K-C Worldwide issued US patent for method of incorporating leg elastics in a pant-like disposable absorbent garment, and garment made thereby

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia , January 16, 2014 () – Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc. (Neenah, WI) has been issued patent number 8622983, according to news reporting originating out of Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews editors.

The patent's inventors are Wilkes, Todd W. (Appleton, WI); Poole, Lacey L. (Appleton, WI); Mlinar, Joseph A. (Appleton, WI); Dins, Marlene R. (Appleton, WI); Thorson, Russell E. (Appleton, WI); Rhodes, Brian K. (Larsen, WI).

This patent was filed on December 31, 2009 and was published online on January 7, 2014.

From the background information supplied by the inventors, news correspondents obtained the following quote: "People rely on disposable absorbent products in their everyday lives, including such articles as adult incontinence products, enuresis pants, training pants, and diapers. Many manufacturers seek to better meet the needs of users of such products. For example, there is a need to further improve fit, discretion, and leakage protection for many products. With certain products, such as adult incontinence underwear and enuresis pants, it is important that the garment feel as much as possible like 'regular' underwear to promote an improved sense of normalcy to the wearer who suffers from incontinence or enuresis. Many conventional pant-like, pull-on style absorbent garments currently on the market employ a product chassis in which multiple threads of elastic are sandwiched between two nonwoven fabric layers. The strands extend around the body, such that the elastic forces extend primarily around the wearer's waist, as is the case with traditional cloth briefs. This design can provide good fit and leakage performance, but has the potential to be further improved in terms of looking and feeling even more like 'regular' cloth underwear. In many instances, it is possible to also sandwich leg elastic strands between the nonwoven fabric layers.

"One class of materials that offers the potential to make absorbent garments more 'underwear-like' is that of elastomeric film laminates. Elastomeric film laminates are typically elastomeric films sandwiched between two nonwoven fabric layers. The films provide elastic properties similar to elastic threads, but offer a smoother, more uniform appearance. Some products currently on the market employ such elastomeric laminates, and utilize a 'three-piece' pant construction in which front and back body panels are each constructed of an elastomeric film laminate and are connected together via an absorbent insert that extends between them. Such designs, however, can in certain instances introduce a difficulty. It is frequently desirable to include additional elasticization around the leg openings. In certain configurations, it may not be possible to simply sandwich additional leg elastic threads between the two nonwoven layers, such as when the elastomeric film laminate is a 'pre-laminated' sandwich of an elastomeric film layer between two nonwoven layers. Instead, the leg elastic threads must be affixed to an outer surface of the elastomeric film laminate. In such instances, it is usually necessary to provide an additional layer of material to seal around the elastic threads and any associated adhesive, thereby holding the elastic threads in place on the elastomeric film laminate. Various efforts have been made to achieve this end, but they have been unsatisfactory. What is needed is improved methods of securing leg elastics to elastomeric film laminate body panels in disposable absorbent garments, in part to help, in certain instances, to simplify and improve the high speed manufacture of such garments."

Supplementing the background information on this patent, VerticalNews reporters also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "To meet the above-described unmet needs in the art, a new process for making pant-like disposable garments, and a garment made thereby, has been invented.

"In one aspect, the present invention relates to a method to incorporate leg elastic members into pant-like disposable absorbent garments. In particular embodiments, the method includes supplying an elastomeric film laminate first body panel web and an elastomeric film laminate second body panel web, both webs traveling in a machine direction, the first body panel web being spaced from the second body panel web in a cross-machine direction, the elastomeric film laminate first body panel web and the elastomeric film laminate second body panel web each comprising an elastomeric film layer and at least one nonwoven layer. The method can further include supplying a continuous first leg elastic member and a continuous second leg elastic member, both leg elastic members traveling in the machine direction. The method can further include attaching the first leg elastic member to the first body panel web and attaching the second leg elastic member to the second body panel web. The method can further include supplying a continuous leg elastic covering web traveling in the machine direction. The method can further include attaching the leg elastic covering web to both the first body panel web and the second body panel web so as to sandwich the first leg elastic member between the first body panel web and the leg elastic covering web and so as to sandwich the second leg elastic member between the second body panel web and the leg elastic covering web, thereby creating a composite web.

"In another aspect, the present invention relates to a method for manufacturing a plurality of pant-like disposable absorbent garments. In particular embodiments, the method includes supplying an elastomeric film laminate first body panel web traveling in a machine direction and defining a waist edge extending in the machine direction and a leg edge extending in the machine direction. The method can further include supplying an elastomeric film laminate second body panel web traveling in the machine direction and defining a waist edge extending in the machine direction and a leg edge extending in the machine direction, the elastomeric film laminate first body panel web and the elastomeric film laminate second body panel web each comprising an elastomeric film layer sandwiched between two nonwoven facing layers. The method can further include positioning the first and second body panel webs in a non-overlapping relationship such that their respective leg edges are spaced apart from each other in a cross-machine direction a first distance, and such that their respective waist edges are spaced apart from each other in the cross-machine direction a second distance. The method can further include supplying a continuous first leg elastic member and a continuous second leg elastic member, both leg elastic members traveling in the machine direction. The method can further include attaching the first leg elastic member to the first body panel web at least partially adjacent the leg edge of the first body panel web, and attaching the second continuous leg elastic member to the second body panel web at least partially adjacent the leg edge of the second body panel web. The method can further include supplying a continuous leg elastic covering web traveling in the machine direction and which defines a first edge, a second edge, and a width extending between the first edge and the second edge in the cross-machine direction, wherein the covering web width is greater than said first distance and less than said second distance. The method can further include superposing the leg elastic covering web over the first and second body panel webs. The method can further include attaching the leg elastic covering web to both the first body panel web and the second body panel web so as to sandwich the first leg elastic member between the first body panel web and the leg elastic covering web and so as to sandwich the second leg elastic member between the second body panel web and the leg elastic covering web. The method can further include attaching an absorbent composite to the leg elastic covering web to create a composite garment web. The method can further include folding the composite garment web along a centerline that extends in the machine direction, such that the first body panel web waist edge is brought into close proximity with the second body panel web waist edge; attaching the first body panel web to the second body panel web along a series of garment side seam bonds spaced apart in the machine direction; and cutting the composite garment web at a series of cut locations spaced apart in the machine direction to create the plurality of pant-like disposable absorbent garments.

"In yet another aspect, the present invention relates to a pant-like disposable absorbent garment. In particular embodiments, the garment defines a longitudinal direction and a lateral direction perpendicular to the longitudinal direction. The garment has a front region defining a front waist end edge, a back region defining a back waist end edge, and a crotch region longitudinally between the front and back regions. The crotch region defines two laterally opposed crotch side edges, and the garment defines a garment length extending from the front waist end edge to the back waist end edge. The garment includes an elastomeric film laminate front panel which defines a front panel waist edge, a front panel leg edge spaced longitudinally inward from the front panel waist edge, and first and second laterally opposed front panel side edges which extend longitudinally between the front panel waist edge and the front panel leg edge. The garment further includes an elastomeric film laminate back panel which defines a back panel waist edge, a back panel leg edge spaced longitudinally inward from the back panel waist edge, and first and second laterally opposed back panel side edges which extend longitudinally between the back panel waist edge and the back panel leg edge. The front panel is longitudinally spaced apart from the back panel. The garment further includes at least one front leg elastic member disposed adjacent the front panel leg edge, and at least one back leg elastic member disposed adjacent the back panel leg edge. The garment further includes a leg elastic covering panel which extends between and interconnects the front panel to the back panel such that the front leg elastic member is sandwiched between the leg elastic covering panel and the front panel and such that the back leg elastic member is sandwiched between the leg elastic covering panel and the back panel. A length of the leg elastic covering panel is less than the garment length. The garment can further include an absorbent composite attached to the leg elastic covering panel, as well as a pair of side seams connecting the front region to the back region, thereby defining a waist opening and a pair of leg openings.

"In particular embodiments, the present invention can provide an efficient and process friendly technique to cover and hold in place leg elastic members in a pant-style disposable garment that employs elastomeric film laminates, particularly 'pre-made' or 'pre-laminated' elastomeric film laminates."

For the URL and additional information on this patent, see: Wilkes, Todd W.; Poole, Lacey L.; Mlinar, Joseph A.; Dins, Marlene R.; Thorson, Russell E.; Rhodes, Brian K.. Method of Incorporating Leg Elastics in a Pant-Like Disposable Absorbent Garment, and Garment Made Thereby. U.S. Patent Number 8622983, filed December 31, 2009, and published online on January 7, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=98&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=4898&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=20140107.PD.&OS=ISD/20140107&RS=ISD/20140107

Keywords for this news article include: Kimberly-Clark Worldwide Inc.

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