Title:
PRINTER WITH SHEET RETURNING MECHANISM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A printer has a head for printing on a sheet, a storage for storing a plurality of sheets in a stacked condition; and a transfer for sending a piece of sheet from the storage to the head sequentially and returning the piece of sheet from the head to the storage. The transfer returns the piece of sheet that was previously sent to the head, to the storage when no more printing data is stored in the printer. The storage includes a rear wall that abuts an edge of the sheet being returned to the storage from the head. At least one projection is formed on an inner surface of the rear wall. A top surface of the projection is inclined such that the top surface at a distal end of the projection is lower than the top surface at a root of the projection, and a bottom surface of the projection is substantially horizontal or inclined such that the bottom surface at the distal end of the projection is lower than the bottom surface at the root of the projection. The movement of the sheet being returned to the storage from the head is stopped by the projection.



Inventors:
Asada, Tetsuo (Nagoya-shi, Aichi, JP)
Application Number:
11/554691
Publication Date:
05/03/2007
Filing Date:
10/31/2006
Assignee:
BROTHER KOGYO KABUSHIKI KAISHA (Nagoya-shi, JP)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CICCHINO, PATRICK D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BAKER BOTTS LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A printer comprising: a head for printing on a sheet; a storage for storing a plurality of sheets in a stacked condition; and a transfer for sending a piece of sheet from the storage to the head sequentially and returning the piece of sheet from the head to the storage; wherein the storage includes a rear wall that abuts an edge of the sheet being returned to the storage from the head; at least one projection is formed on an inner surface of the rear wall, a top surface of the projection is inclined such that the top surface at a distal end of the projection is lower than the top surface at a root of the projection, and a bottom surface of the projection is substantially horizontal or inclined such that the bottom surface at the distal end of the projection is lower than the bottom surface at the root of the projection.

2. The printer as defined in claim 1, wherein the projection is formed at an upper portion of the rear wall.

3. The printer as defined in claim 1, wherein a cross sectional area of the projection along a plane that is parallel to the rear wall is reduced from the root to the distal end of the projection.

4. The printer as defined in claim 1, wherein a plurality of the projections is formed on the rear wall.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to Japanese Patent Application No. 2005-317050 filed on Oct. 31, 2005, and the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference into the present application.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a printer for printing on a sheet. The printer of the present invention is a generic name of a device comprising: a head which prints characters, graphics, photographic images or the like on a sheet; a storage which stores a plurality of sheets to be printed in a stacked condition; and a transfer which sends a piece of sheet from the storage to the head. Not only a printer with a single function, but also a copying device, a facsimile device, a composite device (or a multifunction device) and the like comprising the head, the storage and the transfer are also the printer of this application.

2. Description of the Related Art

In order to speed up printing operation, there has been developed a printer which sends a piece of sheet from the storage to the head sequentially. In this type of the printer, it may happen that no printing data is stored in the printer at a timing when the piece of sheet is moving towards the head. If the printing data for printing on the sheet is null when the piece of sheet is being sent towards the head, then the sheet being sent towards the head should be returned to the storage. In order to return the sheet, there has been developed a printer having a transfer which sends the piece of sheet from the storage to the head sequentially and returns the piece of sheet from the head to the storage. This type of printer is disclosed in Japanese Patent Application Laid Open Publication No. 2002-283637.

The storage has a rear wall, and an edge of the sheet being returned to the storage from the head abuts the rear wall. When the movement of the sheet is stopped by the rear wall, the sheet being returned to the storage is stored in the storage again. The returned sheet may be used for figure printing.

However, it sometimes happens that returning speed of the sheet is so fast that the sheet being returned to the storage leaps over the rear wall of the storage. When the sheet being returned to the storage leaps over the rear wall of the storage, the sheet is not returned to the storage, and the sheet cannot be used for future printing. The sheet that leaps over the rear wall of the storage prevents fixture proper operation of the printer.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore necessary to develop a technology which prevents the sheet being returned to the storage from leaping over the rear wall of the storage.

A printer of the invention includes a head for printing on a sheet; a storage for storing a plurality of sheets in a stacked condition; and a transfer for sending a piece of sheet from the storage to the head sequentially and returning the piece of sheet from the head to the storage. The storage includes a rear wall. An edge of the sheet being returned to the storage from the head abuts the rear wall and movement of the sheet being returned to the storage is stopped by the rear wall. In order to prevent the sheet being returned to the storage from leaping over the rear wall of the storage, at least one projection is formed on an inner surface of the rear wall

It is preferred that a top surface of the projection is inclined such that the top surface at a distal end of the projection is lower than the top surface at a root of the projection, and a bottom surface of the projection is substantially horizontal or inclined such that the bottom surface at the distal end of the projection is lower than the bottom surface at the root of the projection.

The projection formed on the inner surface of the rear wall works as a stopper for stopping further movement of the sheet being returned to the storage. As shown in FIG. 30, when the projection 5c is formed on the inner surface 5a of the rear wall 5b, and the bottom surface 5e of the projection 5c is inclined such that the bottom surface 5e at the distal end 5f of the projection 5c is lower than the bottom surface 5e at the root 5g of the projection 5c, the edge PE of sheet P being returned to the storage S tends to abut the bottom surface 5e of the projection 5c. The sheet P tends to move from the distal end 5f to the root 5g, being guided by the bottom surface 5e of the projection 5c The sheet P being returned to the storage S tends to move as shown in P1→P2→P3 and the edge PE of the sheet P being returned to the storage S tends to move as shown in PE1→PE2→PE3 and reaches the root 5g of the projection 5c. When the edge PE of the sheet P reaches the root 5g of the projection 5c, further movement of the sheet P is prohibited, and the sheet P is prevented from leaping over the rear wall 5b of the storage S.

Even if the bottom surface 5h of the projection 5c is substantially horizontal, same phenomenon can be obtained, and the projection 5c works as the stopper for preventing the sheet P from leaping over the rear wall 5b of the storage S.

When the edge PE of the sheet P being returned to the storage S abuts a top surface 5d of the projection 5c, the movement of the sheet P may not be stopped even though the edge PE reaches the root 5i of the top surface 5d. However, the sheet P abuts the bottom surface of another projection located above before leaping over the rear wall 5b, therefore, leaping over of the sheet P is prevented by the projections 5c. It may be preferred that a plurality of projections 5c is formed on the inner surface 5a of the rear wall 5b.

The top surface 5d of the projection 5c is inclined such that the top surface 5d at the distal end 5f of the projection 5c is lower than the top surface 5d at the root 5i of the projection 5c. Therefore, the sheet that is located above the projection 5c may slip down along the top surface 5d. The projection 5c does not prevent the plurality of sheets from being stored in the storage S in the stacked fashion.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing the entirety of a multifunction device of a first embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view in which a lower section case, excluding an upper section case, is viewed from the back;

FIG. 3 is a top view of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of a substantial part in which a paper cassette is installed in the multifunction device;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view showing an enlarged side view in the vicinity of a printing region;

FIG. 6 is a side view of the paper cassette and a supply unit;

FIG. 7 is a plan view of a cut-out section in which the paper cassette is installed in the multifunction device;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a printing unit in which a guide plate and platen on a back side thereof are removed;

FIG. 9 is a figure taken along the line IX-IX of FIG. 7;

FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram showing power transmission switching means;

FIG. 11 is a front view: showing a state in which modes are switched by the power transmission switching means;

FIG. 12 is a plan view showing a state in which the modes are switched by the power transmission switching means;

FIG. 13 is a figure showing power transmission in an intermittent feeding mode (first mode) when a sheet is fed;

FIG. 14 is a figure showing power transmission in the intermittent feeding mode at the time of printing;

FIG. 15 is a figure showing power transmission in a continuous feeding mode (second mode) when a sheet is fed;

FIG. 16 is a figure showing power transmission in the continuous feeding mode at the time of printing;

FIG. 17 is a figure showing power transmission in the continuous feeding mode when feeding a subsequent sheet P1;

FIG. 18 is a figure showing a sheet-discharging process in the continuous feeding mode;

FIG. 19 is a figure showing a sheet-returning process in the continuous feeding mode;

FIG. 20 is a functional block diagram of a control unit;

FIG. 21 is a flowchart for controlling the printing operation;

FIG. 22 is a flowchart for discharging or returning a sheet in the continuous feeding mode;

FIG. 23 is a perspective view of a first slider (first block) and a second slider (second block);

FIG. 24 is a perspective view in which the first block and the second block are combined;

FIG. 25 is a front view in which the first block and the second block are shallowly geared with each other;

FIG. 26 is a front view in which the first block and the second block are deeply geared with each other;

FIG. 27 is a simplified cross sectional view of the sheet cassette;

FIG. 28 shows the plurality of sheets stacked in the sheet cassette;

FIG. 29 shows another example of the plurality of sheets stacked in the sheet cassette;

FIG. 30 shows a detail of an example of a projection;

FIG. 31 shows another example of projections;

FIG. 32 shows another example of projections;

FIG. 33 shows another example of projections;

FIG. 34 shows another example of projections;

FIG. 35 shows another example of projections;

FIG. 36 shows another example of projections;

FIG. 37 shows another example of projections;

FIG. 38 shows another example of projections;

FIG. 39 shows another example of projection;

FIG. 40 shows another example of projection;

FIG. 41 shows another example of projection;

FIG. 42 shows another example of projection;

FIG. 43 is a perspective view of the entire multifunction device of a second embodiment;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

(First Embodiment)

The first embodiment which practices the present invention is described in detail with reference to the drawings. FIG. 1 shows a perspective view showing an exterior of a multifunction device 1 which comprises a facsimile function, print function, copy function, and scanner function. The multifunction device 1 comprises a sheet sending mechanism for sending a sheet and a printing mechanism for printing characters, graphics, photographic images or the like (generically referred to as “graphic pattern” hereinafter) on the sheet which is sent by the sheet sending mechanist and provides the sheet printed with the graphic pattern to a user.

The multifunction device 1 has a lower section case 2 and an upper section case 3. The lower section case 2 is substantially in the form of a box in which an upper surface thereof is opened. The upper section case 3 is connected to a left side face of the lower section case 2 via a hinge (not shown), and can be rotated from the position thereof shown in FIG. 1, in a direction of the arrow 202 around a rotation axis 200. When the upper section case 3 is rotated in the direction of the arrow 202, the inside of the lower section case 2 can be viewed from the outside. The lower section case 2 and the upper section case 3 are injection-molded articles made of synthetic resin.

It should be noted that in the following description an X-direction in FIG. 1 is referred to as “front-and-back direction”, a Y-direction is referred to as “horizontal direction”, and a Z-direction is referred to as “vertical direction”.

An operation panel 30 is disposed on an upper face front section of the upper section case 3. The operation panel 30 is provided with various buttons such as a numeric button, a start button, and a function section button so that various operations can be performed by pressing these buttons. The operation panel 30 is farther provided with a liquid crystal display (LCD) 31 on which the setting status of the multifunction device 1, various operation messages and the like are displayed according to need.

A scanner device 33 is disposed inside the upper section case 3. The scanner device 33 comprises a glass plate (not shown) for placing a script, a graphic pattern reading section (not shown) disposed directly below the glass plate, and a cover body 34 for covering an upper face of the glass plate. The cover body 34 can be rotated from the position thereof shown in FIG. 1, in a direction of the arrow 206 around a rotation axis 204. When the cover body 34 is rotated in the direction of the arrow 206, the glass plate is exposed so that a script can be placed on the glass plate. The graphic pattern reading section comprises a contact image sensor (CIS), which extends in the X direction in the figure, is guided by a rail which is not shown, and can reciprocally be moved in a direction of a Y-axis. The graphic pattern reading section uses the contact image sensor to read a graphic pattern on a script which is placed on the glass plate.

When the facsimile function is selected, information which is read by the graphic pattern reading section is transmitted to a facsimile device through a telephone line, the facsimile device being a transmission destination. When the copy function is selected, information which is read by the graphic pattern reading section is transmitted to the printing mechanism incorporated in the multifunction device 1, and the graphic pattern which is read by the graphic pattern reading section is printed on a sheet. When the scanner function is selected, information which is read by the graphic pattern reading section is transmitted to a computer which is not shown.

Position holding means is provided in order to rotate the upper section case 3 significantly around the rotation axis 200 and maintain the state where the interior of the lower section case 2 is exposed. The position holding means comprises a supporting rod (not shown) and a guide rail (not shown). One end of the supporting rod is installed in the vicinity a point 208 of the lower section case 2 and can be oscillated with respect to the lower section case 2. The guide rail extends in the Y-direction along a lower surface on the back edge of the upper section case 3. A groove extending in the Y-direction is formed on the guide rail. A guide pin is fixed on the other end of the supporting rod and inserted in the groove. An engaging section (not shown) for inhibiting the guide pin from sliding is formed in the vicinity of the point 208 of the groove. When the upper section case 3 is rotated significantly around the rotation axis 200, the guide pin of the supporting rod is buried in the engaging section of the guide rail, whereby the upper section case 3 is inhibited from rotating downward.

Next, the configuration of the sheet sending mechanism incorporated in the lower section case 2 is explained. As shown in FIG. 1, a paper cassette 5 is provided at the central section in the horizontal direction of the lower section case 2. The paper cassette 5 is configured such that it can be withdrawn with respect to an opening section 2a formed on a front surface of the lower section case 2. As shown in FIG. 6, a plurality of sheets P are stored in a stacked fashion in the paper cassette 5. Sheets, which are not printed with the graphic patterns, are stored in the paper cassette 5. A separating inclined surface 8, which is formed of a material having a high frictional coefficient, is prepared on a front wall of the paper cassette 5. When a supply roller 7, which is described later, is rotated in a counterclockwise direction, one piece of sheet P is taken out from the paper cassette 5 and sent to the printing mechanism incorporated in the lower section case 2. A sheet P, which is printed with the graphic pattern by the printing mechanism, is sent to a position located in an upper section of the paper cassette 5 by the sheet sending mechanism. The user can take out the sheet P, which is printed with the graphic pattern, from the opening section 2a shown in FIG. 1.

The sheet sending mechanism is stored in the lower section case 2. As shown in FIG. 4, the sheet sending mechanism comprises a supply unit 6, a sheet guide 9, a pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b, a tabular platen 11, and a pair of feed-out rolIers 21a, 21b. The printing mechanism is stored in the lower section case 2 as well. A printing unit 10 is disposed in an upper part of the platen 11. A space through which the sheet P can pass is secured between the printing unit 10 and the platen 11, and this space is a printing region 210.

The supply unit 6 comprises the supply roller 7. When the supply roller 7 is rotated in a counterclockwise direction, one piece of sheet P is taken out from the paper cassette 5 and the taken sheet is send to the right in FIG. 4. The sheet guide 9 extends in U shape and guides the sheet P. which is sent from the paper cassette 5 by the supply roller 7, toward a space between the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, and 20b. The pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b causes the sheet P to pass through the printing region 210 which is secured between the printing unit 10 and the platen 11, and sends the sheet P to a space between the pair of feed-out rollers 21a and 21b. The pair of feed-out rollers 21a, 21b sends the sheet P to the position located above the paper cassette 5. The pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b is positioned on an upstrean side of the printing unit 10 and platen 11, and the pair of feed-out rollers 21a, 21b is positioned on a downstream side of the printing unit 10 and platen 11.

The printing unit 10 sprays ink droplets onto the sheet P which passes through the space 210 between the printing unit 10 and the platen 11 to print the graphic pattern on the sheet P. The printing unit 10 sprays the ink droplets onto the sheet P to print the graphic pattern thereon while the sheet P passes through the printing region 210.

As shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 3, the printing unit 10 comprises a frame 39 formed of a metal plate, a carriage 13, a timing belt 25 which reciprocates the carriage 13 in the Y-direction, and a carriage motor 24 (“CR motor” hereinafter) for rotating the timing belt 25. As shown in FIG. 4, a printing head 12 is mounted on the carriage 13.

As shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 3, the frame 39 is disposed on the upper section of the paper cassette 5 on the back of the lower section case 2. The frame 39 is made of metal plate and comprises, as shown in FIG. 3 and FIG. 4, a bottom surface 39a extending in the Y-axis direction, a left wall 39b which is standing upward from a left end of the bottom surface 39a, a right wall 39c which is standing upward from a right end of the bottom surface 39a, a front side guide place 41 which connects the left wall 39b and the right wall 39c, and a backside guide plate 40 which connects the left wall 39b and the right wall 39c. The front side guide place 41 and the backside guide plate 40 extend in the Y-direction.

As shown in FIG. 7, the timing belt 25, which is wrapped around pulleys 25a and 25b, is disposed on an upper surface of the guide plate 41. The timing belt 25 extends in a main scanning direction (Y-axis direction). The carriage 13 is coupled on a part of the timing belt 25. As shown in FIG. 3, the pulley 25a is rotated by the CR motor 24. The carriage 13 and the printing head 12 are caused to reciprocate in the Y-direction by a reciprocal rotation of the CR motor 24.

As shown in FIG. 7, a linear encoder (encoder strip) 37 extending in the main scanning direction (Y-axis direction) is disposed on the upper surface of the guide plate 41. The linear encoder 37 detects the position of the carriage 13 in the Y-axis direction. The linear encoder 37 has a strip-like shape, and a control surface thereof is formed with slits which are disposed at regular intervals in the Y-axis direction. The control surface of the linear encoder 37 is disposed along a vertical surface.

As shown in FIG. 4, the platen 11 is fixed onto the bottom surface 39a of the frame 39. As shown in FIG. 6, a drive shaft 14 of the supply unit 6 is rotatably attached to the bottom surface 39a of the frame 39. The supply unit 6 comprises an arm 6a which is rotatable around the drive shaft 14, a torsion spring 38 which biases the arm 6a in a clockwise direction, the supply roller 7 which is rotatably attached to a front end of the arm 6a, and a mating gear train 50 for transmitting torque from the drive shaft 14 To the supply roller 7 (see FIG. 4).

Since the arm 6a is rotatable around the drive shaft 14, it does not interfere with a sliding motion of the paper cassette S. When the paper cassette 5 is pushed into the lower section case 2, the supply roller 7 contacts with the upper surface of the uppermost sheet P of the plurality of sheets stored in the paper cassette 5. When the supply roller 7 is rotated in a counterclockwise direction, the uppermost sheet P is taken out from the paper cassette S, guided by the sheet guide 9 and travels toward the space between the pair of feed-in rollers 20a and 20b. When the supply roller 7 is rotated in a clockwise direction, the sheet P that has been taken out from the paper cassette 5 is returned to the paper cassette 5.

As shown in FIG. 27, the paper cassette 5 (the storage) includes a rear wall 5b that abuts rear edges of sheets stacked in the paper cassette 5 The inner surface 5a of the rear wall 5b abuts the rear edge of the sheet being returned to the paper cassette 5 from the printing head 12.

As shown in FIG. 28 and Pig. 29, a plurality of projections 5c is formed on the inner surface 5a of the rear wall 5b. Each of the projections 5c extends horizontally on the inner surface 5a of the rear wall 5b. The projections 5c are distributed from an upper portion to a lower portion of the rear wall 5b. As shown in FIG. 30, a top surface 5d of each projection 5c is inclined such that the top surface 5d at a distal end 5f of the projection 5c is lower than the top surface 5d at a root 5i of the projection 5c. A bottom surface 5h of each projection 5c may be substantially horizontal. Alternatively, a bottom surface 5e of each projection 5c may be inclined such that the bottom surface 5e at the distal end 5f of the projection 5c is lower than the bottom surface 5c at the root 5g of the projection 5c.

In the normal printing operation, the sheet P is sent to right side in FIG. 28. In this specification, the right side in FIG. 28 is referred to the front side, and the left side is referred to the rear side.

It is important that at least one projection is formed at level that is higher than a height of the uppermost sheet when maximum number of sheets are stacked in the sheet cassette 5. When the height of the rear wall 5b is higher than the height of the stack of the maximum number of sheets, there may be a space between the highest projection 5c and the top edge of the rear wall 5b.

As shown in FIG. 28, the cross section of each projection 5c has a triangular shape. The cross section of projections 5c has a saw teeth shape. A cross sectional area of each projection 5c along a plane that is vertical and parallel to the rear wall 5b is reduced from the root to the distal end of the projection.

As shown in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5, both end sections of the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b are supported rotatably by the left wall 39b and right wall 39c of the frame 39. Both end sections of the pair of feed-out rollers 21a, 21b are supported rotatably by the left wall 39b and right wall 39c of the frame 39.

Of the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b, the feed-in roller 20a, which is positioned above, is rotated by a motor which is described later. The feed-in roller 20b, which is positioned below, is pressed against the feed-in roller 20a by a certain force. When the feed-in roller 20a rotates, the feed-in roller 20b also rotates with the rotation of the feed-in roller 20a. The feed-in roller 20a is a feed-in drive roller 20a, and the feed-in roller 20b is a feed-in driven roller 20b.

Similarly, of the pair of feed-out rollers 21a, 21b, the feed-out roller 21a, which is positioned below, is rotated by the motor which is described later. The feed-out roller 21b, which is positioned above, is pressed against the feed-out roller 21a by a certain force. When the feed-out roller 21a rotates, the feed-out rollers 21b also rotates with the rotation of the feed-out roller 21a. The feed-out roller 21a is a feed-out drive roller 21a, and the feed-out roller 21b is a feed-out driven roller 21b.

When the feed-in drive roller 20a rotates in a clockwise direction in a state where a sheet P is held between the pair of feed-in rollers 20a and 20b, the sheet P is sent to the printing region 210 between a lower surface of the printing head 12 and the platen 11. When the feed-in drive roller 20a rotates in a clockwise direction and the feed-in driven roller 20b rotates in a counterclockwise direction, the sheet is sent to the printing region 210. This situation is called “forward rotation of the pair of feed-in rollers”. The power of the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b to send the sheet P is stronger than the power of supply roller 7 to send the sheet P. The speed of the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b to send the sheet P is faster than the speed of the supply roller 7 to send the sheet P. Since the power of the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b to send the sheet P is stronger than the power of the supply roller 7 to send the sheet P, when a piece of sheet P is sent by both the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b and the supply roller 7, the sheet P is sent at the sending speed of the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b. The sheet P slides with respect to the supply roller 7. The sending speed of the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b to send the sheet P is equal to the sending speed of the pair of feed-out rollers 21a, 21b to send the sheet P.

On the lower surface of the printing head 12, a plurality of nozzles for injecting black ink droplets, a plurality of nozzles for injecting cyan ink droplets a plurality of nozzles for injecting magenta ink droplets, and a plurality of nozzles for injecting yellow ink droplets are formed. The printing head 12 is mounted on the carriage 13 and moves in the Y-direction. The sheet P. onto which the ink droplets are sprayed, is sent in the upper section of the platen 11 in the X-direction by the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b. By combining the sending of the sheet P in the X-direction and the sending of the printing head 12 in the Y-direction, any color of ink droplets can be sprayed onto any position on the sheet P. and thereby any graphic pattern can be printed on the sheet P.

As shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 3, ink cartridges 26 for supplying inks to the printing head 12 are stored in the lower section case 2. The ink cartridges 26 are configured so as to be detachable from above with respect to a storage section 27 (see FIG. 2 and FIG. 3) which is formed in a position far away from the rotation axis 200 shown in FIG. 1. In the present embodiment, an ink cartridge storing the black ink, an ink cartridge storing the cyan ink, an ink cartridge storing the magenta ink, and an ink cartridge storing the yellow ink are used. More ink cartridges may be used. Each of the ink cartridges 26 and the printing head 12 is connected with each other by a flexible ink tube 28.

As shown in FIG. 3, an ink receiving section 35 is provided in a section which is located outside the width of a sheet P to be conveyed (short side of the sheet P) and in the vicinity of the left wall 39b of the frame 39. A maintaining mechanism 36 is provided in a section which is located outside the width of the sheet P to be conveyed and in the vicinity of the right wall 39c of the frame 39.

The printing head 12 periodically discharges ink to the ink receiving section 35 in order to prevent clogging of the nozzles. The ink, which is discharged to prevent the clogging, is received at the ink receiving section 35.

When the printing head 12 is not used, the printing head 12 is moved to a position facing the maintaining mechanism 36. In this position, a cap section 36a (see FIG. 8) covers a nozzle surface of the printing head 12 from below to prevent the ink from drying in the nozzles of the printing head 12. Moreover, at a required timing, a recovery process and the like are performed in which a suction pump (not shown) is activated to draw the ink from the nozzles and air bubbles are removed from a buffer tank (not shown) provided on the printing head 12. It should be noted that when the carriage 13 moves from a position facing the mechanism 36 toward the printing region 210 in a lateral direction (Y direction), cleaning of the printing head 12 is performed by wiping the nozzle surface thereof using a wiper blade 36b (see FIG. 8).

The carriage 13 travels, in the Y-direction, back and forth between a position existing in an upper section of the ink receiving section 35 and a position existing on an upper section of the maintaining mechanism 36. The position existing in the upper section of the ink receiving section 35 is called “first end”, and the position existing in the upper section of the maintaining mechanism 36 is called “second end”.

The feed-in drive roller 20a, feed-out drive roller 21a supply roller 7, and maintaining mechanism 36 are driven by the same motor (LF motor) 42.

As shown in FIG. 8, the LF motor 42 is disposed at a left end section of the frame 39. A shaft of the LF motor 42 penetrates through the left wall 39b of the frame 39 and extends to the outside of the frame 39. As shown in FIG. 9, a pinion 43a is fixed to the shaft of the LF motor 42. Gears 43b, 43c and 43d are rotatably supported outside of the left wall 39b.

As shown in FIG. 9, the gear 43b is geared with the pinion 43a. As shown in FIG. 10, the feed-in drive roller 20a is fixed to the gear 43b. When the LF motor 42 rotates, the feed-in drive roller 20a rotates. As shown in FIG. 9, the gear 43d is geared with the pinion 43a via the intermediate gear 43c. The feed-out drive roller 21a is fixed to the gear 43d. When the LF motor 42 rotates, the feed-out drive roller 21a rotates.

The gear 43b and the gear 43d rotate in the counter direction. Therefore, the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-out drive roller 21a also rotate in the counter direction. The feed-in drive roller 20a abuts on the top surface of the sheet P and the feed-out drive roller 21a abuts on the bottom surface of sheet P. Therefore, if the direction of rotation of the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-out drive roller 21a is reversed, the sending direction of the sheet P by the feed-in drive roller 20a and the sending direction of the sheet P by the feed-out drive roller 21a become the same direction.

The LF motor 42 is a DC motor and can rotate in both forward and reverse directions.

As shown in FIG. 10, a gear 101 is fixed to the feed-in drive roller 20a within a range located at a right end section of the feed-in drive roller 20a, i.e. the upper section of the maintaining mechanism 36. The gear 101 is geared with one of three gears 113, 114 and 115 disposed adjacent to the gear 101, and rotates one of the three gears 113, 114 and 115. Power transmission switching means 100 selects a gear to be engaged with the gear 101. A movement of the carriage 13 in the Y-direction is used to select the gear to be engaged with the gear 101 by means of the power transmission switching means 100.

When the gear 113 is engaged with the gear 101, and the LF motor 42 rotates in the reverse direction, the supply roller 7 is rotated in the forward direction When the gear 114 is engaged with the gear 101, and the LF motor 42 rotates in the forward direction, the supply roller 7 is rotated in the forward direction. When the gear 115 is engaged with the gear 01, the LF motor 42 moves the maintaining mechanism 36.

When the LF motor 42 rotates in the reverse direction, the feed-in drive roller 20a rotates in the reverse direction and in a direction of returning the sheet to the sheet guide 9. When the LF motor 42 rotates in the forward direction, the feed-in drive roller 20a rotates in the forward direction and in a direction of sending the sheet to the printing region 210. When the supply roller 7 rotates in the forward direction, the sheet is taken out from the cassette and sent to the sheet guide 9. When the supply roller 7 rotates in the reverse direction, the sheet is returned to the cassette 5.

When the LP motor 42 rotates in the forward direction in a state where the gear 113 is engaged with the gear 101, the pair of feed-in rollers 21a, 21b rotates in the forward direction. and the supply roller 7 rotates in the reverse direction. When the LF motor 42 rotates in the reverse direction in the state where the gear 113 is engaged with the gear 101, the pair of feed-in rollers 21a, 21b rotates in the reverse direction, and the supply roller 7 rotates in the forward direction. When the LF motor 42 rotates in the forward direction in a state where the gear 114 is engaged with the gear 101, the pair of feed-in rollers 21a, 21b rotates in the forward direction, and the supply roller 7 rotates in the forward direction.

As shown in FIG. 8, a rotary encoder 44 which rotates integrally with the gear 43b is provided. The amount of sheet P conveyed by the feed-in roller 20a can be detected by the rotary encoder 44. It should be noted that the CR motor 24 and LF motor 42 can be rotated in forward and reverse directions.

Next, the configuration of the power transmission switching means 100 is explained with reference to FIG. 10 and FIG. 11. The power transmission switching means 100 selects any of an intermittent feeding mode, a continuous feeding mode, and a maintenance mode. In the intermittent feeding mode, when the LF motor 42 rotates in the reverse direction, the supply roller 7 is rotated in the forward direction. In the continuous feeding mode, when the LF motor 42 rotates in the forward direction, the supply roller 7 is rotated in the forward direction. In the maintenance mode the torque of the LF motor 42 is transmitted to the maintaining mechanism 36.

In the intermittent feeding mode, when the LF motor 42 rotates in the reverse direction, the feed-in drive roller 20a rotates in a direction of returning the sheet to the sheet guide 9, and the supply roller 7 rotates in a direction of taking the sheet out from the cassette and sending it to the sheet guide 9. Thereafter, in the intermittent feeding mode, the LF motor 42 rotates in the forward direction. In the intermittent feeding mode, when the LF motor 42 rotates in the forward direction, the feed-in drive roller 20a rotates in a direction of sending the sheet to the printing region 210, and the supply roller 7 rotates in a direction. of returning the sheet to the cassette.

When the LF motor 42 rotates in the reverse direction in the intermittent feeding mode, the sheet is sent to the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b by the supply roller 7. Since the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b is rotated in the reverse direction, the sheet cannot enter between the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-in driven roller 20b. The front edge of the sheet is aligned with a contact line with which the feed-in drive roller and the feed-in driven roller contact. The pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b rotating in the reverse direction exerts a fiction providing the front edge of the sheet in a certain position. When the LF motor 42 rotates in the forward direction in the intermittent feeding mode, the sheet is sent to the printing region 210 by the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b. In this state, the sheet slides with respect to the supply roller 7.

In the continuous feeding mode, the LF motor 42 rotates in the forward direction the supply roller 7 rotates in the direction of taking out the sheet from the cassette and sending it to the sheet guide 9, and the feed-in drive roller 20a rotates in a direction of sending the sheet to the printing region 210.

As described above, the torque of the LF motor 42 is transmitted to the feed-in drive roller 20a via deceleration gear 43b. The gear 101 is fixed to a right end section of the feed-in drive roller 20a (upper section of the maintaining mechanism 36). A switching gear 102, which is always engaged with the gear 101, is provided at a position adjacent to the gear 101. The switching gear 102 is slidable with respect to a spindle 103 extending in the Y-axis direction.

A first block 104 (first slider) and a second block 105 (second slider) are slidable with respect to the spindle 103. The switching gear 102, first block 104, and second block 105 are slidable with respect to the spindle 103 independently of other members. The first block 104 contacts with or separates from the switching gear 102. The second block 105 contacts with or separates from the first block 104. The switching gear 102 and the first block 104 are rotatable with respect to the spindle 103, and the second block 105 is prohibited to rotate with respect to the spindle 103.

A surface with which the first block 104 and the second block 105 contact is inclined to the spindle 103. When the second block 10S approaches the first block 104, the first block 104 rotates around the spindle 103. An abutting piece 104a protruding upward is fixed to the first block 104. When the second block 105 approaches the first block 104 and the first block 104 rotates around the spindle 103, the abutting piece 104a moves from top to bottom, in FIG. 11.

As shown in FIG. 23 through FIG. 26, a plate-like engaging plate 104b is provided between a base section 104c of the first block 104 and the abutting piece 104a extending from the base section 104c in a radial outer direction. In the second block 105, a section facing the engaging plate 104b in the base section 105a is provided with a notch section 105b in which the engaging plate 104b is buried. One surface of the notch section 105b is formed as an abutting surface 105c inclining from the center of radius of the base section 105a to the outside the radius of same. Further, the second block 105 is provided with a pair of corner sections 105d extending in the radial outer direction from the base section 105a. The pair of corner sections 105d is provided so as to be able to abut on a bottom surface of the guide plate 41 on the downstream side so that the second block 105 does not rotate around the spindle 103. The base section 104c of the first block 104 is formed so as to be buried in an inner diameter of the base section 105a of the second block 105.

During a period between a state where the first block 104 and the second block 105 approach each other and the engaging plate 104b abuts against a section on the outer radius side in the abutting surface 105c of the notch section 105b (see FIG. 25) and a state where the space between the first block 104 and the second block 105 becomes narrow and the engaging plate 104b abuts against a section on the center side of the radius in the abutting surface 105c of the notch section 105b (see FIG. 26), the position of the first block 104 is forcibly caused to rotate in the direction of the arrow D (see FIG. 24). If the first block 104 rotates, the abutting piece 104a also rotates. When the first block 104 rotates in the direction of the arrow D, the abutting piece 104a moves from top to bottom in FIG. 11.

As shown in FIG. 10, a first biasing spring 106a is disposed around the spindle 103. The first biasing spring 106a presses the second block 105 in the direction of the arrow C. A second biasing spring 106b is disposed around the spindle 103. The second biasing spring 106b presses the switching gear 102 in the direction of the arrow E. The biasing force of the first biasing spring 106a is larger than the biasing force of the second biasing sp ng 106b.

As shown in FIG. 11, a first engaging step section 13a and a second engaging step section 13b are formed in the carriage 13. When the carriage 13 moves in the direction of the arrow E, the abutting piece 104a of the first block 104 is engaged with either the first engaging step section 13a or the second engaging step section 13b.

As shown in FIG. 8, a guide block 107 is fixed to the frame 39. A guide groove 109 is formed in the guide block 107, and the abutting piece 104a of the first block 104 is buried in the guide groove 109. As shown in FIG. 11, the guide groove 109 comprises a horizontal groove section 109a which is elongated in the direction indicated by the arrows C and E (Y axis), and an inclined groove section 109b which is communicated with a left end section of the horizontal groove section 109a. A regulating piece 110 which extends downward from an upper section of the guide block 107 is inserted in a central section of the inclined groove section 109b. The regulating piece 110 is elongated in the direction indicated with the arrows C and E. The inclined groove section 109b is provided with a stair-like first set section 111 and second set section 112. A first wall 216, which is provided with the first set section 111 and second set section 112, and a second wall 218 extending to the opposite side are formed on the inclined groove section 109b. The first set section 111 and the second set section 112 are formed on the first wall 216, while no set section is formed on the second wall 218.

As shown in FIG. 11, when the carriage 13 is located in a position facing the sheet P, the carriage 13 is away from the maintaining mechanism 36 and does not press the abutting piece 104a in the direction of the arrow E. In this state, the first biasing spring 106a causes the second block 105, first block 104 and switching gear 102 to slide along the spindle 103 in the direction of the arrow C. The abutting piece 104a is positioned at the first set section 111. This position is called “position 1” (Po1). At this moment, the switching gear 102 is engaged with the intermittent feeding gear 113.

When the carriage 13 moves in the direction of the arrow E, the first engaging step section 13a of the carriage 13 presses the abutting piece 104a in the direction of the arrow E. As a result, the switching gear 102, the first block 104, and the second block 105 are caused to slide along the spindle 103 in the direction of the arrow E. Since the first block 104 is pressed by the second block 105 from the right side, the abutting piece 104a is pressed against a lower wall (first wall 216) of the inclined groove 109b. When the carriage 13 presses the abutting piece 104a up to the position corresponding to the second set section 112, the abutting piece 104a is moved down to enter the second set section 112. The position where the abutting piece 104a enters the second set section 112 is called “position 2” (Po2). In the case of the position 2, the switching gear 102 is engaged with the continuous feeding gear 114. This state is shown in FIG. 10.

When the carriage 13 further moves in the direction of the arrow E, the first engaging step section 13a of the carriage 13 presses the abutting piece 104a in the direction of the arrow E. The pressed abutting piece 104a proceeds to the horizontal groove section 109a from the inclined groove section 109b. Once the abutting piece 104a enters the horizontal grove section 109a. the second engaging step section 13b of the carriage 13 presses the abutting piece 104a. When the abutting piece 104a is in the position immediately after entering the horizontal groove section 109a (this position is called “position 3” (Po3)), the switching gear 102 is engaged with the maintenance gear 115.

The switching gear 102, intermittent feeding gear 113, continuous feeding gear 114 and maintenance gear 115 are all spur gears, and a bevel gear 115a having a large diameter is fixed to a side surface of the maintenance gear 115. When the carriage 13 further moves from the position 3 (Po3) in the direction of the arrow E, a side surface of the switching gear 102 abuts on the bevel gear 115a, whereby the switching gear 102 is inhibited from moving any further in the direction of the arrow E and thus continues to be engaged with the maintenance gear 115. The abutting piece 104a is pressed by the second engaging step section 13b of the carriage 13 and then positioned at a back end section of the horizontal groove section 109a (right end section shown in FIG. 11 and FIG. 12). This position is called “position 4” (Po4) and is a home position (original position). In this state, the switching gear 102 and the first block 104 are separated from each other.

Contrary to the above state, when the carriage position 13 moves from the position 4 (Po4) in the direction of the arrow C, the abutting piece 104a moves from the horizontal groove section 109a to the inclined groove section 109b. At this moment, the abutting piece 104a is received by a step between the first engaging step section 13a and the second engaging step section 13b of the carriage 13, thus the abutting piece 104a moves above the regulating piece 110 of FIG. 11 in the direction of the arrow C. The abutting piece 104a abuts on a left inclined surface of the inclining groove section 109b shown in FIG. 11 while sliding on the regulating piece 110, thereafter moves along the left inclined surface (second wall 218) and then is engaged with the first set section 111. A set section does not exist on an upper wall (second wall 218) of the guide groove 109, thus the abutting piece 104a moves from the position 4 to the position 1.

After the carriage 13 moves to the right end in the E direction and then moves in the C direction, the abutting piece 104a moves from the position 1 to the position 2, from the position 2 to the position 3, from the position 3 to the position 4, and from the position 4 to the position 1. The carriage 13 repeats the movement of moving to the right end in the E direction and then moving in the C direction, while the abutting piece 104a repeats the cycle of moving from the position 12341. When the carriage 13 moves in the E direction to the position 1 and then in the C direction, the switching gear 102 is held at the position 1. When the carriage position 13 moves to the position 2 in the E direction and then in the C direction, the switching gear 102 is held in the position 2.

The position 3 (Po3) is both stand-by position and maintenance position. In a state where power is not applied to the multifunction device 1, the carriage 13 stops at an upper position of the maintaining mechanism 36 and the power transmission switching means 100 is at the position 3. When the power transmission switching means 100 is at the position 3, the maintenance gear 115 is geared with the feed-in drive roller 20a via the switching gear 102. When the LF motor 42 rotates in this state, the cap section 36a of the maintaining mechanism 36 rises and covers The nozzle surface of the printing head 12 from below. Accordingly, the ink is prevented from drying in the nozzles of the printing head 12. Moreover, the maintaining mechanism 36 is provided with a suction pump (not shown), and when the LF motor 42 rotates in the state where the power transmission switching means 100 is at the position 3 and the maintenance gear 115 is geared with the feed-in drive roller 20a via the switching gear 102, the LF motor 42 activates the suction pump. When the suction pump of the maintaining mechanism 36 is activated, air bubbles which are mixed in the buffer tank provided on the printing head 12 are removed, thus the ability of discharging the ink from the nozzles is maintained.

The position 1 (Po1) where the switching gear 102 is geared with the intermittent feeding gear 113 is configured such that, as shown in FIG. 13 and FIG. 14, the torque of the LF motor 42 is transmitted to the drive shaft 14 provided at a rear end of the arm 6a, via two intermediate gears 119a and 119b, and the supply roller 7 is rotated via the gear train 50. In this state, when the LF motor 42 rotates in the reverse direction, the supply roller 7 rotates in the forward direction.

The position 2 (Po2) where the switching gear 102 is geared with the continuous feeding gear 114 is configured such that, as shown in FIG. 15 through FIG. 17, the torque of the LF motor 42 is transmitted to the drive shaft 14 provided at the rear end of the arm 6a, via one intermediate gear 120, and the supply roller 7 is rotated via the gear train 50. In this state, when the LF motor 42 rotates in the forward direction, the supply roller 7 rotates in the forward direction.

As shown in FIG. 5, a roller 50 is disposed between the printing head 12 and the feed-out rollers 21a, 21b. The roller 50 presses the sheet P against the platen 11. Since the roller 50 is provided, the sheet P is not brought into contact slidingly with the nozzle surface of the printing head 12, thus the sheet P is prevented from being stained.

Furthermore, a sheet sensor 116 for sensing the presence of the sheet P is provided on an upstream side of the feed-in rollers 20a, 20b. The sheet sensor 116 detects a point of time at which the front edge of the sheet P reaches the-sheet sensor 116 and a point of time at which the back edge of the sheet P separates from the sheet sensor 116.

A control section (control means) of the multifunction device 1 is described next with reference to FIG. 20. The control section is for controlling the entire operation of the multifunction device 1.

The control section is configured as a computer comprising mainly as a CPU 300, ROM 301, RAM 302, and EEPROM 303, and is connected to an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) 306 via a bus 305.

The ROM 301 has stored therein a program and the like for controlling various operations of the multifunction device 1, and the RAM 302 is used as a storage region for temporally storing various data items which are used when the CPU 300 executes these programs.

An NCU (Network Control Unit) 317 is connected to the ASIC 306, and a communication signal which is inputted from a public circuit via the NCU 317 is demodulated by a MODEM 318 and then inputted to the ASIC 306. Furthermore, when the ASIC 306 transmits image data to the outside by means of facsimile transmission or the like, the image data is modulated by the MODEM 318 and then outputted to the public line via the NCU 317.

The ASIC 306 generates a phase excitation signal and the like which are communicated with, for example, the LF motor 42 in accordance with a command from the CPU 300. These signals are provided to a drive circuit 311 of the LF motor 42 or a drive circuit 312 of the CR motor 24, and a drive signal is communicated to the LF motor 42 or CR motor 24 via the drive circuit 311 or drive circuit 312 to control forward and reverse operation, stoppage and the like of the LF motor 42 and CR motor 24.

Further, the scanner device 33 (CIS, for example) for reading images or characters on a script, a panel interface 313 for performing transmission of signals with a keyboard 30a and a liquid crystal display (LCD) 31 of the operation panel 30, a parallel interface 315 for performing transmission of data with external equipment such as a personal computer via a parallel cable or USB cable, a USB interface 316, and the like are connected to the ASIC 306.

Moreover, a switch 118 for detecting a rotation position of a cam (not shown) of the maintaining mechanism 36, the sheet sensor 116 for detecting the front edge position and the back edge position of the sheet P when the sheet P is fed so as to approach the printing region 210 via the sheet guide 9, the rotary encoder 44 for detecting the amount of rotation of the feed-in roller 20a, the linear encoder 37 for detecting the position (present position) of the carriage 13 in the Y-direction, and the like are connected to the ASIC 306.

A driver 314 is for selectively discharging the ink from the printing head 12 at a predetermined timing. The driver 314 receives a signal, which is generated in the ASIC 306 on the basis of a drive control procedure outputted from the CPU 300 and is then outputted, and drive-controls the printing head 12.

Next, sending of sheets by means of the above control means and control of the printing operation are described with reference to the flowchart shown in FIG. 21. In the control shown in FIG. 21, a pattern of feeding the sheet P is changed to either the first mode or the second mode. In the first mode, a plurality of sheets are sent intermittently to the printing region 210. The first mode is an accurate mode in which printing precision is prioritized. In the second mode, a plurality of sheets is sent to the printing region 210 continuously and sequentially. The second mode is a speedy mode in which the printing speed is prioritized.

When power is applied to the multifunction device 1, control is started. The user presses a mode setting button of the operation panel 30 (not shown) to select either the first mode or the second mode. When the user wishes to print precisely, the first mode is selected When the first mode is selected, the front edge of a sheet P, which is sent by the supply roller 7, is aligned with a contact line 212 (see FIG. 5) between the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b rotating in the reverse direction, in which state sending of the sheet P is stopped once. Even if the front edge of the sheet P is sent by the supply roller 7 such that the front edge of the sheet P is inclined with respect to the contact line 212 between the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b, the front edge of the sheet P is aligned with the contact line 212 between the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b. In a state where the front edge of the sheet P is aligned with the contact line 212 between the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b, the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b starts to send the sheet P toward the printing region 210. This timing is sent to the CPU 300, and the CPU 300 controls the printing head 12 on the basis of this timing. When the first mode (accurate mode) is selected, the front edge of the sheet P is not sent toward the printing region 210 in the inclined state, and the position of the front edge of the sheet P and the control on the printing head 12 are synchronized, whereby a desired graphic pattern is printed on a desired location of the sheet P.

The control section first checks the set mode (S1 in FIG. 21). The control section then determines whether the set mode is the accurate mode (intermittent feeding mode) (S2). If the set mode is the accurate mode (S2: yes), the flag is switched to the first mode (S3). and the power transmission switching means 100 is set to the accurate mode (S4). Specifically, the carriage 13, which is stopped at the stand-by position indicated by the Po3 in FIG. 12, is moved significantly to the printing region 210 in the direction of the arrow C. Accordingly, the first block 104 which is pressed by the biasing spring 106a is moved in the direction of the arrow C along the regulating piece 110 inside the inclining groove 109b shown in FIG. 11, then received by the first set section 111 and held at this position (position 1 (Po1). In this state, the switching gear 102 is geared with the intermittent feeding gear 113.

Once the switching gear 102 is geared with the intermittent feeding gear 113, rotation of the feed-in drive roller 20a is transmitted to the drive shaft 14 of the supply unit 6 via the intermediate gear 119a, 119b, as shown in FIG. 13. In this state, when the LF motor 42 is rotated in the reverse direction, the feed-in drive roller 20a is rotated in the reverse direction (counterclockwise direction in FIG. 13). On the other hand, the supply roller 7 is rotated in the forward direction (counterclockwise direction in FIG. 13) by the gear train 50 inside the arm 6a. When the supply roller 7 is rotated in the forward direction, the plurality of sheets P, which are stacked on the paper cassette 5, are caused to abut on a separating member (not shown) of the separating inclined surface 8 provided at the front edge of the paper cassette 5, the separating member having a high frictional coefficient. Then, only one uppermost sheet P is taken out from the paper cassette 5 and sent toward the sheet guide 9 (S5 in FIG. 21). At this moment, since the feed-in roller 20a is rotated in the reverse direction (counterclockwise direction in FIG. 4), the sheet P which is sent by the supply roller 7 cannot pass through between the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-in driven roller 20b. The front edge of the sheet P is aligned with the contact line 212 (see FIG.5) between the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b. Even if the front edge of the sheet P sent by the supply roller 7 is inclined, the front edge of the sheet P is aligned with the contact line 212 between the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b.

Next, as shown in FIG. 14, the LF motor 42 rotates in the forward direction through an appropriate number of steps, the feed-in drive roller 20a rotates in the forward direction (clockwise rotation in FIG. 14), and the sheet P between the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-in driven roller 20b is sent toward the printing region 210. The sheet P is sent by a predetermined distance after the LF motor 42 started rotation in the forward direction. As a result, the front edge of the sheet P is set at a print starting position inside the printing region 210. This process is called “heading process”.

The supply roller 7 rotates in the reverse direction (clockwise direction in FIG. 14) during the heading process. However, since the power of the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-in driven roller 20b sending the sheet P is set larger than the power of the supply roller 7 sending the sheet P, the sheet P is sent by the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b, and the arm 6a is oscillated in the counterclockwise direction around the drive shaft 14. When the arm 6a is oscillated in the counterclockwise direction around the drive shaft 14, the power for pressing the sheet against the supply roller 7 weakens, thus the power for sending the sheet is not transmitted to the sheet even when the supply roller 7 is rotated. The sheet is caused to slide with respect to the supply roller 7 and released from the supply roller 7.

Subsequently, when a printing command is inputted from an external computer or the like, which is not shown, the carriage 13 is caused to move in the Y-direction and at the same time the ink is discharged from the nozzles of the printing head 12 onto a surface of the sheet P to print a graphic pattern thereon (S6 in FIG. 21). While the carriage 13 moves in the Y-direction, the supply roller 7, the feed-in rollers 20a, 20b and the feed-out rollers 21a, 21b are stopped, therefore, the sheet P is stopped. When the carriage moves from one end to the other end in the Y-direction, and a printing operation along a single path of the carriage is completed, the feed-in rollers 20a, 20b and the feed-out rollers 21a, 21b are rotated in the forward direction by the predetermined distance, which is equal to a length of the printing region along X axis printed by the single path of the carriage. Movement of the carriage 13 and rotation of the feed-in rollers 20a, 20b and the feed-out rollers 21a, 21b are performed alternately.

When the feed-in rollers 20a, 20b and the feed-out rollers 21a, 21b are rotated in the forward direction during the heading operation or printing operation, the drive shaft 14 is rotated in the reverse direction, and the arm 6a is oscillated upward. The power for pressing the sheet against the supply roller 7 weakens, thus the power for sending the sheet is not transmitted from the supply roller 7 to the sheet. Although the supply roller 7 rotates in a reverse direction while the feed-in rollers 20a, 20b and the feed-out rollers 21a, 21b rotate in the forward direction, the sheet is caused to slide with respect to the supply roller 7 and the sheet P is sent in the forward direction.

In this heading process, the front edge of the sheet P was aligned with the contact line 212 between the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b when the LF motor 42 started the forward rotation. Therefore the position of the front edge of the sheet P during the forward rotation of the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b is determined from elapsed time since the timing when the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b started the forward rotation. When the operation of the printing head 12 is controlled based on that timing, the position of the font edge of the sheet P and the operation of the printing head 12 are synchronized, whereby a desired graphic pattern is printed on a desired location of the sheet P.

When printing one page is finished (S7 in FIG. 21: yes), feeding out of the printed sheet P is started (S8 in FIG. 21). In doing so, the LF motor 42 rotates in the forward direction through the number of steps (S9 in FIG. 21: yes), and then the rotation of the LF motor 42 is stopped (S10 in FIG. 21). As a result, feed-in rollers 20a, 20b and the feed-out rollers 21a, 21b rotate a predetermined number of times in a direction of sending the sheet and then stops. The printed sheet P is sent out to the upper position in the cassette 5.

Next, it is determined whether printing data for a sheet (next page), which is described hereinafter, is present or not (S11). If the print data exists or is stored (S11 in FIG. 21: yes), the process from the step S5 through S11 is repeated. In this manner, the sheets P are sent to the printing region 210 one by one. In this mode, a color picture, for example, can be printed accurately.

Next, a case in which the second mode is set is explained. When the user needs printing at high speed, the second mode is set.

When it is determined in the step S2 in FIG. 21 that the set mode is not the first mode, the flag is set to the second mode (S12 in FIG. 21). Specifically, the flag showing the second mode is stored in a predetermined region inside the RAM 302. Next, the power transmission switching means 100 is set to the second mode (S13). In the second mode, the quality of a print it not important, but the printing speed is prioritized, thus a plurality of sheets P are continuously and sequentially sent to the printing region 210. Therefore, the power of the feed-in roller 20a and the feed-in roller 20b sending the sheets is set larger than the power of the supply roll 7 sending the sheets, and the circumferential speed of the feed-in roller 20a is set higher than the circumferential speed of the supply roller 7. The speed reduction ratio between the continuous feeding gear 114 and the intermediate gear 120 shown in FIG. 15 through FIG. 17 is set such that the circumferential speed of the feed-in roller 20a is higher than the circumferential speed of the supply roller 7.

In order to set the power transmission switching means 100 to the second mode (Sl3 in FIG. 21), the carriage 13 is moved a predetermined amount in the direction of the arrow E, as shown in FIG. 12. Accordingly, as shown in FIG. 11, the abutting piece 104a is pressed in the E direction at the first engaging step section 13a of the carriage 13. The abutting piece 104a is positioned at the second set section 112 (position 2, Po2) while moving the carriage 13 in the direction of the arrow E. By positioning the abutting section 104a at the second set section 112 (position 2, Po2), even if the carriage 13 is moved in the direction of the arrow C thereafter, the abutting piece 104a can be held at the second set section 112. During the period in which the abutting piece 104a is positioned at the second set section 112, the switching gear 102 and the continuous feeding gear 114 are geared with each other, as shown in FIG. 15 through FIG. 17, and the power is transmitted to the drive shaft 14 of the rear end of the arm 6a via one intermediate gear 120.

As shown in FIG. 15, when the LF motor 42 rotates in the forward direction in order to start feeding a sheet P, the feed-in drive roller 20a rotates in the forward direction (clockwise direction in FIG. 15), and the supply roller 7 also rotates in the forward direction. The supply roller 7 separates only one uppermost sheet P and sends it to the sheet guide 9 (S14 in FIG. 21). When the front end section of the sheet P reaches the contact line 212 between the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-in driven roller 20b, the front end of the sheet P is drawn into between the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-in drive roller 20b since the feed-in roller 20a is rotated in the forward direction, and is then sent toward the printing region 210.

When one piece of sheet P is held between the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b and is in contact with the supply roller 7 (see FIG. 16), since the power of the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b sending the sheet is set larger than the power of the supply roller 7 sending the sheet, and the circumferential speed of the feed-in drive roller 20a is set higher than the circumferential speed of the supply roller 7, thus the sheet P is sent toward the printing region 210 at the sending speed of the feed-in roller 20a. The sheet P slides with respect to the supply roller 7. Since the preceding sheet is sent by the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b with faster speed, and the subsequent sheet is sent by the supply roller 7 with slower speed, there is provided a space between the preceding sheet and the subsequent sheet when the preceding sheet and the subsequent sheet reach the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b.

In the continuous feeding mode, the printing operation onto the sheet P (S15 in FIG. 21) is started when the amount of rotation of the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b reaches a predetermined amount after the front edge of the sheet P is sensed by the sheet sensor 116. When the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b rotates by the predetermined amount after the sheet sensor 116 detected the front edge of the sheet P, the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b stops rotation. At this timing the sheet is located at a print start position. The printing operation is stared (S15 in FIG. 21) when the sheet is adjusted at the print start position.

In the printing operation, the carriage 13 is caused to move in the Y-direction and at the same time the ink is discharged from the nozzles of the printing head 12 onto a surface of the sheet P to print a graphic pattern thereon (SI5 in FIG. 21). While the carriage 13 moves in the Y-direction, the supply roller 7, the feed-in rollers 20a, 20b and the feed-out rollers 21a, 21b are stopped, therefore, the sheet P is stopped. When the carriage 13 moves from one end to the other end in the Y-direction, and a printing operation along a single path of the carriage is completed, the feed-in rollers 20a, 20b and the feed-out rollers 21a, 21b are rotated in the forward direction by the predetermined distance, which is equal to a length of the printing region along X axis printed by the single path of the carriage. Movement of the carriage 13 and rotation of the feed-in rollers 20a, 20b and the feed-out rollers 21a, 21b are performed alternately.

Next, when a command indicating that print data to be printed on the next page (subsequent sheet) exists is received from the external device (S16: yes), the process proceeds to S17. In this case, when printing of the preceding sheet P is ended (S17: yes), it is determined whether the current flag is the first mode or the second mode (Sl8). When the fag is the second mode (S18: second), the LF motor 42 continues to rotate in the forward direction and the feed-in drive roller 20a, feed-out drive roller 21a and supply roller 7 are continued to rotate in the forward direction (S19). The controller has an additional procedure that starts continuous rotation of the supply roller 7 and the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b at a timing when printing operation of a preceding sheet is completed (S17). Accordingly, the preceding sheet (preceding page) is discharged, and the following sheet (subsequent page) is conveyed to the print starting position. When the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b rotates by the predetermined amount after the sheet sensor 116 detected the front edge of the subsequent sheet P, the sheet is positioned at the print starting position. The supply roller 7 and the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b continues to rotate without stoppage until the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b rotates by the predetermined amount after the sheet sensor 116 detected the front edge of the sheet P. After this process, the step returns to S15, and printing on the next page (subsequent page) is started.

This continuous rotation of the supply roller 7 and the pair of the feed-in roller makes the printing operation for a plurality of sheets faster. However, it is not essential, and the cyclic change that the supply roller 7 and the feed-in rollers 20a, 20b rotate and stop alternately may be repeated continuously. In this case, the same cyclic change is repealed while the contact point between the roller and the sheet moves from the front edge of the preceding sheet through the intermediate portion and the back edge of the preceding sheet to the front edge of the subsequent sheet. The same cyclic change of the supply roller 7 and the feed-in rollers 20a, 20b is repeated while the printing operation for a plurality of sheets is performed in the cautious feeding mode.

FIG. 17 shows a state in which the preceding sheet P is discharged and the following sheet P is conveyed to the print starting position. During the period in which the second mode is set, the plurality of sheets P are continuously and sequentially fed/discharged without temporarily stopping sending of the sheet P by the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-in driven roller 20b, thus high-speed printing process can be performed.

Next, a case in which control is performed when the print data for the subsequent sheet does not exist during execution of the second mode is explained. In step S16 in FIG. 2 ,when the command indicating that the print data to be printed on the next page exists is not received (S16: no), that is, when the print data for the subsequent sheet P no longer exist, the sheet P (sheet) positioned at the printing region 210 is conveyed a predetermined distance in a feed-out direction (S20). This predetermined distance is approximately three printing lines. When the sheet is sent by the predetermined distance (S20: yes), the flag is switched to the first mode (S21). In this state, printing is executed on the sheet P positioned in the printing region 210 (S17). When this printing operation is ended (S17: yes), the current flag is questioned (S18).

When it is determined in the step S18 that the flag is the first mode (S18: first), the process control is executed on the subsequent sheet (S30). The detail of this control is shown in the flowchart of FIG. 22.

First, at a point of time when the printing of the one page of the preceding sheets P is ended (when the S17 in FIG. 21 is YES), it is determined whether the sheet sensor 116 is ON or not (S31 in FIG. 22). Specifically, it is determined whether the front edge section of the subsequent sheet P passes a section where the sheet sensor 16 exists. When the sheet sensor 116 is OFF (S31: no), that is, when the front edge of the subsequent sheet P does not yet reach the sheet sensor 116 (see FIG. 18), the first half of the subsequent sheet P is positioned within the sheet guide 9 and the last half of this sheet P is positioned within the cassette 5, thus the processing time is reduced if the subsequent sheet P1 is returned to the paper cassette 5. Further, when a sheet P which is not recorded is discharged through the printing region 210, it involves an effort to set the sheet P1 in the paper cassette 5 again, thus it is preferred that the subsequent sheet P1 be returned to the paper cassette 5.

In the above case, in order to return the subsequent sheet P1 to the paper cassette 5, the supply roller 7 is rotated in the reverse direction (S32 in FIG. 22). In this case, the carriage 13 is moved in the direction of the arrow E in FIG. 12 from the position of the printing region and the abutting piece 114a is positioned at the position 1 (Po1). In this position, the switching gear 102 is geared with the intermittent feeding gear 113, as shown in FIG. 14. When the LF motor 42 is rotated in the forward direction, the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-out driven roller 21a are rotated in the forward direction, thus the preceding sheet P is sent in the feed-out direction. On the other hand, the supply roller 7 is rotated in the reverse direction. When the supply roller 7 is rotated a predetermined amount in the reverse direction (S33 in FIG. 22) and then stopped (S34), the subsequent sheet P1 is returned to the stacking position in the paper cassette 5 (see FIG. 19).

The projection formed on the inner surface of the rear wall works as a stopper for stopping reward movement of the sheet being returned to the paper cassette 5. As shown in FIG. 30, when the projection 5c is formed on the inner surface 5a of the rear wall 5b of the paper cassette 5, and the bottom surface 5e of the projection 5c is inclined such that the bottom surface 5e at the distal end 5f of the projection 5c is lower than the bottom surface 5e at the root 5g of the projection 5c, the edge PE of the sheet P being returned to the paper cassette 5 tends to abut the bottom face 5e of the projection 5c. The sheet P tends to move from the distal end 5f to the root 5g, being guided by the bottom surface 5c of the projection 5c. The sheet P being returned to the paper cassette 5 tends to move as shown in P1→P2→P3 and the edge PE of the sheet P being returned to the paper cassette 5 tends to move as shown in PE1→PE2→PE3 and reaches the root 5g of the projection 5c. When the edge PE of the sheet P reaches the root 5g of the projection 5c, further movement of the sheet P is prohibited, and the sheet P is prevented from leaping over the rear wall 5b of the paper cassette 5.

Even if the bottom surface 5h of the projection 5c is substantially horizontal, same phenomenon can be obtained, and the projection 5c works as the stopper for preventing the sheet P from leaping over the rear wall 5b of the paper cassette 5.

When the edge PE of the sheet P being returned to the storage S abuts a top surface 5d of the projection 5c, the movement of the sheet P may not be stopped even though the edge PE reaches the root 5i of the top surface 5d. However, the sheet P abuts the bottom surface of another projection located above before jumping over the rear wall 5b, therefore, jumping over of the sheet P is prevented by the projections 5c. It is preferred that a plurality of projections 5c is formed on the inner surface 5a of the rear wall 5b.

When a plurality of projections is distributed from an upper portion to a lower portion of the rear wall 5b as shown in FIG. 28 and FIG. 29, jumping over of the sheet P is prevented regardless the number of sheets stacked in the sheet cassette 5. When a number of the sheets is small, lower projections work as stoppers, and when a number of the sheets is large, higher projections work as stoppers.

The top surface 5d of the projection 5c is inclined such that the top surface 5d at the distal end 5f of the projection 5c is lower than the top surface 5d at the root 5i of the projection 5c. Therefore, as shown in FIG. 28 and FIG. 29, the sheets that are located above the projection 5c may slip down along the top surface 5d The projections 5c do not prevent the plurality of sheets from being stored in the stacked fashion.

At a point of time when printing of one page of the preceding sheet P is ended (when S17 in FIG. 21 is YES), when the sheet sensor 116 is ON (S31 in FIG. 22: yes), the front edge section of the subsequent sheet P1 passes the position where the sheet sensor 116 is present. In this case, the LF motor 42 is rotated in the reverse direction, the supply roller 7 is rotated forward, and the feed-in drive roller 20a is rotated in the reverse direction (S35 in FIG. 22). When executing S35 in FIG. 22, the abutting piece 114a is positioned at the position 1 (Po 1) and is in a connection state shown in FIG. 13. In this state, the LF motor 42 is rotated a predetermined amount (S36 in FIG. 22), and the front edge of the subsequent sheet P1 is aligned with the contact line 212 between the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-in driven roller 20b. In this state, the rotation of the LF motor 42 is stopped once and the rotation of the feed-in roller 20a and of the supply roller 7 is also stopped (S37 in FIG. 22). Subsequently, by rotating the LF motor 42 in the forward direction and the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-out drive roller 21a are rotated in the forward direction to discharge the sheet P1. In this state, the supply roller 7 is rotated in the reverse direction (see FIG. 19), thus when the supply roller 7 is rotated a predetermined amount in the reverse direction (S39), a subsequent sheet P2 which follows the sheet P1 is returned to the paper cassette 5.

It should be noted that, as shown in FIG. 16, the distance from a contact line 214 between the stacked sheets P on the paper cassette 5 and the supply roller 7 to the contact line 212 between the feed-in drive roller 20a and feed-in driven roller 20b along the sheet guide 9 is L1, and the distance from the contact line 214 between the stacked sheets P on the paper cassette 5 and the supply roller 7 to the separating member in the separating inclined surface 8 is L2.

In a case of the continuous feeding operation, at the moment when the back edge of a preceding sheet P is removed from the contact line 214 between the sheet P and the supply roller 7, the subsequent sheet P1 is conveyed by the rotation of the supply roller 7, thus the distance L2 becomes a lapping amount (overlapping amount) along the direction of conveyance of the preceding sheet P and a subsequent sheet P1. The difference between the L2 and L1 is set so as t to be longer than a predetermined value, and the difference between the circumferential speed V1 of the feed-in roller 20a and the circumferential speed V2 of the supply roller 7 (V1>V2) (V1−V2) is set so as to be at least a predetermined value, whereby when the back edge of the preceding sheet P passes through the contact line 212 between the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-in driven roller 20b, the front edge of the subsequent sheet P1 does not reach the contact line 212 between the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-in driven roller 20b. Specifically, when passing through between the feed-in drive roller 20a and the feed-in driven roller 20b, an appropriate space (sheet interval) can be formed between the back edge of the preceding sheet P and the front edge of the subsequent sheet P1. Therefore, even when a plurality of sheets P are fed/conveyed continuously, all print data corresponding to each sheet P can be printed completely in the printing region 210. Specifically, in the printing region 210, the back edge of the preceding sheet P and the front edge of the subsequent sheet P1 do not overlap with each other, thus printing is not performed on the space between the both sheets. In the above case, when the back edge of the preceding sheet P is removed from the supply roller 7 and the conveyed by only the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b, control is performed such that a supply process for the subsequent sheet P1 is started by the supply roller 7, whereby an effect is obtained in which the above sheet interval can be obtained more securely.

According to the present invention, as described above, in the configuration in which the sheets P which are stacked on the paper cassette 5 can be supplied to the sheet guide 9 one by one by the supply roller 7, and this supplied sheet P is conveyed to the printing region 210 by the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b, the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b is configured by the feed-in drive roller 20a driven by the LF motor 42 and the feed-in driven roller 20b pressurized by the feed-in drive roller 20a Further, the power of the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b sending the sheets is set larger than the sending power of the supply roller 7, and the circumferential speed of the feed-in drive roller 20a is set higher than the circumferential speed of the supply roller 7. Moreover, the control means is provided so that control is performed such that, when the print data for the subsequent sheet P1 exists, the feed-in roller 20a and the supply roller 7 are continuously rotary driven in the same direction. Therefore, the plurality of sheets P can be continuously and successively conveyed to the printing region 210 and printed continuously and successively, thus an effect is obtained in which the printing operation on the plurality of sheets P can be executed at high speed.

Further, the feed-in drive roller 20a and the supply roller 7 are configured so as to be rotary driven by the single drive motor (LF motor) 42, thus an effect is obtained in which a configuration for feeding and supplying the sheets can be made simple.

In the present embodiment, since the front end of the arm 6a is provided with the supply roller 7, drawing operation of the paper cassette 5 does not obstruct the supply roller 7. Further, when a piece of sheet is in contact with the feed-in dive roller 20a and the supply roller 7, the arm 6a is oscillated, whereby the supply roller 7 is prevented from obstructing the pair of feed-in rollers 20a, 20b sending the sheets.

Since the power transmission switching means 100 is provided, switching can be performed between an intermittent feeding operation for positioning the cut sheets one by one and sending them to the printing region 210, and a high-speed feeding operation for continuously and successively sending the plurality of cut sheets. The operation for this switching is executed using the movement of the carriage 13, thus excess mechanisms are not required.

As shown in FIG. 31, both the top surface and the bottom surface of each projection may be flat. As shown in FIG. 32 and FIG. 33, the top surface may be curved. FIG. 32 shows a convex top surface and FIG. 33 shows a concave top surface.

As shown in FIG. 34, the bottom surface of each projection may be inclined. Alternatively, the bottom surface may extend horizontally as shown in FIG. 35.

As shown in FIGS. 36 to 38, a plurality of projections 5c may be formed only in a vicinity of the top edge of the rear wall 5b.

As shown in FIGS. 39 to 42, only one projection may be enough for preventing the sheet from jumping over the rear wall of the sheet cassette 5.

In the above embodiment, projections or projection 5c are formed integrally with the rear wall 5b. Instead, projection or projections that is formed independently from the rear wall may be fixed to the rear wall.

The printer that can practice the invention is not limited to ink jet printer. Any type of printer, for instance, laser printer may also practice the invention.

The sheet that has been taken out from the paper cassette 5 may be returned to the paper cassette 5 in a various situation. The invention may be adopted regardless the reason of returning the sheet to the sheet cassette. The sheet storage may not be a cassette.

(Second Embodiment)

Hereinafter, only the differences between the first embodiment and the second embodiment are described and the overlapping explanations are omitted.

The multifunction device 1 in the second embodiment comprises, as shown in FIG. 43, the lower section case 2 in which a first lower section case 2a and a second lower section case 2b are stacked. An opening section 2c is formed on a front side of the first lower section case 2a and a first paper cassette is inserted therein such that it can be drawn. As shown in FIG. 43, an opening section 2d is formed on a front side of the second lower section case 2b and a second paper cassette 5B is inserted therein such that it can be drawn.

The present invention may be adopted in the first cassette and/or the second cassette 5B.