Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
AUTOMATIC METHOD AND DEVICE FOR CUTTING SUBSTRATES HAVING PRINTED IMAGES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/203384
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention relates to a method for cutting substrates with printed images in an automatic cutting device (100) provided with means for correcting alignment errors based on the detection of longitudinal and transverse cutting marks. The longitudinal cutting marks (LM) are provided with a discontinuity (N) arranged upstream of each transverse cutting mark (TM) with respect to a feeding direction (F) of a substrate (S) and spaced therefrom by a predefined known measure (d). The automatic cutting device (100) comprises a first optical unit (140) configured to detect the transverse cutting marks (TM) and a second optical unit (150) configured to detect the discontinuities (N) in the longitudinal cutting mark (LM). Since the velocity of the substrate is known, the control system activates the first optical unit (140) when the transverse cutting mark (TM) actually passed underneath it. Thanks to this combination of features it is possible to reliably solve the technical problem of detecting the transverse cutting marks by automatic cutting devices providing for errors correction.

More Like This:
Inventors:
MADDALON, Valter (Via Gramsci 61, Pralungo BI, 13899, IT)
Application Number:
IB2017/052766
Publication Date:
November 30, 2017
Filing Date:
May 11, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
FOTOBA INTERNATIONAL S.R.L. (Via Guglielmo Marconi 101, Quaregna BI, 13854, IT)
International Classes:
B41J11/46; B26D1/10; B26D5/00; B26D11/00; B41F13/58; B41F13/60; B41J11/66; B41J11/68; B41J11/70; B42D15/00; B65H35/02; B65H35/04; G01N21/88; G01N21/89
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SPINA, Alessandro (Società Italiana Brevetti S.p.A, Via Carducci 8, Milano MI, 20123, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A method for cutting substrates comprising printed images by way of an automatic cutting device (100) provided with means for the correction of alignment errors, said method comprising the steps of:

i) Printing a plurality of images (IM1, IM2) on a substrate (S);

ii) Printing a longitudinal cutting mark (LM) close to an edge of said substrate (S) and parallel to edges of said images (EVI1, IM2) in a longitudinal or feeding direction (F) and a plurality of transverse cutting marks (LM) perpendicular to said longitudinal cutting mark (LM), said transverse cutting marks (TM) being arranged between consecutive images (FM1, FM2) printed on said substrate (S); iii) Providing an automatic cutting device (100) having a first optical unit (140) configured for the detection of said transverse cutting marks (TM);

iv) Feeding the substrate (S) into said automatic cutting device (100);

characterized in that said longitudinal cutting mark (LM) is printed such that it has a discontinuity (N) arranged upstream of each transverse cutting mark (TM) with respect to said feeding direction (F), said discontinuity (N) being spaced from the respective transverse cutting mark (TM) by a predefined known measure (d);

in that the automatic cutting device (100) is provided with a second optical unit (150) configured for the detection of said discontinuities (N) in the longitudinal cutting mark (LM);

and in that a control system of the automatic cutting device (100) is configured such that, when the second optical unit (150) detects the discontinuities (N) of the longitudinal cutting mark (LM), the first optical unit (140) is selectively activated for the detection of transverse cut marks (TM) printed on the substrate (S).

2. A cutting method according to claim 1, wherein the discontinuities (N) of the longitudinal cutting mark (LM) are indentations.

3. A cutting method according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the second optical unit (150) is configured to detect the discontinuities (N) of the longitudinal cutting mark (LM) as well as to monitor the latter along the feeding direction (F) and the correction of alignment errors of the substrate (S).

4. An automatic device (100) for cutting substrates (S) comprising printed images, said device (100) comprising:

i) one or more longitudinal cutting units (120) configured to allow cutting of a substrate (S) in a feeding direction (F);

ii) at least one transverse cutting unit (130) configured to allow cutting of said substrate (S) in a transverse direction (T) perpendicular to said feeding direction (F);

iii) correction means for the correction of alignment errors of a substrate (S), wherein said correction means comprise a first optical unit (140) arranged in said transverse direction (T) and configured for the detection of transverse cutting marks (TM) printed on said substrate (S);

iv) a control system to which said first optical unit (140) is operatively connected;

characterized by further comprising a second optical unit (150) that is operatively connected to said control system and is provided with two detection points (151, 152), said second optical unit (150) being arranged at one end of said automatic device (100) in the transverse direction (T) in such a way that, in use, said two detection points (151, 152) are arranged opposite each other with respect to a longitudinal cutting mark (LM) printed along an edge of the substrate (S) fed in the feeding direction (F);

and in that it said control system is configured to activate the first optical unit (140) selectively on the basis of signals indicative of discontinuities in said longitudinal cutting mark (LM) received from said second optical unit (150).

5. An automatic device (100) according to claim 4, further comprising a third optical unit arranged at one end of said automatic device (100) in the transverse direction (T) and configured for monitoring the longitudinal cutting mark (LM).

6. An automatic device (100) according to claim 5, wherein the third optical unit is arranged close to the second optical unit (150).

7. An automatic device (100) according to claim 4, wherein the second optical unit (150) is configured for both the detection of the discontinuities (N) of the longitudinal cutting mark (LM) and its monitoring in the feeding direction (F), as well as for the correction of alignment errors of the substrate (S).

Description:
AUTOMATIC METHOD AND DEVICE FOR CUTTING SUBSTRATES

HAVING PRINTED IMAGES

The present invention generally relates to the field of automatic devices for cutting substrates on which a plurality of images are printed. Substrates of this type are in particular strips of paper, cloth, PVC and the like, that are provided in the form of sheets or wound in rolls. More particularly, the invention relates to a cutting method and a device providing for the correction of alignment errors of a substrate, wherein correction is based on the detection of longitudinal and transverse cutting marks printed along the edges of the images.

It is known that graphic and photographic techniques, including digital rendering, are undergoing deep changes and are being developed by abandoning prints made by way of traditional optical systems and increasingly focusing on inkjet printing technology from digital files on sheets or rolls providing substrates having the most varied features and dimensions.

The individual images are obtained by cutting processes whereby the substrates are introduced into automatic cutting devices having cutting units configured to make cuts in a longitudinal direction, parallel to a feeding direction, as well as in a transverse direction perpendicular to the feeding direction.

The longitudinal cutting units of these automatic cutting devices are typically restrained to a transverse bar along which they are locked at predetermined positions corresponding to the longitudinal edges of the images printed on the substrate. At least one transverse cutting unit is instead movable along a cross bar, for example by way of an electric motor and a toothed transmission belt.

These cutting devices may advantageously be provided with means for correcting alignment errors of the substrate with respect to the feeding direction and to the transverse direction along which the longitudinal and transverse cutting units operate.

To this aim, suitable cutting marks that stretch out in the longitudinal, or feeding, direction and in the transverse direction are printed on the substrate close to the images and parallel to their edges. The cutting marks consist of one or more parallel black bands that indicate the position and orientation of the images printed on the substrate and therefore serve as a reference for the cutting operations.

An example of such a substrate is described by patent US 6536892 Bl, according to which the images and the transverse and longitudinal cutting marks are printed together with a same printing head.

The correcting means of the cutting devices typically include optical units, such as e.g. reflective optical cells, that are operably connected to a control system in turn comprising a microprocessor provided with a suitable control program.

When a printed substrate is made to advance in the longitudinal or feeding direction, the optical units focus the cutting marks, check their position, and whenever misalignments of the images printed on the substrate are detected in the feeding direction and/or in the transverse direction, the control system operates suitable actuators and/or motorized rollers that correct the position of the bars or guides on which the cutting units are mounted.

Patent EP 1883510 Bl in the Applicant's name describes an automatic cutting method and an automatic cutting device according to the preamble of the independent claim 1 and the independent claim 4, respectively.

The aforementioned automatic cutting devices with the related correcting means have been developed for the so-called "large format" printers, meaning that they can print images on substrates having a width of 1600 mm or larger. However, applications for smaller format printers are more and more required.

In the case of images printed on large format substrates, the cutting marks may generally be clearly distinguished from the printed images, so that the optical units of the automatic correcting means operate substantially free from alignment and/or cutting errors.

On the contrary, in the case of lower-size substrates, the cutting marks may be confused with portions and/or details of the printed images, as well as with text elements, due to their lower scale. Hence, there is a possibility that the optical units of the correcting means make reading errors and, consequently, it is likely that the correcting means intervene only partially or not at all.

This problem essentially concerns the transverse cutting marks, which are printed between consecutive images in the longitudinal or feeding direction, whereas no problem substantially exists as far as the longitudinal cutting marks are concerned, because these are continuous lines extending over the whole length of a substrate in the feeding direction.

There is therefore a need to improve the automatic cutting methods and devices providing for correction of alignment errors, which is an object of the present invention. Said object is achieved by a method and an automatic device, whose main features are specified in claims 1 and 4, respectively, while other features are specified in the remaining claims.

An idea of solution underlying the invention is to modify the longitudinal cutting marks by providing them with a discontinuity arranged upstream of each transverse cutting mark with respect to the feeding direction and spaced from each transverse cutting mark by a predefined known measure. Correspondingly, an automatic cutting device having means for correcting alignment errors is provided with an optical unit operatively connected to a control system thereof and configured to detect the discontinuities such that, the substrate feeding velocity being known, the optical units intended to detect the transverse cutting marks are selectively activated when the latter actually pass under them.

It is thus possible to reliably solve the technical problem of detecting the transverse cutting marks, which affects the automatic cutting devices providing for errors correction, more particularly the devices configured to cut substrates having a width smaller than 1600 mm.

The main advantage offered by the invention is that the cutting method may be implemented in an extremely cost effective way. On the one hand in fact it is sufficient to print longitudinal cutting marks having periodic discontinuities at known positions. On the other hand it is sufficient to provide an automatic cutting device with an optical unit configured to detect such discontinuities and to set up a microprocessor of the control system so that the optical units intended to detect the transverse cutting marks are activated upon detection of the discontinuities formed in the longitudinal cutting marks.

Another advantage offered by the invention is that the optical units used to detect discontinuities may also be used to monitor the longitudinal cutting marks when a substrate proceeds in the feeding direction and to correct possible alignment errors with reference to these cutting marks.

Further advantages and features of the present invention will become clear to those skilled in the art from the following detailed and non-limiting description of embodiments thereof with reference to the accompanying drawings wherein:

- Figure 1 is a perspective view showing an automatic cutting device according to the invention;

- Figure 2 shows a detail II of figure 1 ;

- Figure 3 is a top plan view schematically showing a portion of a substrate having two printed images and related cutting marks when the substrate passes through the automatic cutting device.

Referring to figures 1 and 2, an automatic cutting device according to the invention for the cutting of substrates having printed images is generally indicated by reference numeral 100.

The device 100 includes a frame 110, for example a frame movable on wheels, comprising in a known manner a pair of uprights 111, 112 supporting a plane (not shown) intended to receive a substrate S having a plurality of printed images with the related cutting marks. A plurality of drag rollers (not shown) are also mounted on the frame 110 so as to allow to move the substrate S in a longitudinal or feeding direction between an inlet and outlet of the cutting device 100. The longitudinal or feeding direction is schematically indicated by an arrow F.

The cutting device 100 further comprises one or more longitudinal cutting units 120 configured to cut the substrate S in the feeding direction F and at least one transverse cutting unit 130 configured to cut the substrate S in a transverse direction T perpendicular to the feeding direction F.

The longitudinal cutting units 120 are restrained to a bar 113 of the frame 110 extending between the uprights 111, 112 in the transverse direction T. The position of the longitudinal cutting units 120 along the bar 113 in the transverse direction T can be modified manually or automatically, depending on the number of images printed on substrate S and on their layout. The transverse cutting unit 130 is movable along a guide direction T parallel to the bar 113. The transverse cutting unit 130 may e.g. be driven by a motor through a transmission belt.

The cutting device 100 further comprises means for correcting alignment errors of the substrate S relative to the feeding direction F and the transverse direction T along which the longitudinal cutting units 120 and the transverse cutting unit 130 operate. The correcting means include optical units, such as reflective optical cells, that are operably connected to a control system (not shown) of the device 100 comprising a microprocessor provided with a suitable control program. It is known that the correction of errors is based on the detection of longitudinal and transverse cutting marks printed on the substrate along the edges of the images.

In the embodiment shown in the drawings, the device 100 comprises a first optical unit 140, for example consisting of two reflective optical cells 141, 142 which may be associated with the guide 114 along which the transverse cutting unit 130 is moved. The first optical unit 140 is e.g. arranged in the middle of the guide 114 and the two reflective optical cells 141, 142 are spaced apart in transverse direction T so as to allow to detect alignment errors of the substrate relative to the transverse cutting marks printed thereon.

According to the invention, the cutting device 100 further comprises a second optical unit 150 operably connected to the control system and cooperating with the first optical unit 140 so as to send a confirmation of the actual passage of a transverse cutting mark to the control system.

The second optical unit 150, e.g. in the form of a linear CCD sensor or an equivalent sensor, comprises two reading points 151, 152 that are mutually spaced apart in the transverse direction T, and is arranged close to one of uprights of the frame, e.g. the upright 112, so that the two reading points 151, 152 are positioned opposite to each other with respect to a longitudinal cutting mark printed on the substrate S that proceeds in the feeding direction F.

Figure 3 schematically shows a substrate S passing through the automatic cutting device 100 in the feeding direction F. A plurality of images EVI1, EVI2, etc. are printed on the substrate S consecutively in the feeding direction F. Transverse cutting marks TM, e.g. consisting of a pair of parallel black bands, are printed between consecutive images. A longitudinal cutting mark LM is printed close to an edge of the substrate S and extends parallel to the images IM1, IM2 in the feeding direction F.

According to the invention, the longitudinal cutting mark LM comprises a discontinuity, for example in the form of an indentation N, an interruption or the like, located upstream of each transverse cutting mark TM with respect to the feeding direction F and spaced therefrom by a predefined known measure "d", for example comprised between 150 mm and 200 mm. This measure is an input given to the control system of the automatic cutting device 100.

Since the velocity of the substrate S in the feeding direction F is known, detection of the discontinuity N in the longitudinal cutting mark LM by the second optical unit 150 allows the control system to know precisely when the transverse cutting marks TM following the discontinuity will pass under the first optical unit 140 configured to detect them. This allows to avoid detection errors and therefore errors when correcting the position of the substrate S. The activation of the first optical unit 140 by the control system is selectively performed upon detection of the discontinuity in the longitudinal cutting mark LM. In other words, detection of the discontinuity in the longitudinal cutting mark LM predicts arrival of the transverse cutting marks TM.

According to an embodiment of the invention, the device 100 may comprise a third optical unit (not shown) restrained to the frame 110 close to one of the uprights, e.g. the upright 112, and configured to detect alignment errors of the substrate S with reference to the longitudinal cutting mark LM printed thereon. The third optical unit may advantageously be arranged close to the second optical unit 150, thus forming a single reading block for the longitudinal cutting mark LM.

According to an alternative embodiment of the invention, the second optical unit 150 may be configured for detecting the discontinuity N in the longitudinal cutting mark LM preceding the transverse cutting TM, as well as for monitoring the longitudinal cutting mark LM, i.e. to control alignment of the substrate S.

The invention has herein been disclosed with reference to preferred embodiments thereof. It will be appreciated that there may be further embodiments relating to the same inventive idea, as defined by the scope of protection of the claims set forth below.