System for conveying objects from a nested stack of objects to a printer for printing

A technology of printing system and conveyor, which is applied in the field of printing on three-dimensional objects, and can solve problems such as difficulties

Active Publication Date: 2018-11-23
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AI-Extracted Technical Summary

Problems solved by technology

It is difficult to apply graphic content to three-dimensional objects usi...
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A printer includes a conveyor that feeds objects from a stack of nested objects to the printer. The conveyor includes a member having protuberances that extend from the member to hold the lips of objects in the stack except for the object closest to the printheads in the printer. A spindle mounted to a member is moved to be within an orifice of the object closest to the printheads to engage that object and pull it from the stack. The spindle rotates to facilitate the printing of the object. After the object is printed, it is released from the spindle and gravity directs the printed object along a ramp to an opening in the printer for collection.

Application Domain

ConveyorsTypewriters +4

Technology Topic

EngineeringMechanical engineering +3


  • System for conveying objects from a nested stack of objects to a printer for printing
  • System for conveying objects from a nested stack of objects to a printer for printing
  • System for conveying objects from a nested stack of objects to a printer for printing


  • Experimental program(1)

Example Embodiment

[0012] For an overall understanding of the embodiments of the present invention, refer to the accompanying drawings. In the drawings, similar reference numerals have been used throughout to designate similar elements.
[0013] figure 1 The printing system 100 is depicted, which is configured to retrieve objects from the stack 104 of nested objects, print the surface of the retrieved objects, and release the printed objects into the nested stack 108. The printing system 100 includes a housing 112, such as figure 2 As shown in, the printer is positioned in the housing 112 for printing objects. As depicted in the figure, the nested object stack is a stack of plastic cups, but the nested stack can have any objects that can be nested together and present a small hole at one end of the nested stack. The nested stack 104 is positioned within the conveyor 116 for translation into the housing 112. The details of the conveyor structure are presented below.
[0014] in figure 2 The internal components of the printing system 100 are shown in more detail in. The shuttle 120 is mounted on the supporting member 124 for reciprocating movement along the member. The fixed pitch screw member 128 is operatively connected to the shuttle 120 and the actuator 122, so the actuator can rotate the screw member 128 bidirectionally, thereby causing the shuttle to move along the member 124 bidirectionally. The shuttle 120 is operatively connected to the bar 132 which terminates in the shaft 136. The strip 132 is a hollow body that provides a conduit that pneumatically connects the shaft 136 to the vacuum source 140. As the shaft 136 and the shuttle 120 advance toward the stack 104, the shaft enters the small hole of the first object in the nested object stack in the stack 104. The one or more holes in the shaft 136 enable the vacuum source 140 to draw air from the small holes of the first object and mate the inside of the object with the shaft 136.
[0015] When the actuator 122 is operated to rotate the screw member 128 in reverse, the shuttle 120 returns to its starting position, which positions the object 140A to oppose the two arrays of print heads 144 and 148, on each side of the object. There is an array. Each array 144 and 148 has four print heads, but fewer or more print heads can be configured in each array. The eight print heads in the two arrays 144 and 148 are operatively connected to the ink supplies 152A to 152H, respectively, and therefore, each print head is supplied separately and independently by only one ink supply in the system 100. Another container 154 is provided to the print head maintenance system in the printer for collecting waste ink from the cleaning operation of the print head. The actuator 134 operatively connected to the bar 132 rotates the bar, and therefore, the shaft 136 rotates together with the object 140A. The controller 156 operates the print heads in the print head arrays 144 and 148 to print text and graphics on the object 140A in up to eight different colors. After the object 140A is printed, when one or more of the print heads used to print the surface of the object 140A eject UV ink onto the surface of the object, the controller 156 operates the UV lamp 168 (which is positioned in the print head array 144 and 148 below) to cure the ink printed on the surface of the object 140A. Once the curing process is completed, the controller disconnects the vacuum source 140 from the bar 132 and the shaft 136, so the weight of the object separates the object from the shaft 136. In some embodiments, the shaft is stopped so that the object is positioned relative to the multiple print heads where the mechanical stop 158 is absent. Once the printing of the object is completed, the controller will operate the actuator to continue moving the object away from the stack. Therefore, as an alternative to releasing the object from the axis, the edge of the object will hit the stopper and push from the axis object.
[0016] The lower part of the opening 160 through which the conveyor 116 extends is located at one end of the ramp 164. The other end of the ramp 164 is operatively connected to the actuator 166 to move the other end of the ramp 164 toward and away from the rear end of the object 140A positioned on the shaft 136. When the object is released from the shaft, gravity will guide the object onto the ramp 164, during the curing process, the ramp 164 has its other end raised by the controller 156 operating the actuator 166. The object slides through the lower part of the opening 160 along the ramp 164 and is aligned with the previously ejected object by the guide 172. The tab 176 is installed to the housing 112 to support the stack of discharged objects within the guide 172. When a series of objects have been printed and discharged for a specific text and graphic pattern, the stack can be removed from the guide 172, and therefore, the stack of objects can be printed in another text and graphic pattern.
[0017] image 3 The conveyor 116 is shown in more detail in. The conveyor 116 includes a tray 320 having a channel 324 with the bottom plate 328. The support bracket 304 is operatively connected to the endless belt 308 that is dragged around the pair of pulleys 312, therefore, the rotation of the pulleys causes the support bracket 304 to move bidirectionally in the channel 324 of the tower 320. One of the pulleys 312 is operatively connected to the actuator 332 for bidirectional rotational movement of the pulleys. The support bracket 304 includes: a pair of prongs 336, which support the bottom of the last object in the nested object stack; and a centered tab 340, which fits in a recess at the bottom of the last object in the stack . The curved support member 344 adapts to the curvature of the outer surface of the last object in the stack, and the member 344 terminates in a tab 348 that is parallel to the longitudinal wall of the channel 324. The sensor 352 is located at the end of the conveyor 116 that is positioned within the printing system 100. Such sensors can be optical sensors, magnetic sensors or mechanical sensors. The sensor 352 is configured to detect the presence of the tab 348 and generate an electrical signal indicating that the tab 348 is opposite the sensor. The controller 156 is operatively connected to the sensor 352 to receive a signal generated by the sensor when the tab 348 is positioned at the sensor, and in response, the controller operates the actuator 332 to reverse the direction of rotation of the pulley 312, thereby turning The carriage 304 is transferred back to another pulley 312, so that another object can be stacked and loaded into the conveyor 116 in close contact with the carriage 304.
[0018] Figure 4 The interaction between the objects in the nested object stack 104 and the endless belt 308 is shown. The endless belt 308 includes an endless cable or wire net 404 spirally wound with the wire net 408 at a fixed pitch along the entire length of the wire net 404. The spirally wound wire web 408 is shown only at one end of the wire web 404 to assist the drawing. The portion of the wire mesh 408 positioned between the flanges 412 of the object helps secure the object in the stack. When the object 140B at the end of the stack reaches the end of the conveyor where the shaft may contact the small hole in the object, the wire net 408 follows the wire net 404 and falls off the flange of the object 140B in the printing system 100. Therefore, the portion of the wire mesh 408 does not hinder the removal of the foremost object 140B in the tray 324 from the stack 104. When the axis 136 ( figure 2 When the vacuum entering the small hole of the object 140B and flowing through the opening in the shaft draws the inside of the object to engage the shaft, the reverse movement of the shuttle 120 and the shaft 136 will remove the object 140B from the stack. However, the spirally wound wire web 408 will provide sufficient resistance to translate the remaining objects in the stack so that it continues to exist in the conveyor 116 until the actuator 332 advances the pulley 312 sufficiently so that the wire web 408 no longer interacts with The flange of the foremost object engages so that the object can be removed once the currently printed object is ejected.
[0019] It should be understood that the different devices disclosed above, as well as other features and functions or their substitutes, can be advantageously combined into many other different systems or applications. Various alternatives, modifications, changes or improvements that are currently unforeseen or unexpected can be subsequently made by those skilled in the art, and are also intended to be covered by the following claims.


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