CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S. C. 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/573,878 filed May 24, 2004, and U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/544,833 filed Feb. 13, 2004
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The staining of underwear by bodily fluids is a common problem, especially among women during their menstrual cycles. While disposable panty liners offer some protection, they are frequently hot and sticky, making them irritating and uncomfortable to wear. They also become bunchy and obvious under tight fitting clothes. Despite the widespread availability of panty liners, staining remains a primary reason why underwear is prematurely discarded. The risk of staining through an outer garment creates considerable anxiety and, when it occurs, causes extreme embarrassment, and may necessitate discarding the stained garment as well. Panties with traditional cotton gussets which stain permanently, do not wick and do not provide protection from strike-through. To solve this problem, women want and need underwear that is comfortable to wear, attractive, and washable made of materials designed to resist or conceal staining—in other words, that looks, feels and functions like their other underwear of choice—while providing effective, non-obvious protection against staining, even under close fitting and light colored outerwear.
The present invention resides in a gusset within a garment that substantially reduces the risk and substantially protects against stains caused by the leaking of body fluids. In one embodiment, the gusset fits at the crotch between the legs of a human adult, adolescent, or child, extending from front to back in varying lengths and widths, which may form the permanent crotch portion of an undergarment, such as panties, or of outerwear, such as sports or swim wear. In another embodiment, the gusset comprises multiple thin, soft and flexible composite structures, each of different properties, constructed to so as to wick, and retain small to moderate amounts of body fluid and to substantially resist permanent staining of the internal composite structures and leakage to the backing material of gusset, while allowing air and vapor to substantially pass through the gusset.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In yet a further embodiment, the composite structures of the gusset comprise separate materials, each with a specific and complimentary function in relation to each other. For example, the gusset may be first joined inward (towards the fluid source) of the outer seam so as to create a fluid barrier that isolates fluids within the wicking composite structure and as an addition to the stain reduction provided by the gusset system of the present invention, further substantially prevent leaking and staining to the outer seam of the gusset. In one example, the fluid barrier is soft, flexible, and capable of being used in combination with a separate elastic and stitched outer seam, allowing it to be incorporated into functional, attractive, and fashionable garments.
FIG. 1 is an illustration of one embodiment of the present invention showing a side view of a garment with the gusset.
FIG. 2 is an illustration of one embodiment of the present invention showing a side view of another garment with the gusset.
FIG. 3 is an illustration of one embodiment of the present invention showing a top view of the gusset.
FIGS. 4 through 10 are illustrations showing a cross-section view of various embodiments of the present invention exemplifying the composite structure.
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION
Among those benefits and improvements that have been disclosed, other objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying figures. The figures constitute a part of this specification and include illustrative embodiments of the present invention and illustrate various objects and features thereof.
Detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely illustrative of the invention that may be embodied in various forms. In addition, each of the examples given in connection with the various embodiments of the invention are intended to be illustrative, and not restrictive. Further, the figures are not necessarily to scale, some features may be exaggerated to show details of particular components. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention.
In one embodiment, a gusset 14 within a garment that substantially protects from and substantially reduces staining and leaking of body fluids is now described that fits at the crotch of a human within an undergarment 1 or outergarment 2. In one example, the gusset 14 comprises multiple thin, soft, flexible and elastic composite structures, each of which can be discrete layers or laminates. In a specific example, the composite structures of gusset 14 does not comprise a substantial percentage of cotton. In one embodiment, the gusset 14 comprises between one and six composite structures, and more particularly between one and four composite structures. In another embodiment, the gusset comprises between one and five composite structures, and more particularly between one and three composite structures.
In a further embodiment, individual composite structures comprise:
- 14A Interface composite structure, “interface”
- 14B Wicking composite structure, “wicking material”
- 14C Waterproof Breathable Material composite structure, “WPBM”
- 14D Backing composite structure, “backing material”
An example of the interface composite structure (herein referred to as “interface 14A”) may comprise a porous and/or permanently apertured material which may substantially inhibit fluid retention. For example, the material may have a permanently formed and open, net-like construction and does not substantially contract nor substantially swell when exposed to moisture. In another example, the material may comprise a thermoplastic film, nylon, polyester or a wicking, mesh or netting (such as, for example, manufactured by Dogi, product # 20720 comprising 100-600 apertures per square inch). The interface 14A is not a cotton knit nor cotton knit interlock which absorbs moisture, swells upon contact with moisture, and does not wick. In a further embodiment, a single layer fabric is used for interface 14A, as opposed to an interlock knit, in which two fabrics are joined together.
An example of the wicking composite structure, (herein referred to as the “wicking material 14B”) may comprise a material which transports body fluids from the inner surface through capillary action and/or geometric action carrying fluid to its outer surface, dispersing fluid throughout the fabric for evaporation. For example, fluid directed toward the outer surface of this wicking material allows the inner surface to remain substantially dry—in this way the fluid is wicked from the inner surface to the outer surface. Suitable wicking materials include multi-layered or complex materials. An example of wicking material 14B is a two ply fabric in which one side is 100% polyester and the other side is comprised of a polyester-cotton blend, or other fabric used for this purpose. One example of such fabric, manufactured by Optimer™, is DriRelease™ product # DR100, comprises 91% Polyester and 9% Cotton, and has a water release rate between 0.1%-0.8% per minute.
An example of the waterproof breathable material (herein referred to as the “WPBM 14C”) comprises an air and gas permeable, hydrophobic, oleophobic, microporous, polytetrafluoroethylene material, in which a protective coating over the membrane comprises a fluoropolymer, which coats the surfaces of the pores without completely blocking the pores, permitting air but not water. In a further example, the WPBM 14C may comprise an air and gas permeable, hydrophobic, microporous, polytetraflouroethylene membrane that is not treated with a protective coating, dismissing oleophobic characteristics. One such example, manufactured by BHA Technologies, is eVENT™ style # 801 ranging in thickness from 0.1 to 1 mil, and MVTR ranging from 6,000-50,000 g/m2/24 hours per JIS L 1099 test method.
Another example of the WPBM 14C comprises a material with billions of micro pores per square inch. Moisture vapor permeates this material, but water and air does not. A protective polyurethane coating on the membrane does not allow the flow of air, such as oxygen; it transports water by diffusion, ie: through an absorption evaporation mechanism. One such example, manufactured by W. L. Gore, is GoreTex™, ranging in thickness from 0.1 to 1 mil, and MVTR ranging from 6,000-50,000 g/m2/24 hours per JIS L 1099 test method.
Yet another example of the WPBM 14C comprises a monolithic, non-porous hydrophilic stretch material, which is impervious to water but permits moisture vapor transmission One such example, manufactured by Akzo Nobel, is Sympatex™, ranging in thickness from 0.1 mil to 1.0 mil, and MTVR ranging from 6,000-50,000 g/m2/24 hours per JIS L 1099 test method.
In a further example, the WPBM 14C comprises a microporous hydrophilic material that is impervious to water but permits moisture vapor transmission. One such example, manufactured by Toray™, is Entrant™, ranging in thickness from 0.1 mil to 1 mil, MTVR ranging from 6,000-50,000 g/m2/24 hours per JIS L 1099 test method.
One example of the backing composite structure (herein referred to as the “backing material 14D”) comprises a thin, elastic, liquid and air permeable material. Backing material 14D may comprise the gusset as well as the body of the garment. One example is a nylon lycra circular knit from Centuritex, product # CK-16071, 90% Nylon, 10% Spandex, 160 gm/yd.
In one embodiment, gusset 14 comprises at least four composite structures as shown in FIG. 4. Interface 14A, located closest to the skin substantially inhibits fluid retention and channels the fluid directly to a secondary fluid wicking material 14B. The wicking material 14B receives fluid from the interface 14A and disperses fluid throughout the wicking material 14B. The third composite structure, WPBM 14C, a material comprising a film or membrane which may further comprise a singular layer or a laminate, which is air and/or gas permeable and liquid impermeable retains fluid from the wicking material and substantially prevents fluid from reaching the outer surface of garments, both those into which the gusset is incorporated, and those worn over the gusset. The fourth composite structure of the gusset, air and liquid permeable backing material 14D, functions as a backing for the WPBM 14C, so that the WPBM 14C is not visible while the garment is worn as shown in FIG. 5. In one example, backing material 14D comprises the same or similar liquid and air permeable material used in the body of the garment 1 and 2 and protects the integrity and ensures proper function of the WPBM 14C.
As shown in FIG. 5, backing material 14D supports WPBM 14C with no attachment other than traditional stitching at the outer seam 19. In a further example, as shown in FIG. 6, WPBM 14C, as a discrete layer or laminate, may be attached to backing material 14D other than by means of traditional stitching, but functions separately from the backing material 14D.
In a further embodiment, backing material 14D serves to create overall design continuity of garment.
In a further embodiment, additional composite structures may be added to the gusset system to enhance and/or support the function of each of the composite structures. For example, a fifth and sixth composite structure may be added.
In another embodiment, gusset 14 comprises three composite structures, excluding interface 14A, as shown in FIG. 5. In this embodiment, the skin-side composite structure is the wicking material 14B. The second composite structure comprises the WPBM 14C and the third composite structure comprises the liquid permeable backing material 14D.
In a further embodiment, additional composite structures may be added to the gusset system to enhance and/or support the function of each of the composite structures. For example, a fourth and fifth composite structure may be added.
In yet another embodiment, a further component of the gusset 14 is a fluid barrier 3, which can be applied to and/or between one or more of the composite structures when the composite structure system is shown to require additional support in containing fluids within the gusset. In one embodiment, the barrier creates a dam within the wicking material 14B, negating its absorbing and fluid dispersing properties, substantially preventing lateral transmission of body fluid. In another embodiment, the fluid barrier creates a bond or joining together of the composite structures 14B-14C. In a further embodiment, the fluid barrier buttresses the dam located within the wicking material 14C and/or between multiple composite structures and further substantially prevents leaking and staining of body fluids to backing material 14D.
Suitable applications for the gusset of the present invention include, but are not limited to: (a) undergarments including: thong, bikini, brief, boy short styles, toddler and infant undergarments, nursing bras and perspiration pads; of (b) outerwear including: active sportswear clothing including running shorts, biking shorts, spandex (elastic) leggings, yoga wear, stretch wear, tennis bloomies, skating wear; and of (c) swimwear, including: two piece and one piece bathing trunks and suits. It may also comprise several applications of (d) bandages, wraps and garments designed for use where wounds, infections, or other medical conditions result in chronic or long-term seepage of body fluids or the risk of stains from medications.
In yet another embodiment, the gusset 14 may be manufactured separately from the body of the garment 12, with the composite structures of the gusset first being joined together by means of the fluid barrier 3, and second being attached at the periphery of the gusset, e.g., at one or more of its edges, to the body of the garment by traditional stitching or other methods (such as ultrasonic, radiofrequency, or heat seal) of forming an outer seam (herein referred to as the “seam 19”), thereby completing the garment 1 and 2. In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 8, the fluid barrier 3 runs adjacent to, and parallel with the seam 19 so as to separate the seam 19 from the fluid in the wicking material 14B. In another embodiment, fluid barrier 3 eliminates the need to seal or otherwise treat the seam 19. This application also provides more comfort to the wearer, since the absence of the fluid barrier 3 in the seam 19 reduces bulk and increases stretch and flexibility.
In a further embodiment, as shown in FIG. 7, the fluid barrier 3 may extend into the seam 19, but is not necessarily relied upon to form the seam 19. Nonetheless, those skilled in the art appreciate that the fluid barrier 3 may facilitate or form the seam 19, or a portion thereof, as a matter of design choice.
In one embodiment, a polymer (e.g. thermoplastic polyurethane based adhesive, such as manufactured by Upaco®, product # 328 with a thickness of 2 mil-4.5 mil or Bemis® product # 3206, with a thickness of 2 mil to 5 mil) may be used to form the fluid barrier 3. In another embodiment, the polymer may also be used to bond together elements of the composite structures of the gusset. In one embodiment, a sufficient amount of polymer is applied with energy (eg: heat, radiofrequency, or ultrasound) so as to permeate, and impregnate and/or bond with or adhere to composite structures, thereby creating a fluid barrier 3. In another embodiment, a bond is created by establishing a fluid barrier between and permeating the WPBM 14C and the wicking material 14B (and, in another application, the interface 14A) of the gusset 14, thereby avoiding the need to rely on stitching, through which leakage can occur in the WPBM 14C. The polymer, when properly applied and treated, adheres to and/or impregnates wicking material 14B of gusset 14, and adheres and/or permeates the interface of WPBM 14C, thereby forming a dam that extends along the sides or the periphery of gusset 14, typically parallel with but inward of seam 19. This dam holds fluid and substantially prevents lateral movement of moisture to the seam 19. The bond between the composite structures may also maximize the strength and function of fluid barrier 3.
In another embodiment, fluid barrier 3 may be formed by ultrasonic, radio frequency or applied pressure technologies alone, without the use of polymer.
Illustratively, the wicking material 14B is a liquid holding reservoir, and the fluid barrier 3 is illustratively a dam located along the periphery of the reservoir. The dam isolates and holds the fluids within the reservoir to substantially prevent flooding. The bond in between the wicking material 14B and the WPBM 14C is illustratively a concrete reinforcement that buttresses and reinforces the dam.
In one embodiment, interface 14A is detached from fluid barrier 3, enabling the interface 14A to react to and follow movement of wearer, allowing quicker passage of body fluids into wicking material 14B; interface 14A may also dry more quickly, such that it does not trap moist body heat against the skin (and is, therefore, less likely to contribute to the development of bacterial or yeast infections, heat rash or allergic reactions). In another embodiment, the polymer or other materials used to form a fluid barrier is applied to the interface 14A, as shown in FIG. 8.
In one embodiment, interface 14A is treated with a material (eg: curable silicone) to further promote the hydrophobicity of interface 14A.
In one embodiment, interface 14A and wicking material 14B are a dark color (e.g., black), to assist with anti-staining capability, and/or to conceal stains. In another embodiment, WPBM 14C is of a dark, light, or no color.
In one embodiment, the interface 14A and wicking material 14B are of light color. In another embodiment, interface 14A and wicking material 14B are treated with a dye site blocking compound having, for example, anti-stain properties, or other anti-staining composition, such as Teflon™. In another embodiment, decorative elastic along the periphery of the garment is treated with Teflon™ to further reduce risk of staining.
In one embodiment, an anti-microbial treatment may be applied to, or incorporated into, one or more of the interface 14A, wicking material 14B and/or WPBM 14C to inhibit odor and growth of bacteria. One such treatment, manufactured by Toray™ is Makspec™.
In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 9, fluid barrier 3 is created by folding an extension of WPBM 14C and backing material 14D up and over wicking material 14B or up and over both wicking layer 14B and interface 14A, and held in place by a method of fastening (eg: heat seal ultrasonic, radiofrequency, or threaded stitch).
In one embodiment, interface layer 14A is attached to and made part of a garment so as to form a pocket into and by which a gusset consisting of wicking layer 14B and WPBM layer 14C can be inserted and held, and from which the gusset can be removed and separately laundered and reinserted for further use, or discarded and replaced with a new gusset, as desired.
In one embodiment, WPBM 14C and interface 14A are attached to and made part of a garment so as to form a pocket into and by which a gusset consisting of wicking layer 14B, alone or with other composite structures, can be inserted and held, and from which the gusset can be removed and separately laundered and reinserted for further use, or discarded and replaced with a new gusset, as desired.
In one embodiment, WPBM 14C is attached to and made part of a garment, in combination with other fabric or material, elastic bands, hooks, Velcro or similar fasteners, adhesive strips, snaps, ties or other means of attachment or retention, such that a gusset consisting of wicking material 14B and interface 14A, or consisting of wicking material 14B, alone or in combination with other composite structures, can be temporarily attached to and/or held against WPBM 14C forming part of the garment, and from which the gusset can be detached or released and separately laundered and reattached or held against in the garment for further use, or discarded and replaced with a new gusset, as desired.
In one embodiment, the gusset 14
has ties, snaps, adhesive strips, hooks, elastic bands, or other means of temporarily being attached to or held against another garment, or attached to or held against the body of a person or other animal, at the location desired.
|Body fluid ||Menses, blood, lymph, mucus, sweat, urine, feces, |
| ||semen, or other liquid, fluid or discharge from a |
| ||human being, and including topical medications |
|Garment ||Underwear or outerwear, worn by a human or |
| ||other animal, which may or may not incorporate a |
| ||gusset |
|Gusset ||A portion of a garment (eg: joins materials to |
| ||complete garment) |
|Body of garment ||Portions of a garment that are not part a gusset |
|Inner surface ||Interface layer disposed against body |
|of gusset |
|Outer or ||Opposite of inner surface |
|Backing surface |
|of gusset |
|Outergarment ||Apparel that is typically worn with the |
| ||expectation that it be seen by others, and which |
| ||usually covers one or more undergarments |
|Undergarment ||Apparel typically worn next to the skin, with the |
| ||expectation that it will usually be covered by an |
| ||outer garment |
|Stain ||Discoloration of a garment, including the outer |
| ||surface of a gusset, resulting from body fluid |
Although this invention has been described in terms of a certain preferred embodiment, other embodiments apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art are also within the scope of this invention.