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Shaped pants-style articles and method for production

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Shaped pants-style articles and method for production


An article to be worn on the lower torso of a wearer, such as pants or diapers. The article exhibits snug fit on a wearer through a particular cooperative arrangement of the side panels and the centre strip. It may further exhibit a particular bulging such as in the hip region of the wearer, and/or may include hoops such as for encircling the legs of a wearer. The article relates further to a simple manufacturing process for such articles. In a particular variant of the process, “multilane” manufacturing may be employed also to larger size article. In another particular variant, side margins of parts of the article can be connected without connecting these to further underlying parts.

Browse recent Concepts For Success (c4s) patents - Euskirchen-stotzheim, DE
Inventor: Christoph Schmitz
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120277712 - Class: 60438523 (USPTO) - 11/01/12 - Class 604 
Surgery > Means And Methods For Collecting Body Fluids Or Waste Material (e.g., Receptacles, Etc.) >Absorbent Pad For External Or Internal Application And Supports Therefor (e.g., Catamenial Devices, Diapers, Etc.) >Having Specific Design, Shape, Or Structural Feature >Hourglass Shape >Absorbent Means Interposed Between Pervious Topsheet And Impervious Backsheet

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120277712, Shaped pants-style articles and method for production.

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FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is an article such as a garment to be worn on the lower torso of a wearer, such as pants or diapers. The article exhibits snug fit around the legs of a wearer through a particular cooperative arrangement of side panels and a centre strip. The present invention is further a manufacturing method for producing such articles.

BACKGROUND

Because of the quite complex shape of human bodies, the automated manufacturing of garments is typically a compromise of manufacturing speed versus complexity of the shape of the garment or article.

On one side, very slow machines, which may include sewing and /or even manual intervention for certain steps, can produce quite complex garments such as well fitting pants or underwear, such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,155,940 in the context sewing three knitted half-blanks into a panty garment.

The other extreme are for example high speed machines producing disposable articles, such as baby or adult incontinence diapers, training pants and the like at production speeds of several hundred articles per minute or even more. Such articles, however, are much less complex in their design with regard to shape, and whilst the body fit is often somewhat improved by elastic materials, the manufacturing costs are significantly increased. Typically, such articles are manufactured from two-dimensional webs, such as nonwoven or films, by merely overlaying, connecting, and folding. In the early development of disposable diapers, such articles have been manufactured by folding the longitudinal outer side portions of an essentially rectangular web or pad over the mid portion, either as a simple overfold, such as e.g. described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,572,342, or as a double pleat (Z-fold) such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,426,756. In the crotch region, the fold was secured by a so called “centre glue”, such that upon use the pad was unfolded in the front and/or rear waist region, but it retained a narrow configuration in the crotch region, thereby approximating an hourglass shape. Further developments introduced the “shaped diapers” by introducing leg cut outs, elastic elements, waist ears etc., etc. Out of the plethora of publications in this area, WO08/118713, WO98/14156, EP0901780A1 may serve as examples showing such contemporary conventional articles.

Recently, “body conforming articles” as well as manufacturing methods for such articles have been described such as in WO06/102974.

Whilst these articles show an improved body fit, particularly in the leg and crotch area, there is still a need for increasing the flexibility in the design and in particular in the material selection and arrangement in the article.

There is also a need for alternative production methods, in particular with regard to adapting existing manufacturing equipment. There is also a need for increased output per converting line.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows an article in the form of a pants style absorbent article.

FIG. 2A to C show schematically an article according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows schematically a particular embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 shows schematically a further particular feature of the present invention with regard to connecting regions.

FIG. 5 shows schematically an article comprising unitary side panel and centre as a further particular execution according to the present invention.

FIG. 6 shows schematically an article comprising legs hoops as yet a further particular execution of the present invention.

FIG. 7 shows schematically an article wherein the side panel is folded and glued so as to provide the functionality of a leg hoop.

FIG. 8 shows schematically further embodiments according to the present invention.

FIG. 9A to E show various executions according to the present invention relating to the double pleats.

FIG. 10 shows schematically an article according to the present invention in a pre-use configuration.

FIG. 11A to G show schematically the process steps for forming articles comprising leg hoops in an MD-manufacturing process.

FIG. 12A to D show schematically the process aspects for forming closed articles.

FIG. 13A and B show schematically a setup of a CD- and MD- multi-lane converter,

The same numerals across different figures denote identical features

SUMMARY

Detailed Description

The present invention relates to articles, typically worn by humans, although not necessarily limited thereto. Within the context of the present invention, the term “article” shall also comprise “pre-cursor of an article”, such as when an unfinished precursor, which is made according to the process described herein is finished such as by adding further elements or features. The articles according to the present invention are preferably shaped so as to adapt well to body contours in particular around the lower torso and around the legs in the upper thigh respectively crotch region. Within the present context, the leg region of a standing wearer extends from the crotch line downwards, whereby the crotch line is defined by the crotch crease or groin adjacent to the pubic area and an essentially horizontal circumferential line through the groin laterally outwardly around the leg.

The articles according to the present invention comprise a front and a rear region, typically corresponding to the waist regions of a wearer, and a crotch region there between, thereby defining the longitudinal orientation if the article. The article further comprises side panel regions, which extend laterally outwardly of the centre piece when the article is in its in-use configuration. In a pre-use configuration, i.e. during manufacturing, or in a folded article after manufacturing, the side panels may be folded so as to or otherwise overlay the centre piece. Between the crotch region and the waist regions, the article comprises hip regions, whereby all these regions correspond to the regions of a wearer during its intended use. The articles may further comprise a left and right leg hoop, which during use encircle the upper thigh of a wearer. The article according to the present invention is essentially symmetrical to its longitudinal centreline. Nonetheless the description may refer to one major part of the article only, say the part which corresponds to the left back body parts of a wearer, but yet the features may be applied to the three other major parts of the article.

Thus, an article according to the present invention comprises a front region, a rear region and a crotch region there between, thereby defining a longitudinal (x-) and width (y-) direction and a longitudinally extending centre line of the article. A centre strip extends from the front region through the crotch region to the rear region, exhibiting a first and a second longitudinally extending side margin and a first and a second surface. The articles comprise at least a first and a second rear, optionally a first and a second front side panel connected to the centre piece in connecting regions, respectively wherein each of the side panels exhibit a first and second longitudinally extending side margin and a first and a second surface. The centre piece connecting regions extend essentially along the side margins of the centre piece in the rear region and optionally front region of the centre piece and the side panel connecting regions extend essentially along the first side margins of the side panels,

At least in the pre-use configuration, the centre piece and the side panels may be positioned such that their second surfaces are oriented towards each other and the first side margin of the first rear side panel is connected to the first side margin of the centre piece and the first) side margin of the second rear side panel is connected to the second side margin of the centre piece. Optionally the first side margin of the first front side panel is connected to the first side margin of the centre piece and the first side margin of the second front side panel is connected to the second side margin of the centre piece. Through this arrangement, the second side margins of the first and second rear and optionally front side panels extend towards and optionally beyond the longitudinally extending centre line of the centre piece, but not to the connecting region of the respective opposite side panel.

FIG. 10 shows an article respectively a pre-cursor there for according to the present invention in a pre-use configuration, having a centre piece 1010 with side panels 1055 connected thereto. Although a first (2318) and a second (2328) rear as well as a first (2312) and a second (2322) front side panel are shown, the latter ones are not necessary for the invention to function. The centre piece has a second surface, here shown as article\'s outer surface 1021 oriented towards the viewer and first opposite surface (1022), which will be oriented towards the user in the in-use configuration (e.g. a topsheet surface). The side panels are shown as individual web pieces connected to the centre piece in the connection regions 1123, here shown as straight lines, which may be glue lines or regions, or which may be ultrasonic or heat pressure bonding lines or regions. These connection regions extend essentially along a first (1011) and an opposite second (1017) longitudinally extending side margin of the centre piece 1010 at least in the rear region and—as shown in FIG. 10—also in the front regions and the corresponding connecting regions of the side panels along a first longitudinally extending side margin of the side panels. The sidepanels overlay the centre piece with the second of their surfaces oriented towards the centre piece such that the facing surfaces of the centre piece and the side panel are corresponding surfaces during use, i.e. as shown in FIG. 10, the outer surface 1021 of the centre piece is oriented towards the viewer whilst the surface of the side panels oriented towards the viewer will be the inner surface oriented towards the user during use. Considering the first rear side panel 2318, the second longitudinally extending side margin 4070 is positioned away from the first longitudinally extending side margin 1011 of the centre piece towards the longitudinally extending centre line 1005 or beyond, but not into, the connecting region of the second rear side panel.

Optionally, the side panels may be folded or even be multiply folded, such as in an “accordion” or “leporello” type of fold. Optionally, the sidepanels are composed of more than 1 web, connected to each other along connecting regions by butt or overlapping connections.

Such a pre-cursor can be readily converted into a finished article, such as by adding further features, such as closure tapes or by connecting the first front and rear and second front and rear side panels so as to form a pants style article, or it may already present an article except for not being in its “ready to use” or “in use” configuration.

The article may be further converted by overfolding longitudinal sections of the centre piece towards the centre line of the article such that the first (or wearer oriented) surfaces are oriented towards each other. In the crotch region, this overfold may be stabilized by connecting the surfaces to each other, such as by conventional glue bonding

In a particular embodiment, the article can be adapted to fit particularly well to the body contours during use, which may be achieved by a particular folding of the side margins of a centre strip and laterally outwardly extending side panel regions in a double pleated or Z-fold configuration. In the making of the article at least one of the pleats has been affixed such as by connection lines or regions e.g. by adhesive or heat bonding. There are a number of options for the arrangement of the double pleats, used materials, and the affixing, as further explained with FIG. 9A to E. Therein is exemplarily shown the embodiment of an absorbent article such as a taped diaper and one of the rear parts is depicted in a schematic cross-sectional view. As shown in FIG. 9A(1), the core 1035 is enveloped between a topsheet 1025 and a backsheet 1045, together forming the centre strip. As shown, topsheet and backsheet run as a composite into the double pleat 1190 towards the first pleat tip 1193, where they terminate. A separate side panel material 1055 has been overfolded, and the non-folded part runs laterally outwardly towards a closure element, e.g. a closure tape 1150. The longitudinal fold of the side panel forms the second pleat tip 1195, from where it further runs towards the first pleat tip where it terminates. In this first pleat 1192, the side panel is affixed to the topsheet/backsheet laminate in a butt-type attachment, such as by the first attachment 1120 (as solid line). An optional contour attachment 1123 (as dotted line), as will be described further, may be placed in the first pleat. This contour attachment may be integral with or even identical with the first attachment. The embodiment as shown in FIG. 9A(2) differs in that the optional contouring attachment is in the second pleat. FIG. 9A (3) and (4) show equivalent embodiments, except that the pleating is done in the opposite direction.

In another execution, at least one material of the centre piece may extend continuously across the centre piece and the side panel regions, such as the topsheet, or backsheet, or the topsheet/backsheet composite. Thus, as shown in FIG. 9A (5) to (8), and in analogy to FIG. 9A(1) to (4), the double pleating may be executed forward or backwardly, and the first attachment shown as solid line 1120 is positioned in the first or second pleat. The contouring attachment shown as dotted line 1123 fixation may be placed in either or both of the pleats. The contouring attachment may also be integral or identical with the first attachment 1120, as indicated with the further options depicted in FIG. 9C.

Optionally, the (front and/or rear) sidepanels may be composed of more than one web which partly overlay each other and are attached to each other as described above, and—non-limiting—depicted in FIG. 9D and E.

Optionally and further enhancing the adapting to the body contours, the contouring attachment can be executed such as by shaped or contoured attachment, such as adhesive or heat bonded lines or regions. Upon donning and wearing the article, this creates an effect very similar to the one of darting or tucking in tailoring. This shaped attachment can be achieved such as by a curved attachment line, or by predetermined irregularly shaped attachment regions. Thus, when considering an article in its in-use configuration—i.e. when the centre piece to side panel connection is cross-directionally pulled out—the distance between the longitudinal centreline and the innermost demarcation line of the innermost of the contour attachment lines or regions is different in the hip regions from the corresponding distance in at least one of the waist or hoop regions. In the present context, the term “innermost” refers to the position relative to the longitudinal centre line of the article.

Optionally, the present invention can very suitably be used for designing articles, such as disposable absorbent articles, comprising a so called secondary topsheet for separating faeces from the skin of the wearer.

In yet a further option, the present invention allows designing of pants or pants-style structures comprising well fitting leg hoops.

The present invention relates to articles which may be closed pants or pants-style articles or to articles, which are open products, and which may be brought into a closed pants-style form upon donning The present invention further relates to pre-forms of such articles, which may require addition of certain elements or performance of certain process steps to be functional as an article.

The general features of a pants-style article are depicted in FIG. 1, showing exemplarily for closed pants, such as an absorbent article, such as so called training pants, an article 1000 having a front waist region 1012 and a rear waist region 1018 connected by a crotch region 1015, thereby defining a longitudinal (x-) direction 1001 of the article. A width (y-) direction 1002 of the article corresponds to the right-left orientation on a wearer. Typically, the thickness (z-direction) of the articles is much smaller than the length and width, and extends perpendicularly thereto.

The articles according to the invention exhibit a wearer oriented, or inner surface 1020, in the context of disposable articles such as diapers also referred to as the topsheet side, and an opposite or outer surface 1021, in the context of disposable article also often referred to as backsheet side.

Such pants-style articles may be closed by side closure means, here shown as a butt-type side seam 1105 with connecting points 1107. In this butt-type seam the inner surfaces of the front and back regions are contacting each other and bonded to each other, such that outer margins of the webs form the distal end of the seam and extend outwardly away from the wearer during use.

Within the present context, the orientations relative to the article during its use are also applied to an article prior to the wearing. For most articles, the determination of longitudinal respective cross-directional orientation and of inner and outer surfaces can be straightforwardly deduced from the intended use by a skilled person. For certain articles, such as articles constructed of essentially one sheet of material, or designed symmetrically in the front and back, the orientation may be defined so as to provide the best comfort for the wearer, such as determined by outwardly lying butt seams.

Articles according to the present invention may have absorbent elements, as is the case for disposable absorbent articles such as baby or adult incontinence diapers, or for training pants and the like. Such articles may also be designed without integral absorbent elements, but may be combined with separate absorbent elements, such as when pants are used in combination with absorbent pads for the use in the context of adult incontinence or for feminine hygiene. Such articles may also be designed with no or relatively little absorbency, and may be used as disposable, or limited re-use underwear. Articles having no or only little absorbent capacity may be designed to withstand at least a limited amount of wash cycles without disintegrating.

In the case of pants or pants style structures these may be manufactured as completely closed pants—either permanently or releasably—or in an opened configuration, such as conventional baby or adult incontinence diapers. Such articles are closed to form a pants-style structure by the user or a caretaker upon donning of the article.

Pants-style articles according to the present invention comprise a centre strip and side panels. Both the centre strip and the side panels have major inner surfaces (i.e. predominantly oriented towards the wearer during use) and major opposite surfaces generally oriented away from the wearer. Within the present description, the term “major” surface refers to the orientation of a surface of a material or an article, which does not exclude, that certain portions of the material or surface are oriented differently, such as when a part of the material is folded away. No more than 50% of the material, typically less than about 25% and often less than about 10% of the total material should exhibit an orientation different from the major surface.

It is a particular design element of pants-style articles according to the present invention that due to the double pleating the side panels may be connected to the centre strip with their opposite surface oriented towards the opposite surface of the centre strip, e.g. backsheet side to backsheet side. This has particular advantages during the use of the article, as upon closing of the sides of the article either during manufacturing or by the user the lower section of the side panels cooperates with the crotch region of the centre strip to allow snug fit around the legs of the wearer.

An exemplary design according to one embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIG. 2, showing a precursor of an article during a manufacturing step. It is symmetrical along its longitudinal centreline 1005. FIG. 2A exhibits a top view of the inner surface 1020 of a precursor 1000 according to the present invention (i.e. the general orientation towards a wearer). The precursor is shown during its manufacturing as a segment of a continuous web still connected at the segment demarcation lines 1009 to a leading segment 1000′ and trailing segment 1000″. The segment may correspond to a finished article just prior to its final cutting step. As shown, the article may be an open type diaper—here shown with upper (waist) closure tapes 1157 and lower (leg) closure tapes 1152 and with corresponding tapes 1157′ and 1152′ for a leading segment.

Along the longitudinal centreline 1005 of the article 1000, the precursor has a front 1012, rear 1018 region and a crotch region 1015 positioned there between. As also can be seen in the cross-sectional views in FIG. 2B, the precursor has a centre strip 1010, here shown as a composite of a topsheet 1025, a backsheet 1045 and a core 1035 enveloped there between. The elements of the centre strip may be suitably connected to each other, such as by gluing, as well known in the art.

The precursor as shown has four side panels 1055 connected to the centre strip extending in the front and back laterally outwardly of the centre strip, here shown longitudinally coextensive with the centre strip, thusly forming front 1013 and rear 1019 margin of the article, as shown in the figure coinciding with the segment demarcation line 1009. The precursor further comprises side panel hoop regions 1174 extending in the side panel regions from the cross-directionally extending crotch margin away from this margin and centre piece hoop regions 1172 essentially connecting these along the longitudinally extending side margins in the crotch region. Further, the precursor comprises hip regions 1178 essentially positioned between the hoop regions and the waist regions.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120277712 A1
Publish Date
11/01/2012
Document #
13511892
File Date
11/24/2010
USPTO Class
60438523
Other USPTO Classes
/2400, 493379
International Class
/
Drawings
26



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