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Publication numberUS3752471 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 14, 1973
Filing dateNov 9, 1970
Priority dateNov 7, 1967
Also published asUS3604701
Publication numberUS 3752471 A, US 3752471A, US-A-3752471, US3752471 A, US3752471A
InventorsHawley G
Original AssigneeIvanhoe Research Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Processes, systems, and composite systems for automating the manufacture of wearing apparel, headgear, footwear, components thereof and similar products
US 3752471 A
Abstract  available in
Images(12)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

[ Aug. 14, 1973 PROCESSES, SYSTEMS, AND COMPOSITE SYSTEMS FOR AUTOMATING THE MANUFACTURE OF WEARING APPAREL,

3 HEADGEAR, FOOTWEAR, COMPONENTS THEREOF AND SIMILAR PRODUCTS [75] Inventor: George F. Hawley, Bogota, NJ. [73] Assignee Ivanhoe Research Corporation, New

York, N.Y.

22 Filed: Nov. 9, 1970 211 Appl. No.: 87,744

Related U.S. Application mm. [62] Division of SeL No. 681,267, Nov. 7, 1967, Pat. No.

52 US. Cl. 271/4 51 Int. Cl B65h 5/22 [581 Field oISearch ..271/4;112/121.29

[56] Relerencea Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,355,165 11/1967 Southwell 112/l21.29 X 3,357,701 12/1967 Cremer 1l2/121.29 X

Primary Examiner-Edward A. Sroka Attomey-Kendal1 Pal-melee 57 ABSTRACT Processes and systems for automated feed of stacked fabrics on plural work tables, insequence, to an infeed station and. processing the fabrics at a work station.

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sum 12 or 12 INVENTOR. 6e0rye Z? ffaw Zey BY PROCESSES, SYSTEMS, AND COMPOSITE SYSTEMS FOR AUTOMATING THE MANUFACTURE OF WEARING APPAREL, HEADGEAR, FOOTWEAR, COMPONENTS THEREOF AND SIMILAR PRODUCTS This application is a Division of Ser. No. 681,267 filed Nov. 7, 1967 now U.S. Pat. No. 3,604,701.

This invention relates to processes, systems, and composite systems for automating the manufacture of wearing apparel, headgear, footwear, components ting of the goods in the cutting room, the bundles being tied by string and tagged between each operation to move them about and tokee'p track of their whereabouts. The garment industry has heretofore utilized sewing machines having attachments associated with the machines for helping the operator to perform work on the goods. The tied-up bundles have been brought to the operator who opened up the string to free the bundle from its restraint and then manually fed the pieces of goods one at a time into the sewing machine equipment. In virtually all casesthe operator guided v the work performing machinery, and (2)-a transportthe individual pieces past the sewing station to produce the desired stitching path. After having performed the desired stitching operation on all of the pieces fromzthe .bundle the operator tied up the bundle and retagged it for carrying it over to the next operator, who thereupon opened the bundle and performed the desired work on the goods therein, thereafter retying the bundle and so forth. The string which tied up the bundle imposed a three-dimensional restraint upon the workpieces in the bundle necessitating that it be opened prior to performinghvork on the individual pieces of goods therein and necessitating that the bundle be closed up after the operation was performed, enabling the bundle to be carried fromlocation to-location to be available to the various human operators at these locations in'the plant, with a tag providing identification with respect to the goods in the bundle.

Advantageously, the transportable interchangeable coordinating pre-registration worktables or boards impose only two-dimensional restraint upon the stack of workpieces being transported thereon. That is, the friction between the transportable worktable or board and the bottom of the stack and between the individual pieces of the stack restrains the workpieces from moving forward or backward and from moving left or right with respect to the transportable boards, thus restrainingthe workpieces in two dimensions, but the stack is free of vertical restraint, thus eliminating one of the restraintswhich has been required by the prior art. By transporting the stacks of workpieces on the interchangeable coordinating pre-registration boards, and

by interfitting these boards with the machinery, the location of the top workpiece of the stack becomes automatically known within plus or minus predetermined substantial variations in spite of the fact that the stack itself is subjected solely to two-dimensional restraint. Thus, advantageously the top workpiece is brought into pre-registered relationship with respect to the machinery, the transportable interchangeable coordinating pre-registration board forming a cooperating integral functional machine element of the preceeding and succeeding systems of modular machinery.

As further background of the present invention it will be helpful to the reader to refer to myprior copending joint application with John H. Buettner, Ser.. No. 475,986, filed on July 30, 1965, wherein methods and apparatus are shown for automatically transferring and registering fabric workpieces and for combining them. In the methods and apparatus as shown therein the workpieceto be registered ismoved into an initial general location upon a worktable, the position of the workpiece being generally known in said initial location, and then the workpiece is brought into registered position-in the registration station on the worktable so that theposition of the workpiece becomes accurately known with respect to'the work performing machinery. In said prior application the initial general location of the workpiece and its subsequent registration both occur in the same system. I

A further advantage of the present invention results from the fact that l have purposely broken up into two parts the mechanism for accurately registering, the- .workpieceswith respect to the work performing ma' chinery and with respect to other registered workpieces:

in the system. These two parts are as follows: (i) a' worktable, upon which the final accurate registration occurs which worktable is included in the system with able interchangeable coordinating worktable or board uponwhich the workpiece is brought into a stack at the output, of a preceding system in an approximately known pre-registration position or relationship with reregistration stacking occurring at the output of the pre ceding system. These transportable coordinating preregistration boards serve as interlinking frames of reference in the composite automation system. At onetime each of these coordinating boards functions as an integral, functional machine element of the stacking module at the output of one system wherein certain work was previously performed on the workpiece, and ata later timeeach of these boards functions as an integral, functional machine element of a feeding module at the input of a succeeding system where subsequent work is to be performed on the workpiece presenting the work.- pieces thereto in appropriately pro-registered positions.

ln'the prior art there are sewing machines having attachments for automatically moving materialand' for handling the material in various ways. Nevertheless}, these prior machines are such that they require subv stantial amounts of human attention and labor in mak ing a product from fabric workpieces. At the present time, the garment industry is characterized by substan tial amounts of, tedius repetitious, monotonous hand labor in producing goods. The-presentinvention is in tended for automating this field to enable automation making such products.

It is an object of the present invention to provide pro- I cesses, systems, and composite systems for automating the manufacture of wearing apparel, headgear, footwear, components thereof and similar products.

As used herein the term fabric is intended to include woven goods and also non-woven, knitted, felted, absorbent, imperforate or perforate goods having a fabric-like texture suitable for use in clothing, headgear, footwear, components thereof and similar uses, regardless of whether the material of the goods is in one layer or multiple layers and regardless of whether the goods are natural, syntehtic, or blended and regardless of whether the goods include animal fibers, vegetable fibers, paper material, or combinations thereof. The term workpiece is intended to include individual pieces as well as sub-assemblies or semi-finished goods including two or more pieces or components secured together by suitable fastening, such as by sewing, heatsealing, adhesive bonding, cementing or any suitable fastening work which may be used to manufacture garments, garment components and similar products.

In this specification and in the accompanying drawings are-described and shown processes, systems and composite systems for automating the manufacture of wearing apparel, headgear, footwear, components thereof, and the like products, illustratively embodying the present invention, but it is to be understood that these illustrativeexamples are not intended to be exhaustive nor limiting of the invention. These illustrations are given so as to disclose the invention fully and clearly to those skilled in the art and so that the reader will appreciate how this invention can be adapted and modified in various forms each as may be best suited for the conditions of a particular manufacturing plant requirement.

The various objects, aspects and advantages of the present invention will be more fully understood from a consideration of the following description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein similar reference numbers refer to corresponding parts throughout and in which:

FIGS. 1A, 1B, 1C and ID are plan views illustrating process and showing four interrelated systems of a composite system for automatically manufacturing a pocket component, that is a side pocket, of the type which is often included in a pair of mens pants. The arrow and legend at the right of FIG. 1A are intended to indicate that the stacks of pre-registered workpieces transported by the interchangeable coordinating worktables or boards that are being fed out from the output of the system of FIG. 1A are being addressed to the input of the system shown in FIG. 18, there being a turntable conveyor between the systems of FIGS. 1A and 1 BToTYurnifiEthe workpieces y ISOL THe anew and legend at the right of FIG. 18 indicate that the preregistered stacks of workpieces transported by the inter-changeable coordinating boards that are being fed out from the output of the system of FIG. 1B and addressed to the input of the system of FIG. 1C, there being a conveyor between the systems of FIGS. 18 and 1C for automatically presenting the workpieces in compatible relationship to the system of FIG. 1C. Also, the arrow and legend at the right of FIG. 1C indicate that the pre-registered stacks of workpieces are being ad-;

dressed to the input of the system of FIG. 1D,,there being a turntable conveyor between the systems of FIGS. lC and 1D, as will ,be' explained in detail further below.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a system corresponding to the plan view of FIG. IA;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a further system component of the composite system. This system of FIG. 3 corresponding with the plan view shown in FIG. 18;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a still further system forming a component of the composite system, the system shown in FIG. 4 corresponding with FIG. 1C;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the still further system of the composite system which completes the assembly of the pocket product and delivers this completed product in a stack at the output or delivery station;

FIG. 6 is a partial perspective view of intervening conveyor equipment which passes the transportable interlinking coordinating boards between the respective systems, for example for connecting the system shown in FIG. 3 with the system shown in FIG. 4 and associated storage equipment capable of providing temporary storage of the respective workpieces for accommodating surges in the production flow occasioned by one of the systems being rendered inactive for a period of time, for example such as the delay occasioned by the necessity of re-threading a sewing machine, or of making a minor repair;

FIG. 7 is a partial perspective view of intervening rotary conveyor mechanism between two of the systems wherein it is desired to change the orientation of the workpiece before it is fed into the succeeding system. For example, in going from the system of FIG. 1A to 1B Hanan 665 5f the workpieces is isoss'ism vided by the rotary conveyor. Moreover, FIG. 7 shows temporary storage for accommodating a temporary delay or surge in production flow;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a feeder module for feeding the workpiece-carrying coordinating preregistration boards into functional cooperation with the system;

FIG. 9 is a plan view of the input feeder module of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a elevational sectional view of the input feeder module taken along line 10-10 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of an output feeder module for stacking the workpieces into pre-registered positions onto respective transportable boards and for automatically feeding them out of the system in readiness for entering the next system;

FIG. 12 is a partial sectional view taken along the line 12-42 of FIG. 11 showing the mechanism for automatically feeding the transportable worktables or boards one at atime into position for receiving the respective workpieces thereon one at a time in preregistered position as the stack is bult upon the board in readiness to be addressed into the next system;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of differentiating and transferring means for automatically, reliably separating the top workpiece off from a stack of similar workpieces and for transferring this separated top workpiece over into the registration station of the system as indicated by the dotted outline;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an alternative means of differentiating the top workpiece from the stack and for transferring it over to the registration station in the system;

FIG. 15 is a side elevational view of the differentiating and transferring means of FIG. 14 shown in a succeeding stage of operation;

FIGS. 16 through 21 illustrate the operation ofa folding and creasing module of the system shown in FIG. 5. FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the operating parts in an initial operating relationship, and FIG. 17 is a sectional view taken along the lines l7l7 of FIG. 16, illustrating in detail the relationship of the parts;

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the operating parts in a sequential stage of operation, and FIG. 19 is a sectional view taken along the line 19-19 thereof illustrating this same relationship of the parts;

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of the parts near the end of the sequence of operation of the folding and increasing operation, and FIG. 21 is a sectional view showing this same relationship of the parts;

FIGS. 22, 23 and 24 illustrate various configurations of the transportable interlinking coordinating worktables or boards for carrying the respective stacks of workpieces in pre-registered relationship. In FIG. 23 the board carries programming indicia for cooperation with the sensing mechanism in the input feeder module for indicating the characteristics of the workpieces which are being carried in the stack thereon; and FIG. 24 illustrates a further form of programming indicia which may be carried by the boards;

FIG. 25 is a top plan view of the pocket illustrating a first creasing of the raw edge along an increment thereof, and FIG. 26 shows a completion of the creasing along the raw edge;

FIG. 27 shows the pocket folded in half and creased and stitched together so as to be completely assembled;

FIG. 28 shows the pocket partially opened to show the opening into which the users hand may be inserted; and

FIG. 29 illustrates the intended final relationship of the pocket to a pants leg panel of a pair of mens pants.

With reference in greater detail to the drawings, processes, systems and a composite system embodying the invention for automating the manufacture of garments, garment components and the like articles are illustratively shown to combine and fasten together various sizes and shapes of workpieces and to perform work functions thereon to produce garment components, which are illustratively shown as pockets of the type commonly included in the sides of 'mens pants. The processes shown include steps of automatically feeding stacks S of fabric workpieces W into cooperative relationship with the respective systems of machine modules wherein the stacks of pre-registered workpieces are carriedby transportable interlinking coordinate worktables or boards B adapted to fit cooperatively with the respective systems in the composite to which these transportable worktables or boards are addressed. These transportable worktables B serve sequentially as integral parts of the outfeed modules from which they are addressed and of the infeed modules in the succeeding systems to which they are addressed. Thus, these worktables or boards interact with the machinery to provide pre-registration frames of reference and coordinate the workpieces W in passing the stacks of workpieces from system to system of the composite automation system.

This illustrative example of the invention is a composite automation system for making side pockets for men's pants, the composite system of FIGS. 1A to 1D, inclusive, includes four cooperating systems 50, 51, 52, and 53 for performing different work functions to complete the pocket product P being made. In feeding the workpieces into the respective systems 50, 51, 52, and 53, they are taken one at a time from the pre-registered stacks while differentiating the respective workpieces W from the next ones in the stack, putting the workpieces into registry stations in the systems, registering them in the registry stations to bring them into more ac.- curately known coordinate positions in the systems which will perform work functions thereon.

The systems 50, 51, 52 and 53 are shown combining certain workpieces with other workpieces for fastening the workpieces together, transferring them into work stations and passingthem through the work stations, performing work thereon and putting those workpieces which have had work functions performed thereon into subsequent stacks 5 in appropriately pre-registered positions upon other transportable interlinking coordinate boards B for automatically addressing these preregistered stacks in proper presentation to subsequent systems of the composite system without requiring manual rearrangement of the individual workpieces to effect compatibility with the subsequent systems.

In the system of the FIGS. 1A and 2 the larger fabric workpieces W-l are panels of cloth which have been cut out in the cutting room in stacks S-l. Each of these cloth panels has the same shape which is one suitable for forming pocket bags. The stacks S-l include a predetermined number of workpieces W-l, for example two dozen in each stack. The stacks are each placed iri desired pre-registered positions upon their respective transportable boards 8-], this pre-registration of the stacks may conveniently be done in the cutting room where the stacks are cut out from laid up layersof'the pocket-bag fabric.

The boards Bl include index marks 30 (FIG. 22) thereon indicating the desired pre-registered positions of two spaced, prominent portions of the workpieces of the stacks S-l, such as two corners C (FIG. 1A) of the stack, but the pre-registration positioning of the stacks on the boards is not required to be accurate. As long as the corners'of the stack are located on a predetermined side of the index marks 30 (FIG. 22), Le. behind such marks, and within approximately one inch of the index marks 30, this is a sufficiently accurate pre-registration. Moreover, instead of doing this preregistration in the cutting room it may be done by an operator in the plant near the infeed modules of the systems. The advantage of doing the initial preregistration in the cutting room is that the boards B-l may then be used conveniently to transport the stacks 8-1 to the systems.

In the systems of FIGS. 1A and 2, the smaller fabric workpieces W-2 are back facings to be fastened to the pocket panel workpieces W-l, these workpieces W.-2 being in stacks S-2 each having the same number of workpieces as the stacks S-l. Two prominent portions such as the two corners C of the stacks 8-2 are pre registered with index marks on the respective trans portable. interlinking coordinate worktables or boards 8-2 in a manner similar to that described above with respect to the stacks 8-1.

The respective worktables or boards 8-! and 8-2 are being fed into substantially identical infeed modules 31 of a work-performing system generally indicated at'50. This system is built up of a group of modular machine's; providing the various stations in the system. Each such machine or module has a predetermined size and shape so that the respective modules can be fitted together in many different ways in a wide variety of systems for performing one or more work functions upon the respective workpieces, thus providing flexibility and versatility in installation for convenient reassembly of the modules as may become desirable in the future to create changes in the system to respond to or accommodate changes in the articles produced and work functions performed, arising from unanticipated style changes, variations in marketing demand or major changes in the procducts desired to be manufactured.

in the particular system 50 as shown in FIGS. 1A and 2, the basic dimension of the modules is two feet by two feet in the horizontal plane, which is illustrative of a suitable modular dimension for use in a system of this type. This same modular dimension of two feet by two feet also applies to the other systems 51, 52 and 53 of this composite automation system. It is to be understood that other modular dimensions may be chosen depending upon a particular plant installation and upon the relative sizes of the workpieces being handled, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art.

The particular system 50 as shown includes the following modules:

I. a pair of infeed modules 31,

2. a pair of top workpiece separating and differentiating modules 32,

3. a number of transfer modules 33 (only two of these transfer modules being shown, for clarity of illustration, and the presence of the other transfer modules being indicated by appropriate transfer arrows),

4. a registration module 34 for registering the pocket panel workpieces W-l into accurately known position,

5. a belt-conveyor stitching module 35, which has a substantial length extending along the central portion of the system, a multiple of 2 feet,

6. a registration and swing-over combining module 36 for registering the back facing workpieces S-2 and for swinging each such registered workpiece up and over so as to deposit it upon the workpiece W-l in the desired location as indicated by the arch-shaped arrow 61, and

7. at the output of the system 50 is a stacking module 37 which supplies transportable worktables or boards B-3 upon which the sewn workpieces W-3 are stacked in pre-registered location to form stacks S-3, each stack having the same number of workpieces as in the stacks 8-2.

In operation of the system 50 the separating and differentiating module 32 which is shown at the left side of FIG. 2 and which is located at the infeed station l-l serves partially to separate and differentiate the top workpiece W-l from the remaining workpieces in the stack S-l. Then as indicated by the arrow 62, the'transfer module 33 transfers this partially separated top workpiece over into a registration station R-l defined by the registration, module 34. Thetransfer module 33 and the separating and differentiating module 32 are shown in detail in FIGS. 13 through 15 which will be described in detail further below. it is to be noted that the stacks 8-1 are all in the same pre-registered positions on their respective worktables or boards B-l, and thus the position of the top workpiece being separated from the stack in the infeed station I-1 is known within certain acceptable tolerance variations which are not precise, for example such within one inch of the index marks. It is noted that the stacks may be somewhat angularly displaced also.

Consequently, when the transfer module '33 deposits the workpiece W] in the registration station R-l it is in a generally known location or pre-registered position behind certain edge stops 63 and within approximately one inch thereof, advantageously enabling the registration to occur properly. The pre-registration assures that each workpiece arrives in the registration station R-l in a position which is suitable for registration with its predetermined edges being in proper relationship with the edge stop means 63 in station R-l. This registration station R-l includes a plurality of air jet units directing pulsating jets of air beneath the workpiece W-l for gently moving it until two of its predetermined edges such as those adjacent a corner C are registered against the pair of edge stops 63 to bring the workpiece into accurately known position. Alternatively, the registration may be carried out by revolving resilient fingers located beneath the worktable in the registration station and engaging the workpiece W-l through a plurality of slots in the surface of the table.

After the workpiece W-] has been registered against the edge stop means 63 it is transferred over as indicated by the arrow 64 onto a pair of temporarily stationary conveyor belts 65 and 66 of the belt conveyor stitching module 35.

It is noted that the conveyor belt 65 is a wide belt which supports the main body of the workpiece W-l, while the other conveyor belt 66 is narrower for supporting an edge portion upon which the workpiece W-2 is to be placed. There is a narrow gap 67 between these two conveyor belts, and the purpose of this gap is to enable the stitching path to be sewn across each of the workpieces, this stitching path coinciding with the gap 67 so as to avoid forming stitching in the belts themselves.

After a transfer module (not shown) has deposited the registered workpiece W-l upon the conveyor belts 65 and 66 as shown in FIG. 2 by the arrow 64 then the conveyor belts are simultaneously indexed forward into their next dwell position wherein the workpiece W-l is now opposite the registration and swing-over combining module 36.

The readers attention is invited to the other separating and differentiating module 32, which is located near the registration and swing-over combining module 36. This module 32 serves partially to separate the top workpiece W-2 from the stack 8-2 in the infeed station 1-2 so that the transfer module 33 shown at the right of the module 32 can engage the partially separated top workpiece to transfer it over into a registration station R-2 wherein the workpiece 8-2 is registered against a pair of edge stops 68. A registration and swing-over combining machine is disclosed and claimed in said copending application of Herman Rovin and Fred J Schiffmacher, Ser. No. 619,302. Air jet units feed pulsating jets of air beneath the workpiece W-2 for moving its edges against the stops 68, as explained in said application.

After the workpiece W-2 is registered, a supporting surface 69 mounted on the end of a swingable arm lifts the registered workpiece W-2 and swings it up and over as indicated by the arrow 61 to deposit this registered workpiece W-2 upon the other workpiece W-l in a combining station D-l.

It will be noted that this swinging of the support surface 69 up and over serves to invert the workpiece W-2. Accordingly, the stacks S-2 have all of the workpieces W-2 therein upside down, that is with the tinished surface of the cloth facing downwardly. Subsequently, when the support surface 69 deposits the registered workpiece W-2 upon the workpiece W-l, the workpiece W-2 is now rightside up in readiness to be stitched to the workpiece W-l. For performing this stitching operation the stitching module 35 includes a conventional lockstitch sewing machine 71 and suitable photocell sensing equipment to start the sewing machine when the leading portions of the combined workpieces W-l and W-2 approach the work station F for fastening the work, station F being defined by the sewing head of the sewing machine 71, and to stop the sewing machine and to cut the threads after the trailing edges of the workpieces have passed the sewing station F.

In order to hold the combined workpieces W-l and W-2 in their properly registered positions on the moving conveyor belts 62 and 63 there are a pair of spaced toboggan-shaped resilient guides 72 and 73 having slippery lower surfaces which press down upon the moving workpieces W-l and W-2 as urged by a plurality of oval-shaped strip steel springs 74. Thus, after passing through the workstation F a line of lock stitches 75 has been made, serving to secure the back facing W-2 to the pocket panel W-l, thus forming a new workpiece W-3 as indicated. Just before the line of stitches 75 is made the very edge of the facing piece W-2 is turned under neatly by suitable mechanism associated with the sewing machine 71 so as to prevent the exposure of a raw edge. This type of stitching operation and details of the belt conveyor stitching module 35 are disclosed and claimed in a copending application of Charles Szentkuti, Ser. No. 637,431 filed May 10, 1967'.

A further transfer module (not shown) serves to transfer the individual workpieces W-3 off from the conveyor belts 65 and 66 as indicated by the arrow 77 and to deposit these workpieces W-3 in a stack S-3 on the board B-3 which is in the pre-registration stacking station as indicated at PR. By virtue of the fact that the conveyor belts 65 and 66 have delivered the sewn workpiece W-3 to a predetermined position, its position when transferred and deposited in the stack S-3 at the pre-registration station PR is accurate to within plus or minus an acceptable tolerance variation, such as one-quarter of an inch.

As soon as the last workpiece of the stack S-3 is placed upon the stack, the transportable worktable or board B-3 is pushed along an outfeed track 79 of the stacking module 37 by the next empty board B-3 which then is ready to receive its stack, as explained in detail further below in connection with FIGS. 11 and 12. From the outfeed track 79 of the stacking module 37 the boards B-3 each carrying a pre-registered stack S-3 slide onto a turntable conveyor 80 which is shown in greater detail and will be explained in connection with FIG. 7. After receiving one of the transportable worktables B-3 the turntable conveyor 80 is indexed through an angle 180 so as to place this board opposite the in feed track 82 of the infeed module 31 of the succeeding system 51. A limit switch (not shown) is actuated when the board B-3 has been pushed onto the turntable 80, and a pneumatic cylinder and push rod (not shown) mounted on the turntable serves to push the boards 13-3 off from the turntable onto the infeed track 82.

Before describing the next system 51, it will be helpful to acquaint the reader with the fabric color variation problems which must be considered when programming the composite system 50, 51, 52 and 53 for manufacturing high quality garments, garment components, and the like articles from a number of different workpieces. Although the cloth which is laid up layer by layer in the cutting room was dyed as one lot so as to have as nearly as possible the same color along the entire length of the web, experience has shown that there are subtle variations in intensity or hue or' shading which occur progressively along the length of the cloth web. In order to have a finished article wherein all of the parts are suitably matched in color, it is desirable to have these parts selected from points in the web of cloth which are as nearly adjacent one to another as possible. Accordingly, when the stacks S-2 of workpieces W-2 are cut in the cutting room, and when other stacks S-4 (FIG. 3) of the workpieces W-4 are cut, those workpieces W-2 which originated from particular layers of the stack of laid-up cloth belong with those workpieces W-4, which originated from adjacent points in the same respective layers of laid-up cloth. it happens that there is no color variation matching problem with respect to the workpieces W-l, because these are pocket panels of neutral or buff color which are not normally visible in a completed pair of mens pants.

In order to assure that the workpieces of the respective stacks S-2 end up in the completed articles with the proper workpieces of the stacks 5-4 to which they belong, the respective transportable worktables B-"2' as shown in FIG. 23, have identifying programming indicia 88, formed by a pattern of notches in the edge of each board B-2. These indicia 88 are arranged differently on the edge of each successive board so that it is automatically distinguished from every other board, for example the notches are arranged as digits of a numbering system to the base 2, Le. a binary numbering system, each successive board bearing the next larger number. In addition the boards are numbered for quick and easy visual recognition by the operator who preregisters the stacks upon the boards B-2 and B-4. These indicia 88 are identified by a bank of sensing elements or probes 89 mounted in the infeed module 31 and which are moved against the edge of the board as indicated by'the arrow 90. FIG. 8 is an enlarged perspective view of one of the infeed modules 31 showing the infeed track 82 along which the boards B-2 travel as they move toward the infeed station 1-2 and showing the location of the sensing probes 89. Each of these probes 89 is spring biased toward the notches and is associated with a normally open switch (not shown). When the bank of probes 89 is moved against the edge of the board, those probes 89 which engage unrecessed edge portions are depressed relative to the other probes which engage into recessed portions; so that the relatively depressed probes actuate their associated switches to close them. These switches of the respective probes 89 are connected to a computer 90, and similarly the infeed module 31 (FIG. 3) which handles the boards B-4 has probes such as 89 which are individually connected through wires in an electrical cable 9l to the computer 90. This computer is programmed to give an alarm signal via a buzzer in the event that the relative order of the boards B-4 entering the infeed module 31 of system 51 differs from the relative order of the corresponding boards B-2 which entered the system 50.

By virtue of the fact that the bank of sensing elements 89 is located near the entering end of the infeed track 82 (FIG. 8) the operator has available time to rearrange the order of the boards B-4 before they reach the infeed station [-4. These worktables or boards, as shown in FIGS. 22, 23, and 24, have semi-circular cutouts 93 in their leading and trailing edges, providing finger clearance openings on opposite edges of each board so as to make it easier for the operator manually to pick up and rearrange the order of the boards when necessary.

FIG. 24 shows an alternative embodiment of the programming indicia 88 formed by holes in the edge portion of the boards B-s or B-2 The sensing elements 89 comprise individual photocell units which respond to light radiating upwardly from a source 94 extending beneath and aligned with the location of the holes 88. The photocell units 89 when used are connected to the computer 90 and are positioned just above the boards B-2 or B-4 near the location shown in FIG. 8 for the sensing probes 89.

In order to complete the explanation of the programming of the composite system 50, 51, S2 and 53, it is to be noted that the stacks S-2 were inverted before being placed on the worktables B-2 so that all of the of the workpieces W-3 in their stacks 5-3 is opposite to that from their original order in the stacks S-2. That is, assuming that the workpieces are arranged in the order A-to-Z in the stacks S-2, then the workpieces in the stacks S-3 are arranged in the order Z-toA. Accordingly, it is desirable that the inverted workpieces W-4 which are being fed into the system 51 of FIG. 3 should be in their stacks S-4 in the same order Z-to-A with respect to their original order in the plys of laid-up cloth in the cutting room.

The particular system 51 as shown in FIG. 3 includes the same types ofmodules arranged in the same order as in the system 50, and therefore it is not believed necessary to list again each of these corresponding modules.

In operation of the system 51, the separating and differentiating modules 32 at the infeed station I-3 serves partially to separate and differentiate the top workpiece W-3 from the remaining workpieces in the stack S-3 on the worktable B-3 at the infeed station. As indicated by the arrow 62 this partially separated workpiece is then transferred by a transfer module (not shown) to the registration station R-3 of a registration module where it is registered against the stop means 63, thereafter being transferred to the conveyor belts 65 and 66 as indicated by the arrow 64. The transfer module which carries, as indicated at 62, the workpiece W-3 from the infeed station I-3 to the registration station R-3 serves to turn the workpiece W-3 through an appropriate small angle, as seen most clearly in plan view in FIG. 1B before depositing it into the registration station R-3. This turning of the workpiece W-3 during its transfer 62 is conveniently accomplished by using a transfer module of the type disclosed and claimed in my copending application Scr. No. 60l,768 filed Dec. 14, I966, such transfer module being equipped with a suction head for lifting the workpiece during its transfer.

This turning of the workpiece before placing it into the registration station R-3, assures that it is deposited in a desired pre-registered position at R-3 so that predetermined respective edges of the workpiece arrive in spaced opposed relationship with the respective stops 63 against which these edges are to be registered. The reason for turning the workpiece is to have it oriented after registration so that the desired line of lock stitches 84 to be formed will be lined up with the desired stitching path as defined by the gap 67 between the conveyor belts and 66, because the line of stitches 84, as seen most clearly in FIGS. 25 and 26 are disposed at an angle to the line of stitches 75.

The workpieces W-4 in the stacks S-4 on the boards B-2 are inverted and arranged in Z-to-A order, as discussed above. These workpieces W-4 are front facings to be sewn to the pocket panel assembly W3. The separating and differentiating module 32 in the infeed station I-4 partially separates the top workpiece W-4 from the stack S-4, and then a transfer module shown by the arrow 70 transfers this work-piece W-4 over to the registration station R-4. After being registered there the workpiece W4 is swung up and over at 61 to be deposited in the combining station D-2 upon the edge portion of the workpiece W-3 which is opposite from the edge thereof occupied by the sewn workpiece W-l.

The module 35 forms the line of lock stitches 84 and delivers the pocket panel assembly workpiece W5 to the position opposite the pre-registration position PR-3.

The workpieces W-S (FIG. 3) are transferred as shown by arrow 77 into the pre-registration station PR-3 and are stacked up on the boards B-S until the stacks S-5 are completed, and then the boards B-S are fed out along the outfeed track 79 of the stacker module 37. From the outfeed track 79 the boards B-5 each carrying a pre-registered stack S-5 move onto a belt conveyor 81, which is shown in greater detail in FIG. 6, serving to carry the boards B-5 to the infeed track 82 of the infeed module 31 (FIG. 4) of the next system 52 which is shown in detail in FIG. 4.

The particular system 52 includes the following modules:

I. an infeed module 31,

2. a top workpiece separating and differentiating module 32,

3. a number of transfer modules such as the transfer modules described above, the presence of these modules being indicated by appropriate transfer arrows,

4. a registration module 34,

5. a belt conveyor overedge stitching (or serging) module 38, and

6. at the output of the system 52, a stacking module 37 which supplies transportable worktables or boards B-6.

In operation of the system 52 the separating and differentiating module 32 at the infeed station I-5 serves partially to separate and differentiate the top workpiece W-5 from the remaining workpieces in the stack S- on the worktable B-S at the infeed station. As indicated by the arrow 62 this partially separated workpiece is then transferred by a transfer module (not shown) to the registration station R-S provided by the registration module 34. The workpiece is registered against the pair of edge stop means 63 which serve to register accurately the coinciding curved edge portions of the pocket panel (originally W-l) and of the back facing (originally W-2) sewn thereto. The reason for accurately registering these curving edge portions is that these are the edges to which the overedge stitching is to be applied by the overedge (serging) module 38. After the workpiece W-S is registered in the station R-S, it is transferred, as indicated by the arrow 64,to a conveyor belt 95 of the overedge stitching module 38.

This belt 95 supports the main body of the workpiece W-S, with its edge portions which are to be stitched being allowed to project from the belt 95 so as to slide along on the smooth upper surface of the module 38 extending along adjacent to the conveyor belt 95. The method and apparatus for automatically sewing along contoured edge of a fabric workpiece as practiced and as embodied in the module 38 are described in detail and claimed in a copending application of Charles Szentkuti and Douglas G. Noiles, Ser. No. 554,884, filed on June 2, 1966, to which reference may be made.

'The module 38 includes a guide 96 having a slippery lower surface which holds the main body of the workpiece W-S down against the conveyor belt 95 to prevent slippage between the workpiece and the conveyor belt, while the projecting edge portions of the workpiece W-5 are suitably guided by guide apparatus 97 so as to enter the fastening station F-3 provided by a sergingsewing machine 98.

This type of serging or overedge sewing machine as shown at 98 is commercially available. There are photocell controls as explained in said application Ser. No. 554,884, for starting the sewing machine 98 just before the leading edge of the workpiece W-5 arrives at the fastening station F-3 and for stopping the sewing machine and for controlling the cutting off of the chain of stitches after the trailing edge of the workpiece has passed beyond the photocell near sewing station F-3. Thus, the module 38 forms the overedge stitches 99 which are seen most clearly in FIGS. 25 29, serving to attach the outer edge of the back facing to the pocket panel.

The conveyor belt 95 delivers the newly sewn assembly workpiece W-6 to a position opposite the preregistration station PR-4, and a transfer module (not shown) as indicated by arrow' 77 transfers the workpiece W-6 over into a stack S-6 at this pre-registration station. When the stacks S-6 on the transportable worktables 8-6 are completed, the full boards 8-6 are fed out along the track 79 of the stacker module 37. The boards B-6 slide onto a turntable conveyor 80 similar to that'described further below, which is indexed through an angle of 180 so as to place this board'B-6 opposite the infeed track 82 of the infeed module 31 of the succeeding system 53.

As an alternative embodiment for forming the overedge stitches 99, the system 52 may include a manipulating stitching module such as the module 41 of FIG. 5, instead of the module 38. This type of manipulating sewing apparatus for sewing along a contoured path suitable for use in the module 41 is shown in a copending application of Douglas G. Noiles, executed on Aug.

22, I967, Ser. No. 663,033 filed Aug. 24, 1967, now US. Pat. No. 347,474 issued Oct. 28, I969.

The particular system 53, as shown in FIG. 5, includes the following modules:

I. an infeed module 31,

2. a top workpiece separating and differentiating module 32,

3. a number of transfer modules, whose presence is indicated by appropriate transfer arrows,

4. a registration module 34,

5. a pair of incremental creaser modules 39 arranged in sequence,

6. a folding creaser 40, as shown in greater detail in FIGS. 16 -21,

7. a manipulating sewing module 41,

8. a delivery table module 42, and

9. an outfeed stacker module 37.

In operation of the system 53, the separating and differentiating module 32 at the infeed station I-6 serves partially to separate and differentiate the top workpiece W-6 from the remaining workpieces in the stack S-6 on the worktable B-6 at the infeed station. FIG. 5 shows this separated workpiece already starting to be transferred over as indicated by the arrow 62 to the registration station R-6, which is provided by the transfer module 34. The curved bottom edge of the pocket panel assembly workpiece W-6 is registered against a pair of curved edge stops 100. After registration to bring the workpiece into an accurately known location,

' it is transferred as indicated by the arrow 64 over to a creasing workstation G-l provided by the first incremental creaser module 39. The creasing action at the station G-l serves to turn back a narrow edge portion 101 (FIG. 25) and to crease it in position so as to eliminate a raw edge. This creased portion 101 extends along approximately one-half of the curved bottom edge 102 of the partially creased workpiece W-7.

As indicated by the arrow 83, the partially creased workpiece W-7 is transferred by a transfer module which also displaces the workpiece angularly. The transfer action 83 may be accomplished by sliding the workpiece along the table surfaces while turning it to a different angular position, as seen most clearly in plan view in FIG. 1D. Thus, it is moved into a second creasing workstation 6-] provided by another incremental creaser module 39. The creasing action at the station G-2 serves to turn back a continuation of the narrow edge portion 103 (FIG. 26) to complete the creasing of the curved bottom edge of the fully creased workpiece W-8.

The sliding and turning transfer action 83 and the transfer module for accomplishing it and the forming of a completely creased edge by creasing increments thereof are described in detail and claimed in my co pending application, Ser. No. 601,768, filed Dec. 14, 1966, to which reference was made further above The fully creased workpiece W-8 is transferred as indicated by arrow by using a transfer module having suction pick-up means as shown in said application and with means for turning the workpiece so as to bring it into a folding and creasing station defined by a foldingcreaser module 40. In station I-I-l the workpiece is folded in .half and creased along its center line 104 (FIG. 27) to form a folded pocket assembly W-9, as shown by steps in FIGS. 16 21. Then, as shown by the arrow 86, the folded pocket assembly is transferred by sliding over onto the manipulating stitcher module 41.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3355165 *Apr 20, 1965Nov 28, 1967L & L Mfg IncFabric stretching and/or alternatelyreversing mechanism for separating fabric pieces from a stack thereof
US3357701 *Oct 11, 1966Dec 12, 1967Cremer William CCloth stacking device
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5178381 *Oct 3, 1989Jan 12, 1993Courtaulds PlcProcessing flexible sheet workpieces
US6298275Mar 23, 1995Oct 2, 2001Gerber Garment Technology, Inc.Non-intrusive part identification system for parts cut from a sheet material
WO1990003739A1 *Oct 3, 1989Apr 19, 1990Courtaulds PlcProcessing flexible sheet workpieces
Classifications
U.S. Classification271/3.14, 271/9.7
International ClassificationA41D27/20, A41H43/00, D05B33/00, A41H43/02, A41H42/00, D05B41/00
Cooperative ClassificationD05B41/00, D05B33/006, A41H43/02, A41H42/00, D05B33/00, A41D27/204, D05D2305/02
European ClassificationA41D27/20C, A41H43/02, A41H42/00, D05B33/00