Toner Cartridge

Seal for toner cartridge assembly

Toner Cartridge Abstract
A recharged toner cartridge assembly is disclosed in which a sealing member is provided between the toner hopper and the feed roller compartment to prevent leakage of the recharged toner powder. In particular, the sealing member is fixed to the bottom surface of the feed roller compartment before the compartment is brought to engage with the toner hopper, thus avoiding any inadvertent messing of the toner powder in the toner hopper.

Toner Cartridge Claims
What is claimed is:

1. A recharged toner cartridge assembly comprises: a toner hopper for containing recharged toner powder, said toner hopper having a generally flat upper surface with an opening; a feed roller compartment for dispensing said toner power, said feed roller compartment having a generally flat bottom surface with an opening for engaging with said upper surface of said toner hopper; a sealing member provided between said two flat surfaces around for sealing around said openings when said two flat surfaces engage each other after recharging; wherein said sealing member is adapted to be fixed to said bottom surface of said feed roller compartment before said two flat surfaces engage each other.

2. The recharged toner cartridge assembly of claim 1 wherein said sealing member is a flat sealing foam with a slot which matches said openings.

3. The recharged toner cartridge assembly of claim 2 wherein said sealing foam has an upper surface adapted to be fixed to said bottom surface of said feed roller compartment by an adhesive.

4. The recharged toner cartridge assembly of claim 3 wherein said upper surface of said sealing foam comprises adhesive, which is protected by a protective sheet before said protective sheet is removed.

5. The recharged toner cartridge assembly of claim 2 wherein said sealing foam is fixed to said bottom surface of said feed roller compartment by a mechanical fixture.

6. The recharged toner cartridge assembly of claim 5 wherein said mechanical fixture comprises a plurality of screws.

7. The recharged toner cartridge assembly of claim 5 wherein said mechanical fixture comprises a plurality of pin-hole connections.

8. A sealing member to be used in a recharged toner cartridge assembly including a toner hopper having a flat upper surface with an opening and a feed roller compartment having a flat bottom surface with an opening, wherein said sealing member is adapted to be fixed to said bottom surface of said feed roller compartment before said feed roller compartment engages with said toner hopper.

9. The sealing member of claim 8 wherein said sealing member is a flat sealing foam with a slot which matches said openings.

10. The sealing member of claim 9 wherein said sealing foam has an surface provided with adhesive protected by a removable protective sheet.

11. A method of sealing a recharged toner cartridge assembly including a toner hopper having a flat upper surface with an opening and a feed roller compartment having a flat bottom surface with an opening, comprising the steps of: fixing a sealing member to said bottom surface of said feed roller compartment, and around said opening of said bottom surface; and after recharging of toner powder to said toner hopper, engaging said feed roller compartment with said toner such that said sealing member is sandwiched between said two flat surfaces around said openings.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein said sealing member is fixed to said bottom surface of said feed roller compartment by an adhesive.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein said sealing member is a flat sealing foam with an upper surface provided with adhesive protected by a removable protective sheet.

14. The method of claim 11 wherein said sealing member is fixed to said bottom surface of said feed roller compartment by a mechanical fixture.

15. The method of claim 14 wherein said mechanical fixture comprises a plurality of screws.

16. The method of claim 14 wherein said mechanical fixture comprises a plurality of pin-hole connections.

17. A method of providing a seal between a toner hopper and a feed roller compartment of a print cartridge, said method comprising attaching a slotted seal insert to said feed roller compartment and joining said feed roller and said slotted seal insert compartments.

18. The method of claim 17 further comprising the step of adding a removable tape or ribbon between said toner hopper and said feed roller compartments.

19. The method of claim 18 wherein said removable tape or ribbon is attached to said toner hopper.

20. The method of claim 18 wherein said removable tape is attached to said feed roller.

21. The method of claim 18 wherein said removable tape or ribbon is attached to said slotted seal insert.

Medical Supplies Patent

Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention is related to toner cartridge technologies, in particular, to a sealing solution between the toner hopper and the feed roller compartment of a toner cartridge assembly, particularly a recharged toner cartridge assembly.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Toner cartridges, in particular those used for copying machines, printers, fax machines, etc, are expensive. Thus it is advantageous to allow the recharging of toner cartridges after the toner powder is consumed. Such recharging saves cost and avoids additional disposal problems.

[0003] As show in FIG. 1, a toner cartridge assembly typically comprises a toner hopper 1 for accommodating the toner powder 6, and a feed roller compartment 2 communicating with the toner hopper 1 for dispensing toner power 6 through an opening 4 by a dispensing roller 3. Initially, the toner powder 6 is sealed by a sealing tape 7 of similar means that covers the opening communicating between the toner hopper 1 and the feed roller compartment 2. Before use of the assembly, the sealing tape 7 is removed so the toner powder 6 can fall through the opening to the feed roller compartment 2 to be dispensed. To avoid any leakage of the toner powder 6 from the engaging surfaces of the toner hopper 1 and the feed roller compartment 2, a weld sealing or other types of toner tight sealing method 5 is provided between the hopper 1 and the compartment 2.

[0004] In order to recharge the cartridge after the toner powder 6 is used up, the weld is usually destroyed so as to separate the toner hopper 1 and the feed roller compartment 2. The recharging process usually involves at least cleaning the cartridge, refilling it with new toner, and applying a new seal to prevent leakage of the toner powder from the space between the toner hopper and feed roller compartments. Since the originally supplied seal has been cut, a different method of providing this seal to prevent leakage is usually needed. The industry has relied upon felt, foam, or other similar seals, as explained, for example, in prior art U.S. Pat. No. 5,296,902 issued to Michlin.

[0005] The Michlin patent contains numerous drawbacks, including at least the requirement for slots and tools to slide the seal in from the side. It is also not convenient to handle and also somewhat complicated in view of its structure and components.

[0006] Thus, there is a need for a sealing solution which is simple in both structure and operation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] According to the present invention, a recharged toner cartridge assembly is provided, which comprises a toner hopper compartment containing recharged toner powder and a feed roller compartment for dispensing the toner power. The toner hopper has a generally flat upper surface with an opening, while the feed roller compartment has a generally flat bottom surface, also with an opening, for engaging with the upper surface of the toner hopper. A sealing member is provided between the two flat surfaces for sealing around the openings when the two flat surfaces engage each other after recharging. In particular, according to the present invention, the sealing member is adapted to be fixed to the bottom surface of the feed roller compartment before the two flat surfaces engage each other. Thus, because the sealing member is fixed to the feed roller compartment, the assembly is easy to handle without inadvertently spilling the toner powder from the toner hopper during the recharging and reassembling process. Preferably, the sealing member is a flat sealing foam which is adapted to be fixed to the bottom surface of the feed roller compartment by, not limited to adhesive, screws or pin-hole connections.

[0008] According to another aspect of the present invention, a sealing member is provided which is adapted to be fixed to the bottom surface of the feed roller compartment before the compartment engages with the toner hopper. Preferably, the sealing member is a flat sealing foam with adhesive on one surface, protected by a removable plastic tape before use.

[0009] According to a further aspect of the present invention, a method of sealing the recharged toner cartridge is provided, which comprises the steps of fixing a sealing member to the bottom surface of the feed roller compartment and around the opening of the bottom surface, and after recharging of toner powder to the toner hopper, engaging the feed roller compartment with the toner such that the sealing member is sandwiched therebetween around the openings.

[0010] In still another embodiment, a removable closure means is attached to the toner hopper compartment, but a slotted seal insert is attached to the feed roller compartment. For purposes of explanation herein, and not limitation, the closure means is indicated to be tape or ribbon and the slotted seal insert is a piece of sealing foam.

BRIEF EXPLANATION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] Further features and advantages will be clearer after reading the following detailed descriptions of the preferred embodiment according to the present invention with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0012] FIG. 1 is an illustration showing a toner cartridge assembly as initially assembled;

[0013] FIG. 2 is an illustration of an embodiment according to the present invention;

[0014] FIG. 3 shows an embodiment of the sealing member according to the present invention; and

[0015] FIGS. 4a and 4b show another embodiment of the sealing member according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPITON OF THE INVENTION

[0016] As shown in FIG. 2, after the toner cartridge assembly is recharged with toner powder 6, the feed roller compartment 2 and the toner hopper 1 are reassembled. A sealing member 11 is sandwiched between the flat bottom surface 2a of the feed roller compartment 2 and the flat upper surface 1a of the toner hopper 1, sealing around the communication opening between the two surfaces so as to prevent a leakage of the toner powder 6 from between the two surfaces.

[0017] According to the present invention, the sealing member 11 is fixed to the bottom surface 2a of the feed roller compartment 2 before the compartment 2 engages with the toner hopper 1 after the toner hopper is refilled with toner powder 6. Thus, handling of the sealing member 11 mainly involves the feed roller compartment 2 instead of the toner hopper 1, the inadvertent spilling of the toner powder contained in the toner hopper is minimized.

[0018] Preferably, the sealing member 11 is a flat sealing foam which assumes some resilience. As shown in FIG. 3, the sealing foam 11 is generally rectangular in shape, with a slot 11c in the middle which substantially matches the opening communicating between the toner hopper 1 and the feed roller compartment 2.

[0019] The sealing foam 11 in FIG. 3 comprises a foam body 11a with a protection layer 11b of plastic material. The foam body 11a has an upper surface 11d which comprises an adhesive. The upper surface 11d is normally covered by the protection layer 11b. Before use, the protection layer 11b is peeled off, and the foam body 11a can be attached to the bottom surface 2a of the feed roller compartment 2 by its adhesive upper surface 11d.

[0020] As alternatives, the sealing foam 11 can be fixed to the bottom surface 2a of the feed roller compartment 2 by mechanical connections such as screws or pin-hole connections. As shown in FIGS. 4a and 4b, the upper surface of the sealing foam 11 is provided with a plural of pins 12, which are suitable to insert into the matching holes 2b provided in the bottom surfaces 2a. The pins 12 may be an integral part of the sealing foam 11, made by a single molding process.

[0021] Alternatively, the pins 12 can be separate elements that are fixed to the sealing foam 11. Alternatively, the sealing foam 11 can be fixed to the bottom surface 2a of the feed roller compartment 2 by screws.

[0022] When the original toner powder 6 is used up, the feed roller compartment 2 is separated from the toner hopper 1 by destroying the weld 5 (see FIG. 1). According to the present invention, the sealing foam 1 is fixed to the bottom surface 2a of the feed roller compartment 2, e.g., by adhesive or pin-hole connections. A sealing tape 7 (FIG. 1) is put in position to cover the opening of the toner hopper 1 (which will be removed before next use). Before or after the toner hopper 1 is recharged with the toner powder 6. Then, the feed roller compartment 1, with the sealing foam 11 attached to it, is brought to engage with the toner hopper 1. Thus, the sealing foams 11 is sandwiched between the bottom surface 2a of the feed roller compartment 2 and the upper surface 1a of the toner hopper 1, sealing around the opening communicating between the compartment 2 and the hopper 1, thus preventing a leakage of the toner powder 6 from between the surfaces 1a and 2a.

[0023] Although the closure means has been described as a sealing tape, the removable closure means may be other materials as well, such as a ribbon material that tears in the appropriate portions to expose the opening and allow the toner powder to enter the feed roller compartment 2 when appropriate. Such closure means are known in the art. It is also noted that the closure means can be attached to the toner hopper or can be attached to the sealing foam and/or feed roller compartment.

[0024] Though the above has described details of the preferred embodiments of the present invention, it shall be understood that, without departing the spirit of the present invention, numerous changes, adaptations and amendments are possible to a person skilled in the art. For example, instead of being placed on the toner hopper 1, the sealing plastic tape 7 can be placed between the sealing foam 11 and the bottom surface 2a after recharging. Thus, the protection scope of the present invention is intent to be solely defined by the accompanying claims.

PUB. APP. NO. Title
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2 20050286936 Toner cartridge
3 20050281583 Laser printer with toner cartridge
4 20050271425 Image forming apparatus and toner cartridge
5 20050263589 Product distribution management system, toner cartridge distribution management system, and product distribution management method
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7 20050217387 Toner evaluation method, toner cartridge, and image forming apparatus
8 20050207786 TONER CARTRIDGE HAVING REDUCED TONER CAPACITY AND METHOD OF USING THE SAME
9 20050196578 Methods and apparatus for replacing a toner cartridge shutter
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11 20050163530 Integrated Toner Cartridge with Toner Agitator and Sensing Device
12 20050163514 Toner monitoring network printer system and method of monitoring a toner cartridge thereof
13 20050141915 Developing cartridge, air communication unit of developing cartridge and toner cartridge
14 20050135838 Removable toner cartridge universal adapter
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16 20050105931 TONER CARTRIDGE HOPPER WITH LABYRINTH CHANNELS FOR RELEASING AIR WHILE TRAPPING TONER IN CARTRIDGE
17 20050095016 Toner cartridge with integral MICR font, and methods
18 20050084300 Toner cartridge used with electrophotographic image forming apparatus
19 20050084299 Toner cartridge used with electrophotographic image forming apparatus
20 20050084298 Toner cartridge
21 20050084283 Toner cartridge used with an electrophotographic image forming apparatus
22 20050074258 Seal for toner cartridge assembly
23 20050058469 Remanufactured toner cartridge having modified roller section
24 20050054371 Sealing strip for toner cartridge and method for making same
25 20050026066 Toner for image formation, method of producing the toner, toner container, toner cartridge, process cartridge, and image forming apparatus

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