....101/269 3,083,641 4/1963 Childs..... 101/269 3,173,362 3/1965 Yoh-Jivn Hu. 101/56 X 3,277,822 10/1966 Maul ..101/269 3,340,800 9/1967 Gruver... 101/269 X 3,420,171 l/1969 Maul ..101/269 [451 July 4, 1972 3,447,457 6/1969 Dechcrt ..101/269 3,461,799 8/1969 Blair ..101/269 3,485,166 12/1969 Wright....- ..l0l/269 X 3,485,167 12/1969 Creedon ..10l/283 X Primary Examiner-William B. Penn Assistant Examiner-E. M. Coven A!t0rney.lames Albert Drobile and Robert S. Bramson  ABSTRACT Credit card printing apparatus for printing information ema credit card in the credit card tray, proper placement of the credit card tray, the position of the roller in the printing cycle, and optionally in response to the availability of credit. The credit card tray includes means to permit proper location of printed indicia from a credit card on a sales slip, irrespective of the direction in which the indicia face when inserted. Means may also be provided to automatically release the tray upon completion of the printing portion of the printing cyclev 16 Claims, 12 Drawing Figures PATENIEDJIJL 41912 3,673 .960
sun-:1 1 or 5 246 INVENTORS. lg- Z VERO RICCI EDWARD P. COLALILLO ATTORNEY.
PKTENTEDJUL 4 I972 3 673 96 O SHEET 3 OF 5 INVENTORS.
229 242 22 222 VERO RICCI EDWARD R COLALILLO Fig 5 v BY ATTORNEY.
PATENTEDJUL 4 m2 SHEET t 0F 5 |sa-\ a I70 v I; T 3 I67 Fig. 7 132 158 I64 A52 W50 I I34 I14 I I [72 27a 5s INVENTORS. VERO RICCI EDWARD P. C OLALILLO MAW ATTORNEY.
TRAVELING CYLINDER PRINTER WITH PLATEN ROLLER DRIVEN IN CLOSED PATH BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to a credit card printing apparatus of the type which is conventionally used in retail sales outlets for printing information embossed in a credit card, such as the name and account number of the card-holder, onto a sales slip during a credit transaction. The apparatus of this invention may be completely operator controlled, or may be used as an element of a system, suitably connected to a central computer, in which information identifying the credit card account is transmitted to the computer and an actuating signal is transmitted by the computer to the printing apparatus, if the account is satisfactory for a charge transaction, to permit operation of the printing cycle.
2. State of the Art Manually operated credit card printing apparatus, for imprinting indicia embossed in a credit card onto a sales slip, are well known in the art. Also, there are presently known in the art and commercially used, apparatus for non-manually imprinting credit card embossed information onto a sales slip, using a suitable drive motor to drive the roller platen which accomplishes the printing, such as disclosed in U. S. Pat. Nos. 3,173,362 and 3,420,171. Such automatic printing units have been proposed to be used as part of a computer-operated credit check system, in which the automatically operated credit cardprinting apparatus is connected to a computer, the identification of the account being charged is communicated to the computer by the sales clerk with a suitable electronic apparatus, and a suitable signal is supplied from the computer to the printing apparatus to permit the printing apparatus to operate and imprint the sales slip, if proper credit is available.
The units heretofore known have had a number of significant shortcomings. They have been very difficult to adjust, in order to achieve proper placement of the roller platen with respect to the credit card to be used, in order to take into account the various sizes of credit cards and thicknesses of sales slips used by the various retail organizations. Thus, each printing machine to be distributed for use by a particular organization having credit cards of a given thickness and sales slips of a given thickness would have to be tediously adjusted in order to achieve proper clear imprinting. Such adjustments would vary from organization to organization, depending on the dimensions of credit cards and sales slips being used. Moreover, the credit card printing apparatus of the prior art do not produce clear printed indicia consistently, because they cannot adequately compensate for the normal deviations in credit card thicknesses, due to manufacturing variations and to wear due to use. Additionally, as parts of prior art printing units wear with use, the units are required to be tediously manually adjusted to accommodate such wear, in order to consistently achieve uniform, clear printing in use of the units.
Furthermore, the designs of those machines which have been used for automatic credit card printing to date have been such that the prior art machines have been expensive to construct, both because of their expensive components, and the high cost of assembly. For example, those units used prior hereto have required electric brake apparatus to stop the unit drive motor in the proper portion of the printing cycle.
Additionally, the machines of the prior art have been difficult to use, an important factor when one considers the unskilled retail sales clerks who normally operate such machines and the value of their time.
In the operation of the instant invention, the roller platen is substantially elevated above the credit card tray during its rest position, and the inadvertant transmission of ink to the tray elements is avoided, thereby avoiding ink smears from the tray onto the sales slip, as well as onto the hands of the operator, as frequently occurs with the prior art units.
BRIEF SUMNIARY OF THE INVENTION This invention is directed to a credit card printing apparatus, utilizing a roller platen, which is preferably impregnated with ink, to apply pressure as it rolls across a sales slip which overlies an embossed credit card, thereby achieving printing of the indicia embossed in the credit card onto the sales slip. The roller platen of this invention traverses a closed, elongated path having a lower, substantially planar printing section where printing occurs, and a substantially parallel and planar elongated upper section where the printing cycle ends and where the roller is supported, out of contact with the credit card tray, when the printing cycle is not in operation. The upper section permits the platen drive assembly to travel thereon, after printing has been completed, until any momentum of the drive assembly is dissipated, after the drive motor is de-energized; thus, the need for an electric brake for the drive motor is avoided. The roller platen is mounted as part of an assembly which includes platen support means including follower means which are seated in opposing guide blocks which define the path of travel of the roller platen, and the requisite motion of the roller platen through the travel path is provided by a slider crank mechanism.
The roller platen assembly is loosely mounted on support means, such as a follower pin, about which it floatingly rotates, with a clearance in the range from about one-thirtysecond of an inch to about one quarter of an inch, and preferably in the range from about one thirty-second of an inch to about one-sixteenth of an inch, provided between the inner diameter of the roller platen assembly and the support means. The roller platen assembly is also spring biased downwardly against the support means, and the biasing spring force is variable. This feature allows the roller platen to uniformly print sales slips and credit cards of varying thicknesses, without the necessity of fine adjustment. If adjustment is desired, it can be accomplished by the relatively simple and convenient adjustment of the biasing springs. This feature considerably simplifies the amount of adjustment of the unit which must take place at the end of the process for production of the units of this invention, as well as afterwards. Also, the guide blocks, which define the roller platen travel path, are adjustably mounted on suitable threaded supports, so that they also may be conveniently adjusted, if necessary, to accommodate various thicknesses of credit cards and sales slips, and to compensate for the wear of parts of the apparatus.
The credit card and sales slips are located in a credit card tray, which extends substantially beyond the housing of the printing unit when the credit card and sales slip are being inserted or removed, and which extends substantially within the housing for the printing cycle. Switch means are provided which prevent initiation of the printing cycle unless and until the tray is inserted and contains a credit card. Other switch means are provided, responsive to the position of the roller platen in the printing cycle to de-energize the apparatus drive motor. Latch means are provided, responsive to the completion of the printing segment of the printing cycle, to release the tray so that the tray slides out substantially beyond the housing for removal of credit card and sales slip when the printing operation is completed. Manual actuation means are also provided for the latch means, to permit release of the tray when lack of proper credit prevents the printing circuit from being closed, when the apparatus of this invention is used as part of a computer operated credit check system.
The credit card tray includes an adjustable template for properly orienting the credit card in the tray. The template may be inserted in one of two positions, so that a credit card may be inserted and the embossed portion of the credit card properly located with respect to the sales slip irrespective of whether the embossed indicia face in one direction or in the opposing direction. That is to say, when the template is in one position, and the indicia embossed in the credit card face the left side of the printing apparatus when the credit card is inserted, mere reversal of the template permits the credit card to OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION It is therefore an object of the invention to provide a credit card printing apparatus which will uniformly and consistently print clear indicia, irrespective of moderate variations in sales slip and credit card thicknesses, as well as the wear of the apparatus parts.
Another object of this invention is to provide a credit card printing apparatus which may be adjusted easily while maintaining consistently clear legible printing.
It is the further object of this invention to provide a credit card printing apparatus in which the adjustments of the roller platen travel path required to be made can be accomplished easily and quickly.
It is another object of this invention to provide a credit card printing apparatus which is relatively inexpensive to construct while providing superior performance in printing.
Still another object of this invention is to provide a credit card printing apparatus which will not print until the credit card tray is properly positioned in the apparatus with the credit card inserted.
Yet another object of this invention is to provide a credit card printing apparatus which does not require a motor brake.
A concomitant object of this invention is to provide a credit card printing apparatus which will permit indicia on a credit card to be printed on the same area of a sales slip irrespective of whether the credit card is inserted in one position or in a supplementary position.
A still further object of this invention is to provide a credit card printing apparatus which can be operated easily by unskilled persons and still consistently print clearly.
An additional object of this invention is to provide a credit card printing apparatus which occupies a minimum of counter space.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the credit card printing apparatus of this invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view, partly broken away, of the credit card tray, and showing the two positions of the credit card template;
FIG. 3 is a longitudinal, cross-sectional view of the credit card printing apparatus, taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 4;
FIG. 4 is a partial cross-sectional view of the credit card printing apparatus, taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a partial cross-sectional view of the credit card printing apparatus, taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 6 is a partial, side elevational view of the printing assembly as shown in FIG. 3, with the roller platen in the middle of the printing portion of the printing cycle;
FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 6, showing the roller platen in a position after the printing portion of the printing cycle has been traversed, and the platen has released the latch for the credit card tray;
FIG. 8 is a view similar to FIG. 6, showing the completion of the printing cycle, with the tray in the unlatched position, the roller platen located on the upper track of the guide blocks in a rest position, and the micro-switch in the closed actuating arm position;
FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 6;
FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 10-10 of FIG. 8;
FIG. 11 is a circuit diagram showing the motor and the motor control switches in the preferred embodiment of the invention in which the printing apparatus is part of a credit check system; and
FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the roller platen support bracket of this invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION FRAMEAND COVER Viewing FIG. 1, the credit card printing apparatus of this invention is seen to comprise a frame, generally designated as 10, a cover 12, a credit card tray generally designated as 14, an array of buttons on the top of the printing unit and generally designated as 16, a credit card tray release button 18 on the top of the printing unit, and a series of lights on the front of the printing unit and generally designated as 20.
It is to be noted initially that, although the printing apparatus invention will be described as part of a computeroperated system permitting credit checks and the like, the printing apparatus may be used alone for operator controlled printing of sales slips, or as part of such a computer-operated system.
Viewing FIGS. 3 and 4, the frame 10 has a base portion 22 which includes a peripheral skirt 24 and an upper surface 26 having an elevated, substantially planar section 28 and a recessed well section 30. Planar section 28 includes an elongated, narrow slot 25, which terminates at its far end in an L- shaped support shelf 27. The recess defined by the skirt 24 and the horizontal section 26 may be used to contain a printed circuit board (not shown) which contains the necessary electronic circuitry for use of the printing unit as part of a computer credit check system. The frame 10 can be molded or cast of metal or plastic, and is preferably molded as a single unit formed of iron. Frame 10 also includes, upstanding from horizontal surface 26, a pair of vertical posts 32 and 34, connected by a web section 36. Post 32 is integrally formed with horizontally extending arm 38, and post 34 is integrally formed with horizontally extending arm 40.
Each of the two arms 38 and 40 contains a pair of vertically extending threaded apertures 42 and 44, the purpose of which will be more fully described later. Arm 40 contains a pair of upstanding support fingers 46 and 48, formed integrally therewith; each of the support fingers has formed at its upper end a screw-receiving aperture adapted to receive screws not shown) fastening the bracket member 64 to frame 10. Cover 12 fits over bracket 64 and is screwed to the frame by suitable screws (not shown) at the sides of the cover. Arm 40 also contains a pair of horizontally extending apertures 50 and 52 having recessed shoulders at either end of each aperture, adapted to receive the bolts which mount the drive motor assembly. Arm 40 also includes horizontally extending apertures 54 and 56. Aperture 54 is formed with a shoulder at one end, which receives the bushing 162 for pivot pin 158. The motor drive shaft 172 extends through aperture 56, as will be more fully described hereinafter.
Arm 38 contains a horizontally extending aperture 58, which is co-axial with aperture 54, having a shoulder at its inner end to seat bushing the aperture 58 is adapted to rotatably journal the other end of the pin 158. Posts 32 and 34 are also provided with co-axial apertures 60 and 62 to journal the latch mounting shaft 280, the purpose of which will be more fully discussed later.
Bracket member 64 is substantially L-shaped, preferably formed of a metal stamping, but which could also be formed of plastic. The vertical portion 66 of bracket 64 has stamped therefrom a pair of horizontally extending, apertured support arms 68 and 70 which guide the stem 72 of latch-actuating button 18. The button 18 is adhered to stem 72, as with an adhesive. Bracket arm 68 also acts as a stop for the compression spring 74 which upwardly urges collar 76, which collar is fastened to shaft 72, so that the stem and button are normally in the position shown in FIG. 3. Button 18 extends through aligned apertures in the horizontal portion 78 of bracket 64 and cover 12. A mounting bracket 80 depends from the horizontal portion 78 and micro-switch 169 is rigidly fastened thereto. Other electrical components of the printing unit may also conveniently be mounted on bracket 64. The cover 12 is preferably a one-piece molded shell of a plastic which is chosen for durability, ease of manufacture and low cost. The cover 12 could also be formed of other materials, such as steel, aluminum, or the like.
THE GUIDE BLOCKS A pair of guide blocks 82 and 84 are respectively adjustably supported by arms 38 and 40, through a pair of threaded support posts 86 and 88 which are received at one end in threaded apertures 42 and 44 in each of the arms 38 and 40. Each post has a narrowed lower end 89 which extends through a corresponding aperture, respectively designated 43 and 45, which extends through the guide block. The lower end of each support post mounts a snap ring 87, so that the guide blocks are held in place between the snap rings 87 and the support post shoulders. Thus, the lower ends of each pair of posts 86 and 88 are rotatably mounted in their corresponding guide block, so that rotation of a pair of posts 86 and 88, by the insertion of screwdrivers in suitable slots in the tops of the posts, will accomplish vertical adjustment of the guide block connected thereto. The guide blocks may thus be easily vertically adjusted when cover 12 is removed.
Each of the guide blocks 82 and 84, is preferably formed of hard, moldable plastic such as nylon, and has a guide track, generally designated as 90, formed therein. Each of the guide tracks has an elongated, substantially planar printing section 92, and a parallel, elongated planar rest section 94. These two sections are interconnected at either end by curved sections 96 and 98 in each guide member, so that follower pin 100, which has its opposite ends slidably received in the two tracks, will traverse the closed path defined by the tracks during a single printing cycle about the track. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the sections 92 and 94 are each about three inches in'length. The tracks need not be totally planar at sections 92 and 94. In fact, section 94 may be somewhat curved upwardly to facilitate stopping of the roller drive assembly when the roller drive motor is shut off. The lower section should have a substantially planar section where it overlies the embossed indicia of a credit card in the printing position, in order to ensure clear and even printing.
it will be appreciated that the guide blocks 82 and 84 may be removably secured to the posts 86 and 88, or else the length of the posts can be made relatively short, in order to facilitate removal of the guide blocks. This feature permits guide blocks having different lengths of printing sections to be interchanged, in order to accommodate different sizes of credit cards. Too, the guide blocks can be adjusted vertically by the use of screwdrivers in the slots at the tops of the supporting posts 86 and 88, thereby adjusting the guide blocks to accommodate various thicknesses of credit cards and sales slips, and facilitating easy adjustment to compensate for wear of the printing apparatus in use.
The guide blocks 84 and 86 are constructed such that the upper track sections 94 are not covered. This feature permits the ready changing of roller platens when the follower member 100 is in track section 94. This is accomplished by removing cover 12, lifting the roller platen assembly, removing the roller platen 102 by sliding out follower pin 100 and then inserting a new roller platen.
It is to be noted that the guide blocks define the path of travel of the roller platen 102, but that a similar path would be traversed if the guide blocks were omitted, because the basic travel path is defined by the slider crank linkage which drives the roller platen assembly. However, the guide blocks are important because they more precisely define the travel path and prevent jamming of the slider crank drive linkage. The guide blocks, because they are easily and finely vertically adjusted, permit the printing clarity and ease of over-all adjustment which are characteristic of the printing apparatus of this invention.
THE ROLLER MOUNTING Roller platen 102, which is preferably formed of ink-impregnated polytetrafluoroethylene, of a sort which is commercially available and well known, is rotatably mounted on bushing or sleeve 104. Sleeve 104 has an inside diameter which is greater than the outside diameter of follower or pin 100, the difference in diameters being in the range from about onethirty-second of an inch to about one-quarter of an inch, and preferably in the range from about one-thirty-second of an inch to about one-sixteenth of an inch, so that the sleeve 104, and therefore roller 102, are loosely, floatingly mounted on the follower.
As seen in FIG. 4, the opposite ends of sleeve 104 are preferably rotatably mounted in respective apertures 106 and 108 formed in respective arms 110 and 112 of roller support bracket 114. As seen in FIG. 12, roller support bracket 114 has a pair of opposing rectangular cut outs 1 16 formed in the arms 110 and 112, and the arms 110 and 112 are interconnected by horizontal sections 118 and 120 of the bracket. Each of the horizontal sections 118 and 120 contains an aperture, respectively designated 119 and 121, the purpose of which will be more fully described hereinafter.
The ends of follower or pin 100 extend through and are rotatably journaled in apertures 123 in arms 122 and 124 of yoke member 130, as best seen in FIGS. 3 and 4. Yoke member is preferably formed from two sheets of metal, but could also be formed of a single plastic member. Each of the sheets includes an elongated vertical slider section, respectively designated 126 and 128, and each sheet also includes a pair of outwardly extending roller bracket support arms, 132 and 134. Each of the roller bracket support arms 132 and 134 includes a rectangular aperture 136 which is adapted to receive a non-rotatable trapped nut 138. Bracket mounting posts 140 and 142 are respectively slidably mounted at their lower ends in apertures 119 and 121 in respective transverse portions 118 and 120 of the roller support bracket 114. The upper ends of the bracket mounting posts 140 and 142 are threaded, have slotted tops, and adjustably extend through the respective trapped nuts 138, between the opposing pairs of yoke arms 132 and 134. Each of posts 140 and 142 has a collar 144 rigidly fastened thereto, and a compression spring 146 is located between each collar 144 and the opposing horizontal bracket sections 118 and 120. Therefore, posts 140 and 142 can each be rotated when cover 12 is removed, by the use of screwdrivers in the slots at the tops of the posts, to adjust the position of collars 144 with respect to the roller support bracket 114, thereby regulating the spring force exerted by springs 146 against the bracket. In this manner, the bias of bushing 104, which mounts the roller platen 102, against follower pin 100 can be adjusted, thereby regulating the force with which roller platen 102 passes over a sales slip in the printing cycle, because of the controlled, floating, biased mounting of bushing 104 on follower 100. The amount of the spring force can thus be varied, by moving the collar on each post with respect to the corresponding horizontal section of the roller support bracket, to suit the particular conditions of the printing operation, taking into account the thickness dimensions of the sales slip and the credit card, and permitting convenient adjustment for variable manufacturing tolerances and for parts wear due to use. The adjustably biased, floating mounting of the roller platen 102 in the foregoing manner with respect to follower pin 100 is an important feature of this invention because it permits the roller platen to be easily adjusted and to consistently produce uniform, clear printing.
Each of the yoke body portions 126 and 128 defines a pair of aligned, elongated slots 150 and 152, as seen in FIG. 4. Pin
assembly 130. As seen in FIG. 4, a pair of bushings 160 and 162 journal shaft 158 and the ends of the bushings and of that shaft are respectively mounted in the apertures 54 and 58 in the arms 40 and 38 of the frame 10. Bushing 162 is freely rotatable about shaft 158. The bushing 162 has a cam follower surface 164 formed integrally thereon. One of the edges 166 of the cam follower 164 is adapted to be engaged and elevated by the leading edge 157 of crank 156. The opposite follower edge 167 of follower 164 is adapted to engage switch arm 170 of normally closed micro-switch 168, which micro-switch 168 is suitably mounted to a depending bracket 80 of bracket member 64, as seen in FIG. 4.
Crank 156 is rotatably mounted on shaft 172 of drive motor 174, which shaft extends through aperture 56 of frame arm 40. Motor 174 is mounted to arm 40 by screws 178 connected to suitable brackets 180 of motor support member 182.
The crank arm pin 154 is mounted, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, with its axis at a distance of about 0.7 inches from the axis of the crank arm shaft. The crank arm has an arcuate outer surface, which may be circular, and in a preferred embodiment has a radius of about 0.9 inches. The arcuate portion occupies an angular extent of approximately 170, and as can be seen, its leading edge 155 inclines sharply with respect to the arcuate portion, at an angle of about 45 from the horizontal, as does the trailing edge 157. The relationship between the shape of crank 156 and cam follower 164 is such that cam follower 164 is engaged by the leading edge 155 of the crank, and is raised by the leading edge 155 to lift arm 170 of micro-switch 168 to open the micro-switch when the printing stroke is completed and follower pin 100 begins to enter the track sections 94, as seen in FIG. 7; when the motor 174 has been re-energized to commence a later printing cycle and drives follower pin 100 into track sections 98, the cam follower 164 is disengaged by crank 156, as seen in FIG. 3, and micro-switch 178 closes.
One important benefit of this invention is achieved because of the particular design of the crank 156 and its operative relationship to the platen support bracket 114. The benefit is the compactness of the platens support and operating elements.
The mechanism of this invention, is so designed that one part of the printing unit, which is occupied by one operating element during a part of the printing cycle is occupied by a second operating element during another part of the printing cycle. Thus, when the actual printing of a credit card is being performed, as seen in FIGS. 3, 4 and 6, the platen support bracket is primarily located between guide blocks 82 and 84 and the crank 156 is primarily located between the crank shaft 172 and the tops of the guide blocks. When the printing operation is completed, and follower pin 100 rides in upper track sections 94, the crank 156 is substantially inverted, such as seen in FIG. 8, and the platen support bracket occupies a substantial part of the volume otherwise occupied by crank 156. During intermediate positions of the crank and platen support bracket, the space above the guide blocks is partially occupied by the crank and by the platen support bracket, in such manner that neither interferes with the operation of the other.
CREDIT CARD TRAY The credit card and sales slip receiving tray 14, as can be seen in FIG. 2, has a base member 200 which is substantially planar and has depending front lip 202 and upstanding rear lip 204 integrally formed therefrom. Viewing FIGS. 4 and 5, elongated metal slide 206 is fastened to the underface of the base 200 as by welding, and defines an elongated track 208 which engages an elongated, rectangular nylon guide member 210 which includes integral, dependent feet 211, which are fastened in the well 30 of the frame base member 26. Hinge member 212 is secured to base member 200 as by spot welding, and has two leaves 214 and 216 which are respectively fastened, such as by pins, to upper and lower credit card tray members 218 and 220. Lower credit card tray member 220 has a pair of dependent pins 222 fastened at their opposing ends to the underside thereof and to base member 200. Pins 222 are for the purpose of engaging credit card orienting template 242, in a manner discussed hereinafter.
Upper and lower credit card tray members 218 and 220 define a pair of co-extensive apertures 224, through which the credit card embossments extend, when the credit card is inserted. Lower credit card tray member 220 has a slightly raised portion 226 extending beyond the pins 222, so that template 242 may be inserted beneath lower credit card tray member 220 without lifting the same. Member 228 is slidably mounted on tray member 220, and serves as a back stop for alignment of a sales slip in the tray. Retaining clip 229 is slidably mounted on tray member 220 with pin 227, for the purpose of properly orienting sales slips of various widths over the credit card for printing.
A constant force spring 230, is located in well 30, and has one end mounted to the underside of tray base 200 by pin 232, and its other end mounted to the frame by mounting pin 231, as seen in FIGS. 4 and 5. Spring 230 is a substantially constant-force spring, of a type which is commercially available, so that the tray may be evenly discharged from its position in the housing after printing.
As seen in FIG. 3, one end 233 of a flexible, metal sensing arm member 234 is fastened, as by a spot weld, to the underside of tray member 200. Sensing am 234 has an upstanding finger 236 formed therein and adapted to extend upwardly through aperture 223 in base member 200 into the credit card receiving aperture 224, when the sensing arm 234 is in the position shown in phantom in FIG. 8. At the opposite end of sensing arm 234 is a permanent magnet 238 which, when the sensing arm 234 is in the position shown in solid lines in FIG. 8, will travel in a depressed position in slot 25 in base member 26, to the rear end of that slot, at which point it closes switch member 240, which is mounted on the ledge 27 at the end of the slot 25. If the credit card is not properly inserted in the tray 14, sensing arm 234 will remain in the phantom position of FIG. 8 when that tray is inserted, and switch member 240 will not be closed.
Viewing FIG. 2, template 242 is seen to be a substantially U- shaped element, preferably formed of spring tempered phosphor bronze, or other metal designed to snuggly receive a credit card 244. A different template 242 is preferred to be used for each size of credit card intended for use with the printing apparatus of this invention, but all of such templates will preferably have the same outer configuration and dimensions. Embossed in the credit card 244 are identifying indicia 246 which are intended to be imprinted upon a sales slip 248, such as seen in FIG. 9.
The purpose of the template 242 is to permit insertion of a credit card in the position shown in FIG. 2, wherein the credit card has embossed indicia non-uniformly located thereon, and to permit the same or a similar credit card to be inserted in the reversed direction, such as byrotating credit card 244 from the position of FIG. 2, while retaining the location of the printed matter in the same area on a sales slip, albeit the printed matter will face in the opposite direction when the credit card is reversed.
The template 242 is U-shaped, having a narrow leg 250 and a wider leg 252, connected by connecting portion 254, and having rounded ends proximate the open ends of legs 250 and 252. The width of the legs is somewhat increased at respective end sections 256 and 258, and each of the legs includes a cutout section or detent, respectively designated 260 and 262, preceded by curved guide fingers 261 and 263. In either of the the two possible positions of the template upon insertion of the template into the tray assembly, pins 222 are seated in the respective detents 260 and 262, to relatively immobilize template 242 in the credit card tray. The inner portions of legs 250 and 252 of template 240 are tapered outwardly at the throat of the template, in order to facilitate insertion of a credit card. There are two positions in which the template may be inserted into the credit card tray, namely, the position shown in solid lines in FIG. 2, and, by inverting the template,
the position shown in phantom in FIG. 2. Because of the resilient material of the template, leg 250 can be sprung inwardly slightly to facilitate insertion of the template in, and its removal from, the credit card tray. After insertion of the template, the leg when released springs outwardly so that the pins 222 are seated in the detents 260 and 262, to lock the template in place for use.
FIGS. 3 and 5 illustrate the latch mechanism for engaging the upstanding rear lip 204 of tray base member 200, to immobilize the same against the releasing force of spring 230, during the printing cycle. Latch 270 is preferably formed of a single piece of material, such as sheet metal, and has a tray engaging detent hook portion 272 formed at the forward end of vertical section 274 of the latch. Horizontal section 276 of the latch has an upstanding forward lip 278, which is adapted to be engaged and lifted by roller platen 102 when the printing portion of the printing cycle has been completed, as shown in FIG. 7. Section 274 of latch 270 has an aperture which receives pivot pin 280, about which the latch is rotatable. The opposite ends of the pivot pin are journaled in respective apertures 60 and 62 in frame post members 32 and 34. A torsion spring 281 is mounted on pivot pin 280; one end of the spring bears on the inner surface of the latch and the other end bears on the base 10, so that the spring 281 urges the latch 270 to the position shown in FIG. 3. An elongated slot 282 is formed in the rear of horizontal section 276 of the latch, and slidably receives narrowed neck portion 73 of latch-actuating shaft 72, whereby the latch unit may be rotated about pin 280 against the bias of spring 281, by depressing button 18 to force down the rear end of horizontal portion 276 of the latch mechanism, thus releasing the upstanding rear lip 204 of the tray base member. When the lip 204 is thus released, the credit card tray 14 is urged to its outwardly extending loading and unloading position by spring 230. When button 18 is released, spring 74 urges stem 72 upwardly to its nonnal position, and torsion spring 281 returns the latch 270 to its normal, horizontally extending position.
OPERATION OF THE INVENTION In operation, the apparatus of this invention would be used as follows. Template 242 would be seated in tray 14, between tray members 200 and 220, and would be retained in position by pins 222 seated in detents 260 and 262. With the tray 14 in the outwardly extending loading and unloading position, such as shown in FIG. 8, a credit card 244 would be inserted between tray members 200 and 220 and would be retained in place, properly located, by template 242, in the manner seen in FIG. 5. A sales slip would then be inserted between tray member 218 and tray member 220, with an edge resting and stopping at the end of the sales slip stop clip 229. The tray 14 is then ready to be inserted into the imprinting unit, and forward lip 202 of the tray maybe pushed rearwardly, and the tray slides along guide member 210, being guided by track 208.
When the tray is inserted to the print position, the uniform force spring 230 is moved from the extended position shown in phantom in FIG. 5, to the partially compressed position shown in solid lines in FIG. 5 in which latter position the spring biases the tray to the outwardly extending loading and unloading position. When the tray reaches the end of its travel into the printing unit, the upper edge of lip 204 engages the leading edge of the latch unit 270, lifting the latch unit slightly, against the bias of spring 281, by rotating it about pivot pin 280. When the lip 204 is in the position to be engaged by detent 272, the torsion spring 281 biases the detent downwardly tolengage the tray lip 204 and immobilize the credit card tray for the printing operation.
If, 'as in the preferred embodiment of the invention, it is desired to check the credit of the person making the charge, in order to insure that the card being used has not been reported as stolen, or that the account is not delinquent, or that there is any other limitation on the use of the account, the account numbers may be punched by depressing the appropriate buttons 16, to communicate to a central computer the account number, and to receive a signal which will permit operation of the printing device if the account is satisfactory for use in charging the purchase. This step would preferably be performed before the credit card tray 14 is inserted to the printing position, and after which step it is inserted in the printing position. If the account is satisfactory, the computer will return a signal to the control unit 288 which will energize and close a relay switch 290 which will permit actuation of the motor, if the tray position switch 240 is closed.
If the tray 14 is inserted completely into the housing, in proper latched position for printing, permanent magnet 238 of sensing arm 234 will be in vertical alignment with the switch member 240. However, the proximity between the permanent magnet 238 and switch member 240 will not be sufficient to close the switch unless and until the credit card 244 has been inserted prior to insertion of the tray in the printing apparatus, thereby forcing finger 236 of the arm downwardly, so that the permanent magnet 238 is sufficiently close to the switch member 240 that the permanent magnet will close the switch member 240. Therefore, when the credit card tray and credit card are properly positioned, in the machine, and relay 290 is closed, motor 174 is energized and the printing cycle commences.
Microswitch 168 is normally closed, but at the time that relay 290 is closed to energize the motor, micro-switch 168 is held open by the action of crank 156, as seen in FIG. 8. The successful completion of the drive motor operating circuit is achieved, while micro-switch 168 remains open, by closing switch 240 and relay 290 to energize the drive motor at the time that the roller platen and associated support apparatus are in the position shown in FIG. 8, which is the rest position of operation of the unit. When the motor 174 is energized, crank 156 commences to rotate and pin 154, traveling in slots of the yoke assembly 130, drives the yoke assembly in a downward and forward direction, from the position of FIG. 8 to that FIG. 3, and follower 100, connected to the yoke assembly 130, and with which the roller platen 102 travels, rides downwardly from the elevated position in the guide block track section 94, through the connecting end section 98, down to printing track section 92. As the crank 156 rotates from the position of FIG. 8 with commencement of a new printing cycle, follower 164 drops downwardly to the position of FIG. 3, releasing switch arm to return switch 168 to its normally closed position. Thus, the motor 174 will remain energized during the entire printing cycle, in the event that a stray signal accidentally opens relay 290. As the follower pin 100 traverses printing section 92 of the track during the printing stroke, from the position shown in FIG. 3 through and beyond the position shown in FIG. 6, the roller platen 102 comes in intimate contact with sales slip 248, because the elevation of the lowest edge of the roller platen 102, when it is in the printing position, is set to provide a slight negative clearance with the sales slip and credit card during the printing stroke. Thus the roller platen 102 is resiliently pressed down against the sales slip, by the biasing force of springs 146, whereby the embossed indicia 246 of credit card 244 are imprinted by the inkbearing roller platen 102 on the upper sufiace of the sales slip 248, and are concomitantly reproduced in any copy sheets which may be part of a multiple-copy sales slip, and which copy sheets may be separated by sheets of carbon paper or which may comprise the so-called carbonless carbon paper." The platen 102 thus rolls across the sales slip as it traverses guide track 92 in the printing stroke, imprinting the sales slip. Because the roller platen 102 is loosely mounted with respect to the follower pin 100, due to the about one-thirty-second to about one-quarter of an inch clearance between the follower pin 100 and the inner diameter of bushing 104, and due to the resilient downward bias of the roller platen because it is mounted in the roller support bracket 110, the roller platen 102 may move upwardly in response to any differences in dimensions of the sales slip and credit card operated on by the roller platen, to the maximum extent of the one-thirty-second of an inch to one-quarter of an inch clearance between pin 100 and bushing 104. The springs 146 also provide a uniform printing force of the platen against the sales slip, thereby facilitating clear, readable printing at all times during the operation of the printing apparatus of this invention.
When the roller platen and follower have completed the traverse of printing track section 92, the follower is driven up and around through connecting section 96 to the position shown in FIG. 7. As the roller platen 102 traverses the path of track section 96, it engages the arm 278 of the latch assembly 270, pivoting the latch assembly and raising its detent portion 272, thereby releasing the rear lip 204 of the credit card tray 14, and permitting spring 230 to urge the entire credit card tray outwardly to the loading and unloading position shown in FIG. 8. When the tray 14 is thus released, switch arm 234 travels outwardly with the tray, thereby opening switch 240.
When the follower and roller assembly enter the upper track section 94 after the tray 14 has been released to the position of FIG. 8, the leading edge 155 of the crank 156 engages the leading edge 166 of the micro-switch actuator 164, raising the actuator, whereby the opposing face 167 of the actuator elevates micro-switch arm 170 to open the microswitch, thereby to open the motor power circuit, shutting off the motor 174. After the motor 174 is de-energized, the follower pin 100 and the roller platen assembly glide to a stop along the upper track 94. Because the follower pin and platen assembly can roll to a stop along the elongated upper track section 94 when the motor is shut ofi, there is no need for an electrical brake for the drive motor 174. When the drive motor stops, the roller platen 102 and its mounting assembly are in approximately the position shown in FIG. 8. The precise location of the roller platen assembly in its final rest position is not critical and can vary along upper tracks 94. The roller platen, in the final rest position, as seen in FIG. 10, is substantially raised with respect to the credit card tray 140. In this way, ink from the roller platen does not get on the credit card tray or the sales slip when printing is not occurring, thereby avoiding inadvertent smudging of ink on the user of the apparatus from the tray and avoiding smudging on the sales slip.
In the embodiment of the instant invention illustrated, wherein a computer credit check is made prior to the printing operation, the operator punches the buttons 16, to feed the credit card account number into the central computer system prior to insertion of tray 14. The tray is then inserted. If proper credit is not available, and the credit card tray, with credit card inserted, is properly located in the printing apparatus, no signal will be provided to close relay switch 290, and drive motor 174 will not be actuated. In that event, one of the lights 20 on the front of the unit will light to indicate to the sales person that the relay 290 is open, so that the operator is apprised of that condition. Then, the operator can manually release the tray, so that the credit card can be removed to be returned to the customer, by pushing button 18, thereby rotating the latch unit 274 about its pivot 280, releasing the tray, which is then discharged outwardly under the action of spring 230 to its unloading position.
In the event that it is desired not to use the apparatus of the instant invention in conjunction with a computer-operated credit system, the relay switch 290, electronic control 288, and indicating lights 20, could be dispensed with, and switch 240, could be directly located in a single motor control circuit, in the same manner as cam operated switch 168. Altematively, the printing unit could be modified for use with more elaborate computer-controlled mechanisms, such as by including a printing mechanism for printing the amount of a charge on a sales slip, while utilizing the basic apparatus credit card printing assembly of the instant invention.
The motor 174 is preferably a gear motor which may, for example, produce 50 inch-ounces of torque at a speed of about 15 rpm.
Although the roller platen 102 is preferably ink-impregnated, an ink transfer roll (not shown) could be used to transfer printing ink to the roller in a conventional manner. Also, although the invention has been described for use as a credit card printer, it can also easily be modified for use for similar printing operations, such as for printing mailing labels from an embossed address plate.
Although the roller platen mounting assembly is shown as comprising a spring 146 associated with posts and 142 to bias the roller platen support bracket, it will be appreciated that a similar, although less preferable, spring bias effect can be achieved if one of the posts 140 and 142 is not spring biased but is pivotally fastened to the roller platen support bracket 110, rather than being slidable therein as illustrated.
Thus, although the preferred embodiment of the invention has been disclosed, variations of the various elements of the preferred embodiment can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention, as defined by the appended claims.
1. A credit card imprinting apparatus comprising:
a. A frame having a base;
b. A pair of guide blocks mounted on said base, each defining a closed path guide track facing the other and each track comprising a substantially linear track section proximal and substantially parallel to said base, and a substantially linear track section distal and substantially parallel to said base;
0. A roller platen defining a hollow core;
d. Follower means mounted within said hollow cave and having two ends, each of which slidably engages one of said guide tracks;
e. Said roller platen being rotatably mounted on said follower means and loosely supported for vertical movement with respect thereto;
f. Biasing means connected to said roller platen and resiliently biasing said platen against said follower means in a direction toward said base;
g. Drive means mounted on said frame;
h. Linkage means interconnecting said drive means and said follower means and rigidly mounting said follower means to drive said follower means along said distal track section, to lower said follower means at a first end of said distal track section to said proximal track section, to drive said follower means through an imprinting stroke along said proximal track section and to lift said follower means at the other end of said proximal track section to said distal track section to complete a closed path cycle;
i. A tray slidably mounted on said base, adapted to receive a credit card and a sales slip whereby said roller platen is in pressure contact with said sales slip and said credit card to imprint indicia from said credit card on said sales slip when said roller platen traverses the proximal track section; and
j. Means mounting said tray for movement from a first loading position wherein said tray extends at least substantially beyond said frame for insertion and removal of a credit card and sales slip in said tray to a second position wherein said tray extends substantially beneath said guide tracks for imprinting of indicia from said credit card onto said sales slip.
2. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, including power supply means connected to said drive meanS to pennit operation thereof, normally open switch means operatively connected between said power supply means and said drive means to prevent supply of power to and operation of said drive means when said switch is open, and means for closing said switch means in response to the presence of a credit card in said tray and insertion of said tray in a printing position to initiate operation of said drive means.
3. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, including power supply means connected to said drive means to permit operation thereof, non'nally closed switch means operatively connected between said power supply means and said drive means to prevent supply of power to and discontinue operation of said drive means when open and means responsive to the positioning of said follower means in the upper sections of said tracks to open said switch.
4. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said linkage means comprises a yoke containing a pair of coaxial elongated upper and lower slots and having dependent arms rotatably mounting said follower means, a crank pin mounted on a crank and slidable in one of said slots, means drivingly inter connecting said crank and said drive means, and a pivot pin rigidly mounted on said frame and located in said upper slot.
5. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said follower means constitutes a pin, a bushing mounted on said pin and rotatably supporting said roller platen, said bushing having an inside diameter at least about one-thirty-second of an inch greater than the diameter of said pin, a bracket supporting said bushing, said biasing means comprising adjustable spring means urging said bracket and the bushing mounted therein against said follower means.
6. An apparatus as set forth in claim 1, including spring means connected to said tray and to said frame and biasing said tray to the loading and unloading position extending sub stantially beyond said frame, latch means mounted on said frame and adapted to engage said tray in a position in which the tray extends substantially beneath said guide block, and means responsive to completion of the printing stroke to release said latch means.
7. Apparatus as set forth in claim 6, wherein said latch means include means connected thereto for operating said latch means to manually release said tray.
8. A credit card printing apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said tray comprises a pair of separable, superimposed, substantially planar tray members defining aligned credit card receiving windows, locking means mounted beneath at least one of said tray members proximate said windows and adapted to releasably lockingly engage a credit card template, a credit card template mounted in said tray and comprising a substantially U-shaped planar member of resilient material adapted to snugly receive a credit card and having a pair of opposed legs of different widths, the narrower of said legs being resiliently bendable to permit releasable locking engagement of said template with said locking means, at least one of said legs defining an exterior detent adapted to be engaged by said locking means.
9. A printing apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said follower means comprises an elongated pin, said roller platen being mounted on a bushing having ends extending beyond said roller platen, said bushing having an inner diameter in the range from about one-thirty-second of an inch to about onequarter of an inch greater than the diameter of said pin, said adjustable spring means comprising a roller bracket having a pair of dependent arms rotably receiving said bushing and a connecting member joining said arms and defining at least one aperture slidably receiving an adjusting post, means axially adjustably mounting one end of said adjusting post, the other end of said adjusting post being slidably received in said aperture, a collar affixed to said post, and a coil spring encircling said post and extending from said collar to said connecting member, whereby axial adjustment of said post varies the compression of said spring and consequently varies the bias of the roller platen against the follower pin to permit adjustment of the pressure of the printing stroke while permitting the roller platen to move to accommodate variations. in credit card and sales slip thickness.
10. Apparatus as set forth in claim 9, wherein said slider crank means comprises a yoke defining a pair of coaxial, elongated slots and a pair of dependent arms mounting said follower pin, a rotatable crank mounted on said frame and mounting a crank pin which rides in one of said slots, means drivingly interconnecting said drive means and crank, and a fixed pivot pin located in the other slot.
11. Apparatus as set forth in claim 10, wherein said crank has a cam surface, a cam follower rotatably mounted on said fixed in and adapted to be en aged by said cam surface after the to lower pm as complete traversal of the printing section of the tracks, normally closed switch means adapted to shut off said drive means when open, said switch means including an actuating arm adapted to be engaged by said cam follower to open said switch means, whereby said crank cam surface engages said cam follower to open said switch means and shut ofi said motor after the printing section of the track has been traversed and the follower pin glides to a stop on the upper section of said tracks.
12. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, including spring means secured to said tray and biasing said tray toward the loading and unloading position, latch means mounted on said frame and adapted to engage releasably said tray upon insertion of the tray beneath said guide blocks, and means connected to said latch means and responsive to the position of the roller platen after traversal of the printing section of the travel path to disengage said latch means and release said tray.
13. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, including a power supply circuit connected to said drive means, and a normally open switch means mounted in said circuit and including means responsive to the position of said tray beneath said guide blocks to insertion of a credit card in said tray to close said switch means.
14. Apparatus as set forth in claim 13, including a relay switch in said power circuit in series with said normally open switch means and adapted to be closed in response to a predetermined signal whereby said printing apparatus may be used as a component of a computer operated credit check system.
15. Apparatus as set forth in claim 14, including normally closed switch means in said power circuit in parallel with said relay, and means responsive to the position of said follower in the upper section of the travel path to open said normally closed switch means and responsive to the position of said follower out of said upper section of the travel path to close said normally closed switch means.
16. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1, including reversible template means adapted to receive a credit card in two supplementary positions while maintaining the embossed area of said credit card in the same area with respect to said tray, said tray including means releasably, fixedly mounting said template means.