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Title:
ROLLER BLIND MANUFACTURING MACHINE AND METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/001774
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A roller blind manufacturing machine, comprising a fabric unwinding station, a fabric cutting station, a roller tube attachment station, a fabric winding station, a bottom rail alignment station, a bottom rail pressing station, and a fabric and rail transport system.

More Like This:
WO/2016/156635DOUBLE-CANVAS DOOR
Inventors:
LIU ALEX (AU)
LIU YI (AU)
Application Number:
IB2020/056242
Publication Date:
January 07, 2021
Filing Date:
July 02, 2020
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
SUDU IP PTY LTD (AU)
International Classes:
E06B9/44
Domestic Patent References:
WO2017139833A12017-08-24
Foreign References:
US20030197085A12003-10-23
KR20160020281A2016-02-23
KR20090055524A2009-06-02
KR20090128757A2009-12-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MILLS OAKLEY (AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A roller blind manufacturing machine, comprising:

a fabric unwinding station for unwinding fabric from a roll;

a fabric cutting station for cutting unwound fabric into a length of fabric having front and back ends;

a roller tube attachment station for attaching the front end of the length of fabric to a roller tube;

a fabric winding station for winding the length of fabric onto the roller tube;

a bottom rail alignment station for aligning the back end of the length of fabric to a lower half-shell of a bottom rail;

a bottom rail pressing station for pressing an upper half-shell of the bottom rail onto the lower half-shell to form an assembled roller blind stick comprising the roller tube, length of fabric, and bottom rail; and

a fabric and rail transport system for pulling fabric and respectively positioning the lower and upper half-shells of the bottom rail at the bottom rail alignment station and the bottom rail pressing station.

2. The machine of claim 1 , further comprising a film wrapping station for wrapping the roller blind stick in plastic film.

3. The machine of claim 2, further comprising a stick offloading station for offloading the wrapped roller blind stick to a stick cartridge configured to hold multiple roller blind sticks.

4. The machine of claim 3, further comprising a stick transport system for moving the roller blind stick from the fabric winding station to the film wrapping station and the stick offloading station.

5. The machine of claim 4, wherein the stick transport system is further configured to place an indentation spacer strip between the bottom rail and remaining portions of the roller blind stick.

6. The machine of claim 1 , wherein the roller tube is fed to the roller tube attachment station from a hopper holding multiple roller tubes.

7. The machine of claim 1 , wherein the upper and lower half-shells of the bottom rail are respectively fed to the bottom rail alignment station and the bottom rail pressing station from cartridges respectively holding multiple upper and lower half-shells.

8. The machine of claim 5, wherein the indentation spacer strip is extracted from a cartridge holding multiple indentation spacer strips.

9. The machine of claim 1 , wherein the fabric unwinding station further comprises a tensioner bar for tensioning the fabric during unwinding.

10. The machine of claim 4, further comprising one or more controllers connected to one or more sensors associated with one or more of the stations, the fabric and rail transport system, and the stick transport system, wherein the one or more controllers are configured to automatically control one or more of the stations, the fabric and rail transport system, and the stick transport system in response to the one or more sensors.

1 1 . A roller blind manufacturing method, comprising using the roller blind manufacturing machine of claim 1 to manufacture roller blind sticks.

Description:
ROLLER BLIND MANUFACTURING MACHINE AND METHOD

Field

[0001 ] The present invention relates to a roller blind manufacturing machine and method.

Background

[0002] The present applicant’s WO 2017/139833 describes forming sticks of standard- width roller blinds as intermediate products that are subsequently cut down to custom widths to form multiple custom-width roller blinds as end products. “Sticks of roller blinds” or“roller blind sticks” described in WO 2017/139833 are supplied by the present applicant under the registered trademark STIC ® as an acronym as“STandardised /ntermediate Custom” blind.

[0003] A suitable cut-down machine for STIC™ roller blind sticks is described in the present applicant’s PCT/AU2019/050175. Both WO 2017/139833 and PCT/AU2019/050175 are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

[0004] A need exists for a manufacturing machine and method that enable fully automated, high speed, and high-volume production and handling of roller blind sticks.

Summary

[0005] According to the present invention, there is provided a roller blind manufacturing machine, comprising:

a fabric unwinding station for unwinding fabric from a roll;

a fabric cutting station for cutting unwound fabric into a length of fabric having front and back ends;

a roller tube attachment station for attaching the front end of the length of fabric to a roller tube;

a fabric winding station for winding the length of fabric onto the roller tube;

a bottom rail alignment station for aligning the back end of the length of fabric to a lower half-shell of a bottom rail; a bottom rail pressing station for pressing an upper half-shell of the bottom rail onto the lower half-shell to form an assembled roller blind stick comprising the roller tube, length of fabric, and bottom rail; and

a fabric and rail transport system for pulling fabric and respectively positioning the lower and upper half-shells of the bottom rail at the bottom rail alignment station and the bottom rail pressing station.

[0006] The machine may further comprise a film wrapping station for wrapping the roller blind stick in plastic film.

[0007] The machine may further comprise a stick offloading station for offloading the wrapped roller blind stick to a stick cartridge configured to hold multiple roller blind sticks.

[0008] The machine may further comprise a stick transport system for moving the roller blind stick from the fabric winding station to the film wrapping station and the stick offloading station.

[0009] The stick transport system may be further configured to place an indentation spacer strip between the bottom rail and remaining portions of the roller blind stick.

[0010] The roller tube may be fed to the roller tube attachment station from a hopper holding multiple roller tubes.

[001 1 ] The upper and lower half-shells of the bottom rail may be respectively fed to the bottom rail alignment station and the bottom rail pressing station from cartridges respectively holding multiple upper and lower half-shells.

[0012] The indentation spacer strip may be extracted from a cartridge holding multiple indentation spacer strips.

[0013] The fabric unwinding station may further comprise a tensioner bar for tensioning the fabric during unwinding. [0014] The machine may further comprise one or more controllers connected to one or more sensors associated with one or more of the stations, the fabric and rail transport system, and the stick transport system, wherein the one or more controllers are configured to automatically control one or more of the stations, the fabric and rail transport system, and the stick transport system in response to the one or more sensors.

[0015] The present invention also provides a roller blind manufacturing method using the roller blind manufacturing machine described above.

Brief Description of Drawings

[0016] Embodiments of the invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a side view of a roller blind manufacturing machine according to an embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 2 is a perspective separated view of a fabric and rail transport system of the machine; and

Figure 3 is a side view of a stick cartridge configured to hold multiple roller blind sticks manufactured by the machine.

Description of Embodiments

[0017] Referring to Figure 1 , a roller blind manufacturing machine 10 according to an embodiment of the present invention may generally comprise a fabric unwinding station 12, a fabric cutting station 14, a roller tube attachment station 16, a fabric winding station 18, a bottom rail alignment station 20, a bottom rail pressing station 22, a film wrapping station 24, a stick offloading station 26, and a stick transport system 28. The machine 10 may further comprise a fabric and rail transport system 30 as illustrated in Figure 2. The fabric and rail transport system 30 is not shown in Figure 1 to avoid obscuring the other components of the machine 10.

[0018] The machine 10 may further comprise one or more controllers connected to one or more sensors associated with one or more of the stations 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, the stick transport system 28, and the fabric and rail transport system 30. The one or more controllers may be configured to automatically control one or more of the stations 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, the stick transport system 28, and the fabric and rail transport system 30 in response to the one or more sensors.

[0019] The fabric unwinding station 12 may be configured to unwind fabric from a roll 30. The roll of fabric may be supplied mounted on a standard A-frame 34. The fabric may be wound on a centre axle which is motorised to allow automated unwinding. The fabric may then be fed across a tensioner bar 36 for tensioning the fabric during unwinding. Sensors may be used to detect current position of the tensioner bar 36, and more fabric may be automatically released when needed.

[0020] The fabric cutting station 14 may be configured to cut unwound fabric into a length of fabric having front and back ends. The fabric cutting station 14 may, for example, comprise two long bars that press down on either side of the cutting line to keep the fabric flat and taut. The fabric cutting station 14 may, for example, further comprise an ultrasonic cutter for cutting through the fabric.

[0021 ] The roller tube attachment station 16 may be configured to attach the front end of the length of fabric to a roller tube. This step is described in detail in WO 2017/139833. The roller tube attachment station 16 may, for example, comprise an ultrasonic welder. The roller tube may be fed to the roller tube attachment station 16 from a hopper 38 holding multiple roller tubes.

[0022] The fabric winding station 18 may be configured to wind the length of fabric onto the roller tube. The fabric winding station 18 may, for example, two rubber coated rollers. The roller tube may rest on top of the rollers that are motorised, and which then turn the roller tube. With the front end of the length of fabric previously welded to roller tube, this action will wind the length of fabric onto the roller tube. To prevent slippage and keep the length of fabric flat on the tube, three pressing mechanisms may be provided to press onto the roller tube while it is winding.

[0023] The bottom rail alignment station 20 may be configured to align the back end of the length of fabric to a lower half-shell of a bottom rail. This step is described in detail in WO 2017/139833. [0024] The bottom rail pressing station 22 may be configured to press an upper half-shell of the bottom rail onto the lower half-shell to form an assembled roller blind comprising the roller tube, length of fabric, and bottom rail. As described in WO 2017/139833, the assembled roller blind may comprise a standard-width roller blind stick as an intermediate product. The bottom rail pressing station 22 may, for example, comprise two sets of rollers that come down and press a pair of placed upper and lower half-shells of the bottom rail together via a rolling motion.

[0025] The upper and lower half-shells of the bottom rail are described in detail in WO 2017/139833. The upper and lower half-shells of the bottom rail may be respectively fed to the bottom rail alignment station 20 and the bottom rail pressing station 22 from separate cartridges 40A, 40B respectively holding multiple upper and lower half-shells. A lifting mechanism may then lift the upper and lower half-shells from their respective cartridges 40A, 40B until the top one reaches an extraction position.

[0026] Referring again to Figure 2, the fabric and rail transport system 30 may be configured to pull fabric and respectively position the lower and upper half-shells of the bottom rail at the bottom rail alignment station 20 and the bottom rail pressing station 22. The fabric and rail transport system 30 may traverse between the fabric cutting station 14, upper and lower half-shell cartridges 40A, 40B, and the fabric winding station 18. In addition to pulling fabric, it may also contain grabbers used to pick up upper and lower half-shells of the bottom rail and place them in the correct position.

[0027] The stick transport system 28 may be configured to move the roller blind stick from the fabric winding station 18 to the film wrapping station 24 and the stick offloading station 26. The stick transport system 28 may be further configured to place an indentation spacer strip between the bottom rail and remaining portions of the roller blind stick. The indentation spacer strip may be extracted from a cartridge 42 holding multiple indentation spacer strips. A lifting mechanism may lift the strips from their cartridge 42 until the top one reaches an extraction position. The stick transport system 28 may also handle spinning of the roller blind stick when wrapping film at the film wrapping station 24.

[0028] The machine 10 may be thought of as having two halves governed by two traversing systems. The first traversing system is the fabric and rail transport system 30 that traverses across different stations and initially pulls the fabric, as well as grabs and places the upper and lower half-shells of the bottom rail. The second traversing system is the stick transport system 28 which initially transports the roller blind stick after fabric has been wound onto the roller tube. The stick transport system 28 then holds onto the roller blind stick for the rest of the process until finally offloading it at the stick offloading station 26. The handover from the fabric and rail transport system 30 on each stick manufacturing cycle occurs once fabric winding completes and the stick transport system 28 takes over.

[0029] The film wrapping station 24 may be configured to wrap the roller blind stick in plastic film. The film wrapping station 24 may, for example, comprise four separate film wrap mechanisms working simultaneously on one roller blind stick. In addition to saving time, this arrangement allows wrapping load to be evenly spread out, which is advantageous during the initial stage when trying to adhere the first end of the plastic film. With multiple points of support during wrapping, the bottom rail will not come loose under gravity, thus helping the wrap initiation process.

[0030] Referring to Figure 3, the stick offloading station 26 may be configured to offload the wrapped roller blind stick to a stick cartridge 44 configured to hold multiple roller blind sticks. The stick offloading station 26 may, for example, comprise a pair of arms that move down to pick up opposite ends of a roller blind stick. After a roller blind stick has been produced, it may be placed in a holder cell of the stick cartridge 44. The stick cartridge 44 may comprise multiple holder cells that are interlocked together to form a layer of holder cells that comprise a modular racking system for the roller blind sticks made by the machine 10. Multiple layers may then be staggered and stacked on top of each other to form a compartment for multiple roller blind sticks. The multiple layers of holder cells may sit on a pallet for easy transportation after the stick cartridge 44 has been filled. The pallet may be supported by an elevator platform. After the completion of each layer, the platform may automatically lower by the height of one layer, and a new layer of holder cells may then be placed on top of the just-completed layer. [0031 ] The machine 10 may be automatically controlled to perform the following sequence of steps in a fully automated method of manufacturing roller blind sticks.

1 (a). New roller tube is released and placed on rollers of the fabric winding station 18.

1 (b). New indentation spacer strip is picked up.

I (c). A lower half-shell of a bottom rail is picked up and placed in the bottom rail alignment station 20.

2. Fabric is pulled to the roller tube attachment station 16, picking up a new upper half-shell of the bottom rail on the way.

3. Front end of fabric is attached to the roller tube.

4. Fabric is wound onto the roller tube at the fabric winding station 18 until predetermined length is reached.

5. Fabric is cut at the fabric cutting station 14.

6. Fabric is wound slowly until the back end reaches the attachment position on the lower half-shell of the bottom rail.

7. Back end of fabric is attached to the attachment position on the lower half shell of the bottom rail at the bottom rail welding station 20.

8. Upper half-shell of the bottom rail is placed on top of the lower half-shell of the bottom rail.

9. Bottom rail pressing station 22 presses the upper and lower half-shells together.

10. Fabric is wound until the bottom rail reaches rest of roller blind stick.

I I (a). Roller blind stick is handed over to the stick transport system 28.

1 1 (b). A new roller tube is released, a lower half-shell of a bottom rail is picked up, and next cycle starts.

12. Roller blind stick is transported to film wrapping station 24 for wrapping.

13. An indentation spacer strip is placed between the bottom rail and rest of the roller blind stick during the wrap initiation process.

14. Wrapping completes and film is cut.

15. Finished roller blind stick is placed into designated holder cell.

16. A new indentation spacer strip is picked up.

17. Product transport system 28 gets in position ready to pick up next stick. [0032] Embodiments of the present invention provide a manufacturing machine and method that are both generally and specifically useful for fully automated, high speed, and high-volume production and handling of sticks of roller blinds.

[0033] For the purpose of this specification, the word "comprising" means "including but not limited to," and the word "comprises" has a corresponding meaning.

[0034] The above embodiments have been described by way of example only and modifications are possible within the scope of the claims that follow.




 
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