We describe here a system consisting of multiple, relatively inexpensive marking engines. The marking engines are interconnected using highly reconfigurable paper paths. The paths are composed of hypermodules (bidirectional nip assemblies and sheet director assemblies) each of which has its own computation, sensing, actuation, and communications capabilities. Auto-identification is used to inform a system level controller of the potential paths through the system as well as module capabilities. Motion control of cut sheets, which of necessity reside physically within multiple hypermodules simultaneously, requires a new abstraction, namely a sheet controller which coordinates control of a given sheet as it moves through the system. Software/hardware co-design has provided a system architecture that is scalable without requiring user relearning. Here the capabilities are described of an exemplary system consisting of 160 modular entities and four marking engines. The throughput of the system is very nearly four times that of a single print engine.
Biegelsen, D. K.; Crawford, L. S.; Do, M. B.; Duff, D. G.; Eldershaw, C.; Fromherz, M. P. J.; Hindi, H.; Kott, G.; Larner, D. L.; Mandel, B.; Moore, S.; Preas, B. T.; Ruml, W.; Schmitz, G. P.; Swartz, L. E.; Zhou, R. Integrated parallel printing systems with hypermodular architecture. IS&T-SPIE Electronic Imaging Science & Technology; 2011 January 23-27; San Francisco, CA.