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Surgical mask

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20120272973 patent thumbnailZoom

Surgical mask


A surgical mask provides a wide range of wearers with a good fit and improved comfort, facilitates proper use of the mask, and reduces or eliminates fogging of eyewear, as compared with typical masks. The mask may include a pair of ties that are joined to the upper, central, and lower parts of either side of the body of the mask with the assistance of restraint members. The mask may also include a sealing member that reduces or eliminates gaps between the wearer's face and the upper part of the mask by forming a seal between the wearer's face and the mask in use. In addition, the mask may include a barrier panel that reduces or prevents the wearer's breath from escaping through the mask and rising to the wearer's eyewear.

Browse recent Allegiance Corporation patents - Mcgaw Park, IL, US
Inventors: Joseph PALOMO, Stephanie Carroll, Sara Wegener, Chris Aguilar, Joe Miller
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120272973 - Class: 128863 (USPTO) - 11/01/12 - Class 128 
Surgery > Body Protecting Or Restraining Devices For Patients Or Infants (e.g., Shields, Immobilizers) >Head Or Face Protector (e.g., Lips, Ears, Etc.) >Breath Or Contaminated Air Deflectors



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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120272973, Surgical mask.

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RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/332,536 titled “Surgical Mask” filed May 7, 2010 and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/103,570 filed May 9, 2011. The related applications are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a surgical mask that provides a wide range of wearers with a good fit and comfort, while facilitating proper use of the mask and reducing fogging of the wearer's eyewear.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Medical professionals wear surgical masks to prevent contamination of a patient's surgical or wound site with the wearer's nasal and oral bacteria that may result from the wearer talking, sneezing, or coughing during a medical procedure, such as surgery. Surgical masks also protect the wearer's mouth, nose and mucosa from contacting splashes or sprays of the patient's blood or other body fluids and from airborne microorganisms.

Typical masks include a body that covers the nose and mouth of the wearer and two sets of ties that are attached to the body that the wearer must tie behind his/her head to secure the mask to his/her face. Having two sets of ties provides the masks with some adjustability as the wearer may position the ties to suit his/her comfort and preference. Usually, one set of ties is attached to the upper part of the body of the mask and is secured around the upper part of a wearer's head, and the other set of ties is attached to the lower part of the body of the mask and is secured around the lower part of a wearer's head.

The presence of two sets of ties for securing the mask presents the opportunity for improper use, however, which often results from the wearer's desire to increase his/her comfort while wearing the mask. For example, a wearer may secure only the upper part of the mask to the upper part of his/her head using one set of ties, while allowing the lower part of the mask and the corresponding ties to hang freely around the neck. Consequently, the bottom of the wearer's nose and mouth may be exposed to microorganisms from the patient's surgical or wound site. A wearer may alternatively secure the set of ties corresponding to the lower part of the mask and loosen the set of ties corresponding to the upper part of the mask, allowing the mask to hang at his/her neck, to increase his/her comfort during a break in a medical procedure. The wearer may then fail to secure the ties corresponding to the upper part of the mask when he/she is back in close proximity with a patient. As a result, the wearer's nose and mouth may be exposed to the patient's surgical or wound site. These practices are violations of protocol and may cause the loose set of ties and the mask to become an obstruction between the wearer and the patient, possibly hindering the performance of the medical procedure.

Masks with two sets of ties also provide a wearer the opportunity to reuse a mask, since the wearer is able to remove one set of ties while partially maintaining the mask on his/her head using the other set of ties. The wearer may later re-tie the other set of ties, as the need arises. This practice is especially problematic when the wearer encounters a different patient, as he/she may re-secure a partially attached and previously-used mask that has possibly been contaminated, instead of removing and discarding the previously-used mask, as protocol dictates. Another problem with having two sets of ties is that since the two sets of ties are secured to a wearer's head independently of each other, improper tying and placement of either set of ties may compromise the overall protection offered by the mask.

In addition to surgical masks, wearers often wear eyewear, such as glasses or protective goggles, while performing medical procedures. A common disadvantage of typical masks is that a wearer's eyewear may fog when vapor from the wearer's exhaled breath escapes from or through the upper part of the mask and rises into his/her eyewear. This problem is exacerbated when there is a large gap between the upper part of the mask and the wearer's face or when the wearer's breath goes through the upper part of the mask. To prevent fogging and to reduce heat build-up in a typical mask, wearers often fail to secure the set of ties corresponding to the lower part of the mask so that vapor can escape through the bottom of the mask, which is a violation of protocol, as discussed above.

Another problem with typical masks is that they fit too loosely or tightly on a wearer's face, causing the wearer discomfort. Some masks are so loosely fitted that they migrate during head movements or common facial movements associated with talking. This requires the wearer to adjust the mask, which is difficult and distracting during a medical procedure. Moreover, contacting a mask with a gloved hand during a medical procedure is a violation of protocol as the mask is not considered to be “sterile” and it may contaminate the sterile glove. Migration of the mask may be so significant that the mask partially blocks the eye region, potentially leading to a decreased field of vision and exposure of the wearer's nose and mouth. Some masks, such as respirator-type masks, fit very tightly against a wearer's face to reduce the chance of exposing the wearer to the patient's bacteria or exposing the patient to a wearer's nasal and oral bacteria. They do not, however, conform to the contours of the wearer's face, which causes the wearer discomfort.

The problems of improper use, fogging of a wearer's eyewear, and insufficient wearer comfort associated with a typical mask discussed above stem from an unsatisfactory fit of the mask against the wearer's face. In an effort to alleviate these concerns, hospitals and other medical care facilities must carry multiples shapes and sizes of surgical masks to fit the dimensions and to suit the preferences of all wearers. Typical masks range from those with flat parts that cover the nose and mouth of the wearer to those of highly contoured cone and “duckbill” styles, which must be made available in many styles to fit a wide range of wearers.

Thus, there is a need to develop a mask that solves the disadvantages of improper use, fogging of eyewear, and insufficient wearer comfort of a typical mask, while providing a wide range of wearers with a good fit.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a surgical mask that provides a wearer with improved comfort, facilitates proper use of the mask, and reduces or eliminates fogging of eyewear, as compared with typical masks. The mask also provides a wide range of wearers with a good fit.

The mask may include a single pair of ties, or alternatively a single strap, that is attached to the upper, central, and lower parts of either side of the body of the mask in conjunction with one or more pairs of flexible restraint members. The restraint members are attached to or integral with the body of the mask at or adjacent to the sides of the body of the mask. The ties and restraint members may orient the upper, central, and lower parts of the mask to the corresponding portions of a wearer's face. The ties and restraint members allow the mask to be donned easily and assist a wearer in complying with protocol. Further, this configuration reduces the potential for reuse of a mask. The location of the ties and restraint members also allow the mask to fit wearers of a wide range of shapes and sizes.

In some embodiments, the mask may include a sealing member that is attached to or is integral with the upper part of the mask so as to be in contact with the wearer's nose and cheeks in use. This sealing member reduces or eliminates any gaps between the wearer's face and the upper part of the mask by forming a seal between the wearer's face and the mask. Preferably, the sealing member, alone or in conjunction with the upper part of the mask, forms at least one pocket that exhibits low vapor transmission or, more preferably, vapor impermeability, from the wearer's face through the upper part of the mask. This configuration reduces or eliminates vapor from the wearer's exhaled breath from escaping from the upper part of the mask and fogging the wearer's eyewear. The sealing member is preferably soft and flexible to provide comfort and adjustability to the wearer.

In some embodiments, the mask may include one or more barrier panels that are joined to or integral with the mask. The one or more barrier panels form a barrier that reduces or eliminates the wearer's breath from escaping through the body of the mask and rising and fogging the wearer's eyewear. For example, if the one or more barrier panels are positioned at the upper part of the body of the mask, the one or more barrier panels preferably direct the wearer's breath toward the central and lower parts of the mask so that it may escape through the body of the mask and/or out from the sides.

The mask of the invention may include any combination of these and other features, as discussed below.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of a mask according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a front view of a mask according to another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is an expanded view of a mask according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is an expanded view of a mask according to another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a front view of a mask according to another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6a is a back view of a sealing member having a fold, according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6b is a back view of a sealing member showing a pocket created by a fold, according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 7 is a front view of a mask of the invention donned by a wearer.

FIG. 8 is side view of a mask according to one embodiment of the invention donned by a wearer.

FIG. 9 is side view of a mask according to another embodiment of the invention donned by a wearer.

FIG. 10 is a front view of a mask according to one embodiment of the invention having a strap and a cinching attachment.

FIG. 11 is a front view of a mask according to another embodiment of the invention having a strap and a cinching attachment.

FIG. 12 is a side view of a mask having a cap according to an embodiment of the invention donned by a wearer.

FIG. 13 is a graph showing a distribution of facial size bivariate cell numbers according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

OF THE INVENTION

The surgical mask of the invention overcomes the disadvantages of typical masks discussed above. In particular, the mask of the invention provides a wearer with improved comfort, facilitates its proper use, and reduces or eliminates fogging of eyewear, as compared with typical masks. The mask also provides a wide range of wearers with an improved fit.

Various aspects of the mask may be illustrated by describing components that are attached and/or joined together. As used herein, the term “attached” is used to indicate either a direct connection between two components or, where appropriate, an indirect connection to one another through intervening or intermediate components. In contrast, when a component is referred to as being “joined” to another component, there are no intervening or intermediate components present.

The mask may include ties that are integral with the mask or may be attached to the mask either directly or indirectly. The mask may include a pair of ties, or alternatively a single strap, that are attached to the body of the mask at or adjacent to the sides of the body of the mask. For example, the ties may be attached to the lower edge of the mask in a parallel or perpendicular alignment with the lower edge of the mask. Preferably, the ties are attached parallel to the lower edge of the mask so as to provide the mask with a better fit against the lower part of a wearer's face in use.

In one embodiment of the invention as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, the ties 20 may be joined directly to the lower part of either side of the body of the mask 70. However, it is also possible to join the ties to the central or upper part of the body of the mask, or to join the ties to the restraint members, as discussed below.

The ties may secure the upper, central, and lower parts of the mask to the corresponding portions of a wearer's face as the wearer dons the mask and pulls the ties behind his/her head. The ties may be attached to the upper, central, and lower parts of either side of the body of the mask in conjunction with one or more pairs of flexible restraint members that are attached to or integral with the body of the mask.

The restraint members may be positioned at or adjacent to the sides of the body of the mask. The restraint members may be positioned parallel to, perpendicularly to, or at an angle from the sides of the body of the mask. The restraint members may take a variety of shapes and configurations including, but not limited to, sleeve, loop, rectangular, triangular, tapered, and curved shapes.

The ties may be attached to the restraint members in many ways. For example, the ties may be passed through, aligned with, or joined to the restraint members by any possible method including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, heat welding, adhesive bonding, or by stitching.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1, 3, 8, 10, and 12, the ties are attached by passing through flexible restraint members 30 formed as sleeves along the sides of the body 70 of the mask. The restraint members 30 may or may not extend all the way to the lower edge of the mask. Preferably, the restraint members 30 extend along the sides of the body 70 of the mask and end above the lower edge of the mask. The lower edge of the mask is preferably configured to be positioned under the wearer's chin. Alternatively, the restraint members 30 may extend all the way to the lower edge of the mask.

In another embodiment shown in FIGS. 2, 4, 9, and 11 the ties are attached by passing through flexible restraint members 80 and 82 formed as loops in the upper and central parts of the body 70 of the mask, respectively.

In some embodiments, more than two pairs of restraint members may be positioned at or adjacent to the sides of the body of the mask. In an embodiment shown in FIG. 5, pairs of restraint members 92 are attached to the upper, central, and lower parts of either side of the body of the mask and are joined together with ties 94 at a position distant from the body of the mask. These restraint members 92 may be formed integrally with each other, or one or more of the restrained members 92 may be formed integrally with the ties 94.

When the wearer secures or pulls the ties around his/her head while donning the mask, the restraint members conform toward the wearer's cheeks to orient and/or restrain the ties and to cinch the sides of the mask to the wearer's face. Preferably, the restraint members are configured to orient or cinch both sides of the lower, central, and upper parts of the body of the mask toward, and optionally in contact with, the wearer's face. As the body of the mask cinches, the body of the mask forms a chamber that covers at least the wearer's mouth and lower nose. The chamber has a generally contoured shape, but its shape varies based on how tightly the wearer secures the ties behind his or her head.

A wearer may optionally secure the ties while utilizing some, but not all, of the restraint members. Thus, the wearer may achieve a better fit of the mask against his/her face and provide greater comfort.

The ties may be made of flexible materials including, but not limited to, polyolefins, polyolefin alloys, and polyolefin elastomers. The materials may include fibers such as spunbond fibers and bi-component fibers in a core and sheath configuration such as a polyethylene sheath/polypropylene core.

The restraint members may be made of elastic materials that stretch towards the sides of the wearer's face so as to provide the mask with greater comfort and a better fit against the wearer's face in use. For example, when the restraint members are in a sleeve configuration, the sleeves are preferably made of an elastic material that stretches in one direction. The sleeve restraint members may be oriented at the sides of the mask so as to stretch in a direction perpendicular to the sides of the mask. The elastic material may include, but is not limited to, nonwovens, such as SMS with an elastic polyolefin, a spunbond made with elastic polyolefin, or knitted polyolefins or other polymers with elastic components.

The restraint members may also be made of flexible materials including, but not limited to, polyolefins, polyolefin elastomers, polyolefin alloys, and polyolefins or polyester with spandex. The materials may include fibers such as spunbond fibers, bi-component fibers in a core and sheath configuration such as a polyethylene sheath/polypropylene core, knitted polyester and knitted polyolefins.

The presence of polyolefins such as polyethylene in the ties and restraint members is preferred because it makes them softer and more comfortable to a wearer. However, any desired soft material may be used. The presence of elastomeric materials in the ties and restraint members is preferred because it allows the mask to stretch and conform to the wearer\'s face, particular during facial movements and while talking, thus providing a better fit and greater comfort to the wearer.

The ties and/or restraint members may be integral with the body of the mask or they may be joined to the body of the mask by any possible method including, but not limited to, stitching, heat welding, ultrasonic welding, and adhesive bonding.

In another embodiment of the invention, the ties may form earloops that are used with the restraint members, as discussed above. In yet another embodiment shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, a single strap 22 may be used instead of a pair of ties. The strap may be a single continuous piece, for example, that is integral with or attached to the body of the mask. For example, each end of the strap 22 may be joined to the lower part of either side of the body of the mask 70, as shown in FIGS. 10 and 11. Alternatively, it is possible to join the strap to the central or upper part of the body of the mask, or to join the strap to the restraint members, as discussed above. The strap may be made of the same materials as the ties.

The strap may be used with a cinching attachment that secures the strap to the wearer\'s head as the wearer pulls the strap towards his/her head. The cinching attachment may be attached to the strap so that the strap can be cinched to tighten behind the wearer\'s head. The cinching attachment preferably secures both sides of the strap so that the strap does not slip and loosen the mask from the wearer\'s head. For example, a cinching attachment 24 may be positioned near the middle of the strap 22, as shown in FIGS. 10 and 11.

The cinching attachment may include, but is not limited to, a button spring clip.

The strap and cinching attachment may be used with a cap that lies against the wearer\'s head to provide added comfort. As shown in FIG. 12, when a cap 26 lies against the wearer\'s head, a cinching attachment 24 may be used to secure a cinched strap 22 to the wearer\'s head. The cap may have any desirable configuration including, but not limited to, circular, oval, square, triangular, etc. The cap may be made from materials including, but not limited to, polyethylene, polypropylene, cardboard, and polyester.

The restraint members and ties or strap enable the mask to remain secured to a desired location on the wearer\'s face and allow only minimal movement of the mask as the wearer talks or makes facial movements. The restraint members in combination with the ties or strap also provide a good fit and adjustability of the mask against both sides of a wearer\'s face.

The wearer may secure the ties or strap around the crown, back, or lower part of his/her head, depending on his/her personal preference, providing adjustability and comfort. The adjustability of the ties or strap and restraint members allow the mask to conform to fit wearers having faces with a wide range of shapes and sizes. The mask also accommodates a wide variety of hairstyles, including ponytails, or when the hair is covered in a protective wrap, such as a surgeon\'s cap or bouffant.

The wearer may secure the ties or strap together behind his/her head as tightly or as loosely as he/she desires, while still covering his/her nose and mouth. The ties or strap and restraint members allow the body of mask to fit snugly against the wearer\'s face. If desired, an almost “respirator-type” seal may be formed between the mask and wearer\'s face, while providing greater comfort than a typical respirator or mask. A wearer may optionally leave gaps between the central part of the mask and his/her face to provide greater comfort.

Further, this configuration of ties or strap and restraint members allows a wearer to don the mask easily and assists a wearer in complying with protocol. In addition, the configuration of the ties or strap of the invention reduces the potential for improper reuse of a mask.

In some embodiments of the invention, the mask includes a sealing member. The sealing member may be attached to or be integral with the upper part of the body of the mask on the inner surface that faces the wearer\'s nose and cheeks in use. The sealing member reduces or eliminates gaps that may be present between the wearer\'s nose and cheeks and the upper part of the mask, thereby reducing or eliminating fogging of eyewear. In particular, the sealing member conforms to a wearer\'s face to provide a seal between the mask and nose and cheeks.

The sealing member preferably forms at least one pocket between the mask and the wearer\'s face. The at least one pocket may be formed by the sealing member alone, or in conjunction with the inner surface of the upper part of the mask. A pocket may be configured to reduce or prevent the wearer\'s breath from escaping from gaps between the wearer\'s nose and cheeks and the upper part of the mask by closing the gaps and channeling the breath away from the gaps. For example, a pocket may channel a wearer\'s breath so that it may escape through any gaps between the central part of the mask and the wearer\'s face.

FIGS. 1-5 shown one sealing member 40, but more than one sealing member may be used. The sealing member may have a uniformly wide shape, such as rectangular. Alternatively, a sealing member 40 may be narrower at a center section 46 corresponding to the bridge of the nose and/or at right and left side sections 48, as shown in FIGS. 1-5. Having a narrower center section 46 at the nose assists in maintaining the mask in position and may reduce or eliminate migration of the mask into the field of vision and upsetting the placement of eyewear. Preferably, as shown in FIGS. 1-6, the sealing member includes two semi-arcuate regions between the center section and the side sections.

The sealing member may be made of any material that is flexible so that it can conform to the contours of a wearer\'s face. Preferably, the sealing member may be made of a flexible soft material. Even more preferably, the sealing member may be made of a flexible soft material that exhibits low water absorption and vapor transmission, such as an air permeability of 10 cubic feet/min or less as measured by the WSP 70.1 standard or is vapor impermeable, such as a foam. A sealing member made of foam may provide comfort and adjustability to the wearer. For example, the foam may be made of a closed-cell polyethylene EVA copolymer foam that is crosslinked using an electron irradiation process, such as the foam sold under the trade name Volara Type G®.

The sealing member may be integral with the upper part of the body of the mask, or it may be attached to the upper part of the body of the mask, preferably on the inner surface thereof. The sealing member may be joined to the body of the mask by any possible method including, but not limited to, stitching, heat welding, ultrasonic welding, and adhesive bonding.

According to a preferred embodiment of the invention, the sealing member may be folded and attached to the upper part of the mask. In this embodiment, an attachment section of the sealing member is attached to the body of the mask across its width and a folded over section folds over the attachment section. The folded over section may be about 0.5 to about 4 times the width of the attachment section at its widest point. When the mask is donned, the folded over section contacts the wearer\'s nose and cheeks. The attachment section and the folded over section thus form an integral pocket at the upper part of the mask. This embodiment is preferred over an embodiment without the attachment section, although the attachment section is not necessary, as a pocket may also form between the sealing member and the inner surface of the upper part of the mask.

FIGS. 6a and 6b show an embodiment of the sealing member 40 having a folded over section 42 and an attachment section 44. In this embodiment, two pockets may be formed between the folded over section 42 and the attachment section 44.

In an embodiment of the invention, the folded over section and the attachment section may be sealed together at the center section and/or at the side sections. The seal at the center section and the side sections may be achieved by any possible method including, but not limited to, heat welding and ultrasonic welding. At least a seal at the center section is preferred, since such a seal results in two pockets on either side of the center section, which further improves vapor trapping.

In some embodiments of the invention, the mask includes one or more barrier panels that are attached to or are integral with the mask. The barrier panel forms a barrier that reduces or prevents vapor from the wearer\'s breath from passing through the body of the mask and rising to and fogging the wearer\'s eyewear. Preferably, the barrier panel directs the wearer\'s breath toward the sides of the body of the mask or toward other portions of the body of the mask where the barrier material is not present, so that the breath can preferably escape out from the sides of the central part of the mask or through the other portions of the body of the mask.

The barrier panel may be positioned at any part of the body of the mask. Preferably, the barrier panel is positioned at the central and/or upper part of the body of the mask, on an outer surface opposite the surface that contacts the wearer\'s face. If the one or more barrier panels are positioned at the upper part of the body of the mask, the one or more barrier panels preferably direct the wearer\'s breath toward the central and lower parts of the mask so that it may escape through the body of the mask and/or out from the sides. The barrier panel may also be positioned in between any layers that make up the body of the mask, or adjacent to additional components of the mask, such as the sealing member, on the inner surface.

The barrier panel may be positioned at the body of the mask across its entire width, or it may be positioned at discrete locations. For example, the barrier panel may be placed in the central part of the body of the mask to direct the flow of vapor to the sides of the body of the mask.

A barrier panel 50 may have a rectangular shape as shown in FIGS. 1-5, or its width may be varied. For example, the barrier panel may have an arcuate or semi-arcuate shape.

The barrier panel may be made of any material that exhibits low vapor transmission, such as an air permeability of 10 cubic feet/min or less as measured by the WSP 70.1 standard or is vapor impermeable including, but not limited to, polyolefins such as polyethylene and polypropylene. The barrier panel may be transparent, opaque, colored, or printed.

The barrier panel may be attached to the body of the mask by any possible method including, but not limited to, stitching, heat welding, ultrasonic welding, and adhesive bonding.

In some embodiments, the mask may include one or more stiffening members that are positioned on or within the body of the mask. The stiffening members provide rigidity to the body of the mask to reduce or prevent the collapse of the mask into the wearer\'s face as the wearer inhales. For example, the body of the mask may include two stiffening members 60, as shown in FIGS. 1-5, that correspond to where a wearer\'s nostrils and mouth would be positioned, as shown in FIGS. 7-9.

The stiffening members may be formed, for example, by heat or ultrasonically welding the material(s) forming the body of the mask. The stiffening members may also be formed by placing a strip of material on top of or between the layers of the body of the mask to provide rigidity. Alternatively, the stiffening members may be formed by placing strips of a polymeric adhesive on the body of the mask or between its layers at various locations along its width.

If the stiffening members are formed from a strip of material, the material may include, but is not limited to, polyolefins such as polypropylene and polyethylene, cardboard, paper, polyethylene terephthalate, or any semi-stiff polymer. The stiffening members may be joined to the body of the mask by any possible method including, but not limited to, heat welding, ultrasonic welding, and adhesive bonding. The stiffening members may also be formed by applying an acrylic or hot melt adhesive on top of or between the layers of the body of the mask.

The stiffening members may have a variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations that provide the body of the mask with sufficient rigidity to withstand collapse of the mask with the wearer\'s inhaled breath. For example, the stiffening members may be straight, curved, angled, continuous, or discontinuous. Preferably, the stiffening members have a generally rectangular shape, as shown in FIG. 1.

In addition, the stiffening members may be positioned horizontally, vertically, or at an angle on the body of the mask. Preferably, the stiffening members are positioned horizontally on the body of the mask, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3.

The rigidity of the body of the mask provided by the stiffening members may be varied by altering their width, length, and thickness and by varying the type and amount of material or adhesive used.

In some embodiments, the mask may include one or more deformable members. The deformable member may be bent or pressed by a wearer into a configuration that allows the body of the mask to conform to a wearer\'s face. In particular, the deformable member may assist in forming the seal between the sealing member and the wearer\'s face as it can maintain the sealing member in a desired configuration corresponding to the contours of the wearer\'s face. For example, the deformable member may be positioned at the upper part of the body of the mask corresponding to where a wearer\'s nose and cheeks would be positioned in use.

The deformable member may be positioned on a surface of the body of the mask, within layers of the body of the mask, or between the body of the mask and the sealing member. For example, as shown in FIG. 3, a deformable member 100 may be positioned between the upper part of the body of the mask and the barrier panel 50.

The deformable member may be made of any deformable material that retains its shape after being bent or pressed by a wearer, such as a metal. Possible metals that may be used in the deformable member include, but are not limited to, aluminum, such as Aluminum 1350, and steel. The deformable member may also comprise two or more wires, such as thin steel wires, each preferably having a diameter of 1/16 inch or less, embedded in a polypropylene film strip.

The deformable member may have a variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations that allow a wearer to bend or press it to conform the body of the mask to a wearer\'s face. For example, the deformable member may be straight, curved, angled, continuous, or discontinuous. In an embodiment of the invention, as shown in FIG. 3, the mask includes a deformable member 100 that has a continuous rectangular shape. Alternatively, the deformable member may have an arcuate shape.

The deformable member may be attached to the body of the mask by any possible method including, but not limited to, heat welding, ultrasonic welding, and adhesive bonding. For example, heat welding and ultrasonic welding may be used to encapsulate a deformable member within the layers that form the body of the mask. Alternatively, an adhesive may be applied to a deformable member to attach it to the body of the mask.

The body of the mask may be made of any material that substantially covers the mouth and nose of a wearer. The material forming the body of the mask may have a variety of shapes and configurations that allow it to conform to the wearer\'s face, such as a generally rectangular shape, a contoured shape, or a combination of shapes. For example, the central part of the lower part of the body of the mask may have one or more curves to allow a better fit against a wearer\'s chin. Generally, it is preferred that the lower part of the body of the mask is straight so that the mask may be folded flat.

In an embodiment of the invention, the body of the mask includes pleats 72, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3. The pleats 72 expand when mask 10 is donned by a wearer, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 and they preferably fold flat so that the mask 10 can lay flat for easy packaging and storage.

The pleats may be formed by folding the material and joining the sides of the body of the mask by any available method including, but not limited to, stitching, ultrasonic welding, heat welding, etc. to hold the pleats in place.

The body of mask may be made of any suitable material that allows a wearer to breathe through it including, but not limited to, nonwoven materials such as wet laid, dry laid, spunlaced, spunbond, meltblown, spunbonded-melt blown-spunbonded (SMS), carded, thermoplastic fibers, regenerated fibers, and bicomponent fibers such as sheath-core fibers. These nonwovens may be made of materials including, but not limited to, polyolefins such as polyethylene and polypropylene, polyesters such as PET, natural fibers, and cellulose materials. The nonwovens forming the body of mask may comprise mixtures of two or more of the foregoing fiber types.

Further, the body of the mask may include one or more layers of such materials. For example, the body of the mask may be made of four layers including an outer layer of spunbond/spunbond polypropylene, an intermediate layer of calendered bi-component polyethylene/PET, a middle filtration layer of meltblown electret-treated polypropylene, and an inner layer of wet laid cellulose. The body of the mask may also be made of three layers including an outer layer of spunbond/spunbond polypropylene, a middle filtration layer of meltblown electret-treated polypropylene, and an inner layer of spunbond/spunbond polypropylene, for example.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120272973 A1
Publish Date
11/01/2012
Document #
13434553
File Date
03/29/2012
USPTO Class
128863
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
41D13/11
Drawings
14


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