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Publication numberUSRE38986 E1
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 10/341,156
Publication date21 Feb 2006
Filing date1 Sep 1998
Priority date1 Sep 1998
Fee statusPaid
Also published asUS6198536
Publication number10341156, 341156, US RE38986 E1, US RE38986E1, US-E1-RE38986, USRE38986 E1, USRE38986E1
InventorsDouglas V. Baker
Original AssigneeX-Rite, Incorporated
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Portable scanning spectrophotometer
US RE38986 E1
Abstract
The specification discloses a portable spectrophotometer (10) providing improved movement and control of the sample (S) during analysis. The unit (10) includes a base (12) and an upper assembly (14) supported on the base (12) for floating movement. Both a spectral measurement engine (20) and drive rollers (104) are contained within the upper assembly. The base (12) includes independently suspended idler rollers (16), and the drive rollers (104) engage the idler wheels (16), so that at least a portion of the weight of the upper assembly (14) is borne by the engaging drive rollers (104) and idler rollers (16). The upper assembly (14) therefore floats up and down with samples (S) of varying thickness moving between the rollers (104 and 16). Additional upstream idler rollers (18 and 24) on the base and the upper assembly engage one another and bear a portion of the weight of the upper assembly (14) to create tension in opposition to the drive rollers (104) to hold the sample (S) taut. A planar media guide (130) is located on the underside of the upper assembly (14) and surrounds the spectral engine (20) to engage the sample (S) and reduce flexing and bowing of the sample (S). A manually actuated backer (30) is supported by the base (12) to selectively present to the spectral engine (20) one of two areas (32a and 52b) with different reflective properties. The unit (10) may include a fast light source (21) in the spectral engine and a second light source (60) in the backer (30) so that the spectrophotometer (10) is capable of both reflective and transmissive analysis.
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Claims(50)
1. A color measurement instrument comprising:
an upper assembly including an underside, a color measurement engine for analyzing a sample located under said underside, and a plurality of driven rollers projecting at least partially from said underside for engaging and moving the sample; and
a base including a plurality of idler rollers and suspension means for independently resiliently suspending at least selected ones of mid idler rollers for downward movement under a load, said idler rollers being aligned with and engaging said driven rollers to at least partially support said upper assembly on said base, whereby said idler rollers can individually deflect to accommodate samples of varying thickness moving between said driven and idler rollers and to otherwise enhance engagement of said driven and idler rollers.
2. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 1 wherein said suspension means is an arm supporting each suspended roller, all of said arms being integrally molded with and extending from said base.
3. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 1 wherein said driven rollers are positioned to pull the simple past said color measurement engine and further comprising tension means for maintaining a tension on the sample, said driven rollers and said tension means located on opposite sides of said color measurement engine.
4. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 1 wherein said driven rollers are mounted on and driven by a common shaft.
5. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 1 wherein said color measurement instrument comprises a spectrophotometer.
6. A color measurement system comprising:
an upper assembly having an optical pick-up and a plurality of driven rollers mounted on a common shaft;
a base having a plurality of idler rollers each aligned with and supporting one of the driven rollers to at least partially support said upper assembly on said base, said upper assembly and therefore said shaft being capable of angularly floating with respect to said base, each of said idler rollers being independently supported by a resiliently deflectable suspension arm, whereby all of said driven rollers maintain engagement with their respective idler rollers to said upper unit floats to accommodate samples of varying thickness.
7. A color measurement system as defined in claim 6 wherein each of said suspension arms is integrally molded with said base.
8. A color measurement system as defined in claim 6 further comprising upper and lower tension rollers on said upper assembly and said base respectively, said upper and lower tension rollers engaging one another to apply a tension to a sample being driven by said drive rollers, said drive rollers and said tension rollers being opposed to one another across said optical pick-up.
9. A color measurement instrument comprising:
an optical pick-up;
drive means for pulling a sample past said optical pick-up in a first direction; and
tension means for impeding the free movement of the sample in the first direction and thereby creating tension on the sample as the simple is pulled by said drive means.
10. A color measurement instrument is defined in claim 9 wherein said tension means is located upstream of said optical pick-up.
11. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 9 wherein said tension means comprising a plurality of pairs of pinch rollers between which the sample passes.
12. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 11 wherein at least one of said rollers in each pair is independently resiliently supported to enable the distance between the rollers to vary to accommodate samples of varying thickness.
13. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 9 wherein said color measurement instrument comprises a spectrophotometer.
14. A color measurement instrument comprising:
a color measurement engine;
drive rollers for engaging and pulling a generally two-dimensional simple put said color measurement engine; and
tension rollers engaging the sample and acting opposite said drive rollers for generating tension in the sample as said drive rollers pull the sample, said drive rollers and said tension rollers located on opposite sides of said color measurement engine, whereby the sample is maintained in a generally consistent plane.
15. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 14 further comprising an independent suspension for selected ones of said tension rollers permitting the distance between the tension rollers to vary.
16. A color measurement instrument comprising:
a base including only idler rollers;
an upper assembly supported on said base, said upper assembly including a plurality of drive rollers aligned with and engaging at least selected ones of said base idler rollers, said drive rollers and said idler rollers cooperating to move a sample between mid base and said upper assembly, said upper assembly further including a color measurement engine in fixed physical registration with said drive rollers, whereby said upper assembly floats with varying thickness samples between said drive rollers and said idler rollers to maintain a desired spacing between the sample and said color measurement engine.
17. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 16 further comprising suspension means for independently suspending at least selected ones of said base idler rollers under said drive rollers.
18. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 16 further comprising means for resisting movement of the sample, said drive rollers and said tension means being opposite one another across said id color measurement engine, said tension moms enhancing positioning of the sample in a consistent plane.
19. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 18 wherein:
said drive rollers and said driven rollers defies a plane; and
said upper assembly further includes a planar media guide aligned with mid color measurement engine and coplanar with the plane, said media guide thereby engaging the sample to reduce flexing and bowing of the sample to further enhance uniform spacing between the sample and said color measurement engine.
20. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 16 wherein said color measurement instrument comprises a spectrophotometer.
21. A color measurement instrument comprising:
a base including only idler rollers defining a fast plane;
an upper assembly including upper rollers defining a second plane, said upper rollers aligned with said base rollers to at least partially support said upper assembly on said base;
drive moans within mid upper assembly for driving at least selected ones of said upper rollers to move a sample located between said upper rollers and said idler rollers;
a color measurement engine within said upper assembly for color analyzing the sample located between the rollers, said engine having a desired physical registration with the second plane; and
said upper assembly including a generally planar portion generally coplanar with the second plane, said planar portion engaging the sample to register the color measurement engine with respect to the sample.
22. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 21 wherein selected others of said upper rollers are tension rollers, said tension rollers engaging the sample to resist movement of the sample to tension the sample and enhance its consistent positioning with respect to the color measurement engine.
23. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 21 further comprising as independent resiliently deflectable suspension for selected ones of said base idler rollers.
24. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 21 wherein said planar portion comprises a sheet of relatively low-friction material proximate said color measurement engine.
25. A color measurement instrument comprising:
a base;
an upper assembly including an underside facing said base, a color measurement engine for analyzing a sample located between said underside and said base, and a plurality of rollers for engaging the sample to move the sample with respect to the color measurement engine, said rollers projecting a first distance from said underside, said upper assembly further including a media guide on said underside and aligned with said color measurement engine, said media guide being planar and having a thickness approximately equal to the first distance that said rollers project from said underside, whereby said media guide also engages the sample to assist in reducing flexing and bowing of the sample.
26. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 25 wherein said media guide comprises a relatively low-friction material.
27. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 25 wherein said media guide defines an aperture aligned with said color measurement engine.
28. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 25 wherein said color measurement instrument comprises a spectrophotometer.
29. A color measurement instrument comprising:
a base;
an upper assembly including an underside facing said base;
a color measurement engine within said upper assembly;
drive means within said upper assembly for engaging and moving a sample between said base and mid upper assembly for analysis by said color measurement engine;
tension means for creating tension in the sample as the sample is moved by mid drive means; and
a generally planar media guide on said underside of said upper assembly, said media guide defining an aperture aligned with the color measurement engine, said media guide engaging the sample and applying at least a portion of the weight of the upper assembly to the engaged portion of the sample to reduce flexing and bowing of the sample.
30. A color measurement instrument as defined in claim 29 wherein mid media guide comprises a relatively low-friction material.
31. A spectrophotometer capable of operation in either a reflective analysis mode or aand transmissive analysis modemeasurements, said spectrophotometer comprising:
a scanning station;
drive means for moving a sample through mid scanning station in at least a linear direction, said drive means engaging the sample downstream of said scanning station;
a spectral measurement engine including an optical pick-upmeans for collecting spectral information from athe sample, said spectral measurement engine means including at least one optical pick-up being located on a first side of said scanning station;
a first illuminator located on the first side of the scanning station for activation only when said spectrophotometer is operated in thein conjunction with reflective analysis modemeasurements; and
a second illuminator located on a second side of the scarring station for activation only when said spectrophotometer is operated in saidin conjunction with transmissive analysis modemeasurements, the second side being opposite the first side across said scanning station.
32. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 31 whereincapable of operation in either a reflective analysis mode or a transmissive analysis mode, said spectrophotometer comprising:
saida scanning station is positioned above a base;
drive means for moving a sample through said station;
a spectral measurement engine including an optical pick-up for collecting spectral information from a sample, said optical pick-up being located on a first side of said scanning station;
a first illuminator located on the first side of the scanning station for activation only when said spectrophotometer is operated in the reflective analysis mode; and
a second illuminator located on a second side of the scanning station for activation only when said spectrophotometer is operated in said transmissive analysis mode, the second side being opposite the first side across said scanning station, said second illuminator is supported by a backer that is capable of ready manual removal from said base, for example, when transmissive operation is not desired.
33. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 31 whereincapable of operation in either a reflective analysis mode or a transmissive analysis mode, said spectrophotometer comprising:
saida scanning station is positioned above a base;
drive means for moving a sample through said scanning station;
a spectral measurement engine including an optical pick-up for collecting spectral information from a sample, said optical pick-up being located on a first side of said scanning station;
a first illuminator located on the first side of the scanning station for activation only when said spectrophotometer is operated in the reflective analysis mode; and
a second illuminator located on a second side of the scanning station for activation only when said spectrophotometer is operated in said transmissive analysis mode, the second side being opposite the first side across said scanning station, said second illuminator is supported by a backer manually operable between a transmissive position wherein said second illuminator is aligned with said optical pick-up and a reflective position wherein said second illuminator is unaligned with said optical pick-up.
34. A spectrophotometer capable of performing both reflective and transmissive spectral analysis, said spectrophotometer comprising:
a base;
an upper assembly supported by said base;aat least one spectral measurement engine supported byabove said upper assemblybase;
drive means for moving a sample between said at least one spectral measurement engine and said base, said drive means engaging the sample downstream of said at least one special measurement engine;
a first illumination source supported by said upper assembly to be activated when said spectrophotometer performs reflective analysis; and
a second illumination source supported by said base to be activated when said spectrophotometer performs transmissive analysis.
35. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 34capable of performing both reflective and transmissive spectral analysis, said spectrophotometer comprising:
a base;
an upper assembly supported by said base;
a spectral measurement engine supported by said upper assembly;
drive means for moving a sample between said spectral measurement engine and said base;
a first illumination source supported by said upper assembly to be activated when said spectrophotometer performs reflective analysis;
a second illumination source supported by said base to be activated when said spectrophotometer performs transmissive analysis; and
wherein said base includes a backer manually operative between a transmissive position wherein said second illumination source is aligned with said spectral measurement engine and a reflective position wherein said second illumination source is unaligned with said spectral measurement engine.
36. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 35 wherein said backer is readily manually removable from said base, whereby said backer may be easily removed and replaced with an alternative backer suitable only for reflective analysis.
37. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 31 wherein said drive means engages the sample only downstream from said scanning station.
38. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 31 further comprising a sample path means for defining a sample path that is planar from a sample entrance position to a sample exit position.
39. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 34 wherein said drive means engages said sample only downstream from said scanning station.
40. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 34 further wherein said spectrophotometer defines a planar sample path through said spectrophotometer.
41. A spectrophotometer comprising:
a scanning station;
drive means for moving a sample through said scanning station;
spectral measurement engine means for collecting spectral information from the sample, said spectral measurement engine means located on a first side of said scanning station;
engine support means for supporting said spectral measurement engine means at a controlled distance from the sample, said engine support means adapted to engage the sample to maintain a desired physical relationship between the sample and the spectral measurement engine means; and
a first illuminator located on the first side of the scanning station for illuminating the sample for reflective measurement.
42. A spectrophotometer as defined in claims 41 wherein said engine support means engages the sample as the sample moves through said spectrophotometer.
43. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 42 wherein said engine support includes said drive means.
44. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 41 wherein said spectral measurement engine and said engine support means are oriented so that gravity draws them toward the sample.
45. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 41 further comprising a second illuminator located on a second side of the scanning station for illuminating the sample for transmissive measurement, the second side being opposite the first side across said scanning station.
46. A spectrophotometer comprising:
a base;
at least one spectral measurement engine;
drive means for moving a sample between said at least one spectral measurement engine and said base;
engine support means for supporting said at least one spectral measurement engine means above said base a controlled distance in registration with the sample, said engine support means adapted to engage the sample to maintain a desired physical relationship between the sample and the spectral measurement engine means; and
a first illumination source to be activated for reflective measurement of the sample.
47. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 46 wherein said engine support means includes said drive means.
48. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 46 wherein said engine support means includes rollers engaging the sample.
49. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 46 wherein said at least one spectral measurement engine and said engine support means are oriented so that their mass is directed toward the sample under the force of gravity.
50. A spectrophotometer as defined in claim 46 further comprising a second illumination source to be activated for transmissive measurement of the sample.
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to color measurement instruments, and more particularly, to spectrophotometers.

BACKGROUND ART

Color measurement instruments for many and varied applications are well known. Them instruments are used, for example, to determine color consistency in primed material, photographic material, textiles, and plastics. The most comprehensive color measurements are obtained by instruments known as spectrophotometers, which measure the spectral distribution of light and give a percentage reflection or transmission at many segments in the visible color spectrum.

The field of desk top publishing has expanded greatly in recent years, and color output devices such as color printers, plotters, proofers have become widely used. The color output devices are often controlled by computer software, which transmits control signals to the printer defining color to be produced. To assure color quality, it is desirable to be able to calibrate color printers to produce a selected quality of color for printed material produced by a number of different printers. Additionally, data defining a color product may be transmitted to remote locations to be printed by a variety of printers. In order to be able to provide a product of consistent color characteristics, a comparison to a color standard is requited. All of them functions requite the accurate measurement of many samples of different colors, produced on the device. These colors are produced using only a few colorants-usually cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y), and black (K).

A color measurement instrument, such as a spectrophotometer, includes a color measurement engine having an optical pick-up. Additionally, many instruments include a drive mechanism for moving either the sample or the engine to effect relative movement between the two. The registration of the sample with respect to the engine and the controlled movement of the sample or the engine are critical components in obtaining consistent and accurate measurements. Only mail changes in the distance between the sample and the measurement engine can create significant errors and inconsistencies in the color measurement.

Prior color measurement instruments are illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 5,369,494 issued Nov. 29, 1994 and entitled “Portable Scanning Colorimeter”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,118,183 issued Jun. 2, 1992 and entitled “Automated Strip Reader Densitometer” and U.S. Pat. No. 5,062,714 issued Nov. 5, 1991 and entitled “Apparatus and Method for Patter Recognition.” In these units, the sample drive mechanism is located in the base, while the color measurement engine is located in an assembly above the base. Because these two primary components are located in different housings, there is the possibility that sample registration and movement is not as precisely controlled as required for present day measurement. Accordingly, artisans continue to seek improved structures for maintaining improved consistency and accuracy in sample registration and movement.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

The aforementioned issues are addressed in the present invention providing improved sample registration and movement within a portable spectrophotometer. The instrument contains a mechanical drive system that transports the sample past the measurement engine to a precise fashion.

First, the spectrophotometer includes a base and an upper assembly supported for floating movement on the base. Both the color measurement engine and the sample drive mechanism are located within the upper assembly. As the sample is drawn between the base and the upper assembly, the upper assembly can float with samples of various and varying thickness. This approach reduces or even eliminates the need for separate tensioning devices within the drive system, such as springs and/or close tolerances.

Second, the drive mechanism includes a plurality of drive wheels, and the base includes a plurality of independently suspended idler rollers, each of which engages and supports one of the drive wheels. The independently suspended rollers flex to accommodate samples of varying and various thicknesses.

In a third embodiment of the invention, the drive rollers are located “downstream” (in the direction of sample travel) from the color measurement engine. Tension rollers are provided upstream of the color measurement engine to at least partially resist movement of the sample in response to the drive rollers. The tension created within the sample improves its consistent maintenance in a uniform plane and therefore its consistent registration with the color measurement engine.

In a fourth embodiment of the invention, a planar, low-friction media guide is located on the underside of the upper assembly to engage the top surface of the sample. The thickness of the media is approximately the same as the distance that the drive wheels extend from the upper assembly, so that the media guide consistently engages the top surface of the sample. Therefore, the media guide improves the registration of the sample with respect to the color measurement engine; and the media guide assists the upper assembly in riding the top surface of the sample.

In a fifth embodiment, a two-position backer is provided in the base. The backer includes two separate areas with different reflective properties. The backer is readily manually movable so that either of the two areas can be aligned with the optical pickup of the color measurement engine. For example, the two areas may be white light diffusing opal and stable uniform black. In an alternative embodiment, the light diffusing opal may be illuminated for transmissive analysis.

In a sixth aspect of the invention, the spectrophotometer is capable of both reflective and transmissive analysis. A first light source is included within the color measurement engine and is activated only when reflective analysis is desired. A second tight source is included within the base, is aligned with the color measurement engine, and is activated only when transmissive analysis is desired.

These and other objects, advantages, and features of the invention will be more readily understood and appreciated by reference to the description and the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a right front perspective view of the spectrophotometer of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a left front perspective view of the spectrophotometer;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the spectrophotometer with the base components exploded;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the base;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the base showing the backer in a first position;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the base showing the backer in its second position;

FIG. 7 is a bottom plan view of the base showing the backer in the second position;

FIG. 8 is a sectional view taken along line VII—VII in FIG. 5;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the underside of the base with an alternative backer capable of illumination;

FIG. 10 is a perspective exploded view of the upper assembly;

FIG. 11 is a front elevation view of the drive shaft and motor;

FIG. 12 is an enlarged perspective view of the drive shaft bearing;

FIG. 13 is a fragmentary bottom plan view of the upper assembly showing the media guide; and

FIG. 14 is a sectional view of the spectrophotometer taken along the line XIV—XIV in FIGS. 1 and 2.

MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

A spectrophotometer constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in the drawings and generally designated 10. As perhaps best illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 10, the spectrophotometer includes a base 12 and an upper assembly 14 supported on the base. The base includes two sets 16 and 18 of idler rollers. The upper assembly 14 includes a spectral analysis engine 20, a drive assembly 22, and tension rollers 24. The engine 20 includes an optical pick-up 75. The drive rollers 22 of the upper assembly engage the idler rollers 16 of the base, and the tension rollers 24 of the upper assembly engage the idler rollers 18 of the base all to partially support the upper assembly 14 on the base 12. The drive rollers 22 pull or draw the sample S (see FIG. 1) through the spectrophotometer 10 and past the optical pick-up 75. The tension rollers 24 create a tension on the sample S to maintain the sample in a consistent plane.

I. Base

The base is perhaps beat illustrated in FIGS. 3-8. Generally, the base 12 includes a body 26, idler rollers 16 and 18, and a backer 30.

The body 26 is plastic and includes a connector portion 32 and a sample portion 34. The connector portion 32 includes a platform 36, a pair of alignment pins 35a and 35b, and a pair of integrally molded spring clips 38. The platform 36 provides so engagement surface for the upper numbly 14. The pins 35a and 35b interfit with apertures 97a and 97b (see FIG. 10) respectively to prevent relative rotation of the upper assembly 14 on the base 12 in a horizontal plane. The spring clips 38 include catches 39 (see FIG. 4) above the platform 36 and actuating portions 40 (see FIGS. 7 and 9) that extend through and below the platform. The actuating portions may be manually actuated from the underside of the but 12 to release the upper assembly 14 from the base 12.

The sample portion 34 of the base 12 is generally planar and supports the idler rollers 16 and 18 and the backer assembly 30. The forward edge 41 of the platform is rounded to facilitate insertion of the sample S between the base 12 and the upper assembly 14. A 35 mm groove or guide 43 in the forward edge 41 facilitates insertion and alignment of a strip of 35 mm film (not shown). A race-track shaped window 39 is defined is a central portion of the sample portion 34.

The body base includes integral fingers 47a, 47b, and 47c on its underside. The finger 47a is opposed to the fingers 47b and 47c, and the fingers slidingly receive the backer assembly 30 as will be described. A foot 45 is mounted at each of the four corners of the base body. Preferably, the feet are fabricated of a relatively high-friction material to assist in securely support the unit 10 on a smooth surface.

All of the idler rollers 16 and 18 are generally identical to one another. In the preferred embodiment, each is fabricated on plastic. As seen in FIG. 3, each includes a roller body 16a or 18a and a pair of stub shafts 16b or 18b extending therefrom.

Each of the rollers 16 is supported by a suspension arm 40. Each of the suspension arms 40 terminates in a bearing portion 42 which receives the stub shafts 16b and rotatably supports the associated roller 16. Each of the suspension arms 40 is integral with the remainder of the base body 26. The base 26 is fabricated of a resiliently flexible plastic, and therefore each of the arms 40 is resiliently deflectable downwardly under the weight of the upper assembly 14.

Similarly, each of the idler rollers 18 is supported for independent suspension on a suspension arm 46. Each of the suspension arms terminates in a bearing portion 46 for which receives the stub shafts 18b and rotatably supports the associated roller 18. As with arms 40, suspension arms 44 are resiliently deflectable in the downward direction under the weight of the upper assembly 14. When not deflected, the rollers 16 and 18 lie within and define a plane. The rollers 16 and 17 are retained in the bearing portions 42 and 46 because the stub shafts 16b and 18b extend under the sample portion 34. Any of the rollers 16 and 17 can be removed by pressing the supporting arm downwardly and lifting the roller from the bearing portion.

The backer assembly 30 is illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 7-8 and includes a body 49, a spring plunger 50, and an opal glass 51. The body 49 is held between fingers 47a on one side and 47b and 47c on the other side for sliding movement. The spring plunger 50 cooperates with deters (not visible) in the underside of the base body 26 to releasably catch the assembly in either of two opposite positions. The backer body 49 includes a recessed area 34 that facilitates removal of the backer assembly 30 from the base body 26 when the recessed area 54 is aligned with the finger 47a.

The body 49 includes a platform portion 52 extending upwardly from the remainder of the body 49 and into the window 39 of the base body 26. The platform provides two separate areas with different reflective properties. The first area 57a is stable uniform black. The second area 52b supports the white fight diffusing opal glass 51. The white opal glass 51 is secured in position on the platform 52 using a solvent adhesive or other suitable interconnection means.

An alternative backer assembly 30′ is illustrated in FIG. 9. The alternative backer assembly 30′ is capable of providing illumination for operation of the spectrophotometer 10 in a transmissive mode of analysis. In the alternative backer 30′, an illumination source 60 is positioned within the cavity 37 directly below the opal glass 51 (see FIG. 8). A power cord 62 extends from the backer assembly 30′ and terminates in a plug 64 mounted within the backer base 26. The cord 62 is secured under wire management fingers 66, which are integral with the base body 26. The plug or connector 64 is held in position by the base body 26 for automatic correction with the upper assembly 14 when the upper assembly 14 is installed on the base 12.

II. Upper Assembly

The upper assembly 14 is illustrated in FIGS. 10-14. The upper assembly 10 includes a housing 70, a spectral measurement engine 20, a drive assembly 22, and a lower plate 72.

The housing 70 is injection molded of plastic to house the remaining upper assembly components. The housing includes an integral alignment mark 71 centered above the film strip guide 43 and linearly aligned with the spectral engine 20 to artist a user with properly aligning the sample S for scanning by the engine.

The spectral measurement engine 20 of the preferred embodiment is generally well known to those skilled in the all. For example, one suitable spectral engine is illustrated co-pending application Ser. No. 08/714,969 filed Sep. 17, 1996 by Berg et al and entitled “Compact Spectrophotometer,” the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference. Other measurement engines, such as those for calorimeters and densitometers, can be used depending on the application. Generally speaking, the engine 20 includes an optics assembly 74, a printed circuit board (PCB) assembly 76, and a control board shield 78. The optics assembly 74 includes an optical pick-up 75 (see FIG. 14). The PCB assembly 76 and the shield 78 are secured to the optics assembly 74 using screws 80 and star lock washers 82. The optics assembly 74 is secured to the aluminum stand-offs on the bottom plate 72 using screws 81 and star lock washers 83. Additionally, the bottom plate 72 is secured to the optics assembly 74 using screws 85. The aluminum bottom plate 72 and the aluminum standoffs 98 dissipate heat generated by the optics assembly and most notably by the illuminators 77. A wire tie 87 is included for wire management

A plurality of illuminators 77 (see FIG. 14) are included within the spectral engine 20 to illuminate the sample S when the unit 10 is operated in the reflective analysis mode. The illuminators 77 an actuated only in the reflective mode (i.e. not in the transmissive mode).

The bottom plate 72 is generally planar, is fabricated of aluminum and provides an underside to the upper assembly 14. The perimeter of the bottom plate 72 is dimensioned to closely fit within the bottom of the housing 70. The plate 72 is secured to the housing 70 using screws 73.

The plate define two rectangular apertures 96 that receive the locking arms 38 of the base 12. When the upper assembly 14 is attached to the base 12, the catches 39 of the locking arms 38 engage the upper surface of the bottom plate to lock the upper assembly on the base; and the bottom plate 72 rests upon the platform 36 of the base 12 to at least partially support the weight of the upper assembly. The plate further defines two alignment apertures 97a and 976 that receive the alignment pins 35a and 35b respectively of the base 12. The interest of the locking arms 38 within the apertures 96 and the interest of the alignment pins 33 within the apertures 97 prevents the upper assembly from rotating in a generally horizontal plane, but permits the upper assembly to float or pivot in a generally vertical plane.

The plate 72 defines a series of elongated apertures 90 through which drive milers extend, a pair of elongated apertures 92 through which idler rollers extend, and an optics aperture 94 aligned with the optical pick-up 73 (see FIG. 14).

The drive assembly 22 (see FIGS. 10-11) includes a drive shell assembly 100 and a motor assembly 102. The drive shaft is secured to the motor assembly using set screws 103. The drive shaft assembly 100 includes five drive wheels 104 of uniform diameter with the wheels being evenly spaced from one another. Because the upper assembly is free to float in a vertical plane, the drive shaft assembly is also free to float in a vertical plane. The individual suspension of the idler rollers 16 under the drive rollers 104 accommodates such angular floatation.

Each of the wheels 104 defines a circumferential groove 106 (see FIG. 11). An O-ring 108, which acts as a tire, is fitted within each of the grooves 106. Each of the O-rings is fabricated of a relatively high-friction material for gripping the sample to be analyzed. The material of the preferred embodiment is precision silicone. The motor assembly 102 is generally well known in the art. The motor of the preferred embodiment is a high-torque gear motor or a stepper motor. The drive rollers 104 extend through apertures 90 to extend approximately 0.3 millimeter (mm) from the lower surface of the bottom plate 72 (see FIG. 14). As currently implemented, the drive assembly moves or pulls the sample S at a speed of approximately 3 centimeters (cm) per second.

The drive assembly 22 is severed to the bottom plate 72 by the drive bearings 110 illustrated in greatest detail in FIG. 12. Each of the drive bearings 110 is generally U-shaped, defining an interior having a circular portion 112 and a pair of opposed flat portions 114. The distance between the flat portions 114 is less than the diameter of the circular portion 112. The drive bearings 110 are fabricated of bearing-quality plastic or other resiliently deformable material. Accordingly, the legs can be spread slightly to fit the bearing over the drive shaft 100. The drive shaft then dicks into the circular portion 112. Screws 116 (FIG. 10) are inserted through holes 118 in the bearing 110 to lock the drive shaft within the circular portion 112 and to secure the bearing to the bottom plate 72. Lubricant preferably is included within the bearing 110 to facilitate rotation of the drive shaft 100.

Idler rollers 24 (see FIG. 10) are rotatably supported on the bottom plate 72 by way of bearings 120 and screws 122. The idler rollers 24 extend through apertures 92 to extend approximately 0.3 millimeter (mm) from the lower surface of the bottom plate 72 (see FIG. 14).

The media guide 130 is illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 13-14 and is a generally planar piece of relatively low-friction material. The preferred material of the present embodiment is a bearing-quality material that is soft enough to avoid damage of the sample S. As currently implemented, the material is a high-density polypropylene. As viewed in FIG. 3, the media guide is milkman shaped having a relatively narrow forward portion 132 to fit between the idler rollers 24. The rearward portion 134 defines a central aperture 136 aligned with the optics aperture 94 in the base plate 72 and with the optical pickup 75 of the color measurement engine 20. The media guide 130 is adhered to the bottom plate 72 using a pressure-sensitive adhesive or other suitable attachment means. The thickness of the media guide is approximately 0.3 mm so that it projects from the lower plate 72 approximately the same distance that the idler rollers 24 and the drive rollers 104 project from the lower plate 72. Consequently, the rollers 24 and 104 mad the media guide 130 all lie within and define a plane.

As seen in FIG. 1, the upper assembly further includes a 12-volt power connection 132 for powering the unit 10, an RS-232 port 134 for serial communication with a personal computer (PC) or other digital device, and a push-button 136 for actuating and operating the unit

III. Operation

The operation of the spectrophotometer 10 is perhaps best illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 14. For purposes of reference, the area above the backer assembly 30 and below the optical pick-up 75 is referred to as the scanning station 140. The backer assembly 30 is aligned with the optical pick-up across the scanning station.

If necessary, the reflectance of the backer assembly 30 is selected by manually sliding the backer assembly to either of its two selectable positions. In the fast position, the stable uniform black portion 52a of the platform 52 is presented to the cola measurement engine 20. In the second position, the white light diffusing opal glassy 51 in portion 52b is presented to the engine 20.

A sample S (FIG. 1), having color patches S′, to be analyzed is aligned with the alignment mart 71 on the upper assembly and fed or pushed between the base 12 and the upper assembly 14. The leading edge of the sample S passes between the tension rollers 24 on the upper assembly and the idler rollers 18 on the base. The sample continues through the scanning station 140 until the forward edge of the sample S is gripped by the drive wheels 104, whereupon the sample is pulled between the drive rollers and the associated idle, rollers 16. Spectral analysis or other color measurement operations are conducted on the sample S as it is drawn past the color measurement engine 20 and specifically the optical pickup 73.

As the sample moves between the idler rollers 18 and 24, the suspension arms 44 flex to permit the individual rollers 18 to move downwardly. Similarly, as the sample is drawn between the drive rollers 104 and the idler rollers 16, the individual suspension arms 40 flex to permit the rollers 16 to move downwardly. Also, the tension rollers 24 and the drive rollers 108 engage and ride along the top surface of the sample S to assist in registration of the sample with respect to the optical pick-up 73. The free floating ability of the upper assembly 14 and the individual suspension of the idler rollers 18 facilitate the accurate color measurement of samples of varying thickness. The upper assembly 14 rides along the top surface of the sample S to maintain a desired physical registration or relationship between the top surface of the simple and the engine 20.

As noted above, the tension rollers 24, the drive rollers 104, and the media guide 130 all project a substantially equal distance from the bottom plate 72. Accordingly, the media guide 130 also engages the top surface of the sample S to further assist in registration. The media guide 130 prevents flexing or bowing of the sample within the scanning station as may occur, for example, if the trailing edge of the sample is dropped below or is lifted above the level of the scanning station 140.

The spectrophotometer may be operated in either the reflective or the transmissive mode. When operated in the reflective mode, only the illuminators 77 are actuated so that the top surface of the sample S is illuminated in accordance with the ANSI standard 45°/0° reflection measurement. When operated in the transmissive mode, only the base illuminator 60 within the backer assembly 30 is actuated to illuminate the sample from beneath in accordance with the ANSI standard 180°/0° transmissive measurement.

The above descriptions are those of preferred embodiments of the invention. Various alterations and changes can be made without departing from the spirit and broader aspects of the invention as defined in the appended claims, including the Doctrine of Equivalents.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US777791515 Jun 200617 Aug 2010Eastman Kodak CompanyImage control system and method
Classifications
U.S. Classification356/402, 250/226, 356/73
International ClassificationG01J3/51, G01J3/50
Cooperative ClassificationG01J3/0272, G01J3/50
European ClassificationG01J3/50
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