US 3857559 A
Apparatus for receiving a stack of paper documents and separating, counting and restacking the paper documents. The paper documents are fed on a one-at-a-time basis by means of cooperating counter rotating drive and stripper wheels. The stripper wheel assembly is designed to provide a self-adjustable force exerted upon the documents fed thereto with the drive means for operating the stripper wheel being capable of providing rotational drive to the stripper wheels which is independent of the "free-floating" stripper wheel mount.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1 [191 Mclnerny MECHANISM FOR FEEDING, SEPARATING AND STACKING SHEETS  Inventor: George P. Mclnerny, Andalusia, Pa.
 Assignee: Pennsylvania Research Associates,
Inc., Philadelphia, Pa.
22 Filed: Mar. 26, 1973 21 Appl. No.: 344,999
Related US. Application Data  Division of Ser. No. 227,847, Feb. 22, 1972, Pat, No.
 US. Cl. 271/122  Int. Cl. B65h 3/52  Field of Search 271/119, 125, 122
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,892,629 10/1957 Osgood 271/122 111 I 3,857,559 51 Dec. 31, 1974 3,635,465 l/l972 Berry 271/122 Primary ExaminerEvon C. Blunk Assistant Examiner-leffrey V. Nase Attorney, Agent, or FirmOstrolenk, Faber, Gerb & Soffen [57 ABSTRACT Apparatus for receiving a stack of paper documents and separating, counting and restacking the paper documents. The paper documents are fed on a one-at- I atime basis by means of cooperating counter rotating drive and stripper wheels. The stripper wheel assembly is designed to provide a self-adjustable force exerted upon the documents fed thereto with the drive means for operating the stripper wheel being capable of providing rotational drive to the stripper wheels which is independent of the free-floating stripper wheel mount.
3 Claims, 12 Drawing Figures PATENTEDBEB31 m4 3; 857. 55s
SHEET 10F 5 PATENTEDBECBHQH 3.857, 559
SHEET 2 BF 5 MECHANISM FOR FEEDING, SEPARATING AND STACKING SHEETS This is a division of application Ser. No. 227,847 filed Feb. 22, 1972 now US. Pat. No. 3,771,783.
The present invention relates to sheet feeding, separating and stacking means and more particularly, to a novel high-speed sheet feeding, separating and stacking means capable of feeding and separating sheets arranged in a stack which may include sheets of varying thicknesses, dimensions and quality.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION There are a wide variety of applications in which document feeders and/or separators are either required or are advantageous for use. Forexample, in banks or other like institutions, it is very advantageous to provide apparatus for accurately counting large stacks of bills (i.e., paper currency). One of the problems encountered in counting stacks of bills at relatively high rates of speed resides in the fact that some or many of the bills being counted may be' either slightly or severely multilated or creased from folding, hence they require special care and handling or, alternatively, such damaged or mutilated bills must first be removed from the stack of like bills due to the fact that present day feeding and separating devices are incapable of counting such bills. In addition thereto, bills which may be perfectly intact but may be either severely folded or creased require special handling procedures wherein the bills must be carefully and firmly pressed or smoothed down before being capable of being handled by present day feeding and counting devices.
Banks and other similar institutions also handle tremendous volumes of checks which are of varying sizes, thicknesses, finishes and the like. As a result, stacks of checks of the same'dimensions and thicknesses must be formed before such checks can be counted, thereby greatly increasing the amount of handling operations necessary in the processing of such documents.
Another typical application in which such feeding, separating, counting and stacking devices are employed is in the field of coupons. Coupons may take a variety of forms such as those which are printed in newspapers and/or periodicals and which are normally cut out from such newspapers and periodicals prior to use. Coupons may also be provided as part of the package in which a product is wrapped and hence be of still another form of paper insofar as size, weight and/or thickness of paper and finish are concerned. Companies processing such coupons would find it highly advantageous to be able to process coupons of varying sizes, thicknesses and finishes while at the same time being capable of counting stacks of such dissimilar coupons accurately and at a high rate of speed. It should be understood that the applications set forth hereinabove are merely exemplary and that a large variety of other applications in which devices capable of separating and counting documents of dissimilar sizes, weights, thicknesses and finishes can be used to great advantage.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION The present invention is characterized by providing a sheet feeding, separating and stacking device which is simple in design and yet which is capable of feeding and separating sheets of different thicknesses, weight,
which the stack of sheets is deposited in the hopper,
thereby greatly facilitating the sheet feeding and separating operation.
The infeed hopper is provided with an inclined support having an opening through which a portion of the periphery of a picker wheel protrudes. The picker wheel is preferably caused to rotate at a constant speed and is provided with an eccentric surface along the portion of its peripherywith said eccentric surface having a higher coefficient of friction than the remaining peripheral portion of the picker wheel. The picker wheel performs the dual functions of advancing at least the bottom-most sheet in the stack of sheets toward the stripping and separating apparatus while at the same time, due to its eccentric periphery, causing the entire stack to be jostled or jogged upwardly so as to facilitate separation of sheets within the stack. The infeed hopper is provided with a configuration which causes the bottom-most group of sheets in the stack to be relieved from the weight of or on the remaining sheets within the stack thereby facilitating separation of the bottommost sheets from one another.
The picker wheel advances the bottom-most group of sheets toward the drive wheel assembly thereby releasing the aforesaid group of sheets from the weight of the stack at the rearward end of the stack due to the shape of the rearward portion of the inclined support. The infeed hopper also includes a second inclined surface which supports the weight of the forward end of the stack to further relieve the weight of the stack from the bottom. The sheets thus released are then free-to slide downwardly along the support surface to come under the influence of the drive and stripper assemblies.
The drive wheels are arranged in spaced parallel fashion along a common shaft and'rotated 'at a substantially constant velocity at least equal to the rotational speed of the picker wheel.
A stripper wheel is mounted at the free end of a floating stripper wheel assembly comprised of a pair of arms whose rearward ends are pivotally mounted within the machine frame and whose free ends support a shaft upon which the stripper wheel is mounted. The stripper wheel slidingly engages the document (or documents) fed to the drive wheel and the stripper wheel mounting automatically adjusts the position of the stripper wheel relative to the sheet being fed to the drive wheel so as to automatically compensate for differences in weight, stiffness, and/or thickness of the sheet being processed.
The stripper wheel is rotated at a constant rate of speed with the rotational velocity being in a range which extends from a value whichis less than the rotational velocity of the drive wheel to a value which is the periphery of the stripper wheel is positioned at a height below the peripheries of the drive wheels between which the stripper wheel is located. This arrangement causes the sheet (or sheets) fed to the drive wheel assembly to assume a curved undulating configuration which stiffens the sheet or sheets to cause the sheets to undergo lateral movement to thereby greatly facilitate separation of the sheets in cases where two or more sheets are fed into the region between the stripper wheel and the drive wheels. The stiffness imparted to the sheets also enhances the frictional engagement with the drive and stripper wheels.
The coefficient of friction of the peripheries of the drive wheels is substantially greater than that of the coefficient of friction of the periphery of the stripper wheel and preferably the material from which the stripper wheel is formed is less resilient than the material from which the drive wheels are formed (i.e. it has a higher durometer).
The infeed hopper is provided with a surface portion lying immediately adjacent the region of the drive wheels and stripper wheels which forms an abrupt incline so as to enable the leading edge of the bottom sheet to droop down and thereby enhance the frictional engagement between the bottom-most sheet fed toward the drive wheels by the picker wheel.
The surface of the infeed hopper supporting the leading edges of the stacked sheets preferably has at least a portion thereof being formed or otherwise machined to exert an increased frictional force upon the leading edges of the stacked sheets to remove the weight of the major portion of the stack from the bottom-most sheets to permit the group of bottom-most sheets to substantially freely slide downwardly toward the drive wheels when advanced by the picker wheel. In the case where a single sheet is fed between a stripper roller and the drive wheel, the relative differences of the coefficients of friction between these wheels will cause the stripper roller to slippingly engage the confronting surface of the bottom-most sheet with the major influence upon the bottom-most sheet being the frictional engagement of the drive wheels. The single sheet will thus be fed toward a plurality of acceleration wheels which cooperate with free wheeling idler wheels to accelerate the sheet being fed toward the acceleration wheels which enters between the acceleration wheels and the idler wheels and 5 moved at a faster rate of speed as the sheet comes under the influence of the acceleration wheels which are rotated at a substantially constant tangential velocity greater than the tangential velocity of the drive wheels. The spacing between the centers of rotation of the drive wheels and the acceleration wheels is such that the document fed between the acceleration wheels and the cooperating idler rollers will undergo acceleration before the next sheet in the stack makes frictional engagement with the drive wheel. This operation creates a finite gap between the trailing edge of the sheet being fed between the acceleration wheels and the idler rollers and the leading edge of the next sheet passing over the drive wheels.
The acceleration wheels and cooperating idler rollers act to rapidly advance the single sheet fed therebetween toward a stacker which is designed to abruptly move the trailing edge of the last sheet fed thereto out of the path of the leading edge of the next sheet to be fed thereto and before the next sheet enters into the stacker region, thereby forming a substantially neat and compact stack of sheets within the stacker in original sequence.
In the case where more than one sheet 'enters into the region between the drive and the stripper wheels, the larger coefficient of friction of the drive wheels operates to urge the bottom-most sheet in the forward feed direction toward the acceleration wheels since the frictional grab between sheets is less than the frictional grab between the drive wheels and the bottom-most sheet. The drive wheels and stripper wheel arrangement cause the plural sheets fed therebetween to assume a curved undulating configuration which greatly facilitates stripping the upper sheet from the bottommost sheet due to the separation of the sheets in the region or regions of the undulations which greatly reduces the frictional forces between engaging surfaces of the plural sheets. The upper sheet is then kicked back into the infeed hopper.
The jogging action of the picker wheel serves to jar the sheets in the infeed hopper to enhance the stripping operation and to urge the leading edges of the sheets upward against the associated engaging surface of the infeed hopper. The differing coefficients of friction of the stripper and the drive wheelspositively assures the fact that the bottom-most sheet (of a bottom feed apparatus), or the top-most sheet (of a top feed apparatus), will be the first sheet fed from the region of influence of the drive wheels and stripper wheel toward the acceleration wheels regardless of the fact that the leading edge of the next sheet may be fed to the drive and stripper wheels before the leading edge of the bottom (or top)-most sheet. The floating stripper wheel mounting enables the device to accurately feed and strip sheets at a high rate of speed while at the same time accommodating documents of dissimilar thicknesses, weights, dimensions and finishes to provide a feeding and separating mechanism which is highly advantageous for use in the applications set forth hereinabove, as well as a wide variety of other applications.
In an alternativeembodiment, the floating stripper assembly may be replaced by a fixed stripper wheel assembly in which the distance the stripper wheel may move in a direction away from sheets being fed between the stripper and drive wheels is restrained by resilient spring or drive means for those applications in which the feed and separation apparatus is adapted to handle sheets within a narrow range of sheet thickness (such as just paper currency, for example). Alternatively, the"floating stripper wheel assembly may be provided with strap means for achieving the same obective.
The apparatus is adapted to perform batching operations, collating operations, and operations in which only selected sheets are fed to the stacker while, all sheets are counted (i.e. statistical sampling). A detailed description of the mechanisms utilized for providing the above mentioned operations are set forth in parent application Ser. No. 227,847 filed Feb. 22, 1972 now US. Pat. No. 3,771,783.
OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION provided to explain the manner in which a plurality of sheets entering the drive and stripper assemblies are rately separating intermixed documents of dissimilar characteristics at speeds not heretoforeattainable through conventional apparatus.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide apparatus for feeding and accurately separating sheets of widely differing thicknesses and characteristics at high speed even though such sheets may be partially or even severely mutilated.
Still another object of the present invention is to pro vide a novel apparatus for feeding and accurately separating sheets of dissimilar characteristics arranged within a single stack of sheets wherein the sheets fed thereby are separated one from the other and wherein feeding of more than one sheet at a time is prevented through the use of a stripper wheel assembly arranged to cooperate with a drive wheel assembly to automatically accommodate sheets of varying thicknesseswithin the stack and to thereby permit only one sheet at a time to be advanced from the cooperating drive and stripper assembliestoward a stacking facility.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a novel apparatus for feeding and accurately separating sheets of dissimilar characteristics arranged within a single stack of sheets wherein the sheets fed thereby are separated one from the other and wherein feeding of more than one sheet at a time is prevented through the use of a stripper wheel assembly-arranged to cooperate with a free-floating drive wheel assembly to automatically accommodate sheets of varying thicknesses within the stack and to thereby permit only one sheet at a time to be advanced from the cooperating drive and stripper assemblies toward a stacking facility.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES The above as well as other objects of the present in- 3 vention will become apparent when reading the accompanying description and drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is an elevational view of a feeding, separating and stacking apparatus designed in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is an elevational view of a portion of arrows 2-2 wherein only those portions which are felt to be important to clarify an understanding of the operation of the mechanism have been illustrated. 4
FIG. 2a is a perspective view of a portion of the stripper assembly of FIGS. l and 2.
FIG. 2b shows one idler assembly of FIG. 1 in greater detail.
FIG. 3 is an elevational view of a portion of FIG. 2
FIGS. 3a and 3b are elevational views showing alternative arrangements for the drive and stripper wheels of FIGS. 2 and 3.
FIGS. 4a and 4b showan end view and front view, respectively, of an alternative embodiment of the stripper wheel assembly.
FIGS. Sa-Sc are elevational views showing the stripper and feed wheel drives for explaining the optimal arrangement for the'stripper assembly.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES FIGS. I and 2 show a device designed in accordance with the principles of the present invention, which device 10 is comprised of a housing 11 having a base portion 12 for supporting device 10 upon any suitable surface such as, for example, a table or counter. The relatively small size and light weight of the device greatly enhances its portability and facilitates handling of the device to enable its use in practically any desired location.
The housing 11 is provided with a front face 13 at its upper end which may be fitted or otherwise provided with control panels incorporating controls (not shown for purposes of simplicity) for turning the machine on and off, providing a visually observable count of the number of documents handled by the device and so forth, with the number and type of display mechanism and controls being dependent merely upon the needs of the particular application.
The face l3 forms a portion of the front of housing 11 which is further provided with an infeed hopper I4 which consists of a stack supporting member and a forward edge supporting member 16. A stack of sheets to be fed and separated is positioned within infeed hopper 14 in the manner shown best in FIG. 1 with a portion of the weight of the stack substantially resting upon the upper exposed surface of plate 16. The inclination of the hopper l4 and specifically base plate 15 and supporting plate 16, as shown best in FIG. 1, is such that the weight of the sheets within the stack serve to cause the stack to remain within the hopper without providing any top weight upon the stack. The righthand-most portion 15a of the hopper supporting plate is inclined at an angle greater than that of the adjacent surface portion 15b to which it is integrally joined.
Also the plate portions 15a and 15b can be seen to define an angle of greater than 90. The inclined orientation of the entire infeed hopper is such asto cause the forward or leading edges of at least some of the sheets in stack S to rest against plate 16. It should. however, be carefully noted that the nature of the sheet'feeding and separating mechanism is such that no special care need be given to the preparation of a stack before being placed in the infeed hopper. For example, there is not need whatsoever to cause all of the forward edges of the sheets within the stack to be aligned so as to rest against the exposed surface of plate 16 and, in fact, some sheets within stack S are The infeed hopper supporting surfaces 15a and 15b are integrally joined at a knee portion which is located a predetermined distance D from portion 16a of infeed hopper plate 16. This distance is preferably selected so as to be substantially less than the width W of the narrowest document which the infeed hopper is designed to process. As the sheets of the stack are fed in the direction of arrow A, a small group of the bottom'most sheets are displaced or otherwise moved in the direction shown by arrows A so that their trailing edges are moved downwardly along inclined portion 15a of the infeed hopper supporting plate 15. The remainder of the stack S, however, has its rearward portion resting upon the right-hand end of inclined portion 15a (relative to FIG. I). This arrangement removes the weight of or on the rearward end of stack S from the group of sheets (usually 1-5 in number) removed from beneath the right-hand end of the stack, thereby greatly facilitating the feeding and separating operations as will be more fully described.
A picker wheel 19 is mounted upon a shaft 20 (see FIG. 2). Shaft 20 is journalled at a frst end thereof 20a and is also journalled at a secondend thereof 20b. The left-hand end of shaft 20 (relative to .FIG. 2) extends beyond the machine frame F and is fitted with a pulley 21 rigidly secured to shaft 20 for driving the picker wheel in a manner to be described.
The portion 15b of supporting plate 15 is provided with an opening (not shown) to enable the upper portion of the picker wheel 19 to protrude therethrough.
The angle of inclination of surface 16a of the infeed hopper which engages the leading edges of most of the sheets is such as to support some of the weight of the sheets and thereby release this weight from the bottommost group of sheets to greatly facilitate the feeding of the sheets from the infeed hopper to the next processing location. The weight of the sheets may be represented as a force vector C whose direction is vertically downward. This force may be represented as the force components C and C which are, respectively, perpendicular and parallel to surface 16a. Surface 16a counteracts the force component C, and thereby relieves this force component from the weight of the bottommostsheets. Additionally, there is some frictional force between the leading edges of the sheets and the engaging surface 16a to reduce the effect of the force component C upon the bottom-most sheets. This frictional force may be enhanced or increased by treating or otherwise forming the sheet engaging surface of portion 161 to provide a roughened finish. Alternatively, the portion 16a may have a corrugated configuration.
Picker wheel 19 is provided with an insert 19a along a portion of its periphery which is formed of a material having a substantially high coefficient of friction and which is raiseda finite distance above the remaining periphery of wheel 19. A suitable driving belt (shown schematically as dotted line 142 for purposes of simplicity) is entrained about drive wheel pulley 139 and pulley 21 so-as to rotate picker wheel 19 at a substantially constant angular velocity whereby wheel 19 rotates in the direction shown by arrow 22. The raised portion 19a, having a higher coefficient of friction than the remainder of the periphery of wheel 19, serves the dual functions of jogging or jarring at least the small group of (5 or 6) sheets positioned at the bottom-most portion of stack S so as to jar the sheets loose from one another to reduce their frictional engagement while at the same time causing the bottom-most sheet to be easily picked up and accelerated in the direction shown by arrow B where it is then caused to be fed toward the stripping and separating mechanisms.
The jogging effect of the picker wheel also serves to urge the stack upwardly and ina forward direction. This action serves to move the leading edges upwardly against the surface portion 16a to lift the weight of the forward end of stack S off the bottom-most sheets and enable the bottom-most sheets to freely slide downwardly along base member toward 'the drive wheels. I The picker wheel tangential velocity should preferably be chosen to cause the insert 19a to engage the largest document processed by the apparatus only once per revolution with the critical sheet dimension being the length of the document measured in the feed direction. In cases where the document length (in the critical dimension) is uniform for all sheets being handled, the circumference of the picker wheel should preferably be slightly greater than the critical length. For example, if the document critical length is 2 inches, the
picker wheel circumference should be about 2% inches. The picker wheel should also preferably be designed to have its raised portion 19a in engagement with the document being fed at least until the leading edge of that document engages the periphery of the drive wheel. This feature may be achieved by adjusting the picker wheel circumference and/or adjusting the length P of the raised portion 190.
The tangential velocity of the picker wheel is preferably less than that of the drive wheel so asnot to feed documents faster than they can be handled by the drive wheel.
The bottom-most sheet in the stack is thus urged toward a plurality of drive wheels 23 which are all mounted upon a common shaft 24 journalled within the machine frame F near its right and left-hand ends. At least one end of shaft 24 is provided with a pulley 25 for receiving a belt (not shown for purposes of simplicity) which is entrained about a suitable drive wheel and pulley 25 to rotate shaft 24 and hence rollers 23 in the direction shown byv arrow 26. Portion 15e of infeed hopper support plate 15 is integrally joined to portion 15b of plate 15 in the region ofa double bend or kink provided within support plate 15. As can best be seen in FIG. 1, the forward-most end of support plate portion 15b bends downwardly at 15c and upwardly at 15f so that plate portion 15d lies a slight distance below plate portion 15b. Plate portion 15d is further provided with a plurality of apertures (not shown for purposes of simplicity) to enable a portion of the periphery of rollers 23 to protrude therethrough in the manner shown best in FIG. 1. The centrally located rollers 23a and 23b are positioned in closely spaced fashion while the spacing between rollers 23 and 23a and 23b and 230 is substantially greater than the spacing between rollers 23a and 23b. This arrangement is to accommodate the stripper wheel assembly to be described in more detail hereinbelow.
The kink or double bend provided in the immediate region wherein the peripheries of rollers 23-23c protrude through plate portion 15d serves to facilitate the frictional engagement between the bottom-most sheet fed toward drive wheeels 23 by picker wheel 19 due to the fact that the leading edge of the bottom-most sheet is enabled to droop downwardly over the kink in the support member to assure better frictional engagement of the sheet with the peripheries of rollers 23-23c.
A stripper assembly 30 is positioned substantially above the drive wheel assembly comprised of drive wheels 23-23c. Assembly 30 consists of a shaft 31 having one end 31a mounted within an elongated opening in machine Frame F. A nut 31c engages the threaded end of shaft 31. The elongated opening in the machine frame receiving shaft end 31a allows for adjustment of the stripper wheel assembly to assure parallelism with the drive wheel assembly. The opposite end 31b of shaft 31 fits within an opening in the machineframe and is secured thereto by a nut 31d.
A stripper wheel depth'adjusting member 151 (see FIG. 2a) has an opening 152 which receives shaft 31 which is press fitted or alternatively provided with a set screw (not shown)'to lock shaft 31 to member 151. An adjusting screw passes through elongated clearance opening 154 in member 151 and threadedly engages a tapped opening provided in an inwardly projecting portion F of the machine frame. A helical spring 156' encircles adjusting screw 153 and has its ends bearing against projection F and the arm 151a of member 151. This assembly (by adjustment of screw 153) controls the angular orientation of shaft 31 and hence controls the depth of entry of the stripper wheels between the drive wheels. Spring 156 acts to prevent screw 153 from moving from the adjusted position.
A pair of stripper wheel supporting plates 32 and 33 are secured to one another by means of a cross-arm 34 (shown best in FIG. 2) and are each provided with openings for receiving bearings 35 and 36 which free wheelingly mount arms 32 and 33 to shaft 31. Assembly 30 further includes a substantially U-shaped member 37 whose arms 37a and 37b are provided with openings for receiving shaft 31. Set screws 37c and 37d provided in arms 37a and 37b lock member 37 to shaft 31 causing member 37 to assume the same angular orientation as shaft 31. A pulley member 38 is embraced by arms 37a and 37b and is arranged to rotate in a free wheeling manner upon shaft 31. Pulley 38 is provided with a pair of continuous annular-shaped rims 38a and 38b. A cylindrical bushing (notshown) is preferably mounted between pulley 38 and shaft 31 to enhance the free wheeling movement of the pulley.
Positioned above pulley member 38 and shaft 31 is a shaft 39 having bearings 40 and 41 near its free ends to mount shaft 39 to machine frame F in a free wheeling manner. Shaft 39 is provided with a pulley 42 adapted to receive a belt 140 (shown schematically as a dotted line for purposes of simplicity) which is en trained about a drive pulley 138 and pulley 42 so as to rotate shaft 39 in a direction shown by arrow 43 (see FIG. 1 Shaft 39 is provided with a pulley 44 rigidly secured to shaft 39 and located at a point substantially intermediate the ends thereof. A belt 45 is entrained about pulley 44 and pulley 38 (in the region between rings 38a and 38b) so as to impart rotation of shaft 39 and hence pulley 44 to pulley 38. For purposes of simplicity, belt 45 has been represented as a dotted line extending between pulleys 38 and 44 in FIG. 2. This arrangement causes pulley 38 to rotate in the direction shown by arrow 46 (see FIG. 1).
Stripper assembly 30 is further comprised of ashaft 47 mounted to the forward free ends of arms 32 and 33 by means of bearings 48 and 49 which mount shaft 47 in a free-wheeling manner relative to arms 32 and 33. A belt 50 (see FIG. 1) is entrained about the left-hand portion 'of pulley 38 and a pulley 51 secured to freewheeling shaft 47. Belt 50 is shown in dotted line fashion in FIG. 2 for purposes of simplicity. Belt 50 is fitted between rims 51a and 51b provided on pulley 51. Freewheeling shaft 47 is further provided with a pair of stripper rollers 52 and 53 rigidly secured to shaft 47 and arranged so that the peripheries of wheels 52 and 53 extend slightly below the peripheries of drive wheels 2323c, as shown in both FIGS. 1 and 2. Thus rotation of shaft 39 and pulley 44 is ultimately imparted to stripper wheels 52 and 53 which rotate in the direction shown by arrow 54 (see FIG. 1). The wheels 52 and 53 are laterally adjustable along shaft 47 as are the drive wheels 23-230 along their shaft 24, to adjust the assemblies for accommodating sheets of different thicknesses and stiffness as well as providing for periodic adjustment due to the normal wearing of the wheels.
The stripper wheels supporting arms 32 and 33, being mounted to common shaft 31 in a free-wheeling manner, enable the stripper wheels to exert a downward the rearward portion of U-shaped member 37. The' downward force exerted by the stripper wheel assembly is also a function of the length L of arms 32 and 33 between shafts 31 and 47, as shown best in FIG. 2. The force may therefore be altered by using arms 32 and 33 of differing lengths or from the use of arm portions between shafts 31 and 47 which may be made adjustable.
It should be noted that the downward force exerted by stripper wheels is totally independent of the rotational driving force applied to stripper wheels 52 and 53 due to the unique mounting assembly which enables wheels 52 and 53 to ride upon the sheets passing beneath the wheels and to pivot about shaft 31 totally independent of the driving force mechanism.
The maximum depth which stripper wheels 52 and 53 may enter between drive rollers 23-23c is controlled by adjusting member 151 by adjusting screw 153, which provides a fine adjustment thereof.
The depth to which stripper rollers 52 and 53 may be lowered between drive wheels 23-23c is further controlled by a set screw 37:: (see FIG. 1) which threadedly engages a tapped opening in member 37 so that its lower end extends toward the upper surface of crossarm 34. The rotation of arms 32 and 33 about shaft 31 in the direction reverse that of arrow 46 is controlled by the adjustment of screw 37e. Member 37, set screw 37a and bar 34 provide the .coarse adjustment for the depth.
If desired, the arms 32 and 33 may be spring loaded to limit the amount of their movement in the clockwise direction about shaft 31 by means of spring coupled between cross-arm 34 and U-shaped member 37 by fasteners 37f and 37e, respectively, to reduce the amount of free floating of the stripper wheels;
In applications wherein it is desired toprocess sheets whose thickness fall within a moderate range, as compared with the broad range of thicknesses which the stripper is presently designed to. handle, a strap 171 (shown in dotted line fashion) may be entrained around U-shaped member 37 and cross-arm 34 (in place of spring 170) to substantially lock the stripper wheels in a position (relative to said drive wheels) which is optimized for handling sheets having thickness lying within the aforesaid narrow range.
FIGS. 4a and 4b show a stripper wheel alternative embodiment 30' which may be employed in units used to process documents whose thicknesses fall within a rather moderate range (i.e., from as thin as paper currency to as thick as punch cards). Only one-half of the assembly is shown in FIG. 6b, it being understood that the opposite half of the assembly is the mirror image of the half being described.
A shaft 172 is joumalled within a bearing 173 provided in the machine frame F. A member 151', substantially identical to member 151 shown in FIG. 2a, is secured to shaft 172 by set screw 174. An adjusting screw 176 threadedly engages an opening in member 151 and bears against a fixed projection 177 extending inwardly from machine frame F. A stripper wheel support arm 178 is fixedly secured to shaft 172 by set screw 179, and free-wheelingly mounts stripper wheel shaft 180 thereto. A clearance opening 181 is provided in frame F to allow for adjustment of shaft 180 to maintain parallelism between stripper wheels 52-53 and drive wheels 23-23c, by means of the pair of adjusting screws 176.
A shaft 182 secured between the side walls of frame F and positioned beneath shaft 178 (see FIG. 4a) is fitted with an adjusting screw 183 which bears against a downwardly extending stop 178a on member 178 to control the amount which the stripper wheels may be lowered. The ends of'rod halves 172 and 172a remote from the machine frame F are telescoped within a hollow cylindrical tube 172b which acts to keep shafts 172 and 172a substantially in alignment with an imaginary longitudinal axis A, while at the same time permitting shafts 172 and 172a to be independently rotated about axis A by their fine adjusting members 151 and 151 Shaft 180 is fitted with a pulley 184 and drive wheel shaft 24 (note also FIG. 2) is fitted with a pulley 185. A resilient O-ring type belt 186 is entrained about pulleys 184 and 185 to rotate the drive and stripper wheel shafts as well as controlling the amount of separation which may occur between the drive and stripper rollers.
The adjustment of the stripper assembly controls the angular relationship 'between stripper wheels 52-53 and drive wheels 23-23c as well as the angular orientation of the center lines CL of arms 32 and 33 relative to the feed direction. If the angle a (see FIG. c) is increased beyond a predetermined value, a wedging or jamming of the sheets occurs. If the angle a is decreased beyond a predetermined value (i.e., as shown respectively in FIGS. 5b and 5a), the stripper wheels undergo bouncing. By selection of the appropriate position angle a, (relative to the horizontal line 11) the stripper assembly provides a self-clamping effect to eliminate bouncing and yet prevent the wedging or jamming effect and thereby facilitate handling of sheets over a wide range of thicknesses, stiffnesses and finishes. I
The angle a is also a function of the coefficient of friction of the stripper wheel periphery such that a may be decreased by increasing the coefficient of friction and vice versa.
The angle B formed between the feed direction and stripper wheel 52 (See FIGS. 4a and 5c) is also important. If B is too small, the wedging effect will occur. However, [3 can be significantly decreased (for example, by increasing the diameter of wheel 52) due to the counter rotation of the stripper wheels.
Ideally (see FIG. 4a) stripper wheel 52 should be aligned so that a line L drawn through point X on its surface is tangential to L line L being coincident with the plane of movement-of sheets in the feed direction. Line L should be perpendicular to the plane of sheet movement and pass through the center of rotation of drive wheel 23. The point X need not lie on the surface of wheel 23.
FIGS. 5a-5c show the .various orientations of the stripper assembly arms 32, 33. In FIG. 5a the shaft 31 about which arms 32, 33 pivot is positioned below line FL which represents the plane in which sheets are fed. The direction of rotation of the, stripper wheel 52 and the coefficient of friction of the stripper wheel relative to pivot point 31 tends to lift the stripper wheel 52 off the sheet as shown by arrow F The orientation of arms 32, 33 in the neutral position (i.e., with center line CL parallel tothe plane of the sheet [FIG. 5b]) the counter-rotation of wheel 52 exerts a force F along the center line CL, which force is substantially neutralized, so that the stripper wheel is free to bounce.
The orientation of arms 32, 33 with the pivot point 31 positioned above the plane of the sheet causes counter-rotating stripper wheel 52 to tend to hold the stripper wheel against the sheet and thereby prevent bouncing to provide the aforementioned selfclamping effect.
The means of imparting rotational movement between pulley 44 and stripper wheel pulley 51 can therefore be seen to impart the necessary rotation to stripper wheels 52 and 53 without having any effect whatsoever upon either the orientation or downward force exerted by the stripper wheels upon the sheet entering between stripper wheels 52 and 53 and drive wheels23-23c.
Drive wheels 23-23c are formed of a resilient material whose periphery exhibits a high coefficient of friction, while wheels 52 and 53 are formed of a material which, while being somewhat resilient, are less resilient than wheels 23 23c and whose peripheries exhibit a coefficient of friction which is less than that of the peripheries of wheels 23-230. As-can clearly be seen from FIG. 2, the fact that the lower portions of the peripheries of wheels 52 and 53 he slightly below the peripheries of the wheels 23-23c, cause sheet S to assume an undulating or corrugated configuration. The peripheries of wheels 52 and 53 are preferably curved as shown best in FIG. 2, whereby the contour of sheet S substantially follows the shape of the curved peripheries. The
, severity of the undulations formed in sheet S is substantially a function of the spacing between wheels 23 and 23a, and wheels 23b and 230, the width of wheels 52 and 53 and the thickness and inherent strength of the sheet S. Typically, thinner sheets will cause the stripper rollers to have their peripheries inserted more deeply in the gaps provided between the spaced drive rollers 2323c.
The stripper and drive wheels of FIGS. 2 and 3 may be replaced by wheels of the type shown in FIGS. 3a or upon their associated rotating shafts. Also, the wheel 23" may be provided with a greater number of grooves (i.e., three or more). If desired, wheel 23 may be mounted upon the stripper wheel shaft 47 and wheel 52 may be mounted upon the drive wheel shaft 24. A similar reversal may be made for the wheels 23" and 52 of FIG. 3b. 4
In cases where only a single sheet (i.e., the bottommost sheet) enters into the region between stripper rollers 52 and 53 and drive rollers 23-23c, the relative coefficients of friction of these rollers are such that the drive rollers 23-23c exert the primary influence upon the sheet fed thereto whereby the sheet is caused to be fed in the forward feed direction and toward accelera- I3 tion wheels 60, to be more fully described. The coefficient of friction of the stripper wheel peripheries will cause. these wheels to make slipping engagement with the single sheet fed thereto, which action is further aided to a degree due to the fact that the stripper wheels are biased downwardly upon the single sheet by virtue of the weight of the stripper wheel assembly, and hence the stripper wheels may be free to move upwardly under the influence of the single sheet as it is fed therethrough. The undulating configuration of the sheet acts to greatly stiffen the sheet as it passes between rollers 52-53 and 23-23c to greatly increase the effective frictional engagement between the sheet and rollers 52-53 and 23-23c.
The most effective frictional engagement is exerted by the near edges of adjacent drive and stripper wheels (i.e.,.near edges 52a and 23d, for example) which cooperate to pinch the sheet therebetween and thereby impart their opposing driving forces.
In the case where a pair of sheets are fed toward the drive wheels 23-230 and stripper wheels 52 and 53, which is shown best in FIG. 3, the drive wheels and stripper wheels similarly cause the pair of sheets to form the undulating pattern shown in FIG. 2 for a single sheet feed. However, in the regions outside of the gaps G and G, the effect of the stripper wheels moving at least partially between the drive wheels causes the sheets S and S" to be slightly separated, thereby reducing the amount of surface contact between the sheetswith the primary driving effect of the stripper wheels and drive wheels occurring in the region where the near. curved edges of the wheels are positioned closest to one another as designated by the locations P as shown in FIG. 3. The separation between the sheets in the regions'outside of the gapsG and G greatly facilitate the stripping of the sheet S from sheet S. The
coefficient of friction of the stripper wheels 52 and 53 is greater than the coefficient of friction between the engaging surfaces of the two contacting sheets S and S causing the stripper wheel to drive the topmost sheet 8" backwards toward the infeed hopper while sheet S is driven toward the acceleration wheels by the drive rollers. Similarly, the coefficient of friction of the peripheries of drive wheels 23-23c is greater than the restraining frictional forces between the contacting sheets to enable the drive wheels to move the bottommost sheet 8' toward the acceleration wheels. Thus, even if the two sheets S and S" are exactly in alignment when fed between the drive and stripper wheels, the stripper wheels are nevertheless effective in stripping" the topmost sheet away from the bottom-most sheet and thereby enabling only the bottom-most sheet to be fed toward the acceleration wheels.
The stripper wheels 5253 cause the sheet engaging their peripheries to be fed rearwardly thereby urging the sheet back toward the stack. Since the major portion of the weight of the stacked sheets is removed from the substantially weight free pocket formed within the bottom-most region of the infeed hopper 14, the reverse movement of the sheet fed rearwardly toward the infeed hopper permits the trailing edge of the sheet to move rearwardly without experiencing any curling over or bending.
The operation in which two sheets are fed simultaneously occurs as described hereinabove even though the first sheet which engages the drive wheels is not the bottom-most sheet (for example, in the case of a bottom feed arrangement of FIGS. 1 .and 2). The sheet will be advanced by the drive wheels (with the stripper wheels slippingly engaging the sheet) until the leading edge of the bottom-most sheet engages the drive wheels. When the bottom-most sheet is advanced so that portions of both the bottom-most sheet and the sheet above it are between the stripper and drive wheels, the stripper wheels exert a greater influence upon the sheet which they engage to drive the sheet toward the infeed hopper. Once the bottom-most sheet is removed from the influence of drive wheels 2323c, the drive wheels exert the major influence upon the sheet still remaining between wheels 52-53 and 23-230 to cause it to be advanced to'the acceleration wheels .behind the bottom-most sheet. This operation assures feeding, separation and stacking of sheets in the same order as the sheets were arranged in the infeed hopper. I
The acceleration wheels are shown best in FIG, 2 and are comprised of individual wheels -60c, all
mounted upon a common shaft 61 and being locked thereto so as to rotate with the rotation of shaft 61. The shaft is journalled to machine frame F by bearings 63a and 63b, respectively so as to be mounted in a freewheeling manner relative to the machine frame. The left-hand end of shaft 61 is provided with a pulley 62 which cooperates with a-belt 63 (shown in phantom line fashion in FIG. 2 for purposes of simplicity) for imparting the rotational drive required for the acceleration wheels.
The acceleration wheels cooperate with a plurality of idler rollers 65 (only one of which is shown in FIG. 1 for purposes of simplicity). The peripheries of the outer idler rollers have a lower coefficient of friction than the idler rollers associated with acceleration wheels 60a and 60b. It should be understood that there is one idler roller arranged in alignment with each of the acceleration wheels 60-60c which idler rollers are preferably independently mounted in the manner shown best in FIG. 2b.
The rollers 60a and 60b are tightly aligned near the center of shaft 61, while rollers 60 and 600 are positioned a large distance away from rollers 60a and 60b. The peripheries of roller 60a and 60b have a higher coefficient of friction than rollers 60 and 60c. Due to the tight alignment of rollers 60a and 60b at the center of shaft 61 these rollers do not promote skewing of a sheet engaging the rollers 60a and 60b. In order to prevent the outer rollers 60 and 60c from promoting skewing, the idler rollers cooperating with acceleration wheels 60 and 60c are positioned slightly downstream of the idler rollers cooperating with acceleration wheels 60a and 60b. FIG. 2b shows wheel 60 mounted on shaft 61. All of the rollers 60-60c are in. alignment. Idler 65a (shown in dotted line fashion) represents the idler roller which rollingly engages wheel 60a. Idler 65a is arranged to be tangent to a line which is coincident with the feed direction (see arrow in FIG. 2b). Idler 65 (shown in solid line fashion) has its axis of rotation X, on the downstream side of the axis of rotation X of roller 65a. All idler'rollers are mounted by means of a re-' In cases where a sheet is skewed as it advances toward the acceleration wheels, the alignment of the idler rollers cooperation with acceleration wheels 60 and 60c is such as to cause the leading edge LE advanced thereto, to strike the surface of idler 60 (for example) a spaced distance away from the point (X where it engages the periphery of wheel 60. This causes either realignment or a significant reduction in the skewing of the document. The leading edge will then be directed toward point X to be accelerated by wheel 60 and idler 65.
In cases where some skewing exists even after the document has entered between wheels 60a-60b and the associated idlers, theouter wheels 60 and 60c and their associated idlers assure the fact that the end portion of the trailing edge which is the last to leave the influence of the acceleration wheels will nevertheless be advanced to the stacker.
The infeed hopper plate 16 is provided with a plate portion 16b integrally joined to plate portion 16a which plate portion 16b is aligned so as to be arranged in substantially spaced parallel fashion relative to plate portion 15d of the infeed hopper support plate 15. Plate portion 16b is provided with suitable openings sufficient to permit a portion of the peripheries of idler roller 65 to protrude therethrough, in a manner shown best in FIG. 1, so as to make surface engagement with the periphery of acceleration wheels 60. The rearward end of portion 16b cooperates with member 15 to define a narrow outfeed throat to limit the number of sheets which may be advanced to drive wheels 23-23c. The centers of rotation of acceleration wheels 60 are spaced a distance G from the center of rotation of drive wheels 23, which distance G is preferably less than the width of the smallest sheet which can be accommodated by the feed and separating mechanism to cause the acceleration and idler wheels to grip the sheet before its trailing edge leaves the drive wheels. However, the spacing may be greater, if desired, since the drive wheels impart sufficient movement to sheets passing the drive wheels to assure proper'advancement to the acceleration wheels. The tangential velocity of the peripheries of acceleration wheels 60 is significantly greater than the tangential velocity of the peripheries of drive wheels 23-230 to cause the single sheet fed thereto to move at a greater linear speed as the leading edge of the single sheet enters'between acceleration wheels and their cooperating idler rollers 65. This absolutely assures the fact that the trailing edge of the sheet passing between rollers 60 and will clearly be separated by a finite gap from the leading edge of the next. sheet in the stack which is delivered to rollers 60 and 65 by the drive wheels 23-230. The gap formed between succeeding sheets fed between drive wheels 23-230 and acceleration wheels 60-60c may be used to great advantage by providing a detector assembly which may be employed for counting purposes. For example, a light source 71 may be positioned in the manner shown in FIG. 1 with the light rays emitted therefrom being directed through suitable openings (not shown for purposes of simplicity) provided in plate por- 16 I gle sheet leaving drive wheels 23-23c. These pulses may be accumulated by a suitable counter (not shown).
ENDORSER If desired, an endorser or stamping wheel may be positioned downstream of the acceleration wheels 60. Plate portion 16b is preferably lengthened to accommodate the endorser roller and a cooperating elongated idler roller for stamping or endorsing" sheets as they pass between the endorser assembly. After leaving the endorser stage, documents are then stacked in the same manner as will be more fully described.
Plate 16 has a remaining plate portion 160 integrally joined to plate portion 16b which forms substantially an acute angle with plate portion 16b at a bend 16d which causes the path of movement of single sheets accelerated by wheels 60 (moving in the direction of arrow 74) to be deflected somewhat so as to move in the direction shown by arrow 75, whereupon the single sheets are fed to a stacker assembly 80. The surface 16c acts to realign any sheets striking surface portion 16c in a skewed manner by causing the end of the leading edge striking portion 160 to be decelerated somewhat and thereby move the leading edge uniformly in the forward feed direction.
The preferred pulley arrangement for operation of the apparatus is shown best in FIG. 2'. The apparatus is provided with a motor M (also shown in FIG. 1) having output shaft 129 extending through machine frame F to which motor M is fastened. A pulley 130 is rigidly secured to shaft 129 and drives the acceleration wheel shaft 61 by means of a belt 64 entrained about pulleys 130 and 62. The opposite end of shaft 61 is provided with pulleys 133 and 134. Pulley 133 is locked to shaft 61 and drives kicker wheel shaft 85 by belt 132, which is entrained about pulley 133 and pulley 89 locked to shaft 85. Belt 132 is a resilient O-ring type belt, and is looped in figure 8" fashion to rotate shaft 85 in a direction reverse that of shaft 61. Thus, whenever motor M is energized, shafts 61 and 85, which are directly coupled thereto are rotated.
Shaft 61 is further provided with a clutch 131 which, when energized, causes the pulley 134 mounted upon clutch 131 to rotate. When deenergized, clutch 131 causes pulley 134 to be free-wheeling relative to shaft 61. Belt 135 is entrained about pulley l34'and a pulley 136, locked to one end of drive wheel shaft 24. The opposite end of drive wheel shaft 24 has two pulleys 24 and 138 locked to the shaft. A belt 142 is entrained about pulley 25 and pulley 21, which is locked to picker wheel shaft 20. Belt 140 is entrained about pulley 138 and idler shaft pulley 42 which is locked to idler shaft 39. The shaft 39 serves to impart rotation to the stripper wheels 52-53 as was previously described.
The pulleys 133 and 89 are provided with semicircular grooves around their periphery for receiving O-ring type belt 132. All of the remaining pulleys are provided with gear-like peripheries for engaging teeth provided on the belts which they engage, which belts are 'commonly referred to as timing belts.
An electromagnetic brake 137 is fastened to the machine frame and receives one end 20a of picker wheel shaft 20. When energized, brake 137 abruptly stops shaft 20 from rotating. When deenergized, brake 137 permits shaft 20 to rotate.
In operation, shafts 61 and 85 rotate as long as motor M is energized. Clutch 137 permits drive wheel shaft 24, idler shaft 39, and picker wheel shaft 20 to be selectively disengaged from motor M when energized. The clutch 131 and brake 137 are operated substantially simultaneously to both disengage and abruptly halt the rotation of shafts 24, 39 and 20, even though motor M is running.
The advantageous features of this design can best be appreciated from the description of the gate assembly described hereinabove. This mechanism is also advantageous for use in batching operations, i.e., operations in which a precise number of sheets are to be arranged in a separate stack. For example, let it be assumed that paper currency is to be arranged in stacks of fifty. The counter 217 (see FIG. 1b) after counting the 50th bill, energizes clutch 131 and brake 137 to abruptly stop the operation of the stripper, drive and picker wheels. The 50th bill is advanced to the stacker (since the kicker wheels and acceleration wheels are still running) while the 51st bill is prevented from advancing to the stacker. The stack of 50 bills may then be removed from the stacker 80 and a continue button (not shown for purposes of simplicity) is depressed to initiate reset counter 217 and deenergize clutch 131 and brake 137 to permit-the next stack of 50 bills to be formed. The size of the batch to be formed is dependent only upon the setting of settable switch 216(see FIG. 1b).
STACKER Each single sheet is fed into the region between plate l6e and plate 81 of a movable member 112 forming part of the stacker assembly 80 (see FIG. 1). Each single sheet is kicked against the base plate 83 of the stacker by means of stacker wheels 84-840 which are mounted upon a common shaft 85 journalled within bearings 86 and 87 so as to be free-wheeling relative to machine frame F. Shaft 85 is driven by a pulley member 89 which is coupled to a suitable pulley belt (not shown for purposes of simplicity) so as to rotate the stacker wheels in a direction shown by arrow 91 (see FIG. 1) to cause the leading edges of the sheets being fed thereto by acceleration wheels 60-600 to be kicked against base plate 83. Wheels 84 preferably have peripheries exhibiting a coefficient of friction similar to that of wheels 23-23c, for example. Stacker member 112 is biased by a spring and pulley mechanism 95 and 96, respectively, which normally biases the stacker movable member 112 in the direction shown by arrow 97. As the sheets are deposited within the stacker, movable member 112 moves in the direction shown by arrow 98 against the force of spring 95 to form a neat and somewhat compressed stack of sheets within the'stacker. Hooked end 95a of the spring is secured to a rod R, forming a part of the machine supporting frame, by fastening member 103. Hooked end 95b of the spring is fitted through an eyelet 104 secured to bracket 105 which rotatably supports pulley 106. A second pulley 107 is rotatably mounted upon bracket 108 which is fixedly secured to the left-hand end of base plate 83 by an L-shaped bracket 109. A thin tape member 110 has a first end secured between the yoke of bracket 108 and arm 109, as shown at 109a, is entrained about pulleys 106 and 107 and has its opposite end secured between the downward projection 112a of member 112 (which rides in slot 830) and plate 111 which is secured to projection 112a by fasteners 111a. Bracket 111 is secured to the underside of member 112 enabling member 112 to move within an elongated guide slot 83a provided within base plate 83, while preventing member 112 from being lifted out of slot 83a. The use of a block and pulley arrangement yields a mechanical advantage in that pulley 106 moves only half the distance moved by member 112 to permit the use of a shorter spring (95) of greater spring tension.
Plate 16 has a final plate portion 162 integrally joined with plate portion 16c so as to alter the path of movement of the sheets from the direction shown by arrow to the direction shown by arrow 76. Each sheet, in addition to being kicked against stacker base plate 83, is further abruptly urged against the'confronting surface of plate 81, so that its trailing edge (see trailing edge T ofsheet S' in FIG. 1) is moved a substantial distance away from plate portion 16e of plate 16 so as to provide clearance for the next sheet to be fed to the stacker assembly.
The high-speed movement of sheets through apparatus 10 frequently causes the sheets to pick up some static electric charge, and thereby causing thesheets to beattracted to surface 16c. The action of kicker wheels 84 serves to overcome this attraction in driving the sheets against plate 81. In addition, the kicker wheels urge the leading edges of the sheets against base plate 83 to stack the sheets in a neat fashion. The force of spring normally urges member 112 in the direction of arrow 97 to compress the formed stack. If desired, the plate 81 may be removed, whereby only upwardly projecting member 112 is employed in the stacker to support sheets within the stacker. The ends of the sheets extending laterally of the member 112 experience no restraining force and thereby form a butterfly pattern. However, the stacking operation is performed as effectively as would be the case if plate 81 were provided. The removal of plate 81 facilitates removal of all sheets in the stack, whereas plate 81 obscures the stack and the possibility that one or more sheets may not have been removed from the stacker may go undetected.
As can best be seen from FIG. 2, the stripper and drive wheels are centrally whereby the influence exerted by these wheels is applied substantially to the central portions of sheets S. Since the edges E and E of sheet S may extend a substantial distance beyond this central region C (note FIG. 2), plate portion 16b of plate 16 may be provided with a pair of free-hanging flaps 99 which are mounted within suitable apertures provided in plate portion 16b and whose lower edges 99a extend downwardly and into the infeed opening between plates 16b and 15b. These members extend downwardly by virtueof their weight and exert a guiding influence upon the sheets fed toward the drive wheels 23-23c by the picker wheel 19 to further assure that skewed sheets fed toward .the drive wheels are realigned whereby their leading edges are simultaneously engaged by the contacting peripheral portions of drive wheels 2323c and stripper wheels 52 and 53. However, it has been found that the stripper and drive wheel assemblies have been capable of feeding only single sheets toward the acceleration wheels, even in the case where the leading edge of the sheet (or even of the sheets) is unevenly fed toward the stripper and drive wheels. It has been found that these assemblies are nevertheless capable of feeding only single sheets toward the acceleration wheel and that a gap of finite length sufficient to permit a counting operation will occur. FIG. 2 shows the relative location of the flaps" 99 with respect to the stripper and drive wheels.
' It can be seen from the foregoing description that the present invention provides a novel feeding and separating mechanism capable of feeding and stacking single sheets from a large stack of sheets whichmay contain sheets of dissimilar sizes, thicknesses and finishes and, in fact, may even be slightly or partially mutilated without any effect whatsoever upon the separation operation. The primary distinctions between the feeding and separating device described herein over conventional apparatus are:
a. no adjustment is required for any of the machine components to individually feed sheets of differing sizes, thicknesses, weights or finishes of paper, plastic or other flat material; also, the sheets may be fed in stacks containing sheets of either uniform or differing characteristicsor sizes with equal success;
b. the intermixed stock may vary in thickness, over a wide range. For example, those embodiments already developed are capable of handling sheets of thicknesses at least within the range from 0.002 to 0.021 inch and are capable, for example, of accommodating sheets which may vary in width in the range from at least 2.5 to 7 inches and in the range from at least 2.5 to 24 inches in the direction of travel;
c. non-uniform and non-square-edged stock may be fed with equal success;
d. no special care need be given to a stack of sheets, and more specifically, preliminary jogging or preparation of the stock is not required;
e. the successful feeding and separation of documents can be seen to be carried out without the need for any critically adjusted knife edges or slits, nor supplementary air pressure or vacuum sources, as are typically required in conventional structures;
f. the proper selection and combination of the materials from which the driving and stripping rollers are formed virtually eliminates double stock feeding, thereby eliminating the necessity for the provision of a doubles detector and other associated circuitry; and
g. the design of the apparatus is such that there is no mutilation, bending or curling of the sheets during any phase of the feeding, separating and stacking operations and the apparatus is virtually jam-free throughout the entire operation.
It should further be noted that the simplicity in design and operation of the device lends itself readily for feeding of stock from either a bottom load or top load input device.
Although there has been described a preferred embodiment of this novel invention, many variations and modifications will now be apparent to those skilled in the art. Therefore, this invention is to be limited, not by the specific disclosure herein, but only by theappending claims.
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive privilege or property is claimed are defined as follows:
1. Apparatus for accepting sheets received from an infeed location and delivering saidv sheets along a feed path one at a time in spaced sequential fashion to an outfeed location comprising drive means having continuously rotating rollers having peripheries adapted to make sliding engagement with a sheet delivered thereto;
stripper means positioned adjacent said drive means for preventing more than one sheet at a time from being advanced by said drive means toward said outfeed location, said stripper means comprising:
a machine frame;
stripper support means;
a first shaft freely wheelingly mounted to said frame for pivotally mounting a first end of said support means;
a second shaft free wheelingly mounted to the second end of said support means;
a stripper roller for engaging said sheets being mounted on said second shaft;
each of said shafts having a pulley;
a third shaft free wheelingly mounted to said frame and having a drive pulley;
means for rotating said third shaft and said drive means;
first coupling means entrained between said drive pulley and said first shaft pulley;
second coupling means entrained about'said first and second shaft pulleys whereby said first and second coupling means cooperate to couple rotational movement from said drive pulley to said second shaft stripper roller in a direction opposite that of the drive means rollers while .permitting said support means to freely pivot about said first shaft completely independent of said rotational driving function.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said stripper means further comprises means for urging said stripper