US 3808926 A
A device for automatically opening an envelope by cutting a strip off one edge of the envelope is described. The cut scrap strip is then chopped into segments approximately one inch long and diverted toward a scrap drawer in the base of the device.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Osland May 7,1974
[ AUTOMATIC LETTER OPENER  lnventor: James M. Osland, Wayne, NJ.
 Assignee: Ketcham & McDougall, lnc.,
221 Filed: Mayl9,1972
83/605, 83/912, 83/923  Int. Cl 326d 9/00  Field of Search 83/912, 923, 167, 355,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS l-loldgate et al. 83/408 3,381,564 5/1968 Whiteford 83/912 X 3,667,335 6/1972 Hamacher 33/923 X FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 656,234 2/1938 Germany 83/923 2,295 0/1854 Great Britain 83/602 Primary Examiner-J. M. Meister Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Darby & Darby 1 ABSTRACT A device for automatically opening an envelope by cutting a strip off one edge of the envelope is described. The cut scrap strip is then chopped into segments approximately one inch long and diverted toward a scrap drawer in the base of the device.
2 Claiins, 8 Drawing Figures PATENTED MY 7 \974 SHEET L U? 3 ?ATENTEDBAY 1 1914 saw 2 OF 3 F I G.
AUTOMATIC LETTER OPENER This invention generally relates to automatic letter opening devices.
In automatic letter openers of the type heretofore generally available, no provision was made for disposal of the longitudinal strip of scrap which was cut off one edge of the envelope. In most cases, the scrap fell on the desk of the operator. When a large number of envelopes were being opened, a great deal of scrap accumulated on the operators desk. Besides being unsightly, additional time was required to pick up the scrap pieces.
In the automatic letter opener disclosed herein, provision is made for chopping the scrap strip which is cut from the edge of the envelope to be opened and collecting the chopped scrap in a receptacle in the device.
Generally, the automatic letter opener embodying my invention consists of a housing having a horizontal platform onto which the envelopes to be opened are placed. A motor in the device provides a source of power for a conventional gear train arrangement which drives a set of feed rollers, rotary cutting blades and, in addition, drives the mechanism which operates the scrap strip chopping blades. When the envelope to be opened is inserted in the device, the motor is actuated thereby causing the feed rollers to grasp the envelope and pull it forwardly through the device. Other conventional devices to feed the envelope through the device could also be used. A strip of material is cutoff the edge of the envelope by the rotary cutting blades.
In one embodiment of my invention, a reciprocating chopper is used to cut the scrap strip along its length into small pieces. In this embodiment, the chopping mechanism consists of a moving blade and a stationary blade. The plane within which the chopping blades lie is perpendicular to the plane of the rotary cutting blades. The mechanism for actuating the moving chopping blade consists of a longitudinally extending lever, one end of which is pivotally mounted. The moving chopping blade is engaged by the other end of the lever. An eccentrically mounted cam is positioned between the two ends of the lever in an aperture in the lever. The gear train which causes movement of the feed rollers and the rotary cutting blades also causes rotary movement of the eccentric cam located within the lever. This causes the lever and the movable chopping blade to oscillate up and down as the envelope is fed through the device. As the scrap strip is fed through an opening in the stationary chopping blade, the moving chopping blade cuts as it moves both up and down thereby chopping the scrap strip into small pieces. A scrap receptacle is positioned beneath the chopping blades to collect the chopped scrap pieces.
Another feature of this embodiment of my invention is that the stationary chopping blade and the moving chopping blade are symmetrical so that they can be reversed to present a second sharp cutting surface.
Another feature of my invention which is present in the above embodiment and in the embodiment described below is that the cut scrap strip is directed downwardly so that it is naturally inclined toward the scrap receptacle when it is being chopped. This is accomplished by positioning the top rotary cutting blade inwardly of the bottom rotary cutting blade. Also, a J- shaped guide positioned after the rotary cutting blade insures that even scrap strips having upturned or dogeared leading edges are directed downwardly.
The chopping blades in both embodiments of my invention are positioned beneath the platform on which the envelope to be cut is placed in order to accept the downwardly directed cut scrap strip and also, to prevent the chopping blades from nicking the cut edge of the envelope.
In the other embodiment of my invention, the chopping mechanism consists of inner and outer rotary chopping blades. Both the inner and outer rotary chopping blades include a central hub having at least one blade projecting outwardly from the hub. It is also possible to have two or more blades projecting outwardly from each hub so that there are two chops per revolution. However, the sharpened edges of the inner and outer rotary chopping blades must engage each other and shear the cut scrap strip at a position corresponding to the path of travel of the scrap strip. The width of the chopping blades is sufficiently small such that the path of travel of the scrap strip is only momentarily blocked during chopping. As previously indicated, the cut scrap strip is directed downwardly towards the scrap receptacle by the positioning of the rotary cutting blade and the J-shaped guide members. In order that the chopped scrap strip tends to naturally fall towards the scrap receptacle, the downwardly chopping rotary blade is positioned on the discharge side of the upwardly chopping rotary blade.
These and other objects and features of this invention will be more readily understood and appreciated by reference to the following descriptions and drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a plan view partially cutaway of an automatic letter opener illustrating the preferred embodiment of my invention;
FIG. 2 is a partial cross-sectional view of the letter opener illustrated in FIG. 1, taken along the line 22;
FIG. 3 is a partial cross-sectional view of the reciprocating chopper arm of the dispenser illustrated in FIG. 1, taken along the lines 3-3;
FIG. 4 is a side view of the opener illustrated in FIG. 1 showing the chopper blades;
FIG. 5 is a front view partially cutaway of an automatic letter opener illustrating an alternate embodiment of my invention;
FIG. 6 is a plan view partially cutaway of the letter opener illustrated in FIG. 5, taken along the lines 6-6;
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the gearing mechanism of the letter opener illustrated in FIG. 6, taken along the lines 77;
FIG. 8 is an end view of the letter opener illustrated in FIG. 5, taken along the lines 88, showing the rotating cutting blades.
Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, the automatic letter opener of my invention consists of a housing It) on which is formed a platform 12. A hood 14 projects outwardly from the top portion of the housing over the platform 12 thereby forming a slot 16 between the hood member and the platform. The envelope to be opened is placed on the platform so that the edge of the envelope faces the slot rear wall 16A. The platform 12 and the hood 14 extend across the width of the letter opener.
A motor which provides the source of power for the automatic letter opener is positioned within the housing. The motor drives a gear train arrangement which feeds the envelope to be cut through the automatic letter opener, cuts a strip from the edge of the envelope and chops the strip into small pieces. These functions are described in more detail below.
The motor output shaft 22 drives gear 24 which causes rotation of gear 26 to which gear 28 is attached. This causes rotation of gear 30 which in turn causes rotation of gear 32. Since gear 32 and feed roller 34 are on a common axis, rotation of the gear imparts rotation to the feed roller. Feed roller 34A is rotatably mounted above feed roller 34 on pivotally mounted lever 36. The lever is biased downward by spring 38, one end of which is attached to a stationary supporting plate 40 and the other end of which is attached to the lever by being inserted through a hole in the lever. Rotation of the lower driven feed roller 34 imparts rotation to the upper feed roller 34A. The feed rollers are generally composed of rubber. When the motor is actuated, the rotation of the feed rollers causes the envelope on the platform of the device to be grasped by the feed rollers and fed through the letter opener device. The upper feed roller is pivotally mounted so as to accommodate envelopes of various thicknesses.
Actuation of the motor is caused by inserting the envelope to be opened into the device. A lever 42 is pivotally mounted on a shaft 44 which is attached to stationary plate 40. The lever is biased downwardly by a spring 46. The lever is positioned so as to extend downwardly through a groove 48 in the platform of the device. When the envelope to be opened is inserted into the device, the manual force exerted by pushing the envelope across the platform causes the lever to rise upwardly. As the lever rises upwardly, it engages a microswitch (not shown) which actuates the motor. After the envelope to be cut has passed across the platform, the lever is once again biased downwardly into the groove, the switch is opened and the motor is de-energized.
Proceeding forwardly along the length of the machine, gear 32 drives gear 50 which in turn drives gear 52. Since gear 52 and rotary cutting blade 54 are mounted on the same shaft, rotation of gear 50causes rotation of lower cutting blade 54. Also,.rotation of gear 52 imparts rotation to the top rotary cutting blade 58 which is urged into contact with driven blade 54 by spring clip 56. Rotary cutting blade 58 could also be gear driven. Rotary cutting blade 58 is positioned inwardly of rotary cutting blade 54.
Referring now'to FIG. 2, a generally'J-shaped guide 60 is positioned adjacent the rotary cutting blades 58 and 54. The purpose of this guide is to engage the strip of scrap that is cut from the envelope to be opened and direct it downwardly. The end of the guide is angled slightly upwardly so as to engage any scrape end that is upturned and guide it downwardly towards the chopping mechanism.
The chopper mechanism of the preferred embodiment of my invention is best illustrated in FIGS. 1-4. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 3, a longitudinally extending lever 64 is pivotally mounted on the same shaft to which gears 26 and 28 are attached. Although there is no necessity that the lever be attached to this shaft, it is convenient to so attach it for economy of parts. A generally square shaped aperture is formed in the lever. The aperture is located between the ends of the lever.
An eccentrically mounted cam is positioned within the lever aperture 68. The cam 70 is mounted on shaft 72 so that rotation of shaft 72 causes the rotation of cam 70 within the aperture 68. Since the cam is eccentrically mounted, and since the lever 64 is pivotally mounted, rotation of cam 70 causes the lever to reciprocate upwardly and downwardly. The upward position of the lever 64 is illustrated in solid lines in FIG. 3. The downward position of the lever 64 is illustrated in dashed lines in FlG. 3. The chopping blades of the chopping mechanism are positioned at the end of the lever and consist of a stationary cutter 74, and a movable cutter 76.
The stationary cutter 74 is attached to a plate 78 in which is formed an aperture sufficiently large to accommodate the uppermost and lowermost positions of the reciprocating lever. The stationary cutter 74 is mounted directly adjacent the plate 78. The stationary cutter also has an aperture sufficiently large to accommodate the uppermost and lowermost positions of the reciprocating lever. As best illustrated in FIG. 4, the stationary cutter also has an opening 80 which is in the path of travel of the scrap strip and which is adapted to receive the scrap strip. The opening 80 is generally bell shaped.
The movable cutter 76 is pivotally attached to plate 78 at its rearmost end. The front end of the movable cutter has a double-edged blade. An aperture 84 is formed in the central portion of the cutter. The aperture is sufficiently large to accommodate the end of the lever 64. Since the movable cutter is adapted to move with the lever, the aperture is somewhat larger than the cross-section of the bushing on the lever end. The movable cutter is held against the stationary cutter by the vertically extending bar 88. The movable cutter could also be held against the stationary cutter by attaching a coil spring to the end of the lever which would bear on the movable cutter and hold it against the stationary cutter.
Since both of the edges a and 90b of the movable chopper blade are sharpened, they cut on the upward stroke and on the downward stroke.
The operation of the preferred embodiment of my automatic letter opener is as follows: The envelope to be opened is inserted onto the platform of the device. It is manually pushed in a horizontal direction along the platform until the actuating lever is engaged. At this point, the motor is actuated and the feed rollers grasp the envelope and feed it through the device. The motor also causes actuation of the rotary cutting blades which cut a strip of the envelope along the edge closest to the end wall of the slot formed by the platform and the hood. This scrap strip is then guided into the opening in the stationary chopper blade. Actuation of the motor also causes the movable chopper blade to reciprocate upwardly and downwardly by virtue of the pivotally mounted lever 64. As the scrap strip is being fed through the opening in the stationary chopper blade, the movable chopper blade chops it into small pieces and diverts it downwardly into the scrap receptacle.
A second embodiment of my automatic letter opener is illustrated in FIGS. 5-8. in this embodiment, the mechanisms for actuating the motor, for feeding the envelope along the platform of the device and for cutting the edge of the envelope are the same as in the preferred embodiment. However, in this embodiment, a rotary chopping mechanism is used in place of the reciprocating chopping mechanism disclosed in the preferred embodiment. The primed reference numerals in FIGS. 5-8 designate elements which are the same as the elements in FIGS. 1-4 which are designated by corresponding unprimed numerals. The description and discussion of those elements in FIGS. 1-4 are equally applicable to the corresponding elements in FIGS. 5-8 unless otherwise noted.
Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, rotation of the output shaft of the motor imparts rotation to gear 26 to which gear 28 is attached. Gear 28' imparts rotation to gear 30 which causes rotation of gears 32' and gear 100. Rotation of gear 100 causes rotation of the shaft 102 on which it is mounted. A first miter gear 104 is attached to one end of the shaft 102. The first miter gear 104 operatively engages a second miter gear 106 and a third miter gear 108. The second miter gear 106 is attached to a longitudinally extending shaft 110 which is rotatably mounted in a bushing 112 and which extends from the bushing through a second collar 114 and out the end plate 78'. The third miter gear 108 is attached, by means of collar 114, to a hollow shaft 116 which is rotatably mounted over shaft 110. The hollow shaft 116 also extends through the end plate 78.
The inner chopping mechanism 120 is formed on the end of shaft 110; the outer chopping mechanism 112 is formed on the end of shaft 116. The sharpened edges of the blades of chopping mechanisms 120 and 122 face one another so that the counterclockwise rotary movement of chopping mechanism 120 and the clockwise rotary movement of chopping mechanism 122 result in chopping of the scrap strip.
The clockwise and counterclockwise rotary movement of the chopping blades results from the use of the three miter gears. counterclockwise rotation of the first miter gear 104 imparts clockwise rotary movement to the second miter gear 106 and thus to shaft 110 and counterclockwise movement to the third shaft 106 and therefore to hollow shaft 116.
While the principles of the invention have now been made clear in the illustrative embodiments, it will be immediately obvious to those skilled in the art that many modifications may be made in the structure, arrangement and proportions of the elements, materials and components used in the practice of the invention, without departing from my invention. The appended claims are, therefore, intended to cover and embrace any such modifications, within the limits only of the true spirit and scope of the invention.
I claim: 1. Apparatus for opening envelopes and the like, comprising:
a platform member having a first end and a second end for supporting the envelope to be opened; means positioned on said platform member for engaging the envelope and conveying it from said platform member first end to said platform member second end, said conveying means including a roller and a first shaft, said roller being mounted on said first shaft, and driving means for rotating said first shaft; means positioned on said platform member for cutting off an edge of the envelope thereby producing a scrap strip; means positioned adjacent said platform member second end for chopping the scrap strip into pieces, said chopping means comprising a lever having a first end and a second end, an eccentrically mounted cam being positioned between said two lever ends and bearing against said lever, said cam being mounted on said first shaft, said lever first end being pivotally mounted; a moving chopping blade being driven by said lever second end, said moving chopper blade having an upper cutting surface and a lower cutting surface; a stationary chopping blade being positioned directly adjacent said moving chopping blade, said stationary chopping blade having a first opening located in the path of travel of the scrap strip, whereby actuation of said driving means causes rotation of said first shaft thereby causing the scrap strip to be conveyed through said stationary chopping blade first opening and said moving chopping blade to reciprocate upwardly and downwardly and chop the scrap strip on the upward stroke and the downward stroke. 2. The apparatus for opening envelopes and the like recited in claim 1, said moving chopping blade having a first end and a second end, said upper and lower cutting surfaces being formed on said moving chopping blade first end, said moving chopping blade second end being pivotally mounted, an elliptically shaped opening being formed in said moving chopping blade between said moving chopping blade first and second ends, a generally cylindrical bushing mounted on said lever second end, said bushing being positioned within said moving chopping blade elliptically shaped opening.
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE v CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 3 808 926 Dated May Z. I 974 Inventor(s) v JAMES M. BOSLAND It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:
Page 1, change name of inventor from "OSLAND" to BOSLAND Col 3, line 57 change "scrape" to scrap col 5, line 26, change "112" to 1 22 Signed-and sealed this 17th day of September 1974.
MCCOY M. GIBSON JR. c. MARSHALL DANN Attesting Officer Commissioner of Patents FORM powso (ioeg) USCOMM-DC 60a76-P69 U.$. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 1 I969 0-366-354.