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Title:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR THE REFILL OF INKJET PRINTER CARTRIDGES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2006/072157
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Device and method for the refill of inkjet printer cartridges comprising a reservoir for the storage of bulk ink as well as means of injection of ink in a cartridge comprising a peristaltic pump (13) powered by and electric motor (19) and controlled by and microprocessor and respective memory, a groove (31) for the insertion of the cartridge, sized according to it, said groove has and interface (32, 47) for the injection of the ink as well as a presence sensor (33) that indicates the correct positioning of the cartridge. The device comprises a main body (20) and a frontal body (30), said main body contains the receptacle (12) in which the ink reservoir is fitted, the peristaltic pump and its respective means of control, light indicators of the operation of the device, switch, power source, start and finish buttons of the refill process. The frontal body, manufactured in several versions corresponding to different models of cartridges, comprises a groove (31) sized to receive the respective cartridge, the presence sensor (33) and the feed interface (32, 47).

Inventors:
HAZAN SAMUEL ISACCO (BR)
Application Number:
PCT/BR2006/000002
Publication Date:
July 13, 2006
Filing Date:
January 06, 2006
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
HAZAN SAMUEL ISACCO (BR)
International Classes:
B41J2/175
Domestic Patent References:
WO2004091920A12004-10-28
WO2001036204A12001-05-25
WO2004024454A12004-03-25
Foreign References:
US5704403A1998-01-06
DE20106404U12002-08-14
US20040263589A12004-12-30
US20030005650A12003-01-09
US6390613B12002-05-21
US20010013884A12001-08-16
US6164766A2000-12-26
US6224198B12001-05-01
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Cerdeira, Felipe Bocardo (1812 Cjto. 4, Pinheiros -150 São Paulo - SP, BR)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS
1. "DEVICE FOR THE REFILL OF INKJET PRINTER CARTRIDGES", comprising a reservoir for the storing of ink and means of injection of ink in a cartridge, characterized by the fact that said reservoir has capacity for several refills, said means of injection comprise a pump with is electrically put in work, as well as a groove (31) with a size that is compatible to the size of the cartridge to be refilled, having an interface (32, 47) for the infection of the ink in the cartridge and a presence sensor (33) that indicates its correct insertion.
2. "DEVICE", according to claim 1, characterized by the fact that said pump (13) is controlled by a microprocessor and a stored program that is compatible with the model of the cartridge to be refϊlSed.
3. "DEVICE", according to claims 1 or 2, characterized by the fact that the pump (13) is bi. directional.
4. "DEVICE", according to claim 3, characterized by the fact that the pump (13) is peristaltic.
5. "DEVICE", according to claim 1, characterized by the feet that it is provided with a set of Sight indicators (18) that indicate the progress of the refill process.
6. "DEVICE", according to claim 1, characterized by the fact that its is provided with a receptacle (12) in which the recipient (flask) of ink is fitted.
7. "DEVICE", according to claim 1, characterized by the fact that the presence sensor (33) is provided by a micro. switch.
8. "DEVICE", according to any of the previous claims, characterized by the fact that its consists of a first and second body, being the second specific for each model of cartridge, the first body (20) comprising the receptacle (12), the set of light indicators (18), the pump (13) and the motor (19), and the microprocessor; and the second body (30) comprises the interlace (32β 47) for the ink injection, the presence sensor (33) and the groove sized according to the cartridge it is destined for.
9. "METHOD FOR THE REFILL OF INKJET PRINTER CARTRIDGES", characterized by the fact that it comprises the steps of detection of the presence of the cartridge correctly inserted in the respective groove, initiation of the operation of the means of control of the ink pump, which comprise a microprocessor with associated memory, reception of the command to initiate the automatic operation of refill, injection of the ink in the cartridge and signaling of the end of the refill process.
10. "METHOD", according to claim 9, characterized by the fact that is additionally comprises the withdrawal of the residual ink from the cartridge by the pump (13).
11. "METHOD", according to claim 10, characterized by the fact that the ink withdrawn is taken to the recipient of bulk ink.
12. "METHOD", according to claims 9, 10 or 11, characterized by the fact that the amount of ink to be inserted in the cartridge is controlled by a microprocessor according to the data stored in its associated memory.
13. "METHOD", according to claim 9, characterized by the fact that the total amount of refill operations conduced by the device are stored.
14. "METHOD", according to claim 9, characterized by the fact that said refill operation comprises the injection of the ink in the cartridge through its printing head through a feed interface (32) that is adjustable to it.
15. "METHOD", according to claim 9, characterized by the fact that said refill operation comprises the injection of the ink in the cartridge (11) by the respective service valve (46) through the injection interface (47) along with the withdrawal of the air from the cartridge by the suction interface.
Description:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR THE REFILL OF INKJET PRINTER CARTRIDGES

Field of the invention

The present invention is related to a device to refill cartridges used in inkjet printers. Background and Description of Prior Art

In view of the elevated costs of the ink cartridges used in inkjet printers, several solutions have been presented to cany out the ink refill in order to reuse the cartridges. Besides the elevated costs, there is a real possibility of a given cartridge to run out of ink in the middle of an extensive work, which incurs in the loss of said work with negative operational and economical consequences. The last observation is better applied to plotter printers of great dimensions used in industrial work. in the last years, considerable efforts have been made in the development of devices for the refill of ink cartridges of all types, including devices of continuous feed of ink in plotter cartridges of great dimensions. Among the presented solutions, a few of them could be pointed out:

- Devices that refill the cartridges through the bottom service hole:

The patent US2003/0056850 describes a device of this type where the cartridge refill is carried out through a needle inserted in said service hole. Such needle is attached to a special syringe that is loaded with the ink. St is a manual device whose functioning is comparable to a simple ink injection. Such procedure has the downside of the direct manipulation of the ink, which invariably causes wasting, spilling and filth. It is also difficult to calculate the correct amount of ink to be inserted in the cartridge without overfilling it or filling it incompletely. Furthermore, after the refill, it is necessary to correctly seaf said service hole under the penalty of ink spill inside the printer during its functioning.

The patent US6390613 describes a similar method, which differs from the above basically because of the shape of the injection syringe and its insertion in the bottom service hole of the cartridges. However, the downsides are the same.

Another patent that presents a similar solution is the US2001 /0013884. It is a much more complex device where the syringe is replaced by a manual vacuum pump coupled to tie service hole by the means of a pressure interface. In this device the probability of ink spilling and wasting is even greater than in the previous ones.

- Continuous refill devices:

The patent US6164766 describes a continuous refill system specially designed for large printers of the plotter type. In this type of printers, the interruption of a work in the middle due the running out of ink of one of the cartridges can cause the total loss of said work and the need to redo it entirely. In order to overcome this great inconvenience, the invention presents a large ink reservoir system coupled through hoses to automatic electric pumps that inject the ink directly in the printer cartridge through a hole special made for this end in the top portion of said cartridge. A computerized control system evaluates the exact amount of ink to be pumped in each cartridge according to the level of ink in each one of them. The system works continuously during the norma! operation of the printer. This solution is obviously expensive and specific for large plotter printers. St is not applicable to domestic printers.

Another similar system that was developed exclusively for Lexmark printers is described on the patent US6224198. It is an specific solution and it is as expensive as the previous one and It is only applicable to Lexmark printers. -Devices that refill through the pierced plate of the printing head:

These devices present the advantage of not needing the opening of any of the services holes existing in the cartridges and not even of additional specific holes.

The patent WO01/36204 describes a device of this type where a specific interface is applied on the printing head of said cartridge to be refilled. Said interface has a sealing ring in order to prevent spills and its is kept pressured against the printing head by a mechanical device coupled to the cartridge. The ink is injected manually in the cartridge by means of a specific injection syringe. Such device presents the downsides similar to tie manual injection devices that were previously describe herein.

A much more modem device, which is totally automated, that is applicable to several types of cartridges and uses a method of refiϋ through the printing head is described in the patent WO2004/024454. This device consists of a small portable cabinet, having an ink feed interface adjustable under pressure to the printing head of the cartridge to be refilled. Such interface is provided with a sealing ring that prevents spills during the refill process. The cartridge is inserted in the cabinet through an appropriate opening along with a disposable reservoir containing the refill ink. The device transfers the ink from the reservoir to the cartridge by automatic pumping without any human contact, in order to carry out this task, the device has a small electric pump, which is electronically controlled. The main downside of this invention lies in the fact

that it demands and ink reservoir for each refill because said reservoir has the same amount of ink that is held by the cartridge. Mother downside consists of the fact that it is necessary to wait until the cartridge runs completely out of ink or it wil! overflow during its refill. Objectives of the invention fn view of what was previously described, the present invention has the objective of presenting a new refill device that is simpler, with less movable parts, of lower cost, making it affordable even for domestic use.

Another objective of the invention consists in providing a device that is available at any time for immediate use.

A further objective of the present invention consists in avoiding tie purchase of a special reservoir of refill ink.

Another objective of the present invention is to allow the refill of cartridges that are not completely empty, avoiding possible overflow. A further objective of the invention is providing a device that allows ffte utilization of the residuaS ink in the cartridges. Brief Description of the invention

The objectives above are attained by a device that consists of a small portable cabinet, which is able to automatically refill the ink cartridge, constituted by a body containing a receptacle sized for the housing of a bulk ink reservoir, an electric pump for the suction and moving the ink, an electronic unit of control with a microcomputer and memory, a power feeding source and a groove of an appropriate shape to fit an ink cartridge. Said groove has a feed interface adaptable to the printing head of the cartridge, which also has a sealing ring to prevent spills during the Ink pefitl process as well as a sensor to detect the presence of the cartridge.

According to another feature of the invention, said body consists of a main body that contains the electric pump, the electronic unit, the power feeding source, the receptacle for the ink reservoir, flexible tubes of connection and a frontal body that contains the cartridge groove, the interface for the ink feed and the sensor to detect the presence of the cartridge.

According to yet another feature of the present invention, the electric pump is peristaltic and operates both ways.

According to another feature of the invention, the sensor that detects the presence of the cartridge is of the micro-switch type.

According to yet another feature of the invention, the interface for the ink feed is sized according to the pierced plate of the printing head of the cartridge to be refilled. According to another feature of the present invention, means of sealing are provided between the ink feed interface and the printing head of the cartridge in order to prevent possible spills of ink during the refill procedure.

According to yet another feature of the invention, the method for the refill comprises the following steps: - insertion of the cartridge in the groove;

- extraction of the residual ink through the suction produced by the electric pump;

- refill, through the inversion of the pump, with an amount of ink specified in the memory of the controlling plate according to the model of the cartridge;

- withdrawal of the cartridge. According to another feature of the invention, the ink reservoir has enough capacity for several refills.

According to yet another feature of the present invention, the operation is initiated after the signaling by the presence sensor of the correct placement of the cartridge in the groove. According to another feature of the invention, the operation steps are signaled by light indicators placed on the top portion of the cabinet Brief Description of the Drawings

The other features and advantages of the present invention shall be better understood with the detailed description of the preferred embodiments, being this description given as an example and not in the sense of limiting the scope of the present invention, and also of the drawings hereof.

Figures 1-a and 1-b show perspective views of two embodiments of the device corresponding to two types of cartridges.

Figure 2 shows a section view of the complete device, corresponding to the embodiment presented ϊn Figure 1-b.

Figure 3 shows a front view of the device corresponding to the version presented in Figure 1-a, making the groove for the cartridge evident. Figure 4 shows a rear view of the complete device.

Figure 5 shows a section view of the device corresponding to the embodiment presented in Figure 1-a. Detailed Description of Preferred Embodiments

On Figure 1 both perspective views of the cabinet (10) can be seen. The cabinet (10) comprises the main body (20) where the receptacle (12) in which the ink reservoir is coupled (not shown on the Figure) and the frontal body (30) containing the groove (31) for the cartridge. This cartridge (11) is indicated on the Fig. 1-a inserted in the respective groove en refill position. Said frontal body is manufactured in several models according to the several types of cartridges to be refilled, being the main body suitable for all these models. The Figure also shows the light indicators (18) placed in the top portion of the cabinet

Figure 2 shows in a section cut the internal structure of the device, which is similar for aii the models when the main body (20) is concerned. As illustrated, said main body comprises a receptacle (12) for the housing of the ink reservoir, indicated on the figure with a traced line, a peristaltic pump (13) and the respective electric motor (19), a plate with the electronic controlling unit (17), the power source (4) indicated by a traced line, as well as the flexible tubes (36) and (37), the first linking said pump to the feed interface (32) and the second linking the pump to the ink reservoir. The frontal body of this figure corresponds to the model illustrated on Figure 1-b and comprises the groove (31) for the housing of the cartridge (not shown on this figure), said feed interface (32) has an elastic sealing ring (35) and a presence sensor (33), which, in this present embodiment, consists of a micro-switch. Sn order to be clearer, the figure does not detail the electric connections nor the components of the plate of the electronic controlling unit. Figure 3 shows a frontal body (3) corresponding to the embodiment illustrated in

Figure 1-a, showing the cartridge (11) housed in the groove (31) for the housing of a cartridge (11). Due to the fact that the size of this later being inferior to the depth of said groove, this model of frontal body is provided with hollows (38) and (39) in both sides of said groove, in which the fingers of the user can be inserted to facilitate the withdrawal of the cartridge from said groove. The figure also shows, behind the frontal body (30), the main body (20) equipped with light indicators (18) on its top portion.

Figure 4 shows a perspective rear view of the device, in which the receptacle (12) stands out for the housing of the reservoir or ink flask (not shown), the tubes (37)

that link said reservoir to the peristaltic pump inside the device, the power cord (42) and the switch (41).

Finally, Figure 5 shows a section view of the embodiment of the device illustrated on Figure 1~a, showing the position of the cartridge (11) inserted in the groove (31) in the refill position as well as one of the hollows (39), which make it ease for the user to withdraw this cartridge.

When a given cartridge (11) is inserted in the groove (31) of a frontal body (30) suitable to its model, its printing head is adjusted with perfect sealing to the feed interface (32), which has an elastic sealing ring (35) with a size corresponding to said printing head. The presence sensor (33) signals its correct positioning and starts the automatic refill process. The events are controlled by an electronic unit (17) which determines the amount of ink to be inserted in the cartridge (11) by recognizing the model determined by the frontal unit (30) used in the device, in the first step the peristaltic pump (13) sucks all the residual ink from the interior of the cartridge (11), cleaning it.

In a first embodiment of the present invention, the ink that is sucked from the cartridge is not wasted because its is returned to the reservoir and mixed with the ink in it. After this, the electric motor (19) has its rotation inverted and the pump (13) starts pumping the ink from the reservoir to the cartridge (11). When the amount of ink corresponding to the model of the cartridge programmed in the memory of the controlling plate (17) is reached, the operation is terminated and the device shuts down automatically. Now the refuted cartridge (11) onϊy needs to be removed from the groove. in a second embodiment, an additional pump is used, which carries out the suction of the ink before the refill. This ink could be taken to the specific reservoir for such end.

The present invention has been described according to specific embodiments. However it must be understood that modifications can be introduced within this original inventive concept. The invention is defined by the following claims.