Title:
Torque source
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Various apparatus and methods are disclosed for providing torque.



Inventors:
Mo, Jiang-xiao (Vancouver, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/219489
Publication Date:
03/08/2007
Filing Date:
09/02/2005
Assignee:
Hewlett-Packard Development Company LP
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H5/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MCCULLOUGH, MICHAEL C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HP Inc. (Fort Collins, CO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus comprising: at least one first torque source; a first surface configured to be rolled against a first medium; and a first torsion spring operably coupled between the at least one first torque source and the first surface.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a drive train between the torque source and the first surface, wherein the first torsion spring is operably coupled between consecutive members of the drive train.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising: a first member operably coupled to the surface; and a second member operably coupled to the torque source, wherein the torsion spring has a first portion connected to the first member and a second portion connected to the second member.

4. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the first member includes a first radial slot receiving the first portion of the torsion spring and wherein the second member includes a second radial slot receiving the second portion of the second member.

5. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the first member and the second member comprise gears.

6. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the first member and the second member are configured to rotate a maximum angle of less than 360 degrees relative to one another.

7. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the torsion spring and one of the first member and the second member are configured to be selectively coupled to one another at one of a plurality of locations to adjust a preload of the first torsion spring.

8. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the first member and the second member rotate about an axis and wherein the first torsion spring is axially between the first member and the second member.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the first member and the second member are axially connected to one another while being rotatable to one another about the axis.

10. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the first member and the second member are connected along a juncture overlapped by the first torsion spring.

11. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising: a second surface configured to be rolled against a second medium; and a second torsion spring operably coupled between the at least one torque source and the second surface.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the at least one torsion source comprises a single torsion source operably coupled to both the first surface and the second surface.

13. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the first surface and the second surface are configured to be simultaneously rolled against the first medium and the second medium while the first medium and the second medium extend side-by-side one another.

14. The apparatus of claim 13 further comprising at least one tray configured to support the first medium adjacent the first surface and the second medium adjacent the second surface.

15. The apparatus of claim 11 further comprising a media interaction device configured to interact with the first medium and the second medium while the first medium is aligned with the second medium.

16. The apparatus of claim 11 further comprising a media transport configured to move the first medium and the second medium in a first direction simultaneously.

17. The apparatus of claim 16 further comprising: a second torque source coupled to the media transport; and a controller configured to generate control signals causing the media transport to oppose movement of at least one of the first medium and s the second medium in the first direction until both the first medium and the second medium are adjacent the media transport.

18. The apparatus of claim 17 further comprising a sensor configured to sense the positioning of both of the first medium and the second medium adjacent the media transport.

19. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the controller is configured to generate the control signals such that the media transport opposes movement of the first medium for a predetermined maximum time that the second surface may take to move the second medium to the media transport.

20. The apparatus of claim 17 further comprising a media interaction device configured to interact with the first medium.

21. A media feed device comprising: at least one torque source; a first surface configured to be rolled against a medium; and a drive train between the at least one torque source and the first surface, the drive train configured to reduce the transmission of torque between consecutive members of the drive train in response to a predetermined amount of torque applied to the first surface.

22. The device of claim 21 further comprising: a second surface configured to be rolled against a second medium; and a second drive train operably coupled between the torque source and the second surface, the second drive train being configured to reduce or cease transmission of torque between consecutive members of the drive train in response to a predetermined amount of counter torque applied to the second surface.

23. The device of claim 22 further comprising a drive shaft operably coupled to the at least one torque source, wherein the first drive train is configured as a first unitary assembly, wherein the second drive train is configured as a second unitary assembly and wherein the first assembly and the second assembly are removably connected to the drive shaft and receive torque from the drive shaft.

24. The device of claim 21, wherein the first drive train includes a torsion spring.

25. The device of claim 21, wherein the first drive train comprises: a first gear; a second gear; and a torsion spring having a first end connected to the first gear and a second end connected to the second gear.

26. A media feed system comprising: a torque source; a surface configured to be rolled against a medium; and a drive train between the torque source and the surface, the drive train including means for reducing transmission of torque between consecutive members of the drive train in response to a predetermined amount of counter torque applied to the surface.

27. A media feed unit comprising: a support; a roller rotatably coupled to the support; gears rotatably coupled to the support and configured to transmit torque to the roller; and a torsion spring having a first end connected to one of the gears and a second end connected to another of the gears.

28. A method comprising: transmitting torque from a torque source with a drive train to a drive member contacting a medium; and ceasing transmission of torque between consecutive members of the drive train in response to a predetermined amount of counter torque applied to the drive member.

29. The method of claim 28, wherein the ceasing includes rotating a first drive train member relative to a second drive train member.

30. The method of claim 29, wherein the ceasing further includes twisting a torsion spring connected to the first drive train member and the second drive train member.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Sheets of media are sometimes moved or fed through a device, such as a printer. In some instances, the sheets may travel through the device at a rate faster than expected which may result in mishandling of the sheet.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of one embodiment of a media feed system according to one example embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of a media interaction system including another embodiment of the media feed system of FIG. 1 according to one example embodiment.

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view schematically illustrating another embodiment of a media interaction system according to one example embodiment.

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary top perspective view of another embodiment of the media feed system of FIG. 1 with portions schematically shown according to one example embodiment.

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of a portion of the media feed system of FIG. 4 according to one example embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of one example of a media feed system 10. Media feed system 10 is configured to feed, drive or otherwise move a sheet 12 of media to a destination within a device such as a printer, scanner and the like. System 10 generally includes media drive member 14, torque source 16 and compliant coupler 30. Media drive member 14 constitutes a member configured to be rolled against a surface of medium 12 so as to drive medium 12 to the subsequent destination. In the particular example illustrated, media drive member 14 constitutes a roller configured to be rotatably driven about axis 32. In other embodiments, media drive member 14 may constitute other devices configured to frictionally engage a sheet 12 to move or drive the sheet 12. For example, in another embodiment, media drive member 14 may constitute a belt driven about multiple axes and rolled against medium 12.

Torque source 16 constitutes a device configured to provide rotational torque for rotatably driving media drive member 14. In one embodiment, torque source 16 may comprise a motor. In other embodiments, other torque source 16 may constitute other sources of torque.

Compliant coupler 30 constitutes one or more members configured to transmit torque from torque source 16 to media drive member 14 to rotatably drive member 14. At the same time, compliant coupler 30 is configured to reduce or cease the transmission of torque from torque source 16 to media drive member 18 in response to a predetermined counter force or counter torque exerted upon compliant coupler 30 through media drive member 14. In one embodiment, compliant coupler 30 is configured to reduce or cease the transmission of torque to media drive member 14 in response to sheet 12 encountering an obstruction while being moved by media drive member 14 such that media drive member 14 will discontinue driving sheet 12. As a result, compliant coupler 30 prevents or minimizes a likelihood of mishandling of media 12 such as a media jam within a device.

In operation, torque source 16 supplies torque to media drive member 14 through compliant coupler 30 so as to drive media drive member 14 and so as to move sheet 12 towards a destination. If sheet 12 reaches the destination before anticipated by the subsequent destination or before the subsequent destination is ready to receive sheet 12, sheet 12 may encounter an obstruction such as a belt, roller or other device that may prevent or inhibit further movement of sheet 12. If torque from torque source 16 were continued to be supplied to media drive member 14 to drive sheet 12, sheet 12 may become crumpled, jammed or otherwise be mishandled. However, compliant coupler 30 prevents continued transmission of torque to media drive member 14 in such a circumstance by ceasing further transmission of torque to drive member 14 while torque source 16 continues to supply torque. Thus, mishandling of media is prevented or minimized.

In the particular embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, compliant coupler 30 constitutes a member configured to absorb or store torque from torque source 16 in response to a predetermined level of counter torque being applied to compliant coupler 30 as a result of sheet 12 encountering an obstruction at the subsequent destination. In one particular embodiment, compliance coupler 30 constitutes a torsion spring which rotates to transmit torque between torque source 16 and media drive member 14. Upon media sheet 12 encountering an obstruction, a counter force or counter torque is applied to the torsion spring through media drive member 14. As a result, the torsion spring constituting compliant coupler 30 twists to store the torque which is continued to be provided by torque source 16.

Because compliant coupler 30 constitutes a torsion spring, a single part may be used to absorb or cease the transmission of torque in response to an applied counter torque that results from sheet 12 encountering an obstruction. Because compliant coupler constitutes a torsion spring, torsion spring 18 may be replaced with a torsion spring having a different spring constant to adjust the predetermined amount of load or counter torque that will trigger the cessation of the transmission of torque (i.e., the level of torque at which the torsion spring will begin to twist). In addition, because complaint coupler 30 constitutes a torsion spring, compliant coupler 30 occupies relatively little space. In other embodiments, compliant coupler 30 may constitute other structures configured to reduce or cease the transmission of torque from torque source 16 to media drive member 14 in response to a predetermined level of counter torque occurring as a result of sheet 12 encountering an obstruction downstream.

FIG. 2 schematically illustrates media interaction system 50 which includes media feed system 110 a particular embodiment of media feed system 10 shown in FIG. 1. In addition to media feed system 110, media interaction system 50 generally includes media supply 52, media transport 54, torque source 56, sensor 58, media interaction device 60 and controller 62. Media supply 52 constitutes one or more trays, beds or other structures configured to support two side-by-side sheets 66A and 66B of media or two side-by-side stacks of sheets 66A and 66B proximate to media feed system 110 for simultaneous or near simultaneous feeding or movement in parallel towards media transport 54 or towards media interaction device 60 for simultaneous or near simultaneous interaction by media interaction device 60. In the particular embodiment illustrated, supply 52 constitutes a single tray configured to support two side-by-side stacks of sheets of media, such as photo paper. In other embodiments; multiple side-by-side trays may alternatively be used. Although supply 52 is illustrated as supplying two side-by-side sheets or stacks of sheets 66A, 66B of media, in other embodiments in which system 50 is configured to interact with more than two sheets at a time, supply 52 may also be configured to supply more than two side-by-side sheets or stacks of sheets.

Media feed system 110 is similar to media feed system 10 except that media feed system 110 is configured to feed or move two side-by-side sheets 66A and 66B to a subsequent destination, such as media transport 54, while ceasing the transmission of torque to one or both of such sheets when such sheets encounter an obstruction. Media transport system 110 includes media drive members 114A, 114B (collectively referred to as media drive members 114), torque source 116, and media drive trains 118A and 118B (collectively referred to as drive trains 118). Media drive members 114 constitute one or more structures configured to frictionally engage and drive a sheet of media. In the particular example illustrated, drive members 114A and 114B extend side-by-side one another to simultaneously engage sheets 66A and 66B, respectively. In the particular example illustrated, members 114A and 114B constitute rollers extending along a common axis opposite sheets 66A and 66B, respectively. In other embodiments, members 14A and 114B may constitute other members configured to frictionally engage and drive sheets of media, such as one or more belts. In lieu of extending along a common axis, drive members 114A and 114B may alternatively be staggered with respect to one another.

Torque source 116 constitutes one or more devices configured to supply torque to drive members 114A and 114B via drive trains 118A and 118B, respectively. In the particular embodiment illustrated, torque source 116 constitutes a single torque source operably coupled to both drive trains 118A and 118B and operably coupled to both drive members 114A and 114B. In the particular embodiment illustrated, torque source 116 supplies the same level of torque to both drive trains 118A and 118B and both drive rollers 114A and 114B. In the particular embodiment illustrated, torque source 116 constitutes an electric motor. In other embodiments, torque source 116 may constitute other torque supply systems.

Drive trains 118 each constitute a series of components operably coupled to one another between torque source 116 and associated drive member 114 so as to serve as a transmission for transmitting torque from torque source 116 to an associated drive member 114. In the particular embodiment illustrated, drive trains 118A and 118B-are substantially identical to one another except that drive train 118 is operably coupled to drive member 114A and drive train 118B is operably coupled to drive member 114B. Each of drive trains 118 includes a first torque transmitting component 120, a second consecutive torque transmitting component 122 and compliant coupler 130. Drive train components 122 constitute members configured to transmit torque to their associated drive members 114 which are connected to one another by compliant coupler 130. Component 120 is operably coupled proximate to torque source 116. Component 122 is operably coupled proximate to the associated drive member 114.

In one embodiment, components 120 and 122 may constitute gears. In other embodiments, components 120 and 122 may comprise other components of a transmission such as pulleys or sprockets or other similar mechanisms. In one embodiments, components 120 and 122 may be directly connected to torque source 116 and the associated drive member 114, respectively. In another embodiment, one or both of components 120 and 122 may be indirectly operably coupled to torque source 116 and the associated drive member 114 by intermediate drive train components. In addition to transmitting torque, components 120 and 122 may additionally serve to change or adjust the torque and speed from torque source 116.

Compliant coupler 130 compliantly couples or connects components 120 and 122. Compliant coupler 130 is configured to transmit torque from component 120 to component 122 so as to transmit torque to drive member 114. Coupler 130 is also configured to reduce or cease the transmission of torque in response to receiving a counter force or counter torque such as when the sheet of media being driven by the respective drive member 114 encounters an obstruction. In the particular example illustrated, in response to receiving a counter torque or force above a predetermined level, coupler 130 absorbs or stores torque that is continued to be supplied by torque source 116. In one embodiment, compliant coupler may constitute a torsion spring, wherein the torsion spring is twisted so as to reduce or cease or reduce transmission of torque to component 122 and to the associated drive member 114 in response to the sheet being driven by drive member 114 encountering an obstruction. In other embodiments, compliant coupler 130 may constitute other springs.

Media transport 54 constitutes one or more devices configured to further transport or move sheets 66A and 66B provided by media feed system 110 towards media interaction device 60. In one embodiment, media transport 54 may include one or more rollers. In yet another embodiment, media transport 54 may constitute one or more belts.

Torque source 56 constitutes one or more devices configured to supply torque to media transport 54 to drive media transport 54. In one embodiment, torque source 56 may constitute an electric motor. In other embodiments, torque source 56 may constitute other sources of torque operably coupled to media transport 54. In still other embodiments, a single torque source may be used and operably coupled to media transport 54 and drive trains 118 by clutching mechanisms and the like.

Sensor 58 constitutes one or more sensing devices in communication with controller 62 that are configured to sense or detect the positioning of sheets 66A and 66B relative to media transport 54. In the particular example illustrated, sensor 58 determines when leading edges of both of sheets 66A and 66B are positioned in alignment with one another proximate to media transport 54. In other embodiments, sensor 58 may alternatively be configured to sense when sheets 66A and 66B are out of alignment or have not yet reached media transport 54. In one embodiment, sensor 58 may constitute optical sensors. In other embodiments, sensor 58 may constitute one or more flags configured to be physically contacted by sheets 66A and 66B. In yet other embodiments, sensor 58 may be omitted as will be described hereafter.

Media interaction device 60 constitutes a device configured to receive sheets 66A and 66B in a simultaneous or near simultaneous manner and to interact with both sheets 66A and 66B. In one embodiment, media interaction device 60 is configured to print or otherwise form an image (text, graphics and the like) upon both sheets 66A and 66B. For example, in one embodiment, media interaction device 60 may constitute one or more inkjet printheads configured to deposit ink upon sheets 66A and 66B. In yet other embodiments, media interaction device 60 may be configured to form other functions such as scanning information from sheets 66A and 66B, collating, organizing or folding sheets 66A and 66B or other interactions.

Controller 62 constitutes a processing unit configured to analyze information received from sensor 58 and to generate control signals directing the operation of at least torque source 116, torque source 56 and media interaction device 60. For purposes of this disclosure, the term “processing unit” shall mean a presently developed or future developed processing unit that executes sequences of instructions contained in a memory. Execution of the sequences of instructions causes the processing unit to perform steps such as generating control signals. The instructions may be loaded in a random access memory (RAM) for execution by the processing unit from a read only memory (ROM), a mass storage device, or some other persistent storage. In other embodiments, hard wired circuitry may be used in place of or in combination with software instructions to implement the functions described. Controller 62 is not limited to any specific combination of hardware circuitry and software, nor to any particular source for the instructions executed by the processing unit.

In operation, in response to receiving instructions that sheets 66A and 66B are to be interacted upon by media interaction device 60, such as by printing upon sheets 66A and 66B, controller 62 generates control signals causing torque source 116 to supply torque to each of rollers 114A and 114B via drive trains 118A and 118B, respectively. In one embodiment, controller 62 further generates control signals directing torque source 56 to drive media transport 54 in a first direction such that media transport 54 opposes or obstructs movement of the leading edges of sheets 66A and 66B beyond media transport 54. In other embodiments, media transport 54 may be used to obstruct sheets 66A and 66B without being rotatably driven or other structures may be used to temporarily block or obstruct the leading edges of sheets 66A and 66B.

As a result of receiving torque from torque source 116 through drive trains 118, drive members 114 roll against a top surface of sheets 66A and 66B to move sheets 66A and 66B towards media transport 54. Should one of sheets 66A, 66B arrive at media transport 54 before the other, the first arriving sheet is obstructed by media transport 54 such that a counter torque or force is applied to drive train component 122. As a result, the end of compliant coupler 130 connected to member 122 does not rotate while the opposite end of complaint coupler 130 connected to drive train component 120 continues to rotate, twisting compliant coupler 130. Even though torque is continued to be supplied from torque source 116, such torque is not transmitted to the associated drive member 114. As a result, continued movement of the first arriving sheet 66A, 66B is stalled or paused with minimal crumpling or damaging of such sheet until the other later sheet 66A, 66B arrives at media transport 54.

Upon both sheets 66A and 66B being moved proximate to media transport 54, sensor 58 transmits a signal to controller 62. As a result, controller 62 generates control signals directing torque source 56 to drive media transport 54 in a direction such that the now aligned or adjacent leading edges 66A and 66B are further transported towards media interaction device 60 for being interacted by media interaction device 60.

Although system 50 is illustrated as including sensor 58, in other embodiments, system 50 may omit sensor 58, wherein controller 62 is configured to generate control signals directing torque source 56 to drive media transport 54 in a direction such that media transport 54 blocks or obstructs further movement of sheets 66A, 66B for a period of time equal to or greater than a predetermined maximum time period that one of sheets 66A, 66B may be delayed with respect to the other of sheets 66A, 66B.

FIG. 3 schematically illustrates media interaction system 250, another embodiment of system 50 shown in FIG. 2. System 250 includes media supply 52, media feed system 110, media transport 54, sensor 55 and interaction device 60. In the particular example illustrated in FIG. 3, media transport 54 includes turn roller 252, idler roller 254, feed roller 256 and idler roller 258. Turn roller 252 cooperates with idler roller 254 to frictionally engage sheets 66A and 66B (shown in FIG. 2) from media supply 52 and to transport such sheets in an arc towards feed roller 256 and idler roller 258. Feed roller 256 cooperates with idler roller 258 to frictionally engage sheets 66A and 66B therebetween to drive sheets 66A, 66B towards interaction device 60. The positioning of sheets 66A, 66B is detected by sensor 55 which is illustrated as a flag which is pivoted or triggered in response to being physically engaged by sheets 66A and 66B as such sheets are being driven by turn roller to feed roller 256. Feed roller 256 and idler roller 258 drive sheets 66A and 66B across a platen 260 opposite interaction device 60.

In the particular example illustrated, interaction device 60 deposits ink upon sheets 66A and 66B. Although not illustrated, system 250 additionally includes one or more torque sources 56 (shown in FIG. 2) configured to rotatably drive turn roller 252 and feed roller 256, sensor 58 (shown in FIG. 2) and controller 62 (shown in FIG. 2) in communication with torque source 56, as well as torque source 116 (shown in FIG. 2) of media feed system 110. In the particular example illustrated, controller 62 is further in communication with sensor 55 so as to receive signals from sensor 55 indicating the positioning of sheets 66A, 66B.

FIG. 3 schematically illustrates various travel distances for sheets 66A and 66B (shown in FIG. 2) from supply 52 to turn roller 252 of media transport 54. FIG. 3 provides a comparison of different travel distances for a single sheet 66 resting upon supply 52 or a sheet 66 resting upon a full stack 266 of such sheets upon supply 52. As shown by FIG. 3, a single sheet 66 travels a distance D1 much greater than the distance D2 traveled by a sheet 66 taken from a full stack. In particular scenarios, sheets 66A and 66B may be taken from differently sized stacks upon media 52. Due to the different travel distances, this may result in one of sheets 66A, 66B (show in FIG. 2) arriving at media transport 54 before the other. However, as noted above, the first sheet 66 arriving at media transport 54 will be obstructed such that compliant coupler 130 (shown in FIG. 2) reduce or ceases the transmission of torque to the particular drive member 114A, 114B that is driving the first arriving sheet. Such transmission of torque will be paused until the later arriving sheet 66, such as a sheet taken from a smaller stack, arrives, at which point, media transport 54 will continue to drive both sheets 66A, 66B (shown in FIG. 2) in a simultaneous or near simultaneous fashion towards feed roller 256 and interaction device 60.

FIG. 4 illustrates media feed system 310, another embodiment of media feed system 10 shown in FIG. 1. Media feed system 310 is configured for use in a media interaction system such as media interaction system 50. Media feed system 310 is configured to feed or move a sheet of media from a supply (not shown) to a subsequent destination such as media transport 54 (shown in FIG. 2). Media feed system 310 includes torque source 116 (described with respect to FIG. 2), media drive member 314, drive train 318 and support 319. Torque source 116 is described above with respect to FIG. 2. Torque source 116 supplies torque to drive member 314 through drive train 318.

Drive member 314 is configured to rotate about axis 324 in response to receiving torque from drive train 318. Drive member 314 is configured to frictionally engage a surface of a sheet of media to drive the media. In the particular example illustrated, drive member 314 constitutes a roller or tire configured to pick or separate a sheet of media from a support or underlying stack of remaining sheets.

Drive train 318 serves as a transmission for transmitting torque from torque source 116 to media drive member 314. Drive train 318 generally includes drive shaft 326, gears 328, 330, 332, 334, 336, 338, 340 and compliant coupler 342. Drive shaft 326 constitutes an elongate shaft coupled to support 319 and operably coupled to torque source 116 so as to be rotatably driven about axis 346. Drive shaft 326 carries gear 328 so as to rotatably drive gear 328. Although drive shaft 326 is illustrated as supplying torque to a single series of gears 328-340 and a single pick tire 314, drive shaft 326 may also supply torque to additional series of gears 328-340 and additional drive members 314 spaced along shaft 326.

Gears 328-340 transmit torque from drive shaft 326 to media drive member 314. Gear 328 is fixed to drive shaft 326. Gear 330 is in meshing engagement with gears 328 and 332. Gear 332 is in meshing engagement with gear 330 and gear 342. Gear 342 is connected to gear 336 by compliant coupler 342. Gear 336 is in meshing engagement with gear 338. Gear 338 is in meshing engagement with gear 340 which is fixed to media drive member 314. Gear 336 is coaxial with gear 334 and is in meshing engagement with gear 338.

Compliant coupler 342 transmits torque between gears 334 and 336 such that torque is transmitted from torque source 116 to media drive member 314. Compliant coupler 342 is further configured to reduce or cease the transmission of torque between gears 334 and 336 upon experiencing a counter torque or counter force which may occur as a result of the sheet of media being driven by media drive member 314 encountering an obstruction. In the particular example illustrated, compliant coupler 342 constitutes a torsion spring having a first end 350 (shown in FIG. 5) connected to gear 334 and a second end 352 connected to gear 336. As a result, upon experiencing a counter torque, complaint coupler 340 twists, allowing gear 334 to continue to rotate while gear 336 is stationary or rotates at a lesser rate. In other embodiments, compliant coupler 342 may comprise other structures configured to reduce or cease transmission of torque between gears 334 and 336.

Support 319 constitutes one or more structures configured to rotatably support gears 330, 332, 334, 336, 338 and 340, compliant coupler 342 and media drive member 314. Support 319 connects gears 330-340, coupler 342 and media drive member 314 as a single assembled unit to be removed, repaired or replaced. As a result, additional such units may be operably connected to drive shaft 326 along axis 346 to facilitate simultaneous or near simultaneous feeding of two or more sheets in a media interaction system.

FIG. 5 illustrates gears 334, 336 and compliant coupler 342 in greater detail. As shown by FIG. 5, gear 334 includes main body, hub 362 and bore 363. Main body 360 includes teeth 364 and coupler detents 366. Teeth 364 mesh correspondingly to teeth of gear 332 (shown in FIG. 4).

Coupler detents 366 constitute depressions or openings formed within body 360 that are configured to receive end 350 of coupler 342. In the particular embodiment illustrated, body 360 includes a multitude of spaced detents 366. As a result, end 350 of coupler 342 may be connected to body 360 of gear 334 at one of a multitude of different locations about axis 368 of gear 334 to facilitate adjustment of a preload applied to coupler 342.

In the particular example illustrated, each detent 366 is a radially extending elongate slot configured to receive end 350 of coupler 342. As a result, detents 366 permit end 350 to move in a radially inward direction as end 350 complies or twists relative to end 352 in response to rotation of gear 334. Because detents 366 constitute slots permitting such radial inward movement of end 350, less strain is imposed upon coupler 342. In other embodiments, body 360 may alternatively include a single detent 366 or a fewer or greater number of such detents 366. In still other embodiments, in lieu of constituting slots, detents 366 may comprise other bores or openings.

Hub 362 axially projects from body 360 and is configured to mate with gear 336 so as to axially capture coupler 342 between gears 334 and 336. Hub 362 includes a raised surface 370, a recessed surface 372 and a pair of shoulders 374 extending therebetween to form an opening or notch 375. Raised surface 370 abuts a portion of gear 336 to axially position gear 334 with gear 336. Notch 375 cooperates with gear 336 to limit relative rotation of gear 334 relative to gear 336 as will be described in greater detail hereafter.

Gear 336 transmits torque received via coupler 342 to gear 338 (shown in FIG. 4). Gear 336 generally includes body 380 and hub 382. Body 380 includes teeth 384 and coupler detent 386. Teeth 384 circumferentially extend about body 380 and are configured to intermesh with corresponding teeth of gear 338 (shown in FIG. 4).

Coupler detent 386 constitutes a depression, bore or other opening extending at least partially into body 380 and configured to receive end 352 of coupler 342 to connect end 352 to gear 336. Like coupler detents 366, coupler detent 386 constitutes an elongate radially extending slot configured to permit radially inward movement of end 352 as end 350 of coupler 342 is rotated relative to end 352 to twist coupler 342 when coupler 342 is ceasing or reducing transmission of the torque between gears 334 and 336. Because detent 386 permits radial inward movement of end 352 during twisting of coupler 342, detent 386 lessens stress upon end 352 and gear 336. In other embodiments, detent 386 may alternatively constitute a cylindrical bore or other openings. Although gear 336 is illustrated as including a single detent 386, in other embodiments, gear 336 may include multiple detents within body 380.

Hub 382 facilitates connection of gear 336 to gear 334 and retention of coupler 342 between gears 334 and 336. Hub 382 generally includes recessed surfaces 390, projection 392 and prongs 394. Recessed surfaces 390 face in an axial direction and abut raised surface 370 of gear 364 along a junction to axially space body 380 of gear 336 from body 360 of gear 334 when gears 334 and 336 are connected to permit capturing of coupler 342 between gears 334 and 336. Gears 334 and 336 move relative to one another when torque is not being fully transmitted between gears 334 and 336 by coupler 342 along this junction. In the particular embodiment illustrated, the junction formed between gears 334 and 336 extends beneath a central portion of the torsion spring of coupler 342. In other words, torsion spring 342 overlies the junction. As a result, the assembly of gears 334, 336 and coupler 342 is facilitated and a likelihood of coupler 342 becoming caught at the juncture of gears 334 and 336 is reduced.

Projection 392 axially projects beyond surfaces 390 and is configured to receive between shoulders 374 and against recessed surface 372 of hub 362 of gear 334. Projection 392 abuts one of shoulders 370 to limit rotation of gear 334 relative to gear 336 to an angle of less than 360 degrees when torque is not being fully transmitted between gears 334 and 336 by coupler 342. In one particular embodiment, shoulders 370 are circumferentially spaced from one another and projection 392 is configured such that gear 334 is permitted to rotate a maximum of 83 degrees about axis 368 relative to gear 336 which will produce 15.3 mm compliant distance at pick tire 314. As a result, a time during which torque is not transmitted between gears 334 and 336 and during which compliant coupler 342 is twisted to absorb such torque is limited to prevent damage to coupler 342. In other embodiments, the notch or cutout provided between shoulders 374 and the size or dimensions of projections 392 may be altered such that the rotation of gear 334 relative to gear 336 is limited by different angular extents. In still other embodiments, the notch 375 provided by recessed surfaces 372 and shoulders 374 as well as projection 392 may be omitted.

Prongs 394 axially project to recessed surfaces 390 and are configured to extend through bore 363 of gear 334 so as to resiliently engage an opposite side of gear 334 to releasably connect gear 336 to gear 334. Prongs 394 resiliently urge recessed surfaces 390 against raised surface 370 to axially retain gears 334 and 336 to one another so as to capture coupler 342 axially therebetween with ends 350 and 352 received within detents 366 and 386, respectively. Prongs 394 facilitate efficient assembly of gears 334, 336 and coupler 342 to reduce manufacturing complexity and cost.

In other embodiments, gears 334 and 336 may be permanently or releasably connected to one another by other methods. For example, in other embodiments, gears 334 and 336 may be connected to one another by one or more fasteners extending therebetween. In still other embodiments, gears 334 and 336 may be connected to one another by adhesives, welding or other resilient inter-engagement structures, such as prongs 394.

Overall, gears 334, 336 and coupler 342 enable relatively easy incorporation of compliant coupler 342 into drive train 318 (shown in FIG. 4) with a reduced number of parts and less complex assembly. Gears 334 and 336 further enable a preload of coupler 342 to be selectively adjusted for varying conditions. At the same time, the notch 375 provided between shoulders 370 receiver projection 392 permit control of the extent to which gear 334 rotates relative to gear 336 when the transmission of torque between gears 334 and 336 is reduced or ceased by coupler 342.

In other embodiments, gears 334 and 336 may be switched such that gear 336 is in meshing engagement with gear 318 and gear 334 is in meshing engagement with gear 338. In still other embodiments, ends 350 and 352 of compliant coupler 342 may be connected to gears 334 and 336 in other fashions other then detents 366 and 386. In still other embodiments, projection 392 and the cutout provided between shoulders 370 may be omitted.

Although the present disclosure has been described with reference to example embodiments, workers skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the claimed subject matter. For example, although different example embodiments may have been described as including one or more features providing one or more benefits, it is contemplated that the described features may be interchanged with one another or alternatively be combined with one another in the described example embodiments or in other alternative embodiments. Because the technology of the present disclosure is relatively complex, not all changes in the technology are foreseeable. The present disclosure described with reference to the example embodiments and set forth in the following claims is manifestly intended to be as broad as possible. For example, unless specifically otherwise noted, the claims reciting a single particular element also encompass a plurality of such particular elements.