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Publication numberUS20060035555 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/152,918
Publication dateFeb 16, 2006
Filing dateJun 15, 2005
Priority dateJun 22, 2004
Also published asEP1768838A2, EP1768838A4, US7659217, US20080242175, WO2006085947A2, WO2006085947A3
Publication number11152918, 152918, US 2006/0035555 A1, US 2006/035555 A1, US 20060035555 A1, US 20060035555A1, US 2006035555 A1, US 2006035555A1, US-A1-20060035555, US-A1-2006035555, US2006/0035555A1, US2006/035555A1, US20060035555 A1, US20060035555A1, US2006035555 A1, US2006035555A1
InventorsVasanthakumar Narayanan, Gary Arinder, Stephen Szezesuil
Original AssigneeVasanthakumar Narayanan, Gary Arinder, Stephen Szezesuil
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based military combat uniform garment
US 20060035555 A1
Abstract
The present invention is directed to the design and manufacture of a durable, fire resistant, comfortable and economical nonwoven composite fabric based garment, which meets the stringent requirements of military combat uniform clothing. The nonwoven based garment is designed to replace the traditional woven textile fabric used in the military and outdoor sporting garments today. The novel garment of the current invention is constructed using a unique nonwoven composite fabric that exhibits mechanical, physical, durability and comfort characteristics similar to or better than that of the current woven military uniform fabric. In particular, the present invention contemplates the nonwoven composite fabric used to make the garment is prepared by combining at least two separate fire resistant nonwoven webs forming the inside and outside layers of the garment. An optional rip-stop element such as a loosely knitted fabric may be sandwiched between the two nonwoven webs to improve the tear resistance of the entire garment. Hydroentangling or needle-punching processes and subsequent thermal calendering/embossing techniques combine the individual nonwoven webs of the garment before dyeing, printing and finishing with traditional textile chemicals to form a composite fabric for stitching to make the garment.
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Claims(42)
1. A durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel, the composite fabric of the garment comprising;
a fire resistant, nonwoven web, outer layer bonded to a fire resistant, nonwoven web, inner layer, the fire resistant, nonwoven web, outer and inner layers bonded together by entangling fibers from each layer intimately with fibers of other layer to obtain complete fiber bonding at an interface between the layers, thereby preventing delamination of the individual layers.
2. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 1, further including a middle rip-stop layer of loosely knitted flexible fabric sandwiched between the outer and inner layers, the rip-stop layer providing enhanced tear resistance for the entire garment without affecting other textile qualities of the garment.
3. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 1, wherein bonding the outer and inner layers together is achieved by subjecting the layers to a process selected from the group consisting of high pressure water jets and needle punching.
4. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 3, wherein bonding the outer and inner layers together is achieved by high pressure water jets operating with a minimum water pressure of 800 lbs/in2 for prewetting the nonwoven layers and a minimum water pressure of 3000 lbs/in2 for bonding the outer and inner layers by hydroentanglement thereof, using a machine with a plurality of manifolds of at least 5 jets each, the manifold jets working on both the outer and inner layers of the nonwoven composite fabric for intimate bonding of the layers.
5. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 3, wherein bonding the outer and inner layers together is achieved by needle punching using a minimum 1000 strokes per minute with a minimum of 3000 needles per linear yard of working width using a machine with double beds of needles working on both the outer and inner layers of the nonwoven composite fabric for intimate bonding of the layers.
6. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 1, wherein the outer and inner nonwoven layers of the garment are selected from the group consisting of fire resistant spunlaid webs with continuous filaments, fire resistant carded webs with staple length fibers and combinations thereof.
7. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 6, wherein the spunlaid web continuous filaments are produced by extrusion of higher melting engineering polymers selected from the group consisting of polyesters, nylons, and blends in various proportions thereof.
8. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 7, wherein the spunlaid web includes bicomponent continuous filaments comprising polyethylene terephthalate at 50-80% by weight and nylon 6/PBT/PTT at 20-50% by weight.
9. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 8, wherein the spunlaid web continuous filaments have a cross section selected from the group consisting of uniformly round, bicomponent polymer splittable configuration with segments of polyethylene terephthalate and segments of nylon 6/PBT/PTT, and core/sheath configuration with polyethylene terephthalate forming the core and nylon 6/PBT/PTT forming the sheath.
10. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 6, wherein the spunlaid web continuous filaments have a denier per filament (dpf) between about 0.5 dpf and about 5 dpf, and a basis weight of the spunlaid web is between about 0.5 oz./yd2 and about 10 oz./yd2.
11. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 6, wherein the spunlaid web continuous filaments are extruded with about 5% to about 25% by weight of melt blendable flame retardant additive concentrate incorporated therein.
12. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 6, wherein the staple length fibers of the carded web of the outer layer are selected from the group consisting of fire resistant polyesters, nylons and blends in various proportions thereof.
13. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 6, wherein the staple length fibers of the carded web of the outer layer are selected from the group consisting of fire resistant polyester (PET) fibers only, nylon 66 fibers only, and 50-80% by weight of fire resistant polyester/nylon 66 fibers with 20-50% by weight of PBT/PTT/nylon 6 fibers.
14. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 6, wherein the staple length fibers of the carded web of the inner layer are selected from the group consisting of fire resistant polyester blended with fire resistant viscose rayon and nylon 66 blended with fire resistant viscose rayon.
15. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 6, wherein the staple length fibers of the carded web of the inner layer are selected from the group consisting of 50-90% fire resistant polyester (PET) fibers blended with 10-50% fire resistant viscose rayon fibers and 50-90% fire resistant nylon 66 fibers blended with 10-50% fire resistant viscose rayon fibers.
16. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 2, wherein the middle rip-stop layer comprises a loosely knitted, non-elastic fabric, with a maximum opening area of 0.04 square inches, the loosely knitted fabric composed of yarns selected from the group consisting of polyester and nylon yarns and blends in various proportions thereof.
17. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 16, wherein the middle rip-stop layer of loosely knitted, non-elastic fabric has a basis weight from about 0.25 oz/yd2 to about 5 oz/yd2, and a thickness of less than 25 mils and a minimum burst strength of 25 psi.
18. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 1, further including bonding/embossing the outer and inner layers, using heated calendering rolls, with an embossing pattern to provide woven textile fabric like appearance to the nonwoven composite fabric, thereby binding loose surface fibers to the bulk of the fabric and enhancing the abrasion resistance thereof, and simultaneously reducing the thickness of the layers of the garment.
19. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 1, wherein the fire resistant outer nonwoven layer is printed with a camouflage design selected from the group consisting of woodland green and desert beige.
20. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 1, further including an additional finishing chemical applied to the nowoven layers of the garment, the finishing chemical selected from the group consisting of abrasion resistance material, water repellent material and fire retardant material, the additional finishing chemical maintaining the textile drape, mechanical properties and air permeability/breathability of the garment.
21. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 1, wherein the durable and fire resistant nonwoven fabric garment is assembled by a stitching method selected from the group consisting of needle and thread stitching, ultrasonic stitching and laser weld stitching.
22. A durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel, the composite fabric of the garment comprising;
a fire resistant, nonwoven web, outer layer and a fire resistant, nonwoven web, inner layer, a middle rip-stop layer of loosely knitted flexible fabric sandwiched between the outer and inner layers, the rip-stop layer providing enhanced tear resistance for the entire garment without affecting other textile qualities of the garment;
the fire resistant, nonwoven web, outer layer, middle layer and inner layer bonded together by entangling fibers from each layer intimately with fibers of other layers to obtain complete fiber bonding at an interface between the layers, thereby preventing delamination of the individual layers.
23. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 22, wherein bonding the outer, middle and inner layers together is achieved by subjecting the layers to a process selected from the group consisting of high pressure water jets and needle punching.
24. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 23, wherein bonding the outer, middle and inner layers together is achieved by high pressure water jets operating with a minimum water pressure of 800 lbs/in2 for prewetting the nonwoven layers and a minimum water pressure of 3000 lbs/in2 for bonding the outer and inner layers by hydroentanglement thereof, using a machine with a plurality of manifolds of at least 5 jets each, the manifold jets working on both the outer and inner layers of the nonwoven composite fabric for intimate bonding of the layers.
25. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 23, wherein bonding the outer, middle and inner layers together is achieved by needle punching using a minimum 1000 strokes per minute with a minimum of 3000 needles per linear yard using a machine with double beds of needles working on both the outer and inner layers of the nonwoven composite fabric for intimate bonding of the layers.
26. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 22, wherein the outer and inner nonwoven layers of the garment are selected from the group consisting of a fire resistant spunlaid web with continuous filaments, a fire resistant carded web with staple length fibers and a combination thereof.
27. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 26, wherein the spunlaid web continuous filaments are produced by extrusion of higher melting engineering polymers selected from the group consisting of polyesters, nylons, and blends in various proportions thereof.
28. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 27, wherein the spunlaid web includes bicomponent continuous filaments comprising polyethylene terephthalate at 50-80% by weight and nylon 6/PBT/PTT at 20-50% by weight.
29. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 28, wherein the spunlaid web continuous filaments have a cross section selected from the group consisting of uniformly round, bicomponent polymer splittable configuration with segments of polyethylene terephthalate and segments of nylon 6/PBT/PTT, and core/sheath configuration with polyethylene terephthalate forming the core and nylon 6/PBT/PTT forming the sheath.
30. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 26, wherein the spunlaid web continuous filaments have a denier per filament (dpf) between about 0.5 dpf and about 5 dpf, and a basis weight of the spunlaid web is between about 0.5 oz./yd2 and about 10 oz./yd2.
31. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 26, wherein the spunlaid web continuous filaments are extruded with about 5% to about 25% by weight of melt blendable flame retardant additive concentrate incorporated therein.
32. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 26, wherein the staple length fibers of the carded web of the outer layer are selected from the group consisting of fire resistant polyesters, nylons, and blends in various proportions thereof.
33. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 26, wherein the staple length fibers of the carded web of the outer layer are selected from the group consisting of fire resistant polyester (PET) fibers only, nylon 66 fibers only, and 50-80% by weight of fire resistant polyester/nylon 66 fibers with 20-50% by weight of PBT/PTT/nylon 6 fibers.
34. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 26, wherein the staple length fibers of the carded web of the inner layer are selected from the group consisting of fire resistant polyester blended with fire resistant viscose rayon and nylon 66 blended with fire resistant viscose rayon.
35. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 26, wherein the staple length fibers of the carded web of the inner are selected from the group consisting of 50-90% fire resistant polyester (PET) fibers blended with 10-50% fire resistant viscose rayon fibers and 50-90% fire resistant nylon 66 fibers blended with 10-50% fire resistant viscose rayon fibers
36. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 26, wherein the middle rip-stop layer comprises a loosely knitted, non-elastic fabric, with a maximum opening area of 0.04 square inches, the loosely knitted fabric composed of yarns selected from the group consisting of polyester and nylon yarns and blends in various proportions thereof.
37. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 36, wherein the middle rip-stop layer of loosely knitted, non-elastic fabric has a basis weight from about 0.25 oz./yd2 to about 5 oz/yd2, and a thickness of less than 25 mils and a minimum burst strength of 25 psi.
38. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 22, further including bonding/embossing the outer and inner layers, using heated calendering rolls, with an embossing pattern to provide woven textile fabric like appearance to the nonwoven composite fabric, thereby binding loose surface fibers to the bulk of the fabric and enhancing the abrasion resistance thereof, and simultaneously reducing the thickness of the layers of the garment.
39. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 22, wherein the fire resistant outer nonwoven layer is printed with a camouflage design selected from the group consisting of woodland green and desert beige.
40. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 22, further including an additional finishing chemical applied to the outer layer of the garment, the finishing chemical selected from the group consisting of abrasion resistance material, water repellent material and fire retardant material, the additional finishing chemical maintaining the textile drape, mechanical properties and air permeability/breathability of the garment.
41. The durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel of claim 22, wherein the durable and fire resistant nonwoven fabric garment is assembled by a stitching method selected from the group consisting of needle and thread stitching, ultrasonic stitching and laser weld stitching.
42. A durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment adapted for military uniforms and outdoor sporting apparel, the composite fabric of the garment comprising;
a fire resistant, nonwoven carded web, outer layer, a fire resistant, nonwoven carded web, inner layer, a middle rip-stop layer of loosely knitted flexible fabric sandwiched between the outer and inner layers, the outer layer carded web comprising staple fibers of fire resistant polyester and nylon, the inner layer carded web comprising staple fibers of fire resistant polyester, nylon and viscose rayon, the rip-stop middle layer comprising a loosely knitted, non-elastic fabric composed of yarns of polyester and nylon, the rip-stop middle layer providing enhanced tear resistance for the entire garment without affecting other textile qualities of the garment;
the fire resistant, nonwoven web, outer layer, middle layer and inner layer bonded together by entangling fibers from each layer intimately with fibers of other layers by high pressure water jets operating with a minimum water pressure of 800 lbs/in2 for prewetting the layers and a minimum water pressure of 3000 lbs/in2 for bonding the outer and inner layers by hydroentanglement thereof, using a machine with a plurality of manifolds of at least 5 jets each, the manifold jets working on both the outer and inner layers of the nonwoven composite fabric to obtain complete fiber bonding at an interface between the layers, thereby preventing delamination of the individual layers;
the fire resistant outer nonwoven layer printed with a camouflage design and bonded/embossed using heated calender rolls, with an embossing pattern providing a woven textile fabric-like appearance to the outer layer, thereby binding loose surface fibers to the bulk of the fabric and enhancing the abrasion resistance thereof.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS, IF ANY

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. $119 (e) of co-pending provisional application Ser. No. 60/581,794, filed 22 Jun. 2004. Application Ser. No. 60/581,794 is hereby incorporated by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

This invention was developed during the course of Contracts No. M67854-04-C-3006 and No. M67854-05-C-6502 for MARCOR SYSCOM of the Department of Defense.

REFERENCE TO A MICROFICHE APPENDIX, IF ANY

Not applicable.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the design and manufacture of a unique, durable and fire retardant military combat uniform garment, made from a multi-layered nonwoven composite fabric that exhibits excellent fire resistance, mechanical and physical properties, comfort, and economics. The objective is to displace more expensive and flammable traditional woven fabric based garments with functional nonwoven composite fabrics for military combat uniforms and outdoor sporting garments. Although nonwoven composite fabrics offer numerous technical advantages over the traditional woven fabrics in the area of functional apparel, as that of military uniform fabric, thus far the nonwoven based garments have been used only for disposable medical garments and lab coats because of their lack of textile-like qualities. The success in creating a durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based military garment is dependent on the appropriate selection and utilization of fibers and fiber blends, additive chemicals, web formation and multiple web bonding or consolidation techniques and finishing treatments. In addition to being lighter weight, soft, durable, highly tear resistant and fire resistant, the nonwoven composite fabric based garment of the current invention offers enhanced breathability or air permeability to provide relief from heat stress in extreme hot weather conditions, good insulation in cold weather, barrier against insects and sand particles, as well as other advantages.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Nonwoven composite fabric manufacturing is the fastest and the most economical way of converting fibers to fabrics. Before discussing the importance of nonwoven composite fabrics for use in military and functional garment applications, it is important to outline the basics of the manufacturing of conventional woven fabrics used in the military garments and outdoor sports gear today to clearly distinguish the difference between the woven and nonwoven fabrics.

Yarn Formation: The manufacturing of conventional woven textile fabric that is presently used to make the military garments is a laborious and multi-step (over 15) process with very slow production speeds. The production of conventional textile fabrics from staple fibers begins with the opening of bales of compacted fibers, synthetic or natural, combing, and then carding, whereby the fibers are individualized and aligned, the web from the doffer of the card then combined to form a thick rope called sliver. Multiple strands of sliver are then processed on drawing frames to further align the fibers, blend, improve uniformity and reduce the sliver's diameter. The drawn sliver is then fed into a roving machine to produce roving with false twist to provide some integrity. The roving is then fed into the ring or rotor spinning machine to be spun into yarn. The smaller yarn packages from the spinning machines are placed onto a winder where they are transferred into larger spools. The yarns are then wound onto a warp beam to be woven into fabrics.

Woven Fabric Formation: The woven fabric from the loom consists of warp and weft yarns. The warp yarns run in the machine direction whereas the weft yarns run in the cross direction or perpendicular to the warp yarns. The warp beams supply the warp yarns by unwinding and the weft yarns are inserted by high-speed shuttle, air or water to complete the fabric design. The warp yarns themselves are subjected to a sizing treatment with starch to provide some stiffness and abrasion resistance to take them through the process of weaving. The sizing treatment is removed by scouring and bleaching after the fabric is made on the loom before the fabric can be dyed and finished. One of the limiting factors of woven fabrics, apart from being a multi-step process, is the very slow production speed, i.e. a few feet (1-2) per minute even on the most modern looms.

On the other hand, nonwoven composite fabrics, when properly designed and processed, offer both the technical and economic advantages, especially in the area of functional apparel. From an economics standpoint, the production of nonwoven fabrics and their composites using spunlaid and carded webs is known to be more efficient than traditional textile processes, with many fewer steps (less than 5) and faster production rates with machine speeds in the hundreds of yards per minute. From a technology standpoint, multiple layers of fibers with varying functionalities, such as water repellent or absorbent and fire retardant, can be incorporated to provide unique structures that are not possible to manufacture by traditional yarn spinning and weaving techniques.

Nonwoven Composite Fabric/Garment: Nonwoven composite fabrics based garments should be suitable for use in a wide variety of military and outdoor applications where the efficiency with which the garments/fabrics can be manufactured provides a significant economic advantage for these fabrics versus traditional woven textiles. However, nonwoven fabrics have been unable to penetrate the functional and everyday wear garment markets because of the commonly known disadvantages such as poorer aesthetics, abrasion resistance, launderability, tear resistance, recovery after stretching etc. when compared with woven fabrics. Many of the nonwoven processes are intended for creating disposable articles such as pillow covers, baby diapers, sanitary napkins, medical gowns etc. None of the currently available nonwoven technologies, when used alone, offer a durable fabric for apparel or garment end use application. The challenge has been to judiciously use several known bonding methods and finishing treatments while using proper fiber blends, additive, finishing chemicals and fabric construction. Attempts have been made to develop nonwoven fabrics for everyday wear such as shirts and pants as referenced in U.S. Pat. No. 3,933,304 where a washable spunlaced nonwoven cloth containing binder chemicals has been disclosed. U.S. Pat. No. 3,988,343 discloses a nylon fabric treated with binder chemicals, U.S. Pat. No. 5,874,159 discloses a spunlaced fabric containing a net made of a polymer that melts at lower temperature than base fibers and bonds with the nonwoven layers and thus providing the necessary durability during the end use application. More recently, U.S. Patent Application No. 2003/0166369 A1 describes a durable nonwoven garment with elastic recovery where a carded web is hydroentangled and modified with very high levels of acrylic binder before being assembled into a garment. The absence of any of these materials from the prior art in the commercial marketplace is an indication that there is still a need for further improvement and enhancement that is required with respect to the processing, finishing and assembling of nonwoven based materials for apparel usage, especially for stringent military applications.

Hydroentangled/Spunlaced Nonwovens: It is an established fact that the best nonwoven bonding technology that is available on a commercial basis today to create fabrics that somewhat mimic the properties of woven fabrics, is the hydroentangled or spunlaced nonwoven fabric technology. The entanglement and the twisting of the fibers that occur in the case of spunlace fabrics is somewhat similar to the twist in the yarns of the woven fabrics and thus, spunlace fabrics provide the best drape characteristics among the commercially available nonwoven fabrics. The use of the right type of nozzles, their length, design, diameter and number of holes per jet strip coupled with the position of the jet manifolds, the number of manifolds per side of the fabric and the water jet pressure critically impact the final fabric properties especially the bonding of fibers and thus the abrasion resistance. Even the spunlace nonwoven composites exhibit a higher degree of elongation or stretch than desired and poorer recovery from deformation. In addition, spunlace fabrics without any post thermal and chemical treatment have shown much poorer launderability and abrasion resistance compared to the woven fabrics. The loose end surface fibers need to be bound to the matrix of the fabric by both thermal and chemical bonding techniques.

The art of combining various nonwoven layers with and without support scrim through hydroentangling for multiple end use application is already established in the literature. Different nonwoven layers or webs, such as spunlaid or spunbonded, carded, wet-laid and needle-punched, can be combined with and without reinforcing scrim or nonwovens as referenced in U.S. Pat. No. 5,240,764, U.S. Pat. No. 5,334,446, U.S. Pat. No. 5,587,225, U.S. Pat. No. 6,669,799, U.S. Pat. No. 6,735,832 B1, and U.S. Patent Application No. 2005/0022321 A1 to provide unique composite structures for various end use applications. U.S. Patent Application No. 2004/0016091 by Rivera et al. discloses a method of forming a two-sided, nonwoven composite intended for use in durable three-dimensional imaged surfaces that is resistant to washing. The composite of the Rivera et al. application has been designed for applications other than functional apparel as the fibrous and scrim elements incorporated in the application do not withstand the rigors of the military and outdoor end use. In addition, according to the Rivera et al. application, the fiber layers are separated by the scrim to avoid intermixing of the layers, which leads to delamination and failure of the composite based garment. The current invention addresses the need for intimate bonding, additional thermal calendaring and chemical treatment for enhancing the abrasion resistance and wash durability, as well as the use of appropriate fiber blends, including fire retardant treatment to avoid melt drips, which is highly objectionable in the end use application.

Needle-Punched Nonwovens: Needle-punching is one of the oldest methods of bonding fibrous layers to create nonwoven and nonwoven composite fabrics. All types of fibers, synthetic and natural, can be used for needle punching. As in the case of hydroentnagling, the finer and longer the fiber, the better is the ability to needle and entangle with other fibers in the nonwoven matrix. There is an abundance of literature on the use and application of needle punching manufacturing methods for various end use applications. However, because of the fuzz created by the process the needled fabrics have been used for wiping cloths and shoe liners etc. and not considered for apparel garment applications. By the proper selection of the fiber blends, process conditions and subsequent thermal bonding and finishing treatment, it is possible to create a nonwoven composite fabric useful for military and outdoor garment applications. Modern needle looms are capable of running at over 2000 strokes per minute, with double needle beds providing production rates in hundreds of yards per minute.

Spunlaid Nonwoven: Spunlaid nonwoven webs comprise continuous synthetic filaments that are formed by melt extrusion of thermoplastic polymers, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT), and nylon 6 or nylon 66, or polypropylene, through a spinneret assembly, creating a plurality of continuous thermoplastic filaments. The filaments are then drawn, cooled, and entangled into a mat before being collected to form a nonwoven web. The web at this stage is unbonded and lacks any strength or integrity. Typically, the spunlaid webs are bonded by using thermal calendaring rolls by fusing the fibers at intermediate points to create a stronger fabric. These webs are called spunbonded webs and are used in a variety of applications ranging from baby diaper top sheets to geotextiles. The cross section of the filaments and the polymer blend composition can be varied as in traditional melting spinning. Several bicomponent filament configurations are commercially available in the marketplace. The most common being a core/sheath configuration spinneret die design that provides continuous spunlaid filaments with a higher melting polymer, such as polyester or nylon 66, in the core and a lower melting polymer, such as nylon 6 or polyethylene, on the sheath. The stronger polymer in the core contributes to the mechanical properties, whereas the polymer in the sheath contributes to bonding using thermal calendering and provides tie points among filaments by the applied heat and pressure. Another configuration of importance is the segmented pie die design with 4, 8, 16, 32 and even 64 segments that are contained within the cross section of the extruded continuous filaments. The polymers chosen to be included in the pies are completely immiscible with each other and are split into very fine denier, and sometimes even nanofibers, by the action of mechanical force such as those encountered during spunlacing. For spunlaid webs, the useful fiber denier ranges from 1-3 dpf and basis weight of the fabric ranges from 0.5 oz/yd2 to 6 oz/yd2. One such spunlaid and hydroentangled nonwoven made from splittable bicomponent spunlaid webs, known as “EVOLON”, is commercially available from Freudenberg Nonwovens. Another prior art as referenced in U.S. Pat. No. 6,692,541 B2 discloses the method of making nonwoven fabric comprising splittable staple fibers. The main difference between this described material and the EVOLON product is that the latter is made from continuous spunlaid nonwoven filaments as opposed to splittable staple fibers as in the case of U.S. Pat. No. 6,692,541. Although attempts have been made to the use of nonwoven fabrics, prepared by these technologies, to create textile apparel, successful commercialization of these fabrics to displace the traditional woven and knitted fabrics has not been realized.

Carded Nonwoven: The carded nonwoven webs contain staple or cut fibers. Unlike the filaments of spunlaid nonwovens, it is possible to use both synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon or polypropylene, natural fibers, such as cotton, and regenerated fibers, such as rayon and cellulose acetate. For carded webs, the useful fiber denier ranges from 1-6 dpf and the fiber length ranges from 0.5-3 inches. Basis weight of the fabric ranges from 0.5 oz/yd2 to 6 oz/yd2. The fabric properties are determined by the optimization of fiber denier, length and construction. The compacted fibers from the bales are fed into various pre-opening and blending stations before being fed to the licker-in roll of the carding machine. The difference in surface velocity between the main cylinder and the numerous worker rolls or flat circulating wire strip located above the main cylinder is the reason for the thorough opening, individualization and parallel alignment of fiber web. The web can be cross-laid at a 45-degree angle using multiple layers to provide balanced properties in the machine and cross direction. As in the case of spunlaid web, the web integrity is possible only by bonding employing thermal calendering, needle punching or spunlacing techniques. One such nonwoven fabric commercially available from PGI Nonwovens that is used in various applications is called “MIRATEC” fabrics. As in the case of EVOLON fabrics, MIRATEC has been unable to penetrate the textile apparel markets either because of its poorer aesthetics, technical design or economics. Thus far, the products have been contemplated for use in non-durable garments or for industrial applications.

Military Uniforms and Outdoors Garments: The use of nonwovens in the military sector has been mostly for special and niche applications such as disposable apparel and shoe interlinings. Military garments made using nonwoven composites have the potential to offer relief from heat stress and better insulation from extreme weather conditions combined with good economics. However, the military and outdoor sporting applications require functional garments with specific performance attributes. The functional properties of current woven uniforms are fixed by the properties of the individual yarns that lie in a two-dimensional plane. The three-dimensional, nonwoven, composite, fabric offers numerous possibilities of utilizing various fibers and fiber blends and additive chemical technology to impart specific functional characteristics for the intended use.

Dyeing and Printing: The polyester based nonwovens are traditionally dyed using disperse dyes where heat is applied to open the fiber structure for mechanical incorporation of dye molecules. In the case of nylon-based nonwovens, the fabrics can be dyed using acid or basic dye molecules. Viscose rayon fibers can be dyed using direct or sulfur dyes. Deep shade is not a requirement for the military and outdoor garment fabrics; however, deep dyeing is possible with nylon-based garments.

Finishing Treatments: The finishing treatments consist of imparting abrasion resistance, wash durability, water repellency and fire resistance based on the needs of the end use application. The finishing treatments can be carried out using commonly known chemicals such as silicone, acrylate, melamine, urethane, etc. using spraying, padding and curing or knife coating techniques commonly known in the industry. Spraying or padding intumescent fire retardant finishing chemicals can provide additional improvements in the fire resistance characteristics. Whatever the finishing treatment may be, care must be taken to avoid stiffening the fabric and reducing breathability and physical properties.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to the design and manufacture of a durable and fire resistant nonwoven based garment that meets the stringent performance requirements of military combat uniform clothing and outdoor sporting garments. In particular, the present invention contemplates that a durable garment is formed from a fire resistant, nonwoven composite fabric that consists of at least two fire resistant nonwoven fibrous webs that form the inside and outside layers of the garment with an optional rip-stop layer made from a loosely knitted fabric, sandwiched between the individual nonwoven webs/layers. All of the assembled layers are subjected to intimate mechanical bonding by hydroentanglement process using fluid energy or needle punching process to avoid delamination of the individual layers. In addition, the nonwoven composite fabric is subjected to thermal calendering/embossing and adhesive treatments to further enhance the durability during the end use application, especially in laundering. By formation of a nonwoven composite in this fashion, a durable and fire resistant garment is tailored for military and outdoor use.

In accordance with the present invention, a method of making a nonwoven based military and outdoor sporting garment includes the steps of first creating a nonwoven composite fabric that consists of an outside printable and abrasion and fire resistant nonwoven web/layer and an inside soft, moisture or sweat absorbent, pill and fire resistant nonwoven web/layer. The outside and inside fire resistant nonwoven webs/layers are initially combined by hydroentanglement with high pressure water jets or needle punching, with or without a rip-stop made of a loosely knitted fabric layer, to form the nonwoven composite fabric that makes the garment. While use of carded webs is preferred to make the layers of the garment, the outside and/or inside nonwoven webs may comprise spunlaid webs.

In a particularly preferred embodiment, the outside and inside layers of the garment contain carded webs with polyester, nylon and viscose rayon staple fibers, containing durable/wash resistant fire retardant chemicals. These webs are cross-lapped for obtaining balanced properties in the finished fabric. A middle rip-stop layer is sandwiched between the carded webs and bonding is by hydroentangling or needle-punching process. The resulting nonwoven composite fabric is found to provide a garment with excellent abrasion resistance.

In another embodiment, the outside and inside layers of the garment contain fire resistant spunlaid webs with bicomponent splittable filaments that are bonded with or without the middle-layer rip-stop through the hydroentangling process. The filaments are split to 16 segments of PET and nylon 6 or PBT or PTT microfilaments upon impinging with high pressure water jets during hydroentangling, thus providing the cover and the physical properties of the garment. A fire retardant melt additive is incorporated in one or both the polymers during the extrusion of the continuous filaments into spunlaid web.

In another embodiment, the outside and inside layers of the garment contain fire resistant spunlaid webs made of core/sheath type bicomponent filaments. The webs are bonded with or without the middle layer rip-stop through hydroentangling or needle punching process. The sheath is made of lower melting nylon 6 or PBT or PTT polymer and the core is made of higher melting PET polymer. A fire retardant melt additive is incorporated in either PET or nylon 6 or both.

In yet another embodiment, the outside, nonwoven layer of the garment is made of fire resistant spunlaid web with continuous, bicomponent splittable or bicomponent core/sheath filaments, while the inside layer contains a fire resistant carded web made of staple fibers. These webs are either hydroentangled or needle-punched with or without the middle layer rip-stop to form the required nonwoven composite fabric.

The staple fibers and the continuous filaments used for making the individual nonwoven layers of the present invention and the yarns used in the rip-stop knitted fabric are necessarily made from higher melting polymers, such as polyesters and nylons. The fibers have optimal fineness and length for hydroentangling.

The most preferred method to make the nonwoven composite of the present invention is to intimately bond the individual unbonded, nonwovens, via the hydroentangling process, where a fluid pressure of at least 3000 PSI is employed. To achieve the desired durability, it is contemplated that at least 5 jet strips or manifolds are placed on each side of the composite with a 100-mesh support screen to obtain the desired textile-like finish. Optionally, the webs may be re-passed through the jet strips with the sides reversed to obtain even further enhanced surface abrasion resistance.

Alternatively, the individual unbonded nonwovens are intimately bonded by subjecting the mentioned layers to the action of a needle loom with double beds of needles acting on the outer and inner layers of the garment. A minimum stroke of 1000 is employed with a minimum needle density of 3000 needles per liner yard of working width to achieve to achieve the required bonding to create the nonwoven composite fabric.

All of the nonwoven composite fabrics from the above mentioned methods are additionally subjected to the heat and pressure of thermal calendering/embossing rollers to bind most of all additional loose fiber on the surface into the body of the composite fabric. Optionally, numerous woven pattern designs can be contemplated for the embossing roll to achieve the desired aesthetic appearance on the surface of the nonwoven composite fabric without significantly altering the feel, physical and mechanical properties.

The nonwoven fabric composite of the garment is dyed and printed with camouflage patterns using traditional textile dyes such as disperse, acid, basic dyes, pigments, etc. using traditional textile dyeing and printing equipment.

All of the dyed and printed nonwoven composite fabrics are subjected to finishing treatments with acrylate, melamine and urethane binders to further enhance the abrasion resistance and wash durability. In addition, optional finishing treatment to enhance water repellency, absorbency and fire retardancy is accomplished using traditionally known textile chemicals such as silicones, phosphate ester, boric acid, etc., employing standard textile finishing equipment.

Apart from being able to process using traditional textile equipment as referenced above, the nonwoven composite fabrics are assembled into suitable military and outdoor sporting gear using commonly know stitching techniques using sewing threads and/or non-traditional seamless techniques as employed in laser and ultrasonic welding processes.

The above summary of the present invention is not intended to describe each illustrated embodiment or every implementation of the present invention. The detailed descriptions that follow more particularly exemplify these embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of the durable and fire resistant military garment made from nonwoven composite fabric.

FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view of one embodiment of the nonwoven layers of the durable and fire resistant military garment.

FIG. 3A is a magnified cross sectional view of bicomponet, splittable, continuous filament, fire retardant, spunlaid web.

FIG. 3B is a magnified cross sectional view of bicomponet, core/sheath, continuous filament, fire retardant, spunlaid web.

FIG. 4 is a flow diagram of the manufacturing set-up for creating the durable and fire retardant nonwoven composite fabric for the military garment.

FIG. 5 is a comparison of the fire resistance of the currently used, woven military uniform fabric with the nonwoven, composite fabric of the present invention.

FIG. 6A is a comparison of the comport properties of the currently used, woven military uniform fabric with the nonwoven, composite fabric of the present invention.

FIG. 6B is a comparison of the physical and mechanical properties of the currently used, woven military uniform fabric with the nonwoven, composite fabric of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

In the following detailed description of the invention, specific methods employed to create a unique and novel garment, based on nonwoven composite fabric, are elucidated to enable a full and thorough understanding of the current invention. It should however be recognized, that it is not intended in the following text to limit the invention only to the particular methods described. The specific terms employed to describe the uniqueness of the invention are merely used in the descriptive sense for the purpose of illustration and not for the purpose of limitation. It will be apparent that the invention is susceptible to numerous variations and changes within the spirit of the teachings herein.

Garment Construction: The present invention is directed to the design and manufacture of a durable, fire resistant, comfortable and economical garment, as shown in FIG. 1, which is based on a nonwoven composite fabric suitable for use in military combat uniform clothing and outdoor sports gear. The nonwoven composite fabric used to make the military combat or outdoor sporting garment consists of a fire resistant outer nonwoven web/layer and a fire resistant inner nonwoven web/layer with an optional rip-stop layer, made from a loosely knitted fabric, sandwiched between the two said nonwoven layers, as shown in FIG. 2. The outside fire resistant nonwoven layer of the garment is readily printable with traditional inks and pigments employed in the textile industry and highly abrasion resistant to withstand the rigors of battlefield conditions. Although there are numerous patent references available on the use of nonwoven layers with and without the use of supporting scrim in the literature, most of them have been applied for use in enhancing the woven or knitted fabric properties or for applications other than functional garments, such as a military combat uniform. The apparel use for these types of materials has been considered only for fusible interlinings of woven fabrics or for bottom weights and cuffs of garments. This has been due to the inherent limitations in creating acceptable nonwoven fabric based garments.

Rip-Stop Element: The art of incorporating a reinforcing scrim has been illustrated and widely published in the literature. The tear resistance of durable nonwoven composite fabric for the garments, especially for the military applications, can be significantly improved by incorporation of a rip-stop or loosely knit fabric with very good textile drape characteristics when inserted as the middle layer of the composite fabric. For the current invention, the middle layer knit material is preferably made of higher melting engineering polymers such as polyester and nylon.

Web Formation—Carded and Spunlaid: The manufacture of the current durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric based garment, comprises the steps of providing an outer layer of the garment made of carded nonwoven web containing higher melting PET or PBT based fire resistant polyester staple fibers (PET fibers Type 271 from Invista, S.C., USA or PBT or PTT fibers from Palmetto Synthetics, SC, USA) or nylon staple fibers (nylon 6 and 66 fibers from Palmetto Synthetics, SC, USA) or bicomponent fibers (from Fiber Innovation Technology, Inc., TN, USA) either alone or in blends with other staple fibers, or spunlaid nonwoven web containing fire resistant continuous filaments, made using polyester (polyethylene terephthalate, 50-80% grade F61 HC PET resin from Eastman Chemicals, TN, USA, 10-30% PBT resin from Ticona, N.J., USA+20-10% NST 10470 PET FR concentrate from Nanosyntex, Inc., TN, USA) and/or nylon (nylon 6, BASF grade BS700 or nylon 66). An inner layer is made of carded or spunlaid web containing either continuous filaments of higher melting fire resistant polyester and/or nylon or a carded web containing fire resistant polyester and/or nylon or bicomponent staple fibers in blends with fire resistant viscose rayon fibers (Lenzing Lyocell FR fibers). Suitable fiber lengths for staple fibers range from 0.5-5 inches, and more specifically, from 1-3 inches and fineness for staple fibers and continuous filaments range from 0.5-5 denier per filament (dpf), and more specifically, 1-3 dpf. The cross section for continuous filaments is uniform round with bicomponent polymer splittable segmented pie or bicomponent core and sheath configuration, as shown in FIG. 3. In the case of bicomponent filaments and staple fibers, PET is the main component at 50-80% by weight and nylon 6 or PBT or PTT is the minor component at 20-50% by weight. More specifically, in the case of the core/sheath configuration, PET forms the core at 70-80% by weight and lower melting nylon 6 or PBT or PTT forms the sheath at 20-30% by weight. The basis weight for individual nonwoven webs ranges from 0.5-10 oz/yd2, ard more specifically from 1.5-3 oz/yd2. The fibers are treated with fire retardant chemicals to avoid melt dripping of the synthetic resins when the garment is exposed to fire situations. For continuous filament spunlaid nonwovens, a suitable PET Halogen based FR concentrate, such as NST 10470 can be used. This chemical may be used anywhere from 10-20% within all of the fiber or only in the core or sheath of the bicomponent fiber to impart flame retardancy and is available from Nanosyntex, Inc., Morristown, Tenn., USA.

The continuous filament spunlaid web can be made using a commercially available spunbond machine with different bicomponent die configurations. A miniature machine of this type is available from Hills Inc., W. Melbourne, Fla., USA. The carded webs are obtained using commercial cotton system cards with flat tops, such as the one in Hollingsworth on Wheels, Inc., Greenville, SC, USA. An optional rip-stop layer made of a loosely knitted fabric containing higher melting polymers, such as polyester and nylon, may be positioned in between the outside and inside layer of the garment for enhancing the tear resistance of the entire garment. A loosely knitted fabric with the trade name PH 49 is commercially available from Apex Mills, Inwood, N.Y. The individual layers by themselves are weak, and do not qualify for use in the intended application. However, the composite fabric exhibits a synergistic improvement in physical and mechanical properties that provide distinct advantages in the end use application.

Bonding-Spunlace: The individual nonwoven layers are bonded to each other by a combination of bonding techniques to create the garment of FIG. 1. With reference to FIG. 4, therein is illustrated a manufacturing flow chart for producing the durable and fire resistant nonwoven composite fabric to assemble the garment. Two fire resistant carded webs or two spun-laid webs or their suitable combinations are placed on a conveyor belt with or without the optional rip-stop knitted fabric layer and subjected to initial bonding using high pressure water jets as in the hydroentangling or spunlacing process. The fibers from both the layers are intimately bonded at the interface creating a soft, textile-like yet very strong nonwoven composite. The fabric layers are subjected to a pre-wetting step using a water jet pressure of about 800 PSI and numerous hydroentangling jet manifolds at a minimum pressure of 3000 PSI. The hydroentangling or spunlacing machine has numerous water jet manifolds similar to that of commercial equipment from Fleissner GmBH, called a Fleissner Aquajet. It is sufficient, however, to position five water jet manifolds on each side of the composite to achieve complete bonding. Optionally, the composite fabric may be re-passed reversing the side of the fabric to smoothen the other side of the fabric as that comes in contact with the wire mesh cloth attached to the drums of the hydroentangling machine. Numerous literature is available on the process of hydroentangling machine. The fabric at this stage possesses equivalent abrasion resistance to that of a woven fabric, but still lacks wash durability, as the fibers have the tendency to rearrange themselves during the laundering process.

Bonding—Needle Punching: Alternatively, the individual unbonded fire resistant nonwoven layers with the optional rip-stop knitted fabric may be subjected to the action of barbed needles, termed the Needle-Punching process. This is one of the oldest techniques used in the making of nonwoven and composite structures. A Universal needle loom commercially available from DILO, Inc., Charlotte, N.C., can be used for the production of the textile-like flexible nonwoven composites. Modern high speed needle punching machines are capable of production rates in several hundred yards per minute with a double bed of needle boards operating at over 1500 strokes per minute containing over 5000 needles per yard. The inherent problem with the needle-punching process is the fuzz and potential damage to fiber leading to poorer abrasion and wash resistance properties.

Thermal Calendering: Thermal bonding/embossing is one of the critical steps in creating a nonwoven composite fabric for the military garments. The objective is not only to bind the unbonded or loose surface fibers to the body or matrix of the nonwoven composite fabric, but also to emboss a woven pattern design such as a plain, twill or linen onto the nonwoven fabric to simulate the aesthetic appeal of a woven fabric. The temperature, pressure at the calender nip and the machine speed need to be carefully controlled so that the embossing/bonding can be carried out without affecting the tear resistance, air permeability and drape of the nonwoven composite fabric.

Bonding/Embossing: A thermal calendering unit, as that of a commercial calendering and embossing unit from BF Perkins, may be used to impart a woven fabric like design, such as a twill or linen pattern, on the outside and/or inside layer of the garment by partially fusing the lower melting component or fibers. In addition, the pressure and heat employed during this process tends to bind the loose surface fibers back into the matrix or the body of the composite. In addition, the intermediate bond points provide stabilization against large scale fiber movement and thus avoiding any permanent deformation of the hydroentangled nonwoven composite. Pressure in excess of 500 PLI and temperature over 350 deg. F. can be utilized to partially fuse the fibers, to create anchor points, without significantly affecting the original drape, air permeability, or mechanical properties of the nonwoven composite fabric.

Dyeing and Printing: The bonded nonwoven composite fabric can be dyed and printed using traditional textile dyes and pigments made from disperse, acid and basic types, using standard textile equipment such as jet dyeing and screen printing machines. Thus far, dyeing and printing of nonwovens has been a challenge in the industry, but it is possible to obtain a uniform camouflage pattern as shown in FIG. 1 with the proper selection of fiber blends and fabric construction. The fabrics can then be printed with the camouflage design such as the new computer-generated pixel design printed on the US Marine Corps combat utility uniform or other camouflage designs for both woodland (green color) and desert (beige) areas. The colorfastness of the print pattern can be established along with wash durability of the current nonwovens. Since the predominant fiber in the nonwoven composite fabric is polyester, disperse dyeing and printing can be carried out to obtain the required camouflage design. In conjunction with disperse dyes, sulfate dyes/pigments can be used to dye/print the small portion of viscose rayon and acid or basic dyes/pigments can be used for nylon fibers.

Finishing Treatment: The printed nonwovens are treated with standard textile finishing additives/chemicals utilizing any number of techniques including but not limited to dip, pad, spray or knife coating methods. Some of these finishing chemicals may be added in the dye bath based on the compatibility of the different chemicals used for dyeing. The main focus in the finishing stage is to add the appropriate fiber binder chemical to further enhance the wash durability and abrasion resistance without significantly affecting the textile drape, air permeability or mechanical properties. The acrylic and melamine binder chemicals for cross-linking the synthetic fibers of nonwovens are available under the trade name Permax and Aerotex from Noveon, Charlotte, N.C., USA. Typical use of these chemicals is about 3% by weight of the nonwoven composite fabric. The polyester fibers by themselves are water repellent or hydrophobic. Optionally, however, the water repellency can be further enhanced by treating the outer layer surface with a water repellent silicone formulation commercially know as Dow Corning 75 SF. Typical use of 75 SF is used at about 1% by weight in conjunction with 0.2% of a catalyst formulation Dow Corning SYL-OFF 1171A. An additional fire retardant formulation can be applied to the entire fabric by spraying or dip coating techniques that render excellent fire resistant characteristics to the entire fabric, as illustrated in FIG. 5. It can be readily seen from FIG. 5 that the standard military garment readily burns on application of a fire source within a few seconds, as opposed to the nonwoven composite fabric treated with the fire retardant chemical. Even a small addition (less than 5% by weight) is effective in rendering the fabric fire retardant without causing any melt drip, which is critical for the military garment application. The fire retardant formulation based on boric acid is available from Universal Fire Shield, Denver, Colo., USA. All of these formulations can be applied in single or multiple steps with coatings that are applied sequentially on top of each other.

Functional Properties of the Garment Fabric: The superior comfort and physical properties of the nonwoven composite fabric of the present military garment, compared to the conventional woven fabric used in the military garment today, are illustrated in FIGS. 6A and 6B. It is very evident that stronger garments can be made with lighter weight, more breathable and greater tear resistant using nonwoven composite fabric.

The nonwoven composite fabric used to make the garment of the present invention does not cause melt drip and self-extinguish when subjected to fire situations. The nonwoven composite fabric has a normalized grab tensile strength of at least 80 lbs in the machine and cross direction when tested per ASTM D5034, and tear strength of at least 5 lbs in the machine and cross direction when tested per ASTM D5734. The nonwoven composite fabric exhibits an air permeability value of at least 20 cubic foot per minute when tested per ASTM D737, a basis weight of less than 10 oz/yd2 when tested per ASTM D3776 and a thickness of less than 50 mils when tested per ASTM D5729. The nonwoven composite fabric exhibits an equivalent abrasion resistance value as that of a woven military uniform fabric when tested on a Taber Machine according to ASTM D3884. In addition, the garment of the present invention is launderable and wrinkle-resistant.

Garment Assembly: The garment for military and outdoor sporting gear is assembled employing conventional sewing machines using standard nylon threads, as is readily apparent in FIG. 1. Unlike the woven fabrics, there is no raveling and wastage of fabrics/yarns when stitching the garment of the present invention. In addition, because of higher synthetic fiber content, it is possible to assemble the military uniform using laser and ultrasonic bonding methods to provide leak-proof seams. This is of importance for manufacturing protective garments used against chemical and biological agents for Homeland Security applications.

Although specific emphasis has been made on the design and manufacture of military combat uniform and outdoor sporting garments using the nonwoven composite fabric of the present invention, other potential applications for fabrics of similar construction could be in the area of durable, wash and fire resistant medical garments, workmen uniforms, children clothing, other apparel, covers, tentage, awning, equipage items, etc.

From the foregoing, it will be observed that numerous modifications and variations can be affected without departing from the true spirit and scope of the novel concept of the present invention. It is to be understood that no limitation with respect to the specific embodiments illustrated herein is intended or should be inferred. The disclosure is intended to cover, by the appended claims, all such modifications as fall within the scope of the claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7694779 *Aug 24, 2004Apr 13, 2010Takayasu Co., Ltd.Sound absorbing material
US8148279 *Apr 9, 2009Apr 3, 2012North Carolina State UniversityStaple fiber durable nonwoven fabrics
US8490259 *Aug 7, 2006Jul 23, 2013Polymer Group, Inc.synergistic relationship exhibited between the reinforcing layer, fire retardant fiber, and fire retardant chemistry results in a hydroentangled fabric that is highly durable, has suitable tensile and tear strength, meets State of California Department of Consumer Affairs requirements, for bedding
US20110275267 *Oct 16, 2009Nov 10, 2011Norafin Industries (Germany) GmbhArc flash protection, multiple-use nonwoven fabric structure
US20120048916 *Jul 1, 2008Mar 1, 2012Uni-Charm CorporationIndividual package of absorbent article, wrapping sheet, and method of manufacturing wrapping sheet
CN100560835CFeb 28, 2007Nov 18, 2009晋江市兴泰无纺制品有限公司Spunlaced fine decitex non-woven fabric and its production process
WO2008053449A2 *Nov 1, 2007May 8, 2008Procter & GambleMulti-layer nonwoven having a printed layer and products made therefrom
WO2014107750A1 *Dec 20, 2013Jul 17, 2014Lenzing AgFlame resistant fabric for protective clothing and upholstery applications and its use
Classifications
U.S. Classification442/387, 428/920, 442/388, 442/408, 442/415, 442/414, 428/921, 442/319, 442/361, 442/402
International ClassificationD04H1/46, B32B5/26, D04H3/10, B32B5/06, D04H1/00
Cooperative ClassificationD04H5/06, B32B5/022, B32B2307/3065, Y10S428/92, B32B2307/728, B32B2307/4023, B32B2307/75, D04H5/02, B32B2307/54, B32B2459/00, D04H13/002, B32B2571/00, B32B2307/724, B32B2307/7265, B32B2262/04, B32B2250/03, Y10S428/921, B32B2262/14, B32B5/06, B32B5/08, A41D31/0027, B32B5/26, B32B2250/20, B32B2262/0284, D04H1/48, B32B2262/0261, D04H13/007, D04H13/005, B32B2250/40, B32B2307/554, B32B2262/12, B32B5/026, B32B2437/00
European ClassificationB32B5/02A, B32B5/08, B32B5/26, B32B5/02C, A41D31/00C4L, D04H13/00B5, D04H13/00B3B, D04H13/00B2, D04H5/06, D04H5/02, B32B5/06, D04H1/48