Title:
Rolled tissue dispensing system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An automatic rolled tissue dispensing system, which includes a housing within which is located a tissue advancing element comprising a pair of feed rollers which pull the tissue product from a roll of continuous rolled tissue product and advance the tissue to a sheet separating element comprising a pair of tearing rollers which remove individual tissue sheets from the continuous roll. A guide allows the tissue sheets discharged from the tearing rollers to be laid horizontally and stacked in a dispensing tray accessible to the user. An electric motor drives the rollers. The tearing rollers are driven through a variable clutch at a faster speed than the feed rollers, which causes the tissue to tear along its perforations in between the two sets of rollers. A first photo detecting sensor monitors the number of tissue sheets discharged from the tearing rollers, and a second photo detecting sensor monitors the presence of tissue sheets in the dispensing tray. When a pile of tissue sheets is removed from the dispensing tray, the second sensor activates the motor, which allows tissue sheets to be dispensed into the tray until the number of sheets pre-selected by the user has been counted by the first sensor.



Inventors:
Gergek, Franc (Gormley, CA)
Application Number:
09/956075
Publication Date:
03/21/2002
Filing Date:
09/20/2001
Assignee:
GERGEK FRANC
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
225/106
International Classes:
A47K10/36; (IPC1-7): B65H35/10; B65H35/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ALIE, GHASSEM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT CANADA LLP (MONTREAL, QC, CA)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A rolled tissue dispensing system, comprising: a housing dimensioned to accept at least one roll of a continuous rolled tissue product, having at least a lower dispensing opening; at least a tissue sheet separating means disposed within said housing, for removing individual tissue sheets from said continuous rolled tissue product; at least a tissue advancing means disposed within said housing, for advancing said continuous tissue product from said roll to said sheet separating means; at least a tissue sheet guide disposed within said housing, enabling tissue sheets discharged from said tissue sheet separating means to be laid horizontally and stacked in a dispensing tray accessible by said dispensing opening in said housing; at least a motor means for powering said tissue advancing means and said tissue sheet separating means whereby the tissue sheets are individually separated from the rolled tissue product as continuous tissue product is advanced through the tissue separating means.

2. The invention as defined in claim 1, wherein an activating means is provided for activating the motor wherein the activating means comprises first and second sensing means and a user activated control.

3. The invention as defined in claim 2, wherein said first sensing means is disposed to monitor the number of said tissue sheets discharged from said tissue sheet separating means.

4. The invention as defined in claim 2, wherein said second sensing means is disposed to monitor the presence of said tissue sheets in said dispensing tray, and activates said electric motor when said second sensing means indicates that no tissue sheets remain in said dispensing tray.

5. The invention as defined in claim 2, wherein said sensing means are comprised of a photocell detector and an opposed reflecting mirror.

6. The invention as defined in claim 2, wherein a user activated control is provided with said activating means which comprises a detent accessible from the exterior of said housing means which starts said motor means when activated.

7. The invention as defined in claim 4, wherein said motor means is deactivated when the number of tissue sheets discharged from said tissue sheet separating means equals the number of sheets pre-selected by a detent accessible from the exterior of said housing means.

8. The invention as defined in claim 1, wherein said tissue advancing means comprises a pair of feed rollers and said tissue sheet separating means comprises a pair of tearing rollers.

9. The invention as defined in claim 8, wherein said pair of feed rollers comprises: a first feed roller which is in contact with said roll of a continuous rolled tissue product, and driven by said motor in a direction such that it pulls tissue from said roll of a continuous rolled tissue product; and a second feed roller which is biased against said first feed roller, such that it rotates in the opposite direction.

10. The invention as defined in claim 8, wherein said tissue advancing means further comprises an additional feed roller which is in contact with said roll of a continuous rolled tissue product, and is driven by said motor means in the same direction and at the same speed as said first feed roller.

11. The invention as defined in claim 8, wherein said pair of tearing rollers comprises: a first tearing roller which is driven by said motor means through a clutch, in the same direction as said first feed roller; and a second tearing roller which is biased against said first tearing roller, such that it rotates in the opposite direction.

12. The invention as defined in claim 8, wherein said tearing rollers are driven faster than said feed rollers, such that individual tissue sheets of a pre-perforated roll of said continuous rolled tissue product are removed.

13. The invention as defined in claim 1, wherein said tissue sheet guide means is downwardly sloping towards the rear of said housing, and comprises an upwardly curved front portion positioned to accept tissue sheets discharged from said tissue sheet separating means and a trapezoidal cut-out in the rear portion.

14. The invention as defined in claim 1, wherein the motor means includes a first electric motor and a second electric motor is comprised within said housing.

15. The invention as defined in claim 14, wherein said first electric motor drives said first feed roller and said additional feed roller, in a direction such that tissue is pulled from said roll of a continuous rolled tissue product, and said second electric motor independently drives said first tearing roller, in the same direction as said first and alternate feed rollers.

16. The invention as defined in claim 8, wherein said first and second feed rollers are smooth cylinders having a constant cross-section.

17. The invention as defined in claim 8, wherein said first and second feed rollers are generally cylindrical having a centrally bulbous longitudinal profile, whereby the circular cross-section gradually decreases towards the ends of the roller.

18. The invention as defined in claim 1, wherein said tearing rollers are smooth cylinders having a constant cross-section.

19. The invention as defined in claim 1, wherein said tearing rollers have an interlocking wavelike longitudinal profile.

20. The invention as defined in claim 1, wherein said housing encloses duplicate rolled tissue dispensing systems mounted side by side containing two rolls of said continuous rolled tissue product.

21. The invention as defined in claim 20, further comprising duplicate corresponding additional photocell detectors and corresponding reflecting mirrors disposed to indicate if said rolls are full.

22. The invention as defined in claim 21, wherein an electronic control system will dispense tissue from the least full of said two rolls.

23. The invention as defined in claim 1, wherein said continuous rolled tissue product includes toilet paper and paper towels.

24. A rolled tissue dispensing system, comprising: a housing means dimensioned to accept at least one roll of a continuous rolled tissue product, having at least a lower dispensing opening; at least a tissue sheet separating means disposed within said housing means, for removing individual tissue sheets from said continuous rolled tissue product, and comprised of a pair of tearing rollers; at least a tissue advancing means disposed within said housing means, for advancing said continuous tissue product from said roll to said sheet separating means, and comprised of a pair of feed rollers; at least a tissue sheet guide disposed within said housing means, enabling tissue sheets discharged from said tissue sheet separating means to be laid horizontally and stacked in a dispensing tray accessible by said dispensing opening in said housing means; at least an electric motor for powering said tissue advancing means and said tissue sheet separating means; at least an activating means for said electric motor, comprising a photocell detector and a manual detent; an electronic control system; a tissue serration means, comprising a serrator solenoid, a serrator base and serrator blade means, which enables individual tissue sheets to be separated from an unserrated roll of said continuous rolled tissue product; two sensing means disposed to indicate if said continuous rolled tissue product strays off center of said feed rollers; a self-correcting device for said tissue advancing means, which re-centers said continuous rolled tissue product on said feed rollers, comprising two solenoids which act on either end of one of said feed rollers through attached lever arms.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This patent application has a Convention priority date based on a first provisional application Ser. No. 60/234,193 filed Sep. 20, 2000. A second provisional application was filed Mar. 12, 2001.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] The present invention relates to a paper dispensing system. More specifically, it relates to a system for dispensing tissue from a continuous length paper product stored on a roll, such as toilet paper, paper toweling, and the like.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Most toilet paper comes on rolls. To use it, the paper has to be unrolled and torn off. The torn-off strip of paper has then to be folded, to create a layered strip of sufficient strength. The paper, perforated so that it can be torn off easily, is generally divided into square sheets between each perforation. Although the perforations make it easier to tear the paper from the roll, they do create a problem. If the tissue is not carefully folded along the perforations, a perforated line will be located in the middle of the layered strip. If perforation lines of juxtaposed layers line up, the tissue strip is significantly weakened. To compensate for this resulting reduced strength, more paper generally has to be used.

[0004] In order to use the tissue in the most economical fashion, the perforations should ideally be located at the edges of the layered strip. This achieves greatest strength from the least amount of paper. Whether the paper is folded over at the edges, or torn creating separate sheets, makes little difference. However, the perforated lines are often hardly noticeable, and most people cannot be bothered to locate the perforated lines, count the sheets, and then fold the tissue along the perforations. As a result, they use more tissue to compensate for the reduced strength. While the paper waste for a single toilet may not be that significant, the combined paper waste on a city, country or global scale is staggering. As forests are steadily depleted world-wide, the environmental impact of paper waste on such a large scale is significant. Another problem associated with traditional use of perforated toilet paper from a roll is having to tear it off manually. While this does not necessarily require much effort for most, a dispenser which tears sheets off the roll for the user eliminates a step which could be of greater challenge for people with reduced mobility. Also, sheets are often manually torn off a roll in between the perforated lines, creating further waste. Unless diligence is taken and both hands are used, the tissue will often not tear along the perforations. No known prior art addresses the problem of having to manually tear off paper from the roll.

[0005] Motorized paper dispensers with photoelectric detectors, and motorized paper towel dispensers are well known.

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 2,243,686, issued May 27, 1941 to Steiner et al, discloses a sheet dispensing cabinet which comprises a gravity fed supply roll which is continuously engaged with a feed roll. An operating disk, used to start the paper dispensing after tear-off, is attached at one end of the feed roll. A tear-off knife allows a sheet to be manually torn from the roll.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 3,167,368, issued Jan. 26, 1965 to Rozlog et al, discloses a motor-driven dispenser, actuated by an accessible button, for rolled sheet material such as toilet tissue and paper towels. Two electric motor-driven feed belt assemblies within an external housing, resiliently engage the sheet material being fed. A guide chute receives the sheet material and guides it from its roll to the discharge opening in the front cover of the housing. Sheets are separated from the continuous roll by manual pulling of the free end of the material by the user, which causes the material to tear along a perforation line of the material within the housing of the dispenser.

[0008] U.S. Pat. No. 4,786,005, issued Nov. 22, 1988 to Hoffman et al, discloses an apparatus for dispensing rolled sheet material such as paper towels. The apparatus automatically dispenses sheet material when actuated in response to the proximity of a hand of a user. An electric motor drives the dispensing apparatus for a predetermined time, dispensing a predetermined length of sheet material. The user then manually tears away the length of sheet material.

[0009] U.S. Pat. No. 5,452,832, issued Sep. 26, 1995 to Niada, discloses an apparatus for dispensing, in response to the movement of a user's hand, an adjustable length of paper towel manually severable from a continuous roll of paper. A proximity detector actuates a motor for a predetermined time which operates a dragging roller, thereby dispensing a set length of paper from the feed roll. A stationary blade cuts the strip from the continuous roll when the user applies pressure with the paper on the blade.

[0010] U.S. Pat. No. 6,105,898, issued Aug. 22, 2000 to Byrd et al, discloses a hands-free paper towel dispenser which dispenses a length of paper in response to the movement of a user's hands. A photo sensor activates a motor which rotates a drive roller, dispensing a predetermined sheet length which can be grasped by the user and manually torn off along a blade. Provision for two paper rolls, a main roll and a stub roll, allows a partially depleted main roll to be transferred by an attendant to the stub roll position, so that it can be completely depleted before a new roll is started.

[0011] There exist four principal deficiencies in the conventional use of toilet paper: paper has to be manually unrolled, paper has to be torn off, paper has to be folded, and paper use is not most economical. Of these, the prior art fails to address all but the first of these deficiencies, and sufficiently solves none of them, as all known automatic unrolling dispensers nevertheless require the direct input of a user, whether to operate a push button or create a hand movement for a proximity detector. As a result of the foregoing, an improved paper dispensing device capable of providing a combined solution to all the aforementioned needs is presented herein.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0012] It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved rolled paper dispensing device.

[0013] It is also an object of the present invention to provide a paper dispensing device that automatically dispenses rolled toilet paper.

[0014] It is another object of the present invention to provide a paper dispensing device that automatically tears off individual toilet paper sheets.

[0015] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a device which dispenses toilet paper for most economical use.

[0016] Therefore, in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a rolled tissue dispensing system comprising a housing means dimensioned to accept at least one roll of a continuous rolled tissue product, having at least a lower dispensing opening; at least a tissue sheet separating means disposed within said housing means, for removing individual tissue sheets from said continuous rolled tissue product; at least a tissue advancing means disposed within said housing means, for advancing said continuous tissue product from said roll to said sheet separating means; at least a tissue sheet guide disposed within said housing means, enabling tissue sheets discharged from said tissue sheet separating means to be laid horizontally and stacked in a dispensing tray accessible by said dispensing opening in said housing means; at least an electric motor for powering said tissue advancing means and said tissue sheet separating means; whereby the tissue sheets are individually separated from the rolled tissue product as continuous tissue product is advanced through the tissue separating means.

[0017] The device operates automatically in order to maintain a supply of stacked tissue sheets in the dispensing tray. The device separates the continuous rolled tissue along the perforated lines, counts the pre-selected number of discharged sheets, and then stacks the sheets on top of each other in the dispensing tray. No force is required to remove the pile from the tray of the dispenser, and as soon as a pile is removed, another is delivered by the device.

[0018] Further features and advantages of the present invention will become fully apparent by referring to the following detailed description, claims, and the appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0019] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the rolled tissue dispensing system.

[0020] FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of the present invention with the lateral face of the housing removed.

[0021] FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention, having two independent motors, with the lateral face of the housing removed.

[0022] FIG. 4 is a top elevation view of the sheet paper guide means of the present invention.

[0023] FIG. 5 is a front elevation view of a multiple dispenser embodiment of the present invention having two dispensers side-by-side.

[0024] FIG. 6 is a top elevation view of an alternate embodiment of the sheet separating rollers having a jagged profile.

[0025] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention showing the tissue advancing and tissue sheet separating means, and including a tissue serration element, convex shaped rollers, and solenoid driven paper guiding means.

[0026] FIGS. 8a to 8d are top elevation views of the tissue advancing means of the embodiment shown in FIG. 7, showing the possible feed roller positions established by the paper guiding means.

[0027] FIG. 9 is a partially exploded perspective view of the serration means of the embodiment of FIG. 7.

[0028] FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of the adjustable clutch mounted on the driven tearing roller of the tissue sheet separating means.

[0029] FIG. 11 is a schematic circuit diagram of the electronic control system.

[0030] It will be noted that throughout the appended drawings, like features are identified by like reference numerals.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0031] Referring to FIG. 1, the rolled tissue dispensing device 10 is comprised of an exterior housing 12 having a front face 11, a back face 15, and two lateral faces 13. A top cover 14, attached to the exterior housing 12 along the top edge of the back face 15 by hinge 16, provides access for the top loading of replacement tissue rolls 30. A bottom dispensing tray 18 provides the dispensing medium for users, and an opening 20 in the tray 18 facilitates the removal of a pile of tissue sheets. A lower cutout 17 in the vertical front face 11 of the housing 12, provides frontal access to the tissue sheets for the user. The front face 11 of the casing 12 also comprises an out-of-paper indicator light 26 and a load-paper push button 28. A selector switch 24 which permits the pre-selection of the number of tissue sheets desired, and a power switch 22 are located on a lateral face 13 of the exterior housing 12.

[0032] Referring now to FIG. 2, the device uses two sets of rollers, namely, feed rollers 32 and 34 and tearing rollers 40 and 42, to pull the tissue from the feed roll 30. Roller 32 is driven by a motor 48 through a belt 38. The motor 48 is also used to drive tearing roller 40, through an adjustable clutch 44 having a free pulley 41, by belt 46. Rollers 34 and 42 are held in contact with rollers 32 and 40 respectively, by helical coil compression springs 54 and 56 mounted on fixed bases 58. The springs ensure contact with driven rollers 32 and 40 causing spring-loaded rollers 34 and 42 to rotate in opposite directions from rollers 32 and 40. The spring-loaded rollers 34 and 42 apply pressure to the paper, however still allowing small foreign objects which may fall inside the housing, such as coins, to pass through without obstructing the system. The size of the pulleys are chosen such that rollers 40 and 42 rotate faster than rollers 32 and 34.

[0033] An optional additional feed roller 36 provides additional support and rotating force for the tissue roll 30. Small guide rollers 50 on either side of the tissue feed roll 30 ensure that the tissue roll 30 is centered and does not translate forward when it is rotated by the feed rollers 32 and 36. Alternate feed roller 36 is driven by the attached pulley 37 which is driven by the motor 48 through a belt 39. The motor pulley 51 is the driver for the belt driven roller pulleys 33, 37, and 41.

[0034] The entire roller support assembly 52 is fixed to the inside of the lateral faces 13 of the housing 12. The sheet paper guide 60, as shown in FIG. 4, is downwardly biased towards the rear face 15 of the exterior housing 12. The curved upper portion 62 of the sheet paper guide 60, accepts tissue sheets pushed into the guide by tearing rollers 40 and 42. Paper sheets then slide down the top surface of the guide 63. To ensure that the paper sheets slide down the guide smoothly, the guide can be coated with a material such as Teflon. At the upper portion of the guide, the individual tissue sheets are supported by the top surface 63 such that the sheets remain generally flat as they slide down the guide. Trapezoidal shaped cutout 66, in the middle of the guide 60, eliminates the center support for the descending tissue as it reaches the lower portion of the guide. This causes the tissue sheet to cave in the middle, and fall through the guide into the dispensing tray 18 below. An opening 64 in the upper curved portion 62 of the sheet paper guide 60, allows for the number of sheets dispensed to be counted by a censor. The device uses two photocell detectors 68 and 72 which have corresponding reflecting mirrors 70 and 74 respectively. Photocell detector 68 monitors the number of tissue sheets torn from the roll. Photocell detector 72 monitors the presence of paper in the dispensing tray 18.

[0035] When a roll of tissue 30 is inserted into the space 31 above the rollers, such that gravity maintains contact between the paper roll and the rollers, and the load button 28 on the front face 11 of the exterior housing 12 is pushed, the rollers 32 and 36 begin turning and rotate the roll of paper tissue 30. As the freed end of the paper roll reaches feed rollers 32 and 34, the loose end will get caught between feed rollers which pull the continuous tissue strip 19 down through the paper guide 25, feeding the end into tearing rollers 40 and 42. As rollers 40 and 42 are spinning faster than feed rollers 32 and 34, the clutch 44 on roller 40 will begin to slip. The difference in rotating speeds between the lower rollers 40 and 42 and the upper rollers 32 and 34 creates pressure on the tissue strip between the two sets of rollers. The clutch 44 is adjusted so that the pressure on the tissue is such that it does not break the non-perforated tissue. However, when a perforated line in the tissue strip comes between the upper and lower sets of rollers, the tissue strip will break. The now separated individual tissue sheet 21 is pushed down into the tissue sheet guide 60 under the tearing rollers 40 and 42, and subsequently falls into the dispensing tray 18 below. The system would equally work if rollers 32 and 34 were driven through the clutch and rollers 40 and 42 were driven directly by the motor. However, the roll of paper 30 would subsequently rotate in a less smooth and continuous manner.

[0036] FIG. 10 shows the individual elements of the adjustable clutch 44. The driven tearing roller 40 rotates about an axial shaft 55, and is located by a support bearing 53. Drive disk 43 is fixed on the shaft 55 by a keyway 57. A free clutch pulley 41 is driven by the electric motor 48 through a drive belt 46. The clutch pulley 43 is held against the drive disk 43 by a clutch helical coil compression spring 47, and a retaining nut 49 is threaded onto the shaft 55. By tightening or loosening the retaining nut 49, the spring will exert more or less force on the clutch pulley 41. This allows the amount of slip of the clutch to be varied, and therefore permits calibration of the force applied by the tearing rollers on the tissue.

[0037] An alternate embodiment of the present invention, shown in FIG. 3, comprises two independent electric motors, namely, existing motor 48 and additional motor 76. No clutch is required in this embodiment, as motor 48 drives feed rollers 32 and 36, and the additional motor 76 drives the tearing roller 40. The additional motor 76, however, is driven with a higher voltage than the first motor 48. This difference in voltages translates directly into a difference in torques. Therefore, the motor 76, having more torque than the first motor 48, would apply a greater downward pressure on the paper tissue, thereby tearing off tissue sheets from the continuous roll. The voltage difference for the alternate motor 76 is calibrated in a manner similar to the variable clutch 44 in the first embodiment. The voltage difference is set to a value such that if there is no perforated line in the tissue paper between the two sets of rollers, the tissue strip will not break. However, when a perforated line in the tissue strip appears between the two sets of rollers, the tissue will tear along these perforations. A sufficient discharge speed of the torn-off tissue sheets is required in order to guarantee that the tissue sheets 21 will fall through the trapezoidal cutout 66 in the guide 60 and settle in the dispensing tray 18 before the next sheet arrives. This guarantees that the individual tissue sheets 21 are stacked neatly on top of each other.

[0038] The user can select the number of sheets desired in the dispensed stack by presetting the sheet selector switch 24 on the lateral face 13 of the exterior housing 12, which varies the subsequent thickness of the tissue sheet pile. As each individual torn-off tissue sheet 21 is discharged from the tearing rollers 40 and 42, the photocell detector 68 senses each sheet of paper as it passes through the light beam of the detector. An electronic control system 97, as shown in FIG. 11, receives the input of the photocell detector 68 and compares the number of sheets that have passed by the detector 68 to the value preset by the user with the selector switch 24. When these two numbers are equal, the drive motor is stopped by the control system 97. When the photo detector 72 senses that the pile of sheets in the dispensing tray 18 has been removed, the motor is activated, and the cycle restarts delivering another pile of sheets into the dispensing tray. When the load paper button 28 on the exterior of the casing 12 is pushed, the motor is similarly started and runs until the preset number of individual tissue sheets have been dispensed into the tray. If the photocell detector 68 fails to sense paper for a preset time period, the motor will automatically stop, and the out-of-paper indicator 26 on the exterior of the casing 12 will light up.

[0039] Although the system has been designed for toilet paper use, the device could be equally used in other applications requiring larger systems, such as paper toweling or sheet paper production. Similarly, this system could replace boxed facial tissue when used in commercial establishments. Additional features which would prevent the abuse of the device can be easily introduced through the control system 97, such as fixing a maximum number of tissue sheets which can be dispensed at one time, and presetting a delay time before subsequent tissue sheets are dispensed following the removal of a stack of tissue sheets.

[0040] FIG. 5 shows an alternate embodiment of the tissue dispensing device. A double dispenser system 78 comprises a double system exterior housing 80 enclosing two individual tissue dispensing devices 10, as previously described. This system solves the problem associated with a single roll dispensing device running out of paper. Such a double dispenser system is necessary for commercial uses. Commercial establishments, such as restaurants and hotels, are reluctant to leave partially used rolls in the roll dispensing holders in the event that a partial roll will not be sufficient. Full spare rolls left unattended can be stolen or incorrectly inserted into the dispenser by the user. Dispenser holders which stack one roll above the other are not ideal, as the stacked rolls impede the bottom dispensing roll from turning. Two individual rolls side by side do not adequately solve the problem either, as there is no way to ensure that users will use the smallest roll first. This increases the likelihood that two partially used rolls will remain. Attendants then have to replace the partially used rolls with full ones in order to ensure a sufficient quantity is supplied. A solution is to use two identical dispensing systems in one single enclosure with an electronic switch-over from one system to another when the smallest roll is completely used up. In this way, there is also a backup system should one fail. Two additional photocell detectors 82 are provided on the interior wall 81 of the double system housing 80. Corresponding reflecting mirrors 84 on the interior of the lateral faces 83 of the housing 80 reflect back the light beam from the photocell detectors when a paper roll is empty. When a photocell detector 82 senses that one roll is used beyond a preset level, the system automatically dispenses paper from the smallest roll, making sure that the roll will be completely finished before switching to the fuller roll.

[0041] FIG. 6 shows an alternate embodiment of the tearing rollers 40 and 42. In this embodiment, rollers 86 and 88 are formed having an interfitting wavy profile, which gives the paper passed through the rollers added rigidity. This prevents tissue sheets from them curling backwards as they slide down the tissue sheet guide 60.

[0042] Another embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIG. 7. One potential problem with the device is that a paper roll which is not correctly inserted or which for some other reason moves laterally as it is pulled through rollers 32 and 34, can become jammed. A solution to this problem, as shown in this embodiment, is to replace one or both feed rollers 32 and 34 having a uniform circumferential surface, with rollers 94 and 96 which have a double-convex longitudinal profile such that they are generally cylindrical but have a circular cross-section which gradually decreases towards the ends of the roller. Additionally, two control system activated solenoids 90 and 92 can provide slight rotation of the rollers about a vertical central axis through roller lever arms 91 or 93.

[0043] Two additional sensors, a left photocell 102 with corresponding light emitting diode 104 and a right photocell 106 with corresponding light emitting diode 108, are positioned on opposing ends of the sensing and serrating assembly 110, such that they are located on either side of the descending tissue strip 19. If the continuous tissue strip wanders too far to one side, the photocell on the corresponding side will sense the presence of the tissue, and the control system will activate the opposing solenoid side in order to recenter the tissue strip. The curve of the rollers 94 and 96, and their relative rotation when the solenoids are activated, will re-align the off center tissue strip. FIG. 8a shows such a system in normal operation.

[0044] FIG. 8b shows the case where the tissue strip has moved laterally to the left in the drawing, and the rollers are squeezed together on the opposite side, creating a pulling center to the right side of the tissue strip, thereby recentering the strip. FIG. 8c shows the same situation, but for a strip that has strayed to the opposite side of center. Activating both solenoids simultaneously, as shown in FIG. 8d, permits the rollers to be completely removed from contact with each other. This removes the pressure put on the tissue strip and allows the strip to pass through the device without being broken. This permits a continuous sheet to be delivered if desired. The tissue feed slot 109, between the opposing halves of the sensing and serrating assembly 110, helps guide the descending tissue strip between the sets of rollers.

[0045] For certain applications, the rolled tissue may not be preperforated into individual sheets. The embodiment shown in FIG. 7 permits the serration of such a tissue roll. A comb-like serrator assembly 111 comprises a serrator base 114, serrator blades 116, and a dedicated solenoid 112. Corresponding holes 117 for the serrator blades 116 are located in the opposing half of the sensing and serrating assembly 110, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 9. When the serrator is activated by the solenoid 112, the sharp edges of the serrator blades are pushed through the stretched paper tissue, causing it to break. A control system, as shown in FIG. 11, detects if the inserted roll of tissue is non-perforated and switches automatically to the program for providing serrations using the serrator assembly 111. This allows the use of both perforated and non-perforated tissue.

[0046] The embodiment(s) of the invention described above is(are) intended to be exemplary only. The scope of the invention is therefore intended to be limited solely by the scope of the appended claims.