(19)
(11)EP 1 992 490 A2

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
19.11.2008 Bulletin 2008/47

(21)Application number: 08015693.8

(22)Date of filing:  18.05.1999
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B41J 2/175  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
GB
Designated Extension States:
AL LT LV MK RO SI

(30)Priority: 18.05.1998 JP 15188398
18.05.1998 JP 15188298
26.06.1998 JP 18051998
21.09.1998 JP 26610998
23.10.1998 JP 30178298
24.03.1999 JP 7884399

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
06012039.1 / 1698471
04025998.8 / 1514689
00124286.6 / 1080916
99919640.5 / 0997297

(71)Applicant: Seiko Epson Corporation
Tokyo 163-0811 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • Shinada, Satoshi
    Suwa-shi Nagano-Ken (JP)
  • Akahane, Fujio
    Suwa-shi Nagano-Ken (JP)
  • Usui, Minoru
    Suwa-shi Nagano-Ken (JP)
  • Kobayashi, Takao
    Suwa-shi Nagano-Ken (JP)
  • Matsuzaki, Makoto
    Suwa-shi Nagano-Ken (JP)

(74)Representative: HOFFMANN EITLE 
Patent- und Rechtsanwälte Arabellastrasse 4
81925 München
81925 München (DE)

 
Remarks:
This application was filed on 05-09-2008 as a divisional application to the application mentioned under INID code 62.
 


(54)Ink cartridge for an ink-jet printing apparatus


(57) Ink cartridge (43) for detachably mounting on a carriage (4) of an ink jet printing apparatus, the carriage having an ink supply needle (6) communicating with a print head (5), the ink cartridge comprising:
a bottom wall and side walls in parallel with an insertion direction of the ink cartridge, the insertion direction being preferably vertical,
an ink supply port (44) formed in the bottom wall to be engaged with the ink supply needle of the ink jet printing apparatus by moving the ink cartridge in the insertion direction,
a circuit board (31) formed on a side wall adjacent to the bottom wall and being located in the vicinity of the ink supply port,
a plurality of contacts (60) divided into plural rows, the contacts being disposed on the circuit board and a contact (60-1, 60-2) located in the center of one of the rows being disposed on the central line of the ink supply port,
a semiconductor storage means (61) located on the circuit board and being connected to the contacts, and
an overhang portion (46) on the side wall on which the circuit board is formed.




Description

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


Field of the Invention:



[0001] The present invention relates to an ink cartridge for an ink-jet printing apparatus to which ink is supplied from a replaceable ink cartridge for printing on a recording medium and ejecting an ink droplet from nozzle apertures.

Conventional Art:



[0002] An ink-jet printing apparatus is known in which there is provided with a print head for supplying a driving signal to a piezoelectric vibrator or heating means to print data, pressurizing ink by energy generated by the piezoelectric vibrator or the heating means and thereby ejecting ink droplets from nozzle apertures and an ink cartridge housing ink for supplying ink to the above print head.

[0003] As the print quality depends upon the resolution of the print head and greatly depends upon the viscosity of ink, the degree of bleeding on a recording medium or the like, the characteristics of ink are improved to enhance the print quality. Even if the same ink is used, a driving method of a print head suitable for the characteristics of ink is improved to enhance the print quality. Further, a maintenance condition such as the cycle of no-medium-ejection or forced ejection in a capped state is improved to prevent the nozzle apertures from clogging.

[0004] As described above, the print quality of a printing apparatus can be enhanced when the ink characteristics and the driving method for a print head work together, not only by the ink characteristics. Although a result by such technical development can be applied to a newly manufactured ink-jet printing apparatus, the application to a printing apparatus already shipped from a manufacturer would be practically impossible when taking into consideration the cost, labor and others. This is because that the printing apparatus has to be carried to the manufacturer and storing means in which control data is recorded must be exchanged.

[0005] To cope with such a problem, as disclosed in Japanese Patent Publication No. 2594912 for example, there has been proposed a printing apparatus in which semiconductor storage means and an electrode connecting to the storage means are arranged on an ink cartridge, a group of electrodes is also arranged on the body of the printing apparatus, data stored in the semiconductor storage means is read, and recording operation is controlled in accordance with the data.

[0006] However, there is a problem that contact with the semiconductor storage means is failed because of rough operation for attaching or detaching an ink cartridge by a user or play between a carriage and an ink cartridge, the reading of data is disabled because of electrification or the application of a signal at unsuitable timing and, in the worst case, data is lost and recording operation is disabled.

[0007] The present invention is made in view of such a problem and an object of which is to provide an ink cartridge which improves the attachment of a cartridge to a printing apparatus.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0008] 

Fig. 1 shows an embodiment of a printing apparatus with an ink cartridge according to the present invention mainly in relation to its recording mechanism, and Fig. 2 is an assembly perspective drawing showing an embodiment of a carriage in the above printing apparatus.

Fig. 3 shows an embodiment of the carriage in the above printing apparatus in a state in which an ink cartridge is installed, Fig. 4 is a top view showing an embodiment of the carriage in the above printing apparatus in a state in which an ink cartridge is installed, and Figs. 5 (a) and 5 (b) show an embodiment of a contact mechanism of the above carriage.

Figs. 6 (a) and 6 (b) show an embodiment of an inventive ink cartridge, Figs. 7 (a) to 7 (c) show an embodiment of a circuit board mounted on the ink cartridge in relation to its superficial and rear structure and the size of an electrode and Figs. 7 (d) and 7 (e) show a state of contact with a contact, Figs. 8 and 9 show a process in which the above ink cartridge is installed, Fig. 10 shows the quantity of the movement of mainly an ink supply port where an ink supply needle is inserted of the ink cartridge, and Figs. 11 (a) to 11 (c) show a process of contact between the circuit board of the ink cartridge and a contact of a holder.

Figs. 12 (a), 12 (b) to Figs. 14 (a) and 14 (b) are respectively sectional views and top views showing another embodiment of the present invention in a state in which the ink cartridge is installed, and Fig. 15 is a sectional view showing another embodiment of the present invention in a state in which the ink cartridge is installed.

Fig. 16 is a sectional view showing another embodiment of the head holder and the ink cartridge respectively in the above printing apparatus, Figs. 17 (a) and 17 (b) are respectively a plan and a side view showing an embodiment of the contact provided to the above head holder, and Figs. 18 (a) to 18 (c) are respectively a front view, a side view and a rear view showing a contact board mounted on the above ink cartridge.

Fig. 19 is a sectional view showing first conduction in a process for inserting the ink cartridge, and Fig. 20 (a) is a plan showing the other embodiment of the contact mounted on the above ink cartridge and Fig. 20 (b) shows a state in which ink adheres.

Fig. 21 is a sectional view showing the other embodiment of the head holder and the ink cartridge respectively in the printing apparatus according to the present invention, and Fig. 22 is a sectional view showing first conduction in the process for inserting the ink cartridge in the above printing apparatus.

Figs. 23 (a) to 23 (d) are respectively plan and side views showing the other embodiment of the present invention in relation to the arrangement of the contacts, and Figs. 24 (a) and 24 (b) are respectively sectional views showing another embodiment of the mounting of the circuit board on the ink cartridge and a top view showing the structure of a mounting plate.

Fig. 25 is a sectional view showing another embodiment of the mounting of the circuit board on the ink cartridge.

Figs. 26 (a) and 26 (b) show the other embodiment of the mounting of the circuit board.


THE BEST MODE FOR EMBODYING THE PRESENT INVENTION



[0009] Fig. 1 shows one embodiment of an ink-jet printing apparatus according to the present invention with respect to a printing mechanism. A holder 4 for installing a black ink cartridge 40 housing black ink described later and a color ink cartridge 50 housing color ink is disposed on an upper surface of a carriage 3 connecting to a driving motor 2 via a timing belt 1. A print head 5 to which ink is supplied from each ink cartridge is provided on the lower surface of the carriage 3.

[0010] Fig. 2 shows an embodiment of the carriage in a state in which the carriage is disassembled into a holder part and a head part and Fig. 3 is a sectional structural view sectioned at an ink supply port 44 of the black ink cartridge 40.

[0011] Ink supply needles 6 and 7 communicating with the print head 5 are vertically penetrated in the bottom of the carriage 3 so that they are located on the back side of the device, that is, on the side of the timing belt 1. Levers 11 and 12 are respectively mounted at the upper end of a vertical wall 8 opposite to each vicinity of the ink supply needles 6 and 7 out of the vertical wall forming the holder 4 so that the levers are respectively rotatable along shafts 9 and 10. A wall 13 located on the side of each free end of the levers 11 and 12 is composed of a vertical part 13a near the bottom and a sloped part 13b sloped outward in its upper area.

[0012] The levers 11 and 12 respectively extend from the vicinity of the shafts 9 and 10 so that projections 14 and 15 respectively fitted to overhangs 46 and 56 described later at the upper end of the ink cartridges 40 and 50 are approximately perpendicular to each body of the respective levers 11 and 12, and hook portions 18 and 19 elastically fitted to hooks 16 and 17 formed in the sloped part 13b of the holder 4 are respectively formed.

[0013] Elastic members 20 and 21 for elastically pressing at least the area opposite to the ink supply port 44 or 54 of each ink cartridge 40 or 50, as shown in Fig. 4, when the ink cartridge 40 is set in a normal position are provided to the back of each lever 11 or 12, that is, the face opposite to a cover 43 of the ink cartridge 40.

[0014] For these elastic members 20 and 21, material having the coefficient of friction of 0.5 or more for the respective covers 43 and 53 of the ink cartridges 40 and 50, for example, rubber the hardness of which is 10° to 70°, foamed material and a felt member and, further, gelled material are employed.

[0015] Windows 22 and 23 each upper part of which is open are respectively formed on the vertical wall 8 located near the ink supply needle. Further, continuous grooves 22c and 23c are respectively formed on vertical walls 22a and 23a and at the bottoms 22b and 23b to respectively form each window, and contact mechanisms 24 and 25 are respectively inserted into these grooves 22c and 23c and fixed therein.

[0016] As the contact mechanisms 24 and 25 are composed so that they have approximately the same structure, one contact mechanism 24 will be described below. As shown in Figs. 5 (a) and 5 (b), two types of slits 26 and 26' different in depth are formed approximately at fixed pitch, and contact forming members 29 and 29' provided with conductivity and elasticity are fitted into each slit 26 or 26' of the body 28 provided with an elastically transformable pawl 27 on both sides. These contact forming members 29 and 29' are respectively located unevenly and fixed so that they are exposed on the superficial and rear sides of the body 28.

[0017] Areas 29a and 29'a exposed from each one face of the contact forming members 29 and 29' respectively elastically come in contact with the contact of a circuit board 30 by composing the contact mechanisms 24 and 25 as described above and fitting the circuit board 30 in front of a vertical wall 34 of a base 32, areas 29b and 29'b exposed from the other face respectively elastically come in contact with the contact of a circuit board 31 described later of the ink cartridges 40 and 50, and conduction is acquired.

[0018] In the meantime, the print head 5 is fixed to the bottom of the holder 4 via a horizontal part 33 of the base 32 composed together with the ink supply needles 6 and 7 so that the base is approximately L-type. Windows 35 and 36 are respectively formed in areas opposite to the contact mechanism 24 and 25 on the vertical wall 34 of the base 32 and the above circuit board 30 is held on its front side.

[0019] The circuit board 30 is connected to control means 38 via a flexible cable 37 shown in Fig. 1, supplies a driving signal for instructing the print head 5 to jet an ink droplet and comes in contact with the circuit board 31 of the ink cartridges 40 and 50 respectively via the contact mechanisms 24 and 25.

[0020] Figs. 6 (a) and 6 (b) show an embodiment of the black ink cartridge 40 and the color ink cartridge 50, a porous member 42 impregnated with ink is respectively housed in containers 41 and 51 formed so that they are substantially rectangular parallelopiped and the respective upper faces are respectively sealed by the covers 43 and 53.

[0021] The ink supply ports 44 and 54 are respectively formed in positions opposite to the ink supply needles 6 and 7 when the ink cartridges are respectively installed in the holder 4 at the bottom of the respective containers 41 and 51, and overhang portions 46, 56 and 56 for fitting to the respective projections 14 and 15 of the levers 11 and 12 are integrated with the respective upper ends of the vertical walls 45 and 55 on the side of the ink supply ports. The overhang portion 46 of the black ink cartridge 40 is continuously formed from one end to the other end, the overhang portion 56 of the color ink cartridge 50 are individually formed so that they are located on both sides and, further, triangular ribs 47 and 57 are respectively formed between each lower surface and the wall 45 or 55. A reference number 59 denotes a concave portion for preventing wrong insertion.

[0022] Concave portions 48 and 58 are respectively formed on the vertical walls 45 and 55 on the side of the ink supply ports so that the concave portions are respectively located in the center of the width of the ink cartridges 40 and 50 and the circuit boards 31 are respectively installed in the above concave portions.

[0023] Contacts 60 in plural rows in a direction in which the cartridge is inserted, in two rows in this embodiment, are formed in a position respectively opposite to the contact forming members 29 and 29' of the above contact mechanism 24 on the side of the surface when the circuit board is attached to the ink cartridge of the circuit board 31 as shown in Fig. 7 (a). A semiconductor storage means 61 may be mounted at the rear surface of the circuit board 31 so that the semiconductor storage means is connected to these contacts 60 and, if necessary, is molded by ink-resistant material and is kept unexposed. The semiconductor storage means 61 may store data of the quantity of ink housed in the ink cartridge 40 or 50 to which the semiconductor storage means is provided, the manufacturing date of the ink, its trademark and the like. If required, the semiconductor storage means 61 stores data such as a maintenance status transmitted from the body of the printing apparatus. A reference number 60' denotes an electrode used for a check during its manufacturing process.

[0024] Out of electrodes 60 formed on the circuit board 31, for a small electrode 60-1 shown in Fig. 7 (c), the height H1 may be 1. 8 mm and the width W1 1 mm, for a large electrode 60-2, the height H2 may be 1.8 mm and the width W2 is 3 mm. Particularly, contact with the contact forming members 29 can be secured by forming the small electrode 60-1 in a rectangle in which the length in the inserted direction of the ink cartridge 40 or 50 is longer than that in the other direction, minimizing the width W1 of the electrode even if there is a lift Δh between the ink cartridge 40 or 50 and the holder 4 as shown in Fig. 11 (c).

[0025] On the circuit board 31 on which the semiconductor storage means 61 is mounted as described above, at least one through hole 31a and a concave portion 31b are formed, and projections 45a, 45b, 55a and 55b for positioning together with the through hole 31a and the concave portion 31b and overhangs 45c, 45d, 55c and 55d which are elastically in contact with the side of the circuit board 31 such as a rib and a pawl are respectively formed near the ink supply ports 44 and 45 in a direction in which the cartridge is inserted in the vertical direction of the circuit board 31 on the vertical walls 45 and 55 which are respectively the mounting faces of the ink cartridges 40 and 50.

[0026] Hereby, the circuit board can be readily installed, respectively fitting to the ribs 45c, 45d, 55c and 55d by pressing the semiconductor storage means 61 on the respective walls 45 and 55 of the cartridges 40 and 50, regulating the position of the semiconductor storage means according to the projection. Hereby, the cartridge is not required to be thickened uselessly for forming a hole for a screw, filling ink of sufficient quantity is enabled, hot screwing fastening in which work is relatively troublesome but hot riveting in which work is easy can be applied and a manufacturing process can be simplified.

[0027] In this embodiment, when the cartridge 40 is installed with the lever 11 lifted up to an approximately vertical position, the overhang 46 formed on the side of the ink supply port is caught by the projection 14 of the lever 11, the side of the other end is supported by the sloped part 13b of the holder 4 and held in a state in which the side of the ink supply port is lifted as shown in Fig. 8. In the above installation, if the ink cartridge 40 comes in abutment against the body of the printing apparatus, the circuit board 31 is protected by the overhang portion 46 in the upper part, as the circuit board 31 is also housed in the concave portion 48, no shock directly operates on the circuit board 31 and damage is prevented.

[0028] When the lever 11 is closed in this state, the projection 14 is turned downward, the ink cartridge 40 is lowered, approximately keeping the posture when it is installed and the ink supply port 44 comes in contact with the tip end of the ink supply needle 6 as shown in Fig. 9.

[0029] As a part over the ink supply port 44 of the cartridge 40 is pressed by the elastic member 20 when the lever 11 is further turned in this state, the ink supply port 44 is pressed on the ink supply needle 6 by pressure amplified based upon the ratio of the length of the lever 11 and distance between the shaft 9 and the elastic member 20. When the lever 11 is pressed to the end, it is fixed by the hook 16 with the lever 11 always elastically pressing the cover 43 of the ink cartridge 40 on the side of the ink supply needle via the elastic member 20 as shown in Fig. 3.

[0030] Hereby, the ink cartridge 40 is elastically pressed under fixed pressure with the ink supply port 44 fitted to the ink supply needle 6 and a state in which the ink supply port 44 is fitted to the ink supply needle 6, holding them airtight is maintained independent of vibration in printing, shock and vibration due to the movement of a printing apparatus and others.

[0031] As the circuit board 31 is located in the center in the width of the cartridge 40 on the vertical wall 45 in the vicinity of the ink supply port, the vertical wall 45 on which the circuit board 31 is fixed is moved as parallel as possible in parallel with a locus on which the ink supply port 44 is regulated by the ink supple needle 6.

[0032] In the meantime, as the circuit board 31 is located in the vicinity of the ink supply needle 6 even if the cartridge 40 rattles when it is installed and a turn is caused with the ink supply needle 6 in the center, the quantity α of a turn is extremely small as shown in Fig. 10.

[0033] For the arrangement set forth above, the circuit board 31 is moved according to a preset path as shown in Fig. 11 (a) to 11 (c), comes in contact with the contacts 29 and 29' of the contact mechanism 24 in defined order and in order grouped vertically, prevents data from being lost in the semiconductor storage means 61 due to the application of signals in unprepared order, the contact forming members 29 and 29' elastically come in contact with the contact 60 of the circuit board 31 in a state in which the ink cartridge 40 is securely installed, and the reading of data stored in the semiconductor storage means 61 and the writing of data on the side of the printing apparatus are enabled.

[0034] When the installation of the ink cartridge 40 or 50 is finished, the contact forming member 29a of the contact mechanism 24 comes in contact with the electrodes in the upper row out of the electrodes shown in Figs. 7 (d) and 7 (e) and the contact forming member 29'a comes in contact with the electrodes in the lower row. Two contact forming members 29 are in contact with the electrode 60-2 arranged in the center in the lower row. The two contact forming members 29 touched to the electrode 60-2 are grounded and it can be judged by detecting conduction between these on the side of the printing apparatus whether the ink cartridge 40 or 50 is installed or not. Further, as the width W2 of the electrode 60-2 is larger than that of the other electrode 60-1 and the electrode 60-2 is located on the central line of the ink supply port, the electrode 60-2 securely comes in contact with the contact forming member 29'. As the electrodes 60-1 and 60-2 are exposed and a user can check them easily in case the failure of contact is verified, the electrodes are simply wiped by cloth and others and conduction can be recovered.

[0035] When fitting to the hook 16 is released and the lever 11 is turned upward in case ink in the ink cartridge 40 is consumed, the projection 14 of the lever 11 is fitted to the lower part of the overhang portion 46 of the ink cartridge in the process as shown in Fig. 9. When the lever 11 is further turned in this state, the ink cartridge 40 is lifted by the lever 11 and fitting to the ink supply needle 6 is released. As the upper half of the ink cartridge 40 is exposed from the holder with the overhang 46 on the side of the ink supply port supported by the projection 14 of the lever 11 as shown in Fig. 8 when the turn of the lever 11 up to an approximately vertical position is finished, the ink cartridge can be easily extracted.

[0036] In the above embodiment, only the side of the ink supply port is pressed, however, it is more effective that elastic members 100, 101 are provided in two locations in the longitudinal direction of the lever 11 as shown in Figs. 12 (a) and 12 (b) and in the case of the wider cartridge 50 for color ink, elastic members 102 to 105 are provided in four locations, dispersing the elastic members in the direction of the width of the lever 12.

[0037] As shown in Figs. 13, when elastic members 106 and 107 in size covering the approximately overall face are mounted, the cartridges 40 and 50 can be more securely held by large frictional force. In this case, it is desirable that thickness and elastic modulus are selected so that pressure on the side of the ink supply port is larger than that in the other area.

[0038] Further, as shown in Figs. 14, if elastic members 108 and 109 similar to the elastic members elastically pressing the upper surface are laid approximately in the center of the bottom of the holder 4, airtight capability between the ink supply port 44 or 54 and the ink supply needle 6 or 7 of the ink cartridge 40 or 50 can be maintained independent of vibration and shock.

[0039] Further, even if at least one plate spring 70 protruded at least on the side of the ink supply port is fixed to the side of a free end at the back of the lever 11 as shown in Fig. 15, the ink cartridge 40 can be fixed in the holder. In this case, it is more effective that non-slip and others are stuck on the side of the free end 70a of the plate spring 70 or on the cover of the ink cartridge.

[0040] Fig. 16 shows an embodiment in case a circuit board is arranged at the bottom in the vicinity of an ink supply port of an ink cartridge, an ink supply needle 6 communicating with a print head 5 is planted at the bottom of a carriage and a board 81 on which elastically transformable contacts 80-1, 80-2, ... 80-6 formed by a spring are formed is provided in a position possibly adjacent to the ink supply needle 6 as shown in Figs. 17 (a) and 17 (b).

[0041] In the meantime, an ink supply port 14 which can be fitted to the ink supply needle 6 is provided at the bottom of an ink cartridge 40, a concave portion 82 is formed in a position possibly close to the ink supply port 14 and in a position opposite to the contact board 81 and a circuit board 83 is fixed diagonally so that the circuit board has an angle θ with each vertex of the contacts 80-1 to 80-6.

[0042] Through holes 83a and 83b for a positioning are formed on the circuit board 83 as shown in Fig. 18(a), semiconductor storage means 84 is mounted on the surface on the side of an ink housing chamber, that is, at the back as shown in Figs. 18 (b) and 18 (c) and contacts 85-1, 85-2, ... 85-6 connected to the data input terminal and the driving power supply terminal of the semiconductor storage means 84 for acquiring conduction to the contacts 80-1 to 80-6 on the side of the carriage, are formed on the side of the exposed surface.

[0043] As the semiconductor storage means 84 is mounted at the rear surface of the circuit board 83 as described above, the degree of freedom in arranging the contacts is enhanced. The surface and the rear of the circuit board 83 can be effectively utilized and electrodes to be the contacts 85-1, 85-2, ... 85-6 can be formed in area to the extent that the reliability of connection can be secured. A molding agent can be readily applied to the surface on which the semiconductor storage means 84 is formed without considering whether application precision is high or not to prevent from adhering to the contacts 85-1, 85-2, ... 85-6 and the manufacturing process can be simplified.

[0044] Further, because the semiconductor storage means 84 is mounted on the cartridge with the status hidden by the circuit board 83, a user can be prevented from touching to the storage means unintentionally, liquid such as ink can be prevented from adhering to the storage means, and electrostatic destruction and an accident caused by a short circuit can be also prevented.

[0045] The semiconductor storage means 84 is connected to control means not shown of the printing apparatus via the contacts 85-1, 85-2, ... 85-6 and the contacts 80-1 to 80-6, data stored in the semiconductor storage means is read and data such as the quantity of ink consumed by printing operation is written to the means.

[0046] In this embodiment, when the ink cartridge 40 reaches the vicinity of the bottom of the carriage in case the ink cartridge 40 is installed, the ink supply needle 6 enters the ink supply port 14 as shown in Fig. 19, forms a passage, the contacts 80-1 to 80-3 near one side of the circuit board 83 having an angle θ with a horizontal plane first come in contact with the contacts 85-1 to 85-3 and conduction is acquired.

[0047] When the cartridge 40 further is further lowered, the contacts 80-4 to 80-6 near the other side of the circuit board 83 come into contact with the contacts 85-4 to 85-6 and all contacts become conduction.

[0048] Therefore, power is supplied to the semiconductor storage means 84 through the contacts 80-1 to 80-3 and the contacts 85-1 to 85-3 by which conduction is first acquired so as to initialize the semiconductor storage means 84. Data can be prevented from being lost by accessing to data stored in the semiconductor storage means 84 via the contacts 80-4 to 80-6 and the contacts 85-4 to 85-6 which become conduction after the above conduction is acquired.

[0049] In the meantime, when the ink cartridge 40 is pulled out from the carriage, termination processing can be executed by power still supplied by the contacts 80-1 to 80-3 and the contacts 85-1 to 85-3 and afterward, power can be turned off though the contacts 80-4 to 80-6 and the contacts 85-4 to 85-6 are first disconnected. When processing for the semiconductor storage means 84 finishes as described above, the ink supply needle 6 is pulled out from the ink supply port 14.

[0050] Fig. 20 (a) shows the other embodiment of contacts 85-1 to 85-5 formed in an ink cartridge 40. Conductive patterns 86 and 87 are formed between a column of contacts 85-1 to 85-3 by which conduction is first acquired when the ink cartridge 40 is inserted and a column of contacts 85-4 to 85-5 by which conduction is afterward acquired.

[0051] For example, the contacts 85-1 and 85-3 are selected as a detection terminal and two of the contacts 85-4 to 85-5, that is, 85-4 and 85-5 may be selected as a power supply terminal.

[0052] In the arrangement described above, if ink K adheres across the terminals 85-4 and 85-5, serving as a power supply terminal as shown in Fig. 20(b), resistance between the terminals 85-4 and 85-5 is detected by the contacts 85-1 and 85-3, by which conduction is first acquired together with the contacts 80-1 and 80-3 of the holder 4 when the ink cartridge is inserted. If the detected resistance is lower than a predetermined value, the supply of power to 80-4 and 80-5 by which conduction is next acquired together with the power supply terminals 85-4 and 85-5 is stopped and an accident caused by a short circuit due to the adhesion of ink K can be precluded.

[0053] Fig. 21 shows another preferred embodiment of the present invention in which a circuit board 83' on which contacts 85-1' to 85-6' formed such as to be secured horizontally at the bottom of an ink cartridge 40 while the circuit board is always pressed upward by a spring or the like. A board 81' on which two columns of contacts 80-1' to 80-3' and contacts 80-4' to 80-6' are formed is formed in such a manner that difference g in a level is made between the tip ends of the two columns is provided.

[0054] Also in this embodiment, as shown in Fig. 22, as the first column of contacts 85-1' to 85-3' and the contacts 80-1' and 80-3' first become conduction. Next, the second column of contacts 80-4' to 80-6' respectively short in a stroke come in contact with the contacts 85-4' to 85-6' and conduction is acquired, so that the similar action and effect to those in the above embodiments are produced.

[0055] In the above embodiment, the contacts 80-1 to 80-6 and 85-1 to 85-6 are divided into plural columns and difference in time until conduction is acquired is provided between the columns. However, it is clear that the similar effect may be realized even if the contacts 80-1 to 80-6 and the contacts 85-1 to 85-6 are respectively arranged in one row as shown in Figs. 23 (a) and 23(b), and a board 83 on which the contacts 85-1 to 85-6 are formed is angled as shown in Figs. 23 (c) and 23 (d) so that conducting time becomes different between the contact 80-1 and 85-1 on one side and the contact 80-6 and 85-6 on the other side. Similarly, if the position of each end of the contacts 80-1 to 80-6 is designed to be differentiated, so that the same function may be achieved.

[0056] In the above embodiments, the mode according to which the ink cartridge is mounted on the carriage is described as an example. However, it is apparent that a similar effect may be obtained even if the present invention is applied to a printing apparatus of a type in which an ink cartridge is housed in a cartridge housing area of the apparatus body and is connected to a print head via an ink supply tube.

[0057] That is, contacts have only to be formed in required positions on the exposed face of the ink cartridge and the above contacts 85-1 to 85-6 have only to be formed in touchable positions opposite to the contacts of the ink cartridge when the ink cartridge is installed.

[0058] In addition, the same effect may be accomplished even in an arrangement in which the board 83 is mounted at the bottom of the ink cartridge 40 via a mounting plate 88 having elastically transformable pawls 88a protruding therefrom at least at both ends on the open sides of the mounting plate, after inserting a coil spring 86 or an arcuate plate spring 87 into a concave portion as shown in Figs. 24 and 25. Alternatively, the same effect may be obtained if the semiconductor storage.means 84 is mounted on the mounting plate 88 thereby to form the contacts 85-1, 85-2, ... 85-6. According to this arrangement, if merely a jig is prepared, the pawls 88a can be removed by the jig and the board 83 can be detached from the cartridge 40 in a factory while precluding unnecessary detachment by user.

[0059] Further, in the above embodiments, projections for positioning may be formed on the ink cartridge and the circuit board is positioned. However, the similar effect can be achieved in another arrangement in which a concave portion 93a is formed on a wall of an ink cartridge 90, a wall 93 adjacent to the bottom 92 on which an ink supply port 91 is formed, in this embodiment as shown in Fig. 26 (a), a circuit board 83 is housed and fixed in the concave portion 93a.

[0060] If necessary, a film 94 which can be peeled from one end 94a may be also applied as shown in Fig. 26 (b) and may be also sealed till the start of use.

[0061] According to the present invention, as the ink supply needle is located near one side in a direction perpendicular to the direction of the reciprocation of the carriage, the circuit board is mounted on the wall in the vicinity of the side on which the ink supply port is formed of the ink cartridge, the plural contacts for connecting to external control means are formed on the exposed surface of the circuit board and the semiconductor storage means is accessed from the external control means via the contacts, the circuit board is located on the side of the ink supply port and the face on which the circuit board is fixed is moved along the ink supply needle. Therefore, even if there is play between the carriage and the cartridge, the cartridge is moved according to a locus defined by the ink supply needle and the ink supply port, the contacts are connected to the external control means in a defined order and data stored in the semiconductor storage means can be securely prevented from being lost by the application of signals in an unprepared order.

[0062] Various embodiments are set out below.
  1. 1. An ink-jet printing apparatus including: a reciprocated carriage on which an ink supply needle, a cartridge holder and a print head communicating with said ink supply needle for ejecting ink droplets are formed; and an ink cartridge mounted on said ink supply needle having semiconductor storage means storing ink information, wherein said ink supply needle is located near an end of a side in a direction perpendicular to the reciprocated directions of said carriage; a circuit board is mounted on a wall of said ink cartridge in the vicinity of the side on which said ink supply port is formed; plural contacts for connecting to external control means are formed on an exposed surface of said circuit board; and said semiconductor storage means is accessed from said external control means via said contacts.
  2. 2. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 1, wherein said plural contacts connect to said external storage means at different time in a process in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  3. 3. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 2, wherein said circuit board is arranged on a side wall of said ink cartridge close to said ink supply port, and said plural contacts are divided into plural groups each of which is located at an interval in a direction in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  4. 4. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 2, wherein said circuit board is arranged on a surface on which said ink supply port is formed, and said plural contacts are divided into plural groups each of which is located at different height in a direction in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  5. 5. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 2, wherein contacts which contact with the contacts of said circuit board and said control means are divided into plural groups, and each group is located at different height in a direction in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  6. 6. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 2, wherein said circuit board is arranged on a surface which is angled from a plane perpendicular to a direction in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  7. 7. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 1, wherein said semiconductor storage means is mounted on the surface of said circuit board on which said contacts are formed.
  8. 8. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to Claim 1, wherein said semiconductor storage means is mounted at the rear surface of said circuit board where said contacts are formed.
  9. 9. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 1, wherein said circuit board is secured to said ink cartridge so that the circuit board can be detached.
  10. 10. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 1, wherein a concave portion or a through hole for positioning is formed on said circuit board, and a projection for fitting into said concave portion or said through hole is formed on said ink cartridge.
  11. 11. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 1, wherein the side of said circuit board is fixed by a rib or a pawl formed on said ink cartridge.
  12. 12. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 11, wherein said rib or pawl is formed at an interval in a direction in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  13. 13. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 1, wherein a concave portion to the extent that said circuit board can be housed is formed in the mounting area of said circuit board of said ink cartridge.
  14. 14. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 1, wherein: a lever supported by a shaft on the side of said ink supply needle so that the lever is rotatable and which can be fitted on the side of the other end is provided; and an elastic member for elastically pressing the upper surface of said ink cartridge is provided at least in an area opposite to said ink supply needle to said lever.
  15. 15. An ink-j et printing apparatus according to 1, wherein said lever is provided with a projection for fitting to an upper part on the side of said ink supply port of said ink cartridge with the projection lifted on the side of the ink cartridge in the vicinity of said shaft.
  16. 16. An ink-j et printing apparatus according to 1, further including an elastic contact forming member protruding from said ink supply needle toward said ink cartridge and connecting to said circuit board.
  17. 17. An ink-jet printing apparatus according to 1, wherein: a circuit board for connecting to said external control means is provided outside the side of said ink supply port; and conduction to said semiconductor storage means of the ink cartridge is acquired via said elastic contact forming member.
  18. 18. An ink cartridge for supplying ink to a print head to which ink is supplied via an ink supply needle, wherein: said ink supply port into which said ink supply needle is inserted is formed on one face of a container forming an ink housing chamber; a circuit board is mounted; and plural contacts for connecting to external control means are formed on the exposed surface of said circuit board.
  19. 19. An ink cartridge according to 18, wherein: said circuit board is arranged on the face on which said ink supply port is formed; said plural contacts are divided into plural groups; and each group is located at different height in a direction in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  20. 20. An ink cartridge according to 18 or 19, wherein contacts in said group are connected to contacts on the side of the printing apparatus body at different time.
  21. 21. An ink cartridge according to 18, wherein said circuit board is provided on a central line crossing said ink supply port.
  22. 22. An ink cartridge according to 18, wherein said circuit board is aligned with a central line in the direction of the width of the face adjacent to said ink supply port.
  23. 23. An ink cartridge according to 18, wherein said ink supply needle is formed on a carriage.
  24. 24. An ink cartridge according to 18, wherein one of said plural contacts touches to plural contacts on the side of a printing apparatus and used for detecting whether the ink cartridge is installed or not.
  25. 25. An ink cartridge according to 18, wherein: one of said plural contacts touches to plural contacts on the side of a printing apparatus and used for detecting whether the ink cartridge is installed or not; and said one of said plural contacts is formed so that it is larger than the other contacts.
  26. 26. An ink cartridge according to 18, wherein said contact is formed in a rectangle in which the side in a direction in which an ink cartridge is inserted is longer than the side in another direction.
  27. 27. An ink cartridge according to 18, wherein said circuit board is arranged on a face which is angled from a plane perpendicular to a direction in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  28. 28. An ink cartridge according to 18, wherein said semiconductor storage means is mounted on the surface of said circuit board on which said contacts are formed.
  29. 29. An ink cartridge according to 18, wherein said semiconductor storage means is mounted at the rear surface of said circuit board where said contacts are formed.
  30. 30. An ink cartridge for supplying ink to a print head to which ink is supplied via an ink supply needle, wherein: said ink supply port into which said ink supply needle is inserted is formed on one face of a container forming an ink housing chamber; a circuit board is mounted in the vicinity of said ink supply port; and plural contacts for connecting to external control means are formed on the exposed surface of said circuit board.
  31. 31. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein: said circuit board is arranged on another face adjacent to a face on which said ink supply port is formed, and said plural contacts are divided into plural groups each group of which is located at an interval in a direction in which the ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  32. 32. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein: said circuit board is arranged on the face on which said ink supply port is formed, and said plural contacts are divided into plural groups each group of which is located at different height in a direction in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  33. 33. An ink cartridge according to 31 or 32, wherein said group is connected to contacts on the side of the body of a printing apparatus at different time.
  34. 34. An ink cartridge according to 18, wherein said circuit board is aligned with a central line crossing said ink supply port.
  35. 35. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein said circuit board is aligned with a central line in the direction of the width of a face adjacent to said ink supply port.
  36. 36. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein said ink supply needle is formed on a carriage.
  37. 37. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein one of said plural contacts touches to plural contacts on the side of a printing apparatus and used for detecting whether the corresponding ink cartridge is installed or not.
  38. 38. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein: one of said plural contacts touches to plural contacts on the side of a printing apparatus and used for detecting whether the corresponding ink cartridge is installed or not; and said one of said plural contacts is formed so that it is larger than the other contacts.
  39. 39. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein said contact is formed in a rectangle where the side in a direction in which an ink cartridge is attached is longer than the side in another direction.
  40. 40. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein said circuit board is arranged on a face angled from a plane perpendicular to a direction in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  41. 41. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein said semiconductor storage means is mounted on the surface on which said contacts are formed of said circuit board.
  42. 42. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein said semiconductor storage means is mounted at a rear surface where said contacts are formed of said circuit board.
  43. 43. An ink cartridge according to Claim 41 or 42, wherein said contacts are formed on the side of said ink supply port.
  44. 44. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein said circuit board is fixed so that it can be detached.
  45. 45. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein a concave portion or a through hole for positioning is formed on said circuit board; and a projection for fitting into said concave portion or said through hole is formed in said ink cartridge.
  46. 46. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein a rib or a pawl for elastically pressing is formed on the side of said circuit board.
  47. 47. An ink cartridge according to 46, wherein said rib or pawl is formed at an interval in a direction in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  48. 48. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein a concave portion to the extent that said circuit board can be housed is formed in the mounting area of said circuit board.
  49. 49. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein an overhang portion is formed in the vicinity of an upper part of an area in which said circuit board is fixed.
  50. 50. An ink cartridge according to 49, wherein said overhang portion protrudes in the vertical direction of said circuit board.
  51. 51. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein plural said ink housing chambers are provided, and said circuit board is mounted in the center of each of said plural ink housing chambers.
  52. 52. An ink cartridge according to 30, wherein said circuit board, said overhang portion and said ink supply port are formed near one side of the ink cartridge.
  53. 53. An ink cartridge for supplying ink to a print head to which ink is supplied via an ink supply needle, wherein: said ink supply port into which said ink supply needle is inserted is formed on one face of a container forming an ink housing chamber; a circuit board is mounted in the vicinity of said ink supply port; plural contacts for connecting to external control means are formed on the exposed surface of said circuit board; and said semiconductor storage means is mounted at a rear surface where said contacts are formed of said circuit board.
  54. 54. An ink cartridge according to 53, wherein said circuit board is aligned with a central line crossing said ink supply port.
  55. 55. An ink cartridge according to 53, wherein said circuit board is aligned with a central line in the direction of the width of a face adjacent to said ink supply port.
  56. 56. An ink cartridge according to 53, wherein said ink supply needle is formed on a carriage.
  57. 57. An ink cartridge according to 53, wherein one of said plural contacts touches to pl ural contacts on the side of a printing apparatus and used for detecting whether the corresponding ink cartridge is installed or not.
  58. 58. An ink cartridge according to 53, wherein one of said plural contacts touches to plural contacts on the side of a printing apparatus and used for detecting whether the ink cartridge is installed or not, and said one of said plural contacts is formed so that it is larger than the other contacts.
  59. 59. An ink cartridge according to 53, wherein said contact is formed in a rectangle where the side in a direction in which an ink cartridge is inserted is longer than the side in another direction.
  60. 60. An ink cartridge according to 53, wherein said circuit board is arranged on a face angled from a plane perpendicular to a direction in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  61. 61. An ink cartridge according to 53, wherein said semiconductor storage means is mounted on the surface on which said contacts are formed of said circuit board.
  62. 62. An ink cartridge according to 53, wherein said semiconductor storage means is mounted at a rear surface of said circuit board where said contacts are formed.
  63. 63. An ink cartridge according to 53, wherein said circuit board, said overhang portion and said ink supply port are formed near one side of the ink cartridge.
  64. 64. An ink cartridge for supplying ink to a print head to which ink is supplied via an ink supply needle, wherein a concave portion is formed on one face of a container forming an ink housing chamber; a circuit board is mounted in said concave portion; and plural contacts for connecting to external control means are formed on the exposed surface of said circuit board.
  65. 65. An ink cartridge according to 64, wherein said circuit board is arranged on another face adjacent to a face on which said ink supply port is formed, and said plural contacts are divided into plural groups each group of which is located at an interval in a direction in which the ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  66. 66. An ink cartridge according to 64, wherein: said circuit board is aligned with a central line crossing said ink supply port.
  67. 67. An ink cartridge according to 64, wherein said circuit board is aligned with a central line in the direction of the width of a face adjacent to said ink supply port.
  68. 68. An ink cartridge according to 64, wherein said ink supply needle is formed on a carriage.
  69. 69. An ink cartridge according to 64, wherein one of said plural contacts is touched to plural contacts on the side of a printing apparatus and used for detecting whether the corresponding ink cartridge is installed or not.
  70. 70. An ink cartridge according to 64, wherein: one of said plural contacts touches to plural contacts on the side of a printing apparatus and used for detecting whether the corresponding ink cartridge is installed or not; and said one of said plural contacts is formed so that it is larger than the other contacts.
  71. 71. An ink cartridge according to 64, wherein said contact is formed in a rectangle where the side in a direction in which the ink cartridge is inserted is longer than the side in another direction.
  72. 72. An ink cartridge according to 64, wherein said circuit board is arranged on a face angled from a plane perpendicular to a direction in which said ink cartridge is attached or detached.
  73. 73. An ink cartridge according to 64, wherein said semiconductor storage means is mounted on the surface on which said contacts are formed of said circuit board.
  74. 74. An ink cartridge according to 64, wherein said semiconductor storage means is mounted at a rear surface of said circuit board where said contacts are formed.
  75. 75. An ink cartridge according to 64, wherein said circuit board, said overhang portion and said ink supply port are formed near one side of the ink cartridge.



Claims

1. An ink cartridge for supplying ink to a print head of an ink jet printing apparatus through an ink supply needle, the ink cartridge comprising:

a plurality of external walls defining a container forming an ink housing chamber;

an ink supply port for receiving the ink supply needle, formed on one of the walls;

a circuit board having semiconductor storage means, wherein the circuit board is arranged on another wall adjacent to a wall on which the ink supply port is formed; and

a plurality of contacts for connecting to external control means and formed on the exposed surface of the circuit board,

wherein the plural contacts are divided into plural groups each group of which is located at an interval in a direction in which the ink cartridge is attached or detached,
the group of the contacts which is closest to said end portion of the ink supply port being longer than each other group of the contacts which is farther from the ink supply port.
 
2. An ink cartridge according to claim 1, wherein the circuit board is located on a central line of the ink supply port when viewing perpendicular to the circuit board.
 
3. An ink cartridge according to claim 2, wherein the circuit board is arranged in the center in the direction of the width of a wall adjacent to the wall upon which ink supply port is formed.
 
4. An ink cartridge according to claim 1, wherein the circuit board is arranged on a face angled from a plane perpendicular to a direction in which the ink cartridge is to be mounted.
 
5. An ink cartridge according to claim 1, wherein the semiconductor storage means is mounted on the surface on which the contacts are formed on the circuit board.
 
6. An ink cartridge according to claim 1, wherein the semiconductor storage means is mounted at a rear surface of the circuit board to that upon which the contacts are formed.
 
7. An ink cartridge according to claim 1, wherein the circuit board is fixed so that it can be detached.
 
8. An ink cartridge according to claim 1, wherein a concave portion or a through hole for positioning is formed on the circuit board; and a projection for fitting into the concave portion or the through hole is formed in the ink cartridge.
 
9. An ink cartridge according to claim 1, wherein a rib or a pawl for elastically pressing is formed to the side of the circuit board.
 
10. An ink cartridge according to claim 9, wherein the rib or pawl is formed at an interval in a direction in which the ink cartridge is mounted.
 
11. An ink cartridge according to claim 1, wherein a concave portion of a size that the circuit board can be housed therein is formed in the mounting area of the circuit board.
 
12. An ink cartridge according to claim 1, wherein an overhang portion is formed above of an area in which the circuit board is fixed.
 
13. An ink cartridge according to claim 17, wherein the overhang portion protrudes perpendicular to the circuit board.
 
14. An ink cartridge according to claim 1, wherein plural said ink housing chambers are provided, and the circuit board is mounted in the centre of the total width of each of the plural ink housing chambers.
 
15. An ink cartridge according to claim 1, wherein the semi conductor storage means stores data selected from the group consisting of the quantity of ink stored in the ink cartridge, the quantity of ink consumed by printing operation, the manufacturing date of the ink and the trade name of the ink.
 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description