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Publication numberUS3889633 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 17, 1975
Filing dateMay 8, 1974
Priority dateMay 8, 1974
Publication numberUS 3889633 A, US 3889633A, US-A-3889633, US3889633 A, US3889633A
InventorsGlenn F Roquemore, Roderick B Lacy
Original AssigneeFormulabs Ind Inks Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for applying one or more stripes to conductors
US 3889633 A
Abstract
Conductor striping apparatus for applying one or more coding stripes parallel to the conductor axis at rates of 600 feet per minute or better. The ink applicator utilizes no moving parts and comprises a perforated masking shim plate held against the conductor by open cell wicking extending into the perforations to feed ink onto a conductor as it is advanced past and in contact with one or more of the perforations. Conductor guide means formed with a V-shaped groove seating the conductor on its opposed sides are positioned closely adjacent the approach edge of the masking plate and hold the conductor accurately aligned with the perforations while the coding stripe is being applied to the conductor. Preheater means may be employed to preheat the conductor insulation to facilitate application of the ink and to expedite drying of the ink.
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United States Patent [191 Roquemore et al.

[ APPARATUS FOR APPLYING ONE OR MORE STRIPES TO CONDUCTORS [75] Inventors: Glenn F. Roquemore; Roderick B.

Lacy, both of Escondido, Calif.

[73] Assignee: Formulabs Industrial Inks, Inc.,

Escondido, Calif.

[22] Filed: May 8, 1974 [21] Appl. No.: 467,890

Scott 118/234 X June 17, 1975 Primary ExaminerJ0hn P. McIntosh Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Sellers and Brace 1 1 ABSTRACT Conductor striping apparatus for applying one or more coding stripes parallel to the conductor axis at rates of 600 feet per minute or better. The ink applicator utilizes no moving parts and comprises a perforated masking shim plate held against the conductor by open cell wicking extending into the perforations to feed ink onto a conductor as it is advanced past and in contact with one or more of the perforations. Conductor guide means formed with a V-shaped groove seating the conductor on its opposed sides are positioned closely adjacent the approach edge of the masking plate and hold the conductor accurately aligned with the perforations while the coding stripe is being applied to the conductor. Preheater means may be employed to preheat the conductor insulation to facilitate application of the ink and to expedite drying of the ink.

19 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures PATENIEBJUN 17 I975 .633

3/ A 4 2 w a; 20-.

PM. 1. M

APPARATUS FOR APPLYING ONE OR MORE STRIPES TO CONDUCTORS This invention relates to conductor coding apparatus, and more particularly to an improved apparatus for applying one or more stripes to a conductor at high speed without need for moving parts and readily handling conductors of a wide range of sizes.

The ever-increasing demands for cabling and conductors carrying some distinctive means for distinguishing a particular conductor from many others in the same environment has led to many different techniques and apparatus for coding conductors. These proposals fall into several categories and include types suitable for applying a single solid color to the conductor and other types suitable for applying one or more stripes of the same or different colors restricted to a portion only of the conductor circumference. The present invention is restricted to the second or striping type.

Prior striping devices propose different mechanisms for applying the stripe to a narrow band but invariably employ moving components rotating about the conductor as the latter is being pulled through the coding applicators. All such prior equipment is subject to serious disadvantages and objections including their complexity, sensitivity to adjustment of the parts, as well as the inability to stripe conductors at speeds in excess of 150 feet per minute. Another serious shortcoming of the prior constructions is the inability to handle both heavy gauge and very small gauge conductors and to shift from striping one size to another without need for substituting components or adjusting components of the equipment.

The coding apparatus provided by this invention overcomes and avoids the foregoing and other shortcomingss of prior equipment. The strip applicator, motable for its design, simplicity, and its operating principles, includes versatile guide means for holding any of a wide range of conductor sizes firmly centered immediately adjacent the stripe applicator. This conductor guide and centering device comprises a pair of rigid plates each provided with a V-shaped groove facing toward one another and resiliently and firmly held pressed against the conductor from its opposite sides. The applicator is in alignment therewith and includes means for holding at least one mask plate against the conductor, the mask plate being a thin rigid shim provided with one or more openings with the outer ends thereof resiliently pressed against very fine wicking. The rigid mask shim prevent any except a very narrow portion of the wicking coming in contact with the conductor. The width of the stripe applied to the conductor is a function of the diameter of the opening in the mask and the diameter of the conductor. Thus, a given size small opening in the mask is effective to provide a relatively narrow coding stripe on small gauge conductors since the area of tangency with the opening is very small. A larger diameter conductor passed over the same mask opening receives a substantially wider coding band because the area of tangency with the ink feeding opening is greater and the pressure urging the mask against the conductor tends to flatten a wider portion of the conductor girth thereagainst.

If it is desired to apply more than one coding stripe, this is readily accomplished by providing the applicator with a pair of mask plates associated with a respective length of fine pore wicking. The invention coding appation and adherence of the ink to the insulation and facilitates rapid drying.

Accordingly, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide an improved conductor coding apparatus of unusual simplicity and effective to apply one or more stripes lonngitudinally to a conductor at high speed without need for movable components.

Another object of the invention is the provision of improved conductor coding apparatus having an ink applicator comprising a masking shim of rigid material having essentially line contact with one side of the conductor and provided with a fine opening through which coding ink is supplied from wicking held pressed against the side of the mask remote from the conduc tor.

Another object of the invention is the provision of a wire coding apparatus having means for applying a plurality of narrow stripes to a conductor and wherein the width of each stripe is controlled by a relatively thin flat mask having an opening over which the conductor passes and supplied with coding ink by wick-ing held pressed against the exterior side of each mask.

Another object of the invention is the provision of high speed conductor coding apparatus for applying one or more narrow stripes to a conductor as the conductor is held firmly centered between a pair of plates provided with cooperating diametrically opposed V- shaped centering grooves aligned with and positioned closely adjacent a coding ink applicator utilizing a perforated shim-like mask held pressed against the opposite sides of the conductor by fine pore capillary ink feeding wicking.

These and other more specific objects will appear upon reading the following specification and claims and upon considering in connection therewith the attached drawing to which they relate.

Referring now to the drawing in which a preferred embodiment of the invention is illustrated:

FIG. 1 is a small scale front elevational view showing an illustrative embodiment of the invention coding apparatus with the ink reservoir in lowered position and parts of the apparatus broken away to show constructional details;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view on an enlarged scale taken along the broken line 2-2 on FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view similar to FIG. 2 but showing the reservoir elevated as it is during operation of the apparatus;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view on an enlarged scale taken along line 4-4 on FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the ink applicator in open position;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view taken along line 66 on FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view on an enlarged scale taken along line 7-7 on FIG. 4;

FIG. 8 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view on an enlarged scale taken along line 8-8 on FIG. 4 showing relatively narrow bands of coding applied to a small diameter conductor; and

application for United States Letters Patent. Ser.

No.439,925, filed Feb. 4, I974, by Kenneth, being D.

.Palcic, entitled CONDUCTOR CODING APPARA- TUS and assigned to the same assignee as this application.

Accordingly, reference can be had to that application for a detailed understanding of certain components and corresponding to those illustrated herein. It will be understood that apparatus includes an upright supporting pedestal 11 secured to the floor by a base plate 12. The main body of apparatus 10 includes a long horizontally supported cover 13, the midportion of the rear edge of which is secured to pedestal 11 by a vertical bracket 14 and a clamp 15 fixed thereto and embracing pedestal 11. A long ink reservior 18 is supported beneath the stationary cover 13 on a vertically shiftable shelf 19. For this purpose, the rear edge of shaft 19 is fixed to the lower ends of a pair of upright guide rails 20, 20 having grooves in their adjacent vertical edges embracing the edges of the stationary bracket member 14. Tank 18 and its supporting shelf 19 will therefore be understood as shiftable vertically along bracket 14 between the open position shown in FIG. 2 and the closed position of the reservoir shown in FIG. 3.

The means for moving the tank and its supporting shelf between open and closed positions comprises an operating lever 23 having a cross pin 24 extending through its midportion and projecting outwardly beyond the sides of the lever. The outer ends of this cross pin are shiftable horizontally along slots 25 formed in the opposite sides of a bifurcated member 26 fixed to bracket 15 by cap screws 27. The upper end of lever arm 23 is pivotally connected to shelf 19 by a pivot pin 28. Accordingly, when the right hand end of lever 23 is pulled outwardly as it is in FIG. 2, cross pin 24 is in the right hand end of slots 25 and the ink reservoir 18 is supported in its lower or open position. However, when lever 23 is pivoted downwardly and to the left as viewed in FIG. 2, cross pin 24 is shifted to the left hand end of slots 25 thereby elevating shelf 19 and reservoir 18 and locking it in its closed position as shown in FIG. 3.

Referring more particularly to FIG. 2, it is pointed out that a vertically disposed long but narrow bracket plate 30 depends from the underside of the apparatus cover member 13 and is secured thereto by brackets 31. Bracket plate 31 is provided with a long slot 33 through which clamping bolts 34 extend. These bolts are employed to clamp a conductor aligning device 35 and a striping applicator 36 in any desired position relative to one another along slot 33. The structural details of units 35, 36 will be described in greater detail presently.

Supplementing aligning device 35 in holding the conductor firmly positioned while passing through applicator unit 36 are a pair of eyelet supporting brackets 37 secured to the opposite ends of tank cover 13 and through which the conductor 40 being coded passes. This conductor is advanced to the right from a supply reel 42. After passing through the coding apparatus the conductor is coiled on a power-driven takeup reel 43 opposite the right hand end of FIG. 1. As the conductor approaches apparatus 10 it preferably passes through a suitable preheater 45 of any suitable type and along which air is circulated from a blower 46. Typically, plastic insulated conductors are subjected to moving air preheated to a temperature of 325375F before entering the left hand end of coding apparatus 10.

The stripe applicator 36 will now be described with particular reference to FIGS. 4, 5, 8 and 9. This applicator comprises a pair of wick holders 50, 51 of generally U-shape in cross-section with their open sides facing one another and designed for their sidewalls to internest as they are pivoted toward one another about a pivot pin 52 pivotally interconnecting their lower ends. The groove of channel lengthwise of each of the holders 50, 51 snugly seats and frictionally retains fine pored resilient wicking 53. A masking shim 54 of rigid material is suitably seated over the adjacent faces of each piece of wicking 53,53. As herein shown, mask plates or shims 54 are formed of suitable abrasion resistant material immune to attack by the ink such stainless steel typically two or three mils thick. As here illustrated by way of example, the masks are of U-shaped in cross section with their sidewalls having a resilient fractional fit about wicking 53 and with the adjacent interior sidewalls of the grooves seating the wicks. Mask plates 54 are provided with one or more very fine openings or peforations 55 arranged generally in alignment with the longitudinal axis of the conductor and with the perforations in one mask on a diametric plane passing through the conductor and through the centers of the perforations in the cooperating one of the mask plates. Openings 55 having a diameter of about one sixty fourth of an inch are found to provide an excellent stripe on conductors ranging in size from 0.020 to 0.250 inches in diameter.

The properties and characteristics of wicking 53 is of considerable importance and it has been found that wicking providing excellent highly reliable and uniform results comprises high density polyurethane foam wicking having a density ranging between l7 and 40 lbs. per cubic foot. The pores or cells of such foam are in open communication with one another and of extremely small size, exhibiting excellent ink feeding capillary action. It is found that this wicking material expands slightly into the perforations 55 in a very shallow dome configuration having a height corresponding generally to the thickness of the masking plate and in such manner as to supply a uniform narrow band of coding ink to a conductor held firmly across the perforations while being advanced therepast. Other wicking material having similar characteristics can be used.

It will be observed from FIG. 5 that mask 54, as there shown, is provided with three apertures or openings 55 in alignment with one another transversely of the mask midway between its opposite ends. The length of the mask is preferably such that when its upper end is flush with the upper end of holders 50 and 51, openings 55 are in alignment with the axis of the notches 57,57 in the sidewalls of these holders. This greatly simplifies proper and accurate installation of the masks. The lower ends of wicking 53 extends below the lower end of masks 54 and into the coding ink maintained at a uniform level by any suitable or coventional fountain feed ink supply 61 (FIG. 1).

The movably supported wick holder 51 is formed with threading slots 62,62 terminating at their inner ends in notches 57. Shallow notches 64 open laterally into one edge of slots 62 and notches 57. These notches engage the side of conductor 40 and serve to hold the conductor captive therein as wick holder 51 is pivoted away from its closed position toward its open position, thereby shifting the conductor outwardly away from the mask 54 carried by holder 50 so long as holder 51 is open. Holder 51 is normally latched in its closed position as by a ball detent 65 (FIG. 4) carried in the sidewall of holder 50 in position to seat in a retainer recess 66 (FIG. 5) formed in the interior sidewall of wick holder 51.

Conductor guide and aligning device 35 (FIGS. 1 and 4) has a two part main body here shown as being duplicates of the corresponding members of ink applicator 36. Accordingly, the same reference characters are used to designate the same parts but are distinguished from those applied to applicator 36 by the addition of a prime to the reference characters. The deep grooves facing toward one another extending lengthwise of holders 50',5I support a pair of conductor centering and alignment plates 70,70 best shown in FIG. 7. These plates are formed of any suitable low friction abrasion resistant material, such as Nylon or Delrin, and are resiliently backed by suitable material such as a firm slab of resilient felting 71 having a press fit between the sidewalls ofthe seating groove in the holders. The adjacent faces of alignment plates 70 are formed transversely thereof with a V-shaped groove 72. These grooves are directly opposite one another and cooperate to firmly seat a conductor 40 of any of a wide ranges of sizes and hold it firmly centered to lie in a horizontal plane passing through the ink feeding openings 55 in mask 54,54.

The operation of the coding apparatus will be readily apparent from the foregoing description of apparatus 10. A conductor 40 to be coded with a pair of stripes extending along the opposite sides thereof and parallel to the conductor axis is threaded through preheater 45 and the adjacent one of the guide eyelets 37. During the threading operation, lever arm 23 is pulled outwardly away from pedestal 11 to lower the ink tank 18 to the position shown in FIG. 2. Also, the hinged members 51,51 of the conductor aligning unit 35 and of stripe applicator 36 are opened about hinge pins 52,52 to the position shown in dot and dash line in FIG. 2. The conductor is then threaded through the openings in the sidewalls of these members 51,51 by inserting a conductor downwardly through slot 62,62 and into notches 64,64. The conductor is then threaded through the right hand guide eyelet 37 and onto the takeup spool 43 and securely anchored. The hinged members 51,51 are closed and latched in place in the position shown in FIG. 3. The operator next pivots lever 23 clockwise about cross pin 24 to elevate tank 18 to the closed position shown in FIG. 3.

As is made clear by FIG. 3, the ink is maintained automatically by fountain feed device 61 at a level about the lower end of Wicking 53 of the ink applicators 36. Any suitable coding ink firmly adherent to the conductor and having adequate rapid drying characteristics may be used. If the conductor is provided with a plastic insulation a resin base ink well known to persons skilled in the wire coding art and commercially available on the market provides excellent results. The drive means for takeup reel 43 is placed in operation, a power supply for repheater 45 is activated and so is the drive for the air circulating fan 46.

The conductor is advanced through the coding apparatus and is held taut and generally straight between guide eyelets 37,37. However, the portion of the conductor approaching the entrance side of ink applicator 36 is held firmaly against whipping or vibratory movement and centered by the cooperating V-shaped grooves 72,72 of the wire aligning unit 35. Wicking 53 of the applicator unit 36 is maintained saturated with ink including the portions of the wick bulging into openings 55 of mask plates 54. These openings of approximately l/64 inch in diameter permit the Wicking to bulge slightly in a low height dome extending into the openings 55 but preferably not beyond the outer surface of the mask plates. It will be understood that the combined normal relaxed thickness of the two wicks 53 and their masks 54 is appreciably greater than the distance between the seating grooves for the wicking in holders 50,51. Accordingly, when a conductor is in place between the masks, the resiliency of the compressed wicking is available to hold the masks pressed againsst the opposite sides of the conductor insulation.

If a relatively small diameter conductor is being coded, as it is in FIG. 8, a narrow coding strip is applied to te conductor having a width substantially less than the diameter of openings 55. The stripes so applied is of uniform width and has a straight edge free of raggedness and imperfections. If a larger diameter conductor is being coated, as it is in FIG. 9, a substantially wider coding stripe is applied to either side of the conductor owing to the close proximity of a wider portion of the conductor girth to openings 55. The maximum width of stripe applied corresponds generally with the diameter of openings 55 when coding conductors of larger diameter. Thus, with a conductor of the size illustrated in FIG. 9, the stripe may be substantially as wide as the openings 55 whereas in FIG. 8, the stripe is substantially narrower than the width of openings 55.

Preheater 45 and its associated air circulating fan 46 serve to heat the conductor insulation and, in consequence, are found to improve the adherence of the ink to the conductor insulation as well as to expedite drying of the ink after the conductor issues from applicator 36. Operating speeds of 600 or more feet per minute are routinely achieved, a coding speed several times faster than possible with any prior equipment.

If the operator wishes to interrupt the operation at any time for servicing, the drive for the takeup reel 43 is de-energized and tank 18 is opened downwardly to the position shown in FIG. 2. The cover members 51,51 of devices 35,36 are then opened outwardly. As this takes place, the conductor 40 enters notches 64,64 in the sides of slots 62,62. Accordingly, as members 51,51 are opened further, the conductor is shifted to a position out of contact with and between the widely spaced masking plates 54,54. The Wicking and the masking plates may then be removed or serviced and are quickly and easily reinstalled by pressing them into their seating channels with the top edge of the Wicking, and particularly of masks 54, flush with the upper end of members 50,51. Likewise, the aligning plates 70,70 of the conductor centering device 35 are reinserted if necessary with the upper edge of each flush with the upper end of their respective holders. It is then known that the centering grooves 72,72 are in accurate alignment with the masking plate openings 55,55.

While the particular aparatus for applying one or more stripes to conductors herein shown and disclosed in detail is fully capable of attaining the objects and providing the advantages hereinbefore stated, it is to be understood that it is merely illustrative of the presently preferred embodiment of the invention and that no limitations are intended to the detail of construction or design herein shown other than as defined in the appended claims.

We claim:

1. Apparatus for applying a coding stripe to a conductor comprising: a stripe applicator station located between conductor supply means and conductor takeup reel means, said applicator station including coding ink supply means, capillary ink feeding means in communication with said ink supply means and extending to a position of contact with a conductor while being moved therepast and onto said takeup reel means, impervious mask means positioned between the surface of the conductor and said ink feeding means, said mask means having an opening the width of which does not exceed the desired width of the stripe being applied to said conductor and into which opening said ink feeding means projects, and means for holding the conductor firmly pressed against and centered over the adjacent end of the opening in said mask whereby a stripe of coding ink is applied to the conductor as the same is advanced axially past said mask opening.

2. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 characterized in that said mask has a substantially planar surface in tangential contact with the juxtaposed surface of the conductor, and the center of said opening through said mask for supplying ink to the conductor being located substantially at the point of tangency of said mask with the conductor.

3. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 characterized in that said ink feeding means is resilient and effective to hold said mask pressed firmly against a conductor undergoing striping with coding ink.

4. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 characterized in the provision of a plurality of said capillary ink feeding means each provided with similar masks each having an ink feeding opening therethrough held pressed against a different portion ofthe conductor surface and respectively effective to apply a separate coding stripe to the conductor as the conductor is advanced therepast.

5. Apparatus as defined in claim 1 characterized in that said mask has a plurality of ink feeding openings with their centers lying generally in a plane passing through and parallel to the axis of the conductor opposite said applicator station.

6. Apparatus for applying a continuous non-spiralling stripe lengthwise of a conductor comprising: ink applicator means including means for holding a conductor accurately positioned as a conductor undergoing striping moves axially through said applicator means, resilient open cell capillary wicking supported in said applicator means and in communication with a supply of coding ink, and a mask plate interposed between said conductor and said wicking having an opening sealed against the adjacent surface of the conductor and into which said wicking extends to feed a narrow stripe of ink onto the conductor as the conductor is advanced therepast.

7. Apparatus as defined in claim 6 characterized in that said mask plate is provided with a plurality of said openings including at least two of which are simultaneously seated against the surface of the conductor and cooperating with said wicking in applying ink to the conductor.

8. Apparatus as defined in claim 6 characterized in that the width of the ink stripe applied to a conductor is limited by the width of the opening through said mask plate.

9. Apparatus as defined in claim 6 characterized in that said applicator means includes a mask plate and associated wicking bearing against circumferentially spaced apart areas of the conductor, and each of said mask plates having an opening no wider than the width of a stripe to be applied thereby to the conductor by wicking extending into each of said openings.

10. Apparatus as defined in claim 6 characterized in the provision of means for preheating the conductor as the conductor is advanced toward said ink applicator.

11. Apparatus as defined in claim 6 characterized in that said mask plate comprises smooth-surfaced impervious material a few mils thick immune to attack by the coding ink.

12. Apparatus as defined in claim 6 characterized in that said applicator means includes a pair of channelshaped members having their open sides facing each other, a length of wicking seated snugly in each of said channel-shaped members, said mask plates being channel-shaped with the sidewalls thereof extending inwardly along the sidewalls of a respective one of the channels in said channel-shaped members, and said ink feeding openings being located in the bottoms of said channel-shaped mask plates.

13. Apparatus as defined in claim 12 characterized in that the sidewalls of said channel-shaped masking plates have an interference frictional fit with the sidewall surfaces of said channel-shaped members.

14. Apparatus as defined in claim 12 characterized in that said ink feeding opening is positioned to bear against the surface of the conductor when mounted in the supporting one of said channel-shaped members with the end of the mask plate flush with one end of the channel-shaped member.

15. Apparatus as defined in claim 6 characterized in that said means for holding the conductor accurately positioned as the conductor is advanced through said applicator means comprises guide plate means having a V-shaped groove seating the conductor and along which the conductor is advanced, means for holding the conductor resiliently seated in said groove, and means for rigidly supporting said guide plate means close to said mask plate with the V-groove thereof accurately aligned with the ink feeding opening through said mask plate.

16. Apparatus as defined in claim 15 characterized in the provision of a pair of said guide plate means each having a V-shaped groove thereacross and mutually cooperating to embrace the conductor from the opposite sides thereof thereby to hold the conductor accurately positioned in alignment with the ink feeding opening in said mask plate.

17. Apparatus as defined in claim 16 characterized in the provision of resilient means for urging said guide plate means toward one another from the opposite sides of the conductor.

terial immune to attack by the coding ink and having cells very substantially smaller than the width of the ink feeding opening through said mask plate.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7083826May 16, 2003Aug 1, 20063M Innovative Properties CompanyCoating die and method for use
US7695768Jul 26, 2006Apr 13, 20103M Innovative Properties CompanyCoating die and method for use
US20040228972 *May 16, 2003Nov 18, 20043M Innovative Properties CompanyCoating die and method for use
US20060257574 *Jul 26, 2006Nov 16, 20063M Innovative Properties CompanyCoating die and method for use
Classifications
U.S. Classification118/68, 118/DIG.210, 118/264, 118/234, 118/221, 118/226
International ClassificationB41F17/10
Cooperative ClassificationB41F17/10, Y10S118/21
European ClassificationB41F17/10