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Publication numberUS3744790 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 10, 1973
Filing dateSep 24, 1971
Priority dateSep 24, 1971
Also published asCA967908A1, DE2246811A1
Publication numberUS 3744790 A, US 3744790A, US-A-3744790, US3744790 A, US3744790A
InventorsL Hoffman
Original AssigneePitney Bowes Sage Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Sorter for use in conjunction with photocopy machines
US 3744790 A
Abstract
A sorter is functionally mated to a photocopier operating in a multicopy mode to sort successive copy sheets exiting the copier and translated on a vacuum conveyor into discrete collations accommodated in vertical bins located there below. Deflector assemblies are sequentially actuated under the control of a switch actuated by each copy sheet to route successive copy sheets into successive bins and are automatically reset at the conclusion of each multicopy run. Hold back members control the sheets stacked on edge in each bin to maintain true collations.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

11 3,744,790 1 July 10, 1973 SORTER FOR USE IN CONJUNCTION WITH PI-IOTOCOPY MACHINES [75] Inventor: LionelB.Hoffman,Wcykoff,N..l.

[73] Assignee: PitneyBowes-Sage,Inc.,North Hawthorne, N .J

[22] Filed: Sept. 24, 1971 [21] Appl. No.: 183,560

3,371,926 3/1968 Anderson et a1. 270/58 2,492,386 12/1949 Little 271/64 3,500,999 3/1970 Lippke 271/64 X Primary Examiner-Even C. Blunk Assistant Examiner-Bruce H. Stoner, Jr. Attorney-William D. Soltow. Martin D. Wittstein et a1. 1

[5 7 ABSTRACT [52] U.S. Cl 271/64, 270/58, 271/74, A sorter is functionally mated to a photocopier operat- 271/86, 271/D1G. 2 ing in a multicopy mode to sort successive copy sheets [51] Int. Cl B6511 29/60 exiting the copier and translated on a vacuum conveyor [58] Field of Search 271/64, 86, 74, DIG.2; into discrete collations accommodated in vertical bins 9/74 located there below. Deflector assemblies are sequentiallyactuated under the control of a switch actuated [56] References Cited by each copy sheet to route successive copy sheetsinto UNITED STATES T NT successive bins and are automatically reset at the con- 3 561 753 2H9. sneuman 271,64 x clusion of each multicopy run. Hold back members 2:919:91? l/1960 worswick :I111: :IIIIIILN. 271/64 COM")! the Sheets stacked on edge in each bin to main- 3,536,401 10/1970 271174 x will true collations- 3,580,563 5/1971 271/64 X 3,273,882 9/1966 271/64 x 26 (Ilium, 13 Drawing Figures 2,241,168 5/1941 Truitt et a1 271/64 20 B t fi A. f H 22 8% DJ 8 6Q I 24 I I /1 aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaek e2 l 16b\ 46 lo 52 l; l l 50 A l at as 59 PATENIEBJBH 0W SHEEIIOFG INVENTOR I Nu LIONEL B. HOFFMAN ATTORNEY PATENIED 1 01975 3, 744. 790

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INVENTOR B. HOFFMAN SORTER FOR USE IN CONJUNCTION WITH PHOTOCOPY MACHINES BACKGROUND or THE INVENTION Operators of office copying equipment are frequently called upon to produce multiple copies of multi-page documents, pamphlets, memoranda, etc. In the typical office photocopier having multi-copy capabilities, the multiple copies of each original are deposited in a common output hopper or receiving compartment. The operator must then collate the copied pages of the document. This is a tedious and time consuming task which increases in proportion to the number of pages in the document and the number of document copies desired. In addition, the operator must always be on the alert during collation to avoid transposing the sequence of pages in the document copies. In order to avoid transposition at the page sequence, the operator will typi cally sort the copies from each multicopy run into separate stacks before initiating the next multicopy run. In other words, copy production is periodically interrupted to permit the operator to sort the copies into separate collations. Obviously, this practice ties up the copier for a longer period of time than is really necessary.

Sorters for office photocopier machines are known in the art.

However, these sorters typically require considerable modifications of the photocopier in order to operatively coupled it thereto. These modifications typically involve not only structural changes, but also the electrically wiring of the sorter logic into the control logic of the photocopier. Consequently, users desiring photo copying equipment having automated sorting capabilities, must buy an integrated system at c nsiderable expense.

Moreoever, prior art sorters of this type are invariably quite elaborate and bulky, and thus take up considerable additional floor space when functionally adapted to the photocopier, thus effectively adding to their expense.

It is accordingly an object of the present invention to provide a sorter of modular design which is capable of being functionally added to paper sheet processing equipment for sorting the sheets issuing therefrom into separate collations.

An additional object of the invention is to provide a sorter of the above character, which requires virtually no modification in the equipment to which it is functionally adapted.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a sorter of the above character, which is equipped with control logic operating independently of, and thus requiring no electrical connection to, the control logic of the equipment to which it is functionally adapted.

A further object of the invention is to provide a sorter of the above character, which is economical to manufacture, efficient andflapid in operation, and is exceedingly compact in design to the point where it can be operatively adapted to desk-top sheet processing equipment without requiring additional floor space.

Other objects of the invention will in part be obvious and in part appear hereinafter.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a sorter which, in the disclosed embodiment of the invention, is functionally added to a desk-top photocopying machine. It will be appreciated however, that the sorter of the invention may be functionally adapted to a wide variety of paper sheet processing equipment such as duplicating machines, printers, etc., where it is desired to sort the paper sheets issuing therefrom into separate collations. The sorter of the present invention requires virtually no structural modification in the equipment to which it is added and has its own separate control logic, which requires no physical or electrical connection to the control logic of the paper sheet equipment. Rather, the sorter control logic is ac-. tuated by and operates under the control of the individual paper sheets issuing serially from the processing equipment.

As an additional important feature of the invention, the sorter is so designed and its various components so packaged as to permit its physical location beneath socalled desk-top paper sheet processing equipment pursuant to its functional adaptation thereto. Thus, the sorter of the invention need not require additional floor space.

More specifically, the sorter of the invention includes paper sheet conveying means for taking the sheets issuing from the equipment to which it is functionally adapted and conveying them along a generally horizontal path which may be physically located beneath the equipment. A series of bins or pockets are distributed along this horizontal path beneath the conveying means. Separate deflector assemblies situated between each bin and the horizontal path operate under the control of the sorter control logic, which is coordinated to the rate at which the paper sheets issue from the equipment during a sorting run, to inititiate the sequential actuation of the deflector assemblies pursuant to route successive sheets into successive ones of the bins.

In accordance with an important feature of the invention, the means for coordinating the sorter control logic to the cycling of production rate of the equipment issuing the paper sheets is a simple switch actuated by each sheet exiting the equipment. As long as the sheets issue at a normal rate, the switch actuations are effective to control the deflector assemblies in sequence to route the successive sheets into successive bins. To monitor the cycling rate of the sheet issuing equipment, a timer is provided for timing the intervals between switch actuations. When the timer detects the expiration of a time interval in excess of the normal interval between successive sheets, it interprets this as the conclusion of V a sorting run and operates to reset the deflector assem blies preparatory for the next sorting run.

The deflector assemblies of the invention are provided with means not only to intercept a sheet conveyed along the horizontal path by the conveying means, but also includes means for controlling the trailing edges of the sheets deposited in the bins so that they will not interfere with the sorting of subsequent sheets. These sheet control means are effectuated upon the resetting of the deflector assemblies in conjunction with the physically reciprocation of the bins, en masse, in order that the means can assume controlling physical relation to the sheets sorted during the last sorting run.

As a further important feature of the invention, the conveying means for translating the sheets along the horizontal path is in the form of a vacuum conveyor. The sheets are thus held from above for conveyance along the underside of the vacuum conveyor, thereby clearing the way for the routing of the sheets downwardly by the deflector assemblies into the various bins. In addition, the bins are vertically oriented such that the sheets deposited therein are stacked on edge, thus contributing to the compact design of the sorter.

The invention accordingly comprises the features of construction, combination of elements and arrangement of parts which will be exemplified in the construction hereinafter set forth, and the scope of the invention will be indicated in the claims.

For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a longitudinal sectional view of a sorter constructed according to a preferred embodiment of the invention, illustrating its physical and functional adaptation to a desk-top photocopying machine;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged longitudinal sectional view of a transition conveyor included in the sorter of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a deflector assembly included in the sorter of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a framentary, longitudinal sectional view of several deflector assemblies, illustrating their operative and inoperative positions in relation to a vacuum conveyor and several bins included in the sorter of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view, partially broken away, of the mechanism for positioning the deflector assemblies to their operative and inoperative positions;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the several bins of the sorter movable as a unit laterally outward from under the vacuum conveyor and deflector assemblies for unloading;

FIG. 7a through 7f are a series of diagramatic views illustrating the operation of the sorter of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 8 is a electrical circuit schematic diagram of the control logic for the sorter of FIG. 1.

Corresponding reference numerals refer to like parts throughout the several views of the drawings.

DETAILED'DESCRIPTION The sorter of the invention, generally indicated at 10 in the disclosed embodiment, is illustrated in FIG. 1 as operating in conjunction with a desk-top electrostatic photocopying machine, generally indicated at 12. As will be appreciated from the detailed description to follow, the sorter 10 is adaptable to sorting into a plurality of separate collations paper sheets issuing from a wide variety of sheet processing equipment, such as printers, duplicating machines, etc. As seen in FIG. 1, sorter 10 is mounted by or incorporated in a stand 14 having a top 15 supporting photocopier 12. It is thus seen that the sorter is located generally beneath the photocopier, and thus its functional and physical adaptation thereto does not take up additional floor space, a significant feature of the present invention.

Photocopier 12, may be of the type disclosed in the commonly assigned, copending application of Hoffman et al., Ser. No. 131,064, filed Apr. 5, 197]. Thus, as more fully disclosed in this copending application, photocopier 12 is of the roll paper type, wherein copy paper is withdrawn from a supply roll 16 and severed into separate sheets by a knife mechanism, generally indicated at 18. The copy paper passes through a charging station, generally indicated at 20, from which it is picked up by a vacuum conveyor 22 for transport through an exposure station, generally indicated at 24.

The original to be copied is placed face down at an illuminating station 26, where it is illuminated to develop a-reflection of the image to be copied. This reflected image is directed by a mirror 28 through a lens system, generally indicated at 30, for projection onto the copy sheet while it is passing through the exposure station 24. The copy sheet then passes through a development station, generally indicated at 32, where the latent electrostatic image created at the exposure station is developed into a visible image on the copy sheet. The developed copy sheet is then translated through a drying station 34 by a conveyor 35 deposited in a receiving compartment, generally indicated at 36.

While the photocopier 12 is operating in a single copy mode, and thus not requiring the services of sorter 10, the copy sheets arriving at the receiving compartment 36 are collected on a tray 38, such as is illustrated in FIG. 2. However, when the photocopier 12 is operating in a multiple copy or multicopy mode, the forward end of tray 38 is swung upwardly, such that the copy sheets exiting from the drying station 34 on conveyor 35 pass under the tray onto a transition conveyor, generally indicated at 40, in FIGS. 1 and 2. Conveyor 40, driven off the sorter drive train (not shown) translates the copy sheets out of the receiving compartment 36, from which they negotiate at arcuate feed path indicated at 42, and are picked up by a vacuum conveyor, generally indicated at 44, for translation along a generally horizontal feed path overlying a series of bins or pockets 46. In transiting the arcuate feed path 42, each copy sheet actuates a switch 43 which, as will be seen, coordinates the operation of sorter 10 to the multicopy cycling rate of the photocopier l2.

Deflector assemblies, generally indicated at 48 in FIG. 1, one stationed between each bin 46 and the vacuum conveyor 44, are operated in sequence under the control of switch 43 to strip successive copy sheets issuing from the photocopier 12 during a multicopy run or sorting run from conveyor 44 and route them into successive bins 46. As will be seen, the deflector assemblies also include means, to be specifically described, for controlling the copy sheets sorted into the various bins 46 to clear the open upper ends or mouths thereof such that subsequent copy sheets may be deposited in the bins without intereference. In addition, this means also ensures a proper sequence or collation of copy sheets being collected in the various bins.

For reasons which will become apparent from the description to follow, the series of bins 46 are mounted on a common base 50 to constitute a unitary bin unit, generally indicated at 52. This bin unit is, in turn, mounted via slide tracks 54 to enable the bin unit to be pulled laterally outward from under the vacuum conveyor 44 for removing the collations from bins 46, as seen in FIG. 6. Slide tracks 54 are, in turn, secured to slide tracks 56 carried by rails 57, in turn mounted by table 14, for longitudinal reciprocation of the bin unit 52 by a motor 58 coupled thereto by a crank 59, connecting rod 60 and member 61 (FIG. 1). As will be seen, the reciprocation of the bin unit 52 is carried out at the conclusion of each multicopy run of the photocopier 12 or, in other words, at the conclusion of each sorting run, and is effective, in conjunction with the various deflector assemblies 48, to establish control over the copy sheets deposited into the various bins during the previous sorting run so as to clear the mouths of the bins for the next sorting run.

Still referring to FIG. 1, to handle the situation where the number of copy sheets in a sorting run exceeds the number of bins 46, a tray 62 is provided to handle the surplus copy sheets as stripped from the left hand end of conveyor 46 beyond the last bin by stripper fingers 64. It will be appreciated that if the number of copy sheets in a sorting run exceeds the number of bins by more than one, the copy sheets accumulated in tray 62 will not be properly collated. Alternatively, since the sorter of the present invention is essentially modularized, a second sorter module may be coupled to the left end of the one shown in FIG. 1, to increase the sorting capacity.

Referring now to FIG. 2, conveyor accommodated in the receiving compartment 36 of photocopier 12 includes a pair of side plates for journaling the ends of a transversely extending roller 72. A second roller 74 is journaled by sorter side frames 75 and, in turn, pivotally mounts conveyor side plates 70. These longitudinally spaced rollers mount a series of side by side conveyor belt loops 76. Roller 74 may be driven off the copier drive train, but is preferably driven off of the sorter drive train (not shown) in order to avoid modification of the photocopier drive train in adapting the sorter to the photocopier. Tray 38 is mounted to the conveyor side plates 70 by depending lugs 78, such that the tray is mounted in spaced relation above the upper reach of the conveyor belts 76. Tabs journal the ends of a transversely extending idler roller 82 lying in peripheral engagement with the conveyor belts 6. The copy sheets conveyed by the conveyor 40 pass through the nip of idler roller 82 and the conveyor belts 76, and by virtue of this engagement are prevented from becoming skewed as they are conveyed from the receiving compartment 36.

The leading edge of a copy sheet exiting the receiving compartment passes through the nip of an idler roller 84 journaled between side plates 70 and the conveyor belts 76 tracked around driven roller 74. Beyond conveyor 40, the copy sheets are fed through the arcuate path 42 defined by a guide plate 88 and a perforated, arcuate lead-in section 90 of a vacuum chamber 92 included in vacuum conveYor 44. The leading end portion of the copy sheets are held against the perforated arcuate surface of the lead-in section 90 as they are fed by conveyor 40 until they are picked up by a series of side by side endless conveyor belt loops 95 tracked around front and rear transversely extending rollers 96 and 98 (FIGS. 1 and 2) journaled by the sorter side frames. The lower reaches of belt loops 95 move over a perforated lower plate 100 of vacuum chamber 92. The copy sheets are held against the under surface of the perforated plate 100 by the relatively negative pressure within the chamber and are translated by the conveyor belts 95 along the horizontal path extending above the various of bins 46 of bin unit 52. It will be understood that one of the rollers 96 and 98, about which the conveyor belts 95 are tracked, is driven off the sorter drive train (not shown).

Still referring to FIG. 2, side plates 70 of conveyor 40 operating the photocopier receiver compartment 36 are pivotally mounted on the laterally extending stub shafts 74a of roller 74. Thus, the left end of the conveyor 40 is capable of being swung upwardly and downwardly about the axis of roller 74 pursuant to positioning it between operative and inoperative positions. As seen in FIG. 2, when transition conveyor 40 is in its lower position, the leading edge of tray 38 is below the plane of the sheets exiting the drying station 34. Consequently, the sheets are accumulated on tray 38. On the other hand, if the left end of conveyor 40 is tilted upwardly to the position shown in FIG. 1, a position sustained by feet 41 pivotally mounted to conveyor side frames 70, tray 38 is above the plane of the copy sheets exiting the drying station 34, and instead the copy sheets are deposited on the conveyor belts 76 for translation out of the receiving compartment 36 to sorter 10.

Turning now to FIG. 3, each deflector assembly 48 comprises a longitudinally extending shaft journaled adjacent each of its ends in the sorter side frames 75. A pair of end plates 1 14 secured on shaft 110 serve to mount a elongated plate 116 having a series of upwardly extending stripper fingers 118 and curved depending guide portion 120. End plates 114 also mount an elongated holdback plate 122. Tab 121 between fingers 118 insure that the leading edge of a copy sheet does not snag on plate 116.

As seen from FIG. 4, each deflector assembly 48 is independently rotated between an operative or reset position and an inoperative or actuated position. When a deflector assembly is in its operative position, its stripper fingers 118 are lodged in depressions or apertures 124 formed in the perforated bottom plate 100 of the vacuum chamber 92. In this position, the stripper fingers 118 are disposed to intercept the leading edge of a copy sheet translated by the vacuum conveyor 46 and in effect strip the sheet therefrom. The leading edge of the stripped copy sheet is guided by plate 116 downwardly between itself and shaft 110, while the guide portion serves to guide the copy sheets into the bin 46 situated immediately therebeneath.

When shaft 110 of the deflector assembly is rotated in a clockwise direction, as seen in FIGS. 1 and 4, the stripper fingers 118 are removed from the vacuum conveyor 44, permitting the copy sheets to pass by.-This operation and that of the holdback plate 122 of each deflector assembly will perhaps more clearly be understood upon consideration of FIGS. 7a through 7f, to be described.

The mechanism for angularly positioning the various deflector assemblies 48 to their operative and inoperative positions is shown in FIG. 5. The inner end of shaft 110 of each deflector assembly is passed through a mounting plate and has secured thereto an L- shaped latch 132. A spring 134 is connected at its lower end to a post 136 secured to mounting plate 130 and at its other end to the shorter, horizontally extending leg 132a oflatch 132. Thus, springs 134, acting through latches 132, tend to rotate their respective shafts 110, such as to angularly orient the deflector assemblies 48 to their inoperative positions, that is, with their stripper fingers 118 (FIGS. 3 and 4) removed from the vacuum conveyor 44.

To sustain the deflector assemblies 48 in their operative positions, the downwardly extending longer leg 132k of each latch 132 is caught in a notch 138a provided in separate arms 138 pivotally mounted by pivot posts 140 carried by mounting plate 130. The free end of each arm 138 is linked to a plunger 142a of respective solenoids 142. The plungers 142a are normally urged upwardly by springs 144, thereby maintaining the free end of arms 138 elevated such that the notches 138a therein are maintained in engaging relation with the associated latches 132.

It is seen that when a particular solenoid 142 is.

pulsed, its plunger 142a is retracted downwardly, thereby lowering the free end of the arm 138 linked thereto and releasing the associated latch 132. Spring 134 is then effective to rotate the shaft 110 and angularly orient the associated deflector assembly 48 to its inoperative position.

The angular orientation of each deflector assembly in assuming its inoperative or actuated position is determined by a series of stops 146 carried by common elongated bar 148 mounted for longitudinal reciprocating movement by mounting plate 130. The reciprocate bar 148, a motor 150, secured to mounting plate 130, drives an eccentric or crank 152, which is linked to the left end of the bar, as seen in FIG. 5, by a connecting rod 154.

As will be seen from the description of FIG. 8, the solenoids 142 are pulsed in sequence under the control of the copy sheet entry switch 43 (FIGS. 1 and 2) to, in effect, trip the deflector assemblies 48 in corresponding sequence, allowing them to successively assume their inoperative position as the series of copy sheets are sorted into the bins 46. As will be appreciated from FIG. 5, the depending latch leg 132b of each tripped deflector assembly 48 abuts against the adjacent stop 146 cd by reciprocating bar 148. Since solenoid 142 are merely pulsed, their springs 144 are effective to return their associated arms 138 to their elevated, latched engaging positions. Motor 150 is then energized for a complete revolution and bar 148 is reciprocated first to the left as seen in FIG. 5 and the stops 146 carried thereby are effective to return the latches 132 into engagement with the notches 138a in the various arms 138. It will be noted that the arms 138 are free to depress as the latches are returned, and as their lower legs l32b pass beyond notches 138a, the

arms are urged upwardly by the solenoid return springs 144 to engage'the latches. It will be appreciated that in returning the latches to their latched position, the associated deflector assemblies 48 are rotated back to their reset positions, ready for the next sorting run. It will also be appreciated that those deflector assemblies which were not tripped during a multicopy orsorting run, remain latched in their operative positions during the resetting of the tripped deflector assemblies to their operative positions. During the conclusion of the single revolution by motor 150, the bar 148 is returned to its position shown in FIG. 5, permitting the deflector assemblies to be rotated to their inoperative positions by springs 134 as the solenoids 142 are pulsed in sequence.

The overall operation of sorter 12 of the present invcntion can best be understood from a consideration of FIGS. 7a through 7f. As seen in FIG. 7a, the two deflector assemblies 48 shown are in their operative positions with their stripped fingers 118 in intercepting relation to copy sheets being transported from right to left over bottom plate 100 by vacuum conveyor 44. Thus, the first copy sheet 160 translated by the vacuum conveyor is stripped off by the stripper fingers 1 18 of the first deflector assembly and routed downwardly by its guide portion 120 into the first bin 46, as seen in FIG. 7b. It will be noted that the copy sheet, as it is directed into the first bin, passes between guide portion 120 and holdback plate 122. Thus the trailing or upper edge of the copy sheet, as it stands essentially on edge in the first bin 46, lies to the left of the holdback plate. In addition, it is important to note that the upper edge of the copy sheet in the first bin is above the lower edge of holdback plate 122.

As the next copy sheet leaves the receiving compartment 36 of the photocopier 12, it actuates switch 43 which, as will be seen, is effective to control the pulsing of the solenoid 142 associated with the first deflector assembly 48. Thus, the first deflector assembly is rotated to its inoperative position in advance of the arrival of the second copy sheet. As a consequence, the second copy sheet passes by the first deflector assembly and is stripped from the vacuum conveyor 44 by the stripper fingers 118 of the second deflector assembly 48 and routed by guide portion 120 into the second bin 46, as is shown in FIG. 7c. The second deflector assem bly is oriented to its actuated position in response to the actuation of switch 43 by the next copy sheet or, if it is the conclusion of a multicopy or sorting run, by logic to be described in connection with FIG. 8. It will be noted from FIG. 7c that the holdback plate 122 of the first deflector assembly, while oriented in its inoperative position, has its lower end disposed above the level of the copy sheet stacked in the first bin.

Assuming that this concludes a multicopy run, the bin unit 52 is reciprocated by motor 58 (FIG. 1) first to the right and then back to the left, as seen in FIGS. 1 and 7a-7f As seen in FIG. 7d and 7e, when the bin unit 52 is shifted to the right, the upper edges of the sheets just sorted into bins 46 pass under and to the right of the holdback plates 122 of the two deflector assemblies shown. At the end of one-half a revolution of motor 58, whereupon the bin unit 52 has reached the limit of its movement to the right, the deflector assemblies are reset to their operative positions by motor (FIG. 5). Thus, as seen in FIG. 7e, the holdback plates 122 are moved into intercepting relation with the upper edge of the copy sheets stacked in the bins 46. When the bin unit is returned to the left by motor 58 in concluding its complete revolution, the holdback plates engage the upper edges of the stacked copy sheets, moving them to the right as seen in FIG. 7f, to thereby clear the mouth or entry into bins 6. The upper edge of the previously sorted copy sheets are no longer located between the holdback plates and the guide portions 120 of the deflector assemblies 48 and thus cannot interfere with the entry of copy sheets sorted during the next sorting run.

At this point it should be noted that the bins 46 have a specific contour designed to control the copy sheets stacked on edge therein. One sidewall 46a, as seen in FIGS. 1 and 7a through 7 f, is essentially vertical, while the other sidewall 46b is somewhat slanted to provide a slight convergence toward the bottom of each bin. Adjacent the top of each bin, sidewall 46!) slants away from sidewall 46a at an increased angle to provide a wide bin mouth for acceptance of the copy sheets. Bottom 460 of each bin slopes downwardly away from vertical sidewall 46a to further assist in copy sheet stacking. The purpose of the slight convergence in the lower portion of each bin is to control the lower portions of the stacked sheet so as to prevent excessive bowing or curl thereof as they are stacked on edge. It will be noted from FIG. 1 that the copy sheets, due to their storage on supply roll 16, have a natural curl which is convex relative to vertical bin sidewall 46a. The geometry of the bins is effective to limit this natural curl so as to ensure engagement of their upper trailing edges, as stacked in the bins, by the holdback plates 122. The sloping bottom wall of the bins is effective to induce the lower edges of the copy sheets to fall away from the vertical sidewall 46a; thus clearing the way for the leading edge of the next copy sheet deposited therein.

The electrical logic controlling the operation of sorter 10 will now be described in connection with FIG. 8. The paper actuated entry switch 43 is electrically connected to index a a stepping switch 200. This stepping switch is indexed one switch position each time the entry switch 43 is actuated by a copy sheet. As stepping switch 200 is indexed, it is connected to pulse the various solenoids 142 in a predetermined sequence. As will be noted from FIG. 8, switch position No. 1 of stepping switch 200 to which it is indexed from its reset or home position by the first copy sheet in a sorting run is dead, while the first solenoid 142 is connected to be pulsed when the stepping switch is indexed to switchposition No. 2. The reason for this can be seen from FIG. 1. When the first copy sheet in a multicopy or sorting run leaves the receiving compartment 36 of photocopier 12, it is not necessary that this first switch actuation trigger the first or right-most solenoid 142 associated with the first or right-most deflector assembly 48. Since all of the deflector assemblies have been reset to their operative positions prior to the start of a sorting run, the first deflector assembly must remain so positioned if the first copy sheet is to be routed from the vacuum conveyor 44 into the first bin 46. It is thus seen that by leaving switch position No. l of stepplng switch 200 dead, indexation thereto in response to the first copy sheet in a sorting run disturbs none of the deflector assemblies 48. Thus, the first deflector assembly 48 is effective to route the first copy sheet in a run into the first bin 46. When the second copy sheet in a sorting run actuates switch 42, the stepping switch 200 is indexed to switch position No. 2 to pulse the first solenoid. The first deflector assembly is then oriented to its inoperative position, and the second sheet is thus routed by the second deflector assembly into the second bin, and so on.

Each entry switch actuation, as seen in FIG. 8, is also effective to trigger a timer 202. Each triggering of timer 202 causes it to start a timing cycle having a duration slightly in excess of the interval between copy sheets issuing from the photocopier 12 during a normal multicopy run. As long as copy sheets issue from the photocopier 12 at the normal copy rate, timer 202 is in effect repeatedly reset to start a new timing cycle. However, at the end of a multicopy run, the interruption in the normal succession of entry switch actuations permits the timer 202 to complete a timing cycle. At the conclusion thereof, the timer develops a stepping pulse on output lead 204, which is effective to index stepping switch 200 one last step. This has the operative effect of pulsing the solenoid 142 assocated with the last deflector assembly 48 which operated to route the last copy sheet in a run into the associated bin 46. Since there are no more copy sheets in the run, this is not done to effectuate the next deflector assembly down the line, but rather to orient the preceeding deflector assembly to its inoperative position, such that during the reset cycle its holdback plate 22 will be rendered effective to clear the mouth of the associated bin of the last sheet sorted during the run.

Also upon concluding its timing cycle, timer 202 resets stepping switch 200 to its home position over lead 206, preparatory for the next run. The final function of timer 202, each time it is permitted to complete its timing cycle, is to energize a relay 208 over output lead 210. As relay 208 pulls in, it closes relay contact 212, completing a relay holding circuit from an AC source 214 by way of a toggle-type limit switch 216 which is closed on its left fixed contact 218. At the same time, relay movable contact 220 breaks with its upper fixed contact 222 and makes its lower fixed contact 224, while movable relay contact 226 makes with its fixed contact 228, all as illustrated in phantom in FIG. 8. It is thus seen that the AC source 214 is connected also through a toggle-type limit switch 230, engaging its right contact 232, and relay contacts 226 and 228 to energize motor 58. This motor begins a complete revolution effective to reciprocate bin unit 52 first to the right as seen in FIGS. 1 and 7d. Motor 58 is also linked to a switch actuator 234 for limit switch 230, carried by the platform 56, such that it is also likewise reciprocated. In FIG. 8, actuator 234 is moved to the left by motor 58. As actuator 234 releases limit switch 230, electrical contacting engagement is maintained with its contact 232 by virtue of its toggle action, thus maintaining the energization circuit for motor 58. As bin unit 52 reaches its right-most position, seen in FIG. 7d and 73, switch actuator 234 transfers limit switch 230 from its right contact 232 to its left contact 236, thereby breaking the energization circuit to motor 58. In so doing, the AC source 214 is connected to energize reset motor for the deflector assemblies 48 (FIG. 5) by way of limit switch 230, contact 236 and relay contacts 220 and 224. Motor 150 begins reciprocating the reset bar 148, initially to the left as seen in FIG. 5. A switch actuator 238 for limit switch 216, which may be carried by reset bar 148, is initially reciprocated to the right, as seen in FIG. 8, to ultimately transfer the limit switch 216 from its left contact 218 to its right contact 240. This breaks the holding circuit for relay 208 and it drops out to open its contact 212 ad to break the electrical contacting engagement between contacts 226 and 228. In addition, relay contact 222 transfers from contact 224 to contact 222.

It is now seen that the AC source 214 is connected through limit switch 216 to continue the energization of motor 150 and is also connected through limit switch 230 and relay contacts 220 and 222 to re-establish energization of motor 58. The bin unit 52 and the reset bar are thus jointly returned to their home positions, with switch actuator 238 returning to the left and switch actuator 234 returning to the right, as seen in FIG. 8. As switch actuator 238 returns limit switch 216 to its normal position in engagement with contact 218, the energization circuit for motor 150 is broken. At the same time, actuator 238 returns switch 230 to its right contact 232, thus breaking the energization circuit for motor 58. It is now seen that both motors are disconnected from the AC source until such time as the relay 208 is again energized from time 202 or upon closure of a manual reset switch 242. It will be appreciated that closure of this manual reset switch simulates a relay energizing output from timer 202 to perform the reset functions described.

It will thus be seen that the objects set forth above, among those made apparent from the preceding description, are efficiently attained and, since certain changes may be made in the above construction without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shallbe interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

Having described my invention, what I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent is:

1. A sorter for use in conjunction with a photocopier operating in a multiple copy mode, said sorter comprising, in combination:

A. a vacuum conveyor for conveying successive copy sheets exiting the photocopier along a path having a generally horizontal path segment extending beneath the photocopier;

B. a transition conveyor positioned at the output of the photocopier to transfer copy sheets normally issuing therefrom to said vacuum conveyor;

C. a tray mounted to said transition conveyor in spaced relation thereabove;

D. means mounting said transition conveyor to permit selective positioning of the upstream end of said conveyor and said tray relative to the output of the photocopier, whereby copy sheets are accumulated on said tray or transferred by said transition conveyor to said vacuum conveyor;

E. a series of bins distributed along said horizontal path segment;

F. a separate deflector assembly situated between each said bin and said horizontal path segment; and

G. control means coordinated with the copy cycling rate of the photocopier for sequentially actuating said deflector assemblies to route successive copy sheets conveyed along said horizontal path segment downwardly into successive ones of said bins.

2. A sorter for use in conjunction with a photocopier operating in a multicopy mode, said sorter comprising, in combination:

A. sheet conveying means for conveying successive copy sheets along a path having a generally horizontal path segment extending beneath the photocopier;

B. transition conveying means positioned at the copy sheet output of the photocopier;

C. means rendering said transition conveying means selectively operative to convey copy sheets exiting the sheet output of the photocopier to said conveying means,

D. a series of bins distributed along said horizontal path segment;

E. a separate deflector assembly situated between each said bin and said horizontal path segment;

F. control means coordinated with the copy cycling rate of the photocopier for sequentially actuating said deflector assemblies to route successive copy sheets conveyed along said horizontal path segment downwardly into successive ones of said bins; and

G. a stand mounting the above recited sorter components and having means for supporting the photocopier above said horizontal path segment.

3. A sorter for use in conjunction with a photocopier operating in a multicopy mode; said sorter comprising, in combination:

A. a vacuum conveyor for conveying successive copy sheets exiting the photocopier along a path having a generally horizontal path segment extending beneath the photocopier;

B. a series of bins distributed along said horizontal path segment;

C. a separate deflector assembly situated between each said bin and said horizontal path segment, each said assembly including 1. a shaft extending transversely of said vacuum conveyor,

2. separate means rotating said shaft pursuant to positioning said deflector assembly to operative and inoperative positions,

3. a plurality of stripper fingers mounted by said shaft and distributed transversely of said vacuum conveyor, said stripper fingers adapted, when said deflector assembly is in its operative position, to extend above the plane of said horizontal path segment in intercepting relation with a copy sheet moving there-along, whereby to strip an intercepted copy sheet downwardly away from said horizontal path segment, said stripper fingers being disposed in non-intercepting relation to copy sheets moving along said horizontal path segment when said deflector assembly is in its inoperative position,

4. guide means mounted by said shaft in depending relation to said stripper fingers for routing a copy sheet stripped from said horizontal path segment into the open upper end of the one of said bins situated therebeneath, and

5. a depending holdback member mounted by said shaft in spaced relation to said guide means and situated, while said deflector assembly is in its operative position, to control the upper, trailing edges of copy sheets stacked on edge in said one bin and maintain them in non-interferring relation to copy sheets subsequently routed therein; and

D. control means coordinated with the copy cycling rate of the photocopier for sequentially actuating said deflector assemblies to their operative positions.

4. The sorter defined in claim 3, wherein said means rotating said shaft includes:

1. a latch secured to said shaft, shaft 2. a pivotally mounted arm having detent means formed therein for engaging said latch to maintain said deflector assembly oriented in its operative position,

3. a solenoid linked to said arm and operative when energized to pivot said arm and release said latch,

and

4. a spring connected to rotate said shaft upon release of said latch such as to orient said deflector assembly to its inoperative position.

5. The sorter defined in claim 4 wherein said control means includes:

l. a switch positioned in advance of said deflector assemblies to be actuated by each copy sheet exiting the photocopier, and

2. means operating in response to the actuations of said switch to energize said solenoids in predetermined sequence.

6. The sorter defined in claim 5, wherein said control means further includes first reset means operating at the conclusion of a multicopy run to concurrently reengage said latches with the associated one of said detent means formed in said arms, whereby to reset said deflector assemblies to their operative positions.

7. The sorter defined in claim 6, wherein said holdback members are disposed in non-controlling relation to the copy sheets stacked in said bins while said deflector assemblies are in their inoperative positions, and said control means further includes second reset means operating to longitudinally reciprocate said bins as said deflector assemblies are reset to their operative positions, whereby said holdback members regain control of the copy sheets in said bins, including those sorted during the preceding multicopy run.

8. The sorter defined in claim 7, which further in cludes means mounting said bins as a unit for longitudinal reciprocating movement by said second reset means and for manual movement laterally out from under said deflector assemblies to facilitate unloading of sorted copy sheets from said bins.

9. The sorter defined in claim 7, wherein said control means further includes control logic circuitry for coordinating the operations of said first and second reset means such that said bins are first moved by said second reset means from a normal position to a reset position relative to said deflector assemblies, said deflector assemblies are then reset to their operative positions by said first reset means, and said bins are thereafter returned to their normal position by said second reset means.

10. The sorter defined in claim 9, wherein said control means includes timing means for timing the intervals between actuations of said switch and for initiating operation of said first and second reset means upon expiration of a period of time since the last switch actuation which exceeds the normal time interval between successive sheets issuing from the photocopier during a multicopy run.

11. Apparatus for sorting into a plurality of collations paper sheets issuing serially from sheet processing equipment; said apparatus comprising:

A. a vacuum conveyor for conveying along a generally horizontal path paper sheets issuing successively from the processing equipment;

B. a series of bins distributed along said horizontal path beneath said conveyor, each said bin accumulating one sheet collation;

C. separate deflector means situated between each said bin and said horizontal path, each said deflector means including 1. a shaft extending transversely of said vacuum conveyor,

2. separate means rotating said shaft pursuant to positioning said deflector means individually to operative and inoperative positions, and

3. a plurality of stripper elements mounted by said shaft and distributed transversely of said vacuum conveyor, said stripper elements adapted, when said deflector means is in its operative position, to extend above the plane of said horizontal path in intercepting relation with a sheet moving therealong, whereby to strip an intercepted sheet downwardly away from said horizontal path for routing into the one of said bins situated there beneath, said stripper elements being disposed in non-intercepting relation to sheets moving along said horizontal path when said deflector means is in its inoperative position, and

4. a depending holdback member mounted by said shaft and situated, while said deflector means is in its operative position, to control the upper,

trailing edges of sheets stacked on edge in said one bin so as not to interfere with a sheet deposited therein during the next run; and D. control means coordinated with the rate at which sheets issue from the equipment during a sorting run for sequentially actuating said deflector means to their operative positions.

12. The sorter defined in claim 11, wherein said means rotating said shaft includes:

1. a latch secured to said shaft,

2. a pivotly mounted arm having detent means formed therein for engaging said latch to maintain said deflector means oriented in its operative position,

3. a solenoid linked to said arm and operative when energized to pivot said am and release said latch, and

4. a spring connected to rotate said shaft, upon release of said arm, such as to orient said deflector means to its inoperative position.

13. The sorter defined in claim 12, wherein said control means includes:

1. a sensor positioned in advance of said deflector means and responsive to each sheet issuing from the processing equipment, and 2. means indexed by each response of said sensor to energize said solenoids of said deflector means in predetermined sequence. 14. The sorter defined in claim 12, wherein said control means further includes first reset means operating at the conclusion of a sorting run to concurrently reengage said latches with said detent means formed in the associated ones of said arms, whereby to return said deflector means to their operative positions.

15. The sorter defined in claim 14, wherein said first reset means includes an elongated reciprocating reset bar carrying separate means for engaging said latches and motive means for reciprocating said reset bar to return said latches into engaging relation with said detent means carried by said arms.

16. The sorter defined in claim 14, wherein said holdback members are disposed in non-controlling relation to the sheets stacked in said bins while said deflector means are in their inoperative positions, and said control means further includes second reset means operating to longitudinally reciprocate said bins as a unit as said deflector means are returned to their operative positions, whereby said holdback members regain control of the sheets in said bins, including those sorted during the preceding sorting run.

17. The sorter defined in claim 16, wherein said control means further includes sequence control circuitry for coordinating the operations of said first and second reset means, such that said bins are first moved relative to said deflector means by said second reset means from a normal position to a reset position, said deflector means are then returned to their operative positions by said first reset means, and said bins are thereafter returned to their normal position by said second reset means preparatory for the next sorting run.

18. The sorter defined in claim 17, wherein said sequence control circuitry includes limit switches for sensing the movement of said bins and the movement of a reset bar carrying separate means for engaging said latches to return them into engaging relation with said detent means carried by said arms.

19. The sorter defined in claim 17, wherein said control means further includes timing means for timing the intervals between sensor responses, and for initiating the operations of said first and second reset means upon expiration of a period of time since the last sensor response which exceeds the normal time interval between successive sheets issuing from the processing equipment during a sorting run.

20. Apparatus for sorting into a plurality of collations paper sheets issuing serially at a predetermined rate from sheet handling equipment during each sorting run; said apparatus comprising, in combination:

A. a conveyor for conveying the sheets issuing from the equipment in series along a predetermined path;

B. a series of bins distributed along said path, each accumulating a collation of sheets;

C. a separate deflector situated generally between each said bin and said path; and

D. control means including 1. a sensor located in said path in advance of said bins and adapted to respond to each sheet issuing from the equipment,

2. means responsive to a series of sensor responses for initiating actuation of said deflectors in sequence to route successive sheets from said path into different ones of said bins,

3. timing means for timing the intervals between sensor responses and operating to signal the conclusion of a sorting run upon the expiration of a period of time since the last sensor response in excess of the time interval between sheets issuing at the predetermined rate, and

4. means responsive to the signaling of the conclusion of a sorting run by said timing means for resetting said deflectors preparatory for the next sorting run.

21. The sorter defined in claim 20, wherein said sensor is in the form of a switch adapted to be actuated by the passage of each sheet.

22. The sorter defined in claim 20, wherein said sensor responsive means includes:

1. a stepping switch connected to be indexed by each sensor response from one switch position to the next switch position in sequence, and

2. a solenoid associated with each said deflector and individually electrically connected to the various switch positions for energization when said stepping switch is indexed thereto pursuant to actuating the associated one of said deflectors.

23. The sorter defined in claim 20, wherein said deflectors are normally in a reset position to intercept a sheet moving along said path and route it into an associated one of said bins, said sensor responsive means operable to actuate said deflectors in sequence to actuated positions in non-sheet intercepting relation to said path, such that a sheet is passed on to the next one of the series of deflectors which is in its reset position.

24. The sorter defined in claim 23, wherein said sensor responsive means includes:

1. a stepping switch connected to be indexed by each said sensor response from one switch position to the next in sequence, and

2. a solenoid associated with each said deflector and individually electrically connected to the various switch positions for energization when said stepping switch is indexed thereto pursuant to initiating the actuation of the associated one of said deflectors to its actuated position.

25. The sorter defined in claim 24, wherein the first of said switch positions to which said stepping switch is indexed by the first one of said sensor responses occurring during a sorting run is open, whereby none of said solenoids is energized and the first sheet of a sorting run is routed into the first of said series of said bins by the associated one of said deflectors, the next switch position in sequence being connected to energize the solenoid associated with said first bin pursuant to actuating it to its actuated position.

26. The sorter defined in claim 25, wherein said predetermined path is horizontal and said deflectors route the sheets downwardly into substantially vertically oriented bins where they are stacked on their leading edges,

1. each said deflector includes a depending holdback member positioned, while said deflectors are in their reset positions, to control the upper, trailing edges of sheets stacked in said bins so as not to interfere with sheets deposited therein during the next sorting run,

2. said holdback members being disposed in noncontrolling relation to the sheets stacked in said bins while said deflectors are in their actuated positions,

3. said control means further including means for reciprocating said bins as a unit in coordination with the resetting of said deflectors to their reset positions, whereby said holdback members regain control of the sheets in said bins, including those sorted during the preceding sorting run,

4. said timing means further operating incident to the signalling of the conclusion of a sorting run to index said stepping switch to its next switch position, such as to energize the one of said solenoids associated with the last deflector responsible for routing the last sheet of the sorting run into the associated one of said bins,

5. whereby said last deflector also moves to its actuated position enabling the holdback member associated therewith to regain control of the sheets stacked in the associated bin as the actuated ones of said deflectors are returned to their reset positions in conjunction with reciprocation of said bins.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification271/292, 271/297, 270/58.2, 271/176, 271/900, 271/197
International ClassificationB65H33/14, B65H39/115, B65H39/11
Cooperative ClassificationY10S271/90, B65H33/14, B65H39/115
European ClassificationB65H33/14, B65H39/115