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Publication numberUS3667466 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 6, 1972
Filing dateSep 21, 1970
Priority dateSep 21, 1970
Publication numberUS 3667466 A, US 3667466A, US-A-3667466, US3667466 A, US3667466A
InventorsHarold J Ralph
Original AssigneeHarold J Ralph
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Self-disintegrating diaper liner and retainer
US 3667466 A
Abstract
A diaper having a disposable liner comprises a vinyl retainer having a main body panel and side and end flaps overlying respective side and end edges. Groups of snap fasteners are mounted at extremities of the end flaps to permit the retainer to be adjustably secured about the waist and thighs of a baby. Freely insertable and removable into and from the vinyl retainer is a diaper liner that has adequate strength to enable packaging, normal use and handling. Nevertheless, the liner is self-segmenting and self-disintegrating when fully immersed in a body of water. The liner has a central panel substantially coextensive with the main body panel of the retainer. It also has pleated sides forming a barrier panel and a protective panel extending the length of the liner along each edge. The liner is inserted into and positioned within the retainer with its central panel and its barrier panels underlying side and end flaps of the retainer, but with the outermost protective panels fully overlying the retainer side flaps.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Ralph 14 1 June 6, 1972 [54] SELF-DISINTEGRATING DIAPER LINER AND RETAINER 72 lnventorz Harold J. Ralph, 2002 E. Santa Clara,

Santa Ana, Calif. 92701 [22] Filed: Sept. 21, 1970 [21] Appl. No.: 74,013

52 us. 128/287 511 Int. Cl. ..A61r 13/16 [58] Field of Search 128/284, 286, 287 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 342,043 5/1886 Samuel 128/287 2,545,674 3/1951 Ralph 2,575,164 11/1951 Donovan 128/287 2,627,858 2/1953 Miller..' 128/287 3,426,756 2/1969 Romanek... ..128/287 3,563,241 2/1971 Evans et al ..l28/284 Primary Examiner-Charles F. Rosenbaum Att0rneyRobert W. Fulwider, et al.

[57] ABSTRACT A diaper having a disposable liner comprises a vinyl retainer having a main body panel and side and end flaps overlying respective side and end edges. Groups of snap fasteners are mounted at extremities of the end flaps to permit the retainer to be adjustably secured about the waist and thighs of a baby.. Freely insertable and removable into and from the vinyl retainer is a diaper liner that has adequate strength to enable packaging, normal use and handling. Nevertheless, the liner is selflsegmenting and self-disintegrating when fully immersed in a body of water. The liner has a central panel substantially coextensive with the main body panel of the retainer. 1t also has pleated sides forming a barrier panel and a protective panel extending the length of the liner along each edge. The liner is inserted into and positioned within the retainer with its central panel and its barrier panels underlying side and end flaps of the retainer, but with the outermost protective panels 1 fully overlying the retainer side flaps.

The liner is formed of a number of layers of absorbent wadding sandwiched between layers of wet-strength paper. All liner layers are perforated along lines at which the sides of the central panel adjoin the barrier panels, and all layers of the central panel except the upper layer are provided with patterns of perforations. Accordingly, the wet-strength layers upon total immersion, as in a toilet bowl, are self-segmenting along lines bounded by the perforations. The lower layer of wet-strength materialis additionally self-segmenting along its additional patterns of perforations, whereby the interposed wadding is released and self-disintegrating.

' 38 Claims, 12 Drawing Figures PATENTED N B1972 3,667,466

SHEET 10F 4 INVENTIOR. #44 040 J 24 PA/ SHEET 3 OF 4 INVENTOR. AMFOLD .1 R44 PH QJ MZ n INVENTOR. AAQFOAD J 54L PH SELF-DISINTEGRATING DIAPER LINER AND RETAINER Background of the Invention 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to improvements in diaper garments having disposable liners and more particularly concerns a liner that is self-segmenting, and the combination therewith of an improved retainer to hold the liner in such a manner as to provide resistance to premature segmentation.

Description of the Prior Art Various types of diapering garments for infants and children up to at least several years of age have been used throughout the world for untold numbers of years. Application, changing, laundering and disposal of such garments are tasks that are repeated again and again during each day in the life of a family with young children. At least in part because of the wide spread and frequent use of diapering garments, intensive efforts have been expended by many persons for extended periods of time in attempts to achieve an optimum garment.

For many years, diapering garments were formed of a cloth material secured around the infants waist and adapted to be periodically laundered. The various difficulties and expense involved in storing, handling, and laundering the cloth diaper stimulated the design of many different types of disposable diapers. In particular, the advent of ready availability of wetstrength paper at economical costs, resulted in a number of designs of disposable diapers, many of which have been patented and a number of which are presently marketed.

In general, the diaper garment whether disposable or not comprises two main portions: first, a multi-layered sheet of soft absorbent material adapted to be positioned against the skin of a baby, and, second, an outer covering of liquid impervious material. The outer covering may be a pair of waterproof pants adapted to be worn over a cloth diaper, a vinyl holder adapted to receive and retain a cloth or paper diaper, or an exterior impervious sheet fixedly secured to the absorbent material.

For those diapers described by their manufacturers as disposable, only the absorbent paper portion is even suggested as being disposable by flushing in the ordinary household toilet. Where a detachable holder is employed, this is usually retained and used repeatedly. Where an impervious outer layer is employed, this must be detached from the lining material and disposed of separately from the liner itself.

Typical of that class of disposable diapers embodying a removable and disposable liner held in a reuseable waterproof retainer is the arrangement shown in my earlier patent for diaper garment for infants US. Pat. No. 2,545,674. This patent describes an impervious diaper holder formed through a series of relatively complex folding operations from a waterproof sheet material and retaining a disposable multi-layered paper liner. Although disposable, this paper liner, just as other purportedly disposable paper liners of diapers presently marketed, is not truly flushable in the ordinary household toilet system. This is so because the liner size provides a bulky mass that is too great to readily pass through the common household drainage line. Accordingly, the disposable diaper manufacturer and, concomitantly, the using housewife or nurse is faced with a dilemma. lfthe liner is made of sufficient size and absorptive capacity for ordinary daytime use (it is common to employ liners of increased capacity or doubled or tripled liners for nighttime or other extended periods of use) the liner has too great'a bulk to be disposed of through the common household drainage system. On the other hand, if the liner is made of a size that enables such drainage system disposability without either probability or possibility of clogged drains, the liner may have a sufficient size and capacity suitable only for newborn infants and very short periods of time.

Thus, it will be seen that despite the many efforts to provide a truly disposable diaper, none has yet been made which may be readily disposed of in a household drainage system. For example, in one well known product, described in U. S. Pat. No. 3,211,147, to P. O. Pherson et al for Disposable Diaper Pad, a disposable diaper for use either with or without a retainer or other impervious layer is entirely composed of paper or wood pulp derivatives. However, even though it is manufactured in a minimum size required for ordinary use, it cannot be flushed without clogging a conventional drain. For this reason, the manufacturer suggests that the soiled garment be physically torn by the housewife or nurse into several smaller pieces prior to disposal. in fact, the patent itself describes indicia and liquid channels that aid in disposal by furnishing guide lines along which the housewife may more readily sever the garment prior to disposal.

The same problem is presented and recognized in another well known and presently marketed product as described in U. S. Pat. No. 3,180,335 to R. C. Duncan et al, for Disposable Diaper. This arrangement provides a pad of absorptive paper product material to which is adhesively secured a thin flexible back sheet of waterproof material. Accordingly, for disposal of a soiled garment of a type described in the patent to Duncan et al, the patentees state that the waterproof back sheet must be first briskly pulled downward and away from the absorbent pad. The back sheet is then disposed of in a wastepaper basket. Thereafter, the still soiled absorbent pad is to be dipped several times in the water in the water-closet bowl until a major portion of the plies of creped wadding is loosely deposited in the water. This material is then flushed while the remaining portion of the absorbent pad is still retained in the hand. The later is thereafter dropped into the water for similar disposal.

It is self-evident that the various effects and multiple operations involved in disposing of these prior art garments are highly undesirable and significantly detract from continued and repeated sales of the product.

Accordingly, it is one object of the present invention to provide a disposable liner that is truly flushable, a liner that may be simply dropped into the water of the bowl of a common household toilet and will shortly segment itself into smaller parts to allow the layers thereof to be separated whereby the entire liner is self-disintegrating and will readily pass through the common drainage system.

Any diaper garment must have an exterior water impervious layer to be used together with a waterproof retainer or covering if it is to properly perform its major function of preventing passage of liquid to surrounding clothing, bedding, and the like. Such waterproof material invariably is of a significantly harder surface that is the absorbent liner material itself. Accordingly, to the extent that it may contact the babys skin the liner material provides a source of discomfort, rash, or other skin irritation. Most liner retainers such as that shown in my prior US. Pat. No. 2,545,674, for example, embody an area of the retainer not only around the waist portion, but along both side edges, that overlies the liner to provide extended skin contacting areas. So, too, the disposable diaper of the aboveidentified patent to Duncan et al, embodies an impervious backing sheet of which the outermost side edges overlie the outer edges of the liner itself. These edges of the backing sheet are, therefore, interposed between the relatively soft fabric of the absorbent liner and the babys skin.

Accordingly, another object of the present invention is to minimize the area of the diaper retainer that will be in contact with the babys skin.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In carrying out principles of the present invention in accordance with a preferred embodiment thereof, a self-segmenting and self-disintegrating liner for use with a liner retainer comprises a multi-layered central panel having a top layer of wet-strength material of a size that permits ready flushing of the layer through common household drainage system as an integral sheet, a layer of absorbent material adjacent said top layer, and a bottom layer of wet-strength material substantially coextensive with the other layers posi tioned adjacent the intermediate layer. The bottom layer is formed with a pattern of perforations therethrough arranged to allow the bottom layer to readily separate into pieces bounding on such perforations whereby the multi-layered absorbent liner will expand upon immersion in a body of water to so stress and weaken said bottom layer in the vicinity of the perforations, that the bottom layer will undergo self-segmentation, and whereby separation of the several layers from each other occurs with concomitant disintegration of the intermediate layers of absorbent material.

An additional aspect of the invention comprises the formation of an integral side panel or pair of pleated panels or either side of the central panel of the liner, and one or more lines of perforations extending through all liner layers, each such line extending substantially from one edge of the liner to another edge thereof, said lines of perforations being arranged to allow the entire liner to separate into pieces bounding on such lines to permit separation of the various layers of both side panels from the central panel and to permit disintegration of the absorbent material therebetween.

As still another feature of the invention, a liquid impervious retainer for the liner has side flaps and rebated end flaps adapted to overlie a main body panel thereof and to receive a liner between the flaps and such body panel, the liner being formed on each side thereof with an inwardly, foldable barrier panel, and an outwardly foldable protective panel, whereby the protective panels will overlie and substantially entirely cover the side flaps of the retainer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 comprises a plan of view of moisture impervious retainer for the disposable liner of the diaper of this invention,

FIG. 2 is a sectional view of the retainer of FIG. 1,

FIG. 3 shows arrangements and operation of groups of adjustable snaps for the retainer of FIGS. 1 and 2,

FIG. 4 comprises a pictorial view of a disposable liner adapted for use with the retainer of FIGS. 1 and 2,

FIG. 5 is a view of one end of the liner for FIG. 4,

FIG. 6 is an exploded view of the liner of FIG. 4,

FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the disposable liner assembled with the retainer,

F IG'. 8 is a schematic illustration of a method of forming the liner of FIGS. 4, 5, 6 and 7.

FIGS. 9a and 9b illustrate a first modified form of liner, and

FIGS. 10a and 10b illustrate another modified form of liner.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION The diaper garment of the present invention is of the type that employs a repeatedly useable, moisture impervious retainer and a readily insertable and removable absorbent liner for the retainer Thus, the diaper garment employs the general combination of elements described in my prior U.S. Pat. No. 2,545,674. Analogous garments for incontinent adults embodying a moisture impervious retainer and an absorbent, removable pad are illustrated in my prior U.S. Pat., Nos. 3,441,024 for Loin Garment for Absorbent Pads, and 3,441,025 for Sanitary Garments for lncontinent Persons. Although, these garments appear to be generally of similar configuration to that to be described herein, it is to be emphasized that the size and age of the user dictates significantly different requirements and configurations. In particular, the size and bulk of absorbent material required for older persons will generally preclude ready disposability whereby such garments commonly employ launderable, reuseable cloth pads. Further, even though features of the present invention that provide for self-segmentation could be readily adapted to use in garments of larger size, paper liners are not suitable for disposal in a household drainage system. Accordingly, principles of the present invention are described in connection with embodiments particularly adapted for use with infants and young children.

Retainer As illustrated in FIG. 1, a liner retainer 10 is made of a sheet of moisture impervious material, such as commonly available vinyl plastic, and formed with a generally elongated rectangular main body panel 12 encompassed between lines 14 and 16 at its sides and edges 18, 20 at its ends. Integrally formed with the main body panel 12 and adjoined thereto along lines 14, 16, respectively, are contouring panels 22, 24, formed with arcuate edges 26, 28, that are arranged to provide a snug fit around the babys thighs.

Permanently secured to the side edges of main body panel 12 along lines 14 and 16, and extending inwardly therefrom are side flaps 30, 32 that freely overlie the side edges of main body panel 12 and may be readily lifted therefrom for insertion of a liner as will be more particularly described below. Opposite end edges such as edges 31, 33 of side flaps 30 and 32 extend substantially parallel to lines 18 and 20, and are securely connected to the main body panel 12.

Fixedly attached to the main body panel 12 and to the contouring panels 22, 24, along lines 18, 20 and extensions thereof, are oppositely disposed end flaps 34, 36. The end flaps are rebated to provide a relatively narrow portion having free and unattached edges 35, 37, that extend almost entirely across the width of the body panel 12. Each of the rebated end panels has a laterally positioned end portion 39, 40, 41, 42, of increased width that is secured, as at 43, throughout the major portion of its periphery to the enlarged ends of the body contour panels 22, 24. These increased width portions 39 through 42, provide reinforcing for fastening devices of the retainer.

Although various manufacturing techniques such as sewing, adhesives and the like, may be employed to secure the various parts of the retainer together, it is preferred to use conventional heat-welding techniques preferably performed by electronic apparatus to secure side flaps 30, 32 to body panel 12 along the entire length of lines 14 and 16, and to secure the rebated end flaps 34, 36 to the body panel along lines 18 and 20 and around the periphery of end portions 39, 40, 41, 42. This construction provides a completely moisture impervious reservoir formed by body panel 12 and the side and end flaps of the retainer. Rebated edges 35, 37 of the end flaps are completely free of any attachment to any other part of the garment whereby both side and end flaps may be readily lifted from the body panel to facilitate insertion of the liner between the flaps and the body portion of the panel. Obviously, the retainer may be made with some or all of the several parts separately formed and then electronically welded in the described configuration. Preferably panels 12, 22 and 23 and end flaps 34, 36 are integrally formed from a single sheet of material.

Side flaps 30 and 32 are preferably formed of a doubled sheet, folded at its free inner edge and having both of its layers secured to the body panel at lines 14, 16. Alternatively, the side flaps may be formed of a single sheet of heavier material with a beaded free inner edge. As described in U.S. Pat. No. 2,545,674, suitable binding edges or piping may be employed, if desired, on free edges of the sheet material of the retainer to both reinforce the edge and give its flexible body sufficient substance for convenient manipulation. The piping may be an integral edge of the vinyl material folded upon itself and heatsealed, or it may be a separate strip that is heat-sealed or stitched to the free edge of the vinyl sheet.

Fastening means, such as snap fasteners 44, 46, are secured to the end corners of body contour panels 22, 24 through the reinforced portions 39 through 42 thereof. For maximum adjustability with a minimum number of fasteners, there are more fasteners at one end of a given contour panel than at the other end of the same contour panel. For example, as illustrated in the drawing, four fasteners 46 are provided at the right hand ends of contour panels 22, and 24, whereas but two fasteners 44 are provided at the left hand ends of these panels. With this arrangement, either the waistband size or the thigh size may be independently adjusted, or both may be adjusted together. For example, with fasteners 44 secured to the outermost pair of the group of fasteners 46, as shown in FIG. 3,

maximum waistband and thigh opening sizes are provided. With both of fasteners 44 secured to the two innermost fasteners of the groupof fasteners 46, minimum waistband and thigh sizes are provided. With the fasteners in such minimum size position, in order to independently increase the size of either the waistband opening or the thigh opening, only one of the fasteners 44 is disengaged and attached to one of the pair of outer fasteners of the group 46. Accordingly, when there is employed one of the pair of outer fasteners and one of the pair of inner fasteners of the fastener group 46, the retainer configuration will provide a relatively large waist opening and relatively small thigh opening or vice versa. Liner Configuration As illustrated in FIGS. 4, 5, 6'and 7, the disposable liner of a preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises a multi-layered absorbent pad 50 having a central panel 52 of generally rectangular configuration and of a size substantially coextensive with, though slightly smaller than, the size of central body panel 12 of the retainer. (Numbers without letter suffixes are used to designate liner panels in general, whereas the suffixes t and b are used to designate respective top and bottom surfaces of such liner panels.) Integrally formed with the central panel 52 and adjoined thereto at its side edges, along lines 54, 56, are first and second barrier panels 58, 60. lntegrally formed with the barrier panels 58, 60, and adjoined thereto along lines 62, 64, are longitudinally extending protective panels 66, 68.

By means to be more particularly described below, the several barrier and protective panels are adapted to be folded as illustrated in FIGS. 4 and- 7 to provide box pleats. This pleated arrangement allows the liner to be inserted into the retainer with the retainer side flaps 30, 32 interleaved between the protective and barrier panels of the liner to thereby firmly hold the liner within the retainer and to protect the outermost folded edges of the liner as folded along lines 54, 56.

To insert the liner within the retainer, the pleats at the sides of the liner are slightly opened. The free edges of retainer side flaps 30, 32, are raised at one end of the retainer and the associated retainer end flap such as rebated flap 36 is likewise raised. One end of the liner is inserted under the side flaps and the end flap. The positioning is such that, as illustrated in FIG. 7, the bottom layer of central panel 52 of the liner lies flat against the surface of the body panel 12 of the retainer. Retainer side flaps 30, 32 overlie barrier panels 58, 60 and extend to the internal folds formed at lines 62, 64. Thus, the junctions of the retainer side flaps and the body portion of the retainer securely retain and protect the otherwise vulnerable and exposed external bend of the liner along fold lines 54, 56. Cooperating with side flaps 30, 32, the barrier panels 58, 60, provide a moisture impervious barrier along the entire extent of the side edges of the assembled garment.

The assembly and the relative dimensions of the various parts are such that the protective panels 66, 68, which have a width substantially equal to the width of side flaps 30, 32, completely overlie the side flaps. Thus the liner, when folded and inserted within the retainer, presents to the babys skin a continuous and substantially unbroken area of the relatively soft liner surface. This area is in no part covered by any portion of the vinyl retainer except for the very narrow rebated end flaps 34, 36, that encircle the waist of the infant, and except for the minimum area arcuate contour panels 22, 24.

Continuing with the description of emplacement of the liner, the opposite end of the liner and the remaining intermediate portion thereof are similarly inserted beneath the side flaps of the retainer, with such side flaps overlying barrier panels 58, 60, the protective panels 66, 68 overlying the side flaps 30, 32 and the narrow rebated portions of end flaps 34, 36, overlying the end edges of all. The assembly may then be placed on the child, positioned to encircle the childs thighs and waistband, and the fasteners 44, 46, secured to retain the garment in position. i

As illustrated in the exploded view of FIG. 6, the liner is formed of a number of layers of well known types of cellulose material or other wood pulp derivatives. There is provided a first or bottom layer of one or more plies of a wet-strength tissue or paper. A commonly available nine to twelve pound wet-strength tissue or paper is preferred. Nevertheless, provided the tissue has sufficient wet-strength, any generally equivalent tissue may be employed for layer 70. For example, the wet-strength creped tissue described in the aboveidentifred patent to Pherson et al, may be employed as the bottom layer 70 of the disposable liner of this invention.

The liner also contains a plurality of intermediate layers 72, 74, 76, each preferably of the same type of highly absorbent material. These intermediate layers need have little wetstrength since they are confined as described herein, and, accordingly, may be formed of any suitable absorbent material. The intermediate layers preferably have little self-cohesion so that they will undergo a self-disintegration when immersed in a body of water and are substantially free of external restraint. For example, the creped wadding described in the aforementioned patent to Duncan et a1, or the absorbent padding identified in the patent to Pherson et al, may comprise layers 72, 74, 76. Obviously, many different types of intermediate layers of absorbent wadding such as wood pulp fluff, for example, may be employed and are contemplated for use with the present invention.

Although each of the intermediate layers 72, 74, and 76 is preferably formed of light absorbent material, the layers are of different widths as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. As previously indicated, the bottom layer 70 of wet-strength material extends for the full width of the liner including central panel 52b and both barrier and protective panels. However, the intermediate layers 72, 76, (not 74), are each of somewhat lesser width each extending entirely across the central panel 52 and substantially, but not entirely across the width of the first pleat or barrier panel 58, 60. Each intermediate layer 72, 76, terminates just short of a respective one of the lines 62, 64 (FIG. 5) in order to facilitate scoring and folding as will be more particularly described below.

The innermost or central intermediate layer 74 is of the same absorbent material as layers 72, 76, but extends just short of the full width of central panel 52 to facilitate folding and other operations carried out along lines 54 and 56.

The liner-is completed by a top layer 78 that is preferably formed of the same material as is bottom layer 70 and is completely coextensive therewith. It is this top layer that will have its central panel portion 52t and protective panel portions 66!, 681., in contact with the babys skin when the garment is in use.

It will be readily appreciated that the various layers are formed of one or more plies of the indicated material, although a unitary mass of absorbent material may be formed into one of the intermediate layers where wood pulp fluff is employed therefor. Because the central panel 52 is positioned during use to receive, absorb and retain the major portion of discharged liquids, this portion is preferably made thicker than other portions. Likewise, intermediate layers 72, 76, cooperate with the central portion of the liner to retain liquids therein, since they extend substantially across the barrier panels 58, 60. Accordingly, these may be somewhat thicker than the top and bottom layers 78, 70.

By way of illustration, a typical embodiment of the described liner has a total length of about 14 inches, and a total width of just under 13 inches incorporating two plies of wet-strength material in each of the bottom and top layers 70, 78. Each of layers 70, 78, extends for the full length and width of the liner. Three plies-of creped wadding are employed in each of layers 72, 76, each having a width just less than 9 inches. Five plies of creped wadding are employed in the innermost layer 74, each having a width of about 5 36. inches. Thus, central panel 52 in the illustrated example has a total of 15 plies, barrier panels 58, 60, have a total of ten plies, and protective panels 66, 68, have a total of four plies, all of the latter plies being of the same wet-strength material. It will be readily appreciated that the identified number and extent of the various plies in the several layers is described solely for purposes of exposition and these may be varied widely without departing from principles of the present invention. In this arrangement, the central panel has dimensions of about 14 inches by /5 inches, a size that will readily flow through a standard household drainage system. Obviously, the entire garment will be made in different sizes to accommodate infants of different ages and sizes.

Self-segmentation of the Liner The liner described up to this point, being roughly 13 X 14 inches in overall dimensions, and having as many as 15 plies of material therein, forms a highly efficient absorptive pad of ample capacity for its intended purpose. Nevertheless, without the particular features that are now to be described, it has such a mass that it could not be readily disposed of by or in the ordinary flush toilet, being too bulky to readily pass through the common household drain. In order to accomplish such disposability, the liner is provided with one or more patterns of perforations that cause the assembly of layers to be self-segmenting and self-disintegrating.

To achieve such self-segmenting and self-disintegrating action, various patterns of perforations are provided as illustrated in FIGS. 4, 5 and 6. Different ones of such patterns extend through different ones or groups of the layers as will be more particularly described.

A first set of patterns of perforations is provided as lines of perforations 71, 73, the lines being coincident with lines 54, 56, along which the barrier panels 58, 60, adjoin and are folded relative to the central panel of 52. Perforations of each of the lines 71, 73, extend entirely through the liner and, accordingly, extend through all layers thereof. Of course, where the innermost group of layers 74 (FIG. 6) extends for a width just less than the width of central panel 52, these innermost layers 74 are not perforated on lines 71, 73. As will be pointed out below, such lack of perforations of the innermost group of layers 74, acts to enhance the self-segmentation of the liner.

Bottom and intermediate layers of the liner are provided with a second set of patterns of perforations comprising lines of perforations 75, 77, 79, and 80. Each of the lines of perforations 75, 77, 79, and 80, like the lines of perforations 71 and 73, extends entirely across the liner from one edge thereof to a second edge thereof. However, unlike the perforations of lines 71, 73, which perforations extend entirely through the liner and through top and bottom layers thereof, perforations of lines 75, 77, 79, and 80 extend only through the bottom layer and through the intermediate layers. Perforations of lines 75, 77, 79, and 80 do not extend through the top layer.

To enhance handling and wear characteristics of the liner, it is highly desirable that at least the uppermost ply of top layer 78 present continuous and unbroken surface areas to the skin of the baby. Accordingly, no perforations other than those contained in lines 71, 73, need be or should be provided in either central panel 52t or protective panels 66!, 68:, of the upper layer 78 of the liner (FIG. 6). For those arrangements of the liner wherein upper layer 78 is formed of more than one ply of relatively high-strength material, all but the uppermost of such plies of the top layer 78 may be provided with additional patterns of perforations such as those patterns extending along lines 75, 77, 79, and 80. Such an arrangement would further enhance self-separability of the liner and still retain the unbroken surface area and wear and abrasion resistive characteristics of the uppermost surface of the liner. Nevertheless, as will be more particularly described below, it may be most convenient from the standpoint of manufacturing methods to form the perforation patterns 71, 73, through the entire liner and to maintain all plies of the top layer 78 free of additional patterns 75, 77, 79, and 80.

To retain the various layers in the illustrated laminated assembly, patterns of embossing 82, 84 (FIGS. 4 and 5) are provided, extending along at least portions of the periphery of the liner. Preferably the embossed patterns 82, 84, extend for the entire length of the liner along the outermost edges of the outermost protective panels 66, 68. The transverse edges of the several layers may also be embossed if deemed necessary or desirable. Nevertheless, in certain manufacturing methods wherein the liner may be made and laminated in a single continuous sheet, the transverse edges will remain unsecured since these are cut from a continuous laminated and fully manufactured assembly.

In addition to the assembly securing embossed edges 82, 84, the liner may be scored along lines 62, 64, where the protective panels 66, 68, adjoin barrier panels 58, 60. Such scoring facilitates folding of these side pleats. Additionally, if deemed necessary or desirable, the laminated assembly of all layers may be scored along lines 54, 56. Even though lines of perforations 71, 73, are formed coincident with these lines, scoring will further enhance foldability at the sides of the central panel.

It is important to note that the perforations along each of lines 71, 73, 75, 77, 79, and are of such size and so spaced from and adjacent to one another that there is a greatly decreased amount of perforated material between adjacent ones of the perforations. The length of material between adjacent perforations is minimized to provide a greatly decreased strength of material between such adjacent perforations. The perforations are placed so that the patterns of wetstrength top and bottom layers, considerably weakened along the lines of perforations, are all positioned to be subject to very little force and disturbance when the diaper is inserted in the liner and worn by the baby. For example, perforation patterns 71, 73, which extend along lines 54, 56, through the entire liner, are positioned at the inside of the fold of retainer flaps 30, 32, and retainer body panel 12. Flaps 30, and 32, during use, lie flat atop the main body panel 12 of the retainer with the barrier panels 58, 60, and central panel 52 of the liner, interposed therebetween.

Furthermore, because perforation patterns 75, 77, 79, and 80 are provided only in bottom and intermediate layers, or if desired only in bottom layer 70 alone, these are in full surface contact with the interior surface of the vinyl retainer throughout liner panels 52, 58, and 60, and with the exterior surface of retainer flaps 30, 32, throughout the area of protective panels 66, 68. Consequently, the close proximity of this lowermost surface of the liner to the relatively strong and unbroken surface of the liner retainer relieves the weakened portions of the bottom layer from stresses that may occur upon movement of the diapered infant.

Since the perforation patterns are so positioned as to require minimum strength along such patterns during use, it will be seen that the liner and, in particular, its top and bottom layers need have only sufficient strength at such points to withstand the very minimum amount of stresses involved in normal handling, including removal from a package and emplacement into the vinyl retainer.

Having such a minimized strength of material extending between adjacent perforations of the several patterns, the liner, when immersed in a body of water, becomes self-segmenting into a number of pieces bounding on the perforation patterns, and thereupon becomes self-disintegrating.

To dispose of a soiled liner after the retainer with liner therein has been removed from the infant, the vinyl retainer with its soiled liner is merely held upside down by its opposed waistband portions with the liner facing downwardly over the toilet bowl. Either the liner will fall from the retainer by virtue of its own weight or the assembly may be shaken slightly over the bowl to dislodge the liner. The liner then is totally immersed in the Water in the bowl and is allowed to soak in the for a short period of time, in the order of ten seconds.

During this short interval of soaking, the entire liner becomes saturated and, in particular, the highly absorbent intermediate layers absorb additional amounts of water. These intermediate layers thereupon expand greatly. The inner layers expand to a greater extent than do the relatively highstrength top and bottom layers 78, 70. Since the latter are secured to each other by the scoring patterns 82, 84, they are stretched by expansion of intermediate layers 72, 74, 76. This stretching places concentrated tensile stresses upon the relatively short lengths of wet-strength material between adjacent perforations of the several patterns of perforations. With proper sizing and spacing of perforations, the several layers of wet-strength material thereupon undergo segmentation into a number of pieces bounding upon the perforation lines.

To the extent that mere soaking of the liner for the indicated short period of about 10 seconds may not wholly achieve the separation of the various pieces of the wetstrength layers of the liner, the swirling and moving action of the water that occurs upon initiation of the flushing of the toilet bowl will itself disturb the several layers with sufficient force to complete any such separation that has not previously occurred.

The entire liner will separate into three major pieces during its self-segmentation. These pieces comprise, first, the main body or central panel 52, second, one side comprising a barrier and protective panel 58, 66, and third, the other side comprising a barrier and protective panel 60, 68. With the segmentation of the liner along the main lines of perforations 71, 73, the various layers of the liner are free to separate from each other. The intermediate layers of wadding, having little cohesive strength, thereupon become self-disintegrating. Furthermore, the bottom layer 70, and at least some of the intermediate layers undergo additional self-segmentation, separating into pieces bounding upon perforation lines 75, 77, 79, and 80 which extend through the bottom and indicated ones of the intermediate layers.

Accordingly, it will be seen that with the described segmentation of the wet-strength layers, the largest remaining single ply of wet-strength material will be that provided by the central panel 52t of the top layer 78, or by the several plies of the top layer 70 where none of such plies are additionally perforated. As previously indicated, this panel 52t has dimensions in the order of 6 X 14 inches overall, which is roughly the size of a common facial tissue. Accordingly, this largest remaining piece will readily pass through the common household drainage system.

It will be readily appreciated that the size and spacing of the perforations of individual patterns will be varied in accordance with the respective dry and wet-strengths of the material of the top and bottom layers so as to provide minimum required strength for handling and yet afford sufficient weakness to enable the described self-segmentation upon soaking and the concomitant expansion of the interposed intermediate layers. The lines of perforations 71, 73, at the edges of central panel 52 are located as illustrated because of the unique protection afforded to them by their enclosure at the junction of the side flaps with the body of the vinyl retainer. Nevertheless, patterns of the perforations formed in the bottom layer or in the bottom and one or more intermediate layers, may be widely varied from those illustrated. Thus, lines of perforations through the bottom layer such as along one or more of lines 75, 77, 79, and 80, may be positioned in different locations on the bottom layer, may be diagonally positioned, may be formed in closed circles, or any one or combination of such arrangements. It is preferable to have at least one or more of such patterns extend from one edge of a bottom layer to another edge so as to optimize the self-segmentation of the bottom layer into separate pieces. Liner Manufacture and Assembly Illustrated in FIG. 8 is a schematic arrangement that depicts an exemplary method of manufacture and assembly of the liner of FIGS. 4, 5, and 6. A plurality of rolls 85 through 96 bearing various plies of the several materials are positioned above an elongated work surface 97. Material is withdrawn from the rolls and laminated as it is withdrawn and moved along the upper surface of work table 97 in the direction of the arrow 98. In order to form the particular embodiment illustrated, rolls 85 and .96 each contains and provides to the assembly two plies of an eleven pound wet-strength tissue, roll 85 providing the bottom layer 70 and roll 96 providing the top layer 78. It is noted that roll 96 is positioned somewhat removed from the group of rolls 85 through 95, since several operations are performed on the sub-assembly before emplacing the top layer.

Each of rolls 86 through 95, inclusive, contains a single ply of an absorbent material such as, for example a 9 56 pound creped cellulose wadding.

As the material is withdrawn from the rolls 85 through 95, a laminated sub-assembly is built up with a width preferably equal to the width of the entire liner including central panels and both protective and barrier panels, such sub-assembly being substantially endless. In this sub-assembly, the two plies of wet-strength material withdrawn from roll 85 form the bottom layer and plies withdrawn from rolls 86 through 95, respectively, form successively higher layers in that order. Where the intermediate layers 72, 74, 76 are to leave the different widths as illustrated in FIG. 6, the corresponding rolls of those illustrated in FIG. 8 will accordingly be loaded with material of proper width.

The sub-assembly then passes to a station comprising a schematically depicted pair of perforating rollers 99, 100, at which point all of layers 70, 72, 74, and 76 are provided with the patterns of perforations as indicated at 75, 77, 79, and of FIG. 6. Note that the top layer 78 has not yet been assembled, wherefor this layer is not subjected to these patterns of perforations. At the station wherein the first patterns of perforations are provided, or immediately thereafter, or prior thereto, the assembly may be scored along lines 62, 54, 56, and 64.

The sub-assembly, perforated and scored, then passes under roll 96 from which the top layer 78, comprising two plies of eleven pound wet-strength tissue, is withdrawn to complete the larninations. Thereafter, at a later station 102, the entire laminated assembly is perforated along lines 71, 73, and both lateral edges embossed as at 82, 84, to secure all of the layers in final assembled form. If necessary or desirable, lateral trimming may also be provided at or near this station. The continuous length of laminated assembly, embossed, perforated, and scored as previously described, may thereafter be subjected to additional scoring to facilitate folding. It is then passed to a folding, pleating, and cutting operation (not shown in FIG. 8).

It will be readily appreciated that the schematically depicted method of assembly and manufacture is exemplary of but one of many different arrangements of apparatus and equipment to provide and form the disclosed self-segmenting liner. Many other manufacturing methods and arrangements well known to those skilled in the art may be employed without departing from principles of the present invention.

An additional feature of the illustrated multi-layer self-segmenting liner is a construction and arrangement that lends itself to variation of the number of plies in different portions of the liner body. Accordingly, as herein described, the center panel 52 may be made considerably thicker than the side panels, having more absorbent material therein to thereby maximize the absorbent efficiency of the liner and concomitantly minimize the total amount of material required. It will be readily observed that the described retainer is adapted for use with more than one liner where additional absorptive material or capacity is required. Thus, two liners, each identical to that illustrated in FIGS. 4, 5, and 6, may be employed in a single retainer or one may employ a first liner of the type illustrated and previously described, together with a second liner of a type illustrated in FIGS. 9a and 9b, and described below.

Modifications Shown in FIGS. 9a and 9b is a modified version of the liner heretofore described which employs solely a multi-layered liner assembly equivalent to the central panel 52 of the liner of FIGS. 4, 5, and 6. Both the side barrier and protective panels of the embodiment of FIGS. 4, 5, and 6 add to the absorptive capacity of the liner and also provide additional sanitary protective padding that fully and completely overlies the side flaps 30, 32 of the retainer. It is possible to forego these functions, removing both the barrier and protective panels, to provide a simpler and more readily manufactured and inexpensive liner embodying solely a multi-layered central panel. The liner of FIGS. 9a and 9b is a multi-layered absorbent pad of generally rectangular configuration and of a dimension roughly in the order of 6 X 14 inches, substantially equivalent to the dimension of the central panel 52 of the previously described liner. In this simplified embodiment, the liner is comprised of the same layers as illustrated in connection with the liner of FIG. 4, except that each of these layers is of equal width and of equal length. Thus, there is a bottom layer 704, a group of intermediate layers, and a top layer 78a, each corresponding to and each substantially equivalent to the correspondingly identified layers of the embodiment of FIG. 4. Layers 70a and 78: each comprises, in a particular example, two plies of wet-strength tissue. Intermediate layers of this embodiment are each coextensive with the others and each coextensive with layers 70a and 78a. The intermediate layers collectively comprise 12 layers of creped wadding or other highly absorbent material substantially as previously described.

In the embodiment of FIGS. 9a and 9b, the upper layer 78a has no perforations at all, whereas bottom layer 70a and intermediate layers are formed with a group of transverse lines of perforations 77a, 79a, and 80a, each perforation extending through the bottom layer and all intermediate layers. Each of the lines of perforations preferably extends entirely and continuously from one edge of the liner to another edge of the liner. Although each of the perforations is spaced from its adjacent perforations as previously described in connection with the embodiment of FIG. 3, the perforation patterns 77a, 79a, and 800, may be varied to extend diagonally or in curved or circular patterns provided that at least one or more of these patterns extends entirely across the width of the liner to enable the self-segmentation and formation of suitably small pieces upon immersion and soaking.

In order to secure the several layers of the liner of FIGS. 9a and 9b to each other in a unitary laminated assembly, one or more areas or lines of embossing 110, 112, are provided at the respectively opposite edges of the liner and extending completely transversely across the width of the liner. The position and orientation of the securing embossing lines 110, 112, are chosen primarily for simplicity of manufacture. For example, the simplified liner of FIGS. 9a and 9b may be facricated in a manner substantially analogous to the fabrication described for the liner of FIG. 4, except, of course, that there is no first line of perforations, nor is there any line extending entirely through the liner. Also, there is no pleating or folding operation required. Material for forming several plies of the liner in FIGS. 9a and 9b is stored on the rollers, having a width equal to the maximum dimension of the liner 14 inches in the exemplary embodiment).

The assembly is illustrated as a single continuous and substantially endless length of the identified laminations continuously embossed to secure the layers of the assembly together along the side edges of the continuous length thereof. This continuous assembly is thereafter cut into lengths of substantially 6 inches to thereby form the approximately 6 X 14 inch liner. Although the longer side edges of the cut liner are in no way secured to each other, this provides no problem since, during use, these edges are inserted in and protected by the folded corner of the retainer flaps 30, 32, adjoining the central panel 12.

The liner of FIGS. 9a and 9b will be used and disposed of in much the same manner as in the liner of FIG. 4. The liner is inserted beneath the side and end flaps of the retainer of FIGS. 1 and 2. Such insertion is more readily accomplished since it is not required to position any liner side panels. Nevertheless, the liner is securely held in the retainer and provides an absorptive pad of sufficient size and capacity. As with the liner of FIG. 4, the liner of FIGS. 9a and 9b, when soiled, may be readily disposed of by dropping it from the retainer into the toilet bowl whereupon the bottom layer 70a and intermediate layers will undergo self-segmentation after several seconds of immersion and soaking. The bottom layer 780 separates into several pieces bounding upon the perforation lines 77a, 79a, and a, whereupon the intermediate layers may float free of the top and bottom layers to undergo self-disintegration. Accordingly, the entire liner is separated into a number of relatively small pieces of which the largest remains the substantially 6 X 14 inches upper layer of wet-strength tissue. The entire mass is readily disposed of through the household drainage system.

Still another embodiment of a liner construction according to principles of this invention is illustrated in FIGS. 10a and 1012 wherein a liner is shown that embodies features of each of the previously disclosed liners. The liner of FIGS. 10a and 10b is formed of a central panel 520 substantially identical to the central panel 52 of FIG. 4 and the central panel of the lines of FIGS. 9a and 10a. However, in this embodiment, rather than no side panels, or a pair of side panels on each side, the liner of FIGS. 10a and 10b has but a single side panel 58c, 60c, on either side, such side panel being substantially equivalent to the barrier panels 58, 60 of the liner of FIG. 4. This liner is perforated in much the same manner as is the liner of FIG. 4; that is, there is a line of perforations 7 lb, 73b, coincident with the line along which the barrier panels 58c, 60c, join the central panel. Such perforations extend entirely through all layers, both top and bottom layers and intermediate layers. In this embodiment just as in the embodiment of FIG. 4, the innermost group of the three intermediate layers extends just short of lines of perforations 71b, 73b, whereby the layers are not subject to the perforations of lines 71b, 7311.

In effect, the embodiment of FIGS. 10a and 10b is substantially identical to the embodiment of FIG. 4 if the latter has the outermost protective panels 66, 68, removed and if the assembly securing lines of embossing are formed along the outermost edges of the narrower liner at 62b, 64b. The bottom layer and intermediate layers are all provided with additional patterns of perforations corresponding to the lines of perforations 75, 77, 79, and 80. In both the embodiments of FIGS. 9a and 9b and in the embodiment of FIGS. 10a and 10b, the top layer may be formed of several plies of wet-strength tissue. Accordingly, it is necessary only to maintain the central panel of the outermost of such top sides free of perforations. Thus, the perforation patterns indicated at the lines 75b, and 77b, 79b and 80b, may extend not only through the bottom layers and the intermediate layers, but also through all but the outermost ply of the top layer.

In all the above-described embodiments, the size and spacing of perforations are chosen with respect to and in consideration of the tensile characteristics of the upper and lower layers of wet-strength material, together with the relative expansion characteristics upon total immersion of the intermediate absorbent wadding layers. Thus, in each instance, the relatively small extent of wet-strength tissue between adjacent perforations has sufficient strength to withstand all of the handling involved in removing the liner from the package, inserting the liner into the retainer, and the bodily motion of the infant. Even when wet from released urine, such patterns of perforations still have the strength necessary to retain the layers as a unitary assembly. Although tensile strength may be impaired when the liner is wet during use, the patterns of perforations are so located that they are protected from undue stressed and strains by the unique cooperation with the body and folds of the retainer. It is only when the liner is released from the retainer and has been totally immersed for a short interval to allow it to become fully saturated and expand to its maximum extend that stresses are exerted upon wet-strength tissue between adjacent perforations of a magnitude sufficient to rupture the material at such points.

Summary There has been described a novel but simple combination of moisture impervious retainer adapted to removably receive and hold an absorbent liner. The liner is so constructed and arranged as to experience a self-segmentation and self-disintegration upon immersion in a body of water. The liner may safely be disposed of in its entirety in an ordinary bathroom toilet without any manual handling since it separates into a number of small non-obstructing pieces after a short period of immersion, aided by a flushing action of the toilet, The moisture impervious retainer embodies side and end flaps having sealed seams to create a moisture impervious reservoir within the retainer. The latter cooperates with pleated panels of the liner to form an absorbent barrier that captures and prevents escape of moisture and solids. In one embodiment the pleated folds of the liner overlie the side flaps of the retainer so as to substantially and entirely eliminate any contact between the retainer and the skin of the infant. Thus, the described arrangement provides a diaper garment that will most efficiently serve its intended purpose, can be handled, used and disposed of with a maximum of convenience and yet entails a minimum cost of manufacture.

The foregoing detailed description is to be clearly understood as given by way of illustration and example only, the spirit and scope of this invention being limited solely by the appended claims.

, Iclaim:

1. A self-disintegrating liner for use with a liner retainer, said liner comprising:

a top layer of wet-strength material of a size that permits ready flushing of the layer through a common household drainage system as an integral sheet,

an intermediate layer of absorbent material positioned adjacent said top layer,

a bottom layer of wet-strength material substantially coextensive with said top and intermediate layers and positioned adjacent said intermediate layer, said bottom layer being fonned with a pattern of perforations therethrough arranged to allow said bottom layer to separate into pieces bounding on said pattern of perforations, and

means for maintaining said layers in mutual juxtaposition to provide a multi-layered absorbent liner that will expand upon immersion in a body of water to so stress and weaken said bottom layer at said pattern of perforations that said bottom layer will experience self-segmentation at least upon movement of the water in which the liner is immersed to thereupon permit separation of each of said layers from the other and to permit disintegration of said absorbent material.

2. The liner of claim 1 wherein each of said layers is of generally rectangular configuration, and wherein said means for maintaining said layers in mutual juxtaposition comprises a pattern of embossing extending along at least portions of the periphery of the liner whereby the embossing temporarily retains and secures the top and bottom layers to each other to retain the intermediate layer therebetween.

3. The liner of claim 2 wherein one dimension of said intermediate layer is slightly less than a corresponding dimension of said top and bottom layers, and wherein said pattern of embossing extends only through said top and bottom layers, but not through said intermediate layer.

4. The liner of claim 1 wherein said pattern of perforations comprises a line of perforations centrally positioned and fully traversing said bottom layer.

5. The liner of claim 4 wherein said pattern of perforations also includes a second line of perforations extending entirely across said bottom layer.

6. The liner of claim 1 wherein said pattern of perforations comprises a substantially continuous line of perforations each spaced from an adjacent perforation, said line extending continuously from one edge of said bottom layer to a second edge of said bottom layer.

7. The liner of claim 1 wherein said pattern of perforations comprises a plurality of mutually spaced lines of perforations, each said line extending entirely across the width of said bottom layer.

8. The liner of claim 7 wherein said means for retaining said layers in mutual juxtaposition comprises a first pattern of embossing extending substantially entirely across said layers adjacent one edge thereof, and a second pattern of embossing extending substantially across said layers adjacent an opposing edge thereof.

9. The liner of claim 8 wherein said top layercomprises at least two plies of wet-strength material, wherein said bottom layer also comprises at least two plies of wet-strength material, both such plies of said bottom layer being perforated in said pattern, and wherein said intermediate layer comprises a plurality of plies of creped absorbent wadding.

10. The liner of claim 1 wherein each said top and bottom layer comprises a central panel of generally rectangular configuration and of a size sufficiently large to form an effective diaper for a baby, and sufficiently small to enable an individual one of such layers when substantially severed from other portions of the liner to readily flow through a common household drainage system,

first and second barrier panels integrally formed with said central panel and adjoining said central panel along first and second inner fold lines, whereby said barrier panels may be inwardly folded to overlie said central panel,

first and second protective panels integrally formed with said barrier panels and adjoined thereto along first and second outer fold lines, whereby said protective panels may be reversely folded outwardly to overlie said barrier panels,

each said barrier and protective panels being of substantially equal width to each other panel, and each extending for substantially the entire length of said central panel,

said top and bottom layers each having a line of perforations extending substantially along said first and second inner fold lines, the perforations of each of said lines of perforations being spaced from each other by distances great enough to retain in said top and bottom layers strength sufficient only to withstand stresses and strains due to normal handling such as is involved in removing the liner from a package of liners or inserting the liner in a holder, said perforations being of sufficient size and mutual proximity to allow said central panels of said layers to be severed from said barrier panel thereof after the liner has been wholly immersed in a body of water, and the absorbent layer has become fully saturated to expand and strain portions of the wet-strength material between adjacent perforations, and after the liner panels are allowed a freedom of relative motion.

11. The liner of claim 1 wherein each said top and bottom layers comprises a central panel of generally rectangular configuration and of a size sufficiently large to form an effective diaper for a baby, and sufficiently small to enable an individual one of such layers when substantially severed from other portions of the liner to readily flow through a common household drainage system,

first and second barrier panels integrally formed with said central panel and adjoining said central panel along first and second innter fold lines, whereby said barrier panels may be inwardly folded to overlie said central panel,

said top and bottom layers each having a line of perforations extending substantially along said first and second inner fold lines, the perforations of each of said lines of perforations being spaced from each other by distances great enough to retain in said top and bottom layers strength sufficient only to withstand stresses and strains due to normal handling such as is involved in removing the liner from a package of liners or inserting the liner in a retainer, said perforations being of sufficient size and mutual proximity to allow said central panels of said layers to be severed from said barrier and protective panels thereof after the liner has been wholly immersed in a body of water, and the absorbent layer has become fully saturated to expand and strain portions of the wet-strength material between adjacent perforations, and after the liner panels are allowed a freedom of relative motion.

12. A self-disintegrating liner for use with a liner restraining and holding retainer, said liner comprising:

top and bottom layers of wet-strength material, each being formed with an elongated central panel of generally rectangular configuration and of a size that permits ready flushing of the layer central panel through a common household drainage system as an integral sheet,

first and second barrier panels integrally secured to the side edges of the central panel, each barrier panel being adapted to be folded with respect to the central panel along a longitudinally extending line joining the central panel to the barrier panel, said bottom layer central panel being formed with a pattern of perforations therethrough arranged to allow said bottom layer central panel to be separated into pieces bounding on such perforations,

first and second lines of perforations substantially coincident with respective ones of said longitudinally extending lines, said first and second lines of perforations each comprising a plurality of mutually spaced perforations ex tending entirely through both said top and bottom layers,

a plurality of intermediate layers of absorbent material having relatively little or no wet-strength interposed between said top and bottom layers,

means for maintaining said layers in mutual juxtaposition to provide a unitary multi-layered absorbent pad that will expand upon immersion in a body of water to so stress and weaken said top and bottom layers in the vicinity of said perforations that the central panels thereof will separate from said barrier panels and the central panel of said bottom layer will fragmentize upon movement of the water in which the liner is immersed to thereupon permit separation of each of said layers from the other and to permit disintegration of said absorbent material.

13. The liner of claim 12 wherein said intermediate layers each has a length substantially equal to the length of said top and bottom layers and each has a width substantially equal to but slightly less than the width of said top and bottom layers between said first and second lines of perforations.

14. The liner of claim 12 wherein said means for retaining said layers in mutual juxtaposition as a unitary multi-layered absorbent pad comprises a liner retainer, said retainer comprising a central panel substantially co-extensive with the central panel of said liner,

first and second side flaps secured and sealed to said retainer central panel along the respective side edges thereof and adapted to overlie portions of said liner central panel,

first and second end flaps secured to respectively opposite end edges of said retainer central panel and adapted to overlie end portions of said side flaps and said retainer central panel, whereby said retainer will hold said liner inserted therein with said bottom layer positioned against said retainer central panel, with said side flaps overlying respective barrier panels of said liner, with said end flaps overlying both said side flaps and respective end portions of said liner, and with said first and second lines of perforations of said top and bottom layers being positioned substantially at and protected by the junction of said retainer side flaps with said retainer central panel.

15. A diaper liner for use with a diaper retainer, said liner comprising:

top and bottom layers of wet-strength material, each layer having a central panel of generally rectangular configuration and of a size sufficiently large to form an effective diaper for a baby, and sufliciently small to enable an individual one of such layers when substantially severed from other portions of the liner to readily flow through a common household drainage system,

first and second barrier panels integrally formed with said central panel and adjoining said central panel along first and second inner fold lines, whereby said barrier panels may be inwardly folded to overlie said central panel,

first and second protective panels integrally formed with said barrier panels and adjoined thereto along fust and second outer fold lines, whereby said protective panels may be reversely folded outwardly to overlie said barrier panels,

a layer of absorbent material of relatively low-strength interposed between said top and bottom layers and having a width at least nearly equal to the width of said central panels and a length substantially equal to the length of said central panels, said top and bottom layers each having a line of perforations extending substantially along said first and second inner fold lines, the perforations of each of said lines of perforations being spaced from each other by distances great enough to retain in said top and bottom layers strength sufficient only to withstand stresses and strains due to normal handling such as is involved in removing the liner from a package of liners or inserting the liner in a holder,

said perforations being of sufficient size and mutual proximity to allow said central panels of said layers to be selfsevered from said barrier and protective panels thereof after the liner has been wholly immersed in a body of water, and after the absorbent layer has become fully saturated to expand and strain portions of the wetstrength material between adjacent perforations, whereby the liner panels are allowed a freedom of relative motion.

16. The liner of claim 15 wherein said bottom layer has an additional set of perforations extending therethrough in a pattern that traverses said central panel thereof from one of said inner fold lines to the other of said inner fold lines.

17. The liner of claim 16 wherein said additional set of perforations also extend through said intermediate layer of absorbent material, but does not extend through said top layer.

18. For use with the liner set forth in claim 15, a liner retainer comprising a main body panel substantially congruent with but slightly larger than the central panel of said liner,

first and second side flaps respectively secured to opposite side edges of said body panel and extending inwardly thereof to overlie edge portions of said body panel,

first and second end flaps respectively secured to first and second end edges of said body panel and extending inwardly thereof to overlie end edges of said side flaps and of said body panel, said retainer being constructed and arranged to receive said liner with said central panel of said liner bottom layer adjacent the body panel of said retainer, and with said retainer side flaps being received between respective pairs of protective and barrier panels, whereby the side flaps retain the barrier and central panels in position with the first and second inner fold lines and perforations thereof received within and protected by the adjoining fold of the side flaps to the body panel of the retainer, with said protective panels overlying the side flaps, and with end portions of the protective panels interposed between end portions of the side flaps and the end flaps of the retainer, whereby substantially the entire area of the side flaps and body panel of the retainer is covered by said liner and only the liner is in contact with sensitive parts of the body of a baby wearing the diaper.

19. The retainer of claim 18 wherein said end flaps are rebated for a distance extending substantially across a midsection of said body panel.

20. The retainer of claim 18 wherein each of said end flaps includesportions thereof projecting laterally outwardly from said body panel, each projecting portion of an end flap at one end of the body panel having a number of fastening elements, and wherein each projecting portion at the other end of the body panel has a larger number of fastening elements of which each is selectively cooperable with any one of the fastening elements on the projecting portions of the end flaps at the other end of the body panel, whereby either thigh size or girth 1 size of the retainer may be independently or conjointly adjusted.

21. The retainer of claim 21 wherein each said end flap is significantly narrowed at a central portion thereof extending between said projecting portions to overlie a minimum area of the associated side flaps and facilitate insertion of the liner into the retainer between said body panel and side flaps.

22. The method of forming a self-disintegrating absorbent pad comprising the steps of laminating a second layer of absorbent low-strength material upon a first layer of wet-strength material,

perforating said layers in a pattern of mutually spaced perforations extending through said layers,

laminating a third layer of wet-strength material upon said first and second layers with said second layer sandwiched between said first and third layers, and

affixing said first and third layers to each other.

23. The method of claim 22 wherein said perforating step comprises forming said perforations in a pattern that extends substantially entirely across said first layer.

24. The method of claim 23 including the step of perforating at least both said first and third layers of wet-strength material along first and second lines extending entirely across said pad in a direction substantially perpendicular to the extent of said pattern of perforations of said first layer.

25. A self-segmenting absorbent liner for a diaper garment, said liner comprising a top layer of relatively high-strength material of a size that permits ready passage of the layer through a common household drainage system as an integral sheet, said top layer having a substantially continuous and wholly unbroken body contacting surface that extends throughout at least a central portion of the top layer,

an intermediate layer of absorbent material positioned adjacent said top layer and substantially coextensive therewith,

a bottom layer of high-strength material substantially co-extensive with said top and intermediate layers and positioned adjacent said intermediate layer, said bottom layer having a pattern of perforations completely piercing said bottom layer, perforations of said pattern being closely adjacent to, but spaced from adjacent perforations, said pattern of perforations being arranged to allow said bottom layer to experience self-segmentation into pieces bounding on said perforations when said liner is immersed in a body of water and said intermediate absorbent layer expands to stress and weaken said bottom layer in the vicinity of said perforations, to thereupon permit separation of each of said layers from the other and permit disintegration of said absorbent layers, and

means for maintaining said layers in mutual juxtaposition.

26. The liner of claim 25 wherein each of said layers is of generally rectangular configuration, and wherein said means for maintaining said layers in mutual juxtaposition comprises a pattern of embossing extending along at least portions of the periphery of the liner whereby the embossing temporarily retains and secures the said top and bottom layers to each other to thereby retain said intermediate layer therebetween.

27. The liner of claim 25 wherein at least some of said perforations also pierce said intermediate layer.

28. The liner of claim 27 wherein none of said perforations pierce the outermost surface of said top layer.

29. The liner of claim 25 wherein said pattern of perforations comprises a plurality of lines of perforations, each said line extending entirely across the said bottom layer from one edge thereof to an opposite edge thereof.

30. A diaper liner for use with a diaper retainer, said retainer comprising a moisture impervious main body panel and inwardly folded side and end flaps secured and sealed to respective edges thereof, said liner comprising:

top and bottom layers of wet-strength material, each layer having a central panel of generally rectangular configuration, first and second barrier panels integrally formed with said central panel and adjoining said central panel along first and second inner fold lines, whereby said barrier panels may be inwardly folded to overlie said top layer, and whereby said liner may be readily inserted into and removed from the retainer with said central panel in full surface to surface contact with said body panel of said retainer, and with said first and second barrier panels respectively underlying said retainer side flaps, first and second protective panels integrally formed with said barrier panels and adjoined thereto along first and second outerfold lines, said protective panels having a width at least substantially equal to the width of said retainer side flaps, whereby said protective panels may be reversely folded outwardly to overlie said barrier panels, and when inserted in said retainer said protective panels overlie respective side flaps of said retainer, whereby the entire liner is held in said retainer by the interleaving of said retainer side flaps between respective pairs of barrier and protective panels of the liner, a layer of absorbent material interposed between said top and bottom layers and extending coextensively with the length of said central panel and having a width at least nearly equal to the width of the central liner panel, a pattern of embossing extending along at least portions of the periphery of the liner to secure said top and bottom layers to each other with said absorbent layer retained therebetween; and a pattern of perforations piercing at least some of said layers, and arranged to effect self-segmentation of the liner after a period of total immersion in a body of water.

31. The liner of claim 30 wherein at least said top and bottom layers are provided with pattern of perforations that pierce both said top and bottom layers in an arrangement that will effect substantial self-segmentation of said top and bottom layers into pieces bounding-upon the lines of folding of said barrier panels relative to said central panel, upon total immersion in a body of water.

32. A self-segmenting disposable multi-layered absorbent pad comprising:

top and bottom layers of relatively high wet-strength, absorbent material;

an intermediate layer of absorbent material sandwiched between said top and bottom layers, said intermediate layer being composed of material having relatively low wet strength so as to be self-disintegrating when wet and unsupported;

means retaining said layers assembled in a multi-layered and perforation means weakening said bottom layer to open said pad and release said intermediate layer for disintegration in response to relatively low tensile stresses across said perforation means, said top layer having at least a central portion for engagement with a wearer, and which is unperforated to avoid separation even when wet and subjected to stresses.

33. A self-segmenting disposable multi-layered absorbent pad as defined in claim 32 wherein said retaining means include:

a retainer having a main body portion in surface contiguity with said bottom layer and having side flaps overlying side edges of said multi-layered pad, whereby said perforation means are protected by said retainer.

34. A self-segmenting disposable multi-layered absorbent pad as defined in claim 32 in which said perforation means comprise a plurality of intersecting lines of perforations dividing said bottom layer into a plurality of separable pieces.

35. A self-segmenting disposable multi-layered absorbent pad as defined in claim 34 in which the material of said intermediate layer is of a type which expands when saturated with liquid, and thereby tends to separate said bottom layer along said perforations.

36. A self-segmenting disposable multi-layered absorbent pad as defined in claim 32 further including second perforation means dividing said intermediate layer into a plurality of separable pieces, thereby to enhance the self-disintegrating action of said intermediate layer.

37. A self-segmenting disposable multi-layered absorbent pad as defined in claim 32 in which said unperforated central portion is generally rectangular, and said top layer also has elongated side panels extending along opposite sides of said central portion and joined thereto by lines of separable perforations.

38. A self-segmenting disposable multi-layered absorbent pad as defined in claim 32 in which said retaining means include embossed joints between said top and bottom layers along the sides of said intermediate layer.

Po-ww UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFECATE 0F COREC'UN Patent No. 3,667,466 Dated June 6, 1972 Inventor) HAROLD J. RALPH It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:

T Column 2, line 33, delete "effects" and insert therefor -efforts;

line 46, delete "to" and insert therefor -or-; line 50, delete "that" andinsert therefor --than. I

Column 3, line l4, delete "or", second occurrence, and

insert therefor -on-.

Column 4, line 48, delete "23" and insert therefor 32--. Column 10, line 16, delete "leave" and inserttherefor have.

Column 11, line 1, after "both" insert -of--,-.

line 44, delete "facricated" and insert therefor fabricated.

Column 12, line 43, after "75b," delete "and".

Column 14, line 60, delete "innter" and insert therefor -inner.

Column 17, line 12, delete "21", second occurrence, and

insert therefor -20.

Signed and. sealed this 21st day of November 1972.

(SEAL) Attest:

EEKISREiMJgETQI-IERJR. ROBERT GOTTSCHALK s ng fi'icer' Commissioner of Patents

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Classifications
U.S. Classification604/364, 604/397, 604/378, 604/401, 604/375
International ClassificationA61F13/76, A61F13/56, A61F13/15
Cooperative ClassificationA61F13/15211, A61F13/505, A61F13/76, A61F13/49406
European ClassificationA61F13/505, A61F13/494A, A61F13/15J2, A61F13/76