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Publication numberUS3905593 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 16, 1975
Filing dateMay 7, 1973
Priority dateMay 7, 1973
Publication numberUS 3905593 A, US 3905593A, US-A-3905593, US3905593 A, US3905593A
InventorsSheldon P Behn
Original AssigneeSuper Laundry Mach Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Flatwork folding system
US 3905593 A
Abstract
A flatwork folding system comprises two lateral folding units and a cross-folding unit. Each lateral folding unit includes a pair of longitudinally spaced lateral folding means spaced along a conveyor means thereof. An adjustable fold control timer associated preferably with at least one of the lateral folding means of one of the lateral folding units provides a selection of intermediate longitudinal points of the flatwork piece at which the flatwork piece is first laterally folded thereby. The cross-folding unit preferably comprises three spaced cross-folding means. Associated with one of the cross-folding means is a flatwork piece leading edge sensing means spaced a given distance beyond the cross-folding means for initiating operation of a cross-folding means to produce a cross fold in the flatwork piece a given distance from the leading edge thereof which ensures that the upper folded portion will not overlap the bottom portion of the flatwork piece. Individually manually operable means are most advantageously associated with at least one of the lateral folding means of each lateral folding unit and at least one of the cross-folding means which means renders operable or inoperable the associated means.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 11 1 Behn [ FLATWORK FOLDING SYSTEM [75] Inventor: Sheldon P. Behn, Highland Park Ill.

[73] Assignee: Super Laundry Machinery Company, Inc.. Chicago, Ill.

[22] Filed: May 7, 1973 [211 App]. No.: 357,959

Primary ExurrzincrRobert W. Michell AA'A'fSIUNI Examiner-A. Heinz Attorney, Agenr, or FirmWallenstein, Spangenberg, Hattis & Strampel 1 51 Sept. 16, 1975 [5 7 ABSTRACT A flatwork folding system comprises two lateral folding units and a cross-folding unit. Each lateral folding unit includes a pair of longitudinally spaced lateral folding means spaced along a conveyor means thereof. An adjustable fold control timer associated preferably with at least one of the lateral folding means of one of the lateral folding units provides a selection of intermediate longitudinal points of the flatwork piece at which the flatwork piece is first laterally folded thereby. The cross-folding unit preferably comprises three spaced cross-folding means. Associated with one of the cross-folding means is a flatwork piece leading edge sensing means spaced at given distance beyond the cross-folding means for initiating operation of a cross-folding means to produce a cross fold in the fiatwork piece a given distance from the leading edge thereof which ensures that the upper folded portion will not overlap the bottom portion of the flatwork piece. Individually manually operable means are most advantageously associated with at least one of the lateral folding means of each lateral folding unit and at least one of the cross-folding means which means renders operable or inoperable the associated means.

10 Claims, 13 Drawing Figures PATENTEU SEP I 6 7 SHEET 1 BF 7 FIG. 2

PATENTED SEP 1 81975 SHEET 2 BF 7 I00 7 a o LATERAL LATERAL CROSS FOLDER sELEcflON FOLDER 4. FOLDER 2 POWER I I OFF W I q in FOLDER 0N OFF 0 2a 0 28' 32 30 9 g 6 \,ON OFF i I 20 22 FOLD FOLD 2 I ER 36 34 2nd 2nd 24 2 FOLD 2 FOLD 3 3rd FOLDER FIG. 3

FIG. 11

SHEET LENGTH AFTER FOLD no. OF SIZE AFTER X-FOLD SIZE LAT. CROSS FOLDS 2 3 4 FOLDS z 3 l' P2 L19 liLwi i";

Fm/21 V4 l @u' 22 L L H5 2 H5 4 a0 40 20 IO 3 u u FIRST SECOND THIRD cRoss FOLD cROss FOLD cRoss FOLD 171 124 L65 u" L2'r'-' PATENTEU 8i5175 FIG. 8

sncnsum PATENHH SEP 1 6 I975 sum 6 o I FIG PATENTEB SEP I 61975 sum 7 OF I FLATWORK FOLDING SYSTEM The present invention relates to a flatwork folding system having its most important utility in the folding of sheets, blankets, bedspreads and similar relatively large flatwork pieces.

The folding of relatively large flatwork pieces like sheets, blankets, bedspreads and the like by the manu facturer of such articles or by launderers of such articles has heretofore been generally accomplished partially by automatic folding machinery and partially by manual labor. It was common, for example, to provide an automatic folding system comprising a lateral folding unit which formed two lateral folds in the flatwork pieces fed thereto. and a cross-folding unit for providing three cross-folds on the flatwork pieces laterally folded by the lateral folding unit. In some cases, individual controls were provided to render operative or inoperative some of the folding means to provide a limited selection of the number of folds.

However, the lateral and cross-folding means which perform the lateral and cross-folding operations are generally operated on the principle of folding the flatwork pieces involved in half or in some cases in a lesser fixed fractional part of the length of the flatwork pieces involved, so that the size of the folded article delivered by the flatwork folding system depended upon the size of the flatwork pieces delivered thereto. Commonly, a number of persons were required to supplement the flatwork folding system to provide additional folds in the flatwork pieces sometimes before and generally after the flatwork pieces were fed to the folding system, to provide a desired completely folded article ofa standard length and width independently of the unfolded size of the article.

ln accordance with one of the features ofthe present invention, it was discovered that by combining two lateral and one cross-folding unit each capable of performing a selection of folding operations with the point of each flatwork piece at which at least one of the lateral folding operations is performed being adjustable over certain flexible limits and the point of each flatwork piece at which one of the cross-folding operations is performed being fixed at a given predetermined distance from the front edge thereof, it was readily possi ble with the folding system to obtain a consistently sized folded flatwork piece for a wide variety of flatwork piece sizes. Also, such a system required much fewer persons to perform the various functions needed to produce a completely folded article.

Cross-folding units commonly receive the laterally folded flatwork pieces on a conveyor assembly which has a slot extending parallel to the direction of movement of the conveyor. A folding plate or the like over lies the slot, and when the leading edge of the laterally folded flatwork piece reaches a position overlying the slot, a sensing device like a microswitch operates the folding plate which pushes the flatwork piece down through the slot to perform the first cross-folding operation. Generally, the conveyor is much wider than the corresponding dimension of the flatwork pieces involvcd, and so, while the first cross-folding operation desirably folds the flatwork piece in half, it is not uncommon for a flatwork piece to be off-center, so that the folding plate forms a fold at a point other than the midpoint of the flatwork piece. Consequently, the lengths of the successive flatwork pieces after a first cross-folding operation varies over appreciable limits. unless extreme care is taken by the operators to precisely center each flatwork piece fed to the folding sys' tern and the subsequent cross-folding operations produce cross-folded flatwork pieces with proportionately varying lengths. The cross folder unit of the present invention is unique and constitutes an improvement over a cross-folding unit like that just described by eliminating the necessity of feeding the flatwork pieces to the folding system in a centered position to obtain consistently sized cross-folded articles by performing the second cross-folding operation in a manner which produces a second crossfolded flatwork piece with a fixed length independent of the length of the once crossfolded flatwork pieces fed thereto. Thus, unlike conventional cross-folding units where the second crossfolding operation in the exemplary cross-folding unit now being described folds the flatwork piece in half, the second cross-folding operation is performed a given fixed distance from the leading edge of the flatwork pieces involved, which distance is no less than approximately one-half of the width of the conveyor (which is at right angles to the slot). Thus, as long as the operator feeds a flatwork piece into the folding system at a position where the flatwork piece will be within the side margins of the conveyor equipment utilized, the second crossfolding operation will produce a second crossfolded article of a fixed length.

For example, if the lateral and cross-folding units have aligned conveyors of the same width, for example, inches, then the laterally folded flatwork pieces reaching the centered slot at the first cross-folding station of the cross-folding unit could occupy a variety of positions along the width of the conveyor, and after being cross-folded once by the folding plate would have a length which could vary from a maximum of 65 inches to a minimum of one half the dimension of the laterally folded cross folded piece fed to the crossfolding unit. If the second cross-folding operation is formed at all times at a point 32% inches from the leading edge of each first cross-folded flatwork piece, for flatwork pieces having a length of from 32 inches to 65 inches, the length of the second cross-folded flatwork piece will always be 32% inches. Any subsequent cross-folding operation performed by the cross-folding unit will also produce a cross-folded flatwork piece having the same length.

It has also been found that if preferably at least the first lateral folding operation of the first lateral folding unit is controlled by a timer means which provides for an adjustment in the distance between the leading edge of the flatwork piece and the point where the lateral fold is performed, even if the other lateral folding stations perform a more or less conventional fold-in half operation, flatwork pieces of a variety of sizes can be successively cross-folded to a near identical width if the number of lateral folding operations performed is also variable from at least 3 to 4 lateral folding operations, and preferably from 1 or 2 to 4 lateral folding opera tions. Also, to maximize the flexibility of the folding system, the most preferred form of the invention provides for a selection of from one to three cross-folding operations.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the manufacturer of the folding equipment involved can standardize to a substantial degree his lateral and- /or cross-folding products so he can sell them for independent use or for integration with other cross-folding or lateral folding units in a unique manner where they are or can be readily centrally controlled and interlocked in a manner to be described. Thus, in the flexible flatwork folding system of the type previously described, a central control panel may be provided with manual control means thereon for applying power to the conveyors of the individually useable lateral and cross-folding units and for selecting the number of lateral and cross-folding operations to be carried out. Also, interlocks are preferably provided between the various units so that the removal of a service area access panel from any one of the units will automatically disconnect power to the conveyors of all of the units in the system.

The above and other advantages and features of the invention will become apparent upon making reference to the specification to follow. the claims and the drawings wherein:

FIG. I is a perspective view of a folding system comprising an inlet feeder and smoothing unit, two lateral folding units and a cross-folding unit integrated into a single folding system in accordance with one aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the folding system shown in FIG. 1, illustrating bed sheets or the like being fed into, folded by and delivered to a discharged station of the folding system of FIG. I;

FIG. 3 is a front view of the central control unit which controls the various modes of operation of the folding system shown in FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4 schematically illustrates an interlock switch in the housing of the control unit shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a longitudinal sectional view through one of the lateral folding units shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, illus trating the different parts thereof which carry out selec tively one or two lateral folding operations;

FIG. 6 illustrates the folding apparatus of the first lateral folding station of either of the lateral folding units shown in FIGS I and 2 in the process of forming a first fold in a bed sheet or the like;

FIG. 7 illustrates the operation of the apparatus of the second folding station of either of the lateral folding units shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, as a second lateral fold is formed in a bed sheet or the like;

FIG. 8 is a transverse sectional view through the crossfolding unit shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 as it is carrying out a first cross-folding operation;

FIGv 9 is a fragmentary view of the cross-folding unit shown in FIG. 8 as a folding blade is in the process of performing a second cross-folding operation;

FIG. I0 is a fragmentary view of another portion of the cross-folding unit of FIG. 8 as a folding blade is carrying out a third cross-folding operation and also illustrates the path of movement of a flatwork piece which is only cross-folded twice by the cross-folding unit;

FIG. 11 is a chart which indicates the manner in which the folding system shown in FIGS. I and 2 can fold bed sheets of varying standard sizes into identically sized folded pieces by means of the various adjustments which can be made in the folding system of the invention;

FIG. l2A-I2C shows the manner in which the crossfolding unit performs three cross-folding operations on variously sized flatwork pieces fed thereto; and

FIG. 13 is a circuit diagram of a preferred control system for the flatwork system shown in FIGS. 1-12;

Referring now more particularly to FIGS. I and 2, the flatwork folding system shown therein is preferably made up of a number of basic units which can be sold separately for independent use in a variety of different flatwork piece folding installations. or can be integrated into a single overall folding system as illustrated in these drawings. The first unit to which the flatwork pieces are fed is an inlet feeder and smoothing unit I which may be a unit which receives flatwork pieces fed thereto and smoothes the same laterally as disclosed in copending application Ser. No. 245,485 filed Apr. 19, I972. Among other things, the inlet feeder and smoothing unit I may include a pair of laterally extending endless belts 22' which extends laterally over different respective halves of the width of the unit involved and are driven in a direction such that the upper section of the belts move from the center of the unit outwardly frictionally to engage the bottoms of flatwork pieces fed thereto and smooth the same. A nip roller 3 is mounted for up and down movement under control of a microswitch 3' located on an apertured apron Ib located immediately in front of the belts 2-2. Air is drawn through the apertures in the apron to hold the flatwork piece in place against the belts. When the mieroswitch is depressed by dropping a sheet thereon, the belts 22' are operated and an initially raised nip roller 3 is dropped to a position where it is contiguous to the inlet end of conveyor means 4 of a lateral folding unit 5 of the same width as the inlet feeder and smoothing unit 1, so the conveyor means is effective in pulling the flatwork piece through the inlet feeder and smoothing unit. The width of the flatwork pieces fed to the inlet feeder and smoothing unit I can vary widely from a width equal to the full width of the conveyor means 4 and the unit 1, or much smaller than the same. While in prior art folding systems, it was critical to obtain a consistently sized folded article produced by the system to feed the flatwork piece in a near perfectly centered position onto the conveyor means 4 immediately beyond the belts 22', as will appear, such is not necessary in the folding system to be described.

The lateral folding unit 5 can be controlled to effect 0, l or 2 lateral folding operations, that is folding operations which occur along fold lines transverse or across the width of the unit which is transverse to the direction of movement of the flatwork pieces through the lateral folding unit. It is important particularly where maximum flexibility and adaptation to standard bed sheet sizes that at least one, most advantageously the first lateral folding operation of the lateral folding unit, be one which is adjustable so that the distance between the leading edge of each flatwork sheet and the point where the fold is made is variable over large limits unlike prior lateral folders which successively folded the flatwork piece in half.

After leaving the first lateral folding unit 5, each flatwork piece is delivered to the inlet of the conveyor means 4 of a second lateral folding unit 5' which may be similar to the lateral folding unit 5 and, like the latter folding unit can be controlled to perform 0, l or 2 lateral folding operations. As shown in FIG. 2, assum' ing that all the flatwork pieces have the initial size of flatwork pieces 11 being fed into the folding system, the first lateral folding unit 5 has been adjusted progressively to reduce longitudinally the dimension of the flatwork pieces by two lateral folding operations (see flatwork piece 11') and the second lateral folding unit 5' has been adjusted to reduce longitudinally the dimension of the flatwork press by a single lateral folding operation (see flatwork piece 11'').

Each of the lateral folding units has side cabinets like 7 or 7' having one or more removably servicing panels like 7a or 70' which, upon removal thereof, expose control equipment, motors and the like for servicing and adjusting the unit. The inlet feeder and smoothing unit 1 has one or more servicing panels like panel 16. One unique aspect of the present invention is the incorporation of an interlock system to be described behind the various service panels of each unit of the system so that removal of such a panel will effect a shutdown of the entire system for safety reasons. Accordingly, various cables 6, 6' and 6" interconnect the inlet feeder and smoothing unit I, the lateral folding units 5 and 5' and the cross-folding unit 8 to which the folded flatwork pieces are delivered by the second lateral folding unit 5', to integrate all of the units into a single system with the safety interlocks described and also for control from a control unit 10 preferably having a control panel 100 like that shown in FIG. 3. This interlock system is also preferably tied in with a foot pedal switch unit 19 operable by one of the operators who feeds the flatwork pieces into the inlet feeder and smoothing unit I. In this connection, as shown in FIG. 2, these operators will generally stand at the opposite sides of the inlet feeder and smoothing unit 1, and will face toward the latter unit to be in a position to feed the flatwork pieces into the unit and to observe the overall operation of the folding system. If one of the operators should see a situation where the system should be shut down quickly for safety reasons, one of the operators depresses the foot pedal switch 19 which operates an interlock switch which shuts down the entire system.

The cross-folding unit 8 has conveyor means 9 which receives the folded flatwork pieces from the second lateral folding unit 5' and delivers the same to a longitudinally extending slot 12 which is preferably centered within the cross-folding unit 8. The various conveyor means 4, 4' and 9 of the various units described are of a substantially identical width, so that a folded article moved into position above the slot 12 will occupy the same relative position along the width of the crossfolding unit as the flatwork piece had when it was fed to the inlet feeder and smoothing unit 1.

The purpose of the crossfolding unit 8 is to effect selectively either 1, 2 or 3 cross-folds in the laterally folded flatwork pieces fed thereto, the cross-folds being made along fold lines parallel to the direction of the slot 12. In prior art cross-folding units it was important for the flatwork pieces to reach the slot 12 in a near perfectly centered position, since any substantial offcentered position thereof would change the dimension of the flatwork piece which is delivered by the crossfolding unit. However, in accordance with one of the unique aspects of the invention, the cross-folding unit 8 is uniquely designed so that it produces identically sized cross-folded flatwork pieces if cross folded at least twice, independently of the position thereof when delivered to the slot 12.

Overlying the slot 12 of the cross-folding unit 8 is a housing II which includes controls to be described for reciprocating up and down a folding blade 14 (FIG. 8). When the folding blade is moved downwardly it pushes a flatwork piece into the slot 12 where feeding means engages and draws the piece through the slot 12 to cf feet a first cross-folding operation. The initiation of the first cross-folding operation is determined by the contact of the leading edge of the flatwork piece involved with a suitable leading edge sensing control means, such as a microswitch 13. Obviously, for the crossfolding unit 8 to be operable it is important that the dimension of the previously laterally folded flatwork piece in the direction of the movement of the flatwork piece over the slot 12 be less than the length of the slot 12. It is assumed that the lateral folding units 5 and 5' will deliver such a flatwork piece to the cross folding unit 8. The cross-folding unit 8 to be described in more detail hereinafter delivers the cross-folded flatwork piece to a discharge station platform or table 15 when only a single cross-folding operation is performed thereby, and to a discharge station platform or table 17 when two or three crossfolding operations are performed thereby.

As will appear, for the cross-folding unit 8 to provide a consistently sized cross-folding flatwork piece independently of the lateral position of the flatwork piece relative to the slot 12, it is necessary for the crossfolding unit to perform at least two cross-folding ope rations because one of these crossfolding operations, preferably the second, is carried out in a unique way to be described to effect this result. However, since the cross-folding unit may be used in environments other than the preferred environment of the present invention, an option is made in the control thereof for effecting only a single crossfolding operation or no crossfolding operations. This feature is consistent with the fact that it is desirable to standardize as much as possible the design of the cross-folding unit to minimize the cost of manufacture thereof, and also to provide the purchaser thereof with the maximum options. In this connection, it should be understood that a different adjustment of the controls on the control panel of the control unit 10 must be made for each differently sized flatwork piece which is to be folded by the folding sys tem, so that it is not possible for the folding system to provide constant sized folded flatwork pieces when different sized flatwork pieces are alternately fed into the system, unless the control unit settings are changed with each change in flatwork piece size.

Refer now more particularly to FIG. 3 which illustrates the control panel I00 of the control unit 10. While in accordance with the broader aspects of the invention, the number and arrangement of controls on the control panel 10a may vary widely, in the most advantageous form of the invention, the control panel 10a is as indicated. Firstly, it has main power on-off control push buttons 20 and 22. When the on" push button 20 is depressed, power is delivered to electrical motors or other motive means for the various conveyor means 4, 4' and 9 of the lateral and crossfolding units 5, 5' and 8, and various other circuits are prepared for operation upon the closure of various control switches to be described. When power is delivered to the various parts of the folding system by depression of the on push button, an indicating light 24 becomes energized to indicate this fact. To stop the various conveyor means and to disconnect power from the various control circuits of the folding system, the of push button 22 is depressed.

The control panel l0a has a section including an indicating light 26 and a switch handle 28 for adjusting the first lateral folding unit 5 to a particular mode of operation. The switch handle 28 illustrated has three stable positions. in one of which the lateral folding unit will perfom no lateral folding operations, in which event the conveyor means 4 is operative to deliver an unfolded flatwork piece to the second lateral folding unit 5'. The switch handle 28 has two other stable positions where respectively the lateral folding unit 5 will perform one or two lateral folding operations. The indicating light 26 will become energized only if the lateral folding unit 5 is effective in performing one or two folding operations.

Another section of the control panel a includes an indicating light 26' and a switch handle 28' which has three different positions which respectively operate the second lateral folding unit 5 so as to perform 0, 1 or 2 lateral folding operations. The indicating light 26 will become energized only if the switch handle 28' is in the positions for effecting one or two lateral folding operations. When the switch handle is in the *O posi tion. the lateral folding unit 5' performs no folding operation and merely delivers the flatwork piece to the cross-folding unit 8.

The control panel 10a contains a third section for controlling the mode of operation of the cross-folding unit 8. This section has a two position on-off switch handle and an adjacent indicating light 32. When the switch handle 30 is in its on position, the indicating light 32 becomes energized and the crossfolding unit 8 will perform at least a first folding operation where the aforementioned folding blade 14 will operate to push the flatwork piece into the slot 12 where it will be drawn by feeding means to be described to complete the first cross-folding operation. In the off position thereof, the switch handle 30 renders the folding blade 14 inoperative, so the flatwork pieces will pass over the slot 12 onto a table or the like (not shown) located beyond the cross-folding unit 8.

The section of the control panel 10a now being described also includes a second cross-fold switch handle 34 and associated indicating light 36, and a third crossfold switch handle 37 and associated indicating light 38 which respectively operate in a manner similar to the switch handle 30 and indicating light 32 just described. Thus, when the switch handle 34 or 37 is in its on position, associated folding apparatus will be rendered operative to perform a second or third cross-folding operation and the associated indicating light 36 or 38 will be accordingly energized. Where the switch handle 34 or 37 is positioned in its off position, the associated folding apparatus will be inoperative to effect a crossfolding operation.

The control unit 10 shown also in FIG. 4 is provided with a servicing panel 39 on the top thereof which, when removed. operates a microswitch 40 forming part of the interlock system previously broadly described.

Now that the general mode of operation of the folding system has been described. various details of the lateral folding and cross-folding units and the control circuit therefor will be described. Reference should first be made to FIGS. 5-7 which illustrate an exemplary construction of the lateral folding unit 5, it being understood that lateral folding unit 5' may be substantially identical to lateral folding unit 5.

The conveyor means 4 ofthe lateral folding unit 5 includes a first or inlet conveyor assembly 4a constituting a conventional endless friction belt conveyor assembly including relatively narrow laterally spaced horizontally extending friction belts 42 passing over a number of rollers including end rollers 44 and 46, at least one of which is a driven roller. A folding blade means 48 is provided movable upwardly between pairs of the friction belts 42 into the position shown in FIG. 6 adjacent an inlet mouth 52 defined between narrow moving friction belts 54 and 56 of a pair of endless belt conveyor assemblies 4b and 4d. At the inlet mouth 52, the belt 54 and 56 pass around rollers 53 and 55. When a flatwork piece is tucked between the belts 54 and 56 at the inlet mouth 52, the latter belts will carry the flatwork piece progressively between these belts to bring the first laterally folded flatwork piece onto the upper section of the endless friction belts 54.

A second lateral fold is made by a folding blade means 58 mounted for upwardly movement between pairs of the belts 54 into a position adjacent an inlet mouth 60 defined between narrow friction belts 62 and 56 of conveyor assemblies 4c and 4d. The friction belts 62 are guided and driven by a drive roller 61 and the friction belts 56 are guided and driven by a drive roller 63 adjacent the inlet mouth 60. A first laterally folded flatwork piece is thereby progressively moved in an upwardly inclined direction between the friction belts 62 and 56 where the flatwork piece is ultimately delivered upon a guide platform 69 which directs the same upon inlet conveyor assembly 40 of the second lateral folding unit 5'. The friction belts 62 and 56 respectively extend around end rollers 65 and 67 at the point where the flatwork piece 11 is discharged from the lateral folding unit 5.

While the particular mechanism for controlling the movement of the folding blade means 48 and 50 may vary widely as illustrated in FIG. 5, hydraulic means are shown. For example, movement of the folding blade means 48 is controlled by hydraulic cylinder 71 having a piston rod 72 which when extended by the opening of a valve 73 will raise the folding blade means 48 into the inlet mouth 52 referred to. Similarly, the hydraulic means which controls the folding blade means 58 may include a hydraulic cylinder 78 which upon opening of a valve 74 will extend piston rod 76 to raise the folding blade means 58 into the inlet mouth 60. The lateral folding unit 5' has mechanism similar to that just described for raising its folding blade means.

The points at which the first and second lateral folds are formed are determined in part by the operation of various flatwork piece sensing means which may be microswitches, like microswitches 66 and 68 which extend up between the upper section of the friction belts 42 of conveyor assembly 4a at longitudinally spaced points therealong, and a microswitch which extends between pairs of the friction belts 54 and 56 of the conveyor assembles 4b and 4d. In the most advantageous form of the folding system of the present invention, to enable the folding system to fold to the same size various flatwork pieces of varying dimensions in the direction longitudinally of the folding system, the microswitch 68 acts to initiate a timing operation under the control of a timer which preferably is adjustable over wide limits so that the folding blade means can be moved into a folding position to effect a first lateral cross-fold at any one of a number of selected distances from the leading edge of the flatwork piece independently of the overall length thereof. For each different length flatwork piece, the timing cycle of the timer involved is adjusted accordingly. For example, refer to the table of FIG. I] which shows various standard sizee of bed sheets, where the bed sheets are fed onto the folding system with the long dimension thereof extending across the width of the conveyor means of the various folding units so the first lateral folding operation will be determined by the narrower dimensions of the bed sheets, namely the 72, 81, I08 and I I3 inch dimensions of the bed sheets involved. Thus, the timer involved is set to fold a 72 inch bed sheet at a point 40 inches from the leading edge thereof, an 81 inch bed sheet at a point 40 /2 inches from the leading edge thereof, a l08 inch bed sheet at a point 80 inches from the leading edge thereof, and a 1 13 inch bed sheet at a point 80 inches from the leading edge thereof. It should be noted that for each of these distances the portion of the bed sheet behind the point which is folded is of no greater length than the portion of the sheet in front of the same so the length ofthe first laterally folded piece is determined solely by the distance of the fold point from the leading edge thereof. If all subsequent lateral folding operations after the first lateral folding operation fold the bed sheet in half as indicated by the table, the same ultimate folded bed sheet size in a longitudinal direction is achieved by merely varying the number of subsequent fold-in-half operations. Thus. for the first two bed sheet sizes listed, a inch wide bed sheet is achieved with a total of three lateral folding operations, and for the last two listed sizes of bed sheets a 10 inch wide bed sheet is achieved by a total of four lateral folding operations.

Since the second lateral folding operation to be per formed by each lateral folding unit is a fold-in half operation, in the exemplary application of the invention being described, this is best achieved by use of the pair of microswitches 70 and 66 controlling the second lateral folding operation automatically by a procedure which measures the length of each flatwork piece by the time differential measured between the passage of the leading edge of the flatwork piece over the microswitch 70 and the trailing edge thereof over the microswitch 66 (where the piece is longer than the distance between the microswitches) in the manner disclosed in US. Pat. No. 3.l54,726. Thus, the only major adjustment needed to accommodate a change of the bed sheet size is performed on the timer controlling the first lateral folding operation.

As previously indicated, the second lateral folding unit 5' may have the same construction as the lateral folding unit 5, but as indicated by the table of FIG. 11, the least for the purpose of folding the bed sheet sizes indicated, it is not necessary to have an adjustable timer for controlling the third or fourth lateral folding operation since they can be conventional fold-in half operations using pairs of microswitches or other flatwork piece leading and trailing edge sensing means, as disclosed in said US. Pat. No. 3,154,726, so no adjustments of the second lateral folding unit need be made for the different bed sheet sizes shown in the table of FIG. 11. However, for maximum flexibility, the folding operations of all the lateral folding units 5 and 5' could be controlled by adjustable timers as described.

The conveyor means 9 of the cross-folding unit 8 includes an upper conveyor assembly 90 which may be a friction belt conveyor like the other conveyor assemblies described. It will be recalled that when the leading edge of a previously laterally folded flatwork piece strikes the microswitch 13, a folding blade I4 supported beneath housing 11 is dropped into or adjacent slot 12 to tuck the flatwork piece therein. The housing 11 as illustrated contains a hydraulic unit carrying the folding blade 14 which hydraulic unit includes a piston rod 81 extending from a hydraulic cylinder 79 whose operation is controlled by a valve 79. When the valve 79' is opened, as initiated by the contact of the switch 13 by the leading edge of the flatwork piece involved, the piston rod 81 will lower to carry the attached fold ing blade 14 through the slot 12 to push the flatwork piece involved down between a pair of rollers 82 and 83 rotating in opposite directions to pull the flatwork piece involved down through the slot 12. The flatwork piece then drops upon the upper section of an endless belt conveyor assembly 9b including laterally spaced horizontally extending endless belts 84 whose upper sections are moving to the left as viewed in FIG. 8. If only a single cross-folding operation is desired, the flatwork piece dropped upon the conveyor assembly 9b will be moved and discharged at the discharge station table 15, which is illustrated as including an inclined bottom wall 15a and an upwardly extending end stop wall 15b. However, if a second cross-folding operation is to be carried out, then a microswitch 92 extending up between a pair of the endless belts 84 is operative to effect movement of a horizontally extending folding blade 90. The folding blade is moved horizontally (FIG. 9) to bring an intermediate portion of the flatwork piece involved adjacent an inlet mouth defined between endless belts 94 forming part of the inlet section 96 of a conveyor assembly 9c including another conveyor section 112 to be described. The microswitch 92 is spaced a given distance to the left of the inlet end of the conveyor assembly 9b so that the folding blade 90 will engage the flatwork piece dropping through the slot I2 at a point which will form a second crossfold at a point a fixed distance from the leading edge thereof which is no greater than one half of the width of the conveyors, which defines the longest laterally folded flatwork piece measured transversely across the inlet conveyor assembly 90 to be fed thereto. Thus, if the conveyors have a maximum size of inches, microswitch 92 is positioned so that the blade 90 will engage the flatwork piece at a point, for example, 65 inches from the leading edge thereof, so that the amount of material behind the point at which the flatwork piece is to be folded is to be no greater in length than the portion of the flatwork piece in front of the same. As illustrated, the folding blade 90 is carried on a piston rod 93 extending from a hydraulic cylinder 95 controlled by a solenoid operated valve 97 or the like.

The upper margin of the inlet mouth 95 at the inlet end of the conveyor section 96 is defined by an endless belt 104 extending around rollers 102 and 106, one of which is rotated to move the endless belt 104 in a direction to pull with the endless belt 94 a flatwork piece pressed into the inlet mouth 95 by the folding blade 90.

If only two cross-folding operations are called for, the upper section of the endless belts 94 of the conveyor section 96 will deliver the second cross-folded flatwork piece to an inclined slotted plate 108 which guides the flatwork piece involved upon the moving upper section of endless belts H0 of the conveyor section 112 passing around a pair of end rollers 112 and 114, which endless belts discharge the flatwork piece involved upon the aforementioned discharge station table 17, which is shown as including a downwardly inclined platform 17a terminating in a vertically extending stop wall 17b.

If a third crossfolding operation is called for, the passage of the leading edge of the flatwork piece involved over suitable sensing means. like a microswitch 109 extending through a slot in the guide wall plate 108, effects the downward movement of a folding blade 117 (FIG. which is moved into an inlet mouth 116 defined between the portion of the endless conveyor belts 94 passing around roller 100 and a roller 118 which is driven in a direction to draw the flatwork piece pushed into the inlet mouth 116 downwardly upon a guide plate 120, which guides the same upon the upper section of the endless belts 110 of the conveyor section 112. As illustrated, the folding blade 117 is carried on a piston rod extending into a hydraulic cylinder 124 which is controlled by a valve 125. When the microswitch 109 is depressed and a third cross-folding operation is called for, the valve 125 will open to cause the piston rod 118 to move downwardly momentarily. The endless belts 110 of the conveyor section 112 delivers the three times cross-folded flatwork piece to the discharge station table 17.

Refer now to the table of FIG. 11 and the flatwork piece shown in FIGS. 12A, 12B and 12C for a better understanding of the operation of the cross-folding unit 8 in cross-folding the standard size bed sheets listed in table 11. The cross-folding unit 8 operates on the sec ond dimensions listed for the various bed sheets. which are respectively 108 and 1 15 inches. Any flatwork piece dropped upon the lower conveyor assembly 9b will have a maximum length of 65 inches (FlG. 12A). If the microswitch 92 is spaced along the conveyor assembly 9b so that the folding blade 90 will effect a fold operation, for example, 38 inches from the leading edge thereof. the second cross-folded piece will have a length of 38 inches provided the length of the flatwork piece dropped upon the lower conveyor assembly 9b is no less than 38 inches or greater than 76 inches long, which in the exemplary folding system described having a maximum first cross-folded length of 65 inches poses no problem. Thus, as shown by the table in FIG. 11, the lOB and H5 inch dimension bed sheets will, after the first cross-folding operation, both be 38 inches long. As shown in FIG. 128, this means that the shorter folded upper section 16a of the flatwork piece 11 will terminate a minimum of l 1 inches from the adjacent margin of the bottom portion 16b of the flatwork piece 16. Where a third cross-folding operation is desired, this crossfolding operation preferably takes place at a point spaced 27 inches behind the point at which the leading edge of a flatwork piece strikes the microswitch 109 extending through the guide wall plate 108, since it is easier to fold a flatwork piece at a point beyond the edge of the upper portion 110 thereof. Accordingly, the final dimensions achieved by three cross-folding operations on the bed sheets listed on table 11 will be 27 inches by ID inches.

Refer now to FIG. 13 which illustrates the control circuit for the flatwork folding system previously described. The main source of power illustrated in FIG. 13 for the control system is a three phase power system 122 including power conductors 122a, l22b and 122C. Suitable fuses 124 may be placed in these conductors which are coupled to power busses 1290, 129b and 1296' through contacts 1280, 128b and 1286 of a relay 128 across which the indicating light 24 is connected.

The relay 128 is located in a main power control circuit which is energized from the secondary winding of a transformer 126 coupled across a pair of the power conductors 122a, 122b. The energizing circuit for the relay 128 extends through a normally open switch 130 which is closed by the on push button 10a, normally closed switch 132 which is opened by the off push button 10b, normally closed contacts 134 which are opened by operation of the operator foot pedal 19, normally closed interlock switch 136 which is opened by removal of the service panel 1a of the inlet feeder and smoothing unit 1, normally closed interlock switch 138 which is opened by removal of the service panel of the lateral folding unit 5, normally closed interlock switch 138' which is opened by removal of the service panel 70 of the lateral folding unit 5', normally closed interlock switch 142 which is opened by removal of the service panel (not shown) of the cross-folding unit 8 and normally closed interlock switch 40 which is opened by removal of opening of the service cover of the control unit 10. The relay 128 has a pair of normally open holding contacts 128d in parallel with the normally open on switch so that when the on push button 10a is momentarily depressed when all the vari ous servicing panels are closed and the foot pedal 19 is undepressed, the relay 128 and the indicating light 24 will become energized and relay 128 will be held in an energized state upon closure of the holding contacts 128d. The resultant power fed to the busses 1290, 12% and 129c result in the energization of blower motor 146 which draws air through the apertured apron lb of the inlet feeder and smoothing unit 1, the primary winding of transformer 149 leading to a control circuit which controls operations of the smoothing belts 2-2 and the nip roller 3, branch lines l50a-150b-l50c and 1500'- 150b'-150c' and conveyor motors 151 and 151' connected thereto controlling the movement of the various conveyor assemblies of the lateral folding units 5 and 5', transformer 152 leading to the control circuits which control the valve solenoids controlling the various folding blades of the lateral folding units 5 and 5', and conveyor motors 156 and 158 connected to power busses 12911 and 129C for controlling the upper and lower conveyor assemblies of the cross-folding unit 8, and transformer 159 extending to a control circuit for valve solenoids controlling operation of the various folding blades of the cross-folding unit 8.

When the transformer 149 associated with the circuit controlling operation of the inlet feeder and smoothing unit 1 is energized, voltage appearing on the secondary winding of the transformer is coupled through a fuse 160 to the microswitch 3' and a power line 163. A control relay has one terminal connected to the power line 163 and another terminal coupled to the secondary winding of transformer 149 through the normally open contacts of microswitch 3' which. when depressed by the dropping of a flatwork piece thereupon, energizes the relay 165 to close normally open contacts 165a, l65b and 165C to couple fused branch lines 167a, l67b and 167C to conveyor motors 169 and 169' which drive the respective smoothing belts 2 and 2'. A solenoid 168 is coupled in parallel with the relay 165, the energization of the solenoid 168 effecting the dropping of the nip roller 3 which, as above indicated, is normally in a raised position.

While the switch arrangement for controlling the operation of the various folding blades of the lateral folding units and 5 may vary widely, as illustrated in the preferred circuit the switch handles 28-28 are respectively coupled to movable switch poles 170-170' which, when the switch handle is moved to the l or 2" positions respectively, cause the poles 170-170' to make contact with stationary contacts 174-174' to energize lines 186-186'. The switch handles 28-28 are also connected to operating arms 178-178 which respectively engage insulating pins 180-180' respectively connected to movable switch poles 172-172 which are pushed into contact with stationary contacts 176-176 when the switch handles 28-28 have been moved into the number 2" position thereof, to energize respective lines 216-216.

The secondary winding of the transformer 152, which is energized upon operation of the on push button a, is connected directly to a power line 182 and through a fuse to a power line 183. Upon contact being made between the movable switch pole 170 or 170' with the stationary contact 174 or 174, associated indicating light 26 or 26' connected between lines 186 and 192 or lines 186' and 192 becomes energized. (From this point, only that portion of the control circuit associated with the switch handle 28 and the contacts controlled thereby will be described, it being understood that the circuits associated with the switch handle 28' associated with the lateral folding unit 5' and the contacts controlled thereby are substantially identical to that associated with the switch handle 28, except as otherwise explained, and so some of the corresponding elements of these circuits have been similarly numbered except that a prime will be used with the elements in the circuit associated with the switch handle 28'.)

Solenoids 73a and 74a are shown associated with the control circuit for the lateral folding unit 5. These solenoids, when respectively energized, open the aforementioned valves 73 and 74 controlling operation of the hydraulic cylinders 71 and 78 which respectively effect the first and second lateral folding operations of the lateral folding unit 5. Solenoid 73a has an energization circuit which can be traced from a line 191 connected to one of the terminals thereof and through normally open contacts 188 of an adjustable timer unit 189, line 186, stationary contact 174, switch pole 170, lines 184 and 182, the secondary winding of transformer 152, and lines 183, 194 and 192 extending to the other terminal of the solenoid 73a. A manually operable push button switch 180 is provided which is connected in parallel with the lines 191 and 186 extending to the timer contacts 188, so that a folding operation can be manually initiated independently of the adjustable timer 189 where desired. The manually operable switch 180 associated with contacts 188 normally is mounted behind one of the service panels, like panel 70 of the lateral folding unit 5.

The adjustable timer 189 may include suitable timer means, which may be a timer motor or an electronic counter 204, whose energization circuit can be traced from one of the terminals of this timer means through a line 202, contacts of the microswitch 68 operated by the leading edge of the flatwork piece. lines 200 and 186, stationary Contact 174, switch pole 170, line 182, the primary winding of transformer 152, and line 183 extending to the other terminal of the timing means 204. The timing means 204 will start initiating a counting operation upon the closure of the microswitch 68,

and is adapted (such as by moving a cam for a mechanical timer or electronically advancing a count in an electronic counter circuit) at the termination of an adjustable timing interval to effect closure of the timing contacts 188 and resetting of the timer. The adjustable timer 189 has a manually operable adjustment control 210 which is adjusted to vary the timing interval over a wide range as previously indicated. Upon closure of the timing contacts 188, solenoid 73a is energized to initiate a folding operation.

The energization circuit for solenoid 74a controlling the aforementioned valve 74 can be traced from one terminal of the solenoid 740 through line 218, switch pole 172, stationary contact 176, line 216, normally open timing contacts 212 of a fold-in half timer 214, line 186, stationary contact 174, switch pole 170, lines 184 and 182, secondary winding of transformer 152, line 183, and lines 194 and 192 extending to the other terminal of the solenoid 74a. Thus, when the timing contacts 212 close, the solenoid 74a becomes energized to initiate a second lateral folding operation. Manually operable switch 220 is provided in parallel with the timing contacts 212 so that a second lateral folding operation can be performed manually rather than under control of the timer, where desired.

The fold-in half timer 214, as previously indicated, may be similar to that disclosed in US. Pat. No. 3,154,726. The timer disclosed therein uses mechanical or electronic timing means generally indicated by reference 222 which responds to the opening or closing of microswitches and 66 controlled by the passage of leading and trailing edges of a flatwork piece thereover by closing the timing contacts 212 when the midpoint of the flatwork piece of whatever length passes opposite the folding blade 58. The timing means 222 is usually provided with some kind of manually adjustable means 224 for making minor adjustments, so that the folding operation occurs more accurately at the half length point ofthe flatwork piece involved, despite various unpredetermined time delay variations depending upon the particular environment in which the fold-in half timer is utilized.

The energization circuit for the timing means 222 of the timer 214 can be traced from one of the terminals of this circuit through a line 223, lines 192, 194 and 183, the secondary winding of the transformer 152, lines 182 and 184, switch pole 170, stationary contact 174 and line 186 extending to the other terminal of the timing means 222.

While the timer 214 associated with the solenoid 74a (as well as the timers 214" and 214', associated with the solenoids 73a and 74a of the control circuit for the lateral folding unit 6') may be adjustable timers like timer 189 just described in F10. 13, these timers are shown as fold-in half timers to reduce the adjustments needed to adapt the folding system to different sized flatwork pieces. Since the connections of the fold-in halftimers 214" and 214' associated with the solenoids 73a and 74a of lateral folding unit 5 are identical to the connections which the fold-in half timer 214 has with respect to the solenoid 74a, a further description of the timer circuits shown in FIG. 13 will not be given because it is believed unnecessary. However, it should be noted that the fold-in half timer 214" associated with the solenoid 73a' controlling the first lateral folding operation of the second lateral folding unit 5' requires a microswitch 64 (in addition to the microswitch 68) which responds to the passage of the trailing edge of a flatwork piece. FIG. 5 shows a microswitch 65 (unused in the circuit) of the lateral folding unit 5 which microswitch is positioned at the same point that the microswitch 6S ofthe lateral folding unit 5' is positioned therein.

The portion of the control circuit which effects energization of the valves associated with the hydraulic units for operating the various folding blades of the cross-folding unit 8 obtains its energization from the secondary winding of the transformer 159, one end of which extends to a power line 226 and the other end of which extends through a fuse 228 to a line 230. The line 230 is connected through normally open contacts controlled by the switch handle 30 to a line 232. The indicating light 32 associated with the switch handle 30 is connected between the line 232 and the line 226. The normally open contacts of the microswitch 13 interconnect line 232 with one terminal of a solenoid 79a controlling the valve 79', and the other terminal of which is connected to the line 226. Accordingly, operation of the microswitch 13 will energize the solenoid 79a to open the valve 79' to initiate the lowering of the folding blade 14 above the slot 12 of the cross-folding unit 8.

Contacts 34a controlled by the switch handle 34 interconnect line 232 with a line 234. Indicating light 36 is connected between the line 234 and the line 226 to become energized upon closure of the contacts 34a. The normally open contacts of the microswitch 92 controlling the operation of the second crossfolding blade 90 interconnects the line 234 and one of the terminals of a solenoid 97a controlling the valve 97. The other terminal of the solenoid 97a is connected to the line 226 so that closure of the microswitch 92 will result in the energization of the solenoid 97a and the opening of the valve 97 to effect movement of the folding blade 90.

The contacts 37a controlled by the switch handle 37 is connected between the line 234 and the line 236. The indicating light 38 is connected between the line 236 and the line 226 so as to become energized upon closure of the contacts 37a. The normally open contacts of the microswitch 109 extends between the line 236 and one of the terminals ofa solenoid 1250 for controlling the valve 125. The other terminal of the solenoid 125a is connected to the line 226. Accordingly, upon closure of the microswitch 109, the solenoid 125a becomes energized to open the valve 125 to effect the lowering of the folding blade 117.

It should be understood that the folding system described provides an exceedingly flexible and reliable integrated folding system operable with flatwork pieces of a wide variety of sizes to provide an ultimate folded product of a standard size, where desired.

It should be understood that numerous modifications may be made to the most preferred form of the invention described without deviating from the broader aspects thereof.

I claim:

1. A flatwork folding system to accommodate flat work of a variety of widths and/or lengths comprising in combination: lateral folding apparatus comprising conveyor means for moving the flatwork to an outlet station thereof; at least a first pair of lateral folding means longitudinally spaced along said conveyor means for sequentially producing folds in a flatwork piece extending in a given lateral direction, timer means associated with said pair of lateral folding means which timer means includes control means for initiating operation of the operable associated lateral folding means when a given intermediate point of the flatwork piece involved reaches the associated lateral folding means. said conveyor means to receive flatwork pieces of varying dimension in said lateral direction; and cross-folding apparatus having an inlet station positioned to receive the laterally folded flatwork pieces from the outlet station of said lateral folding means, conveyor means for conveying flatwork pieces therein, at least one pair of crossfolding means spaced along the associated conveyor means for sequentially producing in the flatwork pieces a first and a second cross-fold at right angles to the lateral folds produced by said lateral folding means, said conveyor means of said crossfolding apparatus including a first conveyor assembly moving generally horizontally over a downwardly facing inlet slot extending longitudinally of the direction of movement of the first conveyor assembly, the first of the cross-folding means being mounted above said inlet slot and when operative depressing the portion of the flatwork piece therebelow downwardly through said inlet slot, flatwork piece sensing means responsive to a flatwork piece on said first conveyor assembly for operating said first cross-folding means, said conveyor means of said cross-folding apparatus including a second conveyor assembly extending generally horizontally from an inlet station to a first outlet station, each first cross-folded flatwork piece dropping upon the inlet end of said second conveyor assembly and moving the flatwork piece to the latter outlet station if only one cross-folding operation is to be carried out, a flatwork piece leading edge sensing means spaced a given distance beyond the second of said cross-folding means for initiating operation of the same to produce a second cross-fold in the flatwork piece a given distance from the leading edge thereof which is no less than about one half the lateral dimension of the flatwork piece having the longest dimension in said lateral direction, said conveyor means of said cross-folding apparatus including a third conveyor assembly for moving a flatwork piece from an inlet end to a second outlet station, means in confronting relation to the inlet end of said third conveyor assembly for defining an inlet mouth into which the second of said crossfolding means when operative pushes said portion of said flatwork piece into the latter inlet mouth to form a second cross-fold in the flatwork piece, said third conveyor assembly then delivering the second cross-folded piece to said second outlet station in the absence of any subsequent crossfolding operations.

2. The flatwork folding system of claim I wherein said third conveyor assembly of said cross folding apparatus includes at least a pair of endless belt means, each having inlet and outlet ends. the inlet end of the first of said endless belt means partially forming said inlet mouth, means positioned in confronting relation to the outlet end of said first endless belt means for forming a downwardly facing second inlet mouth, said second endless belt means having an inlet end below the second inlet mouth, and there is provided third cross folding means for pushing the intermediate portion of a second cross folded flatwork piece down through said second inlet mouth where the flatwork piece drops upon the inlet end of said second endless belt means.

and manually operable means for rendering said third cross folding means selectively operable or inoperable. said first endless belt means cooperating with other means for delivering a flatwork piece which is not to be cross folded by said third cross folding means to said one outlet station and said second endless belt means being adapted to deliver articles cross folded by said third cross folding means also to said one outlet station.

3. A flatwork folding system to accommodate flat work of a variety of widths and/or lengths comprising, in combination: a flatwork smoothing unit including laterally outwardly movable smoothing belt means for engaging the flatwork pieces to smooth the same; a first lateral folding unit having an inlet station for receiving smooth flatwork from said flatwork smoothing unit and first conveyor means for moving the flatwork to an outlet station thereof in a longitudinal direction transverse to a lateral direction in which a fold line extends about which the flatwork is to be folded by said first lateral folding unit; a second lateral folding unit having an inlet station for receiving the flatwork from the outlet station of said first lateral folding unit, and second conveyor means for conveying the flatwork from said inlet station of the associated folding unit to an outlet station thereof in a longitudinal direction transverse to said lateral direction; each of said lateral folding units having at least two lateral folding means longitudinally spaced along the associated conveyor means for sequentially producing lateral folds in said lateral direction in a flat' work piece and timer means associated with one of the associated lateral folding means which timer means includes control means for initiating operation of an operable associated lateral folding means when a given intermediate point of the flatwork piece involved reaches the associated lateral folding means; a crossfolding unit having an inlet station positioned to receive the laterally folded flatwork pieces from the outlet station of said second lateral folding unit. conveyor means for conveying the laterally folded flatwork pieces therein to at least one outlet station thereof in a direction parallel to the lateral fold or folds therein, and at least two cross-folding means spaced along the associated conveyor means for sequentially producing a pair of cross folds in a flatwork piece in a direction trans verse to the lateral folds produced therein; and control means including first manually operable control means for simultaneously rendering operative the smoothing belt means of said flatwork smoothing unit and the conveyor means of said first and second lateral folding units and said cross-folding unit; and individual manually operable means respectively associated with at least one of the lateral folding means of said first lateral folding unit, at least one of the lateral folding means of said second lateral folding unit, and at least one of the cross-folding means of said cross-folding unit for selectively rendering operable or inoperable the associated means, whereby there is a choice of at least from two to four lateral folding operations and one or two crossfolding operations of the flatwork folding system.

4. The flatwork folding system of claim 3 wherein there is associated with one of the cross-folding means of said crossfolding unit flatwork piece leading edge sensing means spaced a given distance beyond one of said cross-folding means for initiating operation of the latter crossfolding means to produce a crossfold in the flatwork piece a given distance from the leading edge thereof which is no less than about one-half the width of the widest flatwork piece to be properly folded by the latter crossfolding means.

5. The flatwork folding system of claim 3 wherein said flatwork smoothing unit has an inlet station upon which the flatwork may be fed by operators stationed at opposite sides of the flatwork smoothing unit, said flatwork smoothing unit having nip roller means at the inlet station for feeding the flatwork onto said conveyor means of said first conveyor means said nip roller means being momentarily movable from a lowered normal position to a raised position during initial insertion of a flatwork piece into the flatwork smoothing unit. means at said inlet station for effecting the raising of said nip roller means, foot pedal means adjacent one side of said inlet station so as to be available to the operator, and means responsive to the operation of said foot pedal means for simultaneously stopping the oper ation of smoothing belt means and the conveyor means of said first and second lateral folding units and said cross-folding unit.

6. The flatwork folding system of claim 3 wherein there is provided service access panels on each of said flatwork smoothing unit, first and second lateral folding units and crossfolding unit which service access panels are removed to gain access to the associated units for servicing, panel position sensing means associated with each of said panels. and control means responsive to the operation of said servicing panel position sensing means indicating the removal of such panel for automatically stopping the operation of said laterally outwardly movable smoothing belt means of said flatwork smoothing unit and the conveyor means of said first and second lateral folding units and said cross-folding unit.

7. The flatwork folding system of claim 3 wherein all of said manually operable means are located on a common control panel.

8. A flatwork folding system to accommodate flatwork of a variety of widths and/or lengths comprising, in combination: a flatwork smoothing unit including laterally outwardly movable smoothing belt means for engaging the flatwork pieces to smooth the same; a first lateral folding unit having an inlet station for receiving smooth flatwork and conveyor means for moving the flatwork to an outlet station thereof in a longitudinal direction transverse to a lateral direction in which a fold line extends about which the flatwork is to be folded by said first lateral folding unit; a second lateral folding unit having an inlet station for receiving the flatwork from the outlet station of said first lateral folding unit, and second conveyor means for conveying the flatwork from said inlet station of the associated folding unit to an outlet station thereof in a longitudinal direction transverse to said lateral direction; each of said lateral folding units having at least two lateral folding means longitudinally spaced along the associated conveyor means for sequentially producing lateral folds in said lateral direction in a flatwork piece and timer means associated with one of the associated lateral folding means which timer means includes control means for initiating operation of an operable associated lateral folding means when a given intermediate point of the flatwork piece involved reaches the associated lateral folding means; a cross folding unit having an inlet station positioned to receive the laterally folded flatwork pieces from the outlet station of said second lateral folding unit, conveyor means for conveying the laterally folded flatwork pieces therein to at least one outlet station thereof in a direction parallel to the lateral fold or folds therein and at least three cross-folding means spaced along the third conveyor means for sequentially producing a pair of cross-folds in a flatwork piece in a direction transverse to the lateral folds pro duced therein, a flatwork piece leading edge sensing means spaced a given distance beyond one of said cross-folding means for initiating ope ration of the latter cross-folding means to produce a cross-fold in the flatwork piece a given distance from the leading edge thereof which is no less than about one half the width of the widest flatwork piece to be properly folded by the latter cross-folding means; and control means including first manually operable control means for simultaneously rendering operative the smoothing belt means of said flatwork smoothing unit and the conveyor means of said first and second lateral folding units and said cross-folding unit; and individual manually operable means respectively associated with at least one of the lateral folding means of said first lateral folding unit, one of the lateral folding means of said second lateral folding unit, and at least one of the crossfolding means of said cross-folding unit for selectively rendering operable or inoperable the associated means, whereby there is a choice of from two to four lateral folding operations and one to three cross-folding operations of the flatwork folding system.

9. The flatwork folding system of claim 8 wherein there is provided service access panels on each of said first and second lateral folding units and cross-folding unit, which service access panels are moved to gain access to the associated unit for servicing, panel position sensing means associated with each of said panels and control means responsive to the operation of said servicing panel position sensing means indicating the opening of such panel for automatically stopping the operation of said conveyor means of said first and second lateral folding units and said cross-folding unit.

10. The flatwork folding system of claim 8 wherein. upon operation of said first manually operable switch means, one of the lateral folding means of each lateral folding unit and the first of said cross-folding means of said cross-folding unit is continuously conditioned for operation independently of the operation of any of said manually operable control means.

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Referenced by
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US4073486 *Sep 30, 1976Feb 14, 1978Chicago Dryer CompanyFolder construction
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Classifications
U.S. Classification493/17, 493/458, 493/441, 493/444, 493/21, 493/23, 493/937
International ClassificationB65H45/18
Cooperative ClassificationB65H45/18, Y10S493/937
European ClassificationB65H45/18