Seiko Epson Issued New U.S. Ink Tank Patent Number 9004626

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Seiko Epson Issued New U.S. Ink Tank Patent Number 9004626

 news 2015-04-23 at 11:39:10 am Views: 275
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    Seiko Epson Issued New U.S. Ink Tank Patent Number  9004626
    Seiko Epson : Patent Issued for Recording Device, Method of Controlling a Recording Device, and a Program

     Seiko Epson Corporation (Tokyo, JP) has been issued patent number 9004626, according to news reporting originating out of Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews editors.

    The patent's inventors are Tsuchiya, Norio (Komoro, JP); Tsuchiya, Akihiko (Tomi, JP).

    This patent was filed on September 7, 2012 and was published online on April 14, 2015.

    From the background information supplied by the inventors, news correspondents obtained the following quote: "The present invention relates to a recording device that prints by ejecting ink, a method of controlling the recording device, and a program.

    "Inkjet recording devices include inkjet printers that have separate inkjet heads connected to two ink tanks, and record images by ejecting ink from one of the inkjet heads. See, for example, Japanese Unexamined Patent Appl. Pub. JP-A-H08-127122.

    "Recording devices that record images by ejecting ink as described above are designed so that cartridges having plural ink tanks each filled with the same color of ink can be installed, and a different nozzle row is connected to each ink tank. When thus configured and a problem occurs in any one of the nozzle rows, the same color of ink can still be ejected from another nozzle row, and device redundancy and availability can be improved. However, such recording devices must be able to control recording images appropriately according to the cartridge configuration."

    Supplementing the background information on this patent, VerticalNews reporters also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "With consideration for the foregoing problem, the present invention enables desirably controlling a recording device according to the configuration of a cartridge that is installed in the recording device and has plural ink tanks each storing the same color of ink.

    "One aspect of the invention is a recording device including a cartridge that holds a first ink tank filled with ink, and a second ink tank that is filled with ink of the same color as the ink in the first ink tank; an inkjet head that prints using a first nozzle row that is connected to the first ink tank and ejects ink supplied from the first ink tank, and a second nozzle row that is connected to the second ink tank and ejects ink supplied from the second ink tank; and recording control unit that prints on a recording medium by ejecting ink from the first nozzle row or the second nozzle row, and when printing on the recording medium, determines whether the first ink tank or the second ink tank contains more ink, and prints by ejecting ink from the nozzle row connected to the ink tank containing the most ink.

    "When a cartridge having plural ink tanks each containing the same color of ink is installed to the recording device described above, the cartridge must be replaced when either one of the ink tanks becomes empty or near empty because the nozzles connected that one ink tank can no longer be cleaned. The cartridge must still be replaced at this time even if sufficient ink remains in the other ink tank and the same color of ink can be ejected from the other ink tank and images can be recorded, and there is room for improvement in terms of cost. Maintaining substantially the same amount of ink in each of the plural ink tanks filled with the same color of ink is also necessary in such recording devices.

    "To solve this problem, the invention ejects ink for image recording from the nozzles connected to the one of the plural ink tanks having the greatest amount of ink remaining, thereby suppressing a difference in the amount of ink in each ink tank and keeping the ink level as equal as possible. More specifically, the invention enables desirably controlling a recording device in which a cartridge having plural ink tanks each holding the same color of ink can be installed so that the amount of ink remaining in each ink tank is kept substantially equal.

    "Preferably in another aspect of the invention, the recording control unit receives a first control command for printing, and a second control command following the first control command, prints on the recording medium based on the received first control command and the second control command, determines whether the first ink tank or the second ink tank contains the most ink when receiving the second control command ends if the second control command is received while printing based on the received first control command, and prints based on the second control command by ejecting ink from the nozzle row connected to the ink tank determined to have the most remaining ink.

    "If a second control command for printing next is received while printing based on a first control command, this aspect of the invention determines which ink tank has the most ink left when receiving the control command for the next print job is finished. The ink tank containing the most ink is therefore determined after confirming that another image will be recorded, and the decision process can be simplified and processing efficiency improved compared with attempting to predict how much ink will be left in each ink tank when recording the image currently being recorded ends.

    "In another aspect of the invention, the recording control unit receives a first control command for printing, and a second control command following the first control command, prints on the recording medium based on the received first control command and the second control command, determines whether the first ink tank or the second ink tank contains the most ink when printing based on the first control command ends if the second control command is received while printing based on the received first control command, and prints based on the second control command by ejecting ink from the nozzle row connected to the ink tank determined to have the most remaining ink.

    "Because this aspect of the invention determines which ink tank has the most ink left when the current print job is completed if the control command for printing next is received while printing based on the first control command, the next image can be recorded using the ink tank that actually has the most ink left when printing starts next, and a uniform ink level can therefore be maintained more effectively in each ink tank.

    "In another aspect of the invention, the recording control unit receives a first control command for printing, and a second control command following the first control command, prints on the recording medium based on the received first control command and the second control command, determines whether the first ink tank or the second ink tank contains the most ink when receiving the second control command starts if the second control command is received while printing based on the received first control command, and prints based on the second control command by ejecting ink from the nozzle row connected to the ink tank determined to have the most remaining ink.

    "If the control command for printing next is received while printing based on the first control command, this aspect of the invention determines which ink tank has the most ink left when receiving the control command for printing next starts. As a result, the decision can be made and the next printing process can start earlier than when the decision is made after recording the current image is completed or when the decision is made after receiving the control command for recording the next image is completed, and the process can also be simplified and processing efficiency improved compared with attempting to predict how much ink will be left in each ink tank when recording the image currently being recorded ends.

    "In another aspect of the invention, the recording control unit receives a first control command for printing, and a second control command following the first control command, prints on the recording medium based on the received first control command and the second control command, estimates the amount of ink that will be left in the first ink tank when printing based on the first control command ends, and compares the estimated amount of ink in the first ink tank with the amount of ink in the second ink tank to determine which ink tank contains the most ink if the second control command is received while ejecting ink from the first nozzle row and printing based on the received first control command, and prints based on the second control command by ejecting ink from the nozzle row connected to the ink tank determined to have the most remaining ink.

    "When a control command for printing next is received while printing based on a previous command, the recording control unit estimates the amount of ink that will be left in each ink tank after the current print job ends, and at the same time predicts the ink tank with the most remaining ink. The ink tank containing the most ink can therefore be used for printing when starting to record the next image, and a uniform level of ink in each ink tank can therefore be more effectively controlled. The ink tank containing the most ink can also be determined sooner and the next printing process can be started sooner than when the ink tank containing the most ink is determined after the current print job ends.

    "Further preferably in another aspect of the invention, the recording control unit flushes the first nozzle row and second nozzle row when the time for which ink is not ejected exceeds a specific time; and to print on the recording medium, determines if the time for which ink has not been ejected by either the first nozzle row or the second nozzle row is near this specific time when a control command is received, and prints by ejecting ink from the nozzle row that is near this time.

    "Flushing is an operation that requires a specific amount of time and consumes ink, and is therefore performed as infrequently as possible because of process efficiency and cost considerations. As a result, when the time since ink was last ejected is near this specific time for any one of the plural nozzle rows, this aspect of the invention ejects ink from that nozzle row to print regardless of how much ink remains in the ink tanks, thus gives preference to flushing the nozzle row over maintaining an equal ink level, and therefore meets the foregoing need to minimize nozzle flushing.

    "Another aspect of the invention is a method of controlling a recording device, including steps of: receiving a control command to print on a recording medium; determining whether a first ink tank that is held in a cartridge, is filled with ink, and is connected to a first nozzle row, or a second ink tank that is held in the cartridge, is filled with ink of the same color as the ink in the first ink tank, and is connected to a second nozzle row, has the most remaining ink; and printing by ejecting ink from the nozzle row connected to the ink tank determined to have the most remaining ink.

    "When printing, this control method prints by ejecting ink from the nozzles connected to the ink tank having the most ink left selected from among the plural ink tanks, and can therefore maintain a substantially equal level of ink in each of the ink tanks. A recording device in which a cartridge holding plural ink tanks each containing the same color of ink can be installed can therefore be controlled appropriately to the cartridge configuration when printing.

    "Another aspect of the invention is a program that is executed by a control unit that controls a recording device having a cartridge that holds a first ink tank filled with ink, and a second ink tank that is filled with ink of the same color as the ink in the first ink tank, and an inkjet head that prints using a first nozzle row that is connected to the first ink tank and ejects ink supplied from the first ink tank, and a second nozzle row that is connected to the second ink tank and ejects ink supplied from the second ink tank, the program causing the control unit to function as a recording control unit that, when printing on the recording medium, determines whether the first ink tank or the second ink tank contains more ink, and prints by ejecting ink from the nozzle row connected to the ink tank containing the most ink.

    "By executing this program when printing, this control method prints by ejecting ink from the nozzles connected to the ink tank having the most ink left selected from among the plural ink tanks, and can therefore maintain a substantially equal level of ink in each of the ink tanks. A recording device in which a cartridge holding plural ink tanks each containing the same color of ink can be installed can therefore be controlled appropriately to the cartridge configuration when printing.

    "The invention can also be embodied as a storage medium that stores the program readably by the control unit or a computer.

    "A recording device to which a cartridge holding a plurality of ink tanks each containing ink of the same color according to the invention can be controlled appropriately to the cartridge configuration when recording.

    "Other objects and attainments together with a fuller understanding of the invention will become apparent and appreciated by referring to the following description and claims taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings."

    For the URL and additional information on this patent, see: Tsuchiya, Norio; Tsuchiya, Akihiko. Recording Device, Method of Controlling a Recording Device, and a Program. U.S. Patent Number 9004626, filed September 7, 2012, and published online on April 14, 2015. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=9004626.PN.&OS=PN/9004626RS=PN/9004626

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