This invention relates generally to rubber-backed dust control floor
mats of the type which have a pile surface on one side and a rubber or rubber-like
material on the other side. Mats of this type are generally used in access ways
where people tend to brush or scrape their feet in order to prevent carrying of
moisture and/or dirt, accumulated on their footwear, into other areas of the premises.
Normally, these mats are located in areas of high pedestrian traffic, such as doorways.
These mats are generally sold by the manufacturer to a rental laundry that, in
turn, rents or leases such mats to the ultimate user.
Rubber backed mats such as used by the rental laundry industry require
that the rental laundry's name be clearly and permanently identified on the bottom
side of the rubber backing. It is often desirable to also permanently encode other
items such as the date of shipment, or mat style number.
A further requirement of a mat labeling system is that it be possible
to accomplish the labeling identity as a final step before packaging and shipping
the mat to a customer. The labeling function can be readily accomplished during
vulcanization of the nitrile type mat rubber to the pile-textile portion of the
mat such as by using metal molds to cause the required identification into the
rubber. Another possibility during vulcanization is to use preprinted (and protected)
or colored rubber (or other polymer based materials) labels compatible with the
nitrile rubber backing such that they will be permanently bonded/vulcanized in
place. The problem with labeling systems applied during mat vulcanization is that
these mats cannot be put in general inventory since they are already identified
for a particular customer.
For mats that are first put in general inventory (without customer
identification), various labeling systems have been attempted on the already vulcanized
mats. It is possible to vulcanize rubber labels to the finished mat backing by
use of a small heated press but the process is excessive in cost and time requirement,
taking more than several minutes. In the past attempts have been made to "burn"
identification numbers into the already vulcanized rubber but this is also very
unsatisfactory - unsightly, obnoxious odor, difficult to read. Also, systems using
laser cutting have been investigated but these have required excessive capital
Therefore, it is an object of the invention to provide a rubber or
rubber-like backed dust control mat which can be readily treated to provide identification
Other objects and advantages will become readily apparent as the specification
proceeds to describe the invention with reference to the accompanying drawings,
- Figure 1 is a perspective view of the new and improved dust control mat
with one edge lifted to show the identification strip;
- Figure 2 is a view similar to Figure 1 showing identification placed
in the identification strip;
- Figure 3 is a cross-section view taken on line 3-3 of Figure 1.
- Figure 4 is a detailed cross-section view of the identification strip
shown in Figures 1 - 3; and
- Figure 5 is a modification of the identification tab shown in
In the both forms of the invention the mats 10 consist of pile yarns
14 of cotton, polyester, nylon, etc. tufted through a woven or nonwoven substrate
16 of suitable material with the bottom 18 of the tufts adhered to the rubber or
rubber-like backing 20 during vulcanization. Molded integral with the bottom of
the backing 20 is an identification strip or label 22. Each of the mats commonly
have a border portion 24 therearound.
The rubber or rubber-like backing 20 is a thermosetting material
such as thermosetting nitrile rubber and the identification strip or label has
a thermoplastic material 23 such as thermoplastic synthetic rubber adjacent the
bottom surface of the backing 20. Examples of these would include halogenated polyolefin
compositions, thermoplastic rubber, thermoplastic elastomers, thermoplastic olefins,
certain olefins such as high temperature polypropylene, thermoplastic nylon 6
and 6.6, thermoplastic ionomers. Preferably the strip or label 22 will be fairly
small in length and width in comparison to the size of the mat with a thickness
in the range of 0.2 mm to 0.51 mm (.009 to .020 inches) think and preferably 0.38
mm (0.015 inches).
In the preferred form of the invention shown in Figures 1 - 4
identification strip 22 consists of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) layer 23 of 0.12
mm - 0.18 mm (.005" - .007") thickness, two thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or
thermoplastic polyester (PTE) or thermoset polyester layers 25 each about 0.025
mm - 0.05mm (.001" - .002") in thickness and two thermoplastic polyurethane/polyvinyl
chloride (TPU/PVC) layers 27 each about 0.025 mm - 0.05 mm (.001" - .002") in
thickness. The TPU/PVC layers are in the approximate ratio of 80% TPU to 20% PVC.
In addition, homogenous thermoplastic polyester can be used in layers 27.
The layers 25 are preferably thermoplastic polyurethane but other
thermoplastic polymers such as thermoplastic elastomers and thermoplastic polyester
can be used, if desired. The layer 23 is a strip of Goodyear Chemigum® TPE
alloy (nitrile and PVC alloys).
In the modification of Figure 5 only one layer 25 of thermoplastic
polymer and only one layer 27 of TPU/PVC are used with the total thickness being
0.30 mm (.002"). The thermoplastic layer 25 and the TPU/PVC layer 27 are both
about 0.05 mm (.002") thick while the layer 23 is approximately 0.20 mm (.008")
The thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) alloy portion of the layer 23 is
not only relegated to Chemigum® TPE but can also be based on alloys of the
following types some of which are commercially available:
Ally to Elastomer/Thermoplastic
The thermoplastic film phase which adheres to the TPE and is receptive
to sublimation printing inks must also be doped or made receptive to the TPE with
a compatible phase. Compatibility with the elastomer appears key in this application.
Thermoplastic materials which can be doped, laminated to the TPE, and is receptive
to sublimation inks include: thermoplastics urethane (polyol, polyester based),
thermoplastic polyester, thermoset polyester, etc. The commonality among these
sublimation ink receptive polymers is their polarity whether it be a cationic
or electronegative deposition. The art of sublimation printing is well established
and will not be described in detail except to point out this printing process
leads to the rapidity with which the thermoplastic or thermoset phase can be printed.
The above composite label in both forms of the invention will be
provided or printed as a thin patch in the range of 0.22 mm - 0.38 mm (.009" -
.015") thick and positioned in the required location during mat vulcanization
with the TPE phase bonded to the mat rubber backing and the thermoplastic or thermoset
phase exposed. The vulcanized mats can be put in general inventory since they
will be without customer identification. The mats can be taken from general inventory
and the identification process (applying the customer's label) can be accomplished
by means of applying a heated platen with sufficient pressure to a paper carrier
containing sublimation inks. The inks volatilize from the paper and deposit onto
the receptive thermoplastic or thermoset phase in a manner of 3 -8 seconds resulting
in a permanent, wash durable customer identification.
In the event the sublimation label is incorrect or unacceptable for
any reason the labeling can be corrected with the application of a new composite
label. A heated scraper sufficiently heated to remove the thermoplastic film is
employed. Because of cross-linking between the elastomer phase of the TPE and the
thermosetting backing, the TPE remains intact. A new blank label can be fused
to the exposed attached TPE because of the compatible thermoplastic phases (in
this case PVC) of the Chemigum® TPE. The compatibleness of thermoplastic and
elastomer polymers in a TPE affords bridging the gap between thermosetting rubber
and homogenous thermoplastics materials.
Color concentrates can be added to the separate label composite layers
to give different background colors to the label composite. Color tinting in this
manner could eliminate or mask the visual difference (reflectance) observed between
the laminated TPE and thermoplastic layers. Color coding mat aid in production
differentiation as well.