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Printing preparation

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20120300241 patent thumbnailZoom

Printing preparation


In an exemplary device implementation, the device includes: a scanner capable of scanning a scanning target to produce an electronic image of the scanning target; and a printer capable of printing an image of the scanning target on a media, the printer including a print engine; wherein the device is adapted to overlap the scanning of the scanning target with preparation of the print engine for printing.

Inventors: Theresa A. Burkes, James H. Bigelow, Chris R. Gunning, Lisa Johnson, Raymond S. Kennedy, Scott W. Ahlstrom, Michael Tang, Sidney R. Reed, Douglas J. Mellor, Brian L. Watts
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120300241 - Class: 358 113 (USPTO) - 11/29/12 - Class 358 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120300241, Printing preparation.

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RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present patent application is a divisional of the presently pending and previously filed patent application filed on Mar. 10, 2003, and assigned Ser. No. 10/385,401.

BACKGROUND

Multifunction devices in modern office environments or other document management/production environments are used to perform functions that often previously used multiple separate devices. These functions can include printing, copying, scanning, faxing, electronic document transmission by other means, and so forth.

Copying functions, in effect, can be accomplished by combining scanning and printing functions. Consequently, the type of print engine used for the printing function can affect various characteristics of the copying function. One print engine type that is used for the printing function is a laser printer. With laser printers, a period of time is consumed while making the print engine ready for printing. However, the print engine maintaining a ready state indefinitely causes wear and tear.

In a copying operation using a scanner and a laser printer, a tradeoff may exist between the time used to complete the copying operation and the incremental wear and tear experienced by the laser printer as a result of the copying operation. For example, steps taken to reduce the incremental wear and tear experienced by the laser printer to perform a copying operation may lengthen the time used to perform the copying operation.

SUMMARY

In an exemplary device implementation, the device includes: a scanner capable of scanning a scanning target to produce an electronic image of the scanning target; and a printer capable of printing an image of the scanning target on a media, the printer including a print engine; wherein the device is adapted to overlap the scanning of the scanning target with preparation of the print engine for printing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the Drawings, like numerals are used for like and/or corresponding features, aspects, and components of the various FIGS. 1-7.

FIG. 1 is an exemplary multifunction device that includes a scanner and a printer and that is capable of performing a copying function.

FIG. 2 is an implementation of a multifunction device that illustrates exemplary components thereof.

FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary scanning target.

FIG. 4 illustrates an exemplary approach to accelerating copying with a multifunction device.

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram that illustrates an exemplary general method for accelerating copying with a multifunction device.

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram that illustrates an exemplary approach to accelerating copying with a multifunction device when copying a first document of a copying job.

FIG. 7 is a flow diagram that illustrates an exemplary approach to accelerating copying with the multifunction device when copying a subsequent document of the copying job.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 is an exemplary multifunction device 105 that includes a scanner 110 and a printer 115 and that is capable of performing a copying function. Multifunction device 105 also includes a memory 120, and printer 115 includes a formatter 125 and a print engine 130. In a described implementation, scanner 110 is capable of scanning in a physical document (not shown in FIG. 1) and creating an electronic image thereof. Scanner 110 is adapted to provide scanning information 135 to formatter 125 using protocol 140. Scanning information 135 may include all or part of the electronic image of the scanned document, a time remaining prediction regarding the time to complete the scan, both of these, and so forth.

Formatter 125 receives scanning information 135 and analyzes/processes it to produce printing information 145, which is provided to print engine 130. Printing information 145 may include all or part of the printable strips of the electronic image of the scanned document, an instruction to set or change a state of print engine 130, both of these, and so forth. Because the remaining time to complete a scan is predictable after a first scan strip of a target document is completed, printer 115 can better manage print engine 130, and states thereof, under the control and/or guidance of formatter 125.

Generally, formatter 125 can cause print engine 130 to begin preparing for printing prior to the complete scanning of the target document by scanner 110 and/or while formatter 125 is processing scanning information 135. Specifically, if the time remaining for scanner 110 to complete the entire scanning (and/or for formatter 125 to complete scan information processing) is less than or equal to the time to prepare print engine 130 to be ready to print, then formatter 125 causes print engine 130 to begin preparing for printing by so notifying print engine 130 (e.g., by sending an initialize instruction as printing information 145).

Multifunction device 105 is capable of performing two or more functions such as printing, copying, scanning, faxing, electronic document transmission by other means, and so forth. Hence, in addition to one or more scanners 110 and one or more printers 115, multifunction device 105 may also include other components directed to faxing, network communication, and so forth. Scanner 110 and printer 115 may be considered as a scanning component (e.g., a scanning unit) and a printing component (e.g., a printing unit), respectively. Scanner 110 and printer 115 may be usable separately for scanning and printing and/or jointly as a copying component or components for copying.

Formatter 125 may be realized as hardware, software, firmware, or some combination thereof and as part of any component of multifunction device 105. However, formatter 125 is typically implemented as a formatting board that is part of printer 115. Memory 120 may be usable for only a single function of multifunction device 105, or it may be shared by multiple components and for multiple functions thereof.

FIG. 2 is a multifunction device implementation 105′ that illustrates exemplary components 110, 115, 120A-C, and 205-235. Any particular multifunction device implementation 105′ need not include most, much less all, of the exemplary components 120A-C and 205-235. Nevertheless, in the described implementation of FIG. 2, multifunction device 105′ includes one or more processors 205, non-volatile memory 120A, volatile memory 120B, and removable memory 120C. Processor(s) 205 process various instructions to control the operation of multifunction device 105′ and to communicate with other electronic and/or computing devices. Memories 120A, 120B, and/or 120C may store these instructions, as well as other information and data such as that for scanning, copying, faxing, and printing.

Non-volatile memory 120A may include read-only (non-erasable) memory (ROM), flash memory, programmable read-only memory (PROM), electrically programmable read-only memory (EPROM), electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM), some other non-volatile (e.g., solid state) memory, and so forth. Non-volatile memory 120A may also include a mass memory such as a disk-based storage system. Regardless, non-volatile memory 120A may store boot-level/initialization code, basic identification, information supportive of one or more functions of multifunction device 105′, and/or alterable or unalterable operational information such as firmware, and so forth.

Volatile memory 120B is typically a random access memory (RAM). Volatile memory 120B holds information that is needed on a transient basis such as printing, faxing, copying, or scanning data; current processing instructions; electronic documents for current manipulation/transmission; and so forth. Removable memory 120C may include a floppy drive, a removable hard drive, a removable flash memory cartridge/module, a proprietary format (e.g., a ZIP® drive), and so forth. Removable memory 120C may hold document information, new or revised instructions/firmware, and so forth.

Multifunction device 105′ also includes a network interface (e.g., adapter) 210, and a serial and/or parallel interface (e.g., adapter) 215. Network interface 210 may provide a connection between multifunction device 105′ and a data communication network (or a specific device connected over a network-type medium). Network interface 210 allows devices coupled to a common data communication network to send print jobs, faxes, and other information to multifunction device 105′ via the data communication network. Similarly, serial and/or parallel interface 215 may provide a data communication path directly between multifunction device 105′ and another electronic and/or computing device. Multifunction device 105′ may alternatively substitute or add another interface adapter type, such as a Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface adapter, an IEEE 1394 (“Firewire”) interface adapter, a wireless interface (e.g., Bluetooth®, IEEE 802.11, wireless Local Area Network (LAN), etc.) adapter, and so forth.

Multifunction device 105′ also includes printer 115 that typically includes one or more mechanisms arranged to selectively apply pigment (e.g., toner) to a print media such as paper, plastic, fabric, and the like in accordance with print data corresponding to a print job, including those print jobs arriving via scanner 110 (e.g., possibly to support a copying function as a copy job). For example, printer 115 may include a laser printing mechanism that selectively causes toner to be applied from toner container(s)/cartridge(s) to an intermediate surface of a drum or belt that spins. The intermediate surface can then be brought into the proximity of a print media in a manner that causes the toner to be transferred to the print media in a controlled fashion. The toner on the print media can then be more permanently fixed to the print media, for example, by selectively applying thermal energy to the toner. Alternatively, printer 115 may include an ink jet printing mechanism that selectively causes liquid ink to be extracted from ink container(s) and ejected through print head nozzles and onto print media to form an intended pattern (e.g., text, pictures, etc.).

Printer 115 may also be designed or configured to support duplex printing, for example, by selectively flipping or turning the print media as appropriate to print (including to copy) on both sides. There are many different types of printing units available, and printer 115 may be comprised of any one or more of these different types. Although not explicitly shown, a system bus or busses (or other communication links) may connect and interconnect the various illustrated components 110, 115, 120A-C, and 205-235 of multifunction device 105′. For example, a communication link exists between printer 115 and scanner 110 in order for scanner 110 to communicate scanning information 135 and optionally other information to printer 115.

Multifunction device 105′ thus includes scanner 110 that can be implemented as an optical or other scanner to produce machine-readable/understandable image data signals that are representative of a scanning target, such as a photograph, a page of printed text, an object, and so forth. The image data signals produced by scanner 110 can be used to reproduce an image of the scanning target, such as on a computer monitor or print media (e.g., via printer 115).

Multifunction device 105′ may also include a user interface (UI) and/or menu browser 220 and a display and/or control panel 225. The UI and/or menu browser 220 allows a user of multifunction device 105′ to navigate the device\'s menu structure (if any). A display aspect of display and/or control panel 225 may be a graphical and/or textual display that provides information regarding, e.g., the status of multifunction device 105′ and the current options available to a user through, e.g., a menu structure. Any such graphical and/or textual display may be realized using a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen, a cathode ray tube (CRT) screen, a plasma screen, a light emitting diode (LED) screen, a video screen, and so forth. A control aspect of display and/or control panel 225, on the other hand, may be composed of indicators and/or a series of buttons, switches, or other selectable controls that are manipulated by a user of multifunction device 105′.

Multifunction device 105′ may, and typically does, include application components 230 that provide a runtime environment in which software applications or components can run or execute. There are many different types of available runtime environments, which facilitate the extensibility of multifunction device 105′ by allowing various interfaces to be defined that, in turn, allow application components 230 to interact with multifunction device 105′. Other components, whether comprised of hardware, software, firmware, or some combination thereof, may also be part of multifunction device 105′, as indicated by the other block 235.

FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary scanning target 305. Scanning target 305 may be any physical media such as paper, cloth, a three-dimensional object, and so forth. For example, scanning target 305 may comprise a document such as loose paper, a magazine, a book, and so forth. Scanners 110 typically scan one line at a time from the top of scanning target 305 to the bottom of scanning target 305. It should be noted that any side or portion of scanning target 305 may be defined as the top or bottom of scanning target 305.

Scanning target 305 includes indications of multiple scanning lines 310, from a first scan line 310(1), to a second scan line 310(2) . . . to an nth scan line 310(N). Scan lines 310 may refer to a physical line of scanning target 310 and/or image data signals that are representative of a physical line of scanning target 310 as scanned in by scanner 110. In a described implementation, first scan line 310(1) is transmitted first to printer 115. However, scan lines 310 may be transferred to printer 115 in any order.

FIG. 4 illustrates an exemplary approach to accelerating copying with a multifunction device 105. In this exemplary approach, a copy job 405 is being worked on using scanner 110 and printer 115. Scanner 110 scans in scanning lines 310 of a scanning target 305. These scanning lines 310 are forwarded to formatter 125 using protocol 140. This protocol 140 may enable scanner 110 to provide a time remaining prediction for the completion of the scanning of scanning target 305. Such a time remaining prediction may be sent separately or along with one or more scanning lines 310, such as first scan line 310(1). Alternatively, formatter 125 may be capable of deriving a time remaining prediction from other scanning information 135. For example, formatter 125 may have specification information that enables it to derive a time remaining prediction based on the arrival of a first scan line 310(1) from scanner 110.

Formatter 125 controls and/or oversees print operations of printer 115, including those print operations that correspond to a copy job 405. Formatter 125 analyzes and processes scanning information 135 to produce printing information 145 for copy job 405. Copy job 405 is stored in memory 120 and managed by formatter 125. Copy job 405 includes one or more attributes 410, at least one time remaining (prediction) 415, printable strips 420, and so forth.

Attributes 410 may include both job attributes that pertain to the entire copy job 405 and page attributes that pertain primarily to individual pages of copy job 405. Attributes 410, for both the job and individual pages, are described further below with reference to FIG. 6.

Time remaining 415 may be an accurate prediction, and thus more than a mere estimate, because scanner 110 can usually execute a scanning function in an orderly and straightforward manner. Time remaining 415 is monitored by formatter 125 in order to manage the states of print engine 130, especially with respect to being ready for printing when a page is ready to be printed.

Printable strips 420 are post-processed scan image data that are prepared by formatter 125. When all scan lines 310 of a scanning target 305 have been processed by formatter 125 and prepared for printing as printable strips 420, then the page is ready to be printed by the hardware of print engine 130. It should be noted that “page” refers to scanning target 305, and it is not limited to a sheet of paper.

Multifunction device 105 may also include one or more paper handlers 425, as illustrated in FIG. 4. Paper handlers 425, or more generally media handlers, are optional devices of printer 115 that provide for a greater array of media types and/or post-printing media manipulation. For example, paper handler 425 may support a greater range of input media options, such as colored media, non-paper media, and so forth. Also, paper handler 425 may support a greater range of output processes, such as stapling, sorting, stacking, mail boxes, and so forth. When such media handler(s) have preparation time for printing/copying, then formatter 125 (or another component) may mange them such that page readiness may be coordinated with the time used to prepare the media handler(s), as well as the time used to prepare print engine 130.

Implementations of copying acceleration may be described in the general context of electronically-executable instructions. Generally, electronically-executable instructions include routines, programs, objects, components, data structures, and the like that perform particular functions or implement particular abstract data types. Copier acceleration implementations may also be effectuated in distributed environments where functions are performed by components that are remote from each other but are connected through a communications link. Especially in such distributed environments, electronically-executable instructions may be located in both local and remote storage media, as well as in signals extant on one or more transmission media.

The methods, processes, and approaches of FIGS. 5-7 are illustrated in flow diagrams that are divided into multiple blocks. However, the order in which they are described is not intended to be construed as a limitation, and any number of the described blocks can be combined in any order to execute one or more methods, processes, and approaches for accelerating copying. Furthermore, although the methods, processes, and approaches of FIGS. 5-7 are described below with reference to multifunction device 105 and FIGS. 1-4 where applicable, they can be implemented in any suitable hardware, software, firmware, or combination thereof and using any appropriate printing and scanning (including copying) component(s).

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram 500 that illustrates an exemplary general method for accelerating copying with a multifunction device 105. Flow diagram 500 includes ten (10) blocks 505-550. In this exemplary method, blocks 505-550 are implemented by three components of the multifunction device 105. Specifically, a scanner 110 implements block 505, a formatter 125 implements blocks 510-545, and a print engine 130 implements block 550.

At block 505, scan strips are provided. For example, scan strips 310 of a scanning target 305 are sent from the scanner 110 to the formatter 125 as scanning information 135 in accordance with protocol 140.

At block 510, a copy job is established. For example, a copy job 405 is initialized and stored in a memory 120 of the multifunction device 105. At block 515, attributes of the copy job and a time remaining until the first/next page is ready to print are saved. For example, the formatter 125 stores attributes 410 and time remaining 415 in association with the copy job 405 at the memory 120.

At block 520, a page is scheduled. For example, the formatter 125 schedules a page for which scan strips are incoming on a queue for printing. At block 525, printable strips for the page are stored. For example, printable strips 420 may be saved in association with the copy job 405 at the memory 120 by the formatter 125. The printable strips 420 are capable of being directly printed by the print engine 130. The scan strips 310, if not themselves capable of being directly printed by the print engine 130, are processed into bit-level printable strips 420 by the formatter 125. The actions of block 525 may occur before, after, or fully or partially during the actions of block 520. In a described implementation, however, only a few printable strips 420, if any, are stored prior to scheduling the page.

At block 530, the next page to print is identified. For example, the first page of a copy job or the next page on a queue of pages to be printed is identified. At block 535, a time remaining prediction is provided for this next page, and the time remaining is monitored. For example, the time remaining may be monitored by setting a timer that counts down the time period of the time remaining prediction, by noting a current time in order to make subsequent comparisons of the time period of the time remaining prediction to a difference between the current time and an updated current time, and so forth.

At block 540, whether or not it is time to notify the print engine of the next page is determined. This determination is made by making one or more analyses with respect to the time remaining until the next page is ready to print, a current state of the print engine 130, timings of the print engine 130, one or more job-level and/or page-level attributes of the copy job, the position of the copy job on a job stream, the position of the page on a page queue, some combination thereof, and so forth. Exemplary implementations of a job stream and a page queue are described further below with reference to FIGS. 6 and 7.

Examples of job-level attributes include total number of pages (if available), number of collated copies, and so forth. Examples of page-level attributes include duplex/simplex, media type (including a size thereof), media handling (including input tray source, output slot or tray destination, special features, etc.), color requirements, and so forth. Other attributes may also be specified.

Examples of print engine timings include those time periods consumed by the print engine when switching between or among different print engine states. Print engine states include (i) sitting idle or being inactive, (ii) being ready to print or spinning, (iii) terminating-a-ready-condition or spinning down, and so forth. For instance, a print engine timing may refer to the time consumed when print engine 130 spins up or readies for printing from a previously idle state. As an example, it may be determined to be time to notify print engine 130 so that print engine 130 may begin spinning up when print engine 130 is currently inactive and the monitored time remaining (from the time remaining prediction) for the next page is or drops below a print engine timing period for spinning up from such an inactive state. Consequently, print engine 130 may be ready for printing when the page is ready and fully processed without print engine 130 being in a ready condition unnecessarily.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120300241 A1
Publish Date
11/29/2012
Document #
13568115
File Date
08/06/2012
USPTO Class
358/113
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
06K15/02
Drawings
6



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