(19)
(11)EP 3 683 632 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
22.07.2020 Bulletin 2020/30

(21)Application number: 20151917.0

(22)Date of filing:  15.01.2020
(51)Int. Cl.: 
G03G 15/20  (2006.01)
G03G 15/00  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL 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 RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 18.01.2019 JP 2019006465

(71)Applicant: CANON KABUSHIKI KAISHA
OHTA-KU Tokyo 146-8501 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • NAKAJIMA, Nozomu
    Ohta-ku,, Tokyo 146-8501 (JP)
  • NAKAMORI, Tomohiro
    Ohta-ku,, Tokyo 146-8501 (JP)

(74)Representative: TBK 
Bavariaring 4-6
80336 München
80336 München (DE)

  


(54)HEATING APPARATUS INCLUDING A PLURALITY OF HEAT GENERATION MEMBERS, FIXING APPARATUS, AND IMAGE FORMING APPARATUS


(57) The heating apparatus including a plurality of heat generation members including first, second and third generation members, the second heat generation member and the third heat generation member having lengths in a longitudinal direction shorter than a length of the first heat generation member, the heating apparatus including first, second, third, and fourth contacts, and a first switching unit configured to bring an electric path between the second contact and the fourth contact into one of a connecting state and an open state.




Description

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


Field of the Invention



[0001] The present invention relates to a heating apparatus, a fixing apparatus, and an image forming apparatus, and relates to a fixing heater used in an image forming apparatus, and a control circuit that controls the fixing heater.

Description of the Related Art



[0002] In a heating apparatus using a ceramic heater as a heating source, when a recording paper (hereinafter referred to as a small size sheet) having a width shorter than the length of a heat generation member is conveyed, it is known that the following phenomena occur. That is, in a heat generation area and a non-sheet feeding area of the heat generation member, it is known that a phenomenon (hereinafter referred to as the non-sheet-feeding portion temperature rising) occurs in which the temperature becomes higher compared with the temperature in a sheet feeding area. The heat generation area refers to an area in which the heat generation member generates heat. The non-sheet feeding area refers to an area that does not contact a small size sheet in the heat generation area. The sheet feeding area refers to an area that contacts a small size sheet in the heat generation area. The non-sheet-feeding portion temperature rising is also referred to as the end portion temperature rise. When the increase in the temperature in the non-sheet-feeding portion temperature rising becomes too large, there is a possibility of damaging a surrounding member, such as a member supporting the ceramic heater. Therefore, many proposals have been made for heating apparatuses and image forming apparatuses that enable to reduce the non-sheet-feeding portion temperature rising, by including a plurality of heat generation members having different lengths, and selectively using the heat generation member having a length corresponding to the width of a recording paper. For example, in Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2001-100558, it is disclosed to aim at effective use of a substrate by commonalizing at least a part of electrodes of a plurality of heat generation members that are provided on an insulating substrate, and that can be independently driven. Additionally, a proposal has been made to provide the same number of electrodes in both ends of a substrate, so as to commonalize connectors to be connected to the ends, and to equalize the heat distribution in a longitudinal direction of the ceramic heater.

[0003] In conventional examples, the configuration is described that switches heat generation members supplying electric power by a contact switch (an electromagnetic relay having the c-contact configuration). When the electromagnetic relay having the c-contact configuration is operated in the configuration of a conventional example, arc discharge occurs between the contacts of the relay. Usually, when operating an electromagnetic relay, it is performed by stopping the electric power supply to the heat generation members (by bringing a triac into a non-conductive state). This is because an arc current flows via the capacity component of the both ends of the triac (the stray capacitance of a wiring pattern, noise suppression components arranged in the both ends of the triac, etc.), etc., since there is a potential difference between the contacts of the electromagnetic relay in this state in the configuration of a conventional example. When arc discharge occurs between the contacts of the electromagnetic relay, there is a possibility of causing the problem of EMI by emitting electromagnetic noise, causing a malfunction of an electromagnetic relay peripheral circuit, etc. Additionally, when arc discharge occurs between the contacts of the electromagnetic relay, contact wear will occur, and the life of the electromagnetic relay, and consequently, the life of an apparatus will become short.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0004] An aspect of the present invention is a heating apparatus including a plurality of heat generation members including a first heat generation member, and a second heat generation member and a third heat generation member whose lengths are shorter than a length of the first heat generation member in a longitudinal direction, the heating apparatus including a first contact to which one end of the first heat generation member is connected, a second contact to which one end of the second heat generation member and one end of the third heat generation member are connected, a third contact to which another end of the third heat generation member is connected, a fourth contact to which another end of the first heat generation member and another end of the second heat generation member are connected, and a first switching unit configured to bring an electric path between the second contact and the fourth contact into one of a connecting state and an open state.

[0005] Another aspect of the present invention is a fixing apparatus including a heating apparatus including a plurality of heat generation members including a first heat generation member, and a second heat generation member and a third heat generation member whose lengths are shorter than a length of the first heat generation member in a longitudinal direction, the heating apparatus including a first contact to which one end of the first heat generation member is connected, a second contact to which one end of the second heat generation member and one end of the third heat generation member are connected, a third contact to which another end of the third heat generation member is connected, a fourth contact to which another end of the first heat generation member and another end of the second heat generation member are connected, and a first switching unit configured to bring an electric path between the second contact and the fourth contact into one of a connecting state and an open state, wherein the fixing apparatus fixes a toner image on a recording material by the heating apparatus.

[0006] A further aspect of the present invention is an image forming apparatus including an image forming unit configured to form a toner image on a recording material, and a fixing apparatus including a heating apparatus having a plurality of heat generation members including a first heat generation member, and a second heat generation member and a third heat generation member whose lengths are shorter than a length of the first heat generation member in a longitudinal direction, the heating apparatus including a first contact to which one end of the first heat generation member is connected, a second contact to which one end of the second heat generation member and one end of the third heat generation member are connected, a third contact to which another end of the third heat generation member is connected, a fourth contact to which another end of the first heat generation member and another end of the second heat generation member are connected, and a first switching unit configured to bring an electric path between the second contact and the fourth contact into one of a connecting state and an open state, wherein the fixing apparatus fixes a toner image on a recording material by the heating apparatus.

[0007] Further features of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of exemplary embodiments with reference to the attached drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0008] 

FIG. 1 is a general configuration diagram of an image forming apparatus of Embodiments 1 to 4.

FIG. 2 is a control block diagram of the image forming apparatus of Embodiments 1 to 4.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional schematic diagram in the vicinity of center portion in a longitudinal direction of a fixing apparatus of Embodiments 1 to 4.

FIG. 4A illustrates a heater and a heater control circuit described in Embodiment 1. FIG. 4B illustrates a cross-section of the heater described in Embodiment 1.

FIG. 5A, 5B and 5C are diagrams illustrating the heater and the current path of the heater control circuit described in Embodiment 1.

FIG. 6 is a diagram illustrating the heater and the heater control circuit described in Embodiment 2.

FIG. 7A, 7B and 7C are diagrams illustrating the heater and the current path of the heater control circuit described in Embodiment 2.

FIG. 8 is a diagram illustrating the heater and the heater control circuit described in Embodiment 3.

FIG. 9A, 9B and 9C are diagrams illustrating the heater and the current path of the heater control circuit described in Embodiment 3.

FIG. 10 is a diagram illustrating the heater and the heater control circuit described in Embodiment 4.

FIG. 11A, 11B and 11C are diagrams illustrating the heater and the current path of the heater control circuit described in Embodiment 4.


DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS


[Embodiment 1]



[0009] In the following embodiments, when three systems of heat generation members are included and three kinds of power supply paths are switched, a contact switch is used in the switching of one kind of the power supply paths. The configuration will be described in which, even in a case where the power supply paths are switched by using the contact switch, electromagnetic noise due to arc discharge is not emitted at the time of the contact switch operation, and the life reduction due to contact wear does not occur.

[0010] Additionally, in a heating apparatus including three or more systems of heat generation members, the same number of electrodes (a first contact to a fourth contact described below) are provided in the both ends of a substrate. Accordingly, it is aimed to commonalize connectors to be connected to the both ends of the substrate, and to equalize the heat distribution in the longitudinal direction of the ceramic heater.

[General configuration]



[0011] FIG. 1 is a configuration diagram illustrating a color image forming apparatus of the in-line system, which is an example of an image forming apparatus carrying a fixing apparatus of an Embodiment 1. The operation of the color image forming apparatus of the electrophotography system will be described by using FIG. 1. Note that a first station is the station for toner image formation of a yellow (Y) color, and a second station is the station for toner image formation of a magenta (M) color. Additionally, a third station is the station for toner image formation of a cyan (C) color, and a fourth station is the station for toner image formation of a black (K) color.

[0012] In the first station, a photosensitive drum 1a, which is an image carrier, is an OPC photosensitive drum. The photosensitive drum 1a is formed by stacking, on a metal cylinder, a plurality of layers of functional organic materials including a carrier generation layer exposed and generates an electric charge, a charge transport layer transporting the generated electric charge, etc., and the outermost layer has a low electric conductivity and is almost insulated. A charge roller 2a, which is a charging unit, contacts the photosensitive drum 1a, and uniformly charges a surface of the photosensitive drum 1a while performing following rotation with the rotation of the photosensitive drum 1a. The voltage superimposed with one of a DC voltage and an AC voltage is applied to the charge roller 2a, and when an electric discharge occurs in minute air gaps on the upstream side and the downstream side of a rotation direction from a nip portion between the charge roller 2a and the surface of the photosensitive drum 1a, the photosensitive drum 1a is charged. A cleaning unit 3a is a unit that cleans a toner remaining on the photosensitive drum 1a after the transfer, which will be described later. A development unit 8a, which is a developing unit, includes a developing roller 4a, a nonmagnetic monocomponent toner 5a and a developer application blade 7a. The photosensitive drum 1a, the charge roller 2a, the cleaning unit 3a and the development unit 8a form an integral-type process cartridge 9a that can be freely attached to and detached from the image forming apparatus.

[0013] An exposure device 11a, which is an exposing unit, includes one of a scanner unit scanning a laser beam with a polygon mirror, and an LED (light emitting diode) array, and irradiates a scanning beam 12a modulated based on an image signal on the photosensitive drum 1a. Additionally, the charge roller 2a is connected to a high voltage power supply for charge 20a, which is a voltage supplying unit to the charge roller 2a. The developing roller 4a is connected to a high voltage power supply for development 21a, which is a voltage supplying unit to the developing roller 4a. A primary transfer roller 10a is connected to a high voltage power supply for primary transfer 22a, which is a voltage supplying unit to the primary transfer roller 10a. The first station is configured as described above, and the second, third and fourth stations are also configured in the same manner. For the other stations, the identical numerals are assigned to the components having the identical functions as those of the first station, and b, c and d are assigned as the subscripts of the numerals for the respective stations. In the following description, subscripts a, b, c and d are omitted except for the case where a specific station is described.

[0014] An intermediate transfer belt 13 is supported by three rollers, i.e., a secondary transfer opposing roller 15, a tension roller 14 and an auxiliary roller 19, as its stretching members. The force in the direction of stretching the intermediate transfer belt 13 is applied only to the tension roller 14 by a spring, and a suitable tension force for the intermediate transfer belt 13 is maintained. The secondary transfer opposing roller 15 is rotated in response to the rotation drive from a main motor (not illustrated), and the intermediate transfer belt 13 wound around the outer circumference is rotated. The intermediate transfer belt 13 moves at substantially the same speed in a forward direction (for example, the clockwise direction in FIG. 1) with respect to the photosensitive drums 1a to 1d (for example, rotated in the counter clockwise direction in FIG. 1). Additionally, the intermediate transfer belt 13 is rotated in an arrow direction (the clockwise direction), and the primary transfer roller 10 is arranged on the opposite side of the photosensitive drum 1 across the intermediate transfer belt 13, and performs the following rotation with the movement of the intermediate transfer belt 13. The position at which the photosensitive drum 1 and the primary transfer roller 10 contact each other across the intermediate transfer belt 13 is referred to as a primary transfer position. The auxiliary roller 19, the tension roller 14 and the secondary transfer opposing roller 15 are electrically grounded. Note that, also in the second to fourth stations, since primary transfer rollers 10b to 10d are configured in the same manner as the primary transfer roller 10a of the first station, a description will be omitted.

[0015] Next, the image forming operation of the image forming apparatus of Embodiment 1 will be described. The image forming apparatus starts the image forming operation, when a print command is received in a standby state. The photosensitive drum 1, the intermediate transfer belt 13, etc. start rotation in the arrow direction at a predetermined process speed by the main motor (not illustrated). The photosensitive drum 1a is uniformly charged by the charge roller 2a to which the voltage is applied by the high voltage power supply for charge 20a, and subsequently, an electrostatic latent image according to image information is formed by the scanning beam 12a irradiated from the exposure device 11a. A toner 5a in the development unit 8a is charged in negative polarity by the developer application blade 7a, and is applied to the developing roller 4a. Then, a predetermined developing voltage is supplied to the developing roller 4a by the high voltage power supply for development 21a. When the photosensitive drum 1a is rotated, and the electrostatic latent image formed on the photosensitive drum 1a reaches the developing roller 4a, the electrostatic latent image is visualized when the toner of negative polarity adheres, and a toner image of the first color (for example, Y (yellow)) is formed on the photosensitive drum 1a. The respective stations (process cartridges 9b to 9d) of the other colors M (magenta), C (cyan) and K (black) are also similarly operated. An electrostatic latent image is formed on each of the photosensitive drums 1a to 1d by exposure, while delaying a writing signal from a controller (not illustrated) with a fixed timing, according to the distance between the primary transfer positions of the respective colors. A DC high voltage having the reverse polarity to that of the toner is applied to each of the primary transfer rollers 10a to 10d. With the above-described processes, toner images are sequentially transferred to the intermediate transfer belt 13 (hereinafter referred to as the primary transfer), and a multi toner image is formed on the intermediate transfer belt 13.

[0016] Thereafter, according to imaging of the toner image, a paper P that is a recording material loaded in a cassette 16 is fed (picked up) by a sheet-feeding roller 17 rotated and driven by a sheet-feeding solenoid (not illustrated). The fed paper P is conveyed to a registration roller (hereinafter referred to as the resist roller) 18 by a conveyance roller. The paper P is conveyed by the resist roller 18 to a transfer nip portion, which is a contacting portion between the intermediate transfer belt 13 and a secondary transfer roller 25, in synchronization with the toner image on the intermediate transfer belt 13. The voltage having the reverse polarity to that of the toner is applied to the secondary transfer roller 25 by a high voltage power supply for secondary transfer 26, and the four-color multi toner image carried on the intermediate transfer belt 13 is collectively transferred onto the paper P (onto the recording material) (hereinafter referred to as the secondary transfer). The members (for example, the photosensitive drum 1) that have contributed to the formation of the unfixed toner image on the paper P function as an image forming unit. On the other hand, after completing the secondary transfer, the toner remaining on the intermediate transfer belt 13 is cleaned by a cleaning unit 27. The paper P to which the secondary transfer is completed is conveyed to a fixing apparatus 50, which is a fixing unit, and is discharged to a discharge tray 30 as an image formed matter (a print, a copy) in response to fixing of the toner image. The fixing apparatus 50 corresponds to the heating apparatus of the present invention. A film 51 of the fixing apparatus 50, a nip forming member 52, a pressure roller 53 and a heater 54 will be described later.

[Block diagram of image forming apparatus]



[0017] FIG. 2 is a block diagram for describing the operation of the image forming apparatus, and referring to this drawing, the print operation of the image forming apparatus will be described. APC 110, which is a host computer, outputs a print command to a video controller 91 inside the image forming apparatus, and plays the role of transferring image data of a printing image to the video controller 91.

[0018] The video controller 91 converts the image data from the PC 110 into exposure data, and transfers it to an exposure control device 93 inside an engine controller 92. The exposure control device 93 is controlled from a CPU 94, and performs turning on and off of exposure data, and control of the exposure device 11. The CPU 94, which is a control unit, starts an image forming sequence, when a print command is received.

[0019] The CPU 94, a memory 95, etc. are mounted in the engine controller 92, and the operation programmed in advance is performed. The high voltage power supply 96 includes the above-described high voltage power supply for charge 20, high voltage power supply for development 21, high voltage power supply for primary transfer 22 and high voltage power supply for secondary transfer 26. Additionally, a power control unit 97 includes a bidirectional thyristor (hereinafter referred to as the triac) 56, a heat generation member switching device 57 that switches the heat generation members supplying power, etc. The power control unit 97 selects the heat generation member that generates heat in the fixing apparatus 50, and determines the electric energy to be supplied. Additionally, a driving device 98 includes a main motor 99, a fixing motor 100, etc. In addition, a sensor 101 includes a fixing temperature sensor 59 that detects the temperature of the fixing apparatus 50, a sheet presence sensor 102 that has a flag and detects the existence of the paper P, etc., and the detection result of the sensor 101 is transmitted to the CPU 94. The CPU 94 obtains the detection result of the sensor 101 in the image forming apparatus, and controls the exposure device 11, the high voltage power supply 96, the power control unit 97 and the driving device 98. Accordingly, the CPU 94 performs the formation of an electrostatic latent image, the transfer of a developed toner image, the fixing of a toner image to the paper P, etc., and controls an image formation process in which the exposure data is printed on the paper P as the toner image. Note that the image forming apparatus to which the present invention is applied is not limited to the image forming apparatus having the configuration described in FIG. 1, and may be an image forming apparatus that can print papers P having different widths, and that includes the fixing apparatus 50 including the heater 54, which will be described later.

[Fixing apparatus]



[0020] Next, the configuration of the fixing apparatus 50 in Embodiment 1 will be described by using FIG. 3. Here, the longitudinal direction is the rotation axis direction of the pressure roller 53 substantially perpendicular to the conveyance direction of the paper P described later. Additionally, the length of the paper P in the direction (the longitudinal direction) substantially perpendicular to the conveyance direction is referred to as the width. FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional schematic diagram of the fixing apparatus 50.

[0021] The paper P holding an unfixed toner image Tn is heated while conveyed from the left side in FIG. 3 toward the right in a fixation nip portion N, and thus the toner image Tn is fixed to the paper P. The fixing apparatus 50 in Embodiment 1 includes a cylindrical film 51, the nip forming member 52 holding the film 51, the pressure roller 53 forming the fixation nip portion N with the film 51, and the heater 54 for heating the paper P.

[0022] The film 51, which is a first rotary member, is a fixing film as a heating rotary member. In Embodiment 1, for example, polyimide is used as a base layer. An elastic layer made of silicone rubber, and a release layer made of PFA are used on the base layer. In order to reduce the frictional force generated between film 51, and the nip forming member 52 and the heater 54 by rotation of the film 51, grease is applied to the inner surface of the film 51.

[0023] The nip forming member 52 plays the role of guiding the film 51 from the inner side, and forming the fixation nip portion N between the nip forming member 52 and the pressure rollers 53 via the film 51. The nip forming member 52 is a member having rigidity, heat resistance and insulation properties, and is formed by a liquid crystal polymer, etc. The film 51 is fit onto this nip forming member 52. The pressure roller 53, which is a second rotary member, is a roller as a pressing rotary member. The pressure roller 53 includes a cored bar 53a, an elastic layer 53b and a release layer 53c. The pressure roller 53 is rotatably maintained at both ends, and is rotated and driven by the fixing motor 100 (see FIG. 2). Additionally, the film 51 performs the following rotation by the rotation of the pressure roller 53. The heater 54, which is a heating member, is maintained by the nip forming member 52, and contacts the inner surface of the film 51. The fixing temperature sensor 59 detects the temperature of the heater 54. The heater 54 will be described later.

[Heater and heater control circuit]



[0024] A heater, and the power control unit 97, which is the heater control circuit, used in the heating apparatus of Embodiment 1 are illustrated in FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B. FIG. 4A illustrates the heater 54 and the power control unit 97 used in Embodiment 1, and FIG. 4B illustrates the p-p' cross-section of the heater 54. The heater 54 mainly includes heat generation members 54b1 to 54b3, contacts 54d1 to 54d4, and a cover glass layer 54e, such as insulating glass, mounted on a substrate 54a (on a substrate) formed by ceramic, etc. The heat generation members 54b1 to 54b3 are resistors that generate heat by the power supply from an AC power supply 55, such as a commercial AC power. The contact 54d1 and the contact 54d2 are provided in one end of the substrate 54a in the longitudinal direction, and the contact 54d3 and the contact 54d4 are provided in the other end of the substrate 54a in the longitudinal direction. In this manner, the numbers of the contacts (electrodes) provided in the both ends of the substrate 54a are made the same; for example, two. The cover glass layer 54e is provided to insulate a user from the heat generation members 54b 1 to 54b3 having almost the same electric potential as the AC power supply 55.

[0025] The heat generation member 54b1, which is a first heat generation member, is a heat generation member mainly used when fixing a toner to the paper P having the maximum width among papers P that can be conveyed in the heating apparatus. Here, the width refers to the direction substantially perpendicular to the conveyance direction of the paper P, and is also the longitudinal direction of the heater 54. Therefore, the length (size) of the heat generation member 54b1 in the longitudinal direction is set to be longer than the width of the letter size 215.9 mm by about several millimeters. As illustrated in FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B, two heat generation members 54b1 are arranged at both sides of the substrate 54a on the upstream side and the downstream side of the conveyance direction (the up-and-down direction in FIG. 4A) of the paper P, so as to sandwich the heat generation members 54b2 and 54b3. In the longitudinal direction of the substrate 54a, the heat generation member 54b2 and the heat generation member 54b3 are arranged in the area of the heat generation member 54b 1. Additionally, the heat generation member 54b 1 is the heat generation member mainly used also when the heating apparatus is activated (that is, when the temperature is increased to a predetermined temperature from the state where the heating apparatus is cold (the state where the temperature is substantially the same as the room temperature)). Therefore, the heat generation member 54b 1 is designed to be able to supply power required at the time of activation of the heating apparatus. The heat generation member 54b1 is connected to the contact 54d1, which is a fist contact, and to the contact 54d4, which is a fourth contact.

[0026] The heat generation member 54b2, which is a second heat generation member, is the heat generation member corresponding to the width of the B5 size, and the length of the heat generation member 54b2 in the longitudinal direction is set to be longer than the width of the B5 size 182 mm by about several millimeters. The heat generation member 54b2 is connected to the contact 54d2, which is a second contact, and to the contact 54d4. The heat generation member 54b3, which is a third heat generation member, is the heat generation member corresponding to the width of the A5 size, and the length of the heat generation member 54b3 in the longitudinal direction is set to be longer than the width of the A5 size 148 mm by about several millimeters. The heat generation member 54b3 is connected to the contact 54d2 and to the contact 54d3, which is a third contact.

[0027] It is assumed that the heat generation member 54b2 and the heat generation member 54b3 are used in a state where the heating apparatus has been warmed up to some extent, and the rated powers of the heat generation member 54b2 and the heat generation member 54b3 are set to be lower than the rated power of the heat generation member 54b 1. That is, the heat generation member 54b1 serves as a main heater, and the heat generation members 54b2 and 54b3 serve as sub heaters. Accordingly, the main heater (the heat generation member 54b1) and the sub heaters (the heat generation members 54b2 and 54b3) are used while switched, mainly at the time of activation and a load change. Additionally, the heater 54 includes the three systems of heat generation members 54b1 to 54b3 having different lengths in the width direction of the paper P. Accordingly, it is aimed to suppress the non-sheet-feeding portion temperature rising, and to achieve a high productivity even in a case where the paper P having the width less than the letter size or the A4 size (hereinafter referred to as a small size sheet) is printed. Accordingly, also in this perspective, the performance of the heater 54 is delivered by frequently switching the main heater (the heat generation member 54b 1) and the sub heaters (the heat generation members 54b2 and 54b3).

[0028] The contact 54d1 is connected to the first pole of the AC power supply 55 via a bidirectional thyristor (hereinafter referred to as a triac) 56a, which is a first turn-on switch means. The contact 54d2 is connected to the first pole of the AC power supply 55 via a triac 56b, which is a second turn-on switch unit. The contact 54d3 is connected to the first pole of the AC power supply 55 via a triac 56c, which is a third turn-on switch unit. The contact 54d4 is connected to the second pole of the AC power supply 55, without a triac, etc. The contact 54d2 and the contact 54d4 are connected via an electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration, which is a first switching unit. The electromagnetic relay 57a brings the electric path (the power supply path) between the contact 54d2 and the contact 54d4 into one of a connecting state (hereinafter also referred to as the short circuit state), and an open state. The electromagnetic relay 57a is not limited to the electromagnetic relay having the a-contact configuration, and a contact switch, such as an electromagnetic relay having the b-contact configuration, and an electromagnetic relay having the c-contact configuration, may be used. Further, a contactless switch, such as a solid state relay (SSR), a photoMOS relay, and a triac, may be used for the electromagnetic relay 57a.

[Power supply path]



[0029] FIG. 5A to FIG. 5C illustrate three kinds of current paths (they are electric paths, and are also power supply paths) to the heat generation members 54b1 to 54b3 in a case where the heater 54 and the power control unit 97 of Embodiment 1 are used.

(Power supply to the heat generation member 54b 1)



[0030] The current in a case where power is supplied from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b 1 flows in the route indicated by a bold line in FIG. 5A. The heat generation member 54b 1 is controlled to be at a predetermined temperature by detecting the temperature of the heater 54 by a temperature detection element (not illustrated) such as a thermistor, and operating the triac 56a based on an instruction from a microcomputer (not illustrated) based on the temperature information. The power supply to the heat generation member 54b 1 does not depend on the triacs 56b and 56c and the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration. That is, in a case where power is supplied to the heat generation member 54b 1, the electromagnetic relay 57a may be in the open state, or may be in the short circuit state. Note that, in FIG. 5A, the electromagnetic relay 57a is in the open state as an example.

(Power supply to the heat generation member 54b2)



[0031] The current in a case where power is supplied from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b2 flows in the route indicated by a bold line in FIG. 5B. In a case where power is supplied to the heat generation member 54b2, the contact of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration is set to the open state. Since the contact impedance of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration in the open state is sufficiently larger than the heat generation member 54b2, a current hardly flows into the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration, and only the heat generation member 54b2 can be made to generate heat. The power supplied to the heat generation member 54b2 is controlled by the triac 56b.

(Power supply to the heat generation member 54b3)



[0032] The current in a case where power is supplied from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b3 flows in the route indicated by a bold line in FIG. 5C. In a case where power is supplied to the heat generation member 54b3, almost all the current flows into the heat generation member 54b3, by setting the contact of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration to the short circuit state. Since the contact impedance of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration in the short circuit state is sufficiently smaller than the heat generation member 54b2, a current hardly flows into the heat generation member 54b2, and only the heat generation member 54b3 can be made to generate heat. The power supplied to the heat generation member 54b3 is controlled by the triac 56c.

[Switching of power supply paths]



[0033] For switching between the power supply path (FIG. 5A) to the heat generation member 54b 1 and the power supply path (FIG. 5B) to the heat generation member 54b2, the contact of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration is brought into the open state in advance. The switching between the power supply path (FIG. 5A) and the power supply path (FIG. 5B) to the heat generation member 54b2 can be independently controlled only by contactless switches of the triac 56a and the triac 56b. Since the state transition can be performed only with the operation of the contactless switches (= the triacs), transition between the power supply path (FIG. 5A) and the power supply path (FIG. 5B) can be frequently performed, and the power supply path (FIG. 5A) and the power supply path (FIG. 5B) can be used concurrently.

[0034] The same applies to the power supply path (FIG. 5A) to the heat generation member 54b1, and the power supply path (FIG. 5C) to the heat generation member 54b3. The contact of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration is brought into the short circuit state in advance, and the path is switched by control of the triac 56a and the triac 56b. Since the state transition can be performed only with the operation of the contactless switches (= the triacs), transition between the power supply path (FIG. 5A) and the power supply path (FIG. 5C) can be frequently performed, and the power supply path (FIG. 5A) and the power supply path (FIG. 5C) can be used concurrently.

[0035] On the other hand, when switching between the power supply path (FIG. 5B) of the heat generation member 54b2, and the power supply path (FIG. 5C) of the heat generation member 54b3, it is necessary to switch the state of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration. Here, the both ends of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration are connected to the both ends of the heat generation member 54b2. Accordingly, when the triac 56b is not conducted, irrespective of whether the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration is in the open state or in the short circuit state, the both ends of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration have the same electric potential. Therefore, arc discharge does not occur between the contacts of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration at the time of operation of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration (the electromagnetic relay 57a is operated when the triac 56b is not conducted). Accordingly, electromagnetic noise is not emitted, and the contact wear (= the life reduction) due to arc discharge also does not occur. Accordingly, although the power supply path (FIG. 5B) and the power supply path (FIG. 5C) are exclusive, the power supply path (FIG. 5B) and the power supply path (FIG. 5C) can be switched with a high degree of freedom.

[0036] Note that, by using the heater 54 and the power control unit 97 of Embodiment 1, not only elimination of the electromagnetic noise emission and the contact wear at the time of operation of the electromagnetic relay, but also the following effects can be obtained. Firstly, since the numbers of the electrodes (contacts) provided in the both ends of the substrate 54a can be made the same, it can be aimed to commonalize the connectors to be connected to the both ends of the substrate 54a, and to equalize the heat distribution in the longitudinal direction of the ceramic heater. Secondly, two of the three kinds of state transitions can be performed by the control of only the contactless switches. Therefore, since the state transition influenced by the waiting for the operation of the contact switch (the waiting for stabilization of the contact caused by the contact bounce of the relay) can be minimized, and the performance of the heater 54 can be maximized, the productivity for a small size sheet can be improved.

[0037] Note that, for convenience of description, although a noise filter, an energy saving function that cuts off the noise filter, etc. from the AC power supply 55 for energy saving, etc. are not illustrated, even if these circuits required for actual functions are added, the effects of the present invention do not change.

[0038] In the configuration that switches the power supply paths by using the contact switch as described above, the life reduction due to the electromagnetic noise emission from the contact switch and the contact wear can be eliminated. As described above, according to Embodiment 1, an apparatus can be provided in which the electromagnetic noise due to arc discharge is not emitted at the time of operation of the contact switch, and the life reduction due to contact wear does not occur, even in a case where the heat generation member supplying electric power is switched by using the contact switch.

[Embodiment 2]


[Heater and power control unit]



[0039] FIG. 6 illustrates the heater 54 and the power control unit 97 used in the heating apparatus of Embodiment 2. Since the heater 54 used in Embodiment 2 is common to the heater 54 in Embodiment 1, a description will be omitted. The power control unit 97 of Embodiment 2 has the configuration in which one triac 56b is used by combining the triac 56b and the triac 56c of FIG. 4A, and the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration, which is a second switching unit, is added. The present embodiment is characterized in that the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration plays both the role of selecting to which heat generation member the triac 56b is to be connected, and the role of the electromagnetic relay 57c having the a-contact configuration of FIG. 4A.

[0040] Specifically, the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration, which is the second switching unit, includes a contact 57c1 connected to the contact 54d2, a contact 57c2 connected to the triac 56b and the contact 54d3, and a contact 57c3 connected to the AC power supply 55 and the contact 54d4. The electromagnetic relay 57c is in a state where power is supplied to the heat generation member 54b2, when in a state where the contact 57c1 and the contact 57c2 are connected to each other. The electromagnetic relay 57c is in a state where power is supplied to the heat generation member 54b3, when in a state where the contact 57c1 and the contact 57c3 are connected to each other. In the electromagnetic relay 57c, when in a state where the contact 57c1 and the contact 57c3 are connected to each other, the electromagnetic relay 57c is in a state where the contact 54d2 and the contact 54d4 are connected to each other. Therefore, the electromagnetic relay 57c also functions as the first switching unit.

[Power supply path]



[0041] FIG. 7A to FIG. 7C illustrate three kinds of power supply paths to the heat generation members 54b 1 to 54b3 in a case where the heater 54 and the power control unit 97 of Embodiment 2 are used. The current in a case where power is supplied from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b 1 flows in the route indicated by a bold line in FIG. 7A. The power supply from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b1 is controlled by the triac 56a. At the time of the power supply to the heat generation member 54b 1, the electromagnetic relay 57c may be in a state where the contact 57c1 and the contact 57c2 are connected to each other, or may be in a state where the contact 57c1 and the contact 57c3 are connected to each other.

[0042] The current in a case where power is supplied from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b2 flows in the route indicated by a bold line in FIG. 7B. At this time, the contact 57c1 and the contact 57c2 are connected to each other, the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration is connected to the triac 56b and contact 54d4 side, and the power supply from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b2 is controlled by the triac 56b. Since the contact impedance of the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration is sufficiently smaller than the heat generation member 54b3, a current hardly flows into the heat generation member 54b3, and only the heat generation member 54b2 can be made to generate heat.

[0043] The current in a case where power is supplied from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b3 flows in the route indicated by a bold line in FIG. 7C. At this time, the contact 57c1 and the contact 57c3 are connected to each other, the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration is connected to the contact 54d3 side, and the power supply from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b3 is controlled by the triac 56b. Since the contact impedance of the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration is sufficiently smaller than the heat generation member 54b2, a current hardly flows into the heat generation member 54b2, and only the heat generation member 54b3 can be made to generate heat.

[0044] The electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration includes a first function to short-circuit (FIG. 7B) and to open (FIG. 7C) the heat generation member 54b2, by short circuit (FIG. 7B) and opening (FIG. 7C) of the contact 54d2 and the contact 54d4. Additionally, the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration includes a second function to short-circuit (FIG. 7C) and to open (FIG. 7B) the heat generation member 54b3. That is, the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration is characterized by including both the first function and the second function.

[0045] Here, the contact 57c1 and the contact 57c2 of the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration are connected to the both ends of the heat generation member 54b3. Accordingly, when the triac 56b is not conducted, the contact 57c1 and the contact 57c2 have the same electric potential, irrespective of whether in the open state or the short circuit state. Further, the contacts 57c1 and 57c3 of the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration are connected to the both ends of the heat generation member 54b2. Accordingly, when the triac 56b is not conducted, the contact 57c1 and the contact 57c3 have the same electric potential, irrespective of whether in the open state or the short circuit state. That is, when the triac 56b is not conducted, all of the contacts 57c1, 57c2 and 57c3 have the same electric potential. Accordingly, at the time of operation of the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration (the electromagnetic relay 57c is operated when the triac 56b is not conducted), arc discharge does not occur between any of the contacts of the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration. Accordingly, at the time of operation of the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration, electromagnetic noise is not emitted, and the contact wear (life reduction) due to arc discharge also does not occur.

[0046] The configuration of Embodiment 2 is synonymous with bearing the functions of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration and the triac 56c illustrated in FIG. 4A of an Embodiment 1, only by the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration. Accordingly, the same functions as those in Embodiment 1 can be secured by selecting the configuration of Embodiment 2, while further suppressing the number of circuit components.

[0047] Note that, in the configuration of Embodiment 1, when in an abnormal state, i.e., when the triac 56b is in a conductive state, and the contact of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration is in the short circuit state, the outgoing end of the AC power supply 55 will be in the short circuit state. In this case, it cannot be said that there is no possibility of causing fusing of a current fuse (not illustrated), and there is also a possibility of causing destruction of an apparatus. On the other hand, in the configuration of Embodiment 2, the outgoing end of the AC power supply 55 does not short-circuit, and it can be said that the configuration of Embodiment 2 is a more reliable configuration.

[0048] As described above, in the configuration that switches the power supply path by using the contact switch, the electromagnetic noise emission from the contact switch and the life reduction due to contact wear can be eliminated. In addition, an apparatus that is more inexpensive, that can save more space, and that is more reliable than the apparatus in Embodiment 1 can be provided. As described above, according to Embodiment 2, an apparatus can be provided in which the electromagnetic noise due to arc discharge is not emitted at the time of the contact switch operation, and the life reduction due to contact wear does not occur, even in a case where the heat generation member supplying electric power is switched by using the contact switch.

[Embodiment 3]


[Heater and power control unit]



[0049] FIG. 8 illustrates the heater 54 and the power control unit 97 used in the heating apparatus of Embodiment 3. The heat generation members 54b 1 and 54b3 of the heater 54 are the same as those in Embodiments 1 and 2. The length in the longitudinal direction of the heat generation member 54b4, which is the second heat generation member, is the length of the difference between the heat generation member 54b2 and the heat generation member 54b3 of the heater 54 of Embodiments 1 and 2. Two heat generation members 54b4 are arranged at both sides of the heat generation member 54b3 in the direction perpendicular to the longitudinal direction. That is, it is set so that the sum of the length in the longitudinal direction of the heat generation member 54b4 and the length in the longitudinal direction of the heat generation member 54b3 is the same as the length in the longitudinal direction of the heat generation member 54b2 of the heater 54. Although described later, there are cases where the heat generation member 54b3 and the heat generation member 54b4 are considered to be one heat generation member. Therefore, it is necessary that the resistance value per a unit length in the longitudinal direction of the heat generation member 54b3 and that of the heat generation member 54b4 are set to be equal.

[Power supply path]



[0050] FIG. 9A to FIG. 9C illustrate three kinds of current paths to the heat generation members, in a case where the heater 54 and the power control unit 97 of Embodiment 3 are used. The current in a case where power is supplied from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b1 flows in the route indicated by a bold line in FIG. 9A. The power supply from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b 1 is controlled by the triac 56a. In a case where power is supplied to the heat generation member 54b 1, the electromagnetic relay 57a may be in the open state, or may be in the short circuit state.

[0051] The current in a case where power is supplied from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b3 and the heat generation member 54b4 flows in the route indicated by a bold line in FIG. 9B. At this time, the contact of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration is set to the open state, and a current flows through the heat generation member 54b3 and the heat generation member 54b4 in series. Hereinafter, the heat generation members 54b3 and 54b4 connected in series may be referred to as the in-series heat generation members. Accordingly, both the heat generation member 54b3 and the heat generation member 54b4 can generate heat, can provide heat to the same range as the heat generation member 54b2 in Embodiments 1 and 2 in the longitudinal direction of the heater 54, and can be considered as one heat generation member corresponding to, for example, the paper width of the B5 size. The power supply from the AC power supply 55 to the in-series heat generation members of the heat generation member 54b3 and the heat generation member 54b4 is controlled by the triac 56b. Since the contact impedance of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration in the open state is sufficiently larger than the heat generation member 54b4, a current hardly flows into the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration, and only the heat generation member 54b3 and the heat generation member 54b4 can be made to generate heat.

[0052] The current in a case where power is supplied from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b3 flows in the route indicated by a bold line in FIG. 9C. At this time, the contact of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration is set to the short circuit state, and the power supply from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b3 is controlled by the triac 56b. Since the contact impedance of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration in the short circuit state is sufficiently smaller than the heat generation member 54b4, a current hardly flows into the heat generation member 54b4, and only the heat generation member 54b3 can be made to generate heat. Here, the both ends of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration are connected to the both ends of the heat generation member 54b4. Therefore, as in Embodiment 1, at the time of operation of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration, electromagnetic noise is not emitted, and the contact wear (= the life reduction) due to arc discharge also does not occur.

[0053] Since the configuration of Embodiment 3 can use, as the electromagnetic relay 57a, an electromagnetic relay having the a-contact configuration that is more inexpensive and smaller than the electromagnetic relay 57c having the c-contact configuration used in Embodiment 2, there is a merit that the power control unit 97 can be made inexpensive and small.

[0054] It is necessary to design the heater 54 of Embodiment 3, so that a level difference (discontinuity of distribution of heat) is not generated in the distribution of heat in two boundary portions between the heat generation member 54b3 and the heat generation member 54b4 in the longitudinal direction. In practice, it is desirable to make a devise to make each of the heat generation members 54b3 and 54b4 into a tapered shape in the two boundary portions, etc.

[0055] Additionally, it must be noted that there will be restrictions about the resistance values of the heat generation member 54b3 and the heat generation member 54b4. Suppose the resistance value of the heat generation member 54b3 is R103, and the resistance value of the heat generation member 54b4 is R114. Since a resistance value Rs of the in-series resistors R103 and R114 has the relationship Rs = R103 + R114, it is always necessary that Rs > R103. However, the power required for the in-series heat generation members (the resistance value Rs) that heat the paper P having a width wider than the width of the heat generation member 54b3 is higher than the power required for the heat generation member 54b3, and as for the resistance value, it is required that Rs has a lower resistance value than R103. Accordingly, the resistance value Rs of the in-series heat generation members is determined first, and then, a value lower than the resistance value Rs is set to the resistance value R103 of the heat generation member 54b3. That is, it is required that the resistance value R103 of the heat generation member 54b3 is set to a resistance value lower than the resistance value calculated from the required power, and the setting for the heat generation member 54b3 has to be over-engineered. In consideration of this point, when using the configuration of Embodiment 3, it is necessary to establish an adequate protection systems, etc. for the heat generation member 54b3.

[0056] In this manner, in the configuration that switches the power supply path by using the contact switch, the electromagnetic noise emission from the contact switch and the life reduction due to contact wear can be eliminated. In addition, the power control unit 97 can be made more inexpensive and smaller than the power control unit 97 in Embodiment 2. As described above, according to Embodiment 3, an apparatus can be provided in which the electromagnetic noise due to arc discharge is not emitted at the time of operation of the contact switch, and the life reduction due to contact wear does not occur, even in a case where the heat generation member supplying electric power is switched by using the contact switch.

[Embodiment 4]


[Heater and power supply unit]



[0057] FIG. 10 illustrates the heater 54 and the power supply unit used in the heating apparatus of Embodiment 4. The length in the longitudinal direction of the heat generation member 54b5, which is the second heat generation member, formed on the heater 54 is the same as the length of the heat generation member 54b3 of the heater 54 used in Embodiments 1 to 3. However, the heat generation member 54b5 is different in that the contacts to which the heat generation member 54b5 is connected are the contact 54d2 and the contact 54d4. Additionally, although the length in the longitudinal direction and shape (the shape separated into two) of a heat generation member 54b6, which is the third heat generation member, are also the same as those of the heat generation member 54b4 of the heater 54 used in Embodiment 3, the heat generation member 54b6 is different in that the contacts connected are the contact 54d2 and the contact 54d3. Additionally, the electromagnetic relay 57d, which is a third switching unit, is an electromagnetic relay having the a-contact configuration, one end is connected to the contact 54d3, and the other end is connected to the second pole of the AC power supply 55 and the contact 54d4.

[Power supply path]



[0058] FIG. 11A to FIG. 11C illustrate three kinds of current paths to the heat generation members in a case where the heater 54 and the power control unit 97 of Embodiment 4 are used. The current in a case where power is supplied from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b1 flows in the route indicated by a bold line in FIG. 11A. The power supply from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b1 is controlled by the triac 56a. In a case where power is supplied to the heat generation member 54b1, the electromagnetic relay 57d may be in the open state, or may be in the short circuit state.

[0059] The current in a case where power is supplied from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b5 and the heat generation member 54b6 flows in the route indicated by a bold line in FIG. 11B. At this time, the contact of the electromagnetic relay 57d having the a-contact configuration is set to the short circuit state, and a current flows through the heat generation member 54b5 and the heat generation member 54b6 in parallel. Hereinafter, the heat generation member 54b5 and the heat generation member 54b6 connected in parallel may be referred to as the parallel heat generation members. Accordingly, both the heat generation member 54b5 and the heat generation member 54b6 can generate heat, and can be considered as one heat generation member corresponding to, for example, the paper width of the B5 size in the longitudinal direction of the heater 54. The power supply from the AC power supply 55 to the parallel heat generation members of the heat generation member 54b5 and the heat generation member 54b6 is controlled by the triac 56b.

[0060] The current in a case where power is supplied from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b5 flows in the route indicated by a bold line in FIG. 11C. At this time, the contact of the electromagnetic relay 57d having the a-contact configuration is set to the open state, and the power supply from the AC power supply 55 to the heat generation member 54b5 is controlled by the triac 56b. Since the contact impedance of the electromagnetic relay 57d having the a-contact configuration in the open state is sufficiently larger than the heat generation member 54b5, a current hardly flows into the heat generation member 54b6, and only the heat generation member 54b5 can be made to generate heat. Here, the both ends of the electromagnetic relay 57d having the a-contact configuration are connected to the both ends of the in-series heat generation members of the heat generation member 54b5 and the heat generation member 54b6. Therefore, as in Embodiment 1, electromagnetic noise is not emitted at the time of operation of the electromagnetic relay 57a having the a-contact configuration, and the contact wear (= the life reduction) due to arc discharge also does not occur.

[0061] Similar to Embodiment 3, also in the configuration of Embodiment 4, there are restrictions about the resistance values of the heat generation member 54b5 and the heat generation member 54b6. Suppose the resistance value of the heat generation member 54b5 is R116, and the resistance value of the heat generation member 54b6 is R117. A resistance value Rp of the parallel heat generation members of the heat generation members 54b5 and 54b6 has the relationship 1/Rp = (1/R116) + (1/R117). In a case where it is assumed that the resistance value R116 of the heat generation member 54b5 is set to 110Ω, and the resistance value Rp of the parallel heat generation members is set to 90Ω, it is necessary to set the resistance value R117 of the heat generation member 54b6 to 495Ω. It is necessary to use a resistant material having a resistivity higher (specifically, about two times) than the resistivity of the heat generation member 54b5 for the heat generation member 54b6. As described above, the heater 54 used in Embodiment 3 and the heater 54 used in Embodiment 4 have respective different restrictions imposed on the setting of the resistance values of the heat generation members. Therefore, it is desirable to select the unit corresponding to design conditions.

[0062] As described above, in the configuration that switches the power supply path by using the contact switch, the electromagnetic noise emission from the contact switch and the life reduction due to contact wear can be eliminated. As described above, according to Embodiment 4, an apparatus can be provided in which the electromagnetic noise due to arc discharge is not emitted at the time of operation of the contact switch, and the life reduction due to contact wear does not occur, even in a case where the heat generation member supplying electric power is switched by using the contact switch.

[0063] According to the present invention, an apparatus can be provided in which the electromagnetic noise due to arc discharge is not emitted at the time of operation of the contact switch, and the life reduction due to contact wear does not occur, even in a case where the heat generation member supplying electric power is switched by using the contact switch.

[0064] While the present invention has been described with reference to exemplary embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the disclosed exemplary embodiments. The scope of the following claims is to be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and equivalent structures and functions.

[0065] The heating apparatus including a plurality of heat generation members including first, second and third generation members, the second heat generation member and the third heat generation member having lengths in a longitudinal direction shorter than a length of the first heat generation member, the heating apparatus including first, second, third, and fourth contacts, and a first switching unit configured to bring an electric path between the second contact and the fourth contact into one of a connecting state and an open state.


Claims

1. A heating apparatus comprising a plurality of heat generation members including a first heat generation member, and a second heat generation member and a third heat generation member whose lengths are shorter than a length of the first heat generation member in a longitudinal direction,
the heating apparatus comprising:

a first contact to which one end of the first heat generation member is connected;

a second contact to which one end of the second heat generation member and one end of the third heat generation member are connected;

a third contact to which another end of the third heat generation member is connected;

a fourth contact to which another end of the first heat generation member and another end of the second heat generation member are connected; and

a first switching unit configured to bring an electric path between the second contact and the fourth contact into one of a connecting state and an open state.


 
2. A heating apparatus according to claim 1, comprising a substrate on which the plurality of heat generation members are mounted,
wherein the first heat generation member comprises two first heat generation members arranged at both sides of the substrate, respectively, in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal direction, and
wherein one ends of the two first heat generation members are connected to the first contact, and another ends of the two first heat generation members are connected to the fourth contact.
 
3. A heating apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the second heat generation member and the third heat generation member are arranged in an area of the first heat generation members in the longitudinal direction of the substrate.
 
4. A heating apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 3, comprising:

a first turn-on switch means configured to control supply of power to the first heat generation member, one end of the first turn-on switch means connected to the first contact, another end of the first turn-on switch means connected to a first pole of an AC power supply;

a second turn-on switch means configured to control supply of power to the second heat generation member, one end of the second turn-on switch means connected to the second contact, another end of the second turn-on switch means connected to the first pole; and

a third turn-on switch means configured to control supply of power to the third heat generation member, one end of the third turn-on switch means connected to the third contact, another end of the third turn-on switch means connected to the first pole.


 
5. A heating apparatus according to claim 4,
wherein power is supplied to the first heat generation member in a power supply path via the first turn-on switch means, the first contact and the fourth contact, irrespective of a state of the first switching unit,
wherein power is supplied to the second heat generation member in a power supply path via the second turn-on switch means, the second contact and the fourth contact, in a state where the first switching unit is in the open state, and
wherein power is supplied to the third heat generation member in a power supply path via the third turn-on switch means, the second contact and the third contact, in a state where the first switching unit is in the connecting state.
 
6. A heating apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 3, comprising:

a first turn-on switch means configured to control supply of power to the first heat generation member, one end of the first turn-on switch means connected to the first contact, another end of the first turn-on switch means connected to a first pole of an AC power supply;

a second turn-on switch means configured to control supply of power to one of the second heat generation member and the third heat generation member; and

a second switching unit, one end of the second switching unit connected to the second contact, the second switching unit capable of switching between a state where another end of the second switching unit is connected to the second turn-on switch means, and a state where the another end of the second switching unit is connected to a second pole of the AC power supply,

wherein the second turn-on switch means controls supply of power to the second heat generation member in a state where the another end of the second switching unit is connected to the second turn-on switch means, and controls supply of power to the third heat generation member in a state where the another end of the second switching unit is connected to the second pole.


 
7. A heating apparatus according to claim 6,
wherein power is supplied to the first heat generation member in a power supply path via the first turn-on switch means, the first contact and the fourth contact, irrespective of a state of the second switching unit,
power is supplied to the second heat generation member in a power supply path via the second turn-on switch means, the second contact and the fourth contact, in a state where the another end of the second switching unit is connected to the second turn-on switch means, and
power is supplied to the third heat generation member in a power supply path via the second turn-on switch means, the second contact and the third contact, in a state where the another end of the second switching unit is connected to the second pole of the AC power supply.
 
8. A heating apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 3, comprising:

a first turn-on switch means configured to control supply of power to the first heat generation member, one end of the first turn-on switch means connected to the first contact, another end of the first turn-on switch means connected to a first pole of an AC power supply; and

a second turn-on switch means configured to control supply of power to the second heat generation member and/or the third heat generation member, one end of the second turn-on switch means connected to the third contact, another end of the second turn-on switch means connected to the first pole,

wherein the second turn-on switch means controls supply of power to the heat generation members in which the second heat generation member and the third heat generation member are connected in series in the open state of the first switching unit, and controls supply of power to the third heat generation member in the connecting state of the first switching unit.


 
9. A heating apparatus according to any one of claims 4, 5 and 8,
wherein an impedance in a case where the first switching unit is in the connecting state is smaller than an impedance of the second heat generation member, and
wherein an impedance in a case where the first switching unit is in the open state is larger than the impedance of the second heat generation member.
 
10. A heating apparatus comprising a plurality of heat generation members including a first heat generation member, and a second heat generation member and a third heat generation member, the second heat generation member and the third heat generation member having lengths in a longitudinal direction shorter than a length of the first heat generation member,
the heating apparatus comprising:

a first contact to which one end of the first heat generation member is connected;

a second contact to which one end of the second heat generation member and one end of the third heat generation member are connected;

a third contact to which another end of the third heat generation member is connected;

a fourth contact to which another end of the first heat generation member and another end of the second heat generation member are connected; and

a third switching unit configured to bring an electric path between the third contact and the fourth contact into one of a connecting state and an open state.


 
11. A heating apparatus according to claim 10, comprising a substrate on which the plurality of heat generation members are mounted,
wherein the first heat generation member comprises two first heat generation members arranged at both sides of the substrate, respectively, in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal direction, and
wherein one ends of the two first heat generation members are connected to the first contact, and another ends of the two first heat generation members are connected to the fourth contact.
 
12. A heating apparatus according to claim 10 or 11, comprising:

a first turn-on switch means configured to control supply of power to the first heat generation member, one end of the first turn-on switch means connected to the first contact, another end of the first turn-on switch means connected to a first pole of an AC power supply; and

a second turn-on switch means configured to control supply of power to the second heat generation member and/or the third heat generation member, one end of the second turn-on switch means connected to the second contact, another end of the second turn-on switch means being connected to the first pole,

wherein the second turn-on switch means controls supply of power to the heat generation members in which the second heat generation member and the third heat generation member are connected in parallel in a state where the third switching unit is in the connecting state, and controls supply of power to the second heat generation member in a state where the third switching unit is in the open state.


 
13. A fixing apparatus including a heating apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 12, wherein the fixing apparatus fixes a toner image on a recording material by the heating apparatus.
 
14. A fixing apparatus according to claim 13, comprising:

a first rotary member heated by the plurality of heat generation members, and

a second rotary member forming a nip portion with the first rotary member,

wherein the first rotary member is a film,

wherein the plurality of heat generation members is provided to contact an inner surface of the film,

wherein the nip portion is formed through the film with the second rotary member.


 
15. An image forming apparatus comprising:

an image forming unit configured to form a toner image on a recording material; and

a fixing apparatus according to claim 13 or 14.


 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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Patent documents cited in the description