Epson Innovation Focuses on Robotics and Printers

Seiko Epson offices, Tokyo, Japan.

The Seiko Epson Corporation of Nagano, Japan, also known by the single name Epson, is one of the many Japanese corporations at the forefront of a wide range of business technologies, especially printers. Epson has recently entered into a partnership with specialty technology product developer ScanSource to create a line of digital whiteboard devices for businesses. Epson’s EH-TW7200 projector was also lately voted the Best Photo Projector at April’s Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) awards. Along with business applications, Epson’s high-quality projector technologies have even been installed as part of art exhibitions across the country.

For the first time in our Companies We Follow series here at IPWatchdog, we’re taking a look at the wide scope of innovation being developed by Epson. There have been dozens of patent applications and issued patents recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office which detail a range of technologies for business applications. We wanted to share our favorites with our readers today.

We begin today’s column with a detailed look at our featured patent application, an improved assembly for a horizontal multi-joint robot. This robotic technology, developed for various repetitive job applications, has an electric cable duct of a smaller size that reduces vibrations. We also discuss a couple of other patent applications describing robotics, as well as a couple of other patent applications seeking to protect printing inventions.

We’ve also collected what we found to be Epson’s most intriguing patents, which truly determine the value of Epson’s intellectual property development. This company has also recently received a number of U.S. patents protecting printing technologies; today, we look at patents protecting a white ink solution and a thermal printer. Other issued patents of note feature a couple of color correction technologies in imaging devices as well as one patent protecting an improved magnetocardiogram (MCG) monitor for medical applications.

[Companies-1]

 

Horizontal Multi-Joint Robot and Robot
U.S. Patent Application No. 20140109712

Increased complexity in robotics has greatly impacted technological innovation in a number of fields, including manufacturing and healthcare. We’ve covered interesting inventions in this field before in the Companies We Follow series, such as our recent coverage of Samsung which featured one patent protecting a bipedal robot. Epson is another such technological manufacturer working to improve the applications and performance of robotic systems.

Multi-joint robots can be comprised of a pedestal which supports a first rotatable arm, and a second rotatable arm with a drive head attached to the first arm. This design provides a great degree of flexibility for completing a variety of jobs. The entire assembly is powered by cables running through a duct from the pedestal to the second arm’s drive head. During operation, however, this ductwork can deform and begin to vibrate because of the movement of the arms.

Seiko Epson filed this patent application with the USPTO in October 2013 to protect a multi-joint robot design capable of supplying power to both arms while reducing the heavy vibrations that can develop during operation. This design reduces the curvature of the duct connecting the first and second arms, making it more difficult for the duct to deform and begin to vibrate while the multi-joint robot is in use.

This invention also addresses another issue related to the duct connecting the robotic assembly. The design reduces the overall size of the ductwork as well, resulting in a smaller size for the entire robot. By decreasing the weight of this assembly, manufacturing costs are lowered and the smaller multi-joint robot can be more easily installed in various factory or other applications.

Claim 1 of this Epson patent application would give the company the right to protect:

“A horizontal multi-joint robot comprising: a first joint that is rotatable around a first axis; a second joint that is rotatable around a second axis, the second axis being parallel to and spaced apart from the first axis; and a duct connected between the first joint and the second joint; wherein the first joint has a first connecting portion positioned at a first predetermined angle relative to the first axis, the second joint has a second connecting portion positioned at a second predetermined angle relative to the second axis, and the duct has a first end and a second end, the first end being connected to the first connecting portion, and the second end being connected to the second connecting portion.”

[Companies-4]

 

Other Patent Applications 

Although Epson is well known in global markets for its large market presence in printing technologies, our search of this corporation’s recent patent applications found a surprising number of filings related to robotic technologies, much like today’s featured application. More attempts to reduce the vibration in robotic arms caused by various operations can also be seen in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140121832, entitled Robotic Device and Method of Controlling Robotic Device.

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20140121832, entitled “Robotic Device and Method of Controlling Robotic Device.”

 

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20140103676, which is titled “Robot Hand and Robot Device.”

This system helps prevent against deviation in product quality caused by vibrations in manufacturing robots by determining when the inertial sensor, which is designed to sense vibration, is faulty. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140103676, which is titled Robot Hand and Robot Device, would protect a robotic hand designed for use in minute operations where high accuracy is needed. This robotic hand is better capable of holding an object in a stable position when multiple contact points are required, such as on round objects.

As we noted above, Epson is a major developer of printing technologies, and we noticed a couple of patent applications which seek to improve the company’s intellectual property portfolio in this area. These inventions cover a range of printers that include large assemblies used for commercial printing to smaller, personal applications. Attempts to reduce the size of certain commercial and business printers can be seen in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140111586, filed under the title Printing Apparatus. In some cases, it’s difficult to transport a printer from one room to another if necessary because it doesn’t fit through the door; this application describes a new design for a large printer that easily folds for transport between rooms. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140107007, titled Ink Jet Cleaning Solution, discusses an ink cleaning solution capable of washing off both aqueous and non-aqueous inks. This new solution increases the speed of regular cleaning procedures and reduces the chance that the improper solution is used in printers utilizing either type of ink.

 

Issued Patents of Note

The Seiko Epson Corporation comes in at about the middle of the pack among the businesses we cover in the Companies We Profile series at IPWatchdog. With 1494 USPTO patent grants during 2013, Epson was awarded the 16th-most U.S. patents that year, and the 6th-most among Japanese companies. As we here at IPWatchdog know, the patent portfolio for a company is the true measure of their intellectual property holdings. A recent perusal of Epson’s recently issued patents showed us dozens of technologies in the field of display innovations, electronic devices and, of course, more improvements to printers.

From U.S. Patent No. 8711446, which is titled “Reading Apparatus and Reading Method.”

A couple of imaging technologies are protected by some patents which we decided to take a much closer look at today. A novel technological improvement to scanning devices is the focus of U.S. Patent No. 8711446, which is titled Reading Apparatus and Reading Method. The apparatus disclosed in this patent is enabled to provide more accurate colorations for scanned media that includes a glossy layer, which is reproduced improperly in other scanners. Color correction in liquid crystal display (LCD) projectors are protected by U.S. Patent No. 8711070, titled Display Device and Projector. This patent protects a projector using a display device that uses a sub-pixel system for displaying red, green and blue colors without requiring an immense number of pixels on the display.

Of the many patents we saw protecting inventions related to printers, there were a couple that stood out from the crowd. For example, U.S. Patent No. 8697773, entitled White Ink Composition, protects a new solution capable of producing white color against a non-white background. This solution improves on previous white inks which would bleed or cause recorded matter to stick together when stacked. A printer utilizing heat energy to complete printing jobs is protected by U.S. Patent No. 8687031, issued under the title Thermal Printer. Specifically, this invention relates to a thermal printer capable of carrying out both monochromatic and multicolored printing jobs on a smaller logic circuit, reducing the size of the printer.

Although medical electronics aren’t the mainstay of Epson’s research and development activities, we did notice one patented technology related to heart rate monitors that we felt was worth looking at in-depth. U.S. Patent No. 8688192, titled High-Resolution Magnetocardiogram Restoration for Cardiac Electric Current Localization, protects a magnetocardiogram (MCG) that provides more accurate high-resolution images. This technology can aid physicians in the diagnosis of cardiac electric issues, such as arrhythmia of the heart.

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a freelance journalist located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He writes about technology and innovation. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients and is available for research projects and freelance work.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

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