(19)
(11)EP 3 779 601 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION
published in accordance with Art. 153(4) EPC

(43)Date of publication:
17.02.2021 Bulletin 2021/07

(21)Application number: 19711489.5

(22)Date of filing:  28.02.2019
(51)Int. Cl.: 
G03G 15/08  (2006.01)
G03G 21/18  (2006.01)
G03G 21/16  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/JP2019/007901
(87)International publication number:
WO 2019/187963 (03.10.2019 Gazette  2019/40)
(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: 30.03.2018 JP 2018067902

(71)Applicant: BROTHER KOGYO KABUSHIKI KAISHA
Aichi, 467-8561 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • WANG, Yuwen
     (JP)
  • HASHIMOTO, Junichi
     (JP)
  • KISHI, Isao
     (JP)
  • OOKA, Kazuaki
     (JP)

(74)Representative: Kuhnen & Wacker Patent- und Rechtsanwaltsbüro PartG mbB 
Prinz-Ludwig-Straße 40A
85354 Freising
85354 Freising (DE)

  


(54)DEVELOPING CARTRIDGE


(57) To provide a structure capable of making contact between an electrode of a developing cartridge and an electrode of a drum unit without employment of a spring between a casing of the developing cartridge and the electrode at a time of attachment of the developing cartridge to the drum unit. The developing cartridge 2 includes a first electrode 24 electrically connected to a developing roller shaft, and a first boss 25. The developing cartridge 2 is pivotally movable relative to the drum unit about the first boss 25 at the time of attachment of the developing cartridge 2 to the drum unit. Hence, a part of the first electrode 24 is brought into contact with a second electrode 16 of the drum unit 1. In this way, the first electrode is in contact with the second electrode 16 by making use of pivot movement of the developing cartridge 2 about the first boss 25. Accordingly, contact between the first electrode 24 and the second electrode 16 can be realized without employment of a spring between a casing of the developing cartridge 2 and the first electrode 24.




Description

[Technical Field]



[0001] The present disclosure relates to a developing cartridge attachable to a drum unit.

[Background Art]



[0002] There is conventionally known an electro-photographic type image forming apparatus such as a laser printer and an LED printer. The image forming apparatus includes a drum unit and a plurality of developing cartridges. The drum unit includes a plurality of photosensitive drums. The developing cartridge includes a developing roller. The plurality of developing cartridges are attachable to and detachable from the drum unit. Upon attachment of the developing cartridge to the drum unit, the photosensitive drum of the drum unit and the developing roller of the developing cartridge are in contact with each other.

[0003] The image forming apparatus including the drum unit and the plurality of developing cartridges is described, for example, in Patent Literature 1.

[Citation List]


[Patent Literatures]



[0004] [Patent Literature 1] Japanese Patent Application Publication No. 2007-101635

[Summary of Invention]


[Technical Problem]



[0005] According to the above described image forming apparatus, a bias voltage is applied to a shaft of the developing roller in order to carry developing agent on the surface of the developing roller. To this effect, an electrode is provided at an end portion of the developing roller. Upon attachment of the developing cartridge to the drum unit, the electrode positioned at the end portion of the developing cartridge contacts an electrode provided at the drum unit. Hence, bias voltage is supplied to the shaft of the developing roller through the electrodes. According to the conventional structure, a spring is provided between a casing of the developing cartridge and the electrode for ensuring contact between electrodes.

[0006] In view of the foregoing, it is an object of the present invention to provide a developing cartridge capable of making contact between an electrode of a developing cartridge and an electrode of a drum unit without employment of a spring between a casing of the developing cartridge and the electrode at a time of attachment of the developing cartridge to the drum unit.

[Means for Solving the Problem]



[0007] A first aspect of the present application resides in a developing cartridge attachable to a drum unit, the developing cartridge comprising a casing in which developing agent is accommodatable; a developing roller movable together with the casing and comprising a developing roller shaft extending along a first axis extending in a first direction, the developing roller being rotatable about the first axis; a first electrode positioned at one end portion in the first direction of the developing roller shaft, and electrically connected to the developing roller shaft; and a boss positioned at one end portion in the first direction of an outer surface of the casing, the boss extending in the first direction, wherein a part of the first electrode is configured to contact with a second electrode of the drum unit as a result of pivotal movement of the developing cartridge about the boss relative to the drum unit in a case where the developing cartridge is attached to the drum unit.

[0008] In a second aspect according to the first aspect, the first electrode covers at least a part of an outer peripheral surface of the one end portion of the developing roller shaft.

[0009] In a third aspect according to the second aspect, the first electrode has one of a recess and a through-hole allowing the one end portion of the developing roller shaft to be inserted therein.

[0010] In a fourth aspect according to the third aspect, the developing roller is rotatable in a state of the insertion of the one end portion of the developing roller shaft in the one of the recess and the through-hole.

[0011] In a fifth aspect according to the fourth aspect, the first electrode comprises a collar having the one of the recess and the through-hole, the collar including a small diameter portion and a large diameter portion having an outer diameter smaller than that of the small diameter portion. An outer peripheral surface of the small diameter portion and an end face in the first direction of the large diameter portion are in contact with the second electrode in a state where the developing cartridge is attached to the drum unit.

[0012] In a sixth aspect according to the fifth aspect, the collar is rotatable about the first axis relative to the casing in a state of insertion of the one end portion of the developing roller shaft in the one of the recess and the through-hole.

[0013] In a seventh aspect according to any one of aspects 1 through 6, the developing cartridge further comprises a supply roller movable together with the casing, and comprising a supply roller shaft extending along a second axis extending in the first direction, the supply roller being rotatable about the second axis. An outer peripheral surface of the supply roller and an outer peripheral surface of the developing roller are in contact with each other. The first electrode is electrically contacted with the supply roller shaft.

[0014] In an eighth aspect according to any one of aspects 1 through 7, the first electrode is made from electrically conductive resin.

[0015] In a ninth aspect according to any one of aspects 1 through 8, the boss is configured to support a weight of the developing cartridge.

[0016] In a tenth aspect according to any one of aspects 1 through 9, the drum unit includes a photosensitive drum. A surface of the developing roller is in contact with a surface of the photosensitive drum as a result of pivotal movement of the developing cartridge about the boss relative to the drum unit in a case where the developing cartridge is attached to the drum unit.

[0017] In an eleventh aspect according to aspect 10, the drum unit further includes a pressure portion configured to press the developing roller against the photosensitive drum. The surface of the developing roller is in contact with the surface of the photosensitive drum in a state where the pressure portion presses the developing roller against the photosensitive drum in a case where the developing cartridge is attached to the drum unit.

[0018] In a twelfth aspect according to any one of aspects 1 through 11, the boss extends in the first direction from the outer surface.

[Effect of Invention]



[0019] According to the aspects 1 through 12, the first electrode of the developing cartridge can be in contact with the second electrode of the drum unit by making use of pivotal movement of the developing cartridge about the boss during attachment of the developing cartridge to the drum unit.

[0020] Further, according to the fifth aspect, reliability of electrical contact between the first electrode of the developing cartridge and the second electrode of the drum unit can be enhanced.

[0021] Further, according to the sixth aspect, frictional resistance between the collar and the second electrode of the drum unit can be reduced.

[0022] Further, according to the seventh aspect, voltage can be supplied from the second electrode of the drum unit to the developing roller shaft and the supply roller shaft through the first electrode.

[0023] Further, according to the eighth aspect, the electrically conductive resin can provide higher design freedom with respect to the shape of the first electrode rather than metal.

[Brief Description of Drawings]



[0024] 

Fig. 1 is a conceptual diagram of an image forming apparatus;

Fig. 2 is a perspective view of a drum unit to which four developing cartridges are attached;

Fig. 3 is a perspective view of the drum unit;

Fig. 4 is a perspective view of the developing cartridge;

Fig. 5 is a plan view of the developing cartridge as viewed in a first direction;

Fig. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the developing cartridge taken along a plane perpendicular to the first direction;

Fig. 7 is a perspective view illustrating one end portion in the first direction of a developing roller and an electrode; and

Fig. 8 is a plan view of the developing cartridge as viewed in the first direction, and particularly illustrating positional relationship between the developing cartridge and components of the drum unit.


[Description of Embodiments]



[0025] One embodiment according to the present invention will be described with reference to the accompanying drawings.

[1. Image Forming Apparatus]



[0026] Fig. 1 is a conceptual diagram of an image forming apparatus 100. The image forming apparatus 100 is an electro-photographic type printer, such as a laser printer and an LED printer. As illustrated in Fig. 1, the image forming apparatus 100 includes a main casing 101, a controller 102, a drum unit 1, and four developing cartridges 2. Each of the developing cartridges 2 is attachable to the drum unit 1 independent of each other. Further, the drum unit 1 to which four developing cartridges 2 are attached is attachable to the main casing 101.

[0027] As described later in detail, each developing cartridge 2 includes a developing roller 22 (Fig. 5), and the drum unit 1 includes four photosensitive drums 11 (Fig. 3). In a state where the developing cartridge 2 is attached to the drum unit 1, extending direction of the developing roller 22 will be referred to as "first direction". Further, a direction of an array of the four photosensitive drums 11 will be referred to as "second direction". The first direction and the second direction cross with each other, (preferably perpendicular to each other). Further, a direction crossing the first and second directions will be referred to as "third direction". Preferably, the third direction is perpendicular to the first and second directions, and is coincident with or approximately equal to a gravitational direction.

[0028] The four developing cartridges 2 store developing agent (for example, toner) of different colors such as for example, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. The image forming apparatus 100 is configured to form an image on a recording surface of a printing sheet by toner supplied from respective four developing cartridges 2. However, numbers of the developing cartridges may be 1 through 3 or five or more.

[0029] The controller 102 is positioned inside the main casing 101. The controller 102 is provided by, for example, a circuit board including a processor such as CPU, and various memories. The controller 102 performs various processing executed in the image forming apparatus 100 by operating the processor in accordance with various programs. Further, the controller 102 is configured to supply voltage to a second electrode 16 described later of the drum unit 1.

[2. Drum Unit]



[0030] Fig. 2 is a perspective view of the drum unit 1 to which four developing cartridges 2 are attached. Fig. 3 is a perspective view of the drum unit 1. As illustrated in Figs. 2 and 3, the drum unit 1 includes the four photosensitive drum 11, and a frame 12.

[0031] The photosensitive drum 11 is configured to receive toner supplied from the developing cartridge 2 to form a toner image, and the toner image is transferred to a printing sheet. Four photosensitive drums 11 are arrayed in the second direction with a space between neighboring photosensitive drums. Each photosensitive drum 11 has a cylindrical outer surface extending in the first direction. The outer surface is made from a photosensitive material. Further, each photosensitive drum 11 is rotatable about a rotation axis extending in the first direction.

[0032] The frame 12 is configured to hold the four photosensitive drums 11. The frame 12 includes four holding portions 120 each for holding each developing cartridge 2. The four holding portions 120 are arrayed in the second direction with an interval between neighboring holding portions 120. Each photosensitive drum 11 is positioned at one end portion in the third direction of each holding portion 120. Each developing cartridge 2 is attachable to and detachable from each holding portion 120. Upon completion of attachment of the developing cartridge 2 to the holding portion 120, an outer surface of the developing roller 22 described later is in contact with an outer surface of the photosensitive drum 11.

[0033] The frame 12 includes a first side plate 121, a second side plate 122, a third side plat 123, and a fourth side plate 124. The first side plate 121 extends in the second direction and the third direction and perpendicular to the first direction. The first side plate 121 is positioned at one side of the four photosensitive drums 11 in the first direction. Each one end portion in the first direction of each photosensitive drum 11 is rotatably supported to the first side plate 121. The second side plate 122 extends in the second direction and the third direction and perpendicular to the first direction. The second side plate 122 is positioned at another side of the four photosensitive drums 11 in the first direction. Each another end portion in the first direction of each photosensitive drum 11 is rotatably supported to the second side plate 122.

[0034] The third side plate 123 is connected between one end portion in the second direction of the first side plate 121 and one end portion in the second direction of the second side plate 122. The third side plate 123 is positioned at one side in the second direction of the array of the four photosensitive drums 11, and extends in the first direction. The fourth side plate 124 is connected between another end portion in the second direction of the first side plate 121 and another end portion in the second direction of the second side plate 122. The fourth side plate 124 is positioned at another side in the second direction of the array of the four photosensitive drums 11, and extends in the first direction. A handle 126 is provided at the third side plate 123, and another handle 126 is positioned at the fourth side plate 124. A user grips the handles 126 for the attachment and detachment of the drum unit 1 to and from the main casing 101.

[0035] As illustrated in Fig. 8, the first side plate 121 of the drum unit 1 is provided with a support portion 13, a first pressure portion 14, a second pressure portion 15 and the second electrode 16.

[0036] The support portion 13 protrudes from the first side plate 121 toward the second side plate 122, and tubular in shape. The support portion 13 has a support surface 131 extending in a direction perpendicular to the third direction. The support surface 131 faces in a direction opposite to the photosensitive drum 11.

[0037] The first pressure portion 14 is pivotally movable about a shaft positioned at the first side plate 121 and extending in the second direction. The first pressure portion 14 has a first pressure surface 141. The first pressure surface 141 has a width in the second direction, and is arcuate in shape. The first pressure portion 14 is pivotally movable between a lock position and a release position. When the first pressure portion 14 is positioned at the release position, the first pressure surface 141 faces the second side plate 122. The first pressure surface at the lock position is positioned closer to the second side plate 122 than the first pressure surface at the release position is to the second side plate 122. A resiliently deformable member such as a spring (not illustrated) is connected to the first pressure portion 14 so as to urge the first pressure portion 14 to its lock position.

[0038] The second pressure portion 15 is positioned adjacent to a surface of the first side plate 121, the surface facing the second side plate 122. The second pressure portion is movable in the second direction. The second pressure portion 15 has a second pressure surface 151 extending perpendicular to the second direction. The second pressure portion 15 is movable in the second direction between a pressure position and a retracted position. The second pressure surface 151 at its pressure position is positioned closer to the photosensitive drum 11 in the second direction than the second pressure surface 151 at its retracted position is to the photosensitive drum 11. A resiliently deformable member such as a spring (not illustrated) is connected to the second pressure portion 15 so as to urge the second pressure portion 15 to its pressure position.

[0039] The second electrode 16 is fixed to the surface of the first side plate 121, the surface facing the second side plate 122. The second electrode 16 is made from electrically conductive material, for example, electrically conductive metal and electrically conductive resin. The second electrode 16 has a contact surface 161 extending perpendicular to the third direction, and facing to the photosensitive drum 11. As described above, the second electrode 16 is configured to be supplied with voltage from the above-described controller 102.

[0040] The second side plate 122 of the drum unit 1 is provided with a support portion, a first pressure portion, and a second pressure portion (those not illustrated), those corresponding to the support portion 13, the first pressure portion 14, and the second pressure portion 15 of the support portion 13, the first pressure portion 14, and the second pressure portion 15, respectively. Further, the second side plate 122 has a contact surface (not illustrated). The contact surface of the second side plate 122 and the contact surface 161 of the second electrode 16 of the first side plate 121 are positioned on an identical linear line extending in the first direction. Further, the contact surface of the second side plate 122 has a shape the same as that of the contact surface 161 of the second electrode 16 of the first side plate 121. However, the contact surface of the second side plate 122 is made from non-electrically conductive material.

[3. Developing Cartridge]



[0041] Fig. 4 is a perspective view of the developing cartridge 2. Fig. 5 is a plan view of the developing cartridge as viewed in the first direction. Fig. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the developing cartridge taken along a plane perpendicular to the first direction. As illustrated in Figs. 4 through 6, the developing cartridge 2 includes a casing 21, the developing roller 22, a supply roller 23, a first electrode 24, a first boss 25, and a second boss 26.

[0042] The casing 21 is configured to accommodate therein developing agent. The casing 21 has a first outer surface 211 and a second outer surface 212, and extends in the first direction directing from the first outer surface 211 to the second outer surface 212 and vice versa. A storage chamber 213 is provided inside the casing 21 for accommodating the developing agent. The casing 21 has one end portion in the third direction where an opening 214 is formed. The storage chamber 213 is communicated with an outside through the opening 214.

[0043] The developing roller 22 is rotatable about a first axis A1 extending in the first direction. The developing roller 22 is positioned at the opening 214. That is, the developing roller 22 is positioned at one end portion in the third direction of the casing 21. The developing roller 22 is movable together with the casing 21. The developing roller 22 includes a developing roller body 221, and a developing roller shaft 222. The developing roller body 221 is hollow cylindrical in shape extending in the first direction, and is made from rubber having elasticity. The developing roller shaft 222 extends through the developing roller body 221, and is solid cylindrical in shape extending along the first axis A1. The developing roller shaft 222 is made from metal or electrically conductive resin.

[0044] The developing roller body 221 is fixed to the developing roller shaft 222 avoiding relative rotation therebetween. The developing roller shaft 222 has one end portion in the first direction fixed to a developing roller gear (not illustrated) positioned at the second outer surface 212. Hence, rotation of the developing roller gear causes rotation of the developing roller shaft 222 and the developing roller body 221. Upon attachment of the developing cartridge 2 to the drum unit 1, an outer surface of the developing roller body 221 is in contact with an outer surface of the photosensitive drum 11.

[0045] Incidentally, the developing roller shaft 222 needs not extend through a length of the developing roller body 221 in the first direction. For example, a pair of developing roller shafts 222 are provided, and each roller shaft 222 extends from each end in the first direction of the developing roller body 221 in the first direction.

[0046] The supply roller 23 is rotatable about a second axis A2 extending in the first direction. The supply roller 23 is positioned between the developing roller 22 and the storage chamber 213. The supply roller 23 is movable together with the casing 21. The supply roller includes a supply roller body 231, and a supply roller shaft 232. The supply roller body 231 is hollow cylindrical in shape extending in the first direction, and is made from rubber having elasticity. The supply roller shaft 232 extends through the supply roller body 231, and is solid cylindrical in shape extending along the second axis A2. The supply roller shaft 232 is made from metal or electrically conductive resin.

[0047] The supply roller body 231 is fixed to the supply roller shaft 232 avoiding relative rotation therebetween. The supply roller shaft 232 has one end portion in the first direction fixed to a supply roller gear (not illustrated) positioned at the second outer surface 212. Hence, rotation of the supply roller gear causes rotation of the supply roller shaft 232 and the supply roller body 231.

[0048] Incidentally, the supply roller shaft 232 needs not extend through a length of the supply roller body 231 in the first direction. For example, a pair of supply roller shafts 232 are provided, and each roller shaft 232 extends from each end in the first direction of the supply roller body 231 in the first direction.

[0049] An outer surface of the supply roller 23 and the outer surface of the developing roller 22 are in contact with each other. By rotating the developing roller 22 and the supply roller 23, developing agent is supplied from the storage chamber 213 to the outer surface of the developing roller 22 through the supply roller 23. In this case, the developing agent is subjected to triboelectric charging between the supply roller 23 and the developing roller 22. Further, as described later, bias voltage is applied to the developing roller shaft 222 and the supply roller shaft 232. Hence, the developing agent is electrostatically attracted to and carried on the outer peripheral surfaces of the supply roller body 231 and the developing roller body 221.

[0050] Thereafter, the developing agent carried on the outer peripheral surface of the developing roller body 221 is supplied to the photosensitive drum 11 of the drum unit 1. In this case, the developing agent moves from the developing roller body 221 to the photosensitive drum 11 in accordance with an electrostatic latent image formed on the outer peripheral surface of the photosensitive drum 11. Hence, the electrostatic latent image becomes a visible toner image on the outer peripheral surface of the photosensitive drum 11. Then, the toner image is transferred from the photosensitive drum 11 to the printing sheet.

[0051] The first electrode 24 is positioned at the outer surface 211 of the casing 21, and is made from electrically conductive material. The first electrode 24 functions not only as a bearing for rotatably supporting the developing roller shaft 222 and the supply roller shaft 232, but also as an electrode for supplying bias voltage to the developing roller shaft 222 and the supply roller shaft 232. Electrically conductive resin is preferable as a material of the first electrode 24 because of easiness of producing the electrode having complicated shape. However, metal is also available as the material of the first electrode 24.

[0052] Fig. 7 is a perspective view illustrating one end portion in the first direction of the developing roller and the first electrode 24. As illustrated in Fig. 7, the first electrode 24 includes a base portion 240, a first collar 241, and a second collar 242. The base portion 240 has a generally plate-like shape extending perpendicular to the first direction. The base portion 240 is fixed to the first outer surface 211 of the casing 21 by a screw.

[0053] The first collar 241 extends from the base portion 240 in a direction away from the casing 21 in the first direction, and is hollow cylindrical. The first collar 241 rotatably supports one end portion in the first direction of the developing roller shaft 222. Specifically, the first color 241 has a through-hole 241a extending in the axial direction. An inner peripheral surface of the through-hole 241a serves as a hollow cylindrical bearing surface 241b. The one end portion in the first direction of the developing roller shaft 222 is rotatably fitted with the through-hole 241a. Thus, the first electrode 24 is electrically connected to the developing roller shaft 222. An outer surface of the one end portion of the developing roller shaft 222 is in rotational-sliding contact with the bearing surface 241b. As described above, since electrically conductive resin is used as the material of the first electrode 24, sufficient slidability between the bearing surface 241b and the developing roller shaft 222 is obtained rather than a case where the electrode is made from metal.

[0054] Incidentally, instead of the through-hole 241a, a distal end portion of the first collar 241 may have a bottom wall to provide a recessed portion. Further, the through-hole 241a or the recessed portion may not necessarily cover an entire peripheral surface of the one end portion of the developing roller shaft 222. That is, the through-hole or the recessed portion covering at least a part of the peripheral surface of the one end portion of the developing roller shaft 222 is sufficient.

[0055] Further, not only direct contact but also indirect contact is available between the first electrode 24 and the developing roller shaft 222. In the latter case, additional electrically conductive member may be interposed between the first electrode 24 and the developing roller shaft 222. For example, the one end portion of the developing roller shaft 222 may be capped with a cap made from electrically conductive material, and the cap may be rotatably supported by the first collar 241.

[0056] As illustrated in Fig. 7, the first collar 241 includes a large diameter portion 241c and a small diameter portion 241d. The large diameter portion 241c protrudes from the base portion 240 in the direction away from the casing 21 in the first direction, and is hollow cylindrical. The small diameter portion 241d protrudes from the large diameter portion 241c in the direction away from the casing 21 in the first direction., and is hollow cylindrical. The outer peripheral surfaces of the large and small diameter portions 241c and 241d are coaxial with the first axis A1. An outer diameter of the large diameter portion 241c is greater than that of the small diameter portion 241d.

[0057] The second collar 242 extends from the base portion 240 in a direction away from the casing 21 in the first direction, and is hollow cylindrical. The second collar 242 rotatably supports one end portion in the first direction of the supply roller shaft 232. Specifically, the second color 242 has a through-hole 242a extending in the axial direction. An inner peripheral surface of the through-hole 242a serves as a hollow cylindrical bearing surface 242b. The one end portion in the first direction of the supply roller shaft 232 is rotatably fitted with the through-hole 242a. Thus, the first electrode 24 is electrically connected to the supply roller shaft 232. That is, in this embodiment, the first electrode 24 is electrically connected to both the developing roller shaft 222 and the supply roller shaft 233 so that bias voltage can be supplied to both the developing roller shaft 222 and the supply roller shaft 232 from the second electrode 16 of the drum unit 1 through the first electrode 24. An outer surface of the one end portion of the supply roller shaft 232 is in rotational-sliding contact with the bearing surface 242b. As described above, since electrically conductive resin is used as the material of the first electrode 24, sufficient slidability between the bearing surface 242b and the supply roller shaft 232 is obtained rather than a case where the electrode is made from metal.

[0058] Incidentally, instead of the through-hole 242a, a distal end portion of the second collar 242 may have a bottom wall to provide a recessed portion. Further, the through-hole 242a or the recessed portion may not necessarily cover an entire peripheral surface of the one end portion of the supply roller shaft 232. That is, the through-hole or the recessed portion covering at least a part of the peripheral surface of the one end portion of the supply roller shaft 232 is sufficient.

[0059] Further, not only direct contact but also indirect contact is available between the first electrode 24 and the supply roller shaft 232. In the latter case, additional electrically conductive member may be interposed between the first electrode 24 and the supply roller shaft 232. For example, the one end portion of the supply roller shaft 232 may be capped with a cap made from electrically conductive material, and the cap may be rotatably supported by the second collar 242.

[0060] As illustrated in Figs. 4 and 5, The first boss 25 is positioned at the first outer surface 211 of the casing 21. The first boss 25 extends in the first direction at a position away from the developing roller 22 in the second and third directions. Specifically, the first boss 25 protrudes outward in the first direction from the first outer surface 211 of the casing 21. The first boss 25 has a strength sufficient for supporting a weight of the developing cartridge 2. The first boss 25 is a segment separate from the casing 21, and is fixed to the casing 21. However, the first boss 25 may be integral with the outer surface 211 of the casing 21. The first boss 25 is solid cylindrical in shape extending in the first direction. However, the first boss 25 may have other shape such as hollow cylindrical shape and rectangular column.

[0061] As illustrated in Figs. 4 and 5, The second boss 26 is positioned at the first outer surface 211 of the casing 21. The second boss 26 extends in the first direction at a position further away from the developing roller 22 in the second and third directions than the first boss 25 is from the developing roller 22. Specifically, the second boss 26 protrudes outward in the first direction from the first outer surface 211 of the casing 21. The second boss 26 is a segment separate from the casing 21, and is fixed to the casing 21. However, the second boss 26 may be integral with the outer surface 211 of the casing 21. The second boss 26 is solid cylindrical in shape extending in the first direction. However, the second boss 26 may have other shape such as hollow cylindrical shape and rectangular column.

[0062] As indicated by a broken line in Fig. 4, the developing cartridge 2 further includes a positioning protrusion 27, a third boss 28, and a fourth boss 29 those positioned at the second outer surface 212. The first collar 241, the first boss 25, and the second boss 26 at the first outer surface 211 are positioned symmetrical with respect to a center of the casing 21 in the first direction with the positioning protrusion 27, the third boss 28, and the fourth boss 29 at the second outer surface 212, respectively. That is, the first collar 241 and the positioning protrusion 27 are on a linear line extending in the first direction. Further, the positioning protrusion 27 has a shape the same as that of the first collar 241, and protrudes in the first direction opposite to the protruding direction of the first collar 241. The first boss 25 and the third boss 28 are on a linear line extending in the first direction. Further, the third boss 28 has a shape the same as that of the first boss 25, and protrudes in the first direction opposite to the protruding direction of the first boss 25. The second boss 26 and the fourth boss 29 are on a linear line extending in the first direction. Further, the fourth boss 29 has a shape the same as that of the second boss 26, and protrudes in the first direction opposite to the protruding direction of the second boss 26.

[4. Attaching Operation]



[0063] Next, operation for attaching the developing cartridge 2 to the drum unit 1 will be described. Fig. 8 is a plan view of the developing cartridge 2 as viewed in the first direction. In Fig. 8, several parts of the drum unit 1 such as the photosensitive drum 11, the support portion 13, the first pressure portion 14, the second pressure portion 15, and the second electrode 16 are illustrated by two dotted chain line.

[0064] By inserting the developing cartridge 2 into the holding portion 120 of the drum unit 1, the first boss 25 is brought into contact with the support surface 131 of the support portion 13 of the first side plate 121. Similarly, the third boss 28 is brought into contact with a support surface of the support portion of the second side plate 122. Hence, a weight of the developing cartridge 2 is supported by the support surface 131 of the support portion 13 of the first side plate 121 and the support surface of the support portion of the second side plate 122.

[0065] Further, in the process of inserting the developing cartridge 2 into the holding portion 120, the second boss 26 moves in the third direction while being in sliding contact with the first pressure portion 14 of the first side plate 121. Similarly, the fourth boss 29 moves in the third direction while being in sliding contact with the first pressure portion of the second side plate 122. In this case, the first pressure portion 14 of the first side plate 121 and the first pressure portion of the second side plate 122 are temporarily moved to their release positions. Then, the first pressure portion 14 moves from the release position to the lock position by the urging force o the spring after the second boss 26 moves past the first pressure portion 14. Hence, the first pressure portion 14 urges the second boss 26 in the third direction toward the photosensitive drum 11. Similarly, the first pressure portion of the second side plate 122 urges the fourth boss 29 in the third direction toward the photosensitive drum 11.

[0066] As a result, the casing 21 of the developing cartridge 2 is pivotally moved about the first boss 25 and the third boss 28 as indicated by a broken line arrow in Fig. 8 with respect to the drum unit 1. Thus, the outer peripheral surface of the first collar 241 is brought into contact with the contact surface 161 of the second electrode 16, and further, the outer peripheral surface of the positioning protrusion 27 positioned at the second outer surface 212 of the developing cartridge 2 is brought into contact with the contact surface of the second side plate 122. Accordingly, pivotal movement of the casing 21 is stopped. Consequently, pivot posture of the developing cartridge 2 about the axis extending in the first direction is fixed relative to the drum unit 1.

[0067] Concurrently with or after the pivotal movement of the casing 21, the developing cartridge 2 is pressed in the second direction by the second pressure portion 15 of the first side plate 121 and by the second pressure portion of the second side plate 122. Specifically, a part of the outer surface of the casing 21 is pressed toward the photosensitive drum 11 by the second pressure portion 15 of the first side plate 121, and another part of the outer surface of the casing 21 is pressed toward the photosensitive drum 11 by the second pressure portion of the first side plate 122. Accordingly, the developing cartridge 2 moves in the second direction while its pivotal posture about the axis extending in the first direction is maintained. As a result, the outer peripheral surface of the developing roller 22 is brought into contact with the outer peripheral surface of the photosensitive drum 11. In the present embodiment, the outer peripheral surface of the photosensitive drum 11 and the outer peripheral surface of the developing roller 22 is brought into contact with each other as a result of the casing 21 being pressed in the second direction by the second pressing portion 15. However, the outer peripheral surface of the photosensitive drum 11 and the outer peripheral surface of the developing roller 22 may be brought into contact with each other only by pivoting movement of the casing 21 without the pressure by the first pressure portion 14 and the second pressure portion 15.

[0068] In this state, the weight of the developing cartridge 2 is supported by the support surface 131 of the support portion 13 of the first side plate 121 and the support surface of the support portion of the second side plate 22, as described above. Therefore, contacting pressure between the outer peripheral surface of the photosensitive drum 11 and the outer peripheral surface of the developing roller 22 is less susceptible to the weight of the developing cartridge 2. Consequently, change in contacting pressure between the outer peripheral surface of the photosensitive drum 11 and the outer peripheral surface of the developing roller 22 dependent on residual amount of the developing agent accommodated in the developing cartridge 2 can be restrained.

[0069] Further, in a state of completion of attachment of the developing cartridge 2 to the drum unit 1, the outer surface of the first collar 124 of the first electrode 24 is in contact with the contact surface 161 of the second electrode 16. Hence, the first electrode 24 and the second electrode 16 are electrically connected to each other. Particularly, in the state of completion of attachment of the developing cartridge 2 to the drum unit 1, the outer surface of the small diameter portion 241d of the first collar 241 and an end surface in the first direction of the large diameter portion 241c are in contact with the second electrode 16. Therefore, the reliability of the electrical connection between the second electrode 16 and the first electrode 24 can be enhanced.

[0070] Thereafter, the drum unit 1 to which the developing cartridge 2 is attached is attached to the main casing 101 of the image forming apparatus 100, whereupon the main electrode positioned at the main casing 101 is electrically connected to the second electrode 16 positioned in the drum unit 1. Thus, bias voltage can be supplied from the controller 102 to the developing roller shaft 222 and the supply roller shaft 232 through the main electrode, the second electrode 16, and the first electrode 24.

[0071] As described above, according to the above-described embodiment, the first electrode 24 of the developing cartridge 2 is brought into contact with the second electrode 16 of the drum unit 1 by making use of pivotal movement of the developing cartridge 2 about the axis of the first boss 25. Hence, the electrical contact between the first and electrodes 24 and 16 can be attained without employment of a spring between the first electrode 24 and the casing 21 of the developing cartridge 2.

[5. Modifications]



[0072] The present invention is not limited to the above-described embodiment.

[0073] According to the above-described embodiment, the first electrode 24 including the base portion 240, the first collar 241, and the second collar 242 is a single or integral component. However, the first electrode 24 may be provided by a plurality of components. For example, the base portion 240 and the first collar 241 are different components from each other. Further, the first collar 241 may be rotatable about the first axis A1 with respect to the casing 21 in the state of insertion of the one end portion of the developing roller shaft 222 in the first collar 241. With this structure, frictional resistance between the second electrode 16 and the first collar 241 can be lowered during pivotal motion of the developing cartridge 2 with respect to the drum unit 1.

[0074] Further, in the above-described embodiment, the first electrode 24 is positioned at the first outer surface 211 of the casing 21. However, the first electrode 24 may be positioned at the second outer surface 212 of the casing 21.

[0075] Further, in the above-described embodiment, the first electrode 24 is in electrical contact with both the developing roller shaft 222 and the supply roller shaft 232. However, the first electrode 24 may be in electrical contact with the developing roller shaft 222 only.

[0076] Further, details on shape of the developing cartridge may not be limited to the above-described shape, and various parts and components those appearing in the above-described embodiment and modifications may be combined together as long as technical conflict is avoidable.

[Reference Numerals List]



[0077] 

1. drum unit,

2 developing cartridge,

11 photosensitive drum,

12 frame

13 support portion,

14 first pressure portion,

15 second pressure portion,

16 second electrode,

21 casing,

22 developing roller,

23 supply roller,

24 first electrode,

25 first boss

26 second boss,

27 positioning protrusion,

28 third boss,

29 fourth boss,

100 image forming apparatus,

101 main casing,

102 controller,

120 developing cartridge holding portion,

121 first side plate,

122 second side plate,

123 third side plate,

124 fourth side plate,

131 support surface,

141 first pressure surface

151 second pressure surface,

161 contact surface,

211 first outer surface,

212 second outer surface,

221 developing roller body,

22 developing roller shaft,

231 supply roller body,

232 supply roller shaft,

240 base portion,

241 first collar,

241a through-hole,

241b bearing surface,

241c large diameter portion,

241d small diameter portion,

242 second collar,

242a through-hole,

242b bearing surface




Claims

1. A developing cartridge attachable to a drum unit, the developing cartridge comprising:

a casing in which developing agent is accommodatable;

a developing roller movable together with the casing and comprising a developing roller shaft extending along a first axis extending in a first direction, the developing roller being rotatable about the first axis;

a first electrode positioned at one end portion in the first direction of the developing roller shaft, and electrically connected to the developing roller shaft; and

a boss positioned at one end portion in the first direction of an outer surface of the casing, the boss extending in the first direction,

wherein a part of the first electrode is configured to contact with a second electrode of the drum unit as a result of pivotal movement of the developing cartridge about the boss relative to the drum unit in a case where the developing cartridge is attached to the drum unit.


 
2. The developing cartridge according to claim 1, wherein the first electrode covers at least a part of an outer peripheral surface of the one end portion of the developing roller shaft.
 
3. The developing cartridge according to claim 2, wherein the first electrode has one of a recess and a through-hole allowing the one end portion of the developing roller shaft to be inserted therein.
 
4. The developing cartridge according to claim 3, wherein the developing roller is rotatable in a state of the insertion of the one end portion of the developing roller shaft in the one of the recess and the through-hole.
 
5. The developing cartridge according to claim 4, wherein the first electrode comprises a collar having the one of the recess and the through-hole, the collar including a small diameter portion and a large diameter portion having an outer diameter smaller than that of the small diameter portion;
wherein an outer peripheral surface of the small diameter portion and an end face in the first direction of the large diameter portion are in contact with the second electrode in a state where the developing cartridge is attached to the drum unit.
 
6. The developing cartridge according to claim 5, wherein the collar is rotatable about the first axis relative to the casing in a state of insertion of the one end portion of the developing roller shaft in the one of the recess and the through-hole.
 
7. The developing cartridge according to any one of claims 1 through 6, further comprising a supply roller movable together with the casing, and comprising a supply roller shaft extending along a second axis extending in the first direction, the supply roller being rotatable about the second axis;
wherein an outer peripheral surface of the supply roller and an outer peripheral surface of the developing roller are in contact with each other,
wherein the first electrode is electrically contacted with the supply roller shaft.
 
8. The developing cartridge according to any one of claims 1 through 7, wherein the first electrode is made from electrically conductive resin.
 
9. The developing cartridge according to any one of claims 1 through 8, wherein the boss is configured to support a weight of the developing cartridge.
 
10. The developing cartridge according to any one of claims 1 through 9, wherein the drum unit includes a photosensitive drum;
wherein a surface of the developing roller is in contact with a surface of the photosensitive drum as a result of pivotal movement of the developing cartridge about the boss relative to the drum unit in a case where the developing cartridge is attached to the drum unit.
 
11. The developing cartridge according to claim 10, wherein the drum unit further includes a pressure portion configured to press the developing roller against the photosensitive drum, the surface of the developing roller being in contact with the surface of the photosensitive drum in a state where the pressure portion presses the developing roller against the photosensitive drum in a case where the developing cartridge is attached to the drum unit.
 
12. The developing cartridge according to any one of claims 1 through 11, wherein the boss extends in the first direction from the outer surface.
 




Drawing


































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