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Publication numberUS20040139528 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/347,519
Publication dateJul 22, 2004
Filing dateJan 21, 2003
Priority dateJan 21, 2003
Publication number10347519, 347519, US 2004/0139528 A1, US 2004/139528 A1, US 20040139528 A1, US 20040139528A1, US 2004139528 A1, US 2004139528A1, US-A1-20040139528, US-A1-2004139528, US2004/0139528A1, US2004/139528A1, US20040139528 A1, US20040139528A1, US2004139528 A1, US2004139528A1
InventorsWilliam Hord
Original AssigneeHord William T.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Garment closure
US 20040139528 A1
Abstract
A closure for use on protective garments is defined by two oppositely-facing, longitudinally-extending edges of fabric having an opening therebetween as a slide fastener spanning the opening. A longitudinal channel is provided adjacent the fastener and formed by layers of the fabric for collecting and discharging materials out an opening and into an optional receptacle. The channel is formed by folding an outer front panel of the garment back onto itself. The zipper is then stitched to the interior end portion and a patch along a first stitch line. The patch is folded back on itself and the opposite end of the patch is stitched to the outer front panel of the garment along a second stitch line. Seal tape is placed over the second stitch line, thereby forming a sealed channel between the outer layer of the garment and the patch layer between the first stitch line and the second stitch line. Any gases, vapors and liquids that might otherwise penetrate the stitch lines are passed into the channel, and drained away from the user. A flap may also be added over the front of the closure to cover a portion of the fastener and the channel and provide an additional layer of protection.
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Claims(34)
I claim:
1. A closure between two longitudinal edges of a garment defining an opening therebetween, said closure comprising:
a first garment layer having an inner and outer surface, wherein an edge of said first garment layer is folder back on itself forming a second garment layer;
a first fastener having a connecting piece forming a third layer;
a fourth garment layer, wherein an edge of said fourth garment layer is folded back on itself forming a fifth garment layer;
a first stitched seam through said second, third and fifth layers for securing said second, third and fifth layers together; and
a second stitched seam through said first and fourth layers for securing said first and fourth layers together,
wherein said first through fifth layers and said first and second stitched seams form a first channel.
2. The closure according to claim 1, further comprising a seal tape covering the second stitched seam.
3. The closure according to claim 2, wherein said seal tape is attached to said first garment layer and said fourth garment layer by adhesive.
4. The closure according to claim 1, further comprising:
a sixth garment layer in the form of a loop, wherein a portion of said sixth garment layer is adjacent the outer surface of said first garment layer; and
a third stitched seam through said first and sixth adjacent layers for securing said sixth garment layer loop and said first layer together, wherein said third stitch penetrates said first layer between said first and second stitches,
wherein said sixth garment loop and said third stitched seam form a second longitudinally extending channel substantially parallel the first longitudinally extending channel.
5. The closure according to claim 4, further comprising:
a fourth stitched seam through said first and sixth adjacent layers adjacent said third stitched seam for further securing said sixth garment layer loop and said first layer together,
wherein said fourth stitch penetrates said first layer between said first and second stitches.
6. The closure of according to claim 4, further comprising a second fastener attached to said sixth garment layer loop.
7. The closure according to claim 6, wherein said fastener comprises one of hooks and loops, a button, a snap, and a zipper.
8. The closure according to claim 4, wherein said garment layers are made of polyester.
9. The closure according to claim 4, wherein said garment layers and said tape layer are impermeable to vapor.
10. The closure according to claim 1, wherein said first fastener is a zipper comprising a pair of oppositely facing, longitudinally extending stringer tapes each having a first and a second side, a plurality of equally spaced cones projecting from the edge of one of the stringer tapes, a corresponding plurality of equally spaced cups projecting from the edge of the other stringer tape, and a slide movably engaging said cones and cups to open and close said zipper.
11. The closure according to claim 1, further comprising:
a receptacle adjacent the opening of said first channel,
wherein materials inside said first channel are discharged into said receptacle.
12. The closure according to claim 11, wherein said receptacle is one of a tube and a pocket.
13. The closure according to claim 1, wherein said garment layers form part of a chemical protective suit.
14. A closure between two longitudinal edges of a garment defining an opening therebetween, said closure comprising:
a first garment layer having an inner and outer surface, wherein an edge of said first garment layer is folder back on itself forming a second garment layer;
a first fastener having a connecting piece forming a third layer;
a fourth garment layer, wherein an edge of said fourth garment layer is folded back on itself forming a fifth garment layer;
a sixth garment layer in the form of a loop, wherein a portion of said sixth garment layer is adjacent the outer surface of said first garment layer;
a first stitched seam through said second, third and fifth layers for securing said second, third and fifth layers together;
a second stitched seam through said first and fourth layers for securing said first and fourth layers together; and
a third stitched seam through said first and sixth adjacent layers for securing said sixth garment layer loop and said first layer together, wherein said third stitch penetrates said first layer between said first and second stitches,
wherein said first through fifth layers and said first and second stitched seams form a first channel and wherein said sixth garment loop and said third stitched seam form a second channel.
15. The closure according to claim 14, further comprising a seal tape covering the second stitched seam and wherein said seal tape is attached to said first garment layer and said fourth garment layer by adhesive.
16. The closure according to claim 14, further comprising:
a fourth stitched seam through said first and sixth adjacent layers adjacent said third stitched seam further securing said sixth garment layer loop and said first layer together,
wherein said fourth stitch penetrates said first layer between said first and second stitches.
17. The closure according to claim 14, further comprising a second fastener attached to said sixth garment layer loop, wherein said fastener comprises one of hooks and loops, buttons, snaps, and zippers.
18. The closure according to claim 14, wherein said garment layers are made of polyester.
19. The closure according to claim 14, wherein said garment layers and said tape layer are impermeable to vapor.
20. The closure according to claim 14, wherein said fastener is a zipper comprising a pair of oppositely facing, longitudinally extending stringer tapes each having a first and a second side, a plurality of equally spaced cones projecting from the edge of one of the stringer tapes, a corresponding plurality of equally spaced cups projecting from the edge of the other stringer tape, and a slide movably engaging said cones and cups to open and close said zipper.
21. The closure according to claim 14, further comprising:
a receptacle adjacent the opening of said first channel,
wherein materials inside said first channel are discharged into said receptacle.
22. The closure according to claim 21, wherein said receptacle is one of a tube and a pocket.
23. The closure according to claim 14, wherein said garment layers form part of a chemical protective suit.
24. A closure between two longitudinal edges of a garment defining an opening therebetween, said closure comprising:
closure means for opening and closing a garment closure;
channel means attached to said closure means for collecting and discharging materials inside said channel means;
first seam means for connecting said closure means and said channel means together;
cover means attached to said channel means for covering a portion of said closure means and said channel means;
second seam means for connecting said cover means to said channel means; and
receptacle means adjacent said channel means for receiving materials discharging from said channel means.
25. The closure according to claim 24, further comprising seal tape means adhered to said channel means for seam sealing.
26. The closure according to claim 24, further comprising fastener means attached to said cover means, for securing said cover means over said closure means.
27. The closure according to claim 24, wherein said closure means and said cover means are made of polyester fabric.
28. The closure according to claim 24, wherein said closure means is a zipper comprising a pair of oppositely facing, longitudinally extending stringer tapes each having a first and a second side, a plurality of equally spaced cones projecting from the edge of one of the stringer tapes, a corresponding plurality of equally spaced cups projecting from the edge of the other stringer tape, and a slide movably engaging said cones and cups to open and close said zipper.
29. The closure according to claim 24, wherein said receptacle means is one of a tube and a pocket.
30. The closure according to claim 24, wherein said closure means, channel means, cover means and receptacle means form part of a chemical protective suit.
31. A garment comprising:
a front panel section having an end section and a connect point set apart from the end;
a patch segment having a first end connected to the end section of said front panel section, and a second end connected to the connect point of said front panel section, wherein said front panel section and said patch form a channel therebetween; and,
a seal tape sealing the connection between the second end of said patch segment and the connect point of said front panel section.
32. The garment of claim 31, further comprising a first seam connecting the end section of said front panel section to the first end of said patch segment, and a second seam connecting the connect point of said front panel section to the second end of said patch segment.
33. The garment of claim 31, wherein the end section is reversely bent with respect to said front panel section.
34. The garment of claim 31, wherein the first end of said patch is reversely bent with respect to said patch.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of Invention

[0002] The present invention relates generally to fasteners. More particularly, the present invention relates to closures for garments.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] Many industrial occupations require the use of personal protective equipment. Personal protective equipment is a general term that refers to various garments, breathing apparatus and monitoring devices that are used by persons potentially exposed to hazardous conditions or environments. In the case of protective garments, many employers require employees to wear special apparel, such as coveralls, jackets, trousers, shirts, boots, helmets and gloves, among other things. Protective garments are designed to protect the individual wearing the garments by eliminating or reducing daily exposure pathways, such as inhalation of harmful vapors and particulates and percutaneous adsorption of harmful liquids.

[0005] In certain regulated industries in the United States, the use of certain personal protective equipment is mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA-mandated personal protective equipment are intended for use against hazards of processes or environment; chemical, biological and radiological hazards; or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact. Moreover, the selection, use, training and programs for personal protective equipment for use by emergency responders may be covered by regulations, standards and recommendations promulgated or issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

[0006] Even in non-industrial, non-regulated work places, where traditional industrial work hazards do not pose a potential threat, employers may also mandate the use of certain protective garments in some situations. For example, after anthrax was deployed through the U.S. postal system in the mail, some employers that were not regulated by OSHA, EPA or other federal or state agency began implementing personal protective equipment standards applicable to corporate mail handlers. Moreover, some employers have implemented personal protective equipment standards for insurability purposes even where their industry is not regulated by OSHA or other agency. Implementing those standards may be needed to obtain certain types of insurance coverage or can lower premiums on already existing policies.

[0007] Protective garments include apparel like coveralls, jackets, trousers, shirts, boots, helmets and gloves. Similar to regular street garments, protective garments typically have closures with fasteners such as buttons, snaps, zippers and hooks and loops (commonly called Velcro®). The closures are provided to facilitate the donning, doffing and safely wearing the garments. However, closures on protective garments may provide pathways for gases, liquids, vapors and, sometimes, particulates to permeate or penetrate the garment and expose the individual wearing the protective garment to harmful substances. That exposure pathway can result in a reduced effectiveness of the protective garment, and the garment may fall out of compliance with personal protective equipment standards.

[0008] Thus, while closures are often required for functionality, they often introduce undesirable adverse affects when it comes to health and safety. Penetration, such as through permeation or wicking, is a potential adverse affects introduced by providing a closure on a protective garment. For example, when a closure device is sewn to a protective garment, harmful substances can permeate the otherwise impermeable garment. Where sewn seams are made using stitches, the seam can operate like a wick or carrier which allows the harmful substance to penetrate through to the user. In addition, those stitches penetrate the garment fabric and create through holes which may also allow gases, liquids and vapors to penetrate from one side of the garment to the other.

[0009] For instance, a bound seam is used to encapsulate the raw edges of two plies of fabric. All of the layers are sewn through with a chain stitch that creates a series of closely spaced through holes in the fabric layers. If that area contacts a hazardous liquid, the liquid can penetrate the through hole and volatilize on the inside of the garment, exposing the individual wearing the garment. Likewise, if the individual is working in an environment where hazardous gases or vapors are present, the gases and vapors can also permeate or penetrate the through holes.

[0010] To overcome the problems associated with closure devices with sewn seams and still meet standards for protective garments, some manufacturers have come up with a variety of solutions. On shirt jackets, for example, some manufacturers incorporate so-called “storm” flaps. The storm flap is constructed from the primary garment material and lies over the top of the buttons, snaps or zippers and helps keep liquids off those fasteners and the sewn seams. Often the storm flap is secured in place with hook and loop fasteners. One problem with storm flaps is that they do not seal the closure devices so they do not prevent permeation of gases and vapors. Also, liquids may get around the storm flap and contact the closure and seams. Thus, the stitches where the closure device is attached to the garment are still exposed and can provide exposure pathways for hazardous materials.

[0011] Other manufacturers move the closure to the back of the garment and away from the so-called “strike” or impact zone, which is typically located to the individual's front side. That may reduce certain incidences of exposure due to immersion of the closure and seams by liquids being splashed onto the garment. However, repositioning the closure to the rear of the garment does not necessarily reduce permeation or penetration of chemicals through the closure and seams, such as gases that may be present in the environment.

[0012] Still other manufacturers rely on taped seams and closures. A taped closure is produced when a closure is covered with a strip of compatible material and attached permanently or temporarily over the closure. One problem associated with taped closures is that the garment cannot be donned or doffed easily or in a timely manner because of the extra step of applying or removing the tape to/from the closure. Further, it is often difficult to create a good seal with tape on some closures by manually applying pressure to tape. This is a problem on fabrics that are not free of wrinkles. Moreover, the assistance of another person is often required to install tape on certain closures. For example, a long vertical zipper on the rear of a shirt jacket is nearly impossible to tape by the person wearing the shirt.

[0013] A taped seam is produced by covering a sewn seam with a strip of compatible material. The tape may have an adhesive backing, or may further be attached to the garment and/or closure by a laminating process or by heat sealing the tape to the seam with a suitable heat-activated adhesive. One problem associated with taped seams is that they cannot be used to cover all seams effectively. Moreover, if a chemical substance penetrates a torn tape seal, it can then easily penetrate the garment through the stitch through holes under the tape just as if the tape were not there. Also, in the case of zippers, which are usually attached to garments with “stringers,” once the stringer material becomes contaminated, the accumulated contamination can penetrate the garment when the individual wearing the garment begins doffing the device. That is, if the individual is not decontaminated before doffing the garment, he or she can be exposed to the accumulated chemicals when he or she opens the fastener.

[0014] One example of a tape seam is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,386,616 to Norvell. Norvell illustrates a water resistant closure for a garment in the form of a zipper attached to a fabric with sewn seams that are covered with water-repellant seam seal tape. One problem with the tape seam in Norvell is that if the tape is damaged or the water repellant coating is damaged or deteriorates, water can migrate through the stitch through holes and into the inner surface of the garment.

[0015] U.S. Pat. No. 5,705,251 to Morman et al. disclose a garment for medical practitioners having a porous hydrophobic layer and a spacing layer adjacent to the porous hydrophobic layer. The spacing layer forms channels, so that liquid in contact with the spacing layer flows into the channels without passing through the porous hydrophobic layer. Morman, however, does not address the problems associated with closures on protective garments.

SUMMARY AND OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

[0016] In view of the foregoing, it should be apparent that there exists a need in the art for a garment closure having a combination of seam tape and channels for eliminating or reducing the permeation or penetration of hazardous materials through the garment when it is exposed to hazardous environments.

[0017] It is, therefore, a primary object of the present invention to provide a closure device for protective garments that reduces or eliminates penetration of gases, vapors, liquids and particulates through the closure.

[0018] More particularly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a closure device for a protective garment that is attached to the garment in a manner that prevents penetration of gases, vapors, liquids and particulates from the outside of the garment to the inside via a through hole.

[0019] Still more particularly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a zipper closure with a channel for transporting hazardous materials from the zipper closure to a receptacle.

[0020] Another object of the present invention is to provide a jacket with a front closure zipper with taped seams and a channel behind the seams with a bottom opening for discharging any materials entering the channel.

[0021] It is another object of the present invention to provide a coverall with a front closure zipper with taped seams and a channel behind the seams connected to a drainable receptacle for receiving and discharging any materials entering the channel, or connected to an opening for discharging any materials entering the channel.

[0022] Briefly described, these and other objects and features of the present invention are accomplished, as embodied and fully described herein, by a closure between two longitudinal edges of a garment defining an opening therebetween, in which the closure includes several adjacent layers of fabric materials attached together with stitched seams. The garment may be part of a protective garment used to meet personal protective equipment standards.

[0023] In the preferred embodiment of the closure, there is a first garment layer having an inner and outer surface, wherein one edge of the first garment layer is folder back on itself forming a second garment layer; a fastener, such as a zipper, having a tape portion forming a third layer, wherein a portion of the third layer is adjacent the second garment layer; a fourth garment layer in which an edge of the fourth garment layer is folded back on itself forming a fifth garment layer and wherein the fifth garment layer is adjacent the third layer and the other edge of the fourth garment layer is adjacent the inner surface of the first garment layer. Those layers are attached by a stitched seam through the second, fourth and fifth adjacent layers and another stitched seam through the first and fourth adjacent layers. A seal tape layer covers the second stitched seam and is attached to the first garment layer and the fourth garment layer by adhesive.

[0024] The resulting garment layers and stitched seams form a longitudinally extending channel that runs substantially parallel the edge of the first garment layer. The channel includes an opening on one end (preferably the bottom) for discharging materials inside the channel. A receptacle may be used adjacent the opening such that materials discharged from the opening of the channel are discharged into the receptacle. The receptacle could be a tube or a pocket.

[0025] The closure also may include a sixth garment layer in the form of a loop, a portion of which is adjacent the outer surface of the first garment layer. The closure also may include a third stitched seam through the first and sixth adjacent layers for securing the loop to the first layer. The third stitch penetrates the first layer between the first and second stitches. The resulting sixth garment layer and stitched seam form a second longitudinally extending channel substantially parallel the first channel. The channel may or may not include an opening on one end. A fastener, such as hooks and loops, buttons, snaps, and zippers, may be attached to the loop. A fourth stitched seam may be added through the first and sixth adjacent layers adjacent the third stitched seam for further securing the loop to the first layer. The fourth stitch penetrates the first layer between said first and second stitches.

[0026] With these and other objects, advantages and features of the invention that may become hereinafter apparent, the nature of the invention may be more clearly understood by reference to the following detailed description of the invention, the appended claims and to the several drawings attached herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0027]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a garment according to the present invention;

[0028]FIG. 2 is a perspective view of another garment according to the present invention; and

[0029]FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view of the front closure of the garments shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 taken at line 3-3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0030] Several preferred embodiments of the invention are illustrated and described hereinafter for illustrative purposes, it being understood that the invention may be embodied in other forms not specifically shown or described.

[0031] Referring now in detail to the drawings, wherein like parts are designated by like reference numerals throughout, there is illustrated in FIG. 1 a perspective view of a garment 100 according to the present invention. The garment 100 is preferably made of three-laminated layers of texturized polyester fabric, such as that sold by the W. L. Gore & Associates company under its three-layer GORE-TEX® brand line. However, other fabrics may also be used, though the fabric should preferably be lightweight, waterproof, permeable to water vapor to ensure adequate breathability, rugged, durable, and cleanable. In other embodiments, the fabric can be non-permeable to vapors and compatible with conventional decontamination compounds. Other types of garment fabrics that may be suitable include NOMEX® and TYVEK®, both available from E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.

[0032] The garment 100 illustrated in FIG. 1 is a protective garment for use by persons requiring protection from certain hazards, such as chemical or bio-logical hazardous materials. For example, the three-laminated layers of polyester fabric provides protection from penetration of certain substances from the outside of the garment 100 to the inside. The garment 100 thereby protects the user from coming into contact with undesirable substances.

[0033] The garment 100 has a right sleeve 102, a left sleeve 104, a front panel 106, a rear panel 108, a bottom opening 110, and a neck opening 112. The front panel 106 includes separable left and right portions each with respective right and left edges 117, 119. In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the invention, the right and left edges 117, 119 are substantially longitudinally-extending, vertically-oriented, and parallel to one another.

[0034] A front closure 118 extends from the neck opening 112 at the top of the garment 100 to the bottom opening 110 at the bottom of the garment 100. The front closure 118 includes a fastener 120, which may be any fastener, including but not limited to, a series of spaced buttons or snaps, hooks and loops strips and a slide fastener. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the front fastener 120 is a zipper. The zipper has two stringers that are each attached by stitched seams to respective edges 117, 119 of the front panel 106 (as best seen in FIG. 3).

[0035] A channel 121 is formed along each of the edges 117, 119 of the garment 100, where the closure 118 attaches to the edges 117, 119 of the garment 100. The channels extend substantially vertically along the garment 100. It should be recognized, however, that the channel can also be positioned diagonally or horizontally with respect to the garment 100, or in any other suitable manner as a closure 118 might be positionable. In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the invention, the channel extends the entire length of the edges 117, 119, and along the entire length of the closure 118. Of course, the closure 118 need not extend the entire length of the garment 100.

[0036] At the base of the front closure 118 and channel 121 is an opening 122 where materials entering the channel 121 behind the closure (FIG. 3) can be discharged. Additionally, a barrier or receptacle could be included to receive or temporarily store materials discharged from the opening 122. One example of a receptacle is shown, for instance, in the embodiment of FIG. 2.

[0037] The neck opening 112 has a neck closure 114, which is shown in the closed position in FIG. 1. The neck closure 114 may include a fastener (not shown), which may be any fastener, including, but not limited to, a button, a snap, hooks and loops and a slide fastener (such as a zipper). In FIG. 2 there is illustrated a perspective view of a garment 200 which is an overall, in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention. The garment 200 may have the same uses and be made out of the same fabric materials as the garment 100 shown in FIG. 1.

[0038] Accordingly, the garment 200 has a right sleeve 202, a left sleeve 204, a front panel 206, a rear panel 208 (not visible), a neck opening 212, a right pant leg 226, a left pant leg 228, and openings 230 and 232 associated with the pant legs 226 and 228, respectively. The front panel 206 includes separable left and right portions each with longitudinally-extending, vertically-oriented, substantially parallel edges 217, 219, respectively.

[0039] A front closure 218 extends from the neck opening 212 at the top of the garment 200 to a position approximately at the top of the pant legs 226, 228 at the crotch of the garment 200. The front closure 218 includes a fastener 220, which may be any fastener, including but not limited to, a series of spaced buttons or snaps, hooks and loops strips and a slide fastener. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 2, the front fastener 220 is a zipper. The zipper has two stringers that are attached by stitched seams along the edges 217, 219 of the front panel 206 (as best seen in FIG. 3).

[0040] At the base of the front closure 218 is an opening 222 where materials entering a channel 221 behind the closure (FIG. 3) can be discharged. Additionally, a receptacle 224 could be included to receive or temporarily store materials discharged from the opening 222. The types of receptacles 224 include, but are not limited to, hollow cylindrical tubes and cup pockets. The receptacle 224 could be located anywhere on the garment 200, but preferably is positioned at the exit opening 222 and is integral to the garment fabric or a separate device secured to the garment 200.

[0041] The neck opening 212 has a neck closure 214, which is shown in the open position in FIG. 2. The neck closure 214 is the same as the neck closure 114 shown in FIG. 1. The neck closure 214 includes a fastener 216 (not shown), which may be any fastener, including but not limited to, a button, a snap, hooks and loops and a zipper.

[0042] In FIG. 2 the pant legs 226 and 228 should be long enough to extend substantially below the top of the footwear worn by the individual wearing the garment 200. In the case where the garment 200 is an overall, additional closures extending approximately vertically from the openings 230, 232 on the pant legs 226, 228 may be required to facilitate donning and doffing over the footwear.

[0043] In FIG. 3 there is illustrated a cross sectional view of the closures 118, 218 and channels at one edge 117, 119 of the garments 100, 200 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, respectively, taken at line 3-3. The closures 118, 218 are designed to prevent penetration of undesirable substances through the seam seals so as to protect the individual wearing the garments 100, 200, from exposure to those substances. The channel is generally represented by reference numeral 121, 221, and is generally formed by a front panel 302 of the garment 100, 200, and a patch segment 304. The ends of the front panel 302 form the edges 117, 119 of the garment, to which the fastener 120, 220 is attached.

[0044] The term “penetration” means the physical process by which a substance passes through a material, such as via tears, openings, through holes, or other routes. As used herein, the term penetrate includes any manner in which a substance can pass through a material or membrane, such as by permeation, infiltration, saturation, adsorption, absorption, wicking, diffusion, or osmosis.

[0045] The front closure 118 (or front closure 218) includes front panel 302, the end of which is folded back on itself to form an end section 303. As noted previously, the material used to make the garments 100, 200 may be a single layer, or a composite having multiple layers.

[0046] The front closure 118 also includes a patch segment 304, which at one end has a portion folded back on itself to form an end section 305. The fastener 120 (or fastener 220) is also shown in FIG. 3 as a zipper. The fastener 120 is a standard device, and any suitable fastener could be used. The standard slide fastener 120 has a slider and a row of interlockable elements 308 attached to, or integral with, a connecting piece 310. The connecting piece 310 enables the fastener 120 to be connected to the garment 100. In the present embodiment, the connecting piece 310 can be a tape or other material. However, the invention can be used with any suitable closure 118, including buttons and other device which do not include connecting pieces 310. Thus, the use of a connecting piece 310 is merely illustrative of the invention.

[0047] The connecting piece 310 is a flexible material which may be compatible with the fabric material making up the garment 100, 200 fabric layers. The connecting piece 310 is sandwiched between the two reverse-folded end sections 303 and 305 associated with the front panel 302 and the patch segment 304, respectively. The end sections 303, 305 and the connecting piece 310 are attached together at a first connection 312. As shown in FIG. 3, the first connection 312 can be any suitable connection, such as stitches forming a sewn seam. The first connection 312 secures the connecting piece 310, and thereby the fastener 120, to the garment front panel 302. The first connection 312 also secures the patch segment 304 to the garment front panel 302.

[0048] The reverse bend of the end sections 303, 305 place the connection 312 within the channel 121, 221. In this manner, the first connection 312 does not allow any undesired substances to penetrate to the inside of the garment, and any undesired substance that reached the connection 312 would instead enter the channel 121, 221. Thus, the end sections 303, 305 and channel 121, 221 prevent penetration of undesired substances which might otherwise occur through the stitched through holes created by the connection of the connecting piece 310 to the front panel 302 of the garment 100, 200. Though the first connection 312 is shown as a single connection, it should be recognized that more than one connection can be made, such as one connection between the front panel 302 and the connecting piece 310, and another connection between the patch 304 and the connecting piece 310 and/or the front panel 302.

[0049] A second connection 314 is then used to attach the opposite end of the patch layer 304 to the inner surface of the front panel 302, such as by using stitches to form a sewn seam. The second connection 314 is then covered with a layer of seal tape 316 to prevent penetration of undesired substances which might otherwise occur through the stitched through holes created by the second connection 314. The seal tape 316 is adhered to the inner surface of the front panel layer 302 and the patch layer 304 by a layer of adhesive 317.

[0050] The front panel 302, the patch 304 and the first and second connect points 312, 314 form a hollow channel 121, 221 between the sewn seam stitches 312, 314. The channel 121, 221 provides a conduit through which materials in the channel 121, 221 are collected and can also be discharged by gravity, with or without the aid of other physical mechanisms, out of the bottom of the channel 121, 221. The materials thus discharged out of the bottom of the channel 121, 221 are thereby transported away from the individual wearing the garment 100, 200. The preferred width of the patch 304, from the end which is taped 316 to the seam 312, is about 1.7 inches.

[0051] Thus, the channel 121, 221 collects and discharges undesired substances that may penetrate the individual layers of fabric or sewn seams. For instance, the channel 121, 221 could collect and then transport away liquids, vapors and/or gases from the individual wearing the garment 100, 200. For example, some of the liquids collected in the channel 121, 221 may volatilize, depending on the quantity and type of substance present, temperature, vapor pressure inside the channel and atmospheric pressure. If the fabric used to make the front panel 302 and patch 304 are permeable, then the volatilized liquid may pass through those layers.

[0052] If the fabric is impermeable, then volatilized liquids inside the channel 121, 221 will remain inside the channel 121, 221 until it is removed by one of several mechanisms. First, the volatilized liquid could condense on the inner surfaces of the front panel 302 and patch 304 and then drain out. Or, portions of the channel could be compressed manually or by normal use of the garment 100, 200, thereby expelling a portion of the volume of vapor-laden gas within the channel 121, 221 out of the opening 122 (or opening 222, in the case of garment 200). Still yet, the opening 122, 222 can be sealed or have a valve which allows the channel 121, 221 to be drained from time to time as desired.

[0053] Alternatively, a flap 320 can be positioned in front of the channel 121, 221 and the slide fastener 120, as further shown in FIG. 3. The flap 320 can be made of the same or different fabric of the rest of the garment 100, 200. In the embodiment shown, the flap 320 is in the form of a loop that is sewn to the outside surface of the front panel layer 302 with stitches 322 and 324. The hook 325 is made by stitching the flap 320 to the front panel 302 with stitch 324, folding the loop back on itself and then stitching the stitch 322. Thus, stitches 322, 324 form two spaced apart sewn seams that are generally parallel to each other.

[0054] The stitches 322, 324 form through holes that terminate inside the channel 121, 221, so that any undesired substances penetrating the connection 324 pass into the channel 121, 221. Thus, any number of auxiliary devices, such as badges or communicators, can be connected to the front panel 302, and the garment 100, 200 would still prevent the penetration of undesired substances. In that regard, though the invention is preferably provided for a fastener 120, the channel 121, 221 can be formed at other locations on a garment that might require stitching or connection to the garment which might otherwise reduce the effectiveness of the garment, such as behind the seams of a pocket, or a designated area to provide a badge or the like. It should also be appreciated that the front panel 302 need not be reversely bent, since any undesired substance penetrating the first connection 312 will pass into the channel 121, 221. In addition, a seal tape can be placed over the patch 304 at the first connection 312, and the patch 304 need not be reversely bent. Moreover, the seal tape 316 need not be provided, and instead the end of the patch 304 can be reversely bent.

[0055] The flap 320 loop forms a second channel 326. On the outer face of the flap 320 is a fastener 328. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the preferred fastener 326 is a hooks and loops-type fastener (only the hooks are shown, the corresponding loops are attached to the opposite side of the garment front panel 106). However, other fasteners are also contemplated.

[0056] The front closure 118 (and front closure 218) works as follows. In an environment where a person wearing the garment 100 is exposed to an undesired substance, such as due to splashing, immersion, or condensation of a liquid, at the front of the garment 100, the substance would contact the front panel layer 302 and/or the flap 320 covering the front closure 118. If the flap 320 is made of a material that is permeable to that liquid, some of the liquid could permeate the material and enter the channel 326.

[0057] Some of the vapors might condense be discharged from the channel 326 or otherwise be collected or transported out. Some of the vapors could also permeate through the back side of the flap 320 to the front panel 302. Some of the vapors could then condense on the surface of the front panel 302 and permeate into the channel 121, 221, where some of the vapors could condense and be discharged out the bottom of the channel 121, 221 through the opening 122 (opening 222 in the case of garment 200) and into a receptacle 224. If the garment 100 includes a receptacle 224 in the form of a barrier or cup pocket, the materials discharged to that receptacle 224 may be emptied and handled by conventional means following any applicable environmental, health and safety standards for such handling and disposal.

[0058] If the materials making up the flap 320, the front panel layer 302 and the patch layer 304 are impermeable to liquids, then a liquid chemical striking the front closures 120, 220 would not permeate into channels 121, 221, 326. Instead, the liquid would simply move down the front surface of the material and drip onto the ground.

[0059] In addition to the above, an undesired substance that is splashed, immersed, or condensed onto the front of the garment 100 could wick through the seams and stitches 312, 314, 322 and 324. In the case of stitch 312, for example, a liquid could migrate between the fabric layers along the seam formed by the stitch 312, then wick through the stitch 312 and volatilize into the channel 121, 221 at the ends of the through hole formed by the stitch 312. In the case of stitch 314, the liquid would be blocked by the adhesive 317 and seam seal tape 316 layers. In the case of stitches 322 and 324, the liquid could wick through the through holes formed by the stitches, volatilize inside channel 121, 221 and eventually be discharged out the opening 122.

[0060] Although only preferred embodiments are specifically illustrated and described herein, it will be appreciated that many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings and within the purview of the appended claims without departing from the spirit and intended scope of the invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7386893 *Jan 27, 2005Jun 17, 2008J. Adams & Associates LimitedLaminated sewing-free concealed zipper closure for an outwear having one-piece-fabric-slit body and method of making same
US7451872 *Jul 27, 2006Nov 18, 2008Boyt Harness Company, LlcWeaponry container having a rigid outer surface
US8001618 *Sep 21, 2007Aug 23, 2011Sullivans, Inc.Ventilated double-closure garment
EP2062493A1 *Nov 20, 2007May 27, 2009Otmar SchneiderMulti-layer clothing with slide fastener
Classifications
U.S. Classification2/96
International ClassificationA44B19/32, A62B17/00, A41D13/00, A41D27/24
Cooperative ClassificationA62B17/001, A41D2300/30, A41D13/0002, A41D27/24, A44B19/32
European ClassificationA44B19/32, A62B17/00B, A41D27/24, A41D13/00B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 5, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: RICOCHET MANUFACTURING, INC., MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:HORD, WILLIAM T.;REEL/FRAME:014463/0788
Effective date: 20030815