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Method and system for manufacturing foamed polyolefin tapes at cost effective line speeds

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Method and system for manufacturing foamed polyolefin tapes at cost effective line speeds


Making foamed polyeolefin tapes include combining a polyolefin resin and a chemical blowing agent to form a mixture. This mixture can then be heated in an extruder to create a supersaturated solution of gas within the polyolefin resin. A cooling device can be positioned adjacent to a die at a set distance for receiving extruded resin and for allowing exposure of the extruded resin to ambient air. This space between the cooling device and die outlet allows bubbles to grow in the extruded resin and to be shaped such that voids or empty spaces can be generated within the extruded polyolefin resin. The voids allow the formation of tapes which use less material but have adequate strength for various applications, such as carpet backings, geotextiles, packaging, housewrap, bags, wire insulation, and reinforcement elements in concrete.

Inventors: Hugh C. Gardner, Josef Uesbeck, Andy Rakovac, Philippe Combier, Kam Lui
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120276358 - Class: 428220 (USPTO) - 11/01/12 - Class 428 
Stock Material Or Miscellaneous Articles > Structurally Defined Web Or Sheet (e.g., Overall Dimension, Etc.) >Physical Dimension Specified

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120276358, Method and system for manufacturing foamed polyolefin tapes at cost effective line speeds.

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STATEMENT REGARDING RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to provisional patent application entitled, “Method and System for Manufacturing Foamed Polyolefin Tapes at Cost Effective Line Speeds,” filed on Nov. 1, 2007 and assigned U.S. Application Ser. No. 60/984,564, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF INVENTION

This invention generally relates to foamed, oriented tape yarns used in carpet backing, geotextiles, packaging, housewrap, and similar applications. More particularly, the invention relates to a high speed process for producing foamed, oriented polyolefin tapes for such applications.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Oriented polyolefin tape yarns are commonly used in woven fabrics for applications such as carpet backing, geotextiles for soil stabilization and separation, and in coated fabrics such as housewrap, lumber wrap, and laminates for flexible packaging applications. In all these applications, the foamed, oriented tapes impart high strength and stiffness to the fabrics, and depending on the application, other essential properties. Foamed oriented tape yarns are also used as wire insulation and as crack arrestors in concrete.

Carpets

In the past, jute cloth was used as carpet backing for tufted carpets. More recently, woven fabrics of polypropylene tape yarns have been used for carpet backings.

Tufted carpets can be produced by a two-step process involving 1) stitching pile yarns made from synthetic or natural fibers through the primary backing then 2) fixing the stitches on the underside of the primary backing with a latex adhesive.

Tufted primary backings may have pile yarns that are loops, cut pile, or combinations of cut and loop pile. During the carpet manufacturing process, a second fabric, called the secondary backing may also be used. The latter fabric is laminated to the opposite side of the adhesive layer and contacts the floor. The secondary backing adds dimensional stability to the finished carpet. Typically the secondary backing is a woven fabric with tape yarns in the warp direction and spun yarns in the cross machine (or filling) direction.

Foamed Tapes for Carpet Backings

It is well known in the conventional art that polyolefin resins can be used as the stock materials for forming tape yarns for woven carpet backings. Specifically, it has been found that foamed, oriented polypropylene tape yarns can be used as the stock materials for woven backings. Such foamed tape yarns have ridged surfaces and internal voids. They typically contain less material than ordinary polypropylene tape yarns which are not formed by foaming methods. In addition to weighing less than conventional (unfoamed), oriented tape yarns, foamed, oriented tape yarns for primary carpet backing impart improved tuftability and surface appearance to tufted carpets. In secondary backings, foamed oriented tape yarns impart similar levels of dimensional stability to the finished carpet with less material than conventional (unfoamed) tape yarns.

Geotextiles

Many geotextiles are manufactured from oriented polyolefin tapes, including woven fabrics for separation and stabilization of soil layers in roadbeds and for containing soil particles (e.g., silt) at construction sites. Polyolefin tapes are also used in retaining wall fabrics, turf reinforcement mats, ground cover fabrics, geotubes, and erosion control blankets. Polypropylene tapes are used in many of these applications.

Foamed Tapes for Geotextiles

Woven geotextiles require high strength and stiffness, and specific levels of permeability to water. Often the strength of the starting tapes is diminished when they are woven into fabrics. In general, foamed, oriented tapes lose less strength in the weaving process than conventional (unfoamed) tapes, resulting in increased fabric strengths compared to fabrics woven from unfoamed tapes with the same starting tensile properties. For applications that require woven geotextiles to act as a filter, such as silt fence, foamed tapes generally have greater dimensions than conventional (unfoamed) tapes of similar weight, allowing less fabric to create the same opening size in the filter membrane.

Packaging

Oriented polyolefin tapes are commonly used to make reinforcing scrims in flexible packaging applications, such as lumber wrap, bale packaging for cotton and synthetic staple fiber, and retail packaging of food, seeds, and other granular material. The woven scrims are often extrusion coated with a layer of polyolefin resin to create a moisture-proof barrier and increase puncture resistance, strength and stiffness.

Foamed Oriented Polyolefin Tapes in Packaging

Woven fabrics for packaging often have critical requirements such as high coverage and strong adhesion of the extrusion coating to the woven scrim. Coverage, which refers to the extent of open area in the woven fabric, depends on the widths of the tapes and count of the tapes in the warp and fill direction. Compared to woven scrims made with conventional (unfoamed) oriented tapes, woven scrims with foamed, oriented tapes can have greater coverage for equal weight (or alternatively, equal coverage with less weight) and improved adhesion. As described in more detail below, improved adhesion is a consequence of the special ridged surface structure of the foamed, oriented tapes made by the method and system of this invention.

Housewrap

Housewrap is a moisture resistant, breathable fabric applied to residential and light commercial buildings prior to the installation of the exterior finish, such as shingles, brick, or siding. One purpose of housewrap is to conserve energy by reducing air infiltration. Many housewraps consist of extrusion coated woven scrims made from oriented, polyolefin tapes. They are similar to extrusion coated scrims for packaging, but often have less coverage (more open area in the scrim). These coated fabrics are often mechanically perforated to allow water vapor to pass through. Most housewraps made with woven polyolefin reinforcement easily pass the minimum requirements for tensile strength required by industry regulations.

Foamed Oriented Polyolefin Tapes in Housewrap

Foamed, oriented tapes have sufficient strength to produce housewraps that meet industry standards. They also have a ridged surface that imparts improved adhesion of the polyolefin coating to the tapes, another important property for these products. Scrims made from foamed, oriented tapes require less resin than scrims made from similar conventional (unfoamed) tapes while still delivering fully satisfactory tensile properties to the final product.

Other Applications

Oriented polyolefin tapes are used for other applications such as netting for produce bags, open knitted fabrics for curing meat, and for wire insulation. Polyolefin tapes that are cut into 1 to 2-inch lengths are also used as crack arrestors in concrete mixtures.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120276358 A1
Publish Date
11/01/2012
Document #
13483472
File Date
05/30/2012
USPTO Class
428220
Other USPTO Classes
264 54, 4253781, 521143
International Class
/
Drawings
11



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