Title:
Ribbon printer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A ribbon printer assembly and method which allows for margin-less printing is disclosed. The ribbon printer assembly includes a printer media having a first and second side, first side comprises a printable portion and the second side includes an adhesive. The ribbon printer also includes a backing, wider than the printer media that is temporarily affixed to the adhesive on the printer media. The printer assembly may also include a printer engine which is configured to print along the entire width of the printer media and a spooling mechanism which is configured to secure the backing that supplies the printer engine with the backing and printer media.



Inventors:
Saunders, Craig (Rocky River, OH, US)
Stephan, Gary Robert (Seven Hills, OH, US)
Application Number:
12/008342
Publication Date:
07/24/2008
Filing Date:
01/10/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H75/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, ANTHONY H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FAY SHARPE LLP (Cleveland, OH, US)
Claims:
1. A consumer directed ribbon printer assembly comprising: a printer media having printable portion and an affixed portion, where said affixed portion is affixed to a carrier; a backing temporarily fixed to said affixed portion of said printer media; and a print engine configured to print across substantially the entire width of the printer media.

2. A consumer directed ribbon printer assembly product comprising: a printer media having a first and second side, said first side comprising a printable portion and said second side including a bonding agent; a backing at least as wide as said printer media, said backing being adapted to temporarily affix to said bonding agent on said printer media; a printer engine configured to print substantially along the entire width of said printer media; and a supply mechanism configured to secure said backing and printer media and equip said printer engine with said backing and printer media.

3. The assembly according to claim 2, further comprising an outer shell enclosing said printer engine.

4. The assembly according to claim 2, wherein said bonding agent is configured to remain on said printer media when separated from said backing, enabling said printer media to affix to other associated surfaces.

5. The assembly according to claim 2, further comprising a software program configured to interact with a user interface allowing a user to create designs to print on said printer media.

6. The assembly according to claim 2, wherein said printing engine is configured to print in one or more colors.

7. The assembly according to claim 2, wherein said printing engine is configured to print in said printer media's negative space.

8. The assembly according to claim 2, wherein said printing engine is configured to print on said printable portion while potentially overlapping ink onto said backing over the edge of said printer media.

9. The assembly according to claim 2, where said printing engine is configured to print on said printable portion while stopping short of printing on the edge of said printable portion.

10. The assembly according to claim 2, where said printing engine is configured to print on said printable portion while printing up to the edge of said printable portion.

11. The assembly according to claim 2, further comprising an ink cartridge configured to supply said print engine with ink for printing.

12. The assembly according to claim 11, wherein said ink cartridge is a multiple color ink cartridge.

13. The assembly according to claim 11, wherein said ink cartridge is a single color ink cartridge.

14. The assembly according to claim 2, wherein said assembly receives information from an associated computer via a digital input.

15. The assembly according to claim 2, wherein said supply mechanism is a spool.

16. The printing substrate for printing a substantially continuous design on ribbon comprising: a ribbon having a first side and a second side, said first side being a printing face and said second side being an adhesive face; a backing with a width wider than said ribbon; and a bonding agent joining said second side of said ribbon and said backing.

17. The printing substrate according to claim 16, wherein said backing is made of paper coated with a parting agent.

18. The printing substrate according to claim 16, wherein said ribbon is made, at least in part, of acetate.

19. The printing substrate according to claim 16, wherein said ribbon is made, at least in part, of cotton.

20. The method of margin-less printing on a printable ribbon comprising: supplying a print engine with printable substrate, said printable substrate comprising a ribbon, a backing and a adhesive binding said ribbon and said backing, where the lateral edges of said backing are spaced further apart than the lateral edges of said ribbon; and printing on said substrate via said print engine where a design is printed substantially overlapping the lateral edges of said ribbon allowing for ink to be printed on said backing.

21. The method according to claim 20, wherein supplying said print engine is done via a spooling mechanism which is configured to center the ribbon for printing.

22. The method according to claim 20, wherein said design is printed on the part of said ribbon that is not the subject.

23. The method according to claim 20, further comprising using compatible software in order to create said design.

24. The method according to claim 20, wherein said design is communicated to said print engine via a digital input.

Description:

BACKGROUND

This disclosure relates to a method and consumer product for printing decorative ribbon. More particularly, this disclosure relates to a method and apparatus for printing ribbon decorations.

While the disclosure is particularly directed towards margined or margin-less printing of decorative ribbons and will thus be described with specific reference thereto, it will be appreciated that the disclosure may have usefulness in other fields and applications. For example, this disclosure may be used with various types of printing and designing.

By way of background, there are many products on the market with generic decorative design. A consumer may walk into almost any gift store and purchase items that display commonly used messages, such as “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Anniversary”. With the aid of computers, many consumers have learned to design their own decorative paper based products. Many of these products display a user-designed, personalized greeting. These products include party invitations, name cards, post cards, business cards, etc.

One common limitation of this style of printing is that printer limitations will not allow a design to encompass the whole width array of the paper. Because of printer limitations, printing can only take place up to the margins of the paper. This leaves a space on the decorative paper where no ink can be printed.

Therefore, there is a need in the industry for a consumer oriented margin-less printing method and apparatus. Furthermore, there is a need in the industry for a substrate that will enable such consumer margin-less printing. The present disclosure contemplates a new method and apparatus that resolves the above referenced difficulties and others.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The method and apparatus for a ribbon printer assembly is provided. This disclosure will allow for a margin-less printing system for ribbons and other decorative stationery products appropriate for consumer use.

In one aspect of the disclosure, the apparatus includes a ribbon printer assembly comprising a printer media having a first and second side. The first side includes a printable portion and the second side includes a bonding agent. The assembly also includes a backing proportionally wider than the printer media. The backing is adapted to temporarily affix to the adhesive on the printer media. The assembly also includes a printer engine which is configured to print along the entire width of the printer media and a supply mechanism which is configured to secure the backing and supply the printer engine with the backing and printer media.

In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, the assembly includes an outer shell encapsulating the printer engine.

In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, the backing is a paper based material coated with a parting agent.

In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, the assembly includes a software program configured to interact with a user interface allowing a user to create designs which may be printed on the printer media.

In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, the printing engine is configured to print in color.

In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, the printing engine is configured to print in negative space on the printer media.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the present disclosure, the assembly includes a printing engine that is configured to print on the printable portion of the printer media with or without leaving a margin, thereby overlapping ink onto the backing.

In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, the assembly includes an ink cartridge which is configured to supply the print engine with ink for printing.

In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, the assembly may receive printing commands from an associated computer via a universal serial bus (USB) port, Bluetooth, Firewire, Ethernet connection, etc.

In another aspect of the disclosure, the system includes a printing substrate for printing a continuous design on a ribbon which comprises a ribbon having a first side and a second side. The first side is a printing face. The printing substrate also includes a backing with a width proportionally wider than the ribbon and an adhesive joining the second side of the ribbon to the backing.

According to another aspect of the disclosure, the printing substrate includes an adhesive that remains on the ribbon when separated from the backing, enabling the ribbon to adhere to an associated surface after the ribbon is separated from the backing.

In another aspect of the disclosure, the method includes a method for margin or margin-less printing on a printable ribbon which comprises supplying a print engine with a printable substrate. The printable substrate comprises a ribbon, a backing, and an adhesive binding for the ribbon and the backing, where the lateral edges of the backing are spaced further apart than the lateral edges of the ribbon. The method also includes printing on the substrate via a print engine where the design is printed overlapping the lateral edges of the ribbon allowing for ink to printed on the backing.

In another aspect of the disclosure, the method includes supplying the print engine via a spooling mechanism which is configured to center the ribbon for printing.

In another aspect of the present disclosure, the method includes the design being printed in the negative space of the ribbon.

In yet another aspect of the disclosure, the method includes using compatible software in order to create said design.

In another aspect of the disclosure, the method includes the design being communicated to the print engine via USB, Bluetooth, Firewire, or any other known connection means.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The presently described embodiments exist in the construction, arrangement and combination of various parts of the device and steps of the method whereby the objects contemplated are attained as hereinafter more fully set forth, specifically pointed out in the claims and illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates the ribbon printer assembly;

FIG. 2 illustrates an example the substrate for printing a continuous design; and

FIG. 3 illustrates another example of the substrate for printing a continuous design.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawings wherein the showing are for purposes of illustrating the disclosed embodiments only and not for purposes of limiting the same. FIG. 1 provides an overall view of the system in which the present disclosure may be incorporated. A ribbon printer assembly A is shown. The ribbon printer assembly includes a spooling mechanism 10, a printing substrate 12, a printer engine 14, an ink cartridge 16, a USB port 18, and an outer shell 20. It should be understood that this represents but one embodiment of the ribbon printer assembly and the present disclosure could be incorporated in a variety of different manners.

In operation, as described in greater detail below, the presently described embodiments include a method and apparatus for margin-less printing. The present disclosure allows for printing on a ribbon assembly without a margin, thereby enabling a printer to print on the entire printable portion of a decorative ribbon. This assembly also allows for the printer to print on the entire decorative portion without spilling ink onto the printer assembly itself.

Still referring to FIG. 1, the spooling mechanism 10 is generally used to store the printing substrate 12. Therefore the printing substrate 12 is wound onto the spooling mechanism 10 in a manner in which the spooling mechanism 10 can supply the print engine 14 with the printing substrate 12. However, it should be noted that the printed may be supplied with substrate via a variety of methods. Theses methods include z-folding and feeding individual ribbons to the printer. Spooling is but one form in which the printer may be supplied with substrate.

It is shown in FIG. 1 that the spooling mechanism 10 is outside of the outer shell 20. In this embodiment, it may be more convenient for the spooling mechanism 10 to be loaded and reloaded with printing substrate 10. In this form the outer shell 20 does not need to be removed in order to do such. However, in other embodiments, the outer shell 20 encompasses the spooling mechanism along with the other parts of the printer assembly A.

The outer shell 20 encloses a printing engine 14 which is supplied ink by an ink cartridge 16. As shown, the printing substrate 12 may travel into the outer shell 20 through the printing engine 14 and then out of the outer shell 20 onto a storage tray 22 which is located outside of the outer shell 20.

In this embodiment, the print engine 14 and ink cartridge 16 are located inside of the outer shell 20. The ink cartridge 16 is located adjacent to the print engine 14. In this embodiment, the USB port 18 is located on the bottom portion of the outer shell. It should be appreciated however, that the USB port may be located anywhere on the printer assembly.

The spooling mechanism 10 is used in order to store the printing substrate 12 in a method which will allow for a continuous feed to the printer engine 14. Generally, the printing substrate will be wound about the spooling mechanism 10 at the spooling mechanism's core in several turns. The outermost end of the printing substrate 12 is available for feeding into the print engine 14. In this sense, the printing substrate 12 will unravel as it is pulled through the printing assembly turning the spooling mechanism 10. This allows for easy supply and storage of the printing substrate 12.

As the printing substrate 12 enters the outer shell 20, the printer engine 14 prints the desired design onto the substrate 12. The ink cartridge 16 supplies the printer engine 14 with ink. The ink cartridge 16 is generally situated near the printer engine 14 in order for easy access to the ink. The ink cartridge 16 may be a color ink cartridge which will allow for color ink to be used on the printing substrate 12.

The design that the printer engine 14 prints on the printing substrate 12 may be communicated via a computer (not shown). The computer may incorporate software which will communicate the user's design to the print engine 14. This communication may be made through a digital input. The digital input may include a Compact Disk (CD), a Secure Digital (SD) card, etc. In the exemplary embodiment a communication is established through a USB connection via the USB port 18. However a connection may also be established through Bluetooth, Firewire, or one of many other ways to establish a connection known in the art.

As the printing substrate 12 leaves the outer shell 20, it may be collected by a tray 22. The tray 22 may store the printing substrate 12 after it has its design incorporated onto it.

Now referring to FIG. 2 which is an example of the printing substrate with a design on it. As shown, the design need not be a common pattern that repeats. FIG. 2 gives an example of a design that, once placed on the ribbon, creates a landscape style picture.

As shown in FIG. 2, the printing substrate includes a ribbon 24 and backing 28. The ribbon 24 on one side has a design 26 and the back side has a bonding agent which allows it to stick to the backing 28. The bonding agent may be an adhesive. However, the ribbon may be fixed to the backing by electro-static or any other means in the art. As shown, the ribbon is not as wide as the backing. A margin 30, 32 of backing 28 exists adjacent each edge 34,36, of the ribbon 24. In this form a design 26 may be printed on the ribbon 24, right up to its edges 34,36, and overlapping onto the backing margins 32, 30. The backing 28 may have some ink overlapped onto it. This will allow for margin-less printing, or stated another way, printing with a design that may or may not encompass the entire first side of the ribbon 24.

As shown, it is not necessary for the ribbon 24 to be centered on the backing 28. This will allow for the ribbon 24 to have edges 34, 36 that may not be equally spaced from the backing's edges 38, 40. The spooling mechanism (FIG. 1, 10) and the print engine (FIG. 1, 14) may be configured to work with different placements of the ribbon 24 with respect to the backing 28. Additionally, different ribbon 24 and backing 28 placements may be preferred for different print engine 14 configurations.

The ribbon 24 may be separated from the backing, by simply peeling the ribbon 24 from the backing 28. This can be facilitated by a parting agent coating on the backing 28, from which the adhesive can be easily removed. This will allow for embodiments where the adhesive that binds the ribbon 24 to the backing 28 to remain on the ribbon 24. In this sense, the ribbon 24 maintains the adhesive and may be bound to another associated surface via the adhesive.

Now referring to FIG. 3, which is another example of the printing substrate. In this example, the design 26 is colored negative space of the ribbon 24. Negative space is the space around the subject of the design. When the ribbon 24 is white, coloring the negative space makes the design to appear to be white lettering. This embodiment that that white lettering states “Happy Birthday!”. The negative space is the colored space around the lettering. Of course, the user may have any number of designs, messages or phrases printed on the ribbon 24 using the concept of negative space.

The ribbon 24 may be constructed from many types of different materials including, but not limited to, acetate, polyester, cotton blends, mixtures, etc. The backing 22 may also be made from a variety of different materials, including paper.

The above description merely provides a disclosure of particular embodiments and is not intended for the purpose of limiting the same thereto. As such, the disclosure is not limited to only the above described embodiments. Rather, it is recognized that one skilled in the art could conceive alternate embodiments that fall within the scope of the invention.