Title:
Slip sheet segregation of print jobs
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of segregating print jobs uses an electronic controller to provide printer control signals to a first printer, such as a digital press, for printing multiple print jobs each comprised of at least one sheet of printed media and to a second printer for printing an identifier for each of the print jobs. The completed print jobs are transported from the first printer and placed with an associated job identifier or slip sheet printed by the second printer. The method may be implemented through the use of any suitably programmed computer readable medium such as a compact disc.



Inventors:
Sheffels, Steven R. (Camas, WA, US)
Application Number:
10/404343
Publication Date:
10/07/2004
Filing Date:
04/01/2003
Assignee:
SHEFFELS STEVEN R.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H33/04; B65H39/02; (IPC1-7): B65H33/04
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MACKEY, PATRICK HEWEY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HEWLETT-PACKARD DEVELOPMENT COMPANY (Fort Collins, CO, US)
Claims:
1. A method of segregating print jobs comprising: a) using an electronic controller to provide printer control signals to a first printer for printing multiple print jobs each comprised of at least one sheet of printed media; b) using said controller to provide printer control signals to a second printer for printing a job identifier for each of said print jobs; c) transporting completed print jobs from said first printer; d) transporting said job identifiers from said second printer; and e) placing a job identifier with each of said print jobs.

2. The method of claim 1, comprising placing said job identifiers with said print jobs at a holding station and then together transporting said jobs and identifiers from said holding station to a delivery station.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising using said controller to produce job transport control signals to deliver completed jobs and associated job identifiers to selected ones of multiple job delivery stations.

4. The method of claim 1, further comprising using said controller to produce job media selection and transport signals for feeding selected print job media from multiple media supply locations to said first printer.

5. The method of claim 1, further comprising arranging printed job identifier slips such that a portion of each identifier slip protrudes from stacked media sheets of an associated job.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein a job identifier is first positioned in said output path and a job associated with said identifier is subsequently positioned in said output path.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein a print job is first positioned in said output path and a job identifier associated with said job is subsequently positioned in said output path.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein said identifier includes barcode and further comprising the step of reading said barcode and comparing information derived from said barcode with job information provided to said controller to verify that a correct identifier has been associated with the job.

9. The method of claim 1, comprising positioning said second printer such that said second printer inserts job identifiers into a printed media output media path of said first printer.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein said job identifiers are inserted into print jobs without interrupting job printing by said first printer.

11. The method of claim 1, comprising using job identifier media of color which is visibly different than the color of job sheet media.

12. The method of claim 1, comprising printing said jobs with a digital printing press.

13. The method of claim 12, comprising printing said identifiers with a laser printer.

14. The method of claim 12, comprising printing said identifiers with an inkjet printer.

15. Apparatus for producing segregated multiple print jobs comprising: a) a digital press for printing multiple print jobs each comprised of at least one sheet of printed media, said press having ajob delivery path; b) a printer for printing an identifier for each of said print jobs, said printer having a job identifier delivery path; and c) an electronic controller for providing electrical control signals to said press and to said printer, said signals causing said printer to produce a print job identifier for each print job produced by said press, said printer delivery path being arranged for delivering said job identifiers to said job delivery path.

16. The apparatus of claim 16, further comprising multiple media supply locations for holding media for transport to said press.

17. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein said controller produces job media selection and transport signals for feeding selected print job media from said multiple media supply locations to said digital press.

18. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein said printer is a laser printer.

19. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein said printer is an inkjet printer.

20. The apparatus of claim 15, further comprising means for placing printed job identifier slips relative to print jobs such that a portion of each identifier slip protrudes from stacked media sheets of an associated job.

21. A method of segregating print jobs comprising: a) sending electronic printer control signals from an electronic controller to a first printer for printing multiple print jobs each comprised of at least one sheet of printed media; b) sending electronic provide printer control signals from said electronic controller to a second printer for printing a job identifier for each of said print jobs; c) transporting completed print jobs from said first printer; d) transporting said job identifiers from said second printer; and e) placing a job identifier with each of said print jobs at a holding station and then together transporting said jobs and identifiers from said holding station to a delivery station.

22. The method of claim 21, further comprising producing job transport signals in said controller for controlling the delivery of completed jobs and associated job identifiers to selected ones of multiple job delivery stations.

23. The method of claim 21, further producing job media selection and transport signals in said controller for controlling the feeding of print job media from multiple media supply locations to said first printer.

24. The method of claim 21, further comprising arranging printed job identifier slips such that a portion of each identifier slip protrudes from stacked media sheets of an associated job.

25. The method of claim 21, wherein a job identifier is first positioned in said output path and a job associated with said identifier is subsequently positioned in said output path.

26. The method of claim 21, wherein a print job is first positioned in said output path and a job identifier associated with said job is subsequently positioned in said output path.

27. The method of claim 21, wherein said identifier includes barcode and further comprising the steps of reading said barcode and comparing information derived from said barcode with job information provided to said controller to verify that a correct identifier has been associated with the job.

28. The method of claim 21, comprising positioning said second printer such that said second printer inserts job identifiers into a printed media output media path of said first printer.

29. The method of claim 28, wherein said job identifiers are inserted into print jobs during job printing by said first printer.

30. The method of claim 21, comprising using job identifier media of color which is visibly different than the color of job sheet media.

31. An article of manufacture comprising: a computer useable medium having computer readable program code means embodied therein for causing an electronic printer controller to provide: a) printer control signals to a first printer for printing multiple print jobs each comprised of at least one sheet of printed media; b) printer control signals to a second printer for printing a job identifier for each of said print jobs; c) control signals for transporting completed print jobs from said first printer; d) control signals for transporting said job identifiers from said second printer; and e) control signals for placing ajob identifier with each of said print jobs.

32. The article of claim 31 comprising a compact disc.

33. Apparatus for producing segregated multiple print jobs comprising: a) means for printing multiple print jobs each comprised of at least one sheet of printed media, said means for printing having a job delivery path; b) means for printing an identifier for each of said print jobs, said means for printing an identifier having ajob identifier delivery path; and c) means for providing electrical control signals to said means for printing multiple print jobs and to said means for printing an identifier, said signals causing said means for printing an identifier to produce a print job identifier for each print job produced by said means for printing multiple print jobs, said job identifier delivery path being arranged for delivering said job identifiers to said job delivery path.

34. The apparatus of claim 33, further comprising multiple media supply locations for holding media for transport to said press.

35. The apparatus of claim 34, wherein said controller produces job media selection and transport signals for feeding selected print job media from said multiple media supply locations to said means for printing multiple print jobs.

36. The apparatus of claim 33, further comprising means for placing printed job identifier slips relative to print jobs such that a portion of each identifier slip protrudes from stacked media sheets of an associated job.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] None.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates generally to the art of high speed printing with digital presses that produce multi-sheet print jobs that, at some point in time, must be identified and segregated from each other.

[0003] U.S. Pat. No. 6,227,531, issued May 8, 2001 to Guerro, et al and owned by the assignee of the present invention discloses a method of separately identifying individual print output jobs produced by a high speed printer which is also utilized to print individual job separation pages, referred to herein as slip sheets. These slip sheets may be placed between print jobs with an edge of the slip sheet projecting outwardly of the stacked print job sheets of each output job. Since various print jobs use large or otherwise expensive print media, the printing of both jobs and job slip sheets by the same printer is usually relatively expensive and time consuming since job printing must be interrupted while printing slip sheets, and to switch between press media supply sources or to replace job media sheets in a press supply source with slip sheet media. Various printer adjustments for size and weight of the sheets may also be required.

[0004] There remains a significant need for a method and apparatus for further reducing the time and expense of identification and segregation of print jobs by use of a separate slip sheet for each print job.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] The present invention therefore provides a method of segregating print jobs comprising:

[0006] a) using an electronic controller to provide printer control signals to a first printer for printing multiple print jobs each comprised of at least one sheet of printed media;

[0007] b) using the controller to provide printer control signals to a second printer for printing an identifier for each of the print jobs;

[0008] c) transporting completed print jobs from the first printer;

[0009] d) transporting said job identifiers from the second printer; and

[0010] e) placing a job identifier with each of the print jobs.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

[0011] FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a printing system, according to one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0012] Schematically shown is a digital printing press 10 of the type typically used for commercial heavy duty printing purposes. Such presses may produce print copy on one or both sides of a sheet and may use the same or different printing and impression rollers as described, for example, in PCT International Publication Number WO 01/34396 A1, published 17 May 2001. The details of such presses are well known and are not described here since they are unnecessary to fully understand the present invention.

[0013] Media of different types may be supplied to the press 10 from multiple media input supply locations 20, 30 along a common media input supply path 12 to the press 10. Print output from the digital press 10 exits the press along a media discharge path 14, 16 to one or more output bins 40, 50 in which completed print jobs may be stored. Electronic printing data and hardware control signals are supplied to the press 10, the input bins 20, 30, and to the output bins 40, 50 and associated media transport rollers or belts, as is conventional, by a computerized electronic controller 60 which provides printing data and hardware control signals along various signal supply lines 62 and 64-68 to control the feeding of media from the supply locations 20, 30 and the printing and discharge of printed media from the press 10 to the output bins 40, 50.

[0014] Pursuant to the invention, the electronic controller 60 also supplies printing data and hardware control signals along a line 76 to a second or slip sheet printer 70 which has its own media supply bin schematically indicated at 72. The slip sheet printer 70 delivers printed slip sheets along a discharge path 74 through which slip sheets printed with job identification information are conveyed to the media discharge path 14 of the digital press 10 where they are subsequently associated with print jobs produced by the digital press 10 by placement of a printed slip sheet with each of the print jobs. Timing of the operation of the digital press 10 and slip sheet printer 70 under the common control of the electronic controller 60 may readily be implemented in various fashions by those skilled in the art to insure delivery of a printed slip sheet to each print job produced by the press 10.

[0015] At the point of intersection of the media output path 14 from the digital press 10 and the slip sheet output path 74 from the slip sheet printer 70, a holding station 80 may be provided at which movement of the print jobs can be temporarily interrupted to facilitate placement of a printed slip sheet associated with the print job. The slip sheet may be placed first at the holding station 80 at the beginning of each print job which is subsequently stacked, sheet-by-sheet, together with the associated slip sheet. Alternatively, the print job can be first completed and stacked, then the printed slip sheet can be subsequently placed with the print job at the holding station 80. A gate of any suitable construction may be used at the holding station 80 and controlled by timing signals supplied by the controller 60 along lines 62 and 78.

[0016] Alternatively, the holding station 80 need not be provided and the slip sheets and print jobs can be sequentially sent directly along the appropriate output paths 14, 74, 16 to the output bins 40, 50 where the printed slip sheets are placed with the associated completed print jobs.

[0017] It is considered particularly advantageous to use slip sheets printed on colored paper or other colored media so that the slip sheets and segregated print jobs are immediately visible to a human operator. It is also particularly advantageous to stack the slip sheets and print jobs such that the slip sheets have an edge or corner protruding from the stacked print job media.

[0018] Typically, high speed digital presses produce jobs comprised of many media sheets, each of which may be relatively large, thick and expensive. On the other hand, the slip sheet printer 70 need only hold a supply of inexpensive slip sheets in the bin 72 which can be of considerably smaller size and made of thinner media stock such as colored paper.

[0019] It is well within the teachings of the present system to use appropriate signals from the electronic controller 60 to control the hardware for continuous production by the digital press 10 and intermittent production of slip sheets by the printer 70. Thus the printed slip sheets can be associated with completed print jobs without interruption of the movement of the printed media along the output path 14, 74 or the use of a holding station 80 and gating operatively controlled by signals from the electronic controller 60 along the control line 78.

[0020] Typically, the press 10 will comprise a relatively expensive high speed unit such as a digital printing press whereas the slip sheet printer 70 need only be a relatively inexpensive unit such as a laser printer or an inkjet printer capable of producing job identifiers or slip sheets on relatively inexpensive media.

[0021] The slip sheet printer 70 receives print data signals from the press controller 60 along lines 62, 76 to print appropriate job identification information on a slip sheet to be associated to be associated with the print job. Such information can include by way of example, customer identification numbers, job name and identification numbers, etc. The data can be provided in human or machine readable form such as bar code produced by the slip sheet printer 70. A bar code reader or readers, not shown, may be positioned at an appropriate location or locations such as at the holding station 80 to scan both a bar code produced by the slip sheet printer 70 and a separate bar code which may be produced on a first or last sheet of each print job by the digital press 10, for comparison to verify that the correct slip sheet has been associated with the print job. In the event that an incorrect slip sheet is detected, the controller 60 can send job interrupt and/or correction signals along any or all of the lines 62, 64-68, 76 and 78 to media conveyors and the digital press, and/or slip sheet printer 70 to automatically correct the problem.

[0022] As will be apparent to those skilled in the art, the invention can be readily implemented on a computing device using suitable software. The software may be embodied in an article of manufacture such as a compact disc or other form of computer useable medium having computer readable program code means embodied therein for causing an electronic printer controller to provide:

[0023] a) printer control signals to a first printer for printing multiple print jobs each comprised of at least one sheet of printed media;

[0024] b) printer control signals to a second printer for printing a job identifier for each of said print jobs;

[0025] c) control signals for transporting completed print jobs from said first printer;

[0026] d) control signals for transporting said job identifiers from said second printer; and

[0027] e) control signals for placing a job identifier with each of said print jobs. A machine readable medium, such as a compact disc programmed with software to implement the method described, is therefore within the scope of protection as defined by the appended claims.

[0028] Persons skilled in the art will also appreciate that various additional modifications can be made in the preferred embodiment shown and described above and that the scope of protection is limited only by the wording of the claims which follow.