Title:
SHEET INPUTTING MECHANISM WITH STOPPER AND AUTOMATIC SHEET FEEDER USING THE SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sheet inputting mechanism includes a first body, a first roller, a second body, a second roller and a stopper. The first roller is mounted on the first body. The second body is rotatably connected to the first body. The second roller is mounted on the second body. The stopper rotatably mounted on the first body is directly driven by the second body. When the second body is rotated to a first state relatively to the first body, the stopper is rotated to a closing state relatively to the first body to prevent a sheet from being moved to a sheet input position. When the second body is rotated to a second state relatively to the first body, the stopper is rotated to an open state relatively to the first body to allow the sheet to be moved to the sheet input position and in contact with the first roller.



Inventors:
Cheng, Sung-po (Hsinchu City, TW)
Chen, Chi-yao (Miaoli County, TW)
Application Number:
12/568196
Publication Date:
04/08/2010
Filing Date:
09/28/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H9/00
View Patent Images:



Foreign References:
JPH0672581A1994-03-15
JP2002220122A2002-08-06
Primary Examiner:
MCCLAIN, GERALD
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Muncy, Geissler, Olds & Lowe, P.C. (Fairfax, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A sheet inputting mechanism, comprising: a first body; a first roller mounted on the first body; a second body rotatably connected to the first body; a second roller mounted on the second body; and a stopper rotatably mounted on the first body and directly driven by the second body, wherein: when the second body is rotated to a first state relatively to the first body, the stopper is rotated to a closing state to prevent a sheet from being moved to a sheet input position; and when the second body is rotated to a second state relatively to the first body, the stopper is rotated to an open state to allow the sheet to be moved to the sheet input position and to be in contact with the first roller.

2. The mechanism according to claim 1, wherein the first body comprises an external frame for mounting the first roller and a middle frame for mounting the stopper, and the second body comprises a frame for mounting the second roller.

3. The mechanism according to claim 1, wherein a stopper guide hole for receiving and abutting one end of the stopper is provided in the second body, wherein a surface of the stopper guide hole abuts the one end of the stopper and drives the stopper to rotate as the second body is rotated relative to the first body.

4. The mechanism according to claim 3, wherein the stopper comprises a sheet stopping portion and a force receiving portion, and the stopper guide hole receives and abuts the force receiving portion, wherein: the force receiving portion is moved by the surface of the stopper guide hole to a first position, such that the sheet stopping portion is swung to a restricting position and enters the closing state, and the sheet stopping portion stops the sheet from being moved to the sheet input position; and the force receiving portion is moved by the surface of the stopper guide hole to a second position, such that the sheet stopping portion is swung to a retracted position and enters the open state to allow the sheet to be moved to the sheet input position and to be in contact with the first roller.

5. The mechanism according to claim 1, wherein a supporting shaft for abutting one end of the stopper is provided in the second body, wherein the supporting shaft abuts the one end of the stopper and drives the stopper to rotate as the second body is rotated relative to the first body.

6. The mechanism according to claim 5, wherein the supporting shaft is mounted on two extending arms of the second body.

7. The mechanism according to claim 5, wherein the stopper comprises a sheet stopping portion and a force receiving portion, and the supporting shaft abuts the force receiving portion, wherein: the force receiving portion is moved by the supporting shaft to a first position, such that the sheet stopping portion is swung to a restricting position and enters the closing state, and the sheet stopping portion stops the sheet from being moved to the sheet input position; and the force receiving portion is moved by the supporting shaft to a second position such that the sheet stopping portion is swung to a retracted position and enters the open state to allow the sheet to be moved to the sheet input position and to be in contact with the first roller.

8. The mechanism according to claim 1, wherein the first roller comprises a first roller portion and a second roller portion disposed separately from each other, and the stopper is disposed between the first roller portion and the second roller portion.

9. The mechanism according to claim 1, further comprising a guiding structure disposed on the first body and the second body to facilitate the relative movement between the first body and the second body.

10. An automatic sheet feeder, comprising: a supply tray for storing a sheet; a sheet passageway connected to the supply tray; a sheet inputting mechanism for feeding the sheet into the sheet passageway; and a transporting mechanism for transporting the sheet through and out of the sheet passageway; wherein the sheet inputting mechanism comprises: a first body; a first roller mounted on the first body and disposed at an inlet of the sheet passageway; a second body rotatably connected to the first body; a second roller mounted on the second body; and a stopper rotatably mounted on the first body, directly driven by the second body, and disposed between the inlet of the sheet passageway and the supply tray, wherein: when the second body is rotated to a first state relatively to the first body, the stopper is rotated to a closing state to prevent the sheet from being moved to the inlet of the sheet passageway; and when the second body is rotated to a second state relatively to the first body, the stopper is rotated to an open state to allow the sheet to be moved to the inlet of the sheet passageway.

11. The feeder according to claim 10, further comprising: a friction pad disposed at the inlet and may be in frictional contact with the first roller.

12. The feeder according to claim 10, further comprising: a scanning module, disposed opposite a scan region of the sheet passageway, for acquiring an image of the sheet being transported past the scan region.

13. The feeder according to claim 10, wherein the first body comprises an external frame for mounting the first roller and a middle frame for mounting the stopper, and the second body comprises a frame for mounting the second roller.

14. The feeder according to claim 10, wherein a stopper guide hole for receiving and abutting one end of the stopper is provided in the second body, wherein a surface of the stopper guide hole abuts the one end of the stopper and drives the stopper to rotate as the second body is rotated relative to the first body.

15. The feeder according to claim 14, wherein the stopper comprises a sheet stopping portion and a force receiving portion, and the stopper guide hole receives and abuts the force receiving portion, wherein: the force receiving portion is moved by the surface of the stopper guide hole to a first position, such that the sheet stopping portion is swung to a restricting position and enters the closing state, and the sheet stopping portion stops the sheet from being moved to the inlet of the sheet passageway; and the force receiving portion is moved by the surface of the stopper guide hole to a second position, such that the sheet stopping portion is swung to a retracted position and enters the open state to allow the sheet to be moved to the inlet of the sheet passageway.

16. The feeder according to claim 10, wherein the a supporting shaft for abutting one end of the stopper is provided in the second body, wherein the supporting shaft abuts the one end of the stopper and drives the stopper to rotate as the second body is rotated relative to the first body.

17. The feeder according to claim 16, wherein the supporting shaft is mounted on two extending arms of the second body.

18. The feeder according to claim 16, wherein the stopper comprises a sheet stopping portion and a force receiving portion, and the supporting shaft abuts the force receiving portion, wherein: the force receiving portion is moved by the supporting shaft to a first position, such that the sheet stopping portion is swung to a restricting position and enters the closing state, and the sheet stopping portion stops the sheet from being moved to the inlet of the sheet passageway; and the force receiving portion is moved by the supporting shaft to a second position, such that the sheet stopping portion is swung to a retracted position and enters the open state to allow the sheet to be moved to the inlet of the sheet passageway.

19. The feeder according to claim 10, wherein the first roller comprises a first roller portion and a second roller portion disposed separately from each other, and the stopper is disposed between the first roller portion and the second roller portion.

20. The feeder according to claim 10, further comprising a guiding structure disposed on the first body and the second body to facilitate the relative movement between the first body and the second body.

Description:

This application claims priority of No. 097138646 filed in Taiwan R.O.C. on Oct. 8, 2008 under 35 USC 119, the entire content of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to a sheet inputting mechanism and an automatic sheet feeder using the same, and more particularly to a sheet inputting mechanism and an automatic sheet feeder with a stopper.

2. Related Art

A supply tray of a conventional automatic sheet feeder may be configured to be inclined or horizontal. While the inclined supply tray may allow the loaded sheets to be fed and to slide into the pickup roller under the force of gravity, eliminating the need of pre-pickup rollers, the inclined supply tray increases the height of the scanner and negatively affects the aesthetics of the scanner. Such a scanner, in result, does not conform to the slim, space-saving design demanded by users. The horizontal or the substantially horizontal supply tray, however, does not occupy too much vertical space, but an additional set of sheet inputting mechanism for feeding in the sheets stacked on the horizontal supply tray has to be provided and used with the horizontal supply tray.

At present, the automatic sheet feeder available in the market picks up the sheet using a pick-up roller, which can swing up and down. In order to prevent multiple sheets from entering the sheet passageway at the same time, a sheet stopping mechanism has to be provided to restrict the position of the sheets on the tray and thus stops the sheets from directly entering the sheet passageway. This sheet stopping mechanism needs to work in conjunction with the operation of the pick-up roller so that the sheet stopping function can be achieved. The conventional sheet stopping mechanisms include a rotatable sheet stopping mechanism, a retractable sheet stopping mechanism and the like.

In each of these sheet stopping mechanisms, stoppers are disposed on two sides of the pick-up roller. The two stoppers also have to be linked together. Thus, a lot of components are used and the linking method is complicated. Meanwhile, the processes of the installation and disassembly of the pick-up roller become complicated, which is disadvantageous to the maintenance and replacement of the pick-up roller.

Thus, it is an important object of the invention to provide a sheet inputting mechanism with a simple structure and an automatic sheet feeder using such sheet inputting mechanism.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an object of the invention to provide a sheet inputting mechanism with a simple structure and an automatic sheet feeder using the same.

To achieve the above-identified object, the invention provides a sheet inputting mechanism including a first body, a first roller, a second body, a second roller and a stopper. The first roller is mounted on the first body. The second body is rotatably connected to the first body. The second roller is mounted on the second body. The stopper is rotatably mounted on the first body and directly driven by the second body. When the second body is rotated to a first state relatively to the first body, the stopper is rotated to a closing state to prevent a sheet from being moved to a sheet input position. When the second body is rotated to a second state relatively to the first body, the stopper is rotated to an open state to allow the sheet to be moved to the sheet input position and to be in contact with the first roller.

The invention also provides an automatic sheet feeder including a supply tray, a sheet passageway, a sheet inputting mechanism and a transporting mechanism. The supply tray stores a sheet. The sheet passageway is connected to the supply tray. The sheet inputting mechanism feeds the sheet into the sheet passageway. The transporting mechanism transports the sheet through and out of the sheet passageway. The sheet inputting mechanism includes a first body, a first roller, a second body, a second roller and a stopper. The first roller is mounted on the first body. The first roller is disposed at an inlet of the sheet passageway. The second body is rotatably connected to the first body. The second roller is mounted on the second body. The stopper is rotatably mounted on the first body, directly driven by the second body, and disposed between the inlet of the sheet passageway and the supply tray. When the second body is rotated to a first state relatively to the first body, the stopper is rotated to a closing state to prevent the sheet from being moved to the inlet of the sheet passageway. When the second body is rotated to a second state relatively to the first body, the stopper is rotated to an open state to allow the sheet to be moved to the inlet of the sheet passageway.

Further scope of the applicability of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description given hereinafter. However, it should be understood that the detailed description and specific examples, while indicating preferred embodiments of the invention, are given by way of illustration only, since various changes and modifications within the spirit and scope of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from this detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will become more fully understood from the detailed description given hereinbelow and the accompanying drawings which are given by way of illustration only, and thus are not limitative of the present invention.

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration showing an automatic sheet feeder according to a preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 2 to 4 are schematic illustrations showing three operation states of a sheet inputting mechanism according to a first embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 5 and 6 are pictorial views showing two operation states of a sheet inputting mechanism according to a second embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention will be apparent from the following detailed description, which proceeds with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein the same references relate to the same elements.

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration showing an automatic sheet feeder according to a preferred embodiment of the invention. FIGS. 2 to 4 are schematic illustrations showing three operation states of a sheet inputting mechanism according to a first embodiment of the invention.

Referring first to FIG. 1, the automatic sheet feeder of this embodiment includes a supply tray 10, a sheet passageway 20, a sheet inputting mechanism 30 and a transporting mechanism 40. In addition, the automatic sheet feeder may further include a friction pad 50. Furthermore, the automatic sheet feeder may be a document scan apparatus and thus further includes a scanning module 60.

The supply tray 10, horizontally or substantially horizontally disposed, is for storing one sheet S or a plurality of sheets. The sheet passageway 20 is formed in a housing 70 of the automatic sheet feeder and is connected to the supply tray 10.

The transporting mechanism 40 transports the sheet S through and out of the sheet passageway 20. In this embodiment, the transporting mechanism 40 includes a pair of rollers 41 and 42 and another pair of rollers 43 and 44.

The sheet inputting mechanism 30 for feeding the sheet S into the sheet passageway 20 includes a first body 31, a first roller 32, a second body 33, a second roller 34 and a stopper 35. The first roller 32 is mounted on the first body 31 and disposed at an inlet 21 of the sheet passageway 20. The second body 33 is rotatably connected to first body 31, and the second roller 34 is mounted on the second body 33. The stopper 35 is rotatably mounted on the first body 31 and directly driven by the second body 33. The stopper 35 is disposed between the inlet 21 of the sheet passageway 20 and the supply tray 10. The first roller 32 may be a separation roller, while the second roller 34 may be a pick-up roller. The first roller 32 and the second roller 34 are driven by a rotating shaft of the first roller 32 and thus rotated in a sheet inputting direction. The second body 33 and the second roller 34 are also driven by the rotating shaft of the first roller 32 and thus are driven to swing up and down. When the rotating shaft of the first roller 32 drives the first roller 32 and the second roller 34 to rotate in the sheet inputting direction, the second body 33 falls down toward the supply tray 10 such that the second roller 34 may contact with the sheet S placed on the supply tray 10 and thus transports the sheet S to a sheet input position PI and the sheet S to be in contact with the first roller 32.

In order to achieve the function of properly stopping the sheets, the sheet inputting mechanism 30 is configured to have the following features.

When the second body 33 is rotated to a first state relatively to the first body 31, the stopper 35 is rotated to a closing state relatively to the first body 31 to prevent the sheet S from being moved to the inlet 21 of the sheet passageway 20 (i.e., to stop the sheet S from being moved to the sheet input position PI), as shown in FIG. 2. That is, when the second roller 34 is lifted up, the stopper 35 stops the sheet from entering the inlet 21.

When the second body 33 is rotated to a second state relatively to the first body 31, the stopper 35 is rotated to an open state relatively to the first body 31 to allow the sheet S to be moved to the inlet 21 of the sheet passageway 20 (i.e., to allow the sheet S to be moved to the sheet input position PI), as shown in FIG. 4. That is, when the second roller 34 falls down, the stopper 35 does not stop the sheet from entering the inlet 21.

Specifically speaking, as shown in FIGS. 2 to 4, the second body 33 has a stopper guide hole 331 which is provided in the second body 33 and for receiving and abutting one end of the stopper 35. A surface of the stopper guide hole 331 abuts the one end of the stopper 35 and drives the stopper 35 to rotate as the second body 33 is rotated relative to the first body 31. In this embodiment, the stopper guide hole 331 is a slot formed on the second body 33.

In addition, the stopper 35 includes a sheet stopping portion 35A and a force receiving portion 35B. As shown in FIG. 2, the stopper guide hole 331 receives and abuts the force receiving portion 35B. The force receiving portion 35B is moved by the surface of the stopper guide hole 331 to a first position, such that the sheet stopping portion 35A is swung to a restricting position and enters the closing state. The sheet stopping portion 35A stops the sheet S from being moved to the sheet input position PI. In this state, the sheet stopping portion 35A stops the sheet S from being moved to the inlet 21 of the sheet passageway 20.

The transitional condition of the stopper 35 when the second body 33 is in a state between the first state and the second state is shown in FIG. 3.

As shown in FIG. 4, the force receiving portion 35B is moved and driven by the surface of the stopper guide hole 331 of the second body 33 to a second position, such that the sheet stopping portion 35A is swung to a retracted position and enters the open state to allow the sheet S to be moved to the inlet 21 of the sheet passageway 20. In this embodiment, when the sheet stopping portion 35A is swung to the restricting position, the sheet stopping portion 35A stands upright and leaves no passage for the sheet S. When the sheet stopping portion 35A is swung to the retracted position, the sheet stopping portion 35A is positioned horizontally, such that a passage between the supply tray 10 and the inlet 21 of the sheet passageway 20 is kept open.

The friction pad 50 is disposed at the inlet 21 and may be in frictional contact with the first roller 32 so that the object of separating the sheets may be achieved. The scanning module 60 disposed opposite a scan region 22 of the sheet passageway 20 acquires an image of the sheet S being transported past the scan region 22.

FIGS. 5 and 6 are pictorial views showing two operation states of a sheet inputting mechanism according to a second embodiment of the invention. Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, the first body 31 is composed of an external frame 31A and a middle frame 31B. The external frame 31A mounts the first roller 32 and the middle frame 31B mounts the stopper 35. The second body 33 comprises a frame 33F for mounting the second roller 34. The first roller 32 comprises a first roller portion 321 and a second roller portion 322 disposed separately from each other, and the stopper 35 is disposed between the first roller portion 321 and the second roller portion 322.

A supporting shaft 331B for abutting one end of the stopper 35 is provided in the second body 33, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. The supporting shaft 331B abuts the one end of the stopper 35 and drives the stopper 35 to rotate as the second body 33 is rotated relative to the first body 31.

The supporting shaft 331B is mounted on two extending arms 331A of the second body 33. The supporting shaft 331B abuts and drives the force receiving portion 35B of the stopper 35 to move, such that the sheet stopping portion 35A of the stopper 35 is swung between the restricting position and the retracted position.

The first body 31 and the second body 33 respectively have guiding structures 311 and 332 to facilitate the relative rotation between the first body 31 and the second body 33, and thus to maintain the rotation stability.

In addition to the automatic sheet feeder, the invention also provides the sheet inputting mechanism 30 with the above-mentioned features.

According to the embodiments of the invention, it is possible to utilize a mechanism of a simpler structure and fewer components to achieve the purpose of timely stopping the sheet from entering the sheet passageway. Because the components used in the device are fewer and the number of assembly steps is increased, the material and manufacturing costs can be reduced. In addition, the pick-up roller can be conveniently disassembled, replaced and installed. By such configuration, the stopper 35 may be disposed at a position closer to the separation roller so that the gap between two sheets may be reduced, and the scanning speed with respect to pages per minute (PPM), may be effectively increased.

While the invention has been described by way of examples and in terms of preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited thereto. To the contrary, it is intended to cover various modifications. Therefore, the scope of the appended claims should be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications.