US 3726454 A
An automatic envelope opening machine for high speed opening of envelopes having snap-out opener flaps defined by perforations, scoring or otherwise weakened lines on the envelope specially made for use in such machines. The machine has two suction opener rollers and the envelopes pass therebetween, simplifying the initial charging of the magazine since the envelopes need not all be oriented in the same manner and the address side may be toward the top or bottom. The offset arrangement of the rollers allows the magazine to be easily accessible and gravity operated with a unique stack pressure spoiler incorporated in the magazine. Improved structure of the extractor and opener rollers prevents jamming of the machine. The very high speed operation greatly simplifies the maintenance of adequate suction.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1 Robbins [451 Apr. 10, 1973  ENVELOPE OPENING MACHINE  Inventor: Daniel T. Robbins, 1415 West Clark Avenue, Burbank, Calif. 91506  Filed: Dec. 21, 1971  Appl. No.: 210,537
 US. Cl ..225/99, 53/38 1 R, 83/912, 225/ 106  Int. Cl. ..B26f 3/02  Field of Search ..53/381 R; 225/99, 1 225/100, 106; 83/912  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,116,718 l/1964 Krupitoch et al. ..53/38l R 3,143,100 8/1964 Krupitoch ..53/38l R Primary Examiner-Travis S. McGehee AttorneyRoy L. Knox ABSTRACT An automatic envelope opening machine for high speed opening of envelopes having snap-out opener flaps defined by perforations, scoring or otherwise weakened lines on the envelope specially made for use in such machines. The machine has two suction opener rollers and the envelopes pass therebetween, simplifying the initial charging of the magazine since the envelopes need not all be oriented in the same manner and the address side may be toward the top or bottom. The offset arrangement of the rollers allows the magazine to be easily accessible and gravity operated with a unique stack pressure spoiler incorporated in the magazine. Improved structure of the extractor and opener rollers prevents jamming of the machine. The very high speed operation greatly simplifies the maintenance of adequate suction.
13 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures SHEET 1 BF 2 .lilllmllllll'" PATENTEDAPR 1 01973 sum for 2 ENVELOPE OPENING MACHINE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Envelopes capable of being opened by machines have been developed by applicant and others, those patented by applicant being disclosed in the U.S. patents, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,297,235 and 3,620,441. These envelopes have lines of perforations defining snap-out flaps as portions of the end flaps of the envelope. The prior art also includes machines for processing such envelopes, represented by applicants machine disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,549,067 which shows the broad combination of a magazine, a single rotatingroller with a single suction port contrating the lowermost envelopes in the stack, and extractor rollers ensuring the further travel of the envelopes being opened. There is a demonstrated need, however, for a machine of improved design, with greater operating speed or capacity, greater assurance against jamming, greater ease in initial stacking or sorting, making it unnecessary to turn all envelopes with the address up or the address down, and an ability to process newly developed easy-open envelopes.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The invention as claimed fills the aforementioned need and comprises a pair of rollers, the first or lower roller functioning as a feed roller with one suction port activated, and as an opener roller when its second suction port is later activated, the peripheral spacing of the ports being dictated, in actual practice, by the length of the envelopes and the configuration of the snap-out flaps. A second roller is mounted in vertically and horizontally offset relation to the first so that the magazine may have a bottom edge exit opening traversed by the feed roller and yet permitting vertical stacking of the envelopes with the exposure of each envelope to a suction port in the second, or upper, roller at the proper instant to contact a snap-out flap in an envelope which may have been placed in an inverted or address-down position in the magazine. A stack pressure spoiler prevents undue pressure build-up on the lowermost envelopes in the stack, and both of the extractor and opener rollers have novel structure facilitating manufacture, maintenance while greatly increasing the speed or capacity, which incidentally reduces the problem of maintaining adequate suction. The magazine has an improved gate.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. 1 is a top plan view of the machine;
FIG. 2 is a vertical sectional view taken on the line 2-2 in FIG. 1 and showing a suction port of the lower roller engaging an envelope in the feeding step;
FIG. 3 isa view of the back of an envelope ideally suited for use in this machine;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary sectional view similar to FIG. 2 but looking in the opposite direction and showing, on an enlarged scale, the other suction port of the lower roller being shown as peeling the snap-outflap at the' trailing end of the envelope being opened;
FIG. 5 is a similarly enlarged detail view taken substantially on the suction line 5-5 in FIG. 4; and
FIG. 6 is a view, partly in section, taken on the line 6-6 in FIG. 5.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT As illustrated, the machine is housed in a cabinet 10 with a flat top 12. A magazine, generally indicated at 14, comprises two lateral guides 16, a forward guide 18 and a rear guide 22. The forward guide adjustably mounted by base flanges 19 has a gate-defining endless belt 20 encircling the upright portion of the guide. The belt 20 passes through a slot in the guide and defines the upper edge of the magazine gate, as at 21 and it will be noted this gate accepts only one envelope at a time. A rear guide has an attaching flange 24 adjustably held by a thumbscrew 26 and an upright portion flaring outwardly like the other guides at the top as at 28. A vertically adjustable stack pressure spoiler 30 has a terminal 32 inwardly turned through the suitably apertured guide 22 do engage edges of envelopes to relieve stack pressure on the lowermost one or two envelopes 36. A vertically adjustable stopper element 42 has a large head within the magazine to tilt the lowermost one or two envelopes 36 toward the magazine opening 40.
The lower roller 44, as shown, combines the functions of feeding and opening, and the upper roller 46 in this same illustrated form of the invention functions only in opening. Both rollers 44 and 46 are fixed to shafts 48 and 50, respectively, which in turn are journalled in bearings 52 supported by cabinet members 54. A pair of tapered plate-like frames 56 and a second pair of generally similarly shaped frames 56 and a second pair of generally similarly shaped frames 58 embrace the rollers 44 and 46, the frames 58 having faceplates 60 frictionally abutting the rollers 44 and 46 and adjustably held in place in the frames 58 by suitable means indicated at 62.
The rollers 44 and 46 have end plates 64 and conduits 65 lead through said end plates internally of the rollers to suction ports 66, two in each roller, ordinarily diametrically opposed. Each suction port is preferably equipped with a resilient grommet terminal 68 which aids in assuring good contact with the envelopes. Arcuate troughs or slots 70, opening only toward the rollers 44 and 46 and radially corresponding with the adjacent ends of the conduits 65, are provided on the inside surfaces of the face plates 60, and the slots 70 communicate with separate sources of vacuum indicated diagrammatically at 71 and 72 through tubes 73 and 74 having suitable connections 76 and 78 with the face plates.
The drive means for the rollers 44 and 46 is represented as a motor 80 and a chain drive 82 with sprockets 84 and 86 on the ends of shafts 48 and 50. The rollers 44 and 46 are thus rotated in opposite directions at the same speed.
Extractor rollers 88 and 90 are rotatively mounted on and between the opposed reduced ends of the tapered frames 56 and 58 and the extractor roller shafts are likewise joumalled in frame supported bearings These rollers 88 and 90 are reduced in diameter as at 92 toward the center and are preferably of resilient material having non-slip characteristics, such as synthetic rubber, and both rollers 88 and 90 must be driven to prevent abasion thereof and may be driven by belts 94 from pulleys 96 associated with the sprockets 84 and 86, or by the chain 82.
It will now be evident that the rollers 44 and 46 define a kinetic throat 98 into which envelopes 36 are driven by the feed roller 44 when one of the suction ports 66 of that roller traverses the opening 40 and contacts the lowermost envelope. The throat 98 is ofcourse continued in effect to and between the extractor rollers 88 and 90 and the envelope is pulled longitudinally thereby toward the discharge chute 100 and hopper 102. In this regard it will be understood that the first suction port of the roller 44 to contact the envelope may not have any opening action on the envelope may not have any opening action on the envelope but will pull the same from the magazine so that the extractor rollers 88 and 90 virtually take over the envelope translation action while the second suction port of the roller 44 rotates into position to contact the snap-out flap 104 of a suitable envelope 106. The circumferential measurement between the suction ports will thus be seen to be necessarily related to the length of the envelope and configuration of the snap-out flap but this is not a problem since the envelopes and machines will ordinarily be closely related in both the manufacturers and users. The utility of the second roller 46 will now also be evident since it rotates in unison with the rollers 44 and a suction port in the roller 46 will therefore always be inposition to peel back a snap-outflap 14 on the upper side of the envelopes which can be inserted into the magazine 14 with the address side up or down.
It is important to note that provision of envelopes constructed as indicated in FIG. 3 with'identical and symmetrical configuration at each end of the envelope simplifies the construction of the present envelope opener since both rollers can thenbe made identical with the suction ports disposed centrally.
Employment of two rollers 46 and 48 tends to balance the suctional pull, thus maintaining the envelopes oriented properlY in kinetic throat 98, even without contact with the frames 56-58 which ofcourse define the lateral edges of said throat.
1. An envelope opening machine for opening envelopes having snap-out opener flaps; said machine comprising:
a pair of slightly spaced parallel rollers;
means to drive said rollers in opposite directions. and
thereby defining a kinetic throat;
envelope extractor means forming a continuum of.
I said throat; said rollers having suction ports;
a magazine wherein envelopes may be stackedQsaid magazine having an exit opening at said throat and disposed so that said suction port of one roller traverses said opening;
whereby said one roller feeds envelopes one at a time into said throat, and each one of said rollers peels back snap-out opener flaps on the side of the envelopes proximal to that roller as the envelopes traverse said throat. I 2. An envelope opening machine according to claim 1 wherein said magazine is substantially vertical and the rollers are vertically and horizontally offset relative to each other with said throat inclining downwardly from said opening, whereby operative access to said magazine is maximized and thestack of envelopes is gravity fed toward said opening.
3. An envelope opening machine according to claim 1 wherein each of said rollers has two suction ports similarly peripherally spaced apart.
4. An envelope opening machine according to claim 1 .wherein said conduit means includes end walls on said rollers and conduits leading from said suction outlets to and through said end walls;
face plates frictionally engaging said end walls and having arcuate slots communicating with the ends of said conduits, one conduit at a time in each' roller; and Y a source of vacuum connecting with said slots.
5. An envelope machine according to claim 4 wherein said face plates are relatively adjustable about the axes of the rollers for accurate timing of the actuation of the suction ports.
6. An envelope machine according to claim 1 whereinsaid magazine has a stopper element vertically adjustably mounted thereon and extending thereinto to tilt envelopes in the magazine downwardly toward said opening.
7. An envelope opening machine for opening envelopes having snap-out opener flaps; comprising:
an envelope magazine into which a plurality of envelopes can be stacked;
' a suction feed roller operatively mounted for feeding said envelopes one at a time from the bottom of the stack;
said suction feed roller having a plurality of suction ports, one port providing suction engagement with the lowermost envelope to translate the same during said feeding, and a second suction port relatively peripherally spaced from the first to apply suction to a snap-out opener flap of the envelope; and extracting means for the opened envelopes.
8. A machine according to claim 7 and including a second roller having at least one suction port and operatively mounted to contact the side of the en-- roller to time the presentation of the suction port of the second roller in relation to the envelope feeding of the feed roller.
10. A machine according to claim 7 wherein said extracting means comprises a pair of oppositely rotating parallel, slightly spaced rollers having a reduced diameter portion at the central portions thereof to accommodate the extra thickness represented by said flaps in the peeled back position thereof.
11. A machine according to claim .7 wherein said extending means includes a pair of oppositely rotating, parallel, slightly spaced rollers, both rollers being of resilient material and both being driven to lessen the friction and wear on said rollers.
12. A machine according to claim 7 wherein said. envelope magazine has a stack pressure spoiler having a portion extending into one side of said'magazine to provide a hang-up effect on the stacked envelopes and substantially free the lowermost one or two envelopes.
13. A machine according to claim 7 wherein said magazine has a discharge gate element limiting the removal rate of said envelopes to one envelope at a time, said gate element having an endless band of resilient material progressively shiftable around said gate element when the portion of the band of the gate becomes unduly worn. 5