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Publication numberUS3851662 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 3, 1974
Filing dateJul 18, 1973
Priority dateJul 18, 1973
Publication numberUS 3851662 A, US 3851662A, US-A-3851662, US3851662 A, US3851662A
InventorsJessop T
Original AssigneeEastman Kodak Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Photographic processing solution filling and circulating apparatus
US 3851662 A
Abstract
In a photographic processor, a processing container and a circulation container are filled with processing solution flowing from a supply container. After such filling, processing solution in the processing and circulation containers is circulated continuously therebetween. The processing, circulation and supply containers are disposed in order that processing solution, respectively therein, can attain a common hydrostatic equilibrium level. A pump and conduit arrangement, disposed below the equilibrium level, connects a pump inlet with the supply and circulation containers to allow gravity flow of processing solution into the pump inlet and connects a pump outlet with the processing container for pumping processing solution into the processing container. As filling of the processing container proceeds, processing solution in that container overflows into the circulation container at an overflow level which is below the equilibrium level. Continued overflow causes the liquid level in the circulation container to rise toward the equilibrium level as the liquid level in the supply container falls toward the equilibrium level. Resultingly, flow of processing solution from the circulation container into the pump inlet increases as flow of processing solution from the supply container into the pump inlet decreases, owing to a relative change in the hydrostatic heads of processing solution in the circulation and supply containers. Once such hydrostatic heads are balanced, there is a completed changeover from filling of the processing container to circulation of processing solution between the processing and circulation containers.
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,1 essop tes tet [1 1 Dec.3,1974

[ PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESSING SOLUTION FILLING AND CIRCULATING APPARATUS [75] lnventor: Thomas C. Jessop, Rochester,

[73] Assignee: Eastman Kodak Company,

Rochester, NY.

[22] Filed: July 18, 1973 [21] Appl. No.: 380,516

354/324 51 nt. Cl 1303b 7/07 58 Field of Search 95/89 R, 95, 96, 97, 98;

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,635,414 7/1927 Hirst 137/574 x 1,928,235 9/1933 Taylor 95/94 R 3,123,579 3/1964 Lefevre.... 118/429 X 3,193,411 7/1965 Kaufer 95/89 R X 3,732,039 5/1973 Carothers 417/300 Primary Examiner-Fred L. Braun Attorney, Agent, or FirmDennis R. Arndt [57] ABSTRACT In a photographic processor, a processing container and a circulation container are filled with processing solution flowing from a supply container. After such filling, processing solution in the processing and circulation containers is circulated continuously therebetween. The processing, circulation and supply containers are disposed in order that processing solution, respectively therein, can attain a common hydrostatic equilibrium level. A pump and conduit arrangement, disposed below the equilibrium level, connects a pump inlet with the supply and circulation containers to allow gravity flomf rocessing solution into the pump inlet and connects a pump Bin er with the pfice ss ing container for pumping processing solution into the processing container. As filling of the processing container proceeds, processing solution in that container overflows into the circulation container at an overflow level which is below the equilibrium level. Continued overflow causes the liquid level in the circulation container to rise toward the equilibrium level as the liquid level in the supply container falls toward the equilibrium level. Resultingly, flow of processing solution from the circulation container into the pump inlet in-- creases as flow of processing solution from the supply container into the pump inlet decreases, owing to a relative change in the hydrostatic heads of processing solution in the circulation and supply containers. Once such hydrostatic heads-are balanced, there is a completed changeover from filling of the processing container to circulation of processing solution between the processing and circulation containers.

3 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures PATENTEL 3|974 SHEET 1 BF 3 PATENIELBE'B 31914 SHEEI 20F 3 PHOTOG' l'E-llIC PROCESSING SOLUTION FILLING AND CIRCULATING P TUS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to processing solution filling and circulating apparatus in a photographic processor or the like. More particularly, the invention relates to means for filling a processing container and a circulation container with processing solution to a desired level and, thereafter, circulating the same solution between the processing and circulation containers.

2. Description of the Prior Art It is well known in photographic processors to provide some means for filling a processing container with processing solution to a desired level. Generally, such means may include a pump for moving processing solution from a supply container to the processing contrainer and a liquid level sensor for deactuating the pump in response to processing solution reaching the desired-levelin the processing container. In certain photographic processors, processing solution is circulated between the processing container and a circulation container in order to remove solid waste matter from spent solution prior to its reuse. Here, for example, the liquid level sensor can further serve to control the operation of a two-way valve for changing the processing solution flow path to cause the pump to circulate processing solution between the processing and circulation containers instead of moving processing solution from the supply container to the processing container.

Although the foregoing known apparatus should perform in a satisfactory manner, it will be appreciated that reliable liquid level sensor participation is essential. A sensor failure could result in processing solution overflowing from the processing container and/or could result in damage to the pump in the event that the pump suction inlet is pumped dry.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a photographic processing solution filling and circulating apparatus which is improved over the prior art just described.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a processing solution filling and circulating apparatus which fills a processing container and a circulation container with processing solution to a desired level and, thereafter, circulates the same solution between the processing and circulation containers, without the use of a liquid level sensor for terminating such filling and a mechanical valve assembly for bringing about the change from such filling to such circulating.

In accordance with the present invention there is described, in detail hereinafter, a photographic processor wherein a processing container and a circulation container are filled with processing solution flowing from a supply container. After such filling, processing solution in the processing and circulation containers is circulated continuously therebetween. The processing, circulation and supply containers are disposed in order that processing solution, respectively therein, can attain a common hydrostatic equilibrium level. A pump and conduit arrangement, disposed below the equilibrium level, connects a pump inlet with the supply and circulation containers to allow gravity flow of processing solution into the pump inlet and connects a pump outlet with the processing container for pumping pro cessing solution into the processing container. As filling of the processing container proceeds, processing solution in that container overflows into the circulation container at an overflow level which is below the equilibrium level. Continued overflow causes the liquid level in the circulation container to rise toward the equilibrium level as the liquid level in the supply container falls toward the equilibrium level. Resultingly, flow of processing solution from the circulation container into the pump inlet increases as flow of processing solution from the supply container into the pump inlet decreases, owing to a relative change in the hydrostatic heads of processing solution in the circulation and supply containers. Once the hydrostatic heads in the circulation and supply containers are balanced, there is a completed changeover from filling of the pro cessing container to circulation of processing solution between the processing and circulation containers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The above-mentioned and other features and objects of the present invention and the manner of obtaining them will become more apparent by reference to the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment of such invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

. FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a photographic processing solution filling and circulating apparatus in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, showing liquid conditions prior to filling a processing container with processing solution stored in a supply container;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 1, but shows liquid conditions as filling of the processing container is begun;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view similar to FIG. I, but shows liquid conditions as filling of the processing container is partiallycompleted;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 1, but shows liquid conditions as processing solution in the processing container overflows into a circulation container; and.

FIG. 5 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 1, but shows liquid conditions after filling of the processing and circulation containers is completed and circulation of processing solution between such containers is underway.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Because photographic film processors and the general operations associated therewith are well known in the art, the description hereinafter will be directed in particular only to those processor members comprising apparatus in accordance with the present invention. It is to be understood, however, that processor components not specifically shown or described may take various forms selectable from those known in the art.

Referring now to the drawings and in particular to FIG. I, there is shown an empty solution utilization container 1 and an empty circulation container 2 which can be filled with processing solution S initially stored in a solution supply container 3. After such filling, processing solution in the utilization and circulation containers l and 2 will be circulated continuously therebetween. The supply container 3 may serve as a mixing tank for mixing several processing liquids preparatory to filling the utilization and circulation containers 1 and 2. Although not shown, a guide roller rack or other suitable device can be provided for immersing photographic material into processing solution held in the utilization container 1.

A support or stand 5 arranges the utilization, circulation and supply containers 1-3- such that different quantities of processing solution S can be placed respectively therein to attain a common hydrostatic equilibrium level 4. A liquid displacement pump 6, disposed below the common equilibrium level 4, has a suction inlet 7 for drawing processing solution and a discharge outlet 8 for driving or feeding the same solution. A conduit network 9, disposed below the common equilibrium level 4, interconnects the pump 6 and the utilization, circulation and supply containers 1-3 for liquid communication therebetween, and has an effective internal diameter which is selectable according to pump size and other factors as will be recognizable by those having ordinary skill in the art. In the conduit network 9, first and second conduit sections 10 and 11, terminating at a conduit junction l2, serve to connect the pump suction inlet 7 respectively with the circulation and supply containers 2 and 3. Such connection enables the pump 6 to draw processing solution into the pump suction inlet 7 from the circulation container 2 and/or the supply container 3. Gravity assists the pump 6 in drawing processing solution, because of the relative vertical arrangement of the pump, the first and second conduit sections 10 and 11, and the circulation and supply containers 2 and 3. Further in the conduit network 9, a third conduit section 13 connects the pump discharge outlet 8 with the utilization container 1 for driving processing solution from the pump outlet into the utilization container.

The utilization and circulation containers 1 and 2, as viewed in FIG. 1, are vertically separated by a weir plate 14 having a weir crest 15 which is disposed below the common equlibrium level 4.

For reasons becoming apparent hereinafter, each of the utilization, circulation and supply containers 1-3 is an open top, tank permitting exposure of processing solution, respectively therein, to atmospheric pressure. Moreover, as realized from a comparison of FIGS. 1 and 2, in the event that the supply container 3 is filled to capacity with processing solution S, a certain quantity of that solution will be located above the common equilibrium level 4. This solution quantity is just enough to fill the utilization and circulation containers 1 and 2 to the common equilibrium level 4 and, of course, to fill the conduit network 9.

To operate the processing solution filling and circulating apparatus just described, the supply container 3 is filled to capacity with processing solution S as shown in FIG. 1. Thereafter, a one-way valve 16 in the first conduit section 10 is opened to permit gravity flow of processing solution S from the :supply container 3, along the first conduit section 10, to the conduit junction 12. Subsequent to the opening of the valve 16, the pump 6 can be actuated manually. Alternatively, a suitable device, such as a liquid sensor 17 located interiorly of the first conduit section 10 and placed in electrical circuit with the pump 6, can be used to detect the presence of processing solution in the first conduit section and, in response thereto, to actuate the pump. With the pump 6 actuated, as shown in FIG. 2, processing solution S is drawn from the conduit junction 12 into the pump suction inlet 7 and is driven from the pump discharge outlet 8, along the third conduit section 13, to the utilization container 3. A slight quantity of processing solution will flow from the conduit junction 12 into the second conduit section 11, possibly entering the circulation container 2.

In comparing FIGS. 2 and 3, it can be seen that as tilling of the utilization container 1 proceeds, the liquid level in the utilization container rises toward an overflow level defined by the weir crest l5, and the liquid level in the supply container 3 falls toward the common equilibrium level 4. At this time, processing solution S drawn into the pump inlet 7 for feeding to the utilization container 1, is wholly furnished from the supply container 3. When the liquidlevel in the utilization container 1 exceeds the overflow level, processing solution S in the utilization container cascades over the weir crest 15, dropping into the circulation container. 2 as shown in FIG. 4. Thereafter, for the first time, processing solution drawn into the pump suction inlet 7 is provided partially from the circulation container 2 and partially from the supply container 3. In FIG. 4, the pump 6 draws more processing solution into the pump suction inlet 7 from the supply container 3 than from the circulation container 2, because the hydrostatic head of processing solution in the supply container is greater than the hydrostatic head of processing solution in the circulation container.

Due to continued pumping of processing solution S from the circulation and supply containers 2 and 3 into the utilization container 1 and overflow of processing solution from the utilization container into the circulation container, the liquid levels in the utilization and circulation containers rise toward the common equilibrium level 4 and the liquid level in the supply container falls'toward the equilibrium level. Resultingly, flow of processing solution from the circulation container 2 into the pump suction inlet 7 increases and flow of processing solution from the supply container 3 into the 'pump inlet decreases, owing to a relative change in the hydrostatic heads of processing solution in the circulation and supply containers.

In other words, as the consequence of the rising liquid column in the circulation container 2, the hydrostatic pressure applied at the pump suction inlet 7 by processing solution drawn from the circulation container increases. And as a consequence of the falling liquid column in the supply container 3, the hydrostatic pressure applied at the pump inlet 7 by processing solution drawn from the supply container decreases. Accordingly, processing solution entering the pump suction inlet 7 from the circulation container 2 increases in quantity, and processing solution entering the pump inlet from the supply container 3 decreases in quantity.

Finally, as shown in FIG. 5, once the hydrostatic heads of processing solution in the circulation and supply containers 2 and 3 are balanced, flow of processing solution from the supply container 3 to the pump suction inlet 7 is halted, and the entire intake of processing tween the utilization and circulation containers 1 and 2, as shown in FIG. 5, solid waste matter from spent solution accumulates along the liquid surface in the circulation container without interrupting the processing of photographic material in the utilization container.

Although the pump 6, as described hereinbefore, is used to draw processing solution S from the supply container 3 for filling the utilization and circulation containers l and 2, it will be appreciated that the processing solution filling and circulating apparatus is designed to enable gravity flow of processing solution for filling the utilization and circulation containers. Such gravity flow is slower than the pumped flow and, for that reason, is considered less desirable. However, in the event that gravity flow is used to fill the utilization and circulation containers, the pump would be actuated after the liquid levels in the utilization, circulation and supply containers attain the hydrostatic equilibrium level 4.

The choice of a suitable pump size is determinable by one having ordinary skill in the art. Of course, the pump size cannot be so strong as to upset a balance of the hydrostatic heads of processing solution in the circulation and supply containers as shown in FIG. 5.

The invention has been described in detail with particular reference to the preferred embodiments thereof, but it will be understood that variations and modifications can be effected within the spirit and scope of the invention.

I claim:

l. A photographic processing solution filling and circulating apparatus, comprising:

a processing solution supply container;

a processing solution utilization container;

a processing solution circulation container;

means arranging said supply, utilization and circulation containers to provide fluid communication with each other for attaining, respectively therein, a common hydrostatic equilibrium level of the processing solution;

means providing for overflow of processing solution from said utilization container into said circulation container at an overflow level which is below the common equilibrium level;

a pump, disposed below the common equilibrium level, and having an inlet for the intake of processing solution and an outlet for the discharge of processing solution; and

a conduit disposed below the common equilibrium level, connecting said pump inlet with said supply and circulation containers to allow gravity flow of processing solution from said supply and circulation containers into said pump inlet, and connecting said pump outlet with said utilization container for pumping processing solution from said pump outlet into said utilization container.

2. A photographic processing solution filling and circulating apparatus as recited in claim 1, wherein said supply, utilization and circulation containers are open top, tanks.

3. A photographic processing solution filling and circulating apparatus as recited in claim 1, further comprising:

means for sensing the presence of processing solution in said conduit between said pump inlet and said supply container and, in response thereto, for activating said pump to pump processing solution from said pump outlet into said utilization container.

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Referenced by
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US4001855 *Mar 10, 1975Jan 4, 1977Henry Gilmer WilhelmRapid-flow washer for photographic sheet material
US4025938 *May 16, 1975May 24, 1977Sharp Kabushiki KaishaLiquid developer reservoir for copying machine
US4101918 *Nov 29, 1976Jul 18, 1978Hoechst AktiengesellschaftDeveloping apparatus for light-sensitive materials comprising an evaporator for evaporating a developer medium from a solution
US4182567 *Jul 17, 1978Jan 8, 1980Agfa-Gevaert, A.G.Apparatus for continuously processing photographic films or the like
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Classifications
U.S. Classification137/563, 118/429, 137/565.37, 396/626
International ClassificationG05D9/00, G03D3/02
Cooperative ClassificationG03D3/02, G05D9/00
European ClassificationG03D3/02, G05D9/00