This invention relates to document carriers for processing checks and the like through automatic sorting equipment which operates by reading magnetic characters.
The document carrier disclosed herein is an improvement over the document carriers described in U. S. Pat. Nos. 3,043,506 and 3,431,404. As described in those patents, automatic sorting equipment is commonly used by banks, clearing houses and other institutions for sorting checks which carry indicia printed in magnetic ink. However, several problems have arisen with respect to the prior art document carriers. For example, it is desirable that the document carrier be relatively sturdy so that it may pass through the sorting equipment without difficulty. It is also desirable that either the front sheet or both sheets which form the carrier be formed of translucent or transparent material so that the check can be read, photographed or microfilmed without removing the check from the carrier. However, most translucent materials such as glassine and cellophane are not only relatively flimsy but are not readily imprintable with the magnetic indicia. Problems have also been encountered in positioning the document carrier so that the magnetic indicia can be accurately read by the sorting equipment, particularly when the indicia are poorly printed.
The inventive document carrier includes a front sheet and a back sheet which form a check-receiving enclosure. The front sheet is formed of translucent or transparent material and permits the check to be read, photographed or microfilmed. An elongated strip is secured to the front sheet adjacent the bottom edge thereof, and the strip is made of a material which may be readily imprinted with the magnetic indicia. The strip also serves to position the magnetic indicia closer to the read head of the sorting equipment, thereby permitting the machine to function more accurately. Further, the elongated strip provides the document carrier with a strong lead edge.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING
The invention is explained in conjunction with an illustrative embodiment shown in the accompanying drawing, in which:
FIG. 1 is a front view of a document carrier made in accordance with the invention which is holding a check to be processed;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the document carrier without the check;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary view of the lower portion of FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 is a schematic view illustrating the document carrier and check passing through the sorting equipment below the magnetic read head.
DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENT
Referring to the drawing, the numeral 10 designates generally a document carrier or envelope in which is inserted a check 11 for processing. The document carrier is seen to be generally rectangular and is provided with relatively long top and bottom edges 12 and 13, respectively, and relatively short side edges 14 and 15.
The document carrier includes a rectangular back sheet 16 and a rectangular front sheet 17 which is generally coextensive with the back sheet 16. The back sheet 16 is preferably formed of a material which is strong enough to support the carrier as it passes between the carrier belts or rollers of the sorting equipment, and about 20 pound sulfite bond or 20 pound glassine paper have been found to be particularly satisfactory. The front sheet 17 is formed of a translucent or transparent material such as glassine or cellophane through which the check 11 is readily observable.
The front and back sheets are adhesively secured along the bottom edges thereof and along at least one of the short sides of the document carrier. Referring to FIG. 2, a layer 18 of adhesive secures the sheets adjacent their lower edges, and the adhesive layer extends upwardly from the lower edges to a line 19 which extends generally parallel to the lower edge of the document carrier. In the particular embodiment illustrated, the adhesive layer 18 is laid down in continuous fashion along the entire length of the document carrier by a conventional applicator roller or the like, but it is to be understood that the lower edges of the sheets could be secured in other ways. For example, glue bars, one extending adjacent the lower edges of the sheets and the other extending along the line 19 could be applied, or the adhesive could be laid down intermittently rather than by a continuous roller.
In the particular embodiment illustrated, the front and back sheets of the document carrier are adhesively secured along both of the shorter sides 14 and 15 of the carrier by adhesive strips 20 and 21, respectively. However, if desired, these sheets could be secured along only one of the shorter sides. The shorter side 14 of the document carrier is generally the lead edge as the carrier travels through the sorting equipment, and the front and back sheets are preferably secured along at least this shorter side to prevent folding back of one of the sheets as the carrier enters the equipment.
An elongated strip 22 extends along the entire length of the bottom edge 13 of the document carrier and is adhesively secured to the front sheet 17. The strip 22 is advantageously formed of paper of about 9 to 20 pounds weight and is preferably provided with a vellum type of surface or a surface which is readily imprintable with the magnetic ink used to form the magnetic indicia which are read by the sorting equipment. The width of the strip 22 is preferably about the same as the distance between the lower edge 13 of the document carrier and the line 19 which defines the upper edge of the adhesive layer 18.
The adhesive layers 18, 20 and 21 define a check-receiving envelope or enclosure into which the check 11 can be inserted. The check generally carries some sort of magnetic indicia adjacent the lower edge 23 thereof such as the numbers indicated generally by the reference numeral 24, which would ordinarily be read by the check sorting equipment. However, as is well known in the art, some checks cannot be processed by the sorting equipment for a number of reasons and must instead be carried by a document carrier on which is printed the proper magnetic code by a standard encoding machine. In the case of the inventive document carrier 10, new magnetic indicia 25 can be imprinted on the elongated strip 22. When the check 11 is inserted into the document carrier 10, the lower edge 23 of the check becomes wedged between the front and back sheets of the document adjacent the upper end of the adhesive layer 18, and the magnetic indicia on the check are thereby held away from the magnetic read head of the sorting equipment. Instead, the magnetic read head will scan the magnetic indicia 25 which are imprinted along the strip 22 of the document carrier.
As illustrated in FIG. 1, the check 11 is clearly visible behind the translucent or transparent front sheet 17 and the information on the check can easily be read while the check is in the document carrier. Further, the check can be photographed or microfilmed without being removed from the document carrier. Heretofore, the use of a translucent or transparent material for the front sheet or both the front and back sheets created a problem in printing the magnetic indicia on the document carrier. Generally, the clearer or more transparent the sheet material, the less the sheet lends itself to magnetic ink imprinting. This is so either because the surface of this type of sheet is normally too slick to be satisfactorily printed or because the sheet is an oil base or vegetable material which tends to repel the magnetic ink. With the inventive document carrier, however, even a material such as cellophane can be used, and the document carrier is readily imprintable with the magnetic ink.
We have also found that the use of a smooth material such as glassine or cellophane permits the check to be inserted into the document carrier more easily because of the low friction provided by these materials. Also, the front sheet can easily be pulled away from the stiffer back sheet to facilitate insertion of the check. The top edge of the front sheet may also terminate below the top edge of the back to further facilitate separation of the sheets.
As used herein, the term "translucent" refers to the ability to transmit light with or without substantial diffusion and is meant to include the more limited term "transparent." For example, cellophane and other transparent materials which transmit light without substantial diffusion are to be considered translucent, but glassine and other translucent materials which transmit but diffuse light are not to be considered transparent.
Once the check is inserted into the document carrier, it tends to be retained therein and will not flutter or fly out of the carrier as the carrier is processed by the high speed sorting equipment. This is so because the smooth surface of the glassine or cellophane tends to "cling" to the check without any substantial air pockets therebetween, especially after the document carrier passes through the rollers or belts which are provided as part of the transport system of the equipment. Further, as can be seen best in FIG. 4, the bottom of the check tends to wedge between the front and back sheets adjacent the bottom glue layer 18, and this wedging also serves to retain the check in the carrier as the carrier is processed. If the sheets are not properly secured and the check wedges a substantial distance downwardly below the seal line 19 which ordinarily provides the bottom of the check enclosure, the strip 22 will overlie the magnetic indicia on the check and will prevent these indicia from being read in a substantial number of sorting machines now being used. If desired, the strip can be made of a relatively opaque material to decrease the ability of the machine to read through the strip.
Not only does the strip 22 permit the magnetic indicia to be imprinted more readily, but it positions the magnetic indicia for more accurate reading by being closer to the magnetic read head of the sorting equipment. Referring to FIG. 5, the document carrier and check are generally carried through the sorting equipment by rollers or belts 26 and 27 which are positioned above and below the document carrier. The rollers or belts are not quite as wide as the document carrier, and the read head 28 of the sorting equipment is positioned adjacent the rollers generally above the bottom edge of the item being processed. As illustrated, the elongated strip 22 carrying the magnetic indicia does not pass through the rollers or belts and may therefore extend upwardly toward the magnetic read head beyond the surface of the upper roller 26. The strength of the signal transmitted by the magnetic read head is a function of the distance of the object being scanned from the read head. Since the magnetic indicia printed on the strip 22 are raised by the strip above the surface of the front sheet 17, the strength of the signals transmitted by the read head are therefore stronger and more accurate than would be the case if the indicia were printed on the front sheet 17.
Although the inventive document carriers have been in use for only a short time, it is believed that the smooth surface provided by the translucent or transparent front sheet 17 will cause less wear on the carrier belts or rollers of the sorting equipment.
The strip 22 also adds strength to the lower right corner of the document carrier, and particularly to the lower portion of the edge 14 of the carrier. The edge 14 is generally the lead edge of the document carrier as it is processed, and it is desirable that this edge be relatively sturdy. As the document carrier enters the equipment, it passes through a nip provided by a pair of rollers which separates the document carriers and feeds them to the sorting equipment one at a time. If the lead edge is not sufficiently strong, the document carrier might be folded or the sheets of the carrier might be puckered.
The strip 22 also adds opacity to the portion of the document carrier which carries the magnetic indicia. Most sorting equipment include a photoelectric cell adjacent the magnetic read head to activate the read head when the lead edge of the document carrier passes the photoelectric cell. The strip 22 increases the opacity of the document carrier and minimizes the possibility that the photoelectric cell will fail to activate the read head.
The weight of the strip 22 is of the order of 9 to 20 pounds, which is approximately the same as the weight of conventional checks, and the thickness of the strip would also approximate that of the check. Accordingly, the three-ply thickness of the document carrier adjacent its lower edge is approximately the same as the total thickness of the front and back sheets and the check, and the thickness of the document carrier with check is approximately uniform across the entire width of the carrier. The document carriers may therefore be stacked evenly after sorting.
The dimensions of the various parts of the document carrier are substantially dependent upon the sorting equipment and the size of the checks. Most sorting equipment will read indicia printed within about three-eighths to about five-eighths inch from the bottom edge of the item being sorted, and it is therefore preferable that the seal line 19 provided by the adhesive layer 18 be spaced from the lower edge of the document carrier so that the indicia on the check will be spaced from the lower edge of the document carrier at least five-eighths inch. The width of the strip 22 should be sufficient to provide a suitable field for imprinting, and will therefore be approximately three-eighths to five-eighths inch. However, it is desirable that the adhesive layer 18 be as wide as the strip 22 so that the lower edge of check will not be positioned behind the strip, thereby adding a further ply or layer to the lower portion of the document carrier with check which might interfere with even stacking.
While in the foregoing specification a detailed description of a specific embodiment of the invention was set forth for the purpose of illustration, it is to be understood that many of the details herein given may be varied considerably by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.