PatentDe  


Dokumentenidentifikation EP0548609 29.03.2001
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0548609
Titel Elastisches Verbundmaterial mit einem anisotropischen Faserband sowie Verfahren zur Herstellung
Anmelder Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc., Neenah, Wis., US
Erfinder Wright, Robert David, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, US
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
DE-Aktenzeichen 69231695
Vertragsstaaten BE, DE, ES, FR, GB, IT, NL, SE
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 02.12.1992
EP-Aktenzeichen 921205605
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 30.06.1993
EP date of grant 21.02.2001
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 29.03.2001
IPC-Hauptklasse B32B 5/04
IPC-Nebenklasse B32B 5/26   D04H 1/56   D04H 3/04   D04H 3/02   D04H 13/00   

Beschreibung[en]

The present invention relates to a composite elastic material and a method of making the same as defined in the preambles of claim 1 and claim 24.

Composites of elastic and nonelastic materials have been made by bonding nonelastic materials to elastic materials in a manner that allows the entire composite to stretch or elongate so they can be used in garment materials, pads, diapers and personal care products where elasticity may be desired.

In one such composite material as defined above and as described in US-A-4 781 966, a gatherable material is joined to an elastic fibrous web while the elastic web is in a stretched condition so that when the elastic web is relaxed, the gatherable layer gathers between the locations where it is bonded to the elastic web. The resulting composite elastic material is stretchable to the extent that the gatherable material gathered between the bond locations allows the elastic web to elongate. A further example of this type of composite material is disclosed, for example, by US-A-4,720,415 to Vander Wielen.

In many applications, composite materials of this type are adapted to stretch and recover in only one direction such as, for example, the machine direction. Thus, the elastic component of the composite does not have to be isotropic. That is, the elastic component need not have the same stretch and recovery properties in every direction. Desirably, the elastic component would have the required stretch and recovery properties in only the direction that the gathered inelastic material allows the composite to stretch. For example, if filaments, fibers and/or strands of an elastic material were oriented in only one direction, a relatively smaller amount of elastic material could be used to provide certain levels of elastic properties, such as tension, in that one direction than if the elastic material was isotropic. Reducing the amount of elastic material in the composite would generally reduce its cost. This is an important consideration for composite elastic materials which are intended to be components of single use or limited use products such as, for example, disposable personal care products.

However, conventional elastic materials such as, for example, elastic nonwoven fibrous webs and elastic films tend to be relatively isotropic and less efficient for materials that stretch and recover in only one direction. Although certain composite materials that contain parallel rows of elastic filaments or strands are known to provide stretch and recovery generally in one direction, these materials are not well suited to high-speed manufacturing processes because of the difficulties of applying individual elastomeric filaments or strands to an inelastic, gatherable material.

For example, US-A-3,468,748 discloses a nonwoven fabric having machine direction elasticity which contains at least one fibrous web and a plurality of elastic cords, strings, bands, etc., which is joined to the fibrous web while the elastic material is stretched. Upon release of the stretching force, the elastic material contracts from its extended condition and creates puckers in the material. US-A-3,575,782 discloses an elastic material which contains partially extended spaced elastic yarns sealed between two gathered fibrous webs. According to the patent, elastic yarns are stretched, joined to the fibrous webs with a binder and then passed through a drying oven. Tension on the elastic yarn is relaxed and more heat is applied to cause the elastic yarns to retract or shrink, creating a shirred elastic material.

EP-A-330 716 describes an elastic material having stretched threads of elastomeric material attached to a nonelastic substrate by an elastic adhesive layer.

Other patents disclose reinforced textile matrices and stabilized continuous filament webs in which threads or molecularly oriented continuous filaments are stabilized in a substantially parallel relationship. For example, US-A-4,680,213 discloses a reinforced textile matrix and US-A-4,910,064 discloses a substantially parallel array of molecularly oriented continuous filaments stabilized by meltblown fibers to create a coherent nonwoven fibrous web.

However, there is still a need for an inexpensive composite elastic material having stretch and recovery in only one direction, which is suited for high-speed manufacturing processes and which contains an elastic component that provides the desired elastic properties to the composite only in the one direction of stretch and recovery.

DEFINITIONS

The term "elastic" is used herein to mean any material which, upon application of a biasing force, is stretchable, that is, elongatable at least 60 percent (i.e., to a stretched, biased length which is at least 160 percent of its relaxed unbiased length), and which, will recover at least 55 percent of its elongation upon release of the stretching, elongating force. A hypothetical example would be a 2,54 cm (1 inch) sample of a material which is elongatable to at least 4 cm (1.60 inches) and which, upon being elongated to 4 cm (1.60) inches and released, will recover to a length of not more than 3,23 cm (1.27 inches). Many elastic materials may be elongated by much more than 60 percent (i.e., much more than 160 percent of their relaxed length), for example, elongated 100 percent or more, and many of these will recover to substantially their initial relaxed length, for example, to within 105 percent of their original relaxed length, upon release of the stretching force.

The term "nonelastic" as used herein refers to any material which does not fall within the definition of "elastic," above.

The terms "recover" and "recovery" as used herein refer to a contraction of a stretched material upon termination of a biasing force following stretching of the material by application of the biasing force. For example, if a material having a relaxed, unbiased length of 2,54 cm (1 inch) is elongated 50 percent by stretching to a length of 3,81 cm (1.5 inches) the material would be elongated 50 percent (1,27 or 0.5 inch) and would have a stretched length that is 150 percent of its relaxed length. If this exemplary stretched material contracted, that is recovered to a length of 2,79 cm (1.1 inches) after release of the biasing and stretching force, the material would have recovered 80 percent (1,02 cm or 0.4 inch) of its 1,27 cm (0.5 inch) elongation. Recovery may be expressed as [(maximum stretch length - final sample length)/(maximum stretch length - initial sample length)] X 100.

The term "machine direction" as used herein refers to the direction of travel of the forming surface onto which fibers are deposited during formation of a nonwoven fibrous web.

The term "cross-machine direction" as used herein refers to the direction which is perpendicular to the machine direction defined above.

The term "strength index" as used herein means a ratio of the tensile load of a material in the machine direction (MD) at a given elongation with the tensile load of that same material in the cross-machine direction (CD) at the same elongation. Typically, the tensile load is determined at an elongation which is less than the ultimate elongation of the material (i.e., elongation at break). For example, if the ultimate elongation of an elastic material is about 600 percent in both the machine and cross-machine directions, the tensile load may be measured at an elongation at about 400 percent. In that case, the strength index may be expressed by the following equation: strength index = (MD tensile load400% elongation/CD tensile load400% elongation) A material having a machine direction (MD) tensile load greater than its cross-machine direction (CD) tensile load will have a strength index that is greater than one (1). A material having a machine direction tensile load less than its cross-machine direction tensile load will have a strength index that is less than one (1).

The term "isotropic" as used herein refers to a material characterized by a strength index ranging from about 0.5 to about two (2).

The term "anisotropic" as used herein refers to a material characterized by a strength index which is less than about 0.5 or greater than about two (2). For example, an anisotropic nonwoven web may have a strength index of about 0.25 or about three (3).

The term "composite elastic material" as used herein refers to a multilayer material having at least one elastic layer joined to at least one gatherable layer at least at two locations in which the gatherable layer is gathered between the locations where it is joined to the elastic layer. A composite elastic material may be stretched to the extent that the nonelastic material gathered between the bond locations allows the elastic material to elongate. This type of composite elastic material is disclosed, for example, by US-A-4,720,415 to Vander Wielen et al.

The term "stretch-to-stop" (STS) as used herein refers to a ratio determined from the difference between the unextended dimension of a composite elastic material and the maximum extended dimension of a composite elastic material upon the application of a specified tensioning force and dividing that difference by the unextended dimension of the composite elastic material. If the stretch-to-stop is expressed in percent, this ratio is multiplied by 100. For example, a composite elastic material having an unextended length of 12,7 cm (5 inches) and a maximum extended length of 25,4 cm (10 inches) upon applying a force of 2000 grams has a stretch-to-stop (at 2000 grams) of 100 percent. Stretch-to-stop may also be referred to as "maximum non-destructive elongation". Unless specified otherwise, stretch-to-stop values are reported herein at a load of 2000 grams.

The term "tenacity" as used herein refers to the resistance to elongation of a composite elastic material which is provided by its elastic component. Tenacity is the tensile load of a composite elastic material at a specified strain (i.e., elongation) for a given width of material divided by the basis weight of that composite material's elastic component as measured at about the composite material's stretch-to-stop elongation. For example, tenacity of a composite elastic material is typically determined in one direction (e.g., machine direction) at about the composite material's stretch-to-stop elongation. Elastic materials having high values for tenacity are desirable in certain applications because less material is needed to provide a specified resistance to elongation than a low tenacity material. For a specified sample width, tenacity is reported in units of force divided by the units of basis weight of the elastic component. This provides a measure of force per unit area and is accomplished by reporting the thickness of the elastic component in terms of its basis weight rather than as an actual caliper measurement. For example, reported units may be grams force (for a specific sample width)/grams per square meter. Unless specified otherwise, all tenacity data is reported for the first extension of a 7,62 cm (3 inch) wide sample having a 10,16 cm (4 inch) gauge length.

As used herein, the term "nonwoven web" means a web having a structure of individual fibers or threads which are interlaid, but not in an identifiable, repeating manner. Nonwoven webs have been, in the past, formed by a variety of processes such as, for example, meltblowing processes, spunbonding processes and bonded carded web processes.

As used herein, the term "autogenous bonding" means bonding provided by fusion and/or self-adhesion of fibers and/or filaments without an applied external adhesive or bonding agent. Autogenous bonding may be provided by contact between fibers and/or filaments while at least a portion of the fibers and/or filaments are semi-molten or tacky. Autogenous bonding may also be provided by blending a tackifying resin with the thermoplastic polymers used to form the fibers and/or filaments. Fibers and/or filaments formed from such a blend can be adapted to self-bond with or without the application of pressure and/or heat. Solvents may also be used to cause fusion of fibers and filaments which remains after the solvent is removed.

As used herein, the term "meltblown fibers" means fibers formed by extruding a molten thermoplastic material through a plurality of fine, usually circular, die capillaries as molten threads or filaments into a high velocity gas (e.g. air) stream which attenuates the filaments of molten thermoplastic material to reduce their diameter, which may be to microfiber diameter. Thereafter, the meltblown fibers are carried by the high velocity gas stream and are deposited on a collecting surface to form a web of randomly disbursed meltblown fibers. Such a process is disclosed, for example, in US-A-3,849,241 to Butin.

As used herein, the term "microfibers" means small diameter fibers having an average diameter not greater than about 100 µm, for example, having an average diameter of from about 0.5 µm to about 50 µm, or more particularly, microfibers may have an average diameter of from about 4 µm to about 40 µm.

As used herein, the term "spunbonded fibers" refers to small diameter fibers which are formed by extruding a molten thermoplastic material as filaments from a plurality of fine, usually circular, capillaries of a spinnerette with the diameter of the extruded filaments then being rapidly reduced as by, for example, eductive drawing or other well-known spun-bonding mechanisms. The production of spun-bonded nonwoven webs is illustrated in patents such as, for example, in US-A-4,340,563 to Appel et al., and US-A-3,692,618 to Dorschner et al.

As used herein, the term "polymer" generally includes, but is not limited to, homopolymers, copolymers, such as, for example, block, graft, random and alternating copolymers, terpolymers, etc. and blends and modifications thereof. Furthermore, unless otherwise specifically limited, the term "polymer" shall include all possible geometrical configurations of the material. These configurations include, but are not limited to, isotactic, syndiotactic and random symmetries.

As used herein, the term "superabsorbent" refers to absorbent materials capable of absorbing at least 10 grams of aqueous liquid (e.g. distilled water per gram of absorbent material while immersed in the liquid for 4 hours and holding substantially all of the absorbed liquid while under a compression force of up to about 1,04 N/cm2 (about 1.5 psi).

As used herein, the term "consisting essentially of" does not exclude the presence of additional materials which do not significantly affect the desired characteristics of a given composition or product. Exemplary materials of this sort would include, without limitation, pigments, antioxidants, stabilizers, surfactants, waxes, flow promoters, particulates and materials added to enhance processability of the composition.

Problems associated with previous composite elastic materials have been addressed by the composite elastic material of the present invention according to claim 1, and by the method of claim 24 which are adapted to provide improved tenacity in one direction. The composite elastic material contains at least one anisotropic elastic fibrous web and at least one gatherable layer joined at spaced apart locations to the anisotropic elastic fibrous web so that the gatherable layer is gathered between the spaced-apart locations.

The gatherable layer may be a nonwoven web of fibers, such as, for example, a web of spunbonded fibers, a web of meltblown fibers, a bonded carded web of fibers, a multi-layer material including at least one of the webs of spunbonded fibers, meltblown fibers, or a bonded carded web of fibers. The gatherable layer may also be a mixture of fibers and one or more other materials such as, for example, wood pulp, staple-length fibers, particulates and super-absorbent materials.

The anisotropic elastic fibrous web contains at least one layer of elastomeric meltblown fibers and at least one layer of substantially parallel rows of elastomeric filaments. The substantially parallel rows of elastomeric filaments may be autogenously bonded to at least a portion of the meltblown fibers. This autogenous bonding may take place, for example, by forming molten elastomeric filaments directly on a layer of meltblown fibers. Likewise, a layer of meltblown fibers may be formed directly on a layer of substantially parallel rows of elastomeric filaments to provide the desired autogenous bonding.

In one aspect of the present invention, the elastomeric filaments may have an average diameter ranging from about 40 to about 750 µm. For example, the elastomeric filaments may have an average diameter ranging from about 100 to about 500 µm. Desirably, the elastomeric filaments will range from about 250 to about 350 µm and will make up at least about 20 percent, by weight, of the nonwoven elastic fibrous web. For example, the nonwoven elastic fibrous web may contain from about 20 to about 80 percent, by weight, of elastomeric filaments.

FIG. 1 is a schematic drawing of an exemplary process for forming a composite elastic material.

FIG. 2 is a schematic drawing of an exemplary process for forming an anisotropic elastic fibrous web which is a component of the composite elastic material of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a low power photo-magnification of an exemplary anisotropic elastic fibrous web which is a component of the composite elastic material of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a photomicrograph of an exemplary anisotropic elastic fibrous web which is a component of the composite elastic material of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a photomicrograph of an exemplary anisotropic elastic fibrous web which is a component of the composite elastic material of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a photomicrograph of an exemplary anisotropic elastic fibrous web which is a component of the composite elastic material of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a 8X magnification of a portion of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a graph of load versus elongation determined during tensile testing of an exemplary stretch-bonded laminate.

The present invention provides a composite elastic material such as, for example, a stretch-bonded laminate which is adapted to provide improved tenacity in one direction. This composite elastic material includes an anisotropic elastic fibrous web that is a composite of elastomeric filaments and elastomeric meltblown fibers. Referring now to the drawings wherein like reference numerals represent the same or equivalent structure and, in particular, to FIG. 1 of the drawings there is schematically illustrated at 10 a process for forming a stretch-bonded laminate which includes an anisotropic elastic fibrous web.

According to the present invention, an anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 is unwound from a supply roll 14 and travels in the direction indicated by the arrow associated therewith as the supply roll 14 rotates in the direction of the arrows associated therewith. The anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 passes through a nip 16 of the S-roll arrangement 18 formed by the stack rollers 20 and 22.

The anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 may also be formed in a continuous process such as, for example, the process described below, and passed directly through the nip 16 without first being stored on a supply roll.

A first gatherable layer 24 is unwound from a supply roll 26 and travels in the direction indicated by the arrow associated therewith as the supply roll 26 rotates in the direction of the arrows associated therewith. A second gatherable layer 28 is unwound from a second supply roll 30 and travels in the direction indicated by the arrow associated therewith as the supply roll 30 rotates in the direction of the arrows associated therewith.

The first gatherable layer 24 and second gatherable layer 28 pass through the nip 32 of the bonder roller arrangement 34 formed by the bonder rollers 36 and 38. The first gatherable layer 24 and/or the second gatherable layer 28 may be formed by extrusion processes such as, for example, meltblowing processes, spunbonding processes or film extrusion processes and passed directly through the nip 32 without first being stored on a supply roll.

The anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 passes through the nip 16 of the S-roll arrangement 18 in a reverse-S path as indicated by the rotation direction arrows associated with the stack rollers 20 and 22. From the S-roll arrangement 18, the anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 passes through the pressure nip 32 formed by a bonder roller arrangement 34. Additional S-roll arrangements (not shown) may be introduced between the S-roll arrangement and the bonder roller arrangement to stabilize the stretched material and to control the amount of stretching. Because the peripheral linear speed of the rollers of the S-roll arrangement 18 is controlled to be less than the peripheral linear speed of the rollers of the bonder roller arrangement 34, the anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 is tensioned between the S-roll arrangement 18 and the pressure nip of the bonder roll arrangement 32. Importantly, the filaments of the anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 should run along the direction that web is stretched so that they can provide the desired stretch properties in the finished composite material. By adjusting the difference in the speeds of the rollers, the anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 is tensioned so that it stretches a desired amount and is maintained in such stretched condition while the first gatherable layer 24 and second gatherable layer 28 is joined to the anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 during their passage through the bonder roller arrangement 34 to form a composite elastic material 40.

The composite elastic material 40 immediately relaxes upon release of the tensioning force provided by the S-roll arrangement 18 and the bonder roll arrangement 34, whereby the first gatherable layer 24 and the second gatherable layer 28 are gathered in the composite elastic material 40. The composite elastic material 40 is then wound up on a winder 42. Processes of making composite elastic materials of this type are described in, for example, US-A-4,720,415.

The gatherable layers 24 and 28 may be nonwoven materials such as, for example, spunbonded webs, meltblown webs, or bonded carded webs. In one embodiment of the present invention, one or both of the gatherable layers 24 and 28 is a multilayer material having, for example, at least one layer of spunbonded web joined to at least one layer of meltblown web, bonded carded web or other suitable material.

One or both of the gatherable layers 24 and 28 may also be a composite material made of a mixture of two or more different fibers or a mixture of fibers and particulates. Such mixtures may be formed by adding fibers and/or particulates to the gas stream in which meltblown fibers are carried so that an intimate entangled commingling of meltblown fibers and other materials, e.g., wood pulp, staple fibers and particulates such as, for example, hydrocolloid (hydrogel) particulates commonly referred to as superabsorbent materials, occurs prior to collection of the meltblown fibers upon a collecting device to form a coherent web of randomly dispersed meltblown fibers and other materials such as disclosed in US-A-4,100,324.

One or both of the gatherable layers 24 and 28 may be made of pulp fibers, including wood pulp fibers, to form a material such as, for example, a tissue layer. Additionally, the gatherable layers may be layers of hydraulically entangled fibers such as, for example, hydraulically entangled mixtures of wood pulp and staple fibers such as disclosed in US-A-4,781,966.

The gatherable layers 24 and 28 may be joined to the anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 at least at two places by any suitable means such as, for example, thermal bonding or ultrasonic welding which softens at least portions of at least one of the materials, usually the elastic fibrous web because the elastomeric materials used for forming the anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 have a lower softening point than the components of the gatherable layers 24 and 28. Joining may be produced by applying heat and/or pressure to the overlaid anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 and the gatherable layers 24 and 28 by heating these portions (or the overlaid layer) to at least the softening temperature of the material with the lowest softening temperature to form a reasonably strong and permanent bond between the re-solidified softened portions of the anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12 and the gatherable layers 24 and 28.

The bonder roller arrangement 34 may be a smooth anvil roller 36 and a patterned calendar roller 38, such as, for example, a pin embossing roller arranged with a smooth anvil roller. One or both of the smooth anvil roller 36 and the calendar roller 38 may be heated and the pressure between these two rollers may be adjusted by well-known means to provide the desired temperature, if any, and bonding pressure to join the gatherable layers to the elastic fibrous web. As can be appreciated, the bonding between the gatherable layers and the elastic sheet is a point bonding. Various bonding patterns can be used, depending upon the desired tactile properties of the final composite laminate material. When the gatherable layer is a material such as, for example, spunbonded polypropylene, such bonding can be performed at temperatures as low as 15°C (60°F). A range of temperatures for the calendar rolls during bonding between a gatherable layer such as, for example, spunbond polypropylene and an elastic sheet is 15 to 83°C (60° to 180°F).

With regard to thermal bonding, one skilled in the art will appreciate that the temperature to which the materials, or at least the bond sites thereof, are heated for heat-bonding will depend not only on the temperature of the heated roll(s) or other heat sources but on the residence time of the materials on the heated surfaces, the compositions of the materials, the basis weights of the materials and their specific heats and thermal conductivities. However, for a given combination of materials, and in view of the herein contained disclosure the processing conditions necessary to achieve satisfactory bonding can be readily determined by one of skill in the art.

Conventional drive means and other conventional devices which may be utilized in conjunction with the apparatus of Fig. 1 are well known and, for purposes of clarity, have not been illustrated in the schematic view of Fig. 1.

As discussed above, an important component of the composite elastic material 40 is the anisotropic elastic fibrous web 12. That elastic web contains at least two layers of materials; at least one layer is a layer of elastomeric meltblown fibers and at least one other layer is a layer containing substantially parallel rows of elastomeric filaments which may be autogenously bonded to at least a portion of the elastomeric meltblown fibers. These elastomeric filaments have an average diameter ranging from about 40 to about 750 µm and extend along length (ie. machine direction) of the fibrous web to improve the tenacity of the fibrous web in that direction.

Desirably, the elastomeric filaments may have an average diameter in the range from about 50 to about 500 µm, for example, from about 100 to about 200 µm. These elastomeric filaments extend along length (ie. machine direction) of the fibrous web so that the tenacity of the anisotropic elastic fibrous web is at least about 10 percent greater in that direction than the tenacity of a substantially isotropic nonwoven web of about the same basis weight. For example, the tenacity of the anisotropic elastic fibrous web may be about 20 to about 90 percent greater in that direction than the tenacity of a substantially isotropic nonwoven web of about the same basis weight containing only elastomeric meltblown fibers.

Typically, the anisotropic elastic fibrous web will contain at least about 20 percent, by weight, of elastomeric filaments. For example, the elastic fibrous web may contain from about 20 percent to about 80 percent, by weight, of the elastomeric filaments. Desirably, the elastomeric filaments will constitute from about 40 to about 60 percent, by weight, of the anisotropic elastic fibrous web.

FIG. 2 is a schematic view of a process for forming an anisotropic elastic fibrous web which is used as a component of the composite elastic material of the present invention. The process is generally represented by reference numeral 100. In forming the fibers and the filaments which are used in the elastic fibrous web, pellets or chips, etc. (not shown) of an extrudable elastomeric polymer are introduced into pellet hoppers 102 and 104 of extruders 106 and 108.

Each extruder has an extrusion screw (not shown) which is driven by a conventional drive motor (not shown). As the polymer advances through the extruder, due to rotation of the extrusion screw by the drive motor, it is progressively heated to a molten state. Heating the polymer to the molten state may be accomplished in a plurality of discrete steps with its temperature being gradually elevated as it advances through discrete heating zones of the extruder 106 toward a meltblowing die 110 and extruder 108 toward a continuous filament forming means 112. The meltblowing die 110 and the continuous filament forming means 112 may be yet another heating zone where the temperature of the thermoplastic resin is maintained at an elevated level for extrusion. Heating of the various zones of the extruders 106 and 108 and the meltblowing die 110 and the continuous filament forming means 112 may be achieved by any of a variety of conventional heating arrangements (not shown).

The elastomeric filament component of the anisotropic elastic fibrous web may be formed utilizing a variety of extrusion techniques. For example, the elastic filaments may be formed utilizing one or more conventional meltblowing die arrangements which have been modified to remove the heated gas stream (i.e., the primary air stream) which flows generally in the same direction as that of the extruded threads to attenuate the extruded threads. This modified meltblowing die arrangement 112 usually extends across a foraminous collecting surface 114 in a direction which is substantially transverse to the direction of movement of the collecting surface 114. The modified die arrangement 112 includes a linear array 116 of small diameter capillaries aligned along the transverse extent of the die with the transverse extent of the die being approximately as long as the desired width of the parallel rows of elastomeric filaments which is to be produced. That is, the transverse dimension of the die is the dimension which is defined by the linear array of die capillaries. Typically, the diameter of the capillaries will be on the order of from about 0,254 mm (about 0.01 inches) to about 0,508 mm (about 0.02 inches), for example, from about 0,368 mm to about 0,457 mm (about 0.0145 to about (0.018 inches). From about 5 to about 50 such capillaries will be provided per linear 2,54 cm (1 inch) of die face. Typically, the length of the capillaries will be from about 1,27 mm (0.05 inches) to about 5,08 mm (0.20 inches), for example, about 2,87 mm (0.113 inches) to about 3,56 mm (0.14 inches) long. A meltblowing die can extend from about 50,8 cm (20 inches) to about 152 cm or more (60 or more inches) in length in the transverse direction.

Since the heated gas stream (i.e., the primary air stream) which flows past the die tip is greatly reduced or absent, it is desirable to insulate the die tip or provide heating elements to ensure that the extruded polymer remains molten and flowable while in the die tip. Polymer is extruded from the array 116 of capillaries in the modified die 112 to create extruded elastomeric filaments 118.

The extruded elastomeric filaments 118 have an initial velocity as they leave the array 116 of capillaries in the modified die 112. These filaments 118 are deposited upon a foraminous surface 114 which should be moving at least at the same velocity as the initial velocity of the elastic filaments 118. This foraminous surface 114 is an endless belt conventionally driven by rollers 120. The filaments 118 are deposited in substantially parallel alignment on the surface of the endless belt 114 which is rotating as indicated by the arrow 122 in FIG. 2. Vacuum boxes (not shown) may be used to assist in retention of the matrix on the surface of the belt 114. The tip of the die 112 should be as close as practical to the surface of the foraminous belt 114 upon which the continuous elastic filaments 118 are collected. For example, this forming distance may be from about 5 cm (2 inches) to about 26 cm (10 inches). Desirably, this distance is from about 5 cm (2 inches) to about 21 cm (8 inches).

It may be desirable to have the foraminous surface 114 moving at a speed that is much greater than the initial velocity of the elastic filaments 118 in order to enhance the alignment of the filaments 118 into substantially parallel rows and/or elongate the filaments 118 so they achieve a desired diameter. For example, alignment of the elastomeric filaments 118 may be enhanced by having the foraminous surface 114 move at a velocity from about 2 to about 10 times greater than the initial velocity of the elastomeric filaments 118. Even greater speed differentials may be used if desired. While different factors will affect the particular choice of velocity for the foraminous surface 114, it will typically be from about four to about eight times faster than the initial velocity of the elastomeric filaments 118.

Desirably, the continuous elastomeric filaments are formed at a density per inch of width of material which corresponds generally to the density of capillaries on the die face. For example, the filament density per inch of width of material may range from about 10 to about 120 such filaments per 2,54 cm (1 inch) width of material. Typically, lower densities of filaments (e.g., 10-35 filaments per 2,54 cm or 1 inch of width) may be achieved with only one filament forming die. Higher densities (e.g., 35-120 filaments per 2,54 cm or 1 inch of width) may be achieved with multiple banks of filament forming equipment.

The meltblown fiber component of the anisotropic elastic fibrous web is formed utilizing a conventional meltblowing process represented by reference numeral 124. Meltblowing processes generally involve extruding a thermoplastic polymer resin through a plurality of small diameter capillaries of a meltblowing die as molten threads into a heated gas stream (the primary air stream) which is flowing generally in the same direction as that of the extruded threads so that the extruded threads are attenuated, i.e., drawn or extended, to reduce their diameter. Such meltblowing techniques, and apparatus therefor, are discussed fully in US-A-4,663,220.

In the meltblown die arrangement 110, the position of air plates which, in conjunction with a die portion define chambers and gaps, may be adjusted relative to the die portion to increase or decrease the width of the attenuating gas passageways so that the volume of attenuating gas passing through the air passageways during a given time period can be varied without varying the velocity of the attenuating gas. Generally speaking, lower attenuating gas velocities and wider air passageway gaps are generally preferred if substantially continuous meltblown fibers or microfibers are to be produced.

The two streams of attenuating gas converge to form a stream of gas which entrains and attenuates the molten threads, as they exit the orifices, into fibers or, depending upon the degree of attenuation, microfibers, of a small diameter which is usually less than the diameter of the orifices. The gas-borne fibers or microfibers 126 are blown, by the action of the attenuating gas, onto a collecting arrangement which, in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, is the foraminous endless belt 114 which carries the elastomeric filament in substantially parallel alignment. The fibers or microfibers 126 are collected as a coherent matrix of fibers on the surface of the elastomeric filaments 118 and foraminous endless belt 114 which is rotating as indicated by the arrow 122 in FIG. 2. If desired, the meltblown fibers or microfibers 126 may be collected on the foraminous endless belt 114 at numerous impingement angles. Vacuum boxes (not shown) may be used to assist in retention of the matrix on the surface of the belt 114. Typically the tip 128 of the die 110 is from about 15 cm (6 inches) to about 36 cm (14 inches) from the surface of the foraminous belt 114 upon which the fibers are collected. The entangled fibers or microfibers 126 autogenously bond to at least a portion of the elastic continuous filaments 118 because the fibers or microfibers 126 are still somewhat tacky or molten while they are deposited on the elastic continuous filaments 118, thereby forming the anisotropic elastic fibrous web 130.

At this point, it may be desirable to lightly calender the elastic fibrous web of meltblown fibers and filaments in order to enhance the autogenous bonding. This calendering may be accomplished with a pair of patterned or un-patterned pinch rollers 132 and 134 under sufficient pressure (and temperature, if desired) to cause permanent autogenous bonding between the elastomeric filaments and the elastomeric meltblown fibers.

As discussed above, the elastomeric filaments and elastomeric meltblown fibers are deposited upon a moving foraminous surface. In one embodiment of the invention, meltblown fibers are formed directly on top of the extruded elastomeric filaments. This is achieved by passing the filaments and the foraminous surface under equipment which produces meltblown fibers. Alternatively, a layer of elastomeric meltblown fibers may be deposited on a foraminous surface and substantially parallel rows of elastomeric filaments may be formed directly upon the elastomeric meltblown fibers. Various combinations of filament forming and fiber forming equipment may be set up to produce different types of elastic fibrous webs. For example, the elastic fibrous web may contain alternating layers of elastomeric filaments and elastomeric meltblown fibers. Several dies for forming meltblown fibers or creating elastomeric filaments may also be arranged in series to provide superposed layers of fibers or filaments.

The elastomeric meltblown fibers and elastomeric filaments may be made from any material which may be manufactured into such fibers and filaments. Generally, any suitable elastomeric fiber forming resins or blends containing the same may be utilized for the elastomeric meltblown fibers and any suitable elastomeric filament forming resins or blends containing the same may be utilized for the elastomeric filaments. The fibers and filaments may be formed from the same or different elastomeric resin.

For example, the elastomeric meltblown fibers and/or the elastomeric filaments may be made from block copolymers having the general formula A-B-A' where A and A' are each a thermoplastic polymer endblock which contains a styrenic moiety such as a poly (vinyl arene) and where B is an elastomeric polymer midblock such as a conjugated diene or a lower alkene polymer. The block copolymers may be, for example, (polystyrene/poly(ethylene-butylene)/polystyrene) block copolymers available from the Shell Chemical Company under the trademark KRATON® G. One such block copolymer may be, for example, KRATON® G-1657.

Other exemplary elastomeric materials which may be used include polyurethane elastomeric materials such as, for example, those available under the trademark ESTANE from B.F. Goodrich & Co., polyamide elastomeric materials such as, for example, those available under the trademark PEBAX from the Rilsan Company, and polyester elastomeric materials such as, for example, those available under the trade designation Hytrel from E. I. DuPont De Nemours & Company. Formation of elastomeric meltblown fibers from polyester elastic materials is disclosed in, for example, US-A-4,741,949 to Morman et al.. Useful elastomeric polymers also include, for example, elastic copolymers of ethylene and at least one vinyl monomer such as, for example, vinyl acetates, unsaturated aliphatic monocarboxylic acids, and esters of such monocarboxylic acids. The elastic copolymers and formation of elastomeric meltblown fibers from those elastic copolymers are disclosed in, for example, US-A-4,803,117.

Processing aids may be added to the elastomeric polymer. For example, a polyolefin may be blended with the elastomeric polymer (e.g., the A-B-A elastomeric block copolymer) to improve the processability of the composition. The polyolefin must be one which, when so blended and subjected to an appropriate combination of elevated pressure and elevated temperature conditions, is extrudable, in blended form, with the elastomeric polymer. Useful blending polyolefin materials include, for example, polyethylene, polypropylene and polybutene, including ethylene copolymers, propylene copolymers and butene copolymers. A particularly useful polyethylene may be obtained from the U.S.I. Chemical Company under the trade designation Petrothene NA 601 (also referred to herein as PE NA 601 or polyethylene NA 601). Two or more of the polyolefins may be utilized. Extrudable blends of elastomeric polymers and polyolefins are disclosed in, for example, previously referenced US-A-4,663,220.

Desirably, the elastomeric meltblown fibers and/or the elastomeric filaments should have some tackiness or adhesiveness to enhance autogenous bonding. For example, the elastomeric polymer itself may be tacky when formed into fibers and/or filaments or, alternatively, a compatible tackifying resin may be added to the extrudable elastomeric compositions described above to provide tackified elastomeric fibers and/or filaments that autogenously bond. In regard to the tackifying resins and tackified extrudable elastomeric compositions, note the resins and compositions as disclosed in US-A-4,787,699.

Any tackifier resin can be used which is compatible with the elastomeric polymer and can withstand the high processing (e.g., extrusion) temperatures. If the elastomeric polymer (e.g., A-B-A elastomeric block copolymer) is blended with processing aids such as, for example, polyolefins or extending oils, the tackifier resin should also be compatible with those processing aids. Generally, hydrogenated hydrocarbon resins are preferred tackifying resins, because of their better temperature stability. REGALREZ™ and ARKON™ P series tackifiers are examples of hydrogenated hydrocarbon resins. ZONATAX™501 lite is an example of a terpene hydrocarbon. REGALREZ™ hydrocarbon resins are available from Hercules Incorporated. ARKON™ P series resins are available from Arakawa Chemical (U.S.A.) Incorporated. Of course, the present invention is not limited to use of such three tackifying resins, and other tackifying resins which are compatible with the other components of the composition and can withstand the high processing temperatures, can also be used.

Typically, the blend used to form the elastomeric filaments and fibers include, for example, from about 40 to about 80 percent by weight elastomeric polymer, from about 5 to about 40 percent polyolefin and from about 5 to about 40 percent resin tackifier. For example, a particularly useful composition included, by weight, about 61 to about 65 percent KRATON™ G-1657, about 17 to about 23 percent polyethylene NA 601, and about 15 to about 20 percent REGALREZ™ 1126.

The elastomeric meltblown fiber component of the present invention may be a mixture of elastic and nonelastic fibers or particulates. For an example of such a mixture, reference is made to US-A-4,209,563 in which elastomeric and non-elastomeric fibers are commingled to form a single coherent web of randomly dispersed fibers. Another example of such an elastic composite web would be one made by a technique such as disclosed in previously referenced US-A-4,741,949. That patent discloses an elastic nonwoven material which includes a mixture of meltblown thermoplastic fibers and other materials. The fibers and other materials are combined in the gas stream in which the meltblown fibers are borne so that an intimate entangled commingling of meltblown fibers and other materials, e.g., wood pulp, staple fibers or particulates such as, for example, activated charcoal, clays, starches, or hydrocolloid (hydrogel) particulates commonly referred to as super-absorbents occurs prior to collection of the fibers upon a collecting device to form a coherent web of randomly dispersed fibers.

FIG. 3 is a low power photo-magnification of an exemplary anisotropic elastic fibrous web which is a component of the composite elastic material of the present invention. The photo-magnification reveals substantially parallel rows of continuous filaments extending from the top to the bottom of the photo. Meltblown fibers are shown overlapping and intersecting the continuous filaments.

FIG. 4 is a 24.9X photomicrograph of an exemplary anisotropic elastic fibrous web which is a component of the composite elastic material of the present invention. FIG. 4 shows substantially parallel rows of continuous filaments covered by a layer of meltblown fibers. The substantially parallel rows of filaments run from the top of the photo to the bottom of the photo.

FIG. 5 is a 24.9X photomicrograph of an exemplary anisotropic elastic fibrous web which shows a flip-side of the material shown in FIG. 4. The substantially parallel rows of continuous filaments rest upon a layer of meltblown fibers.

FIG. 6 is a 20.4X photomicrograph of an exemplary anisotropic elastic fibrous web which is a component of the composite elastic material of the present invention. A continuous filament can be seen running vertically through about the center of the photomicrograph surrounded by meltblown fibers.

FIG. 7 is a 8X magnification of a portion of FIG. 6 detailing a section of a continuous filament and various meltblown fibers.

EXAMPLES

Composite elastic materials (i.e., stretch-bonded laminates) containing anisotropic elastic fibrous webs were made in the following manner.

Anisotropic Elastic Fibrous Web

A four-bank meltblowing process in which each bank was a conventional meltblown fiber forming apparatus was set-up to extrude an elastomeric composition which contained about 63 percent, by weight, KRATON™ G-1657, about 17 percent, by weight, polyethylene NA 601, and about 20 percent, by weight, REGALREZ™ 1126. Meltblowing bank 1 was set-up to produce meltblown fibers; banks 2 and 3 were set-up to produce continuous filaments; and bank 4 was set-up to produce meltblown fibers. Each bank contained an extrusion tip having 0,406 mm (0.016 inch) diameter holes spaced at a density of about 30 capillary per lineal 2,54 cm (1 inch).

Polymer was extruded from the first bank at a rate of about 0.58 grams per capillary per minute (about 0,4 kg/cm/h or 2.3 pounds per linear inch per hour) at a height of about 28 cm (11 inches) above the forming surface. A primary air-flow of about 0,4 m3/min (14 ft3/minute) per 2,54 cm (1 inch) of meltblowing die at about 2,07 N/cm2 (3 psi) was used to attenuate the extruded polymer into meltblown fibers and microfibers that were collected on a foraminous surface moving at a constant speed.

The meltblown fibers were carried downstream on the foraminous surface to the second bank which was an identical meltblown system except that the primary air flow was eliminated. Polymer was extruded at the same temperature and throughput rates into substantially parallel continuous filaments at a density of 30 filaments per lineal 2,54 cm (1 inch). A secondary air flow chilled to about 10°C (50 degrees Fahrenheit) was used to cool the filaments. The difference in speed between the continuous filaments leaving the die tips and the foraminous surface aided the alignment of the continuous filaments into substantially parallel rows. The laminate of meltblown fibers and continuous filaments was carried to the third bank where an identical layer of substantially parallel continuous filaments was deposited at the same process conditions.

This composite was then carried to a fourth bank where a final layer of elastomeric meltblown fibers was deposited onto the multi-layer structure at the same conditions as the first bank. The layers of the structure were joined by autogenous bonding produced by directly forming one layer upon the other and enhanced by the tackifier resin added to the polymer blend.

Four samples of an anisotropic elastic fibrous web, identified as Samples 1 through 4, were prepared under the conditions reported in Table 1.

Tensile tests were conducted on an exemplary anisotropic elastic fibrous web prepared generally as described above from the same polymer blend. This material had 2 layers of meltblown fibers and 2 layers of substantially parallel continuous filaments (for a total filament density of about 60 filaments per lineal 2,54 cm or 1 inch), a basis weight of about 60 g/m2, and weight ratio of filaments to fibers of about 50:50. The tensile test revealed a strength index (i.e., machine direction tension versus cross-machine direction tension) from about 3 to about 5 when the tension was measured at an elongation of about 400 percent. It is contemplated that greater strength index values could be obtained by having higher proportion of filaments in the anisotropic fibrous web. Testing also showed that the ratio of tensile energy absorbed in the machine direction versus the cross-machine direction was from about 4:1 to about 6:1 when measured at an elongation of about 400 percent.

Control Elastic Fibrous Web

A substantially isotropic elastic fibrous web was made from the same polymer blend using only the first and fourth banks of the meltblown die configuration described above. The specific process conditions for forming the web are reported in Table 1 in the row heading "Control".

Stretch-bonded Laminate

The four-layer anisotropic elastic fibrous web was moved along at a rate of about 30,5 m/min (100 feet/minute) by the foraminous wire, lifted off the wire by a pick-off roll moving at a rate about 25% faster and then drawn to a ratio of 4.8:1 (380%). At this extension the drawn elastic fibrous web was fed into a calender roller along with upper and lower non-elastic web facings. Each facing was a conventional polypropylene spunbond web having a basis weight 0.4 ounces per square yard (about 14 g/m2) which was joined to the anisotropic elastic fibrous web at spaced apart locations to form a stretch-bonded laminate structure. The stretched-bonded laminate was relaxed as it exited the nip so that gathers and puckers would form. The laminate was wound onto a driven wind-up roll under slight tension.

The control elastic fibrous web was joined to identical polypropylene facing materials in the same manner to make a "control" stretch-bonded laminate. The specific process conditions for making the "control" stretch-bonded laminate and the stretch-bonded laminates containing the elastic webs of Samples 1-4 are reported in Table 1.

Tensile Testing

Tensile properties of the stretch-bonded laminates were measured on a Sintech 2 computerized material testing system available from Sintech, Incorporated of Stoughton, Massachusetts. Sample size was about 7,6 cm (3 inches) by 17,8 cm (7 inches) (the 17,8 cm or 7 inch dimension was in the machine direction), gauge length was 100 mm (about 4 inches), stop load was set at 2000 grams, and the crosshead speed was about 500 millimeters per minute.

Data from the Sintech 2 system was used to generate load versus elongation curves for each stretch-bonded laminate sample. Figure 8 is a representation of an exemplary load versus elongation curve for the initial elongation of a stretch bonded laminate to a maximum applied load of 2000 grams. As can be seen from the graph, the slope of the line tangent to the curve between points A and B represents the general elongation versus load characteristics provided primarily by the elastic component of the stretch bonded laminate.

The slope of the load versus elongation curve increases substantially once the stretch-bonded laminate has been fully extended to eliminate the gathers or puckers in the laminate. This region of substantial increase in slope occurs at about the laminate's stretch-to-stop elongation. The slope of the line tangent to the curve between points C and D after this region represents the general elongation versus load characteristics provided primarily by the non-elastic component (i.e., the gatherable web) of the stretch-bonded laminate.

The intersection of the lines passing through A-B and C-D is referred to as the point of intercept. Load and elongation values reported at this point for different stretch-bonded laminates made under the same conditions (e.g., materials, draw ratios, etc.) are believed to provide a reliable comparison. Tenacity reported for each sample is the load at the point of intercept (for a 7,6 cm or 3 inch wide sample) divided by the basis weight of the material's elastic component at stretch-to-stop (i.e., at a 2000 gram load). The basis weight of the elastic component at stretch-to-stop is approximately the same as its basis weight at the point of intercept (i.e., stretch at intercept).

This basis weight of the elastic component at stretch-to-stop was calculated by measuring the relaxed or unstretched basis weight of the elastic component (separated from the stretch-bonded laminate) and then dividing that number by stretch-bonded laminate's stretch-to-stop elongation expressed as a percentage of the laminate's initial length. For example, a stretch-bonded laminate (10,16 cm or 4 inch gauge length) having a stretch-to-stop of about 28,5 cm (11.2 inches) (18,3 cm or 7.2 inches or 180 percent elongation) has a stretch-to-stop elongation that is about 280 percent of its initial 10,16 cm (4 inch) gauge length. The basis weight of the elastic component at the stretch-to-stop elongation would be its relaxed basis weight (i.e., separated from the stretch-bonded laminate) divided by 280 percent. PROCESS CONDITIONS SAMPLE MELT TEMP. CONT.FIL. FORMING DISTANCE WIRE FPM CAL:WIRE RATIO CAL:WIND RATIO POLYMER RATE PIH X BANKS x 2,54 cm x 0,305 m/min x 0,018 kg/mm/h CONTROL ... 8" 50 4.8 2.22 2.3 X 2 1 260°C (500 F) 8" 125 4.8 2.22 2.3 X 4 2 249°C (480 F) 8" 153 4.8 2.22 2.3 X 4 3 249°C (480 F) 8" 125 4.8 2.22 2.3 X 4 4 249°C (480 F) 8" 95 4.8 2.22 2.3 X 4
PROPERTIES SAMPLE %FIL: %MB FIL/IN. Elastic Mat'l Basis Weight @ STS Load @ Intcpt Stretch @ Intcpt 3" TEN. GmT/GSM Elastic Mat'l Basis Weight % Reduction CONTROL 0:100 0 22.83 816 181 35.7 0 1 50:50 60 17.34 838 208 48.3 20 2 50:50 60 13.96 746 178 53.4 36 3 50:50 60 17.45 918 220 52.6 20 4 50:50 60 24.11 1143 221 47.4 30

The load, elongation and tenacity values reported in Table 2 are averages for 10 samples. As can be seen from Table 2, the composite elastic material (i.e., stretch-bonded laminate) containing the anisotropic elastic fibrous web provides a load at intercept which compares favorably with that of the Control material at similar elongations with much less elastic material, e.g., from about 20 to about 36 percent less elastic material. This is reflected in the increased tenacity values reported for Samples 1-4.

While the present invention has been described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that the subject matter encompassed by way of the present invention is not to be limited to those specific embodiments. On the contrary, it is intended for the subject matter of the invention to include all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as can be included within the scope of the following claims.


Anspruch[de]
  1. Elastisches Verbundmaterial (40) mit einer elastischen Faserbahn (12, 130) und mindestens einer in Falten legbaren Schicht (24, 28), die an voneinander beabstandeten Stellen mit der elastischen Faserbahn (12, 130) so verbunden ist, dass die in Falten legbare Schicht zwischen den voneinander beabstandeten Stellen in Falten liegt, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass für ein Verbundmaterial (40), das eine verbesserte Tenazität in einer Richtung aufweist, die elastische Faserbahn eine anisotrope elastische Faserbahn (12, 130) ist, die um mindestens 60 % verlängerbar ist und um mindestens 55 % dieser Verlängerung zurückkehrt, und die einen Festigkeitsindex von weniger als 0,5 oder mehr als etwa 2 aufweist, und dass die anisotrope elastische Faserbahn (12, 130) eine erste Schicht aus elastomeren, schmelzgeblasenen Fasern (126) und eine zweite Schicht aus im Wesentlichen parallelen elastomeren Filamenten (118) aufweist, die mit der ersten Schicht verbunden ist.
  2. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach Anspruch 1, wobei die anisotrope, elastische Faserbahn (12, 130) einen Festigkeitsindex von mehr als 2 aufweist
  3. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach Anspruch 1, wobei die anisotrope, elastische Faserbahn einen Festigkeitsindex von mehr als etwa 3 aufweist.
  4. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, wobei die elastomeren, schmelzgeblasenen Fasern (126) schmelzgeblasene Mikrofasern enthalten.
  5. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, wobei die elastomeren Filamente (118) mindestens etwa 10 Gew.-% der elastischen Faserbahn (12, 130) ausmachen.
  6. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, wobei die elastomeren Filamente (118) von etwa 25 bis etwa 90 Gew.-% der elastischen Faserbahn (12, 130) ausmachen.
  7. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 6, wobei die elastomeren Filamente (118) einen mittleren Durchmesser aufweisen, der zwischen etwa 80 bis etwa 500 µm liegt.
  8. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 6, wobei die elastomeren Filamente (118) einen mittleren Durchmesser aufweisen, der zwischen etwa 100 bis etwa 220 µm liegt.
  9. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 8, wobei die elastimeren, schmelzgeblasenen Fasern (126) ein elastomeres Polymer umfassen, das ausgewählt wurde aus der Gruppe, die besteht aus elastischen Polyestem, Polyurethanen, elastischen Polyamiden, elastischen Copolymeren aus Äthylen und mindestens einem Vinylmonomer, und elastischen A-B-A'-Blockcopolymeren, wobei A und A' das gleiche oder unterschiedliche thermoplastische Polymere sind, und wobei B ein elastomerer Polymerblock ist.
  10. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach Anspruch 9, wobei das elastomere Polymer mit einer Verarbeitungshilfe gemischt ist.
  11. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach Anspruch 9, wobei das elastomere Polymer mit einem klebrig machenden Harz gemischt ist.
  12. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach Anspruch 11, wobei die Mischung ferner eine Verarbeitungshilfe enthält.
  13. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 12, wobei die elastomeren Filamente (118) ein elastomeres Polymer enthalten, das ausgewählt ist aus der Gruppe, die besteht aus elastischen Polyestem, elastischen Polyurethanen, elastischen Polyamiden, elastischen Copolymeren aus Äthylen und mindestens einem Vinylmonomer, und elastischen A-B-A'-Blockcopolymeren, wobei A und A' die gleichen oder unterschiedliche thermoplastische Polymere sind, und wobei B ein elastomerer Polymerblock ist.
  14. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 13, wobei die Schicht aus elastomeren, schmelzgeblasenen Fasern (126) ferner eine Mischung aus elastomeren Fasern und einem oder mehreren anderen Materialien enthält, die ausgewählt sind aus der Gruppe, die besteht aus Holzpulpe, nicht elastischen Fasern, Partikelmaterialien und superabsorbierenden Materialien.
  15. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach Anspruch 14, wobei die nicht elastischen Fasern ausgewählt sind aus der Gruppe, die besteht aus Polyesterfasern, Polyamidfasem, Glasfasern, Polyolefinfasem, Zellulosederivatfasem, Mehrkomponentenfasern, natürlichen Fasern, absorbierenden Fasern, elektrisch leitenden Fasern oder Mischungen aus zwei oder mehr dieser nicht elastischen Fasern.
  16. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach den Ansprüchen 14 oder 15, wobei die Partikelmaterialien ausgewählt sind aus der Gruppe, die besteht aus Aktivkohle, Tone, Stärken und Metalloxiden.
  17. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 16, wobei die Tenazität des Verbundmaterials (40) in Maschinenrichtung mindestens etwa 10% größer ist als diejenige, die gemessen wurde für ein gleiches Verbundmaterial, das eine im Wesentlichen isotrope, nicht gewebte Bahn von etwa dem gleichen Flächengewicht wie die anisotrope, elastische Faserbahn enthält, jedoch nur elastomere schmelzgeblasene Fasern umfasst.
  18. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 16, wobei die Tenazität eines etwa 7,6 cm (3 Zoll) breiten Streifens des Verbundmaterials (40) mindestens 392 N/g/m2 (etwa 40 p/g/m2) ist.
  19. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 16, wobei die Tenazität eines 7,6 cm (3 Zoll) breiten Streifens des Verbundmaterials zwischen etwa 441 bis 834 N/g/m2 (etwa 45 bis etwa 85 p/g/m2) ist.
  20. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 19, wobei die in Falten legbare Schicht (24, 28) eine nicht gewebte Bahn aus Fasern ist.
  21. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach Anspruch 20, wobei die in Falten legbare Schicht (24, 28) ausgewählt ist, aus der Gruppe, die besteht aus einer Bahn aus spinngebundenen Fasern, einer Bahn aus schmelzgeblasenen Fasern, einer Bahn aus gebundenen, kardierten Fasern, einem mehrschichtigen Material, das mindestens eine der Bahnen aus spinngebundenen Fasern, schmelzgeblasenen Fasern und einer Bahn aus gebundenen, kardierten Fasern enthält.
  22. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach Anspruch 20 oder 21, wobei die in Falten legbare Schicht (24, 28) ein Verbundmaterial aus einer Mischung aus Fasern und einem oder mehreren anderen Materialien enthält, die ausgewählt sind aus der Gruppe, die besteht aus Holzpulpe, Stapelfasern, Teilchenmaterialien uns superabsorbierenden Materialien.
  23. Elastisches Verbundmaterial nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 22, wobei die Schicht aus im Wesentlichen parallelen, elastomeren Filamenten (118) autogen mit mindestens einem Bereich der elastomeren, schmelzgeblasenen Fasern (126) verbunden ist.
  24. Verfahren zum Herstellen eines elastischen Verbundmaterials (40) wobei eine elastische Faserbahn (12, 130) gebildet wird, die elastische Faserbahn (12, 130) ausgedehnt wird, die elastische Faserbahn (12, 130) an voneinander beabstandeten Stellen mit mindestens einer in Falten legbaren Bahn (24, 28) verbunden wird, die ausgestreckte elastische Faserbahn (12, 130) entspannt wird, wodurch die in Falten legbare Bahn (24, 28) zwischen den benachbarten Stellen in Falten gelegt wird, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass für ein Verbundmaterial (40) mit einer verbesserten Tenazität in einer Richtung, beim Ausbilden der elastischen Faserbahn (12, 130) eine anisotrope elastische Faserbahn (12, 130) ausgebildet wird, die um mindestens 60 % ausdehnbar ist und um mindestens 55 % dieser Ausdehnung zurückkehrt, und die einen Festigkeitsindex von weniger als etwa 0,5 oder mehr als etwa 2 aufweist, indem man mindestens eine Schicht aus im Wesentlichen parallelen Reihen elastomerer Filamente (118) vorsieht, und die elastomeren Filamente (118) mit mindestens einer Schicht aus elastomeren, schmelzgeblasenen Fasern (126) so verbindet, dass die Filamente (118) und die elastomeren, schmelzgeblasenen Fasern (126) im Wesentlichen autogen in mindestens einem Bereich ihrer Überschneidungen verbunden sind, um die anisotrope, elastische Faserbahn (12, 130) zu bilden.
  25. Verfahren nach Anspruch 24, wobei der Verfahrensschritt des Ausbildens von im Wesentlichen parallelen Reihen anisotroper Filamente (118) ein Schmelzspinnen von elastomeren Filamenten (118) auf einer Oberfläche (114) umfasst, um eine Bahn aus schmelzgeblasenen Fasern (126) zu bilden.
  26. Verfahren nach Anspruch 25, wobei die Oberfläche (114) sich mit einer Geschwindigkeit bewegt, die zwischen etwa 1 bis etwa 10 Mal der anfänglichen Geschwindigkeit der schmelzgesponnenen elastomeren Filamenten (118) beträgt.
  27. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 24 bis 26, wobei die im Wesentlichen parallelen Reihen elastomerer Filamente (118) mit einer Schicht aus elastomeren, schmelzgeblasenen Fasern (126) verbunden sind, indem man mindestens eine Schicht aus schmelzgeblasenen Fasern (126) direkt auf den elastomeren Filamenten (118) ausbildet.
  28. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 24 bis 26, wobei die im Wesentlichen parallelen Reihen elastomerer Filamente (118) mit der Schicht aus elastomeren, schmelzgeblasenen Fasern (126) verbunden werden, indem man die elastomeren Filamente (118) direkt auf mindestens einer Schicht aus elastomeren, schmelzgeblasenen Fasern (126) ausbildet.
  29. Verfahren nach Anspruch 25, ferner umfassend den Verfahrensschritt des Kalandrierens der nicht gewebten, elastischen Faserbahn (12, 130), bevor sie mit der in Falten legbaren Bahn (24, 28) verbunden ist.
Anspruch[en]
  1. A composite elastic material (40) comprising an elastic fibrous web (12, 130) and at least one gatherable layer (24, 28) joined at spaced apart locations to the elastic fibrous web (12, 130) so that the gatherable layer is gathered between the spaced-apart locations,

    characterised in that for providing a composite material (40) having an improved tenacity in one direction, the elastic fibrous web is an anisotropic elastic fibrous web (12, 130) being elongatable at least 60% and recovers at least 55% of this elongation, and having a strength index of less than about 0.5 or greater than about 2, and the anisotropic elastic fibrous web (12, 130) comprises a first layer of elastomeric meltblown fibres (126), and a second layer of substantially parallel elastomeric filaments (118) bonded to the first layer.
  2. The composite elastic material of claim 1 wherein the anisotropic elastic fibrous web (12, 130) has a strength index of more than 2.
  3. The composite elastic material of claim 1 wherein the anisotropic elastic fibrous web has a strength index of more than about 3.
  4. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 3 wherein the elastomeric meltblown fibres (126) include meltblown microfibres.
  5. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 4 wherein the elastomeric filaments (118) comprise at least about 10 per cent, by weight, of the elastic fibrous web (12, 130).
  6. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 4 wherein the elastomeric filaments (118) comprise from about 25 to about 90 per cent, by weight, of the elastic fibrous web (12, 130).
  7. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 6 wherein the elastomeric filaments (118) have an average diameter ranging from about 80 to about 500 µm.
  8. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 6 wherein the elastomeric filaments (118) have an average diameter ranging from about 100 to about 220 µm.
  9. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 8 wherein the elastomeric meltblown fibres (126) comprise an elastomeric polymer selected from the group consisting of elastic polyesters, elastic polyurethanes, elastic polyamides, elastic copolymers of ethylene and at least one vinyl monomer, and elastic A-B-A' block copolymers wherein A and A' are the same or different thermoplastic polymer, and wherein B is an elastomeric polymer block.
  10. The composite elastic material of claim 9 wherein the elastomeric polymer is blended with a processing aid.
  11. The composite elastic material of claim 9 wherein the elastomeric polymer is blended with a tackifying resin.
  12. The composite elastic material of claim 11 wherein the blend further includes a processing aid.
  13. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 12 wherein the elastomeric filaments (118) comprise an elastomeric polymer selected from the group consisting of elastic polyesters, elastic polyurethanes, elastic polyamides, elastic copolymers of ethylene and at least one vinyl monomer, and elastic A-B-A' block copolymers wherein A and A' are the same or different thermoplastic polymer, and wherein B is an elastomeric polymer block.
  14. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 13 wherein the layer of elastomeric meltblown fibres (126) further comprises a mixture of elastomeric fibres and one or more other materials selected from the group consisting of wood pulp, non-elastic fibres, particulates and super-absorbent materials.
  15. The composite elastic material of claim 14, wherein said non-elastic fibres are selected from the group consisting of polyester fibres, polyamide fibres, glass fibres, polyolefin fibres, cellulosic derived fibres, multi-component fibres, natural fibres, absorbent fibres, electrically conductive fibres or blends of two or more of said non-elastic fibres.
  16. The composite elastic material of claims 14 or 15, wherein said particulate materials are selected from the group consisting of activated charcoal, clays, starches and metal oxides.
  17. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 16 wherein the machine direction tenacity of the composite (40) is at least about 10 percent greater than that measured for an identical composite containing a substantially isotropic elastomeric nonwoven web of about the same basis weight as the anisotropic elastic fibrous web but containing only elastomeric meltblow fibres.
  18. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 16 wherein the tenacity of a 7.6 cm (three inch) wide strip of the composite (40) is at least 392N/g/m2 (about 40 gramsforce/grams per square meter).
  19. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 16 wherein the tenacity of a 7.6 cm (three inch) wide strip of the composite is from about 441 to about 834 N/g/m2 (about 45 to about 85 gramsforce/grams per square meter).
  20. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 19 wherein the gatherable layer (24, 28) is a nonwoven web of fibres.
  21. The composite elastic material of claim 20 wherein the gatherable layer (24, 28) is selected from the group consisting of a web of spunbonded fibres, a web of meltblown fibres, a bonded carded web of fibres, a multi-layer material including at least one of the webs of spunbonded fibres, meltblown fibres, and a bonded carded web of fibres.
  22. The composite elastic material of claim 20 or 21, wherein the gatherable layer (24, 28) is a composite material comprising a mixture of fibres and one or more other materials selected from the group consisting of wood pulp, staple fibres, particulates and super-absorbent materials.
  23. The composite elastic material of any one of claims 1 to 22 wherein said layer of substantially parallel elastomeric filaments (118) is autogenously bonded to at least a portion of the elastomeric meltblown fibres (126).
  24. A process of making a composite elastic material (40) comprising the steps of forming an elastic fibrous web (12, 130), elongating the elastic fibrous web (12, 130), joining the elongated elastic fibrous web (12, 130) at spaced-apart locations to at least one gatherable web (24, 28);

    relaxing the elongated elastic fibrous web (12, 130) whereby the gatherable web (24, 28) is gathered between the spaced apart locations,

    characterised in that for providing a composite material (40) having an improved tenacity in one direction, the step of forming said elastic fibrous web (12, 130) comprises the forming of an anisotropic elastic fibrous web (12, 130), which is elongatable at least 60% and recovers at least 55% of this elongation, and has a strength index of less than about 0.5 or greater than about 2,
    • by providing at least one layer of substantially parallel rows of elastomeric filaments (118); and
    • joining the elastomeric filaments (118) with at least one layer of elastomeric meltblown fibres (126) so that the filaments (118) and elastomeric meltblown fibres (126) become autogenously bonded at least at a portion of their intersections to form said anisotropic elastic fibrous web (12, 130).
  25. The process of claim 24 wherein the step of providing substantially parallel rows of anisotropic filaments (118) comprises melt spinning elastomeric filaments (118) onto a surface (114) for forming a web of meltblown fibres (126).
  26. The process of claim 25 wherein the surface (114) is moving at a rate which is from about 1 to about 10 times the initial velocity of the melt-spun elastomeric filaments (118).
  27. The process of any one of claims 24 to 26 wherein the substantially parallel rows of elastomeric filaments (118) are joined to a layer of elastomeric meltblown fibres (126) by forming at least one layer of meltblown fibres (126) directly upon the elastomeric filaments (118).
  28. The process of any one of claims 24 to 26 wherein the substantially parallel rows of elastomeric filaments (118) are joined to the layer of elastomeric meltblown fibres (126) by forming the elastomeric filaments (118) directly upon at least one layer of elastomeric meltblown fibres (126).
  29. The process of claim 25 further comprising the step of calendering the nonwoven elastic fibrous web (12, 130) before it is joined to the gatherable web (24, 28).
Anspruch[fr]
  1. Matériau élastique composite (40) comprenant un voile élastique fibreux (12,130) et au moins une couche fronçable (24,28) jointe à des endroits espacés au voile élastique fibreux (12,130) de sorte que la couche fronçable est froncée entre les endroits espacés,

       caractérisé en ce que pour fournir un matériau composite (40) ayant une ténacité accrue dans un sens, le voile élastique fibreux est un voile élastique fibreux anisotrope (12,130) qui est étirable d'au moins 60 % et récupère au moins 55 % de cet étirement, et a un indice de résistance inférieur à environ 0,5 ou supérieur à environ 2, et le voile élastique fibreux anisotrope (12,130) comprend une première couche de fibres élastomères soufflées à l'état fondu (126) et une seconde couche de filaments élastomères substantiellement parallèles (118) liés à la première couche.
  2. Matériau élastique composite selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le voile élastique fibreux anisotrope (12,130) a un indice de résistance supérieur à 2.
  3. Matériau élastique composite selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le voile élastique fibreux anisotrope a un indice de résistance supérieur à environ 3.
  4. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, dans lequel les fibres élastomères soufflées à l'état fondu (126) incluent des microfibres soufflées à l'état fondu.
  5. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, dans lequel les filaments élastomères (118) représentent au moins environ 10 % en poids du voile élastique fibreux (12,130).
  6. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, dans lequel les filaments élastomères (118) représentent d'environ 25 à environ 90 % en poids du voile élastique fibreux (12,130).
  7. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 6, dans lequel les filaments élastomères (118) ont un diamètre moyen allant d'environ 80 à environ 500 µm.
  8. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 6, dans lequel les filaments élastomères (118) ont un diamètre moyen allant d'environ 100 à environ 220 µm.
  9. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 8, dans lequel les fibres élastomères soufflées à l'état fondu (126) comprennent un polymère élastomère choisi dans le groupe constitué par les polyesters élastiques, les polyuréthanes élastiques, les polyamides élastiques, les copolymères élastiques de l'éthylène et d'au moins un monomère vinylique, et les copolymères séquencés A-B-A' élastiques dans lesquels A et A' sont un polymère thermoplastique identique ou différent, et dans lesquels B est une séquence polymère élastomère.
  10. Matériau élastique composite selon la revendication 9, dans lequel le polymère élastomère est mélangé avec un adjuvant de traitement.
  11. Matériau élastique composite selon la revendication 9, dans lequel le polymère élastomère est mélangé avec une résine collante.
  12. Matériau élastique composite selon la revendication 11, dans lequel le mélange inclut en outre un adjuvant de traitement.
  13. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 12, dans lequel les filaments élastomères (118) comprennent un polymère élastomère choisi dans le groupe constitué par les polyesters élastiques, les polyuréthanes élastiques, les polyamides élastiques, les copolymères élastiques de l'éthylène et d'au moins un monomère vinylique, et les copolymères séquencés A-B-A' élastiques dans lesquels A et A' sont un polymère thermoplastique identique ou différent, et dans lesquels B est une séquence polymère élastomère.
  14. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 13, dans lequel la couche de fibres élastomères soufflées à l'état fondu (126) comprend en outre un mélange de fibres élastomères et d'un ou plusieurs autres matériaux choisis dans le groupe constitué par la pâte de bois, les fibres non élastiques, les matières particulaires et les matériaux super-absorbants.
  15. Matériau élastique composite selon la revendication 14, dans lequel lesdites fibres non élastiques sont choisies dans le groupe constitué par les fibres polyesters, les fibres polyamides, les fibres de verre, les fibres de polyoléfine, les fibres dérivées de cellulose, les fibres multicomposées, les fibres naturelles, les fibres absorbantes, les fibres électroconductrices ou des mélanges de deux ou plusieurs desdites fibres non élastiques.
  16. Matériau élastique composite selon les revendications 14 ou 15, dans lequel lesdites matières particulaires sont choisis dans le groupe constitué par le charbon actif, les argiles, les amidons et les oxydes de métaux.
  17. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 16, dans lequel la ténacité sens machine du composite (40) est d'au moins environ 10 % supérieure à celle mesurée pour un composite identique contenant un voile non tissé élastomère substantiellement isotrope d'à peu près la même masse surfacique que le voile élastique fibreux anisotrope mais contenant seulement des fibres élastomères soufflées à l'état fondu.
  18. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 16, dans lequel la ténacité d'une bande large de 7,6 cm (trois pouces) du composite (40) est d'au moins 392 N/g/m2 (environ 40 grammeforce/gramme par mètre carré).
  19. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 16, dans lequel la ténacité d'une bande large de 7,6 cm (trois pouces) du composite est d'environ 441 à environ 834 N/g/m2 (environ 45 à environ 85 grammeforce/gramme par mètre carré).
  20. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 19, dans lequel la couche fronçable (24,28) est un voile non tissé de fibres.
  21. Matériau élastique composite selon la revendication 20, dans lequel la couche fronçable (24,28) est choisie dans le groupe constitué par un voile de fibres filées-liées, un voile de fibres soufflées à l'état fondu, un voile de fibres cardé lié, un matériau multicouche incluant au moins l'un des voiles de fibres filées-liées, de fibres soufflées à l'état fondu et de fibres lié cardé.
  22. Matériau élastique composite selon la revendication 20 ou 21, dans lequel la couche fronçable (24,28) est un matériau composite comprenant un mélange de fibres et un ou plusieurs autres matériaux choisis dans le groupe constitué par la pâte de bois, les fibres discontinues, les matières particulaires et les matières super-absorbantes.
  23. Matériau élastique composite selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 22, dans lequel ladite couche de filaments élastomères substantiellement parallèles (118) est liée de façon autogène à au moins une partie des fibres élastomères soufflées à l'état fondu (126).
  24. Procédé de fabrication d'un matériau élastique composite (40), comprenant les étapes consistant à former un voile élastique fibreux (12,130), à étirer le voile élastique fibreux (12,130), à joindre le voile élastique fibreux étiré (12,130), à des endroits espacés, à au moins un voile fronçable (24,28) ;
    • à relâcher le voile élastique fibreux étiré (12,130) de sorte que le voile fronçable (24,28) soit froncé entre les endroits espacés, caractérisé en ce que pour fournir un matériau composite (40) ayant une ténacité améliorée dans une direction, l'étape de formation dudit voile élastique fibreux (12,130) comprend la formation d'un voile élastique fibreux anisotrope (12,130) qui est étirable d'au moins 60 % et récupère au moins 55 % de cet étirement et a un indice de résistance inférieur à environ 0,5 ou supérieur à environ 2, en fournissant au moins une couche de rangées substantiellement parallèles de filaments élastomères (118) ; et
    • à joindre les filaments élastomères (118) avec au moins une couche de fibres élastomères soufflées à l'état fondu (126) de sorte que les filaments (118) et les fibres élastomères soufflées à l'état fondu (126) deviennent liés de façon autogène au moins à une partie de leurs intersections pour former ledit voile élastique fibreux anisotrope (12,130).
  25. Procédé selon la revendication 24, dans lequel l'étape consistant à fournir des rangées substantiellement parallèles de filaments anisotropes (118) comprend le filage à l'état fondu de filaments élastomères (118) sur une surface (114) pour former un voile de fibres soufflées à l'état fondu (126).
  26. Procédé selon la revendication 25, dans lequel la surface (114) se déplace à une vitesse qui est d'environ 1 à environ 10 fois la vitesse initiale des filaments élastomères filés à l'état fondu (118).
  27. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 24 à 26, dans lequel les rangées substantiellement parallèles de filaments élastomères (118) sont jointes à une couche de fibres élastomères soufflées à l'état fondu (126) en formant au moins une couche de fibres soufflées à l'état fondu (126) directement sur les filaments élastomères (118).
  28. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 24 à 26, dans lequel les rangées substantiellement parallèles de filaments élastomères (118) sont jointes à la couche de fibres élastomères soufflées à l'état fondu (126) en formant les filaments élastomères (118) directement sur au moins une couche de fibres élastomères soufflées à l'état fondu (126).
  29. Procédé selon la revendication 25, comprenant en outre l'étape consistant à calandrer le voile élastique fibreux non tissé (12,130) avant de le joindre au voile fronçable (24,28).






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