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    How Do Automatic Paper Towel Dispensers Work?


    The automatic paper towel dispenser is a modern invention that offers an advanced method of dispensing paper towels. A predetermined length of paper towel is dispensed when you place your hands near the sensor. Thus, individuals can avoid touching the dispenser to avoid contact with bacteria or viruses that might be present. The dispensing of paper towel stops when a hand is removed and when there is ambient lighting available. Devices like Bobrick paper towel dispensers are designed to provide reliable operation that is intuitive for users and discourages waste.

    Automatic paper towel dispensers are powered by electricity from a plug-in wall outlet. Paper towels are dispensed using a touchless switch and motor. The electronic source is made up of an array of photovoltaic cells. The cells energize a control circuitry that controls how the dispenser works by acting in response to a sensor that detects movement and dispenses paper towels.

    The automatic (hands-free) operation of the dispenser is powered by a control circuitry. This includes the whole process of detecting movement, typically a hand, near the sensor and running the motor that dispenses paper towel. It also detects when a paper towel has been dispensed, turns off the motor, and charges the battery.

    A circuit board is mounted between the wall of the cabinet and a mechanical plate. The photosensor sits on a mounting tube and is connected to the circuit board using leads or wires. The sensor on the paper towel dispenser responds to the changes in the intensity of light. The light passes through an opening on cover of the dispenser. The opening is fitted with a clear plastic lens to prevent debris from blocking it and preventing light from reaching the sensor. 

    The automatic dispenser is made up of a cabinet and four walls, the top side, and base wall. It is mounted to a wall and the front cover is pivotally attached to the cabinet, for quick opening and closing when paper towels are being refilled. It may be mounted using different means such as adhesives or screws. The dispenser comprises of different dispensing means such as drive roller and pinch roller that enables the dispensing of paper towel. Once the paper towel dispensed through a slot at the base, the user can pull it and it is torn using the serrated edge.

    The side walls comprise of a roll support cup and a roll support arm located opposite each other, forming the main roll station. The paper towel is then filled in the cabinet to the support cup then to the support arm respectively. Afterwards, a length of paper towel is threaded behind the transfer bar. The transfer bar is made up of a folk, cam, and overdrive roller. This enables the paper towel to be pulled in a downward motion, between the pinch roller and drive roller that is rotated by a motor. The length of paper towel being dispensed can be set to any desired length, mostly between 10-12 inches of paper towel with each cycle.

    When the main roll is relatively depleted to about a 4-inch diameter, it is shown by the low paper indicator. An attendant then opens the dispenser cover and the main roll is then moved to the stub roll station. When the main roll of paper towel is moved to the stub roll, it allows new main roll paper towels to be filled on the roll support cup and roll support arm. Once the stub roll is finished, then the main roll begins putting paper towel between the pinch roller and drive roller to the outside of the dispenser.


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