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United States Patent 3,770,091
Platt November 6, 1973

WIRE TYPE TAPE PRINTING APPARATUS

Abstract

A portable strip printer for use in data collecting systems which is portable and requires small amounts of power, and may be operated from a battery. The printer includes a printing head having a plurality of independently actuated impacting elements spaced from an anvil and receiving the paper therebetween. The paper may be of the carbonless variety and is impacted "on the fly". The drive means for the printer is adapted to control the transfer of paper from one reel to another reel for printing purposes as well as controlling the transfer of tape in a "rewind" direction to allow any printed information on the paper strip to be searched and to re-transfer the tape in the reverse direction to place a "clean" strip in position for printing out further information.


Inventors: Platt; John D. (Claremont, CA)
Assignee: MSI Data Corporation (Montclair, CA)
Appl. No.: 05/104,352
Filed: January 6, 1971


Current U.S. Class: 400/614 ; 242/597.7
Current International Class: B41J 2/255 (20060101); B41J 2/25 (20060101); B41j 003/10 (); B41j 009/00 ()
Field of Search: 197/1 242/68.3,210,201

References Cited

U.S. Patent Documents
1946604 February 1934 Wittel
2837294 June 1958 Jacobs
2994535 August 1961 Genning
3133710 May 1964 Herterich
3211014 October 1965 Sanderson
3354817 November 1967 Sakurai et al.
3418427 December 1968 Jones
3467232 September 1969 Paige
3554465 January 1971 Marukawa
3558072 January 1971 Wakahara
3592311 July 1971 Chou
3603442 September 1971 Ward
3672482 June 1972 Brombaugh
Primary Examiner: Burr; Edgar S.

Claims



What is claimed is:

1. A portable strip printer comprising a pair of spaced rotatable tape storage reels adapted for transferring a strip of tape stored on one of the reels to the other reel with the tape extending between the reels so that any printing on the tape is visible to the operator, one of the reels functioning as a tape supply reel for clean tape to be printed with the other reel functioning as a tape take-up reel for receiving the tape from the supply reel including storing the printed tape thereon,

each of the tape storage reels being pivoted with a friction drive disc,

drive means including a single electrical motor having a drive shaft pivotably mounted to be swingable into driving engagement with each of the drive discs for controlling the rotation of said reels for transferring tape from one reel to the other reel in both directions, said means including means for controlling the coupling position of the drive means for controlling the transfer of clean tape from the supply reel in a forward direction to allow the advancing tape to be printed;

means for controlling the coupling position of the drive means for controlling the transfer of tape in a rewind direction opposite to the forward direction to allow any printing on the tape to be examined by the operator as it is transferred from the take-up reel back onto the supply reel;

means for controlling the coupling position of the drive means for controlling the transfer of tape in a fast forward direction to allow the tape to be rapidly advanced in the printing direction from the supply reel to the take-up reel until an unprinted section of the tape is observed by the operator to allow printing to continue, said control means including means for electrically energizing the motor in accordance with the selected forward, rewind, or fast forward directions,

means for withdrawing the tape from the supply reel to continuously advance it to the take-up reel to allow printing thereon,

the tape supply reel storing a strip of impact sensitive paper that will be visibly marked upon becoming impacted by a printing element,

a printing head mounted intermediate the reels for impacting the paper and serially marking it as it advances by the head, said printing head comprising an anvil and a plurality of independently actuated impacting elements spaced from the anvil and receiving the paper therebetween for marking, the impacting elements being lightweight, elongated, needle-like elements arranged in a plane in an arcuate configuration for impacting a preselected area of the paper strip as the paper strip advances thereby and each including an individual solenoid having a plunger mounting the impacting element and energizable for moving the impacting element against the anvil upon energization thereof for impacting the paper at a preselected area as it continuously advances thereby, the individual solenoids being selectively and successively energized for defining characters by printing successive serial marks on the paper, and

circuit means for selectively energizing the individual solenoids for selectively and successively marking the paper for printing out alphanumeric characters defined by the combination of marks on the paper.

2. A portable strip printer as defined in claim 1, including means for continuously engaging the take-up reel drive disc to prevent backlash of the paper on tape rewind.

3. A portable strip printer as defined in claim 1 wherein said means for advancing the strip of tape includes a rotatable capstan arranged on one side of the tape intermediate the tape storage reels and a drive roller arranged on the opposite side of the strip of tape for frictionally engaging the tape at the capstan to cause the tape to be advanced in response to the rotation of the capstan, and means for intermittently actuating and de-actuating the capstan at a rate related to the printing rate of the characters on the tape.

4. A portable strip printer as defined in claim 3 wherein said impacting elements have a total stroke of approximately 0.040 inch.

5. A portable strip printer as defined in claim 1 including means coupled to the individual solenoids for limiting the travel of the solenoid plungers, and individual means for guiding the marking ends of the impacting elements for striking the anvil.

6. A portable strip printer comprising a pair of spaced rotatable tape storage reels adapted for transferring a strip of tape stored on one of the reels to the other reel with the tape extending between the reels so that any printing on the tape is visible to the operator, one of the reels functioning as a tape supply reel for clean tape to be printed with the other reel functioning as a tape take-up reel for receiving the tape from the supply reel including storing the printed tape thereon,

each of the tape storage reels being provided with a friction drive disc,

single, swingable means simultaneously engageable with each of the storage reels for holding the reels and any paper stored on the reels from slipping off of the spindles and to guide the paper in winding and unwinding of the paper onto a spool when swung to one position overlying the reels, said single means being swingable to another position out of engagement with the reels and releasably held in said other position for allowing the placement and removal of the reels onto and from their respective spindles,

drive means including a single electrical motor having a drive shaft pivotably mounted to be swingable into driving engagement with each of the drive disc for controlling the rotation of said reels for transferring tape from one reel to the other reel in both directions, said drive means including means for controlling the coupling position of the drive means for controlling the transfer of clean tape from the supply reel in a forward direction to allow the advancing tape to be printed;

means for controlling the coupling position of the drive means for controlling the transfer of tape in a rewind direction opposite to the forward direction to allow any printing on the tape to be examined by the operator as it is transferred from the take-up reel back onto the supply reel;

means for controlling the coupling position of the drive means for controlling the transfer of tape in a fast forward direction to allow the tape to be rapidly advanced in the printing direction from the supply reel to the take-up reel until an unprinted section of the tape is observed by the operator to allow printing to continue, said control means including means for electrically energizing the motor in accordance with the selected forward, rewind, or fast forward directions,

means for withdrawing the tape from the supply reel to continuously advance it to the take-up reel to allow printing thereon, said withdrawing means including a rotatable capstan arranged on one side of the tape intermediate the tape storage reels and a drive roller arranged on the opposite side of the strip for frictionally engaging the tape at the capstan to cause the tape to be advanced in response to the rotation of the capstan, means for actuating and de-actuating the capstan at a rate related to the rate of printing of the individual characters on the tape,

the tape supply reel storing a strip of impact sensitive paper that will be visibly marked upon being impacted by a printing element,

a printing head mounted intermediate the reels for impacting the paper and serially marking it as it advances by the head, said printing head comprising an anvil and a plurality of independently actuated impacting elements spaced from the anvil for receiving the paper between the anvil and impacting elements for marking, the impacting elements being lightweight, elongated, needle like elements arranged in a plane in an arcuate configuration for impacting a preselected area of the paper strip as the paper strip advances thereby and each including an individual solenoid having a plunger mounting the impacting element and energizable for moving the impacting element against the anvil upon energization thereof for impacting the paper at a preselected area as it continuously advances thereby, the individual solenoids being selectively and successively energized for defining characters by printing successive serial marks on the paper,

means coupled to the individual solenoids for limiting the travel of the solenoid plungers and individual means for guiding the marking ends of the impacting elements for striking the anvil, and circuit means for selectively energizing the individual solenoids for selectively and successively marking the paper for printing out alphanumeric characters defined by the combination of marks on the paper.
Description



This invention relates to a printing apparatus and more particularly to a portable strip printer. At the present time there are various types of printing apparatus available including various types of strip printers. In general, the more compact printers employ a rotating printing wheel which is rotated to select characters for printing out the selected characters. These units vary in size although even the compact desk top units are not considered to be portable as they embody a large number of bulky elements. There is a need for a strip printer that is relatively inexpensive, reliable and yet portable that may be used in data collection applications.

The present invention provides an improved printing apparatus that is fast, simple, light in weight and portable that may be incorporated into present day data collections systems. The strip printer of the present invention may print out characters by means of marking on impact sensitive paper and defining alphanumeric characters in terms of marks arranged in a 5 .times. 7 matrix. The present invention is further characterized as being resistant to shock caused by handling the printer and has relatively low power consumption.

From a structural standpoint the present invention provides a portable strip printer that is adapted for marking impact sensitive paper of the "carbonless" variety or heat sensitive paper that is marked in response to being struck by a heated impact element. The paper is stored on a storage reel and advanced to a take-up reel by means of a capstan drive. In its travel from the supply reel to the take-up reel the paper is impacted by a plurality of impact marking elements at a printing head station. The printing head station may comprise seven impacting elements that may be independently actuated and selected for defining marks on preselected areas of the paper. Alpha-numeric characters may be defined by impacting certain areas on the paper and defining a character as a result of the marks produced in five sequential areas on the paper. The impact elements may all be arranged in a single plane in a fan-like fashion and actuated through individual solenoids to cause them to strike a particular area on the paper. When the paper is the carbonless type of paper the striking of the paper by the impact element results in a mark being produced at the impacted area. The invention is further advantageously defined through the provision of a single drive means that is pivotally mounted to be swingable in driving engagement with the storage reel and the take-up reel for transferring paper between the reels. When the printing apparatus is employed in combination with a data collection system it may be necessary to reverse the direction of the tape drive to allow the operator to read what has been marked or printed out on the paper. In addition, some control is required to return the paper to an unprinted or clean section for continuing the printing or data collection processes. A single drive means employed in the present invention allows this to be accomplished simply and inexpensively through the provision of control means for pivoting the single drive shaft between the two reels. The storage reels may each be provided with friction drive discs to allow the drive shaft of an electrical motor to be pivoted into engagement with each of the drive discs for selecting the direction of travel of the tape. The control means operable with the pivotal drive means may comprise electromechanical means for moving the drive shaft into driving engagement with a drive disc and electrically energize the motor in a preselected sequence.

These and other features of the present invention may be more fully appreciated when considered in the light of the following specification and drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of the printing apparatus embodying the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken along the line 2--2 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a bottom plan view of the printing apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged front elevational view of the paper hold-down device and illustrating the alternate position of the device in dotted outline;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view taken along the line 5--5 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view, with portions broken away, of the printing head assembly and illustrating the control circuitry employed therewith;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary view of a paper strip for illustrating the mode in which a character may be defined in terms of marks arranged in a 5 .times. 7 matrix.

Now referring to the drawings, the printing apparatus which is the subject of the present invention will be described employing carbonless paper of the type presently available from a number of commercial sources including National Cash Register Company and Minnesota Mining and Mfg. Company. The important characteristic of the paper is that upon being struck by a marking element with relatively low force, a visible mark will be produced on the paper at the impacted area. The marking can also be produced through the use of a heat sensitive paper. In that case the impact element need only be modified through the provision of some heat source to heat the marking or impacting element so that the heat may be transferred to the paper upon impact to produce the visible mark. The invention will also be described for printing out alphanumeric characters that are defined by the marking of selected areas on the paper in terms of a 5 .times. 7 matrix. Stated differently, the invention employs seven impact or marking elements that are arranged in alignment for marking selected areas in vertical alignment on a paper strip and through the selection of the marking elements in five sequential steps build up or define an alphanumeric character, as is well known in the art. It should be appreciated that any other type of marking, such as binary coded, may be implemented through the present invention.

The printing apparatus 10 comprises a supply spool 11 for storing the carbonless paper in the form of a narrow strip. The paper is guided by means of a plurality of idler rollers 12 from the supply spool 11 past a printing head 13 and advanced by means of a capstan 14 and pinch roller 15 arranged adjacent to the take-up spool 16. The carbonless paper is identified by the reference character 17. The paper is held on the spools 11 and 16 and guided onto and off of the two spools by means of a single hold-down device identified by the general reference character 18.

The impact or marking elements can be best appreciated from examining FIG. 6. FIG. 6 illustrates the printing head 13 illustrating a plurality of impacting elements 20 coacting with an arcuate anvil 21 for marking the paper 17 between the marking elements 20 and the anvil 21. In accordance with the present embodiment, seven such marking elements are provided and are arranged in a fan-like configuration and spaced apart at approximately 5.degree. to allow them to be readily mounted in the same plane for the purposes of simplicity. It will be recognized that the impacting elements 20 are arranged in this fashion for impacting or striking a selected area on the paper. The impacting elements 20 are defined as elongated, needle-like striking elements of lightweight construction and are mounted by means of a collar 22 to limit travel of the plungers for the energizable solenoids 23; See FIG. 6. The solenoids 23 and the associated impacting elements 20 are all mounted on a plate 24. The plate 24 has a plurality of solenoid mounting sockets 25 defined thereon for receiving an individual solenoid 23 therein and secured thereto by means of the apertures 25.sup.a and 25.sup.b to the mounting plate 24. The plate 24 also functions as a heat sink for the solenoids 23. The solenoids 23 are all commercially available and may include a return spring 26 mounted for coacting with the solenoid to return the elements 20 to a normal retracted position after being actuated. The marking end of the elements 20 are guided into striking relationship with the anvil 21 by means of guide slots similar to the guide slots 26 illustrated in FIG. 6. The anvil 21 is radiused to allow all of the solenoids 23 to be identical in length and allow the ends of the impact element 20 to be perpendicular to their lengths and to be free to rotate and preferably strike the anvil flat. In one practical embodiment of the printer 10, the total stroke of the impact elements 20 is 0.040 inch.

The illustrated arrangement for mounting the solenoids 23 allows an infinitely variable position for each solenoid which is necessary so that each solenoid plunger will "bottom out" internally simultaneously with its impact element 20 striking the paper 17 thereby assuring maximum impact, regardless of tolerance build-up in individual solenoids. This arrangement also makes it possible to set the solenoid stroke outside the assembly and correcting the straightness of needles before assembly.

The information to be printed out on the paper 17 is considered to be electrically defined and is represented in block form and identified as I. This electrical information is coupled to the solenoid selection circuit means S having output circuits coupled to the individual solenoids 23 for selectively energizing the solenoids for actuating the impact elements 20 in a predetermined relationship for defining the alphanumeric character in terms of a 5 .times. 7 matrix. Such selection circuit means are well known in the art and a type of printer disclosing such circuitry and printing apparatus is disclosed in U. S. Pat. No. 3,012,839.

Briefly, to facilitate the understanding of the present invention the definition of an alphanumeric character in terms of a 5 .times. 7 matrix is illustrated in FIG. 7 on a strip of paper. The printing position is illustrated in dotted outline wherein the seven impact elements 20 are illustrated in vertical alignment for impacting and marking a particular area on the paper 17. It should now be understood that the impact elements 20 when actuated strike the same vertical position on the paper each time as it travels by. The arrangement of the marks in FIG. 7 illustrates the definition of the letter E in terms of a 5 .times. 7 matrix. The aligned impact elements 20 are identified in FIG. 7 by the numbers 1-7 reading from the top to the bottom of the paper 17. The impacting elements 1-7 which are actuated during the five sequential steps for printing out the letter E, as the paper moves from right to left through the area identified as the printing position, are also identified. In examining FIG. 7, it will be noted that during the first printing interval all of the impact elements 1 through 7 are actuated in the first printing position, in the second and thrid printing positions 1, 3 and 7 are actuated and in the fourth and fifth positions the elements 1 and 7 are actuated so that as the paper 17 is advanced beyond the printing position the letter E will be visible.

An important feature of the present invention is the simple mechanical means for switching the direction of travel of the paper tape 17 between the two spools 11 and 16 of FIG. 1. This arrangement is best appreciated from examining FIG. 3. The important feature of this arrangement is the provision of a single drive means that is pivotably mounted between the supply spool 11 and the take-up spool 16 for controlling the direction of travel of the paper. The drive means is identified as an electrical motor 30 having a rotatable shaft 30S. The motor 30 is mounted on a pivotable plate 31 that is pivoted about the shaft 32P acting as a pivot. The plate 30 is arranged intermediate a rewind disc 32 arranged coaxially with the spindle for the supply spool 11 and a take-up drive disc 33 arranged coaxially with the take-up spindle for the take-up spool 16. Each of the drive discs 32 and 33 have their outer peripheries provided with a friction surface. It will be recognized that with the rotation of the drive disc 32 or 33 the corresponding spools 11 or 16 are rotated. Accordingly, the plate 31 is arranged so as to be pivotable to place the drive shaft 30S into driving engagement with either the drive disc 32 or the drive disc 33. As illustrated in FIG. 3 the drive shaft 30S is illustrated in its normal driving relationship with the take-up drive disc 33. The position of the plate 31 is controlled by means of a control knob 46 arranged on the mounting plate for the printer 10; see FIG. 1. The position of the control knob 46 illustrated in FIG. 1 corresponds to the position of the shaft 30S in FIG. 3 or the position identified as the "forward" position. This may also be referred to as the normal printing mode position of the knob 33. In this position an extension spring 34 mounted with a fastener 35 to the free end of the plate 31 keeps the motor shaft 30S in contact with the take-up drive disc 33. The alternate position of the mounting plate 31 is controlled by means of a second extension spring 36 arranged on a mounting screw 38 secured to a U-shaped member 37 mounted to the bottom side of the control knob 33. Associated with the spring 36 and its mounting screw 38 is an electromechanical switch 39 connected in circuit relationship for controlling the energization of the drive motor 30. With the movement of the control knob 46 and the member 37 to the "rewind" position or upwardly towards the switch 39 as illustrated in FIG. 3, the drive shaft 30S will be placed into frictional driving engagement with the rewind drive disc 32 and subsequently with the continued travel of the member 37, it will actuate the switch 39 and thereby energize the spool drive motor 30. At this point it should be noted that a leaf spring 32D is secured to the pivot 32P and is provided with a light friction pad (not illustrated) to act as a light friction drag on rewind to prevent "backlash" of the paper 17. The spring 32D does not pivot with the motor 30.

The other position of the drive motor 30 is for the purpose of defining the "fast forward" position. This may be necessary, for example, when a clean paper is desired to be placed at the printing head 13 after searching through the printed information on the paper 17 in the rewind position. For this purpose, the control knob 46 is moved downwardly from the rewind position to the forward position. In this position the screw 38 for mounting the spring 36 is allowed to move freely in its retaining aperture on the U-shaped member 37 and travels towards the fast forward switch 40. The switch 40 is electro-mechanical and is similar to the switch 39 for energizing the motor 30. At the time interval that switch 40 is actuated, the motor shaft 30S has been moved into engagement with the drive disc 33. It will be recognized by those skilled in the art that the motor 30 in both the rewind and the fast forward positions are continuously energized as long as the control knob 46 is held in actuating position by the operator.

In addition to the drive motor 30, a capstan drive motor 41 is adapted for driving a capstan 14 for incrementally advancing the paper between the capstan 14 and the pinch roller 15 onto the take-up spool 16. The pinch roller 15 is mounted to the end of a leaf spring 15S which is secured to the cover plate 13C for the printing head assembly. The capstan motor 41 is arranged to be driven incrementally in any conventional fashion to allow the paper 17 to be incrementally advanced through the printing head 13. For this purpose the capstan motor 41 may be de-energized between characters and the natural deceleration of the motor and other rotating element will prevent the paper 17 from actually stopping between characters and is therefore impacted "on the fly." If there are no further characters to be printed, the paper advancement is arrested. For the purposes of simplicity and reducing the cost of the printing apparatus the capstan motor 41 is arranged in a frictional drive arrangement with capstan 14. It will be recognized, however, that the coupling of the motor shaft 41S for the capstan motor 41 to the capstan 14 may be in any conventional arrangement as well as the control of the motor 41 to produce the incremental driving action.

The hold-down element 18 provided for the paper 17 wound on the spools 11 and 16 is of a unique and simple design that allows it to engage both the spools 11 and 16 at the same time. The hold-down element 18 is secured to a grooved post 42 and held in position by means of a leaf spring 43. The post 42 is mounted to the supporting plate for the spools 11 and 16 intermediate the spools so as to be pivotable within the mounting groove 42G. The hold-down element 18, for this purpose, is defined in a V-shaped configuration with each arm of the V extending in engagement with one of the spools 11 and 16 and secured in the groove 42G. It is held in this position by the pressure exerted by the leaf spring 43 secured to the outside of the post 42. With the pivoting of the arms of the hold-down element 18 in a counterclockwise direction or upwardly as illustrated in FIG. 1, the leaf spring pressure is overcome and the arms may be held in a substantially vertical position, as illustrated in dotted outline in FIG. 4. In this position the leaf spring 43 functions to retain the element 18 in this upward position and allows the spools 11 and 16 to be removed from their spindles. It will also be noted that with the hold-down element 18 in operating position, it acts as a guide to the proper winding and unwinding of the paper tape 17 from the respective spools.

With the above structure in mind, the operation of the present invention can now be described. It will be recognized that a spool of the carbonless paper similar to the spool 11 will be mounted on the respective storage spool spindle and threaded around the guide rollers 12, through the printing head 13, through the capstan 14 and pinch roller 15 and around the guide 12 to be stored on the take-up spool 16. With the energization of the capstan motor 41 and the position of the control knob 33 in its normal forward direction the paper 17 will be advanced from the storage spool 11 onto the take-up spool 16 as a result of the driving action of the capstan 14 and pinch roller 15. At this time the drive motor 30 will rotate the take-up spool 16. If the source of information I is coupled to the solenoid selection circuit means S, the solenoids 23 will be energized to cause their respective impact elements 20 to be moved into marking relationship with the anvil 21 for marking the paper 17 accordingly. The source I, then, will provide the necessary information to the selection circuit means S for actuating the impact elements 20 for marking the paper 17 as it is advanced through the printing head 13. Under these conditions, this action will continue in response to the information to be printed out and the paper 17 will be continuously advanced from the spool 11 to the spool 16 as long as there is information to be printed out. During this printing mode it will be appreciated that the spring 34 will maintain the motor shaft 30S in driving engagement with the disc 33 to advance the take-up spool 16 as the paper is printed. While in this mode the spring 36 is in a completely relaxed position. If, after the information is printed, the operator is required to read the original printed data, he may do so by simply moving the control knob 33 to the rewind position. In this arrangement, since the spring 36 is defined to be more stiff than the spring 34, the movement of the control knob 46 causes the pivoting action of the plate 31 to move the shaft 30A away from the drive disc 33 and towards driving engagement with the rewind drive disc 32. The continuous movement of the control knob 46 will cause the operating arm of the switch 39 to be actuated and energize the drive motor 30 thereby rewinding the paper 17 from the take-up spool 16 back onto the spool 11. This action allows the operator to examine the printed material. After this operation is complete and the operator has read the printed material or has determined that it is correctly printed out, he may move the control knob 46 to the fast forward position, to prepare the printer 10 to continue in the print mode by quickly advancing the paper 17 from the storage spool onto the take-up spool 16. This results from the screw 38 sliding freely on the element 37 until it contacts the switch 40 for continuously energizing the motor 30. This, of course, will allow spring 34 to cause the motor shaft 30S to be pivoted from the rewind disc 32 to the take-up disc 33 and the paper 17 will be transferred until clean copy is presented to the printing head 13.

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