Title:
DEVICE FOR FEEDING PAPER SHEETS OR THE LIKE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for feeding paper sheets or the like has a feed path whereby paper sheets are fed, a distribution unit for distributing the paper sheets that are fed thereto, and a stacking unit that holds the paper sheets that are distributed, wherein the stacking unit comprises: a rotary feed unit having a rotary shaft; gripping claws that extend in a spiral fashion with respect to this rotary shaft and grip and feed one edge of a paper sheet therebetween; an extraction unit that extracts the paper sheets fed by the rotary feed path from the gripping claws; a stage that conforms with the rotary feed unit and that holds between itself and the rotary feed unit one edge of a paper sheet that has been extracted from the gripping claws; and a stopping element that abuts one edge of a paper sheet that is held on the stage.



Inventors:
Obara, Tadashi (Tokyo, JP)
Obara, Makiko (Tokyo, JP)
Application Number:
12/609887
Publication Date:
05/06/2010
Filing Date:
10/30/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
271/4.08
International Classes:
B65H5/12; B65H5/22
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MCCULLOUGH, MICHAEL C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FINNEGAN, HENDERSON, FARABOW, GARRETT & DUNNER (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for feeding paper sheets or the like having a feed path whereby paper sheets are fed, a distribution unit for distributing said paper sheets that are fed thereto by the feed path, and a stacking unit that holds said paper sheets distributed by said distribution unit, wherein said stacking unit comprises: (1) a rotary feed unit having (a) a rotary shaft; (b) a plurality of gripping claws that extend in a spiral fashion with respect to said rotary shaft and grip and feed one edge of a paper sheet therebetween; (2) an extraction unit that extracts said paper sheets fed by said rotary feed unit from said gripping claws; (3) a stage that conforms with said rotary feed unit and that holds between itself and said rotary feed unit one edge of said paper sheet that has been extracted from said gripping claws; and (4) a stopping element that abuts one edge of a paper sheet that is held on said stage.

2. The device for feeding paper sheets or the like according to claim 1, further comprising a suction feed unit arranged above said rotary feed unit, that suctionally attaches thereto the other end of said paper sheet and thereby feeds this other end.

3. The device for feeding paper sheets or the like according to claim 2, wherein said suction feed unit comprises: a suction fan that applies suction to said paper sheets; and a suction feed belt that feeds said other end of said paper sheet to which suction is being applied at a surface, passing over said suction fan, facing said rotary feed unit.

4. The device for feeding paper sheets or the like according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein said stage comprises: a groove with which part of a periphery of said rotary feed unit conforms in a manner such as to permit rotation, and that holds said paper sheet between itself and said periphery.

5. The device for feeding paper sheets or the like according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein a gap between said stage and said rotary feed unit is variable in accordance with a quantity of sheets loaded.

6. The device for feeding paper sheets or the like according to claim 4, wherein said gap between said stage and said rotary feed unit is variable in accordance with a quantity of sheets loaded.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims benefit of priority from Japanese application number JP 2008-281579 filed Oct. 31, 2008, the entire contents of which are incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a device for feeding paper sheets or the like that feeds paper sheets (documents or forms) to a stacking unit.

2. Description of the Related Art

Conventional feeding devices are capable of feeding paper sheets of a large number of different types and distributing these sheets before stacking them in a stacking unit. Techniques have been disclosed for respectively gripping these fed paper sheets by a gripping claw unit comprising spiral tooth members and placing these in an inverted fashion in the stacking unit: an example is to be found in Laid-open Japanese Patent Application No. Tokkai 2005-263453 (hereinbelow referred to as Patent Reference 1).

However, the spiral tooth members must be at least of a size matching the maximum size of the paper sheets that are to be fed. Also, in cases where the paper size is large, or where the paper sheets are folded, the paper sheets may become bent, or may be placed with the edges of sheets of different size not lined up with each other. In such cases, the paper sheets must be lined up by hand.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention was made in order to solve the above problem, its object being to provide a device for feeding paper sheets or the like whereby stacking of paper sheets of different size can be reliably performed and the blade wheel that grips the sheets can be made of small size.

In order to achieve the above object, a device for feeding paper sheets or the like according to the present invention is constructed as follows. Specifically, in a device for feeding paper sheets or the like having

a feed path whereby paper sheets are fed,

a distribution unit for distributing said paper sheets that are fed thereto, and

a stacking unit that holds aforementioned distributed paper sheets,

aforementioned stacking unit comprises:

a rotary feed unit having a rotary shaft;

a plurality of gripping claws that extend in a spiral fashion with respect to the rotary shaft and grip and feed one edge of a paper sheet therebetween;

an extraction unit that extracts aforementioned paper sheets fed by aforementioned rotary feed unit from aforementioned gripping claws;

a stage that conforms with aforementioned rotary feed unit and that holds between itself and aforementioned rotary feed unit one edge of aforementioned paper sheet that has been extracted from aforementioned gripping claws; and

a stopping element that abuts one edge of a paper sheet that is held on aforementioned stage.

With the present invention, there is provided a device for feeding paper sheets or the like whereby stacking of paper sheets of different sizes can be performed in a reliable fashion.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view showing a device for feeding paper sheets or the like according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is likewise a side view to a larger scale showing part of the side face of a device for feeding paper sheets or the like according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing the construction of a drive system of a device for feeding paper sheets or the like.

FIG. 4 is an internal layout diagram viewing the blade wheel side from the side of the stacking unit.

FIG. 5 is a view showing the arrangement relationship of the blade wheel arranged in accordance with paper size.

FIG. 6 is a top view showing a stage.

FIG. 7 is a side view showing the arrangement relationship of the blade wheel and the stage.

FIG. 8 is a front view to a larger scale showing part of the front face of the blade wheel and the stage.

FIG. 9 is a view showing the condition in which a form is held by the blade wheel and the stage.

FIG. 10 is a view showing the condition in which forms of different size are held by the blade wheel and the stage.

FIG. 11 is a view showing the relationship in which the blade wheel and a suction feed unit are arranged.

FIG. 12 is a view showing the action of feeding forms of small paper size.

FIG. 13 is a view showing the action of feeding forms of large paper size.

FIG. 14 is a view showing the condition in which forms of different paper size are stacked in the stacking unit.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

An embodiment of the present invention is described by way of example below with reference to the drawings. In the drawings, the same structural elements are indicated by the same reference symbols and further detailed description thereof is omitted.

FIG. 1 is a side view showing a device 10 for feeding paper sheets or the like according to an embodiment of the present invention. The device 10 for feeding paper sheets or the like comprises for example a horizontal feed path 11, a vertical feed path 13, feed rollers 14, branch gates 15, discharge rollers 17, blade wheel 18, extracting plate 19, stage 20, stopping element 21, stacking unit 23, suction feed unit 24, and drive units for the various units, not shown; forms that are fed in from a paper supply unit, not shown, are fed to the stacking unit 23. In the device 10 for feeding paper sheets or the like shown in FIG. 1, the stacking unit 23 has a plurality of levels in the vertical direction.

The distribution unit is constituted by the feed rollers 14, branch gates 15 and discharge rollers 17.

It may be noted that it is also possible to provide additional stacking units 23 by connecting a mutual horizontal feed path 11 with this device 10 for feeding paper sheets or the like.

FIG. 2 is a side view to a larger scale showing part of the side face of this device 10 for feeding paper sheets or the like. FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing the construction of the drive system of the device 10 for feeding paper sheets or the like. The horizontal feed path 11 is a guide for feeding forms A that are fed in from a paper supply unit, not shown, in the horizontal direction of the device 10 for feeding paper sheets or the like. A feed belt 12 is provided on the horizontal feed path 11. The feed belt 12 is driven in one direction and feeds forms A that are supplied thereto to the vertical feed path 13 or to the next device for feeding paper sheets or the like. The feed belt 12 is driven by rotational, operation of a motor 31 whose rotation is controlled by a driver 30. The operation of the driver 30 is controlled by a control unit 25.

The vertical feed path 13 is a guide for feeding forms A to a stacking unit constituting the discharge destination.

A plurality of feed rollers 14 are arranged on the vertical feed path 13. The feed rollers 14 feed forms A upwards by rotating in one direction (clockwise direction in FIG. 2). Thus the forms A are successively fed to the designated stacking unit 23. Which stacking unit 23 the forms are discharged to is determined for example in accordance with the result of recognition processing of an image read by a form reading unit, not shown. It should be noted that the paper feed speed of the feed rollers 14 and the paper feed speed of the discharge rollers 17 are set to be substantially the same. The feed rollers 14 are rotated by rotational operation of the motor 33, whose rotation is controlled by the driver 32. The operation of the driver 32 is controlled by the control unit 25.

The branch gates 15 are provided at the branch positions of the horizontal feed path 11 and the vertical feed path 13 and at the branch position of the vertical feed path 13 and the stacking units 23. The feed direction of the branch gates 15 is changed over by means of relay circuits 42 to the vertical feed path 13 or stacking unit 23 so that the forms A that are supplied are distributed to the designated stacking unit 23. Distribution of the forms A can be achieved by changing over the branch gate 15 to the horizontal feed path 11 or a vertical feed path 13 by means of a relay circuit 42. The relay circuits 42 are started up by operation control performed by the control unit 25.

As the paper detection unit 16, for example optical sensors are respectively arranged on the feed paths 11, 13 and between the branch gates 15 and discharge rollers 17, so as to detect the forms A. The optical sensors detect passage of the forms A along the feed path when the light that is output from a light emitting unit to a photodetection unit is interrupted by a form A that has been fed thereto, and detect arrival of the leading end of a form A at the position of discharge to the stacking unit 23. The control unit 25 commences drive control of the blade wheel 18 provided in the designated stacking unit, a suction fan 24a, and a suction feed belt 24b, when the paper detection unit 16 detects a form. It may be noted that the control unit 25 may also calculate the feed length of a form (length in the feeding direction) L=v·t from the time t at which the light of the paper detection unit 16 is interrupted and the preset feed speed v of a form.

The discharge rollers 17 are arranged between the paper detection unit 16 and the blade wheel 18. These discharge rollers 17 rotate in one direction (clockwise direction in FIG. 2) and feed the supplied forms A to the designated stacking unit 23. The paper feed speed of the discharge rollers 17 is set to be faster than the paper feed speed of the blade wheel 18. The leading ends of the forms A can therefore be fed to the roots of the gripping claws 18b of the blade wheel 18, where they are gripped. The discharge rollers 17 are rotated by rotational operation of the motor 33, whose rotation is controlled by the driver 34. The operation of the driver 34 is controlled by the control unit 25.

The blade wheel 18 comprises a rotary shaft 18a and a plurality of gripping claws 18b that are arranged with a prescribed separation about this rotary shaft 18a. FIG. 4 is an internal layout diagram viewing the blade wheel side from the side of the stacking unit. FIG. 5 is a view showing the arrangement relationship of the blade wheels arranged in accordance with paper size. A plurality of blade wheels 18 are arranged in the form width direction with respect to each stacking unit 23, in accordance with the paper width that can be fed by the device 10 for feeding paper or the like (for example the maximum paper width).

The rotary shaft 18a rotates in the direction of winding up the forms A (i.e. the anticlockwise direction in FIG. 2). The plurality of gripping claws 18b extend in the form of involute curves at prescribed intervals about the rotary shaft 18a and effect feed by gripping one end of the form in the gaps 18c formed between these claws. These gaps 18c are formed with a width such as to be capable of gripping a form A. The blade wheel 18 is rotated by the rotational operation of the motor 37, whose rotation is controlled by the driver 36. The operation of the driver 36 is controlled by the control unit 25. The blade wheel 18 functions as a rotary feed unit comprising a rotary shaft and a plurality of gripping claws that extend in a spiral fashion with respect to this rotary shaft and that grip the forms therebetween at one edge thereof and thereby effect feeding of the forms.

The extracting plates 19 extend in the peripheral direction from the rotary shaft 18a and are arranged in an interpolated fashion between the blade wheels 18 as shown in FIG. 4. The leading ends of the forms A that are gripped between the gripping claws 18b (gaps 18c) of the rotating blade wheels 18 make contact with the extracting plates 19. The blade wheels 18 continue to rotate even after these forms A make contact with the extracting plates 19, so the forms A can thereby be extracted from the blade wheels 18. The forms A move downwards from above these extracting plates 19 in a condition with their leading edges in contact with the extracting plates 19. The extracting plates 19 function as an extraction unit for extracting the gripped forms from the gripping claws 18b.

FIG. 6 is a top view showing a stage. FIG. 7 is a side view showing the arrangement relationship of the blade wheel and the stage. FIG. 8 is a front view to a larger scale showing part of the front face of the blade wheel and the stage. FIG. 9 is a view showing the condition in which a form is held by the blade wheel and the stage. The stage 20 is formed in a concave shape facing the periphery of the blade wheel 18 and is arranged between the blade wheel 18 and the stacking unit 23. A single stage faces a single blade wheel. The stage 20 holds the leading end of a form A extracted from the blade wheel 18 between itself and the blade wheel 18. Specifically, the stage 20 holds a form A that is bent into a concave shape conforming with the rotatable blade wheel 18 (i.e. the leading ends of the gripping claws 18b) and the groove 20a between itself and the blade wheel 18. It should be noted that the length of the stage 20 is for example the minimum value of the feed length of the forms, of the forms that can be fed by this device 10 for feeding paper sheets or the like.

In the initial condition, in which no forms A are gripped between the stage 20 and the leading ends of the blade wheels 18, as shown in FIG. 8, the leading ends of the gripping claws 18b conform therewith in a rotatable fashion, with height D/2 with respect to for example the height D of the grooves 20a. In this way, a gap 20b of height s=D/2 is formed between the groove 20a and the leading ends of the gripping claws 18b. The leading end of a form A that is extracted from the gripping claws 18b is held in the gap 20b. Preferably the height D of the grooves 20a is the height at which a form can be bent and held with at least the maximum thickness of the forms that may be fed. Specifically, if the height s of this gap 20b is greater than D/2, the restraint which is exerted at the periphery of the blade wheel 18 becomes weak, with the result that the holding force applied to the forms A by the stage 20 and the blade wheel 18 becomes weak. Also, if the height s of this gap 20b becomes lower than D/2, the restraint at the periphery of the blade wheel 18 becomes strong, resulting in the possibility of occurrence of paper jamming of the forms that are held, or of a condition being generated in which the forms cannot be fed in this gap 20b.

The blade wheels 18 and stages 20 are constituted as a pair and a plurality of these are arranged corresponding to the paper size of the forms that are fed by the device 10 for feeding paper sheets or the like. The stages 20 are respectively independent and are raised and lowered in accordance with the weight/thickness of the forms to be held (see FIG. 2). The stages 20 have a spring mechanism comprising for example an extension/compression spring (not shown). If the number of form sheets that are to be held is large, the springs are respectively contracted so as to gradually lower the stages in accordance with the weight/thickness of the sheets. Specifically, if a plurality of form sheets of different sheet size are to be held, the weights of the forms that are held are different for the respective pairs of blade wheels and stages 20, so the amounts of extension/compression of the respective springs are different depending on the weight/thickness thereof. Also, when for example a form that was held therein is removed by the operator, the spring will become extended, causing the stage 20 to rise. It should be noted that, so long as the leading end of a form A can be held between the stage 20 and the peripheral surface of the blade wheel 18, this raising/lowering action of the stage 20 could also be performed by utilizing pressure such as gas pressure or could be performed mechanically using for example a motor.

FIG. 10 is a view showing the condition in which forms of different size are held by the blade wheel and the stage. Since the stages 20 are raised or lowered independently for each pair of blade wheel 18 and stage 20, even when forms of different paper size are stacked in the same stacking unit, these forms can be held with the leading ends of the forms aligned.

Stopping elements 21 (or stopper 21) are arranged substantially in the vertical direction below one end of the extracting plates 19, so that the leading ends of the forms A that are held on the stages 20 respectively make contact with these stopping elements. With the rotation of the blade wheel 18, a form A that is in contact with the extracting plates 19 moves downwards from above the extracting plate 19 so as to make contact with the stopping element 21. Thus the forms are stacked on the stage 20 in a condition with the leading ends of the forms making contact with the stopping element 21 and held in a condition with the leading ends of the forms A aligned.

The stacking units 23 are arranged below the stages 20 and hold the other end (rear ends) of forms A that are longer than the stages 20. A plurality of stacking units 23 are provided (eight levels in the vertical direction in the case shown in FIG. 1).

The suction feed unit 24 comprises a suction fan 24a that applies suction to the forms and is arranged above the blade wheel 18, on the line of extension thereof in the discharge direction, and a suction feed belt 24b for feeding the forms to which suction was thus applied. FIG. 11 is a view showing the relationship in which the blade wheel and suction feed unit are arranged. For example in FIG. 11, the suction feed belt 24b is arranged in correspondence with the blade wheel and two suction fans 24a constituting a single group are arranged in series. The suction force on the forms A in the suction direction (upwards in FIG. 2) is increased by providing a plurality of holes 24c whereby suction is applied to the forms by the suction fan 24a, in the feed surface of the suction feed unit 24. This suction fan 24a is rotated with rotary operation of the motor 39, whose rotation is controlled by the driver 38. Preferably, a plurality of these suction fans 24a and suction feed belts 24b are arranged corresponding to the maximum paper size (width) of the forms employed by this device 10 for feeding paper sheets or the like.

Suction is applied to the forms by the suction fan 24a, in the feed surface of the suction feed unit 24″ means that holes 24c are provided in a feed guide 24e (plate-shaped and non-moving), and suction is applied to the forms by the suction fan 24a through these holes 24c.

The suction feed belt 24b is an open belt that effects feeding by applying suction to the rear end of the forms A whose leading ends are gripped by the blade wheel 18. The suction feed belt 24b is provided with a plurality of holes 24d connected with the suction fan 24a in order to increase the suction produced by the suction fan 24a. The suction feed belt 24b is driven by the rotary operation of a motor 41, whose rotation is controlled by a driver 40. The operation of the driver 30 is controlled by the control unit 25.

Also, as shown in the Figure, a plurality of holes 24d are provided in the suction belt 24b and holes (not shown) are also provided in the feed guide 24e at prescribed intervals with respect to these holes 24d. Consequently, suction is of course also applied to the forms A at the holes 24c of the suction belt 24b.

The suction feed belt 24b rotates in the feed direction (clockwise direction in FIG. 2), to feed the rear ends of the forms A in the opposite direction of the stopping element 21 with respect to the stage 20 i.e. in the direction remote from the blade wheel 18 (see the arrows in FIG. 2 and FIG. 11). When the rear end of a form A has passed the suction feed unit 24, it drops under its own weight, and lands in the stacking unit 23. The paper feed speed of the suction feed belt 24b and the paper feed speed of the blade wheel 18 are set to be substantially the same. As a result, the leading ends of the forms A are lined up by the stopping element 21 and the forms are held on the stage 20, with their rear ends held by the stacking unit 23.

Since the leading end of the forms is held by the blade wheel 18 and stage 20 and their rear ends are suction-fed by the suction feed unit 24, there is no need to match the size of the blade wheel 18 to the maximum size of the forms: in this way, the size of the blade wheel 18 can be reduced. Also, even when the paper size is large (long feed length), or even when the paper is folded, stretching of the paper means that it can still be reliably placed in the stacking unit 23.

The control unit 25 performs feed control of the forms A by controlling the operation of various types of drivers and relay circuits (not shown) in the device 10 for feeding paper sheets or the like, in accordance with the instructions from a control host 100.

The control host 100 is loaded with and starts up an OCR application software program. It also gives instructions to the control unit 25 so that, after reading processing of the forms has been carried out, designation of the stacking unit that is the destination of discharge of the forms, and printing of numbering data, are performed for each form, in accordance with the results of recognition processing of the images obtained by such reading. The control unit 25 performs control of the operation of the various drivers and relay circuits in accordance with these instructions. It should be noted that it would also be possible for the control unit 25 to be loaded with this OCR application software program and to perform the recognition processing of the images as described above.

Next, the operation of feeding forms using this device 10 for feeding paper sheets or the like will be described.

First of all, the case where the forms A that are fed are forms of small paper size i.e. the length of these forms (feed length) is shorter than the length of the blades of the blade wheel 18 will be described.

FIG. 12 is a view showing the action of feeding forms of small paper size.

The control unit 25 performs drive control of the feed belt 12 on the horizontal feed path 11, and the feed rollers 14 and branch gate 15 on the vertical feed path 13, and performs feeding of the forms A in accordance with instructions to execute paper feed that are input from the control host 100. The forms A are fed to the designated discharge destination stacking unit 23.

When the paper detection units 16 that are arranged on the feed paths 11, 13 and in the vicinity of the designated stacking unit 23 detect an incoming form A that is being fed, the control unit 25 performs drive control of the blade wheel 18, suction fan 24a and suction feed belt 24b of the designated stacking unit 23.

At the start of rotation, control is performed at such that the speed of rotation of the blade wheel 18 is slower than the paper feed speed of the discharge rollers 17. As a result, the forms A are gripped by the gripping claws 18b when they are inserted in the gaps 18c of the blade wheel 18. In this condition in which such gripping is effected, the blade wheel 18 is rotated, thereby feeding the forms A to the position of arrangement of the stage 20 (see paper feeding, in the upper part of FIG. 12).

Next, the control unit 25 ascertains whether or not the suction fan 24a and the suction feed belt 24b are being driven. To achieve this, the control unit 25 for example calculates L=v·t, where t is the time for which a form A blocks the passage of light to the paper detection unit 16, v is the paper feed speed of the forms, which is set beforehand, and L is the feed length of a form (length in the direction of feeding). Then, if the feed length of the form that is being fed is less than a preset feed length, for example if the feed length of this form is less than the length of the blades of the blade wheel 18, a stationary condition is maintained without driving the suction fan 24a or the suction belt 24b. In this case, since the feed length of the form is shorter than the length of the blades of the blade wheel 18, the suction fan 24a and suction feed belt 24b maintain a stationary condition.

Next, when the leading end of this gripped form A comes into contact with the extracting plate 19, this extracting plate 19 arrests the feeding of the form A accompanying the rotation of the blade wheel 18. It should be noted that, even after feeding of the form A has been arrested, the blade wheel 18 continues to rotate in the feed direction (anticlockwise direction in FIG. 12). As a result, the form A is extracted from the rotating blade wheel 18, and the leading end of the form A moves downwards from above, along the extracting plate 19, until it comes into contact with the stopping element 21.

The leading end of the extracted form A is placed on the stage 20. The leading end of this form A is restrained by the stage 20 and the periphery of the blade wheel 18 (leading end portion of the gripping claws 18) in a condition in which rotation of the blade wheel 18 can still be performed, and the form A is thus held on this stage 20. Then, when the next form is fed, a feeding operation identical to that described above is performed, and the forms are thus held, overlaid in a sequential fashion, on the stage 20. When a plurality of forms are thus held, the stage 20 is lowered in response to their weight, and a plurality of forms can thus be held with their leading ends aligned, between the stage 20 and the gripping claws 18b.

Next, the case where the forms A that are fed are forms of larger paper size i.e. the length of these forms (feed length) is longer than the length of the blades of the blade wheel 18 will be described.

FIG. 13 is a view showing the action of feeding forms of large paper size. Only the difference in operation from the feed operation in the case where the size of the forms is small described above will be described.

The control unit 25 drives the suction fan 24a and the suction feed belt 24b of the discharge destination stacking unit 23. In this way, the suction fan 24a and the suction feed belt 24b effect suction and feeding of the rear end of the form. The form length is calculated based on the detection result of the paper detection unit 16 and the paper feed speed. Based on this calculated form length, the suction fan 24a and the suction feed belt 24b are driven with the timing with which the rear end of the form reaches the suction feed belt 24b.

As shown in FIG. 13, the rear end of a form A that has reached the vicinity of the suction feed belt 24b is sucked upwards by the suction fan 24a and sucked onto the suction feed belt 24b. The suction feed belt 24b feeds the rear end of the form A, that has thus been attached thereto by suction, in the feed direction (direction of the arrow shown in FIG. 13). The rear end of the form A that has thus been fed by the suction feed belt 24b is fed so as to describe an arc (see the feed condition in the middle of FIG. 13): any risk of folding of this form A is thus excluded. After the form A has passed through the suction feed unit 24, its rear end is separated from the suction feed belt 24b and descends due to its own weight, describing an arc before landing in the stacking unit 23.

The form A comes into contact with the stopping element 21 and its leading end is held between the stage 20 and the periphery of the blade wheel 18. As a result, the forms A are held on the stage 20 with their leading ends aligned by the stopping element 21 and their rear ends held by the stacking unit 23.

In this way, it is possible to feed forms of longer feed length than the size of the blade wheel. In other words, the blade wheel 18 in the feed device for paper sheets or the like according to this embodiment can be made smaller than the size of the conventional blade wheel, which matched the forms in size. Even though the blade wheel is made small, forms of a size which was conventionally difficult to feed can be reliably fed to the stacking unit 23.

Also, even when the feed length of the forms is long, the forms can be reliably placed in the stacking unit 23 thanks to being stretched by the suction feed unit 24.

In this way, in the device for feeding paper sheets or the like according to this embodiment, the leading ends of the forms that are fed by the blade wheel are held between the stage and the periphery of the blade wheel, and alignment of the leading ends of the forms is performed by the stopping element. In this way, alignment of the leading ends of the forms can be reliably performed. FIG. 14 is a view showing the condition in which forms of different paper size are stacked in the same stacking unit.

Also, since, in the device for feeding paper sheets or the like according to this embodiment, the leading ends thereof are held between the stage and the periphery of the blade wheel, the forms can be prevented from getting out of sequence.

Also, conventionally, the limit in respect of feed length of the forms that was achievable was about ¾ of the blade wheel periphery. In contrast, in the case of the device for feeding paper sheets or the like according to the present embodiment, the leading ends of the forms are held on the stage and the rear ends of the forms are sucked onto the suction feed unit (suction fan, suction feed belt), so that these rear ends are fed in the opposite direction to the stopping element with respect to the stage. As a result, feeding of forms having a feed length equal to or exceeding the periphery can be achieved, for a blade wheel of the same size as conventionally.

Also, as described above, by forcibly feeding the rear ends of the forms in the opposite direction to the stopping element with respect to the stage, by using a suction feed unit (suction fan and suction feed belt), feeding of the forms can be achieved irrespective of the feed length of the forms, and the occurrence of paper jamming can thereby be prevented.

Also, in the device for feeding paper sheets or the like according to this embodiment, the blade wheel can be made smaller than the size of a conventional blade wheel, which matched the size of the forms. Forms of a size that was conventionally difficult to feed can thus be reliably discharged into a stacking unit even with a small blade wheel.

Also, since it is possible to make the blade wheel smaller, the number of forms that can be stacked on a single level of the stacking unit can be increased. Also, by making the height of a single stacking unit stage lower, the device can be reduced in size. Also, if the device is made of the same size as conventionally, more stacking units can be installed therein.

It should be noted that the present invention is not restricted to the above embodiment and extensions or modifications thereof are possible: such extended or modified embodiments are also included in the technical scope of the present invention.