Envelope stuffing device

Requested Project

Looking for an automated process to allow individuals with extreemly limited range of motion to stuff standard business size envelopes. These individuals would be able to "activate" a device by a switching method such as; puff & sip, ABLE-NET, goose neck, big mac, etc....  

Design Notes

This project is placed in the completed category due to lack of current interest from the client agengy. A first model has been built and was delivered to Hills & Dales on 12/03/03 for testing to determine whether clients can master the required movements or if it must be further automated.  
The "proof of concept" model has a flat bed with a slide mechanism to move the envelope and a swinging tray for the item to insert into the envelope.  To use the device the following steps are performed sequentially:

1.  The envelope is placed on the bed of the device in a well defined area that is shaped to fit the envelope.  Similarly, the insert is placed in the insert tray in a well defined area.
2.  The slide mechanism is moved by grasping a lever with a knob which pushes the flap end of the envelope into an angled slot that causes the flap to swing partially open.  The slide mechanism is then withdrawn which pulls the envelope under a rod that runs the length of the envelope. This rod passes beneath the partially opened flap and folds the flap all the way open as the envelope is fully withdrawn.
3. The insert tray is then rotated into the insert position.  In so doing, a thin flexible metal blade enters the envelope opening and props the envelope open for easy insertion of the insert.  During this operation a cam device exerts controlled pressure on the thin metal blade to ensure that it enters the envelope.  The insert tray is lifted by a handle that clamps the insert to prevent it from sliding prematurely toward the envelope.  When the tray is fully rotated into position the handle is released and the insert slides down to the mouth of the envelope.
4.  At this point the insert tray aligns the insert with the envelope and it is constrained between the flap side of the envelope and the thin metal blade holding the envelope open.  Thus when the insert is pushed toward the envelope it guided so that it enters the envelope easily.
5.  The insert tray is rotated back to the stored position.
6.  An ejector lever is pushed to lift the envelope out of the depressed area in which it is resting so that it can be grasped and taken out of the machine.

At present these operations are all done manually.   However, most movements could be done by actuators controlled by switches.  Loading of the envelope and insert into the machine would remain a manual operation to limit machine complexity. Probably the insertion of the insert into the envelope would remain a manual operation.  However, because of a tray guide and a well-opened envelope it should go smoothly.

The next step will be to have the proof of concept model reviewed by staff at Hills & Dales.  

RCRV designer is Russell Schuchmann, and was requested by Hills & Dales Dubuque, IA. Jeff F. Kernan - VSM. The project was begun Apr 9, 2003 and completed Oct 21, 2004.

Flap Open

Insert Operation

Slide Mechanisms

Cam Mechanism

2021 RCRV