(19)
(11)EP 2 166 416 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
22.05.2019 Bulletin 2019/21

(21)Application number: 09169894.4

(22)Date of filing:  10.09.2009
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
G03G 15/23(2006.01)

(54)

Printing System with Pass Through Inverter

Druckersystem mit Transitwandler

Système d'impression avec inverseur de transit


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 17.09.2008 US 211852

(43)Date of publication of application:
24.03.2010 Bulletin 2010/12

(73)Proprietor: Xerox Corporation
Rochester, NY 14644 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • Bober, Henry T
    Fairport, NY 14450 (US)
  • Spence, James J
    Honeoye Falls, NY 14472 (US)

(74)Representative: Gill Jennings & Every LLP 
The Broadgate Tower 20 Primrose Street
London EC2A 2ES
London EC2A 2ES (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
US-A- 5 568 246
US-A- 5 963 770
US-A1- 2006 039 728
US-A1- 2006 221 159
US-A1- 2008 143 042
US-A- 5 730 535
US-A1- 2003 077 095
US-A1- 2006 039 729
US-A1- 2007 140 767
US-B1- 6 308 026
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] This invention relates in general to an image forming apparatus, and more particularly, to an image forming apparatus employing a pass through inverter.

    [0002] Ordinarily, a sheet inverter is referred to in the printing art as an "inverter"; its function is not necessarily limited to immediately turn the sheet over (i.e., exchange one face for the other). Its function is also to effectively reverse the sheet orientation in its direction of motion. That is, to reverse the lead edge and trail edge orientation of the sheet. Typically, in inverter devices, the sheet is driven or fed by feed rollers or other suitable sheet driving mechanisms into a sheet reversing chute as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,262,895. By then reversing the motion of the sheet within the chute and feeding it back out from the chute, the desired reversal of the leading and trailing edges of the sheet in the sheet path is accomplished. The position and geometry of the curved entry and exit baffles or sheet guides will accomplish the other face flipping function.

    [0003] Inverters are the traditional fashion used to present the reverse side of the printed sheet for duplex printing. Inverters are also particularly useful in various systems of pre or post collation copying, for inverting the original documents, or for maintaining proper collation of the sheets. The facial orientation of the copy sheet determines whether it may be stacked in forward or reversed serial order to maintain collation. Generally, the inverter is associated with a by-pass sheet path and gate so that a sheet may selectively by-pass the inverter, to provide a choice of inversion or non-inversion. Gateless inverters are also useful as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,720,478. U.S. Pat. No. 5,568,246 discloses a dual mode inverter for two interconnected printers for higher productivity simplex or duplex printing with the duplex path of the second printer alternatively usable as a bypass path for the second printer. Also, plural path inverter module systems are disclosed in U.S. Pat Nos. 4,579,446; 6,612,566 B2; 6,550,762 (Figs. 9-11); and 6,925,283.

    [0004] Printing systems including a plurality of image output terminals (lOTs) that can be color or monochrome are known for duplex and simplex printing and are generally referred to as tandem engine printers or cluster printing systems. A printing system according to the preamble of claim 1 is known, e.g., from U.S Pat. No. 5,568,246. Such systems facilitate expeditious duplex printing (both sides of a document are printed) with the first side of a document being printed by one of the lOTs and the other side of the document being printed by another so that serial printing of sequential documents can occur. The document receives a single pass through the first IOT, is inverter and then a single pass through the second IOT for printing on the second side so effectively the document receives a single pass through the system, but is duplex printed. Single pass duplex printing can be much faster than printing in a single IOT. The printers may include internal duplex loop paths for duplex printing capability in the event that the single pass duplex mode is unavailable and integrated outputs for cooperative shared printing of a print job at a higher printing rate than the capability of single lOTs. Internal duplex printing is also useful if one of the lOTs is not available for printing. For simplex printing, at least one sheet bypass or highway section extends over the second electronic printer to provide a sheet transporting path overlying the second electronic printer and bypassing the second electronic printer. Sheets from the first electronic printer are merged after leaving the sheet bypass section with sheets from the second electronic printer. Sheets conveyed in the sheet bypass section are usually conveyed at a greater speed than the printer process speed.

    [0005] In tightly integrated serial or parallel printing, (i.e., a printing system that enables portions of a print job to be distributed among a plurality of marking engines, which may be horizontal or vertically stacked), long high speed media path transports are employed between upstream and downstream print engines to connect an inverter positioned between the upstream print engine and the downstream print engine with the media path transport in the down stream print engine as disclosed, for example, in Fig. 1 of U.S. Pat. No. 7,024,152 B2. Here, an extra media path or highway media path transport is employed that includes an intermediate media transport module to direct sheets up and over second image output terminal. Serial or parallel marking engine media paths need to be able to duplex their own prints (internal duplex), do sequential duplex (single duplex), produce and exit simplex only sheets to the finisher(s) or feed fresh media to the second engine. This often involves multiple media paths or transports running the length of the printer, with selection gates, inverters, nip rolls, etc. A problem with this serial or parallel media path transport architecture is that more media paths generally increase mechanical complexity and costs, especially for unit manufacturing cost (UMC), jam clearance operability, job recovery complexity, power requirements, noise, etc.

    [0006] US 5568246 is a dual engine printing system with a simplex printing mode in which alternate pages are simultaneously printed on both printing engines, and those printed on the first engine are fed through the reversed duplex loop path of the second engine to bypass the second engine and merge with the output path thereof.

    [0007] US 5730535 discloses a print engine having a duplexer having a print path for duplex printing and a second sheet insertion path feeding special sheets to the output.

    [0008] Further examples of printing systems utilizing different feed paths to handle simplex and duplex printing are described in US-A-2006/221159, US-A-2007/140767, US-A-2003/077095, US-A-2006/039728, US-A-5963770, US-A-2006/039729, US-B-6308026, and US-A-2008/143042.

    [0009] Hence, there is a need to simplify the media path transport in tightly integrated serial or parallel printing in order to remove printer cost and mechanical complexity.

    [0010] The invention is defined by the appended claims. Accordingly, an improved architecture is disclosed for use in a tightly integrated serial or parallel printing system which includes at least one inverter module that comprises a straight pass-through media path, as well as, the customary by-pass and invert paths. This auxiliary 'pass-through' media path of the inverter allows a sheet to enter the inverter 'backwards' through the duplex exit path and to continue straight out the inverter without sheet reversal or image flipping into the media path of a downstream engine. The pass through inverter module architecture eliminates the need for the long high speed media transports used heretofore by making use of existing print engine media transports, thereby significantly reducing the number of new media path components needed to enable the tightly integrated serial or parallel printing architecture. Depending on the specific architecture, this could represent an approximately 30% reduction in the number of nips, length of baffling and a similar savings in drives, paper path sensors, power and ultimately UMC.

    [0011] The disclosed architecture may be operated by and controlled by appropriate operation of conventional control systems. It is well known and
    preferable to program and execute imaging, printing, paper handling, and other control functions and logic with software instructions for conventional or general purpose microprocessors, as taught by numerous prior patents and commercial products. Such programming or software may, of course, vary depending on the particular functions, software type, and microprocessor or other computer system utilized, but will be available to, or readily programmable without undue experimentation from, functional descriptions, such as, those provided herein, and/or prior knowledge of functions which are conventional, together with general knowledge in the software of computer arts. Alternatively, any disclosed control system or method may be implemented partially or fully in hardware, using standard logic circuits or single chip VLSI designs.

    [0012] The term 'printer' or 'reproduction apparatus' as used herein broadly encompasses various printers, copiers or multifunction machines or systems, xerographic or otherwise, unless otherwise defined in a claim. The term 'sheet' herein refers to any flimsy physical sheet or paper, plastic, or other useable physical substrate for printing images thereon, whether precut or initially web fed. A compiled collated set of printed output sheets may be alternatively referred to as a document, booklet, or the like. It is also known to use interposers or inserters to add covers or other inserts to the compiled sets.

    [0013] As to specific components of the subject apparatus or methods, or alternatives therefor, it will be appreciated that, as normally the case, some such components are known per se' in other apparatus or applications, which may be additionally or alternatively used herein, including those from art cited herein. For example, it will be appreciated by respective engineers and others that many of the particular components mountings, component actuations, or component drive systems illustrated herein are merely exemplary, and that the same novel motions and functions can be provided by many other known or readily available alternatives. All cited references, and their references, are incorporated by reference herein where appropriate for teachings of additional or alternative details, features, and/or technical background. What is well known to those skilled in the art need not be described herein.

    [0014] Various of the above-mentioned and further features and advantages will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the specific apparatus and its operation or methods described in the example(s) below, and the claims. Thus, they will be better understood from this description of these specific embodiment(s), including the drawing figures (which are approximately to scale) wherein:

    Fig. 1 is a frontal view of a tightly integrated serial printer apparatus employing a series of 'pass-through' inverter modules.

    Fig. 2 is an enlarged, partial side view of one of the 'pass-through' inverter modules employed in the printer of Fig. 1.



    [0015] With reference to the drawings, the showing is for purposes of illustrating alternative embodiments and not for limiting same. For example, while a tightly integrated parallel printing system is described hereinafter that includes two color engines, equally useful in employing a 'pass-through' inverter would be a tightly integrated parallel printing system with two monochrome engines or one color and one monochrome engine. Fig. 1 shows a schematic view of a printing system 10 comprising a sheet feed module 11, first and second electronic printers 12 and 14 that include color image marking engines (IMEs) 13 and 15, respectively, that include cyan, yellow, magenta and black developer housings and improved inverter modules 20 and 30 connecting these three elements and associated for tightly integrated parallel printing of documents with the system. Finished output from the printing system is sent to finisher F (not shown). For simplex copies from both print engines, feeder module 11 includes a plurality of conventional sheet feeders that feed sheets downward into a vertical transport path 16 that conveys the sheets to transfer station 17 to have images from IME 13 transferred thereto. The sheets are then transported through fuser 18 and into a simplex path by-pass path A in Fig. 2 of inverter module 20 and through decurler 40 and color sensor 42. Afterwards, the sheets are transported through the vertical transport path 44 to highway media transport path 19 and into duplex exit and pass-through entry path E of inverter module 30 (which is identical in parts and functionality to inverter module 20 shown in detail in Fig. 2) with the leading edge traveling through horizontal portion 27 past gate 26 and, if needed, up into inverter leg 28 until the trailing edge of the sheet clears gate 24. The sheet is then reversed and diverted by gate 24 up inverter transport H and is diverted by gate B into simplex exit path G through decurler 54 and color sensor 56 and is delivered image face down into finisher module F. Unprinted sheets destined for the second print engine are fed from sheet feed module 11 downward through vertical transport 16 and across highway media transport path 19 entering the pass-through inverter module 20 at the pass through entry E and exiting at the pass through exit J and proceeding in the direction of arrow 46 along registration transport N to transfer station 50 to receive images from IME 15. The sheets are then transported through fuser 52, decurler 54 and color sensor 56 en route to finisher F. The details of practicing parallel simplex printing and internal or single pass (serial) duplex printing through tandemly arranged marking engines is known and can be appreciated with reference to the foregoing cited U.S. Pat. No. 5,568,246. Control station 60 allows an operator to selectively control the details of a desired job. Optionally, an insert or interposed sheet, such as, a cover, photo, tab sheet or other special sheet can be inserted into the first printer engine from an auxiliary sheet feed source (not shown) through sheet input 70, if desired. In Fig. 2 an enlarged side view of the improved inverter module 20 is positioned between the first electronic printer 12 and the second electronic printer 14 that is identical to inverter module 30 and in accordance with the present disclosure facilitates pass-through of unprinted sheets from the first electronic printer to the second electronic printer. The inverter module includes an inverter 21 with a multi-positionable simplex invert gate 22 that in a first position directs simplexed non-invert sheets (imaged on one side only) received from fuser 18 through the by-pass section A to decurler 40 and subsequently into second electronic printer 14. When gate 22 is in a second position for internal duplex purposes, sheets are directed into the entry path D down a first leg 23 of a U-shaped media path member 25 and past a duplex gate 24 that, in a retracted or first position, direct sheets through a horizontal portion 27 of U-shaped member 25 and past a pass-through gate 26 that in a first position direct the sheets up a second leg 28 of the U-shaped member until the trailing edge clears gate 24. Duplex gate 24 has now been actuated into a second position for exit to the printer's duplex path. Individual sheets are reversed and exit the duplex exit portion E of the inverter and back through highway media path 19 and registration transport L to IME 13 for imaging on the opposite side.

    [0016] For serial or single pass duplexing, sheets simplexed at IME 13 enter the simplex entry path A of inverter 20 and are inverted as described hereinbefore and exit the simplex exit path G and are forwarded to IME 15 for images to be placed on their opposite sides. Afterwards, if necessary, the sheets are sent to inverter 30 to be inverted for proper orientation in finisher F.

    [0017] Thus, an inverter module that includes a by-pass, simplex invert and duplex invert paths and a straight pass-through path has been disclosed that is inserted between printers in order to replace the long high speed transports that traditionally connect an upstream printer with the media path in a downstream printer. The inverter module makes use of existing printer transports to thereby significantly reduce the number of media path components needed to enable tightly integrated parallel and serial printing architectures.

    [0018] Another alternative embodiment comprises a third print engine located to the right of the second print engine. In this embodiment, a third inverter module is placed to the right of the third print engine in order to properly orient sheets entering finisher F when necessary and to act as inverter for the third print engine and duplex highway path. In this embodiment, all three print engines can supply document sheets cooperatively to finisher F. Additionally, the second print engine can supply documents to the third print engine for single pass duplex printing.


    Claims

    1. An integrated printing system (10) comprising at least first and second adjacent electronic printers (12, 14) with outputs of printed sheets and with both simplex and duplex printing capability, including at least one of said electronic printers with an internal duplex loop path for said duplex printing capability, said first and second electronic printers having integrated outputs for cooperative shared printing of a print job,
    characterised by said integrated printing system including at least two inverter modules (20, 30) with one each positioned downstream of said at least first and second electronic printers, each of said at least two inverter modules including a triple mode inverter, the triple mode inverter including a U-shaped portion having a pair of upstanding leg portions (H, 28) and a bottom horizontal portion (27), and being configured such that: in a first mode simplexed sheets are directed into and out of the triple mode inverter in a first path bypassing the U-shaped portion; in a second mode simplexed sheets to be duplexed are directed lead edge first into a first of said pair of upstanding leg portions of said triple mode inverter and through said horizontal portion and into the second of said pair of upstanding leg portions and then out of said horizontal portion of said triple mode inverter in reverse trail edge first and into a second path to receive images on the opposite side; and in a third mode unprinted sheets are directed into and out of only the horizontal portion in a third path to have images placed thereon by a downstream electronic printer of said electronic printers.
     
    2. The integrated printing system of claim 1, wherein said horizontal portion includes an entrance portion (E) and an exit portion (J) and wherein unprinted sheets enter said entrance portion of said horizontal portion in said third mode of operation of said triple mode inverter.
     
    3. The integrated printing system of claim 1 or 2, wherein said triple mode inverter directs sheets in a downward direction when in said second mode of operation.
     
    4. The integrated printing system of any of the preceding claims, wherein said triple mode inverter includes a pass-through gate (26) and wherein said pass-through gate is open when unprinted sheets are directed from said first electronic printer to said second electronic printer to receive images thereon.
     
    5. The integrated printing system of claim 4, wherein said pass-through gate is closed when simplexed sheets are directed along said second path for duplexing within said first electronic printer.
     
    6. The integrated printing system of any of the preceding claims, wherein simplexed sheets are directed from said first electronic printer in along said first path for duplexing within said second electronic printer.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Integriertes Drucksystem (10), mit mindestens einem ersten und einem zweiten benachbarten elektronischen Drucker (12, 14) mit Ausgaben aus gedruckten Blättern mit einseitiger und doppelseitiger Druckfähigkeit, wobei mindestens einer der elektronischen Drucker mit einem internen Duplex-Umlaufkanal für die doppelseitige Druckfähigkeit versehen ist, wobei der erste und der zweite elektronische Drucker integrierte Ausgaben für ein gemeinsames Drucken einer Druckaufgabe haben,
    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass
    das integrierte Drucksystem mindestens zwei Umkehrmodule (20, 30) aufweist, wovon jeweils eines stromabwärts von dem mindestens ersten und zweiten elektronischen Drucker angeordnet ist, wobei jedes der mindestens zwei Umkehrmodule eine Tripelmodusumkehreinheit aufweist, wobei die Tripelmodusumkehreinheit einen U-förmigen Bereich mit einem Paar aus aufrechtstehenden Beinbereichen (H, 2) und einem horizontalen Bodenbereich (27) aufweist und ausgebildet ist derart, dass: in einem ersten Modus einfach bedruckte Blätter in und aus der Tripelmodusumkehreinheit in einen ersten Kanal, der den U-förmigen Bereich umgeht, gelenkt werden; in einem zweiten Modus einfach bedruckte Blätter, die doppelseitig zu bedrucken sind, mit der vorderen Kante zuerst in einen ersten der beiden aufrechtstehenden Beinbereiche der Tripelmodusumkehreinheit und durch den horizontalen Bereich und in den zweiten der beiden aufrechtstehenden Beinbereiche gelenkt werden und anschließend aus dem horizontalen Bereich der Tripelmodusumkehreinheit umgekehrt mit der Hinterkante zuerst in einen zweiten Kanal zur Aufnahme von Bildern auf der gegenüberliegenden Seite gelenkt werden; und in einem dritten Modus unbedruckte Blätter in und aus dem horizontalen Bereich in einen dritten Kanal gelenkt werden, um Bilder durch den stromabwärtigen elektronischen Drucker der elektronischen Drucker zu platzieren.
     
    2. Integriertes Drucksystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei der horizontale Bereich einen Eingangsbereich (E) und einen Ausgangsbereich (J) aufweist und wobei in dem dritten Betriebsmodus der Tripelmodusumkehreinheit unbedruckte Blätter in den Eingangsbereich des horizontalen Bereichs eintreten.
     
    3. Integriertes Drucksystem nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei die Tripelmodusumkehreinheit Blätter in einer Abwärtsrichtung lenkt, wenn sie in dem zweiten Betriebsmodus ist.
     
    4. Integriertes Drucksystem nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Tripelmodusumkehreinheit einen Durchlaufzugang (26) aufweist und wobei der Durchlaufzugang offen ist, wenn unbedruckte Blätter von dem ersten elektronischen Drucker zu dem zweiten elektronischen Drucker zur Aufnahme von Bildern darauf gelenkt werden.
     
    5. Integriertes Drucksystem nach Anspruch 4, wobei der Durchlaufzugang geschlossen ist, wenn einfach bedruckte Blätter für doppelseitigen Druck entlang des zweiten Kanals in dem ersten elektronischen Drucker gelenkt werden.
     
    6. Integriertes Drucksystem nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei einfach bedruckte Blätter von dem ersten elektronischen Drucker entlang des ersten Kanals für beidseitiges Drucken in dem zweiten elektronischen Drucker gelenkt werden.
     


    Revendications

    1. Système d'impression intégré (10) comprenant au moins des première et seconde imprimantes électroniques (12, 14) adjacentes avec sorties de feuilles imprimées et avec des capacités de simple impression et de double impression, comprenant au moins l'une desdites imprimantes électroniques avec une trajectoire à double boucle interne pour ladite capacité de double impression, lesdites première et seconde imprimantes électroniques ayant des sorties intégrées pour l'impression partagée coopérative d'une tâche d'impression, caractérisé par ledit système d'impression intégré qui comprend au moins deux modules d'inverseur (20, 30) avec chacun positionné en aval desdites au moins première et seconde imprimantes électroniques, chacun desdits au moins deux modules d'inverseur comprenant un inverseur à triple mode, l'inverseur à triple mode comprenant une partie en forme de U ayant une paire de parties de patte droites (H, 28) et une partie horizontale inférieure (27) et étant configuré de sorte que : dans un premier mode, les feuilles à transmission unidirectionnelle sont dirigées à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de l'inverseur à triple mode dans une première trajectoire contournant la partie en forme de U ; dans un deuxième mode, les feuilles à transmission unidirectionnelle destinées à être dupliquées sont dirigées tout d'abord avec le bord d'attaque dans une première de ladite paire de parties de patte droites dudit inverseur à triple mode et à travers ladite partie horizontale et dans la seconde de ladite paire de parties de patte droites et sortent ensuite de ladite partie horizontale dudit inverseur à triple mode dans le bord de fuite inversé et dans une deuxième trajectoire pour recevoir des images sur le côté opposé ; et dans un troisième mode, des feuilles non imprimées sont dirigées à l'extérieur et l'extérieur uniquement de la partie horizontale dans une troisième trajectoire pour avoir des images placées sur ces dernières par une imprimante électronique en aval desdites imprimantes électroniques.
     
    2. Système d'impression intégré selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ladite partie horizontale comprend une partie d'entrée (E) et une partie de sortie (J) et dans lequel les feuilles non imprimées pénètrent dans ladite partie d'entrée de ladite partie horizontale dans ledit troisième mode de fonctionnement dudit inverseur à triple mode.
     
    3. Système d'impression intégré selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel ledit inverseur à triple mode dirige les feuilles dans une direction descendante lorsqu'elles sont dans ledit deuxième mode de fonctionnement.
     
    4. Système d'impression intégré selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel ledit inverseur à triple mode comprend une porte de transit (26) et dans lequel ladite porte de transit est ouverte lorsque les feuilles non imprimées sont dirigées de ladite première imprimante électronique à ladite imprimante électronique pour y recevoir des images.
     
    5. Système d'impression intégré selon la revendication 4, dans lequel ladite porte de transit est fermée lorsque les feuilles à transmission unidirectionnelle sont dirigées le long de ladite deuxième trajectoire pour la duplication à l'intérieur de ladite première imprimante électronique.
     
    6. Système d'impression intégré selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel les feuilles à transmission unidirectionnelle sont dirigées à partir de ladite première imprimante électronique le long de ladite première trajectoire pour la duplication à l'intérieur de ladite seconde imprimante électronique.
     




    Drawing











    Cited references

    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