Title:
SEPARATOR FOR SEPARATING ENVELOPES FROM A STACK
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A separator for separating envelopes from a stack has a feeding roller for exerting a force onto the envelope, urging it in a direction tangential to its circumference and parallel to a separating plane, and a deflecting surface for deflecting a leading edge of the envelope as it is urged in the tangential direction. The feeding roller and the deflecting surface bound a feeding path having a width, and starting at the separating position. Both feeding roller and deflecting surface include portions each extending from or from beyond opposite lateral sides of the feeding path inwardly across a lateral outer portion of the feeding path.



Inventors:
Feijen, Fransiscus Hermannus (Leeuwarden, NL)
Sytema, Herman (Terhorne, NL)
Application Number:
12/023433
Publication Date:
07/31/2008
Filing Date:
01/31/2008
Assignee:
Neopost Technologies (Bagneux, FR)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H3/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090189329FEEDER AND IMAGE FORMING APPARATUS INCLUDING THE SAMEJuly, 2009Kaseda
20080211163Medium delivery device, medium processing apparatus and check delivery deviceSeptember, 2008Sasaki
20090283953AUTOMATIC SHEET FEEDER WITH RETRACTABLE SHEET SUPPORTING STRUCTURENovember, 2009TU
20100013145SINGLE MOTOR DOCUMENT JOGGER/FEEDERJanuary, 2010Spall et al.
20070052160Delivery device in sheet-fed offset rotary printing pressMarch, 2007Maruyama et al.
20040217542Sheet media inverterNovember, 2004Aguirre Camacho
20090072476SHEET FEED DEVICEMarch, 2009Inoue et al.
20070040318Low-profile document feeding machine with hopper floor for column forming documentsFebruary, 2007Bakker et al.
20090008864Method of Separating Plate MaterialJanuary, 2009Maruyama et al.
20080231220Image Forming Apparatus Appropriately Setting Current Value for Driving MotorSeptember, 2008Tsujimoto et al.
20070235923Sheet feeder, feed roller system and methodOctober, 2007Keller



Primary Examiner:
MORRISON, THOMAS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SUGHRUE MION, PLLC (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
1. A separator for separating envelopes from a stack, comprising: a holder including a support, for holding the stack with an outer one of the envelopes in a separating position in a separating plane, at least one feeding roller having a circumference and positioned relative to the holder for contacting the envelope in the separating position in a contact area of its circumference, and for exerting a friction force onto the envelope for urging the envelope in a direction tangential to the circumference and parallel to the separating plane; and at least one deflecting surface spaced from the contact area in said tangential direction, the at least one deflecting surface extending at an angle to said separating plane at least from a position in the separating plane, for deflecting the leading edge of the envelope in the separating position as it is urged in said tangential direction along the separating plane and passes along the at least one deflecting surface; wherein the at least one feeding roller and the at least one deflecting surface bound a feeding path starting at said separating position, said feeding path having a width; wherein the at least one feeding roller includes two portions extending from or from beyond opposite lateral sides of the feeding path inwardly across at least lateral outer portions of the feeding path; wherein the at least one deflecting surface includes two portions extending from or from beyond opposite lateral sides of the feeding path inwardly across at least lateral outer portions of the feeding path; and wherein the deflecting surface has a friction coefficient uniform across its width.

2. A separator according to claim 1, wherein the at least one feeding roller extends continuously across the feeding path.

3. A separator according to claim 1, wherein the at least one deflecting surface extends continuously across the feeding path.

4. A separator according to claim 1, wherein the angle between the deflecting surface and the separating plane is between 85 and 140° and preferably between 110 and 130°.

5. A separator according to claim 1, wherein the friction coefficient of the deflecting surface relative to paper is smaller than 1.

6. A separator according to claim 1, wherein the friction coefficient of the deflecting surface relative to paper is larger than 0.4.

Description:

FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a separator for separating envelopes from a stack. Some examples of separators for separating sheets from a stack by bending sheets are described in European patent application 0 615 937, U.S. Pat. No. 6,883,798 and Japanese patent application 632 888 41. In such separators, a feeding roller is positioned relative to a sheet holder for contacting an outer sheet of a stack and for exerting a friction force onto the sheet for urging the sheet in a direction tangential to the circumference of the roller. A deflecting surface is located spaced from the contact area in the tangential direction and extends at an angle to the sheet to be separated for deflecting a leading edge of the sheet in the separating position as it is urged past the deflecting surface.

In such separators, the separation is enhanced by the stiffness of the sheets that refrains sheets from passing through the curved passage bound by the deflecting surface. To accommodate for variations in the stiffness of the sheets, it is described to provide moveably attached corner prowls and a pivotably mounted friction pads to ensure reliable separation of the outer sheet from a stack from the next sheets.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a simple separator, which is specifically suitable for separating envelopes from a stack.

According to the present invention, this object is achieved by providing a separator for separating envelopes from a stack, consisting of a holder including a support, for holding the stack with an outer one of the envelopes in a separating position in a separating plane, at least one feeding roller having a circumference and positioned relative to the holder for contacting the envelope in the separating position in a contact area of its circumference, and for exerting a friction force onto the envelope for urging the envelope in a direction tangential to the circumference and parallel to the separating plane; and at least one deflecting surface spaced from the contact area in the tangential direction, the at least one deflecting surface extending at an angle to the separating plane at least from a position in the separating plane, for deflecting the leading edge of the envelope in the separating position as it is urged in the tangential direction along the separating plane and passes along the at least one deflecting surface; wherein the at least one feeding roller and the at least one deflecting surface bound a feeding path starting at the separating position, the feeding path having a width; wherein the at least one feeding roller includes two portions extending from or from beyond opposite lateral sides of the feeding path inwardly across at least lateral outer portions of the feeding path; wherein the at least one deflecting surface includes two portions extending from or from beyond opposite lateral sides of the feeding path inwardly across at least lateral outer portions of the feeding path; and wherein the deflecting surface has a friction coefficient uniform across its width.

The feeding roller and deflection surface sections extending from both lateral edges of the feeding path inwardly contact the envelope to be separated in areas along opposite lateral side edges of the envelope. The edge areas of the envelope, where the front and rear walls of the envelope are connected to each other, are the stiffest areas of the envelope and therefore have the greatest resistance against bending. Accordingly, by bending the envelope around the feeding roller in these areas, the greatest resistance against passing the deflection surface is caused, which is favorable for avoiding double feeds in which an outer envelope to be separated entrains a next envelope. Also, engaging the envelopes in an area where the bending stiffness is greatest makes the separation relatively insensitive to variations in bending stiffness between envelopes and proper adjustment of the deflecting surface. Because the friction coefficient of the deflecting surface relative to the envelopes is uniform across its width, the friction force exerted on the envelope is affected only to a small extent by the width of the envelope.

Particular elaborations and embodiments of the invention are set forth in the dependent claims.

Further features, effects and details of the invention appear from the detailed description and the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of an example of a separator according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic side view of the separator of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is schematic front view of the separator of FIGS. 1 and 2; and

FIG. 4 is a schematic perspective view of another example of a separator according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The invention is first described with reference to the example shown in FIGS. 1-3.

The separator 1 according to the present example is equipped with a holder 3 for holding a stack of envelopes 2 with an outer envelope 5 in a separating position, a feeding roller 4 and a deflecting surface 7. The feeding roller 4 and the deflecting surface 7 bound a feeding path having a width, and starting at the separating position.

The holder 3 supports the stack 2 of envelopes to be separated. The holder 3 has lateral guides 11 (not shown in FIG. 1) for maintaining the envelopes positioned by contacting lateral edges of the envelopes. The guides 11 are adjustable in the lateral direction by rotating a threaded spindle 12, for adapting the mutual distance between the guides 11 to envelopes of different sizes. Stops 13 define the maximum outer position of the guides 11.

The stack of envelopes 2 is positioned with one edge against a front (downstream) wall of the holder 3 for aligning the envelopes in relation to the feeding roller 4 and the deflecting surface 7 and for refraining the envelopes from displacement in transport direction 6.

The holder 3 is may be positioned in an inclined orientation, such that the stack of envelopes is leans against the front wall of the holder by gravity.

The holder 3 is provided with a moveable bottom surface and with a biasing member (not shown) for urging the stack 2 against the feeding roller 4 while maintaining the outer envelope 5 generally in the separating plane 10. Thus, the outer envelope 5 of the stack 2 is brought in a separating position in a separating plane 10 at the top of the stack 2, and is positioned with its leading edge 8 just above the front wall of the holder 3 and near the deflecting surface 7.

The feeding roller 4 has a circumference and is positioned relative to the holder 3 for contacting the envelope 5 in a contact area of its circumference. The feeding roller 4 extends from beyond opposite lateral sides of the feeding path inwardly. It therefore contacts the envelope 5 in side areas 15, 16 along opposite side edges of the envelope 5.

Spaced from the contact position between feeding roller 4 and the envelope 5, the deflecting surface 7 is positioned, preferably as a continuation of the wall of the holder 3. As the feeding roller 4, the deflecting surface 7 extends in lateral direction from beyond the lateral sides of the feeding path inwardly across lateral outer portions of the feeding path.

In the embodiment shown, the feeding roller 4 and the deflection surface 7 both extends continuously from one lateral side of the feeding path inwardly across the feeding path to the other, opposite lateral side of the feeding path. In alternative embodiment, shown in FIG. 4, feeding rollers 24 and deflection surfaces 27 of a separator 21 extend along outer zones of the feeding path only.

Returning to the separator according to FIGS. 1-3, the feeding roller 4 is connected to a drive 9 for driving rotation of the roller 4 about a heart line thereof. When the roller 4 is rotated, a friction force is exerted onto the outer envelope 5 and urges the envelope in a feeding direction 6 tangential to the circumference of the feeding roller 4 and parallel to the separating plane 10.

For separating the envelope 5 from the stack 2, the feeding roller 4 is driven by the drive 9 in a sense of rotation indicated by an arrow 19, exerting a friction force onto the outer envelope 5 in the separating position in the feeding direction 6 tangential to the feeding roller 4 and parallel to the separating plane 10. This causes the outer envelope 5 to be displaced in the separating plane 10 along the feeding path in the feeding direction 6 and causes the leading edge 8 of the envelope 5 to be urged against the deflecting surface 7 located downstream in the feeding direction 6 of the contact area of the circumference of the feeding roller 4. Accordingly, the outer envelope 5 encounters resistance depending on the bending stiffness of the envelope 5 and increasing as the envelope is bent.

However, the friction force exerted by the feeding roller 4 onto the envelope 5 causes the envelope to be urged along the deflecting surface 7, which causes the envelope to bend out of the separating plane 10 as it is urged along the deflecting surface 7. The circumferential surface of the feeding roller 4 has a friction coefficient relative to paper that is larger than the friction between the envelope in the separating position and the next envelope in the stack of envelopes 2. The maximum friction force exerted on the next envelope in the stack 2 is therefore lower than the maximum friction force the feeding roller 4 can exert on the outer envelope 5 and insufficient for overcoming the resistance encountered when urged against the deflecting surface 7.

Since the feeding roller 4 and the deflection surface 7 engage the outer envelope 5 in its lateral side areas 15, 16, which are the stiffest areas of the envelope, a relatively high resistance is encountered when the outer envelope 5 contacts the deflection surface 7. This resistance can be overcome easily by the fraction force exerted by the feeding roller 4, but reliably refrains a next envelope, similarly subjected to bending forces in edge areas where it is relatively stiff, from being entrained by the outer envelope 5.

Furthermore, by bending the envelope along its side edges, it is ensured that envelope is bent over its entire width and not only in the more flexible centre part.

Since the feeding roller 4 and the deflection surface 7 extend across the feeding path without interruption, the effect of engaging envelopes in areas along the side edges is achieved for envelopes of widely varying sizes and the bending stiffness of the envelopes is used over the entire width of the envelope.

The deflecting surface 7 extends at an angle to the separating plane. The angle between the deflecting surface 7 and the separating plane is selected such that an outer envelope 5 entrained by the rotating feeding roller 4 is urged past the deflecting surface, whereas friction forces between envelopes, by which a next envelope is entrained are insufficient to overcome the resistance the next envelope encounters when it is deflected by the deflection surface. In practice, the angle between the deflecting surface and the separating plane is preferably between 85 and 140° and more preferably between 110 and 130°.

When envelopes of different width are processed, the relatively stiff side edge areas of the envelopes engage different sections of the deflection surface. By providing that the deflecting surface has a friction coefficient that is uniform across its width, the resistance encountered by envelopes being separated varies only little with width of the envelopes of the envelopes.

The friction coefficient of the deflecting surface relative to paper is preferably smaller than the friction coefficient between rubber and paper, which is about 1. More preferably, the friction coefficient of the deflecting surface relative to paper is smaller 0.8, so that it is smaller than the friction coefficient between rubber and paper by a substantial amount.

The friction coefficient of the deflecting surface relative to paper is preferably larger than the friction coefficient between metal and paper, which is about 0.1. to 0.4. More preferably, the friction coefficient of the deflecting surface relative to paper is larger than 0.5 or, more preferably, 0.6, so that it is smaller than the friction coefficient between metal and paper and larger than the friction coefficient between envelopes by a substantial amount.

The bending distance, that is the distance between the point of contact area of the circumference of the feeding roller 4 and the most remote point of contact between the envelope being separated and the deflecting surface 7, is preferably between 6 and 12 mm, and more preferably between 7.5 and 10.5 mm, for a feeding roller 4 having a diameter of 25 mm.

Once the leading edge 8 of the envelope 5 is deflected out of the separating plane 10, the leading edge 8 is for example led into a nip of a transport track 14 formed by pairs of opposite conveyor belts.

Other variations to the disclosed embodiments can be understood and effected by those skilled in the art in practicing the claimed invention, from a study of the drawings, the disclosure, and the appended claims.