PatentDe  


Dokumentenidentifikation EP1216135 18.06.2003
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 1216135
Titel HOCHGESCHWINDIGKEITSVERFAHREN ZUR HERSTELLUNG VON KUNSTSTOFFFOLIEN UND LAMINATEN MIT VLIESSTOFFEN
Anmelder Clopay Plastic Products Company, Inc., Mason, Ohio, US
Erfinder MORTELLITE, M., Robert, Mainville, US;
MUSHABEN, G., Thomas, Cincinnati, US;
WU, Pai-Chuan, Cincinnati, US
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
DE-Aktenzeichen 60002739
Vertragsstaaten AT, BE, CH, CY, DE, DK, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, IE, IT, LI, LU, MC, NL, PT, SE
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 20.07.2000
EP-Aktenzeichen 009488172
WO-Anmeldetag 20.07.2000
PCT-Aktenzeichen PCT/US00/19768
WO-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0001019592
WO-Veröffentlichungsdatum 22.03.2001
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 26.06.2002
EP date of grant 14.05.2003
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 18.06.2003
IPC-Hauptklasse B29C 47/88

Beschreibung[en]
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Methods of making plastic film and nonwoven laminates date back many years. For example, more than thirty years ago U. S. Patent No. 3,484,835 (1968) issued to Trounstine, et al., and it is directed to embossed plastic film having desirable handling characteristics and fabricating useful articles such as diapers. Since that time, many patents have issued in the field. U. S. Patent No. 5,202,173 issued on April 13, 1993, for an ultra-soft thermoplastic film which was made by incrementally stretching the embossed film to achieve breathability. The film may include fillers. Polymer films of polycaprolactone (PCL) and starch polymer or polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) upon incremental stretching also produce breathable products, as disclosed in U. S. Patents Nos. 5,200,247 and 5,407,979. More recently, U. S. Patent No. 5,865,926 issued for a method of making a cloth-like microporous laminate of a nonwoven fibrous web and thermoplastic film having air and moisture vapor permeabilities with liquid-barrier properties.

Methods of making microporous film products have also been known for some time. For example, U. S. Patent No. 3,832,267, to Liu, teaches the melt-embossing of a polyolefin film containing a dispersed amorphous polymer phase prior to stretching or orientation to improve gas and moisture vapor transmission of the film. According to the Liu '267 patent, a film of crystalline polypropylene having a dispersed amorphous polypropylene phase is first embossed prior to biaxially drawing (stretching) to produce an oriented imperforate film having greater permeability. The dispersed amorphous phase serves to provide microvoids to enhance the permeability of the otherwise imperforate film to improve moisture vapor transmission (MVT). The embossed film is preferably embossed and drawn sequentially.

In 1976, Schwarz published a paper which described polymer blends and compositions to produce microporous substrates (Eckhard C.A. Schwartz (Biax-Fiberfilm), "New Fibrillated Film Structures, Manufacture and Uses", Pap. Synth. Conf. (TAPPI), 1976, pages 33-39). According to this paper, a film of two or more incompatible polymers, where one polymer forms a continuous phase and a second polymer forms a discontinuous phase, upon being stretched will phase separate thereby leading to voids in the polymer matrix and increasing the porosity of the film. The continuous film matrix of a crystallizable polymer may also be filled with inorganic filler such as clay, titanium dioxide, calcium carbonate, etc., to provide microporosity in the stretched polymeric substrate.

Many other patents and publications disclose the phenomenon of making microporous thermoplastic film products. For example, European patent 141592 discloses the use of a polyolefin, particularly ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) containing a dispersed polystyrene phase which, when stretched, produces a voided film which improves the moisture vapor permeability of the film. This EP '592 patent also discloses the sequential steps of embossing the EVA film with thick and thin areas followed by stretching to first provide a film having voids which, when further stretched, produces a net-like product. U. S. Patents Nos. 4,452,845 and 4,596,738 also disclose stretched thermoplastic films where the dispersed phase may be a polyethylene filled with calcium carbonate to provide the microvoids upon stretching. Later U. S. Patents Nos. 4,777,073; 4,814,124; and 4,921,653 disclose the same processes described by the above-mentioned earlier publications involving the steps of first embossing a polyolefin film containing a filler and then stretching that film to provide a microporous product.

With reference to U. S. Patents Nos. 4,705,812 and 4,705,813, microporous films have been produced from a blend of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and low density polyethylene (LDPE) with barium sulfate as the inorganic filler having an average particle diameter of 0.1-7 microns. It is also known to modify blends of LLDPE and LDPE with a thermoplastic rubber such as Kraton. Other patents, such as U. S. Patent No. 4,582,871, disclose the use of thermoplastic styrene block tripolymers in the production of microporous films with other incompatible polymers such as styrene. There are other general teachings in the art such as the disclosures in U. S. Patents Nos. 4,472,328 and 4,921,652.

Relevant patents regarding extrusion lamination of unstretched nonwoven webs include U. S. Patent Nos. 2,714,571; 3,058,868; 4,522,203; 4,614,679; 4,692,368; 4,753,840 and 5,035,941. The above '868 and '368 patents disclose stretching extruded polymeric films prior to laminating with unstretched nonwoven fibrous webs at pressure roller nips. The '203 and '941 patents are directed to co-extruding multiple polymeric films with unstretched nonwoven webs at pressure roller nips. The '840 patent discloses preforming nonwoven polymeric fiber materials prior to extrusion laminating with films to improve bonding between the nonwoven fibers and films. More specifically, the '840 patent discloses conventional embossing techniques to form densified and undensified areas in nonwoven base plies prior to extrusion lamination to improve bonding between nonwoven fibrous webs and films by means of the densified fiber areas. The '941 patent also teaches that unstretched nonwoven webs that are extrusion laminated to single ply polymeric films are susceptible to pinholes caused by fibers extending generally vertically from the plane of the fiber substrate and, accordingly, this patent discloses using multiple co-extruded film plies to prevent pinhole problems. Furthermore, methods for bonding loose nonwoven fibers to polymeric film are disclosed in U. S. Patents Nos. 3,622,422; 4,379,197 and 4,725,473.

It has also been known to stretch nonwoven fibrous webs using intermeshing rollers to reduce basis weight and examples of patents in this area are U. S. Patents Nos. 4,153,664 and 4,517,714. The '664 patent discloses a method of incremental cross direction (CD) or machine direction (MD) stretching nonwoven fibrous webs using a pair of interdigitating rollers to strengthen and soften nonwoven webs. The '664 patent also discloses an alternative embodiment wherein the nonwoven fibrous web is laminated to the thermoplastic film prior to intermesh stretching.

Efforts have also been made to make breathable non-woven composite barrier fabrics which are impervious to liquids, but which are permeable to water vapor. United States Patent No. 5,409,761 is an example of a fabrication process from the patent art. According to this '761 patent, a nonwoven composite fabric is made by ultrasonically bonding a microporous thermoplastic film to a layer of nonwoven fibrous thermoplastic material. These methods and other methods of making breathable laminates of nonwoven and thermoplastic materials tend to involve expensive manufacturing techniques and/or expensive raw materials. United States Patent 5,865,926 discloses a method of making a microporous laminate of a nonwoven web and thermoplastic film which is conducted on high-speed production machinery on the order of about 200-500 fpm (1&peseta;016-2&peseta;54 m/s). While methods disclosed in this '926 patent were very satisfactory for producing cloth-like microporous laminates of a nonwoven fibrous web and thermoplastic film, when operating machinery for producing a laminate by extrusion lamination in excess of 500 fpm (2&peseta;54 m/s), satisfactory bond strengths were difficult to achieve. In particular, at high speeds, temperature control of the thermoplastic extrudate at the nip above its softening point to form a film laminated to the fibrous web in order to achieve satisfactory bond strengths prior to extrusion lamination is a significant problem.

United States Patent 5,865,926 discloses a method of making a microporous laminate of a nonwoven web and thermoplastic film which is conducted on high-speed production machinery on the order of about 200-500 fpm (1&peseta;016 - 2&peseta;54 m/s). While methods disclosed in this '926 patent were satisfactory when operating machinery for producing a laminate by extrusion lamination in excess of 500 fpm (1&peseta;016 - 2&peseta;54 m/s), satisfactory bond strengths were difficult to achieve. In particular, at high speeds of about 700-1200 fpm (3&peseta;556 - 6&peseta;096 m/s). Temperature control of the thermoplastic extrudate at the nip for bonding the film to the fibrous web was also difficult to achieve.

US Patent 4608221 describes a process for reducing draw resonance in polymeric film. A web of polymeric material is extruded from a die and into the nip between a pressure roll and a chill roll. A tensioning device is provided between the die and the nip which comprises a perforate cylinder for producing a cushion of air over which the web travels.

Notwithstanding the extensive development of the art for making plastic films, breathable microporous films and laminates to provide air and moisture vapor permeabilities with liquid-barrier properties, further improvements are needed. In particular, improvements are desired for producing microporous film products and nonwoven laminates on high-speed production machinery without draw resonance. Also, in extrusion lamination of film and nonwoven webs, it has been difficult to achieve target bond levels at high speeds while maintaining the appearance of fabric and soft feel.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention is directed to a method of making plastic films, microporous thermoplastic films and laminates of a thermoplastic film and a nonwoven fibrous web. The method is particularly advantages for operating on high-speed production machinery without draw resonance at speeds greater than about 500 or 700 fpm (2&peseta;54 or 3&peseta;556 m/s), preferably about 700-1200 fpm (3&peseta;556 - 6&peseta;096 m/s). When the method of this invention involves lamination by extrusion of a microporous-formable thermoplastic film with a nonwoven fibrous web, it has been found that target bond levels of, for example, 100 gms/cm (about 250 grams/inch) between the film and the nonwoven are achieved at line speeds of 900 fpm (4&peseta;572 m/s), or more. Such bond strengths enable the laminate to be incrementally stretched in line at high speeds to create microporosity in a cloth-like laminate without adverse effects on the laminate such as breakage and web separation,

The microporous-formable thermoplastic composition of the film may comprise a blend of a thermoplastic polymer and a mechanical pore-forming agent such as an inorganic filler (CaCO3). The pore-forming agent in the film of the laminate is then activated upon incremental stretching to form a microporous film or laminate of a fibrous web and film. This unique method not only provides economies in manufacturing breathable films and laminates, but also enables their production on high-speed machinery on the order of about 700-1200 fpm (3&peseta;556 - 6&peseta;096 m/s).

The method involves melting a microporous-formable thermoplastic composition and slot-die extruding a web of that composition through a cooling zone into a nip of rollers to form a film at a speed of at least about several hundred feet per minute (fpm). Laminates of the films with a nonwoven fibrous web can also be made at a speed greater than about 700 feet per minute (fpm) (3&peseta;556 m/s). A stream of cooling gas (air) is directed at the web during its drawdown into a film. The air flow through the cooling zone is substantially parallel to the surface of the web to cool the web and form a film or laminate without draw resonance.

The effectiveness of the cooling gas is enhanced by creating a plurality of vortices of the gas as the stream moves through the zone to cool the web. The vortices enhance the effectiveness of the cooling gas by mixing the cooling gas and making the flow of the cooling gas turbulent in the cooling zone. A cooling device is used to create the vortices and make the gas stream move in different directions parallel to the movement of the web. Alternatively, the gas stream moves primarily in the same direction as the web movement or in a direction opposite to the movement of the web.

In the slot die extrusion lamination of the plastic web or film to a nonwoven fibrous web, a nonwoven fibrous web is introduced into the nip of rollers and the lamination temperature is controlled by the cooling gas to control target bond levels at high speeds of extrusion lamination. For example, target bond levels between the plastic film and the nonwoven web are achieved at speeds in excess of about 500 or 700 fpm (2&peseta;54 to 3&peseta;566 m/s) even up to about 1200 fpm (6&peseta;096 m/s), or more. Target bond levels of, for example, 100 gms/cm (about 250 grams/inch) between the film and nonwoven are achieved at line speeds on the order of 900 fpm (4&peseta;572 m/s) for commercial purposes. The compressive force between the web and the film at the nip is controlled to bond the surface of the web to form a laminated sheet. Furthermore, even at high line speeds the film gauge is controlled without draw resonance. For example, a fixed film basis weight of about 40 grams per square meter (gsm) is achieved at 900 fpm (4&peseta;572 m/s). Thus, the method of cooling eliminates draw resonance which otherwise may normally be encountered under such conditions.

According to the invention, breathable films and laminates which are permeable to air and water vapor, but are a barrier to liquid, are also produced. These breathable products are made from a microporous-formable thermoplastic composition comprising a thermoplastic polymer and filler particles. Upon slot-die extrusion of such composition, followed by applying a stretching force to the film at high speeds along lines substantially and uniformly across the film and throughout its depth, a microporous film is formed. Breathable laminates are made when a nonwoven fibrous web is laminated to the film during the extrusion. The effectiveness of the cooling gas is enhanced by creating a plurality of vortices of the gas as the stream moves through the cooling zone to cool the web during extrusion lamination. Thereafter, preferably an incremental stretching force is applied to the film or the laminate at high speeds substantially and uniformly across the film and throughout its depth to provide a microporous laminate of film and nonwoven. Tentering may also be used to stretch the laminate.

Other benefits, advantages and objectives of this invention will be further understood with reference to the following detailed description.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

It is a primary objective of this invention to produce plastic films, microporous films, and laminated products thereof with nonwoven fibrous webs, on high-speed production machinery. It is the further objective of the method to produce such films and breathable laminated products of regular gauge without draw resonance. In the case of the microporous products, it is desired to produce breathable or microporous films and laminates with fibrous webs. It is another objective to produce such laminates having satisfactory bond strengths while maintaining the appearance of a fabric or cloth having suitable moisture vapor transmission rates and air permeability while maintaining liquid-barrier properties.

The high speed method of making a laminate of a nonwoven fibrous web and a mircroporous thermoplastic film comprises melt blending a thermoplastic polymer and filler particles to form a thermoplastic polymer composition, extruding a web of said molten thermoplastic composition from a slot die through a cooling zone into a nip of rollers to form a film at a speed greater than about 500 or 700 fpm (2&peseta;54-3&peseta;556 m/s), and introducing a nonwoven fibrous web into said nip of rollers and controlling the temperature and compressive force between the web and the film at the nip to bond the surface of the web to the film and to form a laminated sheet having a bond strength between the film and the web of about 100 to about 600 grams/inch (39&peseta;37 to 236&peseta;22 gms/cm) when measured at about room temperature. Preferably, bond strengths are about 200 grams/inch to about 500 grams/inch (78&peseta;74 gms/cm to 196&peseta;85 gms/cm) to facilitate incremental stretching at about 700-1200 fpm (3&peseta;556 - 6&peseta;096 m/s to provide a microporous laminate. The incremental stretching force is applied across the laminated sheet to provide a cloth-like microporous laminate having a web to film bond strength of about 100 to about 200 grams/inch (39&peseta;37 to 78&peseta;74 gms/cm).

In a preferred mode, the high speed method of making a microporous thermoplastic film involves melt blending a composition comprising

  • (a) about 30% to about 45% by weight of a linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE),
  • (b) about 1% to about 10% by weight of a low density polyethylene (LDPE), and
  • (c) about 40% to about 60% by weight calcium carbonate filler particles of about 0.1 to 1 micron.

The melt-blended composition is slot-die extruded as a web through a cooling zone into a nip of rollers to form a film at speeds on the order of about 500 or 700 (2&peseta;54-3&peseta;556 m/s) to about 1200 fpm (6&peseta;096 m/s) without draw resonance. A device for directing a stream of cooling gas to flow in the cooling zone substantially parallel to the web surface is shown, for example, in U. S. Patents Nos. 4,718,178 and 4,779,355. The entire disclosure of these patents is incorporated herein by reference as examples of devices which may be employed to provide enhanced effectiveness of the cooling gas by creating a plurality of vortices of the gas as the stream moves through the cooling zone to cool the web. Thereafter, an incremental stretching force is applied to the film at high speeds along lines substantially and uniformly across the film and throughout its depth to provide a microporous film.

The blend of LLDPE and LDPE within the above approximate ranges of components enables the production of microporous film at high speed when balanced with the prescribed amount of calcium carbonate. In particular, the LLDPE is present in an amount of about 30% to about 45% by weight in order to provide a sufficient amount of matrix to carry the calcium carbonate filler particles thereby enabling the film to be handled and stretched without pin holing and breakage. The LDPE in an amount of about 1% to about 10% by weight also contributes to the production of film without pin holing and enables the high speed production without draw resonance. The polymeric matrix is balanced with an amount of about 40% to about 60% by weight of calcium carbonate particles having an average particle diameter of preferably about 1 micron to achieve a sufficient moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR) in the range of about 1000 gms/m2/day to 4000 or 4500 gms/m2/day as measured by using the ASTM E96E method. Furthermore, the melt-blended composition may include a triblock polymer in an amount of about 0% to about 6% by weight to facilitate stretching in high-speed production without breakage. Other components such as about 5% by weight high density polyethylene (HDPE) and about 1 % by weight antioxidants/processing aids are used. An incremental stretching force may be applied in line to the formed film under ambient conditions or at an elevated temperature at speeds of about several hundred fpm along lines substantially uniformly across the film and throughout it depth to provide a microporous film.

As stated above, the method of this invention also involves making film without draw resonance which is not microporous. In this manner, the above film compositions are extruded without the filler which is responsible for the microporosity. When either the film extrudate or microporous-formable extrudate is laminated to a nonwoven fibrous web during extrusion, the extrusion lamination is conducted at the same high speeds. For instance, a nonwoven fibrous web is introduced into the nip of rollers along with the microporous-formable thermoplastic extrudate at 500 or 700 (2&peseta;54-3&peseta;556 m/s) to 1200 fpm (6&peseta;096 m/s). The compressive force between the fibrous web and the extrudate is controlled to bond one surface of the web to the film and form a laminate. The laminate is then incrementally stretched along lines substantially uniformly across the laminate and throughout its depth to render the film microporous. The laminate may be stretched in both the cross direction (CD) and the machine direction (MD) to provide breathable cloth-like liquid barriers capable of transmitting moisture vapor and air.

A. Materials for the Method

The thermoplastic polymer for the film preferably is of the polyolefin type and may be any of the class of thermoplastic polyolefin polymers or copolymers that are processable into a film or for direct lamination by melt extrusion onto the fibrous web. A number of thermoplastic copolymers suitable in the practice of the invention are of the normally-solid oxyalkanoyl polymers or dialkanoyl polymers represented by poly(caprolactone) blended with polyvinylalcohol or starch polymers that may be film-formed. The olefin based polymers include the most common ethylene or propylene based polymers such as polyethylene, polypropylene, and copolymers such as ethylene vinylacetate (EVA), ethylene methyl acrylate (EMA) and ethylene acrylic acid (EAA), or blends of such polyolefins. Other examples of polymers suitable for use as films include elastomeric polymers. Suitable elastomeric polymers may also be biodegradable or environmentally degradable. Suitable elastomeric polymers for the film include poly(ethylene-butene), poly(ethylene-hexene), poly(ethylene-octene), poly(ethylene-propylene), poly(styrene-butadiene-styrene), poly(styrene-isoprene-styrene), poly(styrene-ethylene-butylene-styrene), poly(ester-ether), poly(ether-amide), poly(ethylene-vinylacetate), poly(ethylene-methylacrylate), poly(ethylene-acrylic acid), poly(ethylene butylacrylate), polyurethane, poly(ethylene-propylene-diene), ethylene-propylene rubber. This new class of rubber-like polymers may also be employed and they are generally referred to herein as metallocene polymers or polyolefins produced from single-cite catalysts. The most preferred catalysts are known in the art as metallocene catalysts whereby ethylene, propylene, styrene and other olefins may be polymerized with butene, hexene, octene, etc., to provide elastomers suitable for use in accordance with the principles of this invention, such as poly(ethylene-butene), poly(ethylene-hexene), poly(ethylene-octene), poly(ethylene-propylene), and/or polyolefin terpolymers thereof.

The microporous-formable film composition can be achieved by formulating a thermoplastic polymer with suitable additives and pore-forming fillers to provide an extrudate or film for lamination with the nonwoven web. Calcium carbonate and barium sulfate particles are the most common fillers. Microporous-formable compositions of polyolefins, inorganic or organic pore-forming fillers and other additives to make microporous sheet materials are known. This method may be done in line and provides economies in manufacturing and/or materials over known methods of making laminates. In addition, as developed above, microporous-formable polymer compositions may be obtained from blends of polymers such as a blend of an alkanoyl polymer and polyvinyl alcohol as described in U. S. Patent No. 5,200,247. In addition, blends of an alkanoyl polymer, destructured starch and an ethylene copolymer may be used as the microporous-formable polymer composition as described in U. S. Patent No. 5,407,979. With these polymer blends, it is unnecessary to use pore-forming fillers to provide microporosity upon incremental stretching. Rather, the different polymer phases in the film themselves, when the film is stretched at ambient or room temperature, produce microvoids.

The nonwoven fibrous web may comprise fibers of polyethylene, polypropylene, polyesters, rayon, cellulose, nylon, and blends of such fibers. A number of definitions have been proposed for nonwoven fibrous webs. The fibers are usually staple fibers or continuous filaments. As used herein "nonwoven fibrous web" is used in its generic sense to define a generally planar structure that is relatively flat, flexible and porous, and is composed of staple fibers or continuous filaments. For a detailed description of nonwovens, see "Nonwoven Fabric Primer and Reference Sampler" by E. A. Vaughn, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, 3d Edition (1992).

In a preferred form, the microporous laminate employs a film having a gauge or a thickness between about 0.25 and 10 mils (6&peseta;35 to 254 µm) and, depending upon use, the film thickness will vary and, most preferably, in disposable applications is the order of about 0.25 to 2 mils (6&peseta;35 to 50&peseta;8 µm) in thickness. The nonwoven fibrous webs of the laminated sheet normally have a weight of about 5 grams per square yard to 75 grams per square yard (5&peseta;98 to 83&peseta;72 g/m2) preferably about 20 to about 40 grams per square yard (23&peseta;92 to 47&peseta;84 g/m2). The composite or laminate can be incrementally stretched in the cross direction (CD) to form a CD stretched composite. Furthermore; CD stretching may be followed by or preceded by stretching in the machine direction (MD) to form a composite which is stretched in both CD and MD directions. As indicated above, the microporous films or laminates may be used in many different applications such as baby diapers, baby training pants, catamenial pads and garments, and the like where moisture vapor and air transmission properties, as well as fluid barrier properties, are needed.

B. Stretchers for the Microporous-Formable Laminates

A number of different stretchers and techniques may be employed to stretch the starting or original laminate of a nonwoven fibrous web and microporous-formable film. These laminates of nonwoven carded fibrous webs of staple fibers or nonwoven spun-bonded fibrous webs may be stretched with the stretchers and techniques described as follows:

1. Diagonal Intermeshing Stretcher

The diagonal intermeshing stretcher consists of a pair of left hand and right hand helical gear-like elements on parallel shafts. The shafts are disposed between two machine side plates, the lower shaft being located in fixed bearings and the upper shaft being located in bearings in vertically slidable members. The slidable members are adjustable in the vertical direction by wedge shaped elements operable by adjusting screws. Screwing the wedges out or in will move the vertically slidable member respectively down or up to further engage or disengage the gear-like teeth of the upper intermeshing roll with the lower intermeshing roll. Micrometers mounted to the side frames are operable to indicate the depth of engagement of the teeth of the intermeshing roll.

Air cylinders are employed to hold the slidable members in their lower engaged position firmly against the adjusting wedges to oppose the upward force exerted by the material being stretched. These cylinders may also be retracted to disengage the upper and lower intermeshing rolls from each other for purposes of threading material through the intermeshing equipment or in conjunction with a safety circuit which would open all the machine nip points when activated.

A drive means is typically utilized to drive the stationery intermeshing roll. If the upper intermeshing roll is to be disengageable for purposes of machine threading or safety, it is preferable to use an antibacklash gearing arrangement between the upper and lower intermeshing rolls to assure that upon reengagement the teeth of one intermeshing roll always fall between the teeth of the other intermeshing roll and potentially damaging physical contact between addenda of intermeshing teeth is avoided. If the intermeshing rolls are to remain in constant engagement, the upper intermeshing roll typically need not be driven. Drive may be accomplished by the driven intermeshing roll through the material being stretched.

The intermeshing rolls closely resemble fine pitch helical gears. In the preferred embodiment, the rolls have 5.935" (15&peseta;08cm) diameter, 45° helix angle, a 0.100" (0&peseta;254cm) normal pitch, 30 diametral pitch, 14S° pressure angle, and are basically a long addendum topped gear. This produces a narrow, deep tooth profile which allows up to about 0.090" (0&peseta;229cm) of intermeshing engagement and about 0.005" (0.0127 cm) clearance on the sides of the tooth for material thickness. The teeth are not designed to transmit rotational torque and do not contact metal-to-metal in normal intermeshing stretching operation.

2. Cross Direction intermeshing Stretcher

The CD intermeshing stretching equipment is identical to the diagonal intermeshing stretcher with differences in the design of the intermeshing rolls and other minor areas noted below. Since the CD intermeshing elements are capable of large engagement depths, it is important that the equipment incorporate a means of causing the shafts of the two intermeshing rolls to remain parallel when the top shaft is raising or lowering. This is necessary to assure that the teeth of one intermeshing roll always fall between the teeth of the other intermeshing roll and potentially damaging physical contact between intermeshing teeth is avoided. This parallel motion is assured by a rack and gear arrangement wherein a stationary gear rack is attached to each side frame in juxtaposition to the vertically slidable members. A shaft traverses the side frames and operates in a bearing in each of the vertically slidable members. A gear resides on each end of this shaft and operates in engagement with the racks to produce the desired parallel motion.

The drive for the CD intermeshing stretcher must operate both upper and lower intermeshing rolls except in the case of intermeshing stretching of materials with a relatively high coefficient of friction. The drive need not be antibacklash, however, because a small amount of machine direction misalignment or drive slippage will cause no problem. The reason for this will become evident with a description of the CD intermeshing elements.

The CD intermeshing elements are machined from solid material but can best be described as an alternating stack of two different diameter disks. In the preferred embodiment, the intermeshing. disks would be 6" in diameter, 0.031" (0&peseta;079cm) thick, and have a full radius on their edge. The spacer disks separating the intermeshing disks would be 5 1/2" (13&peseta;97cm) in diameter and 0.069" (0&peseta;175cm) in thickness. Two rolls of this configuration would be able to be intermeshed up to 0.231" (0&peseta;587cm) leaving 0.019" (0&peseta;048cm) clearance for material on all sides. As with the diagonal intermeshing stretcher, this CD intermeshing element configuration would have a 0.100" (0&peseta;254 cm) pitch.

3. Machine Direction Intermeshing Stretcher

The MD intermeshing stretching equipment is identical to the diagonal intermeshing stretch except for the design of the intermeshing rolls. The MD intermeshing rolls closely resemble fine pitch spur gears. In the preferred embodiment, the rolls have a 5.933" (15&peseta;07 cm) diameter, 0.100" pitch (0&peseta;254 cm), 30 Diametral pitch, 14S° pressure angle, and are basically a long addendum, topped gear. A second pass was taken on these rolls with the gear hob offset 0.010" (0.0254cm) to provide a narrowed tooth with more clearance. With about 0.090" (0.229cm) of engagement, this configuration will have about 0.010" (0.0254 cm) clearance on the sides for material thickness.

4. Incremental Stretching Technique

The above described diagonal, CD or MD intermeshing stretchers may be employed to produce the incrementally stretched laminate of nonwoven fibrous web and microporous-formable film to form the microporous laminate of this invention. The stretching operation is usually employed on an extrusion laminate of a nonwoven fibrous web of staple fibers or spun-bonded filaments and microporous-formable thermoplastic film. in one of the unique aspects of this invention a laminate of a nonwoven fibrous web of spun-bonded filaments may be incrementally stretched to provide a very soft fibrous finish to the laminate that looks like cloth. The laminate of nonwoven fibrous web and microporous-formable film is incrementally stretched using, for instance, the CD and/or MD intermeshing stretcher with one pass through the stretcher with a depth of roller engagement at about 0.025 inch to 0.120 inch (0&peseta;0635 to 0&peseta;3048 cm) at speeds from about 200 fpm to 500 fpm (1&peseta;016 - 2&peseta;54 m/s) or faster. The results of such incremental or intermesh stretching produces laminates that have excellent breathability and liquid-barrier properties, yet provide superior bond strengths and soft cloth-like textures.

The following example illustrates the method of making films and laminates of this invention. In light of the example and this further detailed description, it is apparent to a person of ordinary skill in the art that variations thereof may be made without departing from the scope of this invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is further understood with reference to the drawings in which:

  • FIG. 1 is a schematic of an in line extrusion lamination and incremental stretching apparatus for making the microporous laminate of this invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view taken along the line 2-2 of Fig. 1 illustrating the intermeshing rollers in diagrammatic form.
  • FIG. 3 is an enlarged view of the die, cooling devices and embossing rollers arrangement, showing the substantially parallel air flow with vortices.

EXAMPLE

Blends of LLDPE, LDPE and HDPE having the compositions reported in the following TABLE I were extruded to form films and the films were then incrementally stretched to provide microporous films.

The formulation of the TABLE I was extruded into films employing an extrusion apparatus as shown diagrammatically in FIG. 1. As shown, the apparatus may be employed for film extrusion with and without lamination. In the case of film extrusion, the formulation of the EXAMPLE was fed from an extruder 1 through slot die 2 to form the extrudate 6 into the nip of a rubber roll 5 and a metal roll 4 with two air cooling devices (ACD), ACD No. 1 and ACD No. 2, shown by numbers 3A and 3B on the drawing. Where extrusion lamination is practiced, there is an incoming web of fibrous material 9 from roller 13 which is also introduced into the nip of the rubber roll 5 and metal roll 4. In the EXAMPLE, the thermoplastic film was produced for subsequent incremental stretching to form the microporous film. As shown in TABLE I, a polyethylene film 6 on the order of about 1.2 mils (30&peseta;48 µm) in thickness was made at a speed of about 900 fpm (4&peseta;572 m/s), which was taken off at roller 7. The ACDs have dimensions approximating the web width with a sufficient manifold sized to deliver the cooling air. These ACDs are described in more detail in the above mentioned 4,718,178 and 4,779,355 patents. The air velocity blown through the nozzle of ACD 3A and against the extrudate 6 is about 4000 fpm (20&peseta;32 m/s) at the exit of the nozzle, and air volume is 68 cfm per foot. The air velocity of ACD 3B is about 6800 fpm at the exit of the nozzle, and the air volume is 113 cfm per foot. The ACD 3A is located about 3.7 inches (95 mm) from the die and about 1 inch (25 mm) from the web 6. The ACD 3B is located on the opposite side of the web 6 about 11.2 inches (2.85 mm) from the die and about 0.6 inches (15 mm) from the web. The nip of the rubber roll 5 and metal roll 4 is located about 29 inches (736 mm) from the die. The compressive force at the nip and the ACDs are controlled such that the film is made without pin holing and without draw resonance. The melt temperatures from the slot die feed zone to the screw tip of extruders A and B (not shown) were maintained to provide an extrudate temperature of about 243°C with cooling gas from the ACDs 3A and 3B decreasing the web temperatures to 211°C-181°C before entering the nip.

Where the film 6 is laminated to nonwoven 9 to form laminate 12, typically spunbond polypropylene or polyethylene is used as a nonwoven. In this EXAMPLE the nonwoven is spunbond polypropylene. The following TABLE II reports the results of rolls 1-5 of laminates made at about 900 fpm (4&peseta;572 m/s) under the above conditions to produce a satisfactory average bond strength of about 256 grams/inch (100&peseta;79 g/cm), within a range of about 191 to about 324 grams/inch (75&peseta;20 to 127&peseta;56 g/cm). Other properties are also recorded in TABLE II. Roll 1 Roll 2 Roll 3 Roll 4 Roll 5 Average Film Basis Wt. (gsm) 44.86 42.66 42.15 43.50 42.91 43.22 Laminate Basis Wt. (gsm) 62.96 60.96 61.46 62.44 65.88 62.74 Bond (grams/inch) (x 0.394 g/cm) 191 324 226 299 238 256 Film Tensile Properties Break MD 1721 1522 1529 1475 1247 1499 (grams/inch) CD 1075 968 973 779 813 922 20% MD 743 786 751 785 781 769 (grams/inch) CD 639 595 588 584 592 600 40% MD 727 763 733 767 764 751 (grams/inch) CD 601 589 574 553 580 579 Elongation MD 523 488 492 476 405 477 (%) CD 606 574 571 493 495 548 Impact Strength F50 (grams) ASTM D1709 108 168 170 178 210 180

Bond strengths were measured by the following peel bond strength method of TABLE III. Peel Bond Strength Measurement The peel bond strength measurement is done according to the following well-established conventional technique: 1. A 6" (15&peseta;24 cm) strip at 1" (2&peseta;54 cm) width is cut along the machine direction. 2. The initial peel (separation) is made by hand to separate the precursor film and the nonwoven. 3. The precursor film portion is attached to one jaw of the Instron tester and the nonwoven is attached to the other jaw of the Instron tester. 4. The Instron is set at 12"/min (30&peseta;48 cm/mm) of cross head speed for peeling the precursor film and the nonwoven. 5. The force (grams) of peel is recorded while peeling the 1" strip.

As shown schematically in FIG. 1, where the incoming film 6 or laminate 12 at ambient temperature was passed through temperature controlled rollers 20 and 21 before CD and MD incremental stretching rollers (10 and 11, and 10' and 11'), the temperatures and the depths of engagements can be controlled. In brief, moisture vapor transmission rates (MVTRs) for the embossed film or laminate on the order of about 1200-2400 gms/m2/day were achieved. The MVTR of the microporous film can also be controlled by the web temperature during the stretching. When the film is heated to different temperatures before CD stretching, different MVTRs can result. The embossed film or laminate was made with a metal embossing roller having a rectangular engraving of CD and MD lines with about 165-300 lines per inch (65 - 118 lines per cm). This pattern is disclosed, for example, in U. S. Patent No. 4,376,147 which is incorporated herein by reference. This micro pattern provides a matte finish to the film but is undetectable to the naked eye.

Fig. 3 is an enlarged schematic of the die 2, ACDs 3A,3B and embossing rollers arrangement showing the air flows 30 on both sides of the web substantially parallel to the web surface with a plurality of vortices on both sides of the web. A slight offset of cooling devices 3A and 3B has been shown to provide cooling; however, different arrangements may be used.

It has been found that ACDs of the type illustrated which provide a substantially parallel cooling air flow with vortices over the web surface efficiently cool the web. Surprisingly, web draw resonance which one may normally encounter in prior techniques has been eliminated or controlled at high speeds of about 500-1200 fpm (2&peseta;54 - 6&peseta;096 m/g) of the web. Furthermore, when laminates of film and nonwoven are made, the bond strengths are very effectively achieved at targets which have not been possible with other known methods of cooling while at the same time maintaining film gauge controls, even at web high speeds.


Anspruch[de]
  1. Hochgeschwindigkeitsverfahren zur Herstellung von Kunststofffolien, bei dem eine thermoplastische Zusammensetzung geschmolzen wird, eine Warenbahn aus der geschmolzenen thermoplastischen Zusammensetzung an einer Schlitzdüse und durch eine Zone in einen Walzenspalt extrudiert wird, um bei einer Geschwindigkeit in der Größenordnung von mindestens 200 ft/min (1,016 m/s) eine Folie zu erzeugen, und bei dem durch die Zone ein Gasstrom geleitet wird,

    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass

    ein Strom aus Kühlgas so geleitet wird, dass er im Wesentlichen parallel zur Oberfläche der Warenbahn durch die Kühlzone fließt, um die Warenbahn zu kühlen und ohne Zugresonanz eine Folie zu erzeugen, und dass bei dem Verfahren weiterhin die Wirkung des Kühlgases verbessert wird, indem mehrere Gaswirbel erzeugt werden, wenn sich das Gas zur Kühlung der Warenbahn durch die Zone bewegt.
  2. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, bei dem die Folie bei einer Geschwindigkeit in der Größenordnung von mindestens 500 bis 1200 ft/min (2,54 bis 6,096 m/s) ohne Zugresonanz erzeugt wird.
  3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, weiterhin umfassend den Verfahrensschritt, dass zur Erzeugung einer mikroporösen Folie die Folie bei der Geschwindigkeit gestreckt wird.
  4. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, bei dem die thermoplastische Zusammensetzung hergestellt wird durch Schmelzblenden eines thermoplastischen Polymers und von Füllstoffteilchen zur Erzeugung einer mikroporösen formbaren thermoplastischen Polymerzusammensetzung und weiterhin bei der Geschwindigkeit entlang von Linien, die im Wesentlichen einheitlich über die Folie und durch deren gesamte Tiefe verlaufen, eine Streckkraft an die Folie angelegt wird, um eine mikroporöse Folie zu erzeugen.
  5. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, bei dem die Blendzusammensetzung ein thermoplastisches Polymer umfasst, welches eine dispergierte Phase aus Teilchen enthält, die ausgewählt sind aus anorganischen Füllstoffen und organischen Materialien, und wobei das Verfahren weiterhin den Verfahrensschritt umfasst, dass die Folie zur Erzeugung einer mikroporösen Folie gestreckt wird.
  6. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem in den Walzenspalt eine Warenbahn aus faserartigem Vliesstoff eingeführt wird und die Temperatur und die Kompressionskraft zwischen der Warenbahn und der Folie am Spalt gesteuert werden, um die Oberfläche der Warenbahn zu binden und ein laminiertes Band zu erzeugen.
  7. Verfahren nach Anspruch 6, bei dem die Warenbahn durch die Kühlzone in den Spalt zur Erzeugung der Folie bei einer Geschwindigkeit von größer als 700 ft/min (3,556 m/s) extrudiert wird und bei dem die Temperatur und die Kompressionskraft zwischen dem faserartigen Band und der Folie am Spalt gesteuert werden, um die Oberfläche des faserartigen Bandes zu binden und ein laminiertes Band zu erzeugen, welches zwischen der Folie und dem faserartigem Band eine Bindungsstärke von 100 bis 600 g/in (39,37 bis 236,22 g/cm) bei Zimmertemperatur aufweist.
  8. Verfahren nach Anspruch 6 oder 7, bei dem weiterhin bei der Geschwindigkeit entlang von Linien, die im Wesentlichen einheitlich über das laminierte Band und durch dessen gesamte Tiefe verlaufen, eine schrittartige Zugkraft an das laminierte Band angelegt wird, um ein mikroporöses Laminat zu erzeugen, welches eine Bindungsstärke des faserartigen Bandes mit der Folie von 100 bis 200 g/in (39,37 bis 78,74 g/cm) aufweist.
  9. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 3 bis 5 oder 8, bei dem das Strecken bei Umgebungstemperatur oder bei erhöhter Temperatur durchgeführt wird.
  10. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 5 bis 8, bei dem die faserartige Warenbahn Polyolefinfasem umfasst.
  11. Verfahren nach Anspruch 10, bei dem die Fasern ausgewählt sind aus Polypropylen, Polyethylen, Polyestem, Cellulose, Rayon, Nylon und Gemischen oder Coextrudaten von zwei oder mehr solcher Fasern.
  12. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 5 bis 8, 10 oder 11, bei dem die faserartige Warenbahn ein Gewicht von 5 bis 70 g/yd2 (5,98 bis 83,72 g/m2) und die mikroporöse Folie eine Dicke in der Größenordnung von 0,25 bis 10 mil (6,35 bis 254 µm) hat.
  13. Verfahren nach Anspruch 12, bei dem die Warenbahn aus Stapelfasern oder Filamenten hergestellt ist.
  14. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem sich der Gasstrom in die gleiche Richtung wie die Warenbahn oder in eine andere Richtung bewegt und sich parallel zur Warenbahn oder entgegengesetzt zur Warenbahn bewegt.
  15. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem die thermoplastische Zusammensetzung weiterhin HD-Polyethylen und Titandioxid enthält.
  16. Verfahren nach Anspruch 15, bei dem das HD-Polyethylen in einer Menge von 5 Gew.-% und das Titandioxid in einer Menge von etwa 3 Gew.-% enthalten ist.
  17. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem die thermoplastische Zusammensetzung ein elastomeres Polymer ist.
  18. Verfahren nach Anspruch 17, bei dem das elastomere Polymer ausgewählt ist aus der Gruppe Poly(Ethylen-Buten), Poly(Ethylen-Hexen), Poly(Ethylen-Octen), Poly(Ethylen-Propylen), Poly(Styrol-Butadien-Styrol), Poly(Styrol-lsopren-Styrol), Poly(Styrol-Ethylen-Butylen-Styrol), Poly(Ester-Ether), Poly(Ether-Amid), Poly(Ethylen-Vinylacetat), Poly(Ethylen-Methylacrylat), Poly(Ethylen-Acrylsäure), Poly(Ethylen-Butylacrylat), Polyurethan, Poly(Ethylen-Propylen-Dien) und Ethylen-Propylen-Kautschuk.
  19. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 14, bei dem die thermoplastische Zusammensetzung ein Polymer ist, ausgewählt aus Polyethylen, Polypropylen und Copolymeren davon.
  20. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 14, bei dem die Zusammensetzung (a) etwa 30 bis etwa 45 Gew.-% eines LLD-Polyethylens, (b) etwa 1 bis etwa 10 Gew.-% eines LLD-Polyethylens, (c) etwa 40 bis etwa 60 Gew.-% Calciumcarbonatfüllstoffteilchen enthält.
  21. Verfahren nach Anspruch 20, bei dem die schmelzgeblendete Zusammensetzung im Wesentlichen aus etwa 41 Gew.-% LLD-Polyethylen, etwa 5 Gew.-% LD-Polyethylen, etwa 45 Gew.-% Calciumcarbonatfüllstoffteilchen und etwa 5 Gew.-% HD-Polyethylen besteht.
  22. Verfahren nach Anspruch 21, bei dem die schmelzgeblendete Zusammensetzung weiterhin etwa 3 Gew.-% Titandioxid und etwa 1 Gew.-% Antioxidans/Verarbeitungszusätze enthält.
  23. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem der Walzenspalt eine Prägewalze aus Metall und eine Walze aus Kautschuk aufweist und die Kompressionskraft zwischen den Walzen zur Erzeugung einer geprägten Folie gesteuert wird.
Anspruch[en]
  1. A high speed method of making a thermoplastic film comprising melting a thermoplastic composition, extruding a web of the molten thermoplastic composition from a slot die through a zone into a nip of rollers to form a film at a speed on the order of at least 200 fpm (1.016 m/s), and directing a stream of gas to flow through the zone, characterised in that a stream of cooling gas is directed to flow through the cooling zone substantially parallel to the surface of the web to cool the web and form a film without draw resonance, and in that the method further comprises enhancing the effectiveness of the cooling gas by creating a plurality of vortices of the gas as the stream moves through the zone to cool the web.
  2. The method of claim 1 wherein said film is formed at a speed on the order of at least 500 fpm to 1200 fpm (2.54 to 6.096 m/s) without draw resonance.
  3. The method of either claim 1 or claim 2 comprising the further step of stretching the film at said speed to provide a microporous film.
  4. The method of either claim 1 or claim 2 wherein the thermoplastic composition is formed by melt blending a thermoplastic polymer and filler particles to form a microporous formable thermoplastic polymer composition, and wherein the method further comprises applying a stretching force to the film at said speed along lines substantially and uniformly across the film and throughout its depth to provide a microporous film.
  5. The method of either claim 1 or claim 2 wherein the melt blended composition comprises a thermoplastic polymer containing a dispersed phase of particles selected from the group consisting of an inorganic filler and an organic material and a method comprising the further step of stretching the film to form a microporous sheet.
  6. The method of any preceding claim comprising introducing a nonwoven fibrous web into the nip of rollers and controlling the temperature and compressive force between the web and the film at the nip to bond the surface of the web to form a laminated sheet.
  7. The method of claim 6 wherein the web is extruded through the cooling zone into the nip such as to form the film at a speed greater than 700 fpm (3.556 m/s) and wherein the temperature and compressive force between the fibrous sheet and the film at the nip is controlled to bond the surface of the fibrous sheet to form a laminated sheet having a bond strength between the film and the fibrous sheet of 100 to 600 grams/inch (39.37 to 236.22 gms/cm) at room temperature.
  8. The method of either claim 6 or claim 7 further comprising applying an incremental stretching force to the laminated sheet at said speed along lines substantially and uniformly across said laminated sheet and throughout its depth to provide a microporous laminate having a fibrous sheet to film bond strength of 100 to 200 grams/inch (39.37 to 78.74 gms/cm).
  9. The method of any one of claims 3 to 5 or 8 wherein said stretching is conducted at ambient temperature or at elevated temperature.
  10. The method of any one of claims 5 to 8 wherein the fibrous web comprises polyolefin fibres.
  11. The method of claim 10 wherein said fibers are selected from the group consisting of polypropylene, polyethylene, polyesters, cellulose, rayon, nylon, and blends or coextrusions of two or more of such fibres.
  12. The method of any one of claims 5 to 8, 10 or 11 wherein the fibrous web has a weight from 5 to 70 gms/yd2 (5.98 to 83.72 g/m2) and the microporous film has a thickness on the order of 0.25 to 10 mils (6.35 to 254 µm).
  13. The method of claim 12 wherein said web is formed from staple fibres or filaments.
  14. The method of any preceding claim wherein the gas stream moves in the same direction as the web movement or in different directions parallel to the movement of the web or in a direction opposite to the movement of the web.
  15. The method of any preceding claim wherein said thermoplastic composition further contains high density polyethylene and titanium dioxide.
  16. The method of claim 15 wherein the high density polyethylene is contained in an amount of 5% by weight and the titanium dioxide is contained in an amount of about 3% by weight.
  17. The method of any preceding claim wherein said thermoplastic composition is an elastomeric polymer.
  18. The method of claim 17 wherein said elastomeric polymer is selected from the group consisting of poly(ethylene-butene), poly(ethylene-hexene), poly(ethylene-octene), polyethylene-propylene), poly(styrene-butadiene-styrene), poly(styrene-isoprene-styrene), poly(styrene-ethylene-butylene-styrene), poly(ester-ether), poly(ether-amide), poly(ethylene-vinylacetate), poly(ethylene-methylacrylate), poly(ethylene-acrylic acid), poly(ethylene butylacrylate), polyurethane, poly(ethylene-propylene-diene), and ethylene-propylene rubber.
  19. The method of any one of claims 1 to 14 wherein said thermoplastic composition is a polymer selected from the group consisting of polyethylene, polypropylene, and copolymers thereof.
  20. The method of any one of claims 1 to 14 wherein the composition comprises (a) about 30% to about 45% by weight of a linear low density polyethylene, (b) about 1% to about 10% by weight of a low density polyethylene, (c) about 40% to about 60% by weight calcium carbonate filler particles.
  21. The method of claim 20 wherein said melt blended composition consists essentially of about 41% by weight linear low density polyethylene, about 5% by weight low density polyethylene, about 45% by weight calcium, carbonate filler particles, and about 5% by weight high density polyethylene.
  22. The method of claim 21 wherein said melt blended composition further comprises about 3% by weight titanium dioxide and about 1% by weight antioxidant/processing aid.
  23. The method of any preceding claim wherein the nip of rollers comprises a metal embossing roller and a rubber roller and the compressive force between the rollers is controlled to form an embossed film.
Anspruch[fr]
  1. Procédé de fabrication à grande vitesse d'un film thermoplastique comprenant la fusion d'une composition thermoplastique, l'extrusion d'une feuille de composition thermoplastique en fusion par une filière en forme de fente à travers une zone dans la ligne de contact entre des rouleaux pour former un film à une vitesse de l'ordre d'au moins 200 fpm (1,016 m/s), et diriger un courant de gaz s'écoulant à travers la zone, caractérisé en ce qu'un courant de gaz de refroidissement est dirigé pour s'écouler à travers la zone de refroidissement sensiblement parallèle à la surface de la feuille pour refroidir et former un film sans résonance d'étirement, et en ce que le procédé comprend en outre l'amélioration de l'efficacité du gaz de refroidissement en créant une pluralité de tourbillons de gaz lorsque le courant se déplace vers la zone pour refroidir la feuille.
  2. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit film est formé à une vitesse de l'ordre d'au moins 500 fpm à 1200 fpm (2,54 à 6,096 m/s) sans résonance d'étirement.
  3. Procédé selon l'une des revendications 1 ou 2 comprenant l'étape supplémentaire d'étirage du film à ladite vitesse pour fournir un film microporeux.
  4. Procédé selon l'une des revendications 1 ou 2 dans lequel la composition thermoplastique est formée en mélangeant un polymère thermoplastique fondu et des particules de charge pour former une composition polymère thermoplastique formable microporeuse, et dans lequel le procédé comprend en outre l'application d'une force d'étirement au film, à ladite vitesse le long des lignes sensiblement et uniformément en travers du film et sur toute sa profondeur pour fournir un film microporeux.
  5. Procédé selon l'une des revendications 1 ou 2 dans lequel la composition mélangée en fusion comprend un polymère thermoplastique contenant une phase dispersée de particules choisies dans le groupe constitué par une charge inorganique et un matériau organique et un procédé comprenant l'étape supplémentaire d'étirement du film pour former une feuille microporeuse.
  6. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes comprenant l'introduction d'une feuille fibreuse non tissée dans la ligne de contact des rouleaux et le contrôle de la température et de la force de compression entre la feuille et le film au niveau de l'espace pour coller la surface de la feuille afin de former une feuille laminée.
  7. Procédé selon la revendication 6 dans lequel la feuille est extrudée à travers la zone de refroidissement dans l'espace entre rouleaux afin de former le film à une vitesse supérieure à 700 fpm (3,556 m/s) et dans lequel la température et la force de compression entre la feuille fibreuse et le film à la ligne de contact entre rouleaux sont contrôlées pour coller la surface de la feuille fibreuse afin de former une feuille laminée ayant une résistance d'adhésion entre le film et la feuille fibreuse comprise entre 100 et 600 grammes/pouce (39,37 à 236,22 g/cm) à température ambiante.
  8. Procédé selon l'une des revendications 6 ou 7 comprenant en outre l'application d'une force d'étirement incrémentielle à la feuille laminée à ladite vitesse le long des lignes sensiblement et uniformément en travers de ladite feuille laminée et sur toute sa profondeur pour fournir un laminé microporeux ayant une feuille fibreuse par rapport à la résistance d'adhésion du film de 100 à 200 g/pouce (39,37 à 78,74 g/cm).
  9. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 3 à 5 ou 8, dans lequel ledit étirement est effectué à température ambiante ou à température élevée.
  10. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 5 à 8 dans lequel la feuille fibreuse comprend des fibres de polyoléfine.
  11. Procédé selon la revendication 10 dans lequel lesdites fibres sont choisies dans le groupe constitué par le polypropylène, le polyéthylène, les polyesters, la cellulose, la rayonne, le nylon, et les mélanges ou les coextrusions de deux ou plusieurs de ces fibres.
  12. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 5 à 8, 10 ou 11 dans lequel la feuille fibreuse a un poids compris entre 5 et 70 g/yd2 (5,98 à 83,72 g/m2) et le film microporeux a une épaisseur de l'ordre de 0,25 à 10 millièmes (6,35 à 254 µm).
  13. Procédé selon la revendication 12 dans lequel ladite feuille est formée à partir de fibres discontinues ou de filaments.
  14. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes dans lequel le courant gazeux se déplace dans la même direction que le mouvement de la feuille ou dans des directions différentes parallèles au mouvement de la feuille ou dans une direction opposée au mouvement de la feuille.
  15. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes dans lequel la composition thermoplastique contient en outre du polyéthylène haute densité et du dioxyde de titane.
  16. Procédé selon la revendication 15 dans lequel le polyéthylène haute densité est contenu selon une quantité de 5% en poids et le dioxyde de titane est contenu selon une quantité d'environ 3% en poids.
  17. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes dans lequel ladite composition thermoplastique est un polymère élastomère.
  18. Procédé selon la revendication 17 dans lequel ledit polymère élastomère est choisi dans le groupe constitué par le poly(éthylène-butène), le poly(éthylène-hexène), le poly(éthylène-octène), le poly(éthylène-propylène), le poly(styrène-butadiène-styrène), le poly(styrène-isoprène-styrène), le poly(styrène-éthylène-butylène-styrène), le poly(ester-éther), le poly-(éther-amide), le poly(éthylène- acétate de vinyle), le poly-(éthylène-méthylacrylate), le poly(acide d'éthylène - acrylique), le poly(éthylène butylacrylate), le polyuréthane, le poly-(éthylène-propylène-diène) ; et le caoutchouc éthylène-propylène.
  19. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 14 dans lequel ladite composition thermoplastique est un polymère choisi dans le groupe constitué par le polyéthylène, le polypropylène, et leurs copolymères.
  20. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 14 dans lequel la composition mélangée en fusion comprend (a) environ 30% à environ 40% en poids d'un polyéthylène faible densité linéaire, (b) environ 1% à environ 10% en poids d'un polyéthylène faible densité, (c) environ 40% à environ 60% en poids de particules de charge de carbonate de calcium.
  21. Procédé selon la revendication 20 dans lequel ladite composition mélangée en fusion est constituée essentiellement par environ 41% en poids de polyéthylène faible densité linéaire, environ 5% en poids de polyéthylène faible densité, environ 45% en poids de particules de charge de carbonate de calcium, et environ 5% en poids de polyéthylène haute densité.
  22. Procédé selon la revendication 21 dans lequel la composition mélangée en fusion comprend en outre environ 3% en poids de dioxyde de titane et environ 1% en poids d'antioxydant /adjuvant de fabrication.
  23. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes dans lequel la ligne de contact des rouleaux comprend un cylindre gaufreur métallique et un rouleau en caoutchouc et la force de compression entre les rouleaux est contrôlée pour former un film gaufré.






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