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Publication numberUS3811407 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 21, 1974
Filing dateMay 12, 1972
Priority dateMay 12, 1972
Also published asCA990695A, CA990695A1, DE2324182A1
Publication numberUS 3811407 A, US 3811407A, US-A-3811407, US3811407 A, US3811407A
InventorsGrimaldi D, Lupkas R
Original AssigneePitney Bowes Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Flap turning and sealing system for postage meter mailing machine
US 3811407 A
Abstract
A moistening device for a postage meter mailing machine comprising a water reservoir and a wick support arm. The wick support arm extends from an upper section of the reservoir in a direction which is at least at a slight angle with respect to a horizontal plane, such as the deck of the mailing machine. At least a portion of the lower section of the arm and an adjacent vertical section of the arm are open so as to expose an extended edge of the wick and provide a region for contact with the gummed region of an envelope. A spring like member is provided around the wick in the exposed region so as to apply a downward pressure on the wick, thereby forcing the wick against the envelope which is simultaneously being forced upwardly by a spring like member positioned below the envelope.
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United States Patent [191 Lupkas et al.

[ FLAP TURNING AND SEALING SYSTEM FOR POSTAGE METER MAILING MACHINE [75] Inventors: Raymond R. Lupkas, Trumbull;

Dominick L. Grimaldi, Stamford,

both of Conn.

[73] Assignee: Pitney-Bowes, Inc., Stamford, Conn. [22] Filed: May 12, 1972 [21] Appl. No.: 252,849

[ May 21, 1974 Primary Examiner.lohn P. McIntosh Attorney, Agent, or Firm-William D. Soltow, Jr.; A]- bert W. Scribner; Robert S. Salzman 5 7 ABSTRACT A moistening device for a postage meter mailing machine comprising a water reservoir and a wick support arm. The wick support arm extends from an upper section of the reservoir in a direction which is at least at a slight angle with respect to a horizontal plane, such as the deck of the mailing machine. At least a portion of the lower section of the arm and an adjacent vertical section of the arm are open=so as to expose an extended edge of the wick and provide a region for contact with the gummed region of an envelope. A spring like member is provided around the wick in the exposed region so as to apply a downward pressure on the wick, thereby forcing the wick against the envelope which is simultaneously being forced upwardly by a spring like member positioned below the envelope.

18 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PMENTEDMAY 21 m4 SHEET 2 OF 4 MTENTEDMAYPI w 3811.40?

SHEET 3 (1F 4 FLAP TURNING AND SEALING SYSTEM FOR POSTAGE METER MAILING MACHINE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to devices for moistening the gummed closure flaps of envelopes, and more generally to the preparation of envelopes for mailing.

2. Brief Description of the Prior Art The folding of the flap of an envelope, the application of moisture to the gummed region of the flap, and the sealing of the envelope, are ancillary to the application of postage to the envelope in postage meter machines. Nevertheless, these ancillary operations are an essential part of the overall operation of the machine and must be reliable and at least as fast as the postage metering operation.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,167,257 and 2,167,252 disclose systems in which surface tension and/or capillary forces are relied on to maintain the desired liquid flow. In structures of the type, as for example shown in U.S. Pat. No. 2,167,252, the width of the capillary slot is critical. Too wide a slot can result in dripping, while too narrow a slot can prevent fluid flow. The moistening blade can be made with an adjustable section, so that the slot width can be carefully controlled. However, providing the moisture blade with the proper adjustment as well as the materials and machining costs which must go into a device of this type, render the device undesirably costly.

ln U.S. Pat. No. 3,438,172 it is indicated that postage meter mailing machines generally are designed to handle envelopes in two conditions, namely with the flap in a closed position and with the flap in an open, or flapped" position. When the envelope is fed to the machine with the flap closed against the body of the envelope it is necessary for the machine to separate the flap from the envelope so that a moistening device may enter between the flap and envelope body and make contact with the inner gummed surface of the flap and moisten it for sealing. Separation of the flap is attained by a device called a flap stripper. In order to attain higher speed or through put in mailing machines, the need to separate the flap from the envelope i.e., to strip the flap, has been eliminated by some prior art machines by passing the envelope into the machine with the flap open or in a flapped" position. The envelopes generally are stacked on top of one another with the flaps open, which results in the envelopes being nested with the body horizontal and the flaps hanging vertically. Thus, as each envelope passes through the machine, means is provided to turn the flap inward towards the body of the envelope, with the moistening taking place at some time during the passing of the envelope through the machine.

Another aspect of the envelope handling system, is the provision of simple and convenient means for applying pressure to the letter so that it properly follows the guide surfaces which it engages, whether the letter be of normal thickness or thinner than normal. It has been suggested, for example, that a plurality of fingers can be mounted on a shaft which extends transversely to the direction of travel of the letter. As set forth in U.S. Pat. No. 2,944,51 1 the fingers are yieldingly urged against the body of the letter as it advances. The flap of the letter is moistened by an applicator mounted on the delivering end of the flap stripper plate over which the body of the letter rides. Pressure is applied to the applicator, to press it against the flap, through the medium of the letter passing over the plate. To do this, an additional spring operated finger is mounted on the transverse shaft carrying the other fingers and this additional finger is extended to engage the portion of the letter on the plate at a point substantially over the applicator.

The typically flap turning, moistening and sealing systems which have heretofore been employed, have met with varying degrees of success. Nevertheless, it has been found desirable to devise systems which are easier to operate, substantially trouble free, more reliable, and less expensive to produce and maintain.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with the present invention, it has been found that the problems of the prior art can be overcome and the objects of the invention realized by employing a structure in which envelopes are stacked with their flaps in the open position and means are employed to turn the flaps against the envelope and means are employed for applying moisture to the gummed region of the flap of the envelope. The moisture applying means includes a water reservoir and a wick support arm, which extends from the water reservoir. A wick is positioned in the moisture applying means with one end in the reservoir and the other end extending through the wick support arm. The wick support arm has an elongated open edge section so that the wick has an elongated exposed section.

A flap moistener wick holder, made of spring steel or similar metal, partially encloses the end of the wick'in the wick support arm. The flap moistener wick holder is an elongated member having a cross-section in the configuration of a .I, so as to provide an elongated open section corresponding to the elongated open section of the wick support arm. Thus, the wick support arm and the flap moistener wick holder cooperate to expose an elongated section of the wick.

The moisture applying means is positioned below a deck on which the main body of the envelope travels as the flap travels below the deck. A spring like member is positioned proximate. the open section of the elongated opensection of the wick and is contoured such that it forces the flap of the envelope which passes between the spring like member and the wick, into firm contact with the wick. A wiping action of the gummed region of the flap against the wick is thus produced.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent and the invention will be more fully understood from a reading of the following description, particularly when taken in conjunction with the drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a postage meter mailing machine employing the features of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary perspective view, partly in section, showing the moisture applying section of the postage meter mailing machine of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view, taken along lines 33 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view, partly in section, of a moisture applying device in accordance with the present invention;

V as to force FIG. 5 is a plan view of the wick and wick holder portion of the moisture applying device of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a side view of the wick and wick holder of FIG. 5, viewed along lines 6-6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 7-7 of FIG. 2; and

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 8-8 of FIG. 7.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION FIG. 1 shows an overall view of a postage meter mailing machine with a stack of envelopes in position for being processed through the machine.

The flap turning, moistening and sealing mechanism can be employed in conjunction with most types of postage meter mailing machines, as for example, the machine described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,438,172.

As shown in FIG. I, an envelope is carried through the postage meter mailing machine in the direction indicated by the arrow 10, along the deck 4, to the postage meter section of the machine where postage is applied to the envelope. During the travel from the section in which the envelopes are transported to the meter section, the envelopes pass through a section in which moisture is applied to the ground surface of the flap and the flap is sealed shut.

The sealing mechanism is shown in more detail in FIG. 3, wherein it can be seen that an envelope E is moved in the direction of the arrow 10, by the rotating lower feed belt mechanism indicated generally as 12, in FIG. 2. The envelopes travel in succession, on the deck 4, which extends from a region in which the envelopes are stacked, past the moistening and sealing region, to the postage meter shown in FIG. 1, where the proper postage is imprinted on the envelope.

The flap travels along the path indicated by the arrows 14, in FIG. 3. The moistening deflector member I6 guides the flap underneath the lower edge 17, of the arm 18, of the flap moistener applicator 27, so that the flap passes between the moistener shroud 22 and wick 20. The flap then passes through the opening 9 in the deck 4, and is sealed as it passes, in the closed position, between the pressure plate 28 and the impression bracket feed plate 30.

The lead edge 21, of the envelope E is initially guided in its travel by the upwardly curved section 24, of the envelope positioning member 26, more commonly known as a letter ski.

The upward pressure applying moistener shroud 22, is designed such that the gummed region of a flap is pressed against the moisture applying wick, with substantially the same force irrespective of whether the envelope is of the thin and/or light weight, air mail type, or of the heavy and/or thick Kraft paper type.

The spring like moistener shroud 22, is carried by a flap turner 32, and is provided with a complex shape so the gummed region of the flap firmly against the wick 20. A scrubbing or wiping action is essential for the adequate wetting of the gummed region.

The moisture shroud, as evident from FIG. 3, has an upstream section which presents a convex surface towards the wick 20. The shroud then curves sharply upward toward the deck 4, immediately downstream of the flap moistener arm 18. The shroud 22 then curves and lies substantially parallel to the deck 4. It should be noted that the foregoing relationships are based on a view of the moistening system longitudinal to the direction of travel of the envelope, as illustrated in FIG. 3. Viewing the shroud transverse to the aforenoted view, it is seen that the moistener shroud slopes gently downward and away from the, deck 4, looking from the folded edge 40, of the flap, toward the open edge 42 of the flap.

The distance between both the moistener shroud 22 and the arm 18, of the flap moistener applicator 27, increase slightly with respect to the plane of the deck 4, in the direction of the open edge of the flap. The inclination of the flap moistener arm with respect to the deck 4, and the corresponding inclination of the moistener shroud serve to achieve the optimum positioning of the flap F, during the moistening operation. The moistener shroud 22, and the arm 18, are preferably at an angle of from 8 to 25 with respect to the deck 4,

The moistener shroud 22 can be seen in FIG. 7, to include a first section 80 which is provided with attachment means, for attaching the moistener shroud to the flap turner 32, a. second section 32 which serves to force the flap F against the wick 20 and a third section 84 which acts as a spring to maintain the flap F under constant pressure against the wick 20.

The combination of the tendency of the flap F to lie straight and the tendency of the lower edge 50, of the wick 20 to force the flap F into the region 52, between the second and third sections of the moistener shroud 22, produces the critical firm pressure of the gummed region of the flap against the wick 20.

As shown in FIG. 4, the wick 20 is carried by a flap moistener 27 which includes a water reservoir 54 and a wick supporting arm 18. The reservoir 54 can be a large water storage unit capable of storing a requisite quanitity of water, or preferably, can be connected to a main supply of water (not shown) at some convenient, remote location. The wick is preferably a hydrophilic, synthetic resilient open cell foam material, such as polyurethane foam. The polyurethane foam is most conveniently disposed of when the flap contacting surface or the edge 50, has been worn down excessively.

Thereplacement of the wick in the flap moistener 27 is facilitated by several openings in the top surface of the arm 18 and the top surface of the reservoir section. By inserting an object such as a pencil, into the opening 60 FIG. 2 and then the opening 62, the movement of the wick through the flap moistener can be rapidly accomplished.

The positioning of the flap moistener in the postage meter machine housing is facilitated by means of a moistener guide 64 FIG. 2. The flap moistener 27 FIG. 2 can he slid in place and then by means of a few screws 66 and 68 firmly held in place.

The application of the critical amount of downward pressure by the wick against the gummed surface of the flap in order to achieve the essential double action of the moistener shroud 22 and the wick, is controlled by the spring like member 70. The flap moistener wick holder 70 is made of a highly resilient metal, such as stainless steel, and as shown in FIG. 6, is provided with a plurality of finger like sections 72, each of which can operate independently to press down on the wick. The fingers serve to maintain a constant and uniform pressure regardless of the size or shape of the envelope. The

flap moistener wick holder 70, can be seen to be similiar to a J in cross section, with the fingers 72 being formed in the long leg of the J. The long leg of the J has its outer section bent slightly downward so that the fingers 72 are actually inclined toward the wick.

A plurality of sharp upward projections 76 are provided so that the wick is, in effect, locked to the flap moistener wick holder. It should be noted in FIG. 4, that the flap moistener wick holder is dimensioned such that it fits smoothly but firmly within the arm 18 of the flap moistener. In the region of the wick which is exposed to the gummed region of the flap, the arm 18 can be seen to have a J cross-section similiar to that of the flap moistener flap holder.

FIG. 8 shows the envelope E being carried along the deck 4, by the lower feed belt 12. The flap F can be seen to be firmly wedged between the moistener shroud 22 and the wick 20. The principal wear on the wick can be seen to be concentrated at the corner 50, as the gummed surface of the wick moves against this surface.

What is claimed is:

'l. A moistening device for a postage meter mailing machine comprising, a liquid reservoir having an integrally extending wick support arm, said wick support arm extending outwardly from said liquid reservoir, and containing a wick having one end in said reservoir and its other end extending through an elongated open edge section of said wick support arm, said open edge section exposing an elongated edge section of said wick, said wick being supported at its section in the wick support arm, by a flap moistener wick holder, said flap moistener wick holder being made of spring metal and being an elongated member having a cross-section in the configuration of a J, and providing an elongated open section, said wick holder being positioned in said wick support arm, such that the elongated open section of said wick holder corresponds tothe elongated open edge section of said wick support arm, said wick support arm and flap moistener wick holder cooperating to expose an elongated section of said wick, a long leg of the J shaped flap moistener wick holder being divided into a plurality of individual fingers which press downwardly against the wick.

'2. The moistening device of claim 1, wherein said wick support arm extends at an angle with respect to a horizontal plane, as determined by the liquid line when the moistening device is in use, said angle being in the range from 8 to 25.

3. The moistening device of claim 1, wherein a short leg of the J-shaped flap moistener wick holder includes a plurality of projections which extend into said wick, thereby locking the work into place within said flap moistener wick holder.

4. The moistening device of claim 1, wherein said wick is made of an open cell, resilient polyurethane foam.

5. The moistening device of claim 1, wherein at least one opening is provided in the top surface of said wick support arm, proximate said liquid reservoir, to provide access to said wick and facilitate insertion of a wick in said moistening device.

6. In an envelope handling device having means for moving envelopes through the device;

means to turn the flap of an open flapped envelope,

against said envelope,

means for applying moisture to the gummed region of the flap of the envelope, said moisture applying means comprising, a liquid reservoir having an integrally extending wick support arm, said wick support arm extending from said water reservoir, and containing a wick having one end in said reservoir and its other end extending through an elongated open edge section, of said wick support arm, said open edge section exposing an elongated edge section of said wick, said wick being supported at its section in the wick support arm, by a flap moistener wick holder, said flap moistener wick holder being made of spring metal and being an elongated member having a cross-section in the configuration of a J and providing an elongated open section, said wick holder being positioned in said wick support arm, such that the elongated open section of said wick support arm corresponds to the elongated open section of said wick holder, said wick support arm and said flap moistener wick holder cooperating to expose an elongated section of said wick, a long leg of the J-shaped flap moistener wick holder being divided into plurality of individual fingers which press downwardly against the wick.

7. The envelope handling device of claim 6, wherein said wick support arm extends at an angle with respect to a horizontal plane, as determined by the liquid line when the moistening device is in use, said angle being in the range from 8 to 25.

8.'The envelope handling device of claim 6, wherein a short leg of the J-shaped flap moistener wick holder includes a plurality of projections which extend into said wick, thereby locking said wick into place within said flap moistener wick holder.

9. The envelope handling device of claim 6, wherein said wick is made of an open cell, resilient polyurethane foam.

10. The envelope handling device of claim 6, wherein at least one opening is provided in the top surface of said wick support arm, proximate said liquid reservoir, to provide access to said wick and facilitate insertion of a wick in said moistening device.

11. The envelope handling device of claim 6, wherein a spring like member is positioned proximate said elongated open edge section of said wick support arm for forcing the flap of an envelope passing between said spring like member and the exposed section of said wick in the elongated open section of said wick support arm, into firm contact with the wick, thereby providing a wiping action of the gummed region of the flap against the wick.

12. The envelope handling device of claim 11, wherein the spring like member has a convex region, said convex region being in close proximity to the wick and serving to guide the flap into close contact with the wick.

13. The envelope handling device of claim 12, wherein said spring like member has a section immediately downstream of said convex region which curves upwardly, the wick and the convex region and the upwardly curved section cooperating to form a restricted flow path for the flap between the wick and the spring like member, thereby forcing the flap against the exposed edge of the wick. V

14. The envelope handling device of claim 13, wherein said spring like member has a section immediately downstream of said upwardly curved section,

which exerts a spring like force against the flap, forcing the flap upwardly toward the wick.

15. The envelope handling device of claim 13, wherein at least a portion of the wick is in contact with the convex region of said spring like member when not separated by a flap.

16. The envelope handling device of claim 6, wherein the moisture applying means is positioned below a deck on which the main body of the envelope travels as the flap travels below the deck, and a curved member is carried by said deck immediately upstream of said wick support arm for guiding the flap under the wick support arm.

deck, said upstream of said moisture applying means.

, it II: a: 10:

UNITED STATES PATENT CFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION PatentNo. 3, Dated May 21, 197 4 n tofl Raymond B. Lupk-as and Dominick L. Grimaldi It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:

Column t, Line 23, change the second occurrence of Claim 3, Column 5, Line 5 change "Work." to wiok--.'

Signed and sealed this 11th day of March 1975.

(SEAL) ttest:

C. MARSHALL DANN RUTH C. MASON Commissionerof Patents Attesting Officer and Trademarks

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1987813 *Jan 21, 1929Jan 15, 1935Nat Postal Meter CompanyEnvelope moistener
US2345335 *Jul 25, 1942Mar 28, 1944Ronald Ford FrankDuplicating machine
US2944511 *Apr 21, 1958Jul 12, 1960Pitney Bowes IncLetter flap moistener
US3000349 *Aug 10, 1959Sep 19, 1961Ritzerfeld GerhardDuplicator moistening device
US3334610 *Jun 8, 1965Aug 8, 1967Telefonbau Und Normelzeit G MLetter sealing device for joint use with postage meters
US3353513 *Jun 10, 1965Nov 21, 1967Telefonbau & Normalzeit GmbhEnvelope closing devices
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3965851 *Jul 19, 1974Jun 29, 1976Champion International CorporationApparatus for applying sealing material to envelopes
US3981270 *Mar 10, 1975Sep 21, 1976Pitney-Bowes, Inc.Endless belt envelope flap moistening system
US4903633 *May 19, 1989Feb 27, 1990Pitney Bowes Inc.Fluid supply apparatus
US4948453 *May 19, 1989Aug 14, 1990Pitney Bowes Inc.Mailing machine base with a removably mounted fluid supply
US4950349 *Dec 9, 1988Aug 21, 1990Societe Anonyme Dite : Smh AlcatelEnvelope flap folding device
US5209806 *May 1, 1991May 11, 1993Pitney Bowes PlcEnvelope sealing device
US5746881 *Oct 26, 1995May 5, 1998Pitney Bowes Inc.Moistener for a postage meter
US6923863Jun 16, 2003Aug 2, 2005Amf Bowling Products Inc.Apparatus and method for bowling lane maintenance
US7175881Jul 22, 2005Feb 13, 2007Qubicaamf Worldwide, LlcApparatus and method for bowling lane maintenance
US20050255248 *Jul 22, 2005Nov 17, 2005Amf Bowling Product LlcApparatus and method for bowling lane maintenance
DE2609536A1 *Mar 8, 1976Sep 30, 1976Pitney Bowes IncVorrichtung zum anfeuchten der gummierten klappen von briefumschlaegen
Classifications
U.S. Classification118/32, 118/264
International ClassificationB43M5/00, B43M5/04
Cooperative ClassificationB43M5/042
European ClassificationB43M5/04E