US 3885783 A
A document feeder comprising a driven endless belt having resilient fingers on a portion of its outer periphery for frictionally engaging and advancing a single document at-a-time from a supply of documents positioned on edge. As the belt is driven through a feed cycle, the fingers engage the face of the document in the stack and advance the document through a gap to a transport station. The fingers remain in contact engagement with the document only during movement of the document to the transport station and move out of engagement with the document during the remainder of belt drive through a feed cycle to avoid smudging or marring the document, and to avoid engaging and advancing the next document in the stack until signaled or otherwise caused to do so.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Anderson [451 May 27,1975
 Assignee: Addressograph Multigraph Corporation, Cleveland, Ohio  Filed: July 2, 1973  Appl. No.: 375,734
 US. Cl 271/34; 192/142 R; 271/167;
271/256  Int. Cl B6511 3/04  Field of Search 271/34, 35, 119, 120, 6,
Primary Examiner-Evon C. Blunk Assistant Examiner-Bruce H. Stoner, Jr. Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Sol L. Goldstein  ABSTRACT A document feeder comprising a driven endless belt having resilient fingers on a portion of its outer periphery for frictionally engaging and advancing a single document at-a-time from a supply of documents positioned on edge. As the belt is driven through a feed cycle, the fingers engage the face of the document in the stack and advance the document through a gap to a transport station. The fingers remain in contact engagement with the document only during movement of the document to the transport station and move out of engagement with the document during the remainder of belt drive through a feed cycle to avoid smudging or marring the document, and to avoid engaging and advancing the next document in the stack until signaled or otherwise caused to do so.
4 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures DOCUMENT FEEDER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION utilization In the feeding of documents such as. for example, tabulating cards, the feeding means commonly includes a reciprocating picking element which engages the trailing edge of the bottom-most card in a stack and moves the card from the stack to feed rollers for further transport of the card to a utilzation device.
Although reciprocating knife-type feeders or pickers have been in use for many years, they are not completely reliable in operation and often cause damage to the cards during the picking operation. Thus, the reciprocating motion of the picking element tends to scrape and nick the edge of the card as it strikes the card to feed it from the stack, and when such a damaged card is fed in a subsequent operation, the knife may pick more than just a single card from the stack or it might miss picking a card completely.
Another approach to feeding cards from a stack includes the use of a feed roller in frictional engagement with the face of the card to be fed from the stack. In order to provide sufficient friction to separate and advance the card from the stack, the feed roller is normally provided with a soft covering of rubber or the like. In those cases where the feed roller is in continuous contact with the card, to provide maximum friction for separating and feeding the card, the soft covering of the roller can adversely mark or streak the card.
To avoid marring the surface of the card, the feed roller is operated intermittently into and out of engagement with the cards during each feed cycle. The momentary contact made by such intermittent operation of the roller is deficient for the reason that the force is not always sufficient for the separation and feeding of the card from the stack.
Still other card separating devices utilize a roller having a toothed surface for gripping and separating a card from a stack. However, these rollers are also in continuous contact with the card surface and, additionally, require the use ofa retard member driven in a direction opposite to the feed roller to prevent more than just a single card from passing through the gap.
Another known separating and feeding device comprises an endless suction belt having a raised, smooth pad of friction material in the vicinity of each group of suction holes in the belt. However, while the pad might aid in the removal of the top card from the stack, it does not provide the resilient finger structure of the present invention. Therefore, this prior art arrangement necessarily resorts to the use of suction to afford sufficient gripping action to separate and advance the card from the stack.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides an endless belt member having a plurality of resilient fingers for gripping, separating and advancing a card from a stack of cards. The belt may be arranged for continuous feeding, or it may be manually controlled or operated in response to a signal from a utilization device for intermittent feeding of cards on demand.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a card separating and feeding device for seriatim advancement of cards from a supply in either a continuous or a demand mode.
Another object of the invention is to provide an endless belt having a portion of its outer periphery provided with resilient fingers of material having a high coefficient of friction when contacting paper so as to separate and advance a card from a stack positioned on the edge to a feed position.
Another object is to provide an endless belt-feeder in which the finger portions of the belt afford positive gripping action to separate and feed a card from the stack without causing any streaking or marring of the card.
A further object of the invention is to provide a belt separating and feeding apparatus equipped with means for stopping belt drive in response to actuation by the finger after each card feed cycle when the apparatus is conditioned for a demand feed mode.
A still further object is to provide a belt-feeder which can be used with various types of equipment for feeding a single sheet element at-a-time from a stack of sheet elements by means of resilient fingers provided on a portion of the circumference of the belt. The device is simple in construction, inexpensive to manufacture and reliable in operation.
IN THE DRAWING FIG. 1 is a plan view of an endless belt-document feeder constructed in accordance with the present in vention;
FIG. 2 is a front elevation of the document feeder; and
FIG. 3 is a schematic of an electrical circuit for operating the feeder in either a continuous or a demand mode.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2 there is shown a card hopper indicated generally by the reference numeral 10 for supporting a stack of cards 12 on edge. The hopper includes a base plate 14 and a vertical face plate I6 positioned at a right angle to the base plate. In use, the hopper 10 is positioned on the utilization device at an angle such that the base plate 14 is inclined downwardly so as to cause the card stack 12 to be normally urged by gravity against the face plate 16. Additionally, a weight 18 may be placed on the base plate 14 and against the last card in the stack 12 to assist in urging and maintaining the cards against the face plate 16.
A card gate member 20 is adjustably mounted on the base plate 14 and includes a surface 22 for guiding and maintaining in alignment the lead edges at the bottom of the cards 12. The gate member 20 is positioned on the base plate 14 such that the surface 22 forms an angle of about 60 with the face plate 16 to thereby fan the lead edges of the cards for facilitating separation, particularly if the cards are bowed, of a single card from the supply, as shown in FIG. I.
The gate member 20 also provides an edge 24 adjacent the face plate 16. By adjusting the gate member 20 towards and away from the face plate 16, the edge 24 and the face plate 16 form a gap 26 therebetween for the passage therethrough of a single card at-a-time. The gap 26 may be set for accepting documents of various thicknesses and, in the case of the aperture cards described herein, the gap setting is normally about 0.009 inch.
A card guide 28 is also provided on the hopper l and is adjustably mounted on a top edge 29 of the face plate 16. The card guide 28 extends outwardly over the card stack 12 to support the top edges of the cards and provides a depending ear 30 for guiding and maintaining in alignment the lead edges at the top of the cards l2. Thus, the depending ear 30 is formed at a suitable angle to provide an inside surface 32 coinciding with the surface 22 of the gate member 20 to thereby maintain the lead edges of the cards in proper alignment for seriatim passage of the cards through the gap 26.
it will be appreciated that the feeder of the present invention may be used for separating and feeding various types of forms and documents from the top or the bottom of the stack, or on edge. However, the feeder is hereinafter described in connection with the feeding of aperture cards on edge, i.e., feeding tabulating cards, having a micro-film frame therein, from a supply of cards to a utilization device such as, for example, a micro-film viewer.
The endless belt-card separating and feeding device of the present invention is indicated generally by the reference numeral 36 in FIGS. 1 and 2, and comprises a timing belt 38 provided with a series of resilient fingers 42 on a portion of its outer periphery. The fingers 42 may be of any selected shape or form to provide a series of fingers 42 extending a total lateral distance of approximately one-sixth of the length of the circumference of the belt 38. Preferably, the fingers are of pure gum rubber or other similar material having a high frictional coefficient.
The belt 38 is mounted for rotation on a pair of sprockets 44 and 46 supported on a shaft and a driven shaft 58 respectively, and the belt 38 extends into an opening 48 in the face plate 16. During each revolution of the belt 38 in a predetermined path, the fingers 42 project through the opening 48 and into gripping engagement with the face of the first card to separate and advance the card from the stack.
The drive for the belt 38 is best shown in FIG. 2 and includes a motor 34 and a drive shaft 50. The drive shaft 50 is provided with a sprocket 52 which, through a drive belt 54 connecting the sprocket 52 with a sprocket 56 on the driven shaft 58, transmits rotation to the driven shaft 58 and, of course, to the sprocket 46 fixed thereon. The driven shaft 58 is associated with a clutch means 60 to provide intermittent drive of the endless belt 38 of the feeding device 36 without stopping the motor 34 after each revolution of the belt.
A switch 62 is mounted on a side plate 64 and includes an actuating arm 66 extending into the path of travel of the fingers 42 on the belt 38. As will be further explained below, during a demand feed operation the fingers 42 contact the arm 66 and actuate the switch 62 during each revolution or feed cycle of the belt 38 to thereby provide for intermittent drive of the belt 38.
The operation of the device will now be described with reference to FIG. 3. As shown therein, manual depression of a start switch S1 energizes a relay R and ini tiates the drive operation of the endless belt 38. Initially. a switch S2 is in a demand feed position and the normally closed switch 62 is open due to the fingers 42 on the belt 38 acting against the actuating arm 66 of the switch 62.
With the switch 62 in an open condition, a relay R] will be de-energized and relay contacts lRl remain closed. However, when the switch S1 is actuated, energizing the relay R, contacts 1R will close resulting in a path to ground through the contacts lRl and IR.
When the switch S1 is released, the relay R remains energized through the contacts IR] and IR, and contacts 2R from the relay R will close and energize the motor 34 which drives the belt 38. This operation will continue until the fingers 42 on the belt 38 are clear of the actuating arm 66 of the switch 62. At such time, the switch 62 will close and energize the relay Rl.
Thereafter, the relay contacts 1R1 will open and contacts 2R1 will close. When the contacts lRl open, the relay R will become de-energized thus opening the contacts 2R. However, because the contacts 2Rl have closed, the motor 34 will continue to operate and drive the belt 38. The relay R1 will remain energized until such time as the switch 62 again opens, i.e. until the fingers 42 on the belt 38 return to the position where they act upon the actuating arm 66 of the switch 62.
At this point of operation, the relay R1 will be deactiviated and the contacts 2R1 will open while the contacts 1R1 will close. Because the contacts 1R are already in open condition and, therefore, the relay R de-activated, the motor 34 will stop. To initiate another demand feed cycle, for feeding a single card-at-a-time, the start switch S1 need only be depressed momentarily again. The above described operation will be repeated each time the switch S1 is actuated.
The switch S2 is provided for operating the beltfeeder 36 in a continuous card feed mode and provides both continuous and demand feed positions. The demand position, as explained above, is utilized for an intermittent card feeding operation.
With the switch S2 in position for continuous feed, the relay contacts 1R1 are eliminated from the circuit. Hence, when the start switch S1 is actuated and the relay R activated, the contacts 1R will latch the relay R and keep it latched until the switch S2 is returned to the demand feed position. In this manner, the contacts 2R will energize the motor 34 continuously, regardless of the fingers 42 on the belt 38 acting against the actuating arm 66 of the switch 62 during each revolution of the belt 38, to thereby effect continuous feeding of one card-at-a-time in each cycle of operation.
From the above, it will be seen that the present invention provides a novel card separating and feeding device for feeding documents of various sizes and thicknesses. The resilient fingers 42 on the belt 38 provide a positive gripping action to the face of the card or document being fed without adversely marring or streaking the card surface.
The feeder provides for feeding cards in either a demand or a continuous feed mode and can be readily adapted to various types of applications and utilization devices. Also, because the cyclic timing of the belt 38 with respect to feeding cards on demand is controlled by the belt 38 per se, specifically by the fingers 42 on the belt coacting with the switch 62, the device does not require the use of independent timing or synchronization mechanisms.
What is claimed is:
l. A document feeder for separating and advancing a single document at a time from a supply of documents comprising:
a hopper for holding a supply of documents standing on edge to be fed, said hopper including a document guide assembly comprising a guide plate, a movable gate member and a fixed guide element for restraining the lower and upper edges of said document respectively, said guide assembly being angularly disposed in relation to said guide plate causing the lead edges of said documents to be offset from one another in a direction extending into the interior of said hopper to form an exitway therebetween, said exitway having a width large enough to permit the passage therethrough of a single document at a time; an endless belt member positioned adjacent said guide plate and having access to the face of a forward-most document to be fed from the supply of documents, said endless belt having raised finger elements on a portion of its outer periphery for engagement with the face of the document to be fed; drive means for driving the endless belt in a predetermined path into and out of engagement with the face of the document being fed during each revolution of the endless belt; switch means in the path of said belt identifying a start position for said belt in said path to provide finger contact with said document for a period of time to assure removal of said document from said hopper during the period said belt completes one revolution and stopping the operation of the belt when said finger returns to said start position; whereby movement of the finger elements into engagement with the face of the document during each revolution advances one document at a time from said supply. 2. A document feeder as set forth in claim 1 in which the finger elements comprise a plurality of resilient fingers of a material having a high frictional coefficient to thereby exert a positive gripping action to the document being fed.
3. A document feeder as set forth in claim 2 in which the resilient fingers extend in total lateral length a distance of about one-sixth the circumference of the endless belt.
4. A document feeder for separating and advancing a single document at a time from a supply of documents, comprising:
a belt positioned adjacent the forward-most document to be fed from a supply of documents, said belt having resilient finger elements on a portion thereof for engaging the document to be fed;
a hopper for holding a supply of documents standing on edge to be fed, said hopper including a guide plate and a movable gate member converging with one another to form an exitway therebetween. said exitway having a width large enough to permit the passage therethrough of a single document at a time;
drive means for driving the belt in a predetermined path to move the finger elements into and out of engagement with each of the documents to be fed;
a first switch means selectively settable between a demand feed setting wherein the drive means is stopped after the feeding of each document and a continuous feed setting wherein the drive means is continuously operated;
a second switch means actuable by the finger elements for stopping the drive means when the first switch means is in the demand feed setting; and
means for bypassing the second switch means for continuous operation of the drive means when the first switch means is in the continuous feed setting.