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United States Patent Application 20170369266
Kind Code A1
Akpan; Kufre Effiong December 28, 2017

MAT ROLLER DEVICE

Abstract

A machine for quickly and efficiently rolling carpet runners or mats after laundering, for storage, transport and reuse may include a set of belts for generally horizontal travel and an interacting set of belts for generally vertical travel and guide means for directing the leading edge of a carpet runner from engagement with the horizontal belts to engagement with the vertical belts. An assembly including a plurality of arcuate fingers cooperates with the belts to guide the leading edge of a carpet runner into the beginning of a roll and to assist in formation of a tight compact roll of carpet. The machine may include means for driving the belts, means for retracting the finger assembly from a completed rolled carpet runner, and controls for the means. The machine may include a safety apparatus including a light curtain.


Inventors: Akpan; Kufre Effiong; (Maple Grove, MN)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

MAT PROCESSING, LLC

KEWASKUM

WI

US
Family ID: 1000002849362
Appl. No.: 15/401958
Filed: January 9, 2017


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
13862161Apr 12, 2013
15401958
61623356Apr 12, 2012

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: B65H 2701/1922 20130101; B65H 2301/41429 20130101; B65H 18/22 20130101; B65H 26/00 20130101
International Class: B65H 26/00 20060101 B65H026/00; B65H 18/22 20060101 B65H018/22

Claims



1. A machine for rolling carpet runners, comprising: (A) a frame; (B) a first set of at least a pair of spaced apart parallel rollers supported within the frame; (C) drive means connected to one of the first set of rollers; (D) a further roller supported within the frame parallel to and spaced above a rearwardmost roller of the first set of rollers; (E) a first series of a plurality of endless spaced apart belts supported on the first set of rollers for longitudinal movement in response to rotation of the first set of rollers; (F) a second series of a plurality of endless spaced apart belts supported between the rearwardmost roller and said further roller for generally vertical travel in response to rotation of the first set of rollers and the further roller, the second series of belts alternating with the first series of belts in the spaces between the belts of the first series; (G) a concave forwardly facing arcuate guide plate supported at a juncture between the first series of belts and the second series of belts, a lower end of the guide plate extending into one space between the belts of the first series; (H) an assembly of a plurality of concave downwardly facing fingers pivotally supported and extending forwardly from the spaces between the second series of belts and spaced above the first series of belts; (I) means for controlling operation of said drive means; and (J) a safety apparatus including a light curtain attached to the frame; wherein each roller includes a central axis.
Description



CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 13/862,161, filed Apr. 12, 2013, which claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/623,356, filed Apr. 12, 2012, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The application pertains generally to a carpet rolling machine. More particularly, the application pertains to a safety apparatus for a carpet rolling machine.

BACKGROUND

[0003] In many public buildings, during wet weather, carpet runners or mats are laid on the floor immediately inside of entrances to absorb most of the water and pick up most of the dirt carried in from the outside. This prevents the water and dirt from being carried throughout the building, into elevators, etc. and greatly facilitates the maintenance of building lobbies, hallways, and the like. These carpet runners quickly become soiled and are then laundered and rolled for use when next needed. In some cases, a carpet rolling machine may be used to aid a person in rolling up lengths of carpet used as temporary runners. A continuing need exists to reduce or eliminate potential injuries to operators of a carpet rolling machine.

SUMMARY

[0004] A machine for rolling carpet runners may comprise: (A) a frame; (B) a first set of at least a pair of spaced apart parallel rollers supported within the frame; (C) drive means connected to one of the first set of rollers; (D) a further roller supported within the frame parallel to and spaced above a rearwardmost roller of the first set of rollers; (E) a first series of a plurality of endless spaced apart belts supported on the first set of rollers for longitudinal movement in response to rotation of the first set of rollers; (F) a second series of a plurality of endless spaced apart belts supported between the rearwardmost roller and said further roller for generally vertical travel in response to rotation of the first set of rollers and the further roller, the second series of belts alternating with the first series of belts in the spaces between the belts of the first series; (G) a concave forwardly facing arcuate guide plate supported at a juncture between the first series of belts and the second series of belts, a lower end of the guide plate extending into one space between the belts of the first series; (H) an assembly of a plurality of concave downwardly facing fingers pivotally supported and extending forwardly from the spaces between the second series of belts and spaced above the first series of belts; (I) means for controlling operation of said drive means; and

[0005] (J) a safety apparatus including a light curtain attached to the frame; wherein each roller includes a central axis.

[0006] A machine for rolling carpet runners may comprise: (A) a frame having: (1) a base; (2) a pair of vertical side supports; (3) a horizontal intermediate support between the side supports spaced above the base; and (4) a horizontal top support between the side supports and spaced above a rearward end of the intermediate support; (B) a first set of a plurality of at least three spaced apart parallel transverse rollers journaled for rotation in a horizontal plane overlying said intermediate support, each roller having a central axis; (C) drive means connected to a forwardmost roller of the first set of rollers to rotate the same; (D) a further transverse horizontal roller journaled for rotation and spaced above and slightly forward of a rearwardmost roller of the first set of rollers, a central axis of the further roller and the central axis of the rearwardmost roller lying in a generally vertical plane inclined forwardly between about 5 degrees and about 15 degrees; (E) a first series of a plurality of endless parallel spaced apart belts supported on the first set of rollers for longitudinal movement responsive to rotation of the first set of rollers; (F) a second series of a plurality of endless parallel spaced apart belts supported between the rearwardmost rollers and the further roller, the belts of said second series alternating on the rearwardmost roller with the belts of the first series in the spaces between the belts of the first series; (G) a concave forwardly facing arcuate guide plate supported at a juncture between the first series of belts and the second series of belts, a lower end of the guide plate extending into one space between the belts of the first series; (H) an assembly of a plurality of spring-biased concave downwardly facing fingers pivotally supported and extending forwardly in the spaces between said second series of belts, and spaced above the first series of belts; (I) means for retracting the assembly against its spring bias; (J) a pedal switch means for controlling operation of said drive means; and (K) a safety apparatus including a control box operatively connected to a light curtain attached to the frame.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0007] FIG. 1 is a front elevation of the carpet rolling machine, shown partly broken away and in section to reveal interior structure;

[0008] FIG. 2 is a left side elevation thereof;

[0009] FIG. 3 is a right side elevation thereof, shown with parts broken away and in section;

[0010] FIG. 4 is a fragmentary section on an enlarged scale on the line 4-4 of FIG. 1 and in the direction of the arrows showing the position of structural elements when the carpet runner is at an intermediate stage in the rolling process;

[0011] FIG. 5 is a fragmentary section on the line 5-5 of FIG. 1 showing the position of structural elements at the initiation of the rolling process;

[0012] FIG. 6 is a similar fragmentary section on the line 6-6 of FIG. 1 showing the same elements at the conclusion of the rolling process.

[0013] FIG. 7 is a schematic for the controls of a safety apparatus; and

[0014] FIG. 8 is a partial perspective view of a portion of a safety apparatus on a carpet rolling machine.

[0015] While the invention is amenable to various modifications and alternative forms, specifics thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in greater detail below. It should be understood, however, that the intention is not to limit the invention to the particular embodiments described. On the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0016] The following description should be read with reference to the drawings, which are not necessarily to scale, wherein like reference numerals indicate like elements throughout the several views. The detailed description and drawings are intended to illustrate but not limit the claimed invention. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the various elements described and/or shown may be arranged in various combinations and configurations without departing from the scope of the disclosure. The detailed description and drawings illustrate example embodiments of the claimed invention.

[0017] For the following defined terms, these definitions shall be applied, unless a different definition is given in the claims or elsewhere in this specification.

[0018] All numeric values are herein assumed to be modified by the term "about," whether or not explicitly indicated. The term "about", in the context of numeric values, generally refers to a range of numbers that one of skill in the art would consider equivalent to the recited value (i.e., having the same function or result). In many instances, the term "about" may include numbers that are rounded to the nearest significant figure. Other uses of the term "about" (i.e., in a context other than numeric values) may be assumed to have their ordinary and customary definition(s), as understood from and consistent with the context of the specification, unless otherwise specified.

[0019] Weight percent, percent by weight, wt %, wt-%, % by weight, and the like are synonyms that refer to the concentration of a substance as the weight of that substance divided by the weight of the composition and multiplied by 100.

[0020] The recitation of numerical ranges by endpoints includes all numbers within that range, including the endpoints (e.g. 1 to 5 includes 1, 1.5, 2, 2.75, 3, 3.80, 4, and 5).

[0021] As used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms "a", "an", and "the" include plural referents unless the content clearly dictates otherwise. As used in this specification and the appended claims, the term "or" is generally employed in its sense including "and/or" unless the content clearly dictates otherwise.

[0022] It is noted that references in the specification to "an embodiment", "some embodiments", "other embodiments", etc., indicate that the embodiment(s) described may include a particular feature, structure, or characteristic, but every embodiment may not necessarily include the particular feature, structure, or characteristic. Moreover, such phrases are not necessarily referring to the same embodiment. Further, when a particular feature, structure, or characteristic is described in connection with an embodiment, it would be within the knowledge of one skilled in the art to effect such feature, structure, or characteristic in connection with other embodiments, whether or not explicitly described, unless clearly stated to the contrary. That is, the various individual elements described below, even if not explicitly shown in a particular combination, are nevertheless contemplated as being combinable or arrangable with each other to form other additional embodiments or to complement and/or enrich the described embodiment(s), as would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art.

[0023] Referring now to the drawings, a carpet rolling machine is partially enclosed within a frame housing including left and right spaced apart vertical side wall supports 10 and 11, respectively, supported from a base 12 and in turn carrying a horizontal intermediate support comprised at least in part of a plurality of parallel spaced apart transverse beams 13. The base 12 may rest on the floor. In some embodiments, the base 12 may be disposed on and/or supported by casters for movement as needed. A working area may be disposed between the left and right spaced apart vertical side wall supports 10 and 11. In some embodiments, the left and right side wall supports 10 and 11 may include left and right light curtain modules 104 and 102, respectively, attached thereto. In some embodiments, the right light curtain module 102 may include an emitter and the left light curtain module 104 may include a receiver. In some embodiments, the left light curtain module 104 may include an emitter and the right light curtain module 102 may include a receiver. A control box 106 for a safety apparatus, such as a light curtain including the left and right light curtain modules 104 and 102, respectively, and/or an emitter and a receiver, may be disposed on the frame housing, for example, on and/or attached to the base 12. In use, the emitter sends out a plurality of light beams across the working area to the receiver. As long as the plurality of light beams remains uninterrupted, the carpet rolling machine will remain turned on and operate normally. If one or more of the plurality of light beams in broken, for example due to interference by an operator's hand or other object, the carpet rolling machine is switched off. In order to restart the carpet rolling machine and continue rolling mats, the obstruction must be removed.

[0024] A rearward transverse roller 14 is journaled for rotation in a pair of bearing blocks 15 mounted on plate 16 which in turn is supported by beams 13 of the intermediate frame support. Preferably, a transverse idler roller 17, journaled for rotation in a pair of bearing blocks 18, is also mounted on plate 16. A forward transverse drive roller 19 is journaled in a pair of bearing blocks 20 (FIG. 1) supported in the frame side wall supports 10 and 11. The transverse idler roller 17 may be disposed between or intermediate the rearward transverse roller 14 and the forward transverse drive roller 19. The rollers 14, 17, and 19 may be oriented substantially parallel to each other and disposed with their axes lying generally in a horizontal plane, and together constitute a first set of rollers. The left and right light curtain modules 104 and 102 may be positioned on the frame housing such that the plurality of light beams extend across the working area generally above the transverse idler roller 17. Additional positional details of the left and right light curtain modules 104 and 102 will be discussed below.

[0025] The shaft of forward transverse drive roller 19 at one end may be fitted with a spur gear 21. A further spur gear 22 is driven through gear box 23, of appropriate reduction, by electric motor 24 which is operated by a pedal switch 25. Gears 21 and 22 are interconnected by a drive chain 26 or other suitable drive means, such as, but not limited to, a drive belt, one or more additional gears, a cable, a rope, or other suitable means. As seen in FIG. 1, the spur gears 21 and 22 and drive chain 26, which together may be considered to comprise a drive mechanism, may be disposed outboard or external to the vertical side wall support 10 and/or the frame housing relative to the working area of the carpet rolling machine. Although not shown for clarity, the drive mechanism is enclosed within a protective cover for safety reasons.

[0026] A first series of a plurality of substantially identical parallel spaced apart carpet transporting belts 27 extend between forward transverse drive roller 19 and rearward transverse roller 14, passing over transverse idler roller 17.

[0027] A horizontal top support frame and housing overlies the rearward end of the intermediate support. Transverse horizontal roller 28 is journaled for rotation in a pair of bearing blocks 29 supported by frame members 30 comprising part of the top support frame. Transverse horizontal roller 28 is spaced above rearward transverse roller 14 and is parallel thereto. The axes of rearward transverse roller 14 and transverse horizontal roller 28 lie in a generally vertical plane. In some embodiments, the transverse horizontal roller 28 is located slightly forward of rearward transverse roller 14 such that the plane formed by their axes inclines forwardly from vertical by about 5 degrees to about 15 degrees. Although not explicitly illustrated, in some embodiments, the transverse horizontal roller 28 is located slightly rearward of rearward transverse roller 14 such that the plane formed by their axes inclines rearwardly from vertical by about 5 degrees to about 15 degrees. In some embodiments, rearward transverse roller 14 and transverse horizontal roller 28 together may comprise a second set of rollers.

[0028] A second series of substantially identical parallel spaced apart carpet transporting belts 31 extend between rearward transverse roller 14 and transverse horizontal roller 28. As best seen in FIG. 1, as they engage rearward transverse roller 14, the second series of belts 31 alternate with and lie between belts 27 of the first series. All of the belts may be substantially taut. The first series of belts 27 driven by forward transverse drive roller 19 may drive rearward transverse roller 14, which in turn may drive the second series of belts 31. The outer surfaces of all of the belts are preferably provided with a roughened or textured surface for better engagement with the carpet runners.

[0029] At least one generally concave forwardly facing arcuate guide plate 32 is provided. Guide plate 32 is mounted on a cantilevered support rod 33 which is adjustably mounted to a back plate 34 comprising part of the top support frame. Guide plate 32 is mounted at the juncture between the first series of belts 27 and the second series of belts 31 such that it extends into the space between the travel paths of the belts so as to interrupt the travel path of the leading edge of a carpet runner carried on the first series of belts 27. As best seen by reference to FIG. 5, when the leading edge of a carpet runner 35 is carried rearwardly by the first series of belts 27, its path of travel is interrupted when it strikes guide plate 32, and the carpet runner 35 is then directed upwardly where it is engaged by the second series of belts 31.

[0030] As also best seen by reference to FIG. 5, in order to start the formation of a carpet roll, as the leading edge of the carpet runner 35 is carried upwardly by the second series of belts 31 as a result of its engagement with guide plate 32, it then engages a plurality of concave downwardly facing fingers 36 which reverses the direction of travel of the carpet runner 35 and directs the leading edge forwardly and downwardly. As may be seen in FIG. 1, each finger 36 is located immediately above a horizontal belt 27 of the first series and extends forwardly through the spaces between the vertical belts 31 of the second series. As the leading edge of the carpet runner 35 travels forwardly and downwardly, it comes into contact with the upper surface of the carpet runner 35, as it is being carried rearwardly by the first series of belts 27. Upon coming into contact with the upper surface of the carpet runner 35, the leading edge of the carpet runner 35 is again carried rearwardly, thereby forming a roll which is repeatedly carried along this path until the entire carpet runner 35 has moved past the plurality of fingers 36 to form a completed carpet roll.

[0031] Each of the plurality of fingers 36 is supported from a cantilevered arm 37 whose opposite end is supported in a bracket 38 fixedly secured to shaft 39. Shaft 39 in turn is supported for limited pivotal movement in a pair of bearing blocks 40 mounted on the back plate 34. The entire finger assembly is spring biased on its pivoting shaft 39 by coil spring 41 so as to exert constant pressure on the carpet runner 35 as it is being rolled, as best seen in FIG. 4. Guide plate 32 and fingers 36 are preferably made from or coated with polytetrafluoroethylene polymer, such as is sold under the trademark Teflon. As the carpet roll grows larger due to a greater length of the carpet roll having passed the plurality of fingers 36, the plurality of fingers 36 will pivot on the shaft 39 with each turn of the roll, thereby maintaining constant pressure on the carpet runner 35.

[0032] Upon the completion of the formation of a carpet roll, as best seen in FIG. 6, movement of the first series of belts 27 and the second series of belts 31 is stopped by actuation of the foot switch 25 to shut off the electric motor 24. Then, the plurality of fingers 26 may be released from the carpet roll by actuation of a manually-operated switch 42 which is mounted on the top support housing and frame. Switch 42 regulates the flow of air under pressure to a cylinder 45. One end of the cylinder 45 is pivotally attached to a bracket 47 supported from the back wall of the housing. A slotted fitting may be secured to one end of the piston 46, the second end of the piston 46 being disposed within the cylinder 45. The slotted fitting may pivotally and slidably engage a pin at the top end of a lever arm 48. The lower end of the lever arm 48 may be fixedly secured to the shaft 39.

[0033] Introduction of fluid into the piston or second end of the cylinder 45 via a means for providing fluid to the cylinder 45 from a source of the fluid, in response to actuation of the switch 42, causes piston 46 to be retracted within the cylinder 45, which in turn causes the lever arm 48 to rotate shaft 39 and the entire finger assembly to lift the plurality of fingers 36 from the completed carpet roll to an uppermost position to permit removal of the carpet roll. In some embodiments, the fluid may be compressed air, hydraulic fluid, oil, water, or other suitable fluid. In some embodiments, the source of the fluid may be connected directly to the cylinder 45. In some embodiments, the source of the fluid may be fluidly connected to the cylinder 45 by a length of hose or tubing. In some embodiments utilizing compressed air, a bleed hole 49 at the piston or second end of the cylinder 45 may provide controlled bleeding of compressed air from within the cylinder 45. Bleeding or removal of fluid from the cylinder 45, coupled with the tension of coil spring 41, causes the finger assembly, including the plurality of fingers 36, to rotate downwardly into position for rolling of the next carpet runner 35.

[0034] An idler roller 50 is desirably journaled near the front edge of the frame housing, forwardly and slightly downwardly from the forward transverse drive roller 19. This facilitates initial placement of the leading edge of a carpet runner 35 to be rolled for engagement by the first series of belts 27.

[0035] The carpet rolling machine may be made with a sufficient width to accommodate those mats and carpet runners ordinarily handled by the commercial laundry in which the carpet rolling machine is typically employed. Such mats or carpet runners may be from about 3 feet to about 6 feet in width and about 5 feet to about 15 feet in length, although other widths and lengths (smaller and/or larger) are contemplated and may be accommodated.

[0036] In the operation of the machine, the finger assembly is initially in a lowermost position, as shown in FIG. 5. With the machine inoperative, the leading edge of the carpet runner 35 is laid over the idler roller 50 and lined up with the forward transverse drive roller 19. The machine is turned on by actuation of the foot pedal 25 and the carpet runner 35 is quickly carried by the first series of belts 27 and the second series of belts 31 and rolled into a tight compact roll, as seen in FIG. 4. The electric motor 24 is turned off and the finger assembly is released and raised to the uppermost position by manual actuation of the switch 42. The rolled carpet is removed and tied or otherwise secured to maintain it in its rolled formation and the finger assembly may be returned to its lowermost position, ready to receive the next carpet runner 35 or mat.

[0037] FIG. 7 illustrates a schematic of an electrical control system for a safety apparatus, such as a light curtain including the left and right light curtain modules 104 and 102, respectively, and/or an emitter and a receiver. As discussed above, as long as the plurality of light beams remains uninterrupted, operation of the carpet rolling machine will continue normally. Interruption of any one or more of the plurality of light beams causes the control system to shut down the carpet rolling machine. In some embodiments, the carpet rolling machine cannot be operated, or in some cases even turned on, without the safety apparatus turned on and functioning properly.

[0038] FIG. 8 illustrates a portion of a safety apparatus attached to a carpet rolling machine. For clarity, the left light curtain module 104 attached to the left side wall support 10 is illustrated. It will be understood that the right light curtain module 102 attached to the right side wall support 11 may be positioned in the same or similar manner. In some embodiments, the left light curtain module 104 may be positioned just forwardly of the forwardmost reach of the plurality of fingers 36. In operation, the operator is positioned forwardly of the safety apparatus. Accordingly, as long as the safety apparatus is operating, the plurality of fingers 36 cannot move and/or strike an operator's hand (or other body part or object). As soon as the operator breaks one or more of the plurality of light beams, the machine will shut off. In some embodiments, the plurality of light beams may be positioned about 6 inches, about 7 inches, about 8 inches, about 9 inches, about 10 inches, about 11 inches, about 12 inches, about 13 inches, about 14 inches, about 15 inches, about 16 inches, about 17 inches, about 18 inches, or another suitable distance forward of an upwardly extending portion of the plurality of fingers 36, when the plurality of fingers 36 is in the uppermost position. In some embodiments, the plurality of light beams may be positioned such that an operator cannot extend their hand into the working space of the carpet rolling machine without shutting the machine off. In some embodiments, the left and right light curtain modules 104 and 102, respectively, and/or the plurality of light beams may be positioned directly above the transverse idler roller 17. In some embodiments, the left and right light curtain modules 104 and 102, respectively, and/or the plurality of light beams may be positioned about one-half inch, about one inch, about one and one-half inches, about 2 inches, about 3 inches, or another suitable distance rearward of the transverse idler roller 17. In some embodiments, the left and right light curtain modules 104 and 102, respectively, and/or the plurality of light beams may be positioned about one-half inch, about one inch, about one and one-half inches, about 2 inches, about 3 inches, or another suitable distance rearward of the transverse idler roller 17.

[0039] It should be understood that this disclosure is, in many respects, only illustrative. Changes may be made in details, particularly in matters of shape, size, and arrangement of steps without exceeding the scope of the invention. The invention's scope is, of course, defined in the language in which the appended claims are expressed.

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