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1. WO1992014609 - LASER IMAGE SETTER

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

CLAIMS

1. An apparatus for exposing a film or plate comprising a light-sensitive material to a light beam, comprising:

an apparatus housing having an elongated cavity
defining an inner support for supporting the film
or plate in such a manner that the supported film
or plate constitutes at least a part of a substantially circularly-cylindrical surface defining a
central axis,

laser means for generating the light beam,

a light-directing assembly comprising a light- directing assembly housing, a laser light-emitter
emitting laser light generated by the laser means, a rotatable optically reflecting element and an
element-rotating motor, the laser light-emitter
being constituted by the second end of an optical
fibre means having a first light-receiving end and a second light-emitting end, the first light-re- ceiving end being arranged in juxtaposition to the laser means for receiving the light beam therefrom, and the second light-emitting end being arranged in and supported by the light-directing assembly
housing and being in juxtaposition to the rotatable optically reflecting element at a substantially
fixed distance therefrom for emitting the light
beam to the rotatable optically reflecting element, the rotatable optically reflecting element being
arranged relative to the second light-emitting end of the optical fiber so as to direct the light
beam emitted to the optically reflecting element to the light-sensitive film or plate, the element- rotating motor being supported by the light-directing assembly housing and having a rotatable output shaft, the optically reflecting element being connected to the output shaft so as to be rotatably driven thereby, and the light-directing assembly
housing being supported by the apparatus housing
and being movable relative thereto along the cen- tral axis,

motion means for moving the light-directing assembly relative to the apparatus housing along the
central axis, and

central control means for controlling the laser
means for switching the laser beam on and off, for controlling the operation of the element-rotating
motor, and for controlling the operation of the
motion means so as to expose a predetermined area
of the photographic film by switching on the laser beam while the light-directing assembly is in a
predetermined position relative to the apparatus
housing and while the rotatable optically reflecting element is in a predetermined rotational posi- tion.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1, in which the inner support comprises a support surface for supporting the film or plate substantially in conformity with the support surface, the support surface constituting at least a part of a substantially circular-cylindrical surface defining the central axis.

3. An apparatus according to claim 1 or 2 , in which the optical fiber means is a single-mode fiber means.

4. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, in which the output shaft of the element-rotating motor is rotatably journaled in the light-directing assembly by means of air guidings.

5. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, in which the a laser means is arranged in the light-directing assembly housing.

6. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, in which the laser means comprises a laser selected from argon ion lasers, HeNe lasers, HeCd lasers, frequency-doubled Nd:YAG lasers, and diode lasers, including frequency-doubled diode lasers.

7. An apparatus according to any of claim 1-5, in which the laser means comprise an infrared laser.

8. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, in which the rotatable optically reflecting element is constituted by a rotatable optical prismatic element rigidly connected to the output shaft of the element-rotating motor and is rotatable in a rotational motion defining a rotational axis coinciding with the central axis, and in which the light beam emitted from the laser light-emitter is directed to the rotatable optical prismatic element along the central axis.

9. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising an iris means and a colli ator means interposed between the laser light-emitter and the rotatable optical prismatic element and is supported by the light-directing assembly housing.

10. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising encoder means connected to the central control means and generating an encoder signal representing the rotational position of the rotatable optically reflecting element relative to the central axis.

11. An apparatus according to claim 10, in which the control means controls the motion means in accordance with the encoder signal.

12. An apparatus according to claim 10 or 11, in which the encoder means comprises an encoder disc fixed directly on the shaft to which the rotatable optically reflecting element is fixed.

13. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims , in which the element-rotating motor and the motion means are operated continuously.

14. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, in which the light-directing assembly housing is supported by the apparatus housing through a carriage which is supported by the apparatus housing through guiding means which permit the carriage to move parallel to the central axis.

15. An apparatus according to claim 14, in which the guiding means comprise two bearing elements extending longi- tudinally parallel to the central axis, one of the bearing elements supporting the carriage in a two-plane manner, the other bearing element supporting the carriage in a one- plane manner, the two bearing elements together thus supporting the carriage in a statically determined manner.

16. An apparatus according to claim 15 in which the carriage is pulled downwards towards the apparatus housing by magnetic attraction forces generated by magnets arranged longitudinally in the carriage or in the housing, so as to assist the gravity force in securing the carriage to the apparatus housing and preload the carriage against the apparatus housing to secure permanent contact between the carriage and the apparatus housing through the bearing elements, maintaining the support of the carriage in a statically determined manner.

17. An apparatus according to claim 16, in which the magnets are arranged longitudinally in the carriage in such a manner that the concentration of magnetic forces is higher along a part of the carriage where the light-directing assembly is arranged so as to compensate for or counteract an added moment along that part.

18. An apparatus according to any of claims 15-17, wherein the bearing elements are selected from ball or roller bearing assemblies, sliding guides, and aerostatic bearing assemblies.

19. An apparatus according to any of claims 14-18, wherein the motion means comprise a threaded shaft and a drive motor connected to the threaded shaft for causing the threaded shaft to rotate, and wherein the carriage comprises a part having an internal thread meshing with the threaded shaft.

20. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims in which a domain thereof comprising the apparatus housing and the light-directing assembly is encapsulated, preferably with a thermally insulating material, and the encapsulated domain is air-conditioned by a controllable air-conditioning system to permit control of temperature and humidity conditions within the domain.

21. An apparatus according to claim 20, in which the laser means is arranged outside the air-conditioned domain, and the laser light is directed into the light-directing assembly by means of the optical fiber means.

22. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, in which the laser means comprises three lasers, namely a red laser, a green laser and a blue laser, and the optical fiber means comprises three separate optical fibers connected to the red laser, the green laser and the blue laser, respectively.

23. An apparatus according to claim 22, in which the red laser is constituted by a red HeNe laser generating laser light of wavelength about 633 nm, or a red diode laser generating laser light of wavelength about 635 nm or of about 670 nm; the green laser is constituted by a green HeNe laser generating laser light of wavelength about 543.5 n , a green frequency-doubled Nd:YAG laser generating laser light of wavelength about 532 nm, or a green argon ion laser generating laser light of wavelength about 514.5 nm, and the blue laser is constituted by a blue argon ion laser generating laser light of wavelength about 488 nm, a blue HeCd laser generating laser light of wavelength about 441 nm, or a frequency-doubled diode laser generating laser light of wavelength about 420 nm.

24. An apparatus according to any of the preceding claims, in which the laser means comprise acousto-optical modulator means for switching the laser beam on and off.