FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to printers which are capable of utilizing
multiple types of media and, more particularly, to a method for enabling automatic
identification of a media type upon a mounting thereof on a printer.
BACKGROUND OF THE ART
Currently, many printers, plotters, etc. are able to utilize various
types of media during their respective print actions. Each media type generally
requires a resetting of printer parameters in order to optimize print quality. Such
media types include special papers, e.g., matte paper, glossy papers, semi-glossy
papers, etc. and various non-paper-based media such as vellum, film, etc. Printer
parameter modifications vary with the type of media, and can include changes in
color maps and print modes.
Presently, the user must use a display panel on the printer (or a
dialog box in the printer driver that is resident on the host computer) to select
the type of media that is being loaded into the printer. This action involves the
user scrolling through a list of displayed media types, until one appears which
matches the media type to be loaded on the printer. Thereafter, the user selects
that media type and the printer controller automatically establishes printer parameters
in accordance with the selection.
The above-indicated procedure requires that the user know what media
type is to be (or has been) loaded on the printer. The media type is generally written
on the media box but, as is known, many users do not read either the box or the
instructions which accompany the media. Further, once the box is thrown away, the
media type data is lost and if the user then re-installs the media on another printer,
the user is required to either remember or guess the media type. If a wrong media
type is selected, unacceptable print quality can result. As the user is not aware
that it is the incorrect media type which has been entered, the blame for the poor
print quality is placed upon the printer (and the printer manufacturer), resulting
in significant levels of customer dissatisfaction. The problem of multiple media
types is especially severe in plotters which employ a multiplicity of media types,
depending upon the particular application.
As printers are now marketed on a world-wide basis (along with their
respective media), manufacturers generally include multiple foreign language versions
of instructions for display on the printer's display panel. If the foreign language
instructions are not ready at the time the printer is shipped into a foreign market,
the display will be particularly confusing to the user -assuming that the user is
unable to understand the instructions which appear on the printer's display. As
more media types are developed, user confusion will increase unless steps are taken
to automatically identify the media type, upon installation of the media onto the
The prior art has suggested the printing of data on sheets of media
to enable the loading of printer parameters directly from media sheets. Other prior
art has suggested that special inks be employed which are invisible to the user,
but which can be sensed by special optical sensors to enable a loading of parameters
into a printer. Still other prior art has suggested the use of printed data on media
sheets, which printed data, when subjected to a heating step thereafter becomes
invisible. Still other prior art has embedded a memory chip in the end of a media
roll, with sense apparatus being utilized to read settings from the chip, as the
roll is employed.
Each of the above prior art implementations requires the use of either
a special ink, a special sensor, or other apparatus which adds to the cost of media
Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide an improved method for
enabling a printer to automatically identify a media type mounted thereon.
It would further be desirable to provide an improved method for enabling
identification of a media type (and other data regarding the media) to a device
which employs media wound on rolls.
It would further be desirable to provide a method for identifying
a media type that is mounted on a printer, wherein media identification data does
not appear on printed media output by the printer.
JP 05 301 673A describes a printed medium discriminating mechanism
in the form of an optical sensor arranged for reading an identification code which
indicates the type of printing medium, so as to avoid printing onto a printing medium
which is incompatible with the width of the print content.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In accordance with the present invention there is provided a method
for identifying at least one media parameter for a media to be printed upon by a
printer, as defined in claim 1.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
- Fig. 1 is a schematic frontal view of a printer employing roll media, which
printer is adapted to perform the invention hereof.
- Fig. 2 is a perspective view of a roll of media, showing a positioning of data
which identifies, at least, the media type.
- Fig. 3 is a perspective view of a printhead and media cutter employed on the
printer of Fig. 1.
- Fig. 4 is a schematic end view of the structure shown in Fig. 3
Hereafter, the invention will be described in the context of an inkjet
plotter/printer which utilizes a roll of media. It is, however, to be understood
that the invention is equally applicable to other types of printers that either
employ roll media, folded media or, in certain cases, individual media sheets.
Referring to Fig. 1, printer 10 includes an ink jet printhead 12 which
translates along a pair of slider bars 14 and 16 across the width of media 18. In
the known manner, a controller 20, by control signals sent to inkjet printhead 12
causes printhead 12 to traverse along slider bars 14 and 16 and to eject ink droplets
onto media 18 which passes therebeneath. Media 18 passes over a roll 21 which positions
media 18 accurately beneath printhead 12 for printing. Media 18 also passes over
a cutter bar 22 which, in cooperation with a cutter 24 (similar to a pizza cutter),
enables a transverse cut to be made across media 18.
Cutter 24 is mounted on a carrier 26 which is also mounted for sliding
movement along slider bars 14 and 16. When printhead 12 is moved into contact with
carrier 26, a coupling mechanism 28 enables carrier 26 to move along with printhead
12 and to cut off a section of media 18.
Referring to Fig. 2, a roll 30 of media 18 is shown, before mounting
on printer 10. In a first embodiment, the leading edge of media 18 includes coded
indicia 32 identifies at least, the media type and, preferably, further identifies
the size of the media and its remaining length. Coded indicia 32 is initially printed
on the leading edge of media 18 when the media is produced at the factory. It may
be configured in the form of a bar code or any other indicia which is readable by
an optical sensor 34 (see Fig. 1). In a second embodiment, coded indicia 33 may
be printed on an end of roll 30 (or applied via a label) where it can be read by
a further optical sensor 35 (Fig. 1).
Sensor 34 is positioned to read coded indicia 32 as it passes thereover.
Data read from the coded indicia is fed to controller 20 which stores the data in
a memory 38. Controller 20 then utilizes the data derived from the indicia to set
parameters for control of printer 10 (i.e., in accordance with the media type identified
by the coded indicia).
Controller 20 further causes roller 21 to move media 18 a short distance
so that coded indicia 32 passes cutter bar 22. Printhead 12 is then moved to engage
carrier 26. Thereafter, printhead 12 drags carrier 26 and cutter 24 across media
18, cutting off the portion of media 18 which carries coded indicia 32. Normal printing/plotting
then can occur. If the system also employs coded indicia 33 and sensor 35, there
is no requirement that the media be initially imprinted with coded indicia 32, thus
avoiding the cutting action when a brand new roll is mounted. However, thereafter,
as will be understood, the first and second embodiments operate in the same manner.
Referring to Fig. 3, a perspective view illustrates the action of
inkjet printhead 12, carrier 26 and cutter 24 as a portion of media 18 is being
cut which contains the coded indicia. Fig. 4 illustrates a schematic end view of
the structure of Fig. 3, as the cutting action takes place.
Once the section of media 18 which contains coded indicia 32 has been
removed, printer 10 is ready to print or plot a print job. When the printing of
a sheet is finished, the cutting action, above described, again takes place to enable
the printed sheet to be removed from the roll of media 18.
At such time a new coded indicia 32 may be printed on a leading edge
of media 18 by printhead 12, or such printing action can be inhibited until requested
by the user. The reason for this additional print action is to emplace coded indicia
on the media so that the user can change media roll 30 between plots or print jobs.
The printer/plotter on the which roll 30 is newly mounted is then able to read the
coded indicia and to establish appropriate control parameters. In any event, if
both sensors sense coded indicia, the coded indicia on the leading edge of the media
If coded indicia 32 is printed on media 18 after each print job, the
disadvantage is that a portion of media 18 which includes coded indicia 32 is cut
off before starting each print/plot action. The preferred technique, which is entirely
unobtrusive until the user wishes to change the roll of media, is to enable the
user to select an "unload" command which enables controller 20 to cause printhead
12 to print coded indicia 30 on the end of media 18. Coded indicia 32, in addition
to identifying the media type, also identifies the remaining length of media 18.
Such data enables a next printer/plotter on which media roll 30 is mounted to determine
the both the available media length and to select proper print control parameters
for the media.
It should be understood that the foregoing description is only illustrative
of the invention. Various alternatives and modifications can be devised by those
skilled in the art without departing from the invention as claimed in the appended