US 3754065 A
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Aug. 21, 1973 J. F. HOFMANN ET AL 3,754,065
METHOD OF MAKING A FLOOR COVERING lNCLUDING PLACING CHIPS IN A GRID PATTERN Filed Maren 9, 1970 INVENTOR JOHN F. HOFMANN DAVlD H- REED BY W 3 m ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,754,065 METHOD OF MAKING A FLOOR COVERING INCLUDING PLACING CHIPS IN A GRID PATTERN John F. Hofmann, and David H. Reed, Lancaster, Pa., assignors to Armstrong Cork Company, Lancaster, Pa. Filed Mar. 9, 1970, Ser. No. 17,669 Int. Cl. B29c 17/00, 21/00, 23/00 U.S. Cl. 264-70 1 Claim ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The sheet material is provided With a plurality of pockets in a grid-like pattern. A plurality of chips sized to fit in the pockets are dumped upon the sheet material. The sheet material passes across a horizontal vibrating table which positions the chips in the pockets of the grid. The sheet material then passes across a slanted vibrating table which removes excessive chips from the sheet material. The chips are now consolidated to the sheet material by appropriate heat and pressure.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Field of the invention The invention is directed to a method of making a flooring material and, more particularly, to a technique for placing decorative chips in a pocketed grid pattern of the sheet material.
Description of the prior art U.S. Pat. No. 3,056,224 discloses one technique for arranging chips on the surface of the sheet material. The chips are dumped onto the sheet material and a vibrator is used to distribute the chips across the surface of the sheet material. The dumping of the chips onto the sheet material is controlled so that one does not get doubles, that is, a chip placed upon a chip. The chips are oriented in a random manner on the sheet material. U.S. Pat. No. 3,150,022 discloses another technique for placing chips upon the sheet material, and likewise here the chips are placed upon the sheet material in a random manner.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,359,354 discloses a method of making ceramic tile structures from a plurality of individual pieces. The individual pieces are placed in a grid-like pattern to secure the desired arrangement of the pieces. Appropriate binder structure is then used to hold the tiles in their rearranged locations.
The first two above-mentioned patents deal with iioor covering structures, but in no way are interested in the placing of the chips in preselected positions. While the third patent may disclose the prepositioning of ceramic tiles in a mold for their later assembly as a unitary structure, this third patent in no way suggests the modification of the first two structures to provide for a flooring structure which is capable of having the prearranged placement of chips. That is, the inventive technique herein provides for the selective placement of color chips in a definite pattern arrangement to provide a coordination of the color with a geometric distribution of the chips.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The subject invention relates to a floor covering consisting of small opaque and transparent square chips arranged in a grid pattern having correspondingly squareshaped apertures or pockets in which the chips are placed. When the chips are in proper position, the assembly is consolidated to form the floor covering.
The chips are assembled into the grid by a method which comprises spreading the chips across the moving grid by use of a peg roll feeder. The chip-covered grid is then moved across a horizontal vibrating table. This vi- 3,754,065 Patented Aug. 21, 1973 P CC bration causes filling of the pockets in the grid and leaves a large number of excess chips on top of the grid surface. Removal of these excess chips occurs when the grid is passed over another vibrating table having a surface which slopes downwardly at each side or on only one side at an angle of about 2 degrees. The slope plus the vibration causes the excess chips to slide off the sides of the grid.
The grid itself is formed by doctoring a layer of dry blend onto a Hydrocord backing, which is a trademarked material of Armstrong Cork Company. The dry blend and Hydrocord" are then passed under or through a heating oven in order to place the dry blend in a molten state. The material then passes to an embossing roll which places the desired pattern holes or pockets in the surface of the grid while the vinyl is still in its molten condition. After the forming and filling of the grid in the abovementioned manner, the entire mass is then consolidated by heating and roll pressing.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. I is a showing of the apparatus utilized to form the grid member;
FIG. II is a showing of the apparatus used to place the chips in the grid pockets; and
FIG. III is a showing of the apparatus used to consolidate the chips on the grid backing.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The product herein is manufactured by the use of the materials disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,056,224. Referring to FIG. I, the backing layer 2 of Hydrocord is fed off a roll assembly 4. The dry blend material 6 is placed on the top of the backing material, and a leveling roll 8 distributes the dry blend to the required height. The backing layer with the dry blend passes through a heat area 10' which melts the dry blend. While the dry blend is still in its molten state, it is passed through an embossing roll assemby 12 composed of a backup roll 14 and an embossing roll 16 which has thereon a plurality of raised areas to form the pockets or grid pattern in the dry blend resting upon the backing layer. After embossing, the dry blend and backing layer are permitted to cool and then rolled up on a roll-up assembly 18. There has now been produced the grid surface on which chips are to be positioned. The grid configuration is designed to provide for the selective layout and arrangement of the chips in the desired pattern.
The grid surface is unrolled from the unrolling apparatus 20, and the grid surface 22 passes under a chip dispensing structure. This structure is nothing more than a conveyor 24 which has a hopper structure thereabove holding the plurality of chips. A peg roll or feed roll 26 controls the level of chips which move across the conveyor. The peg roll also spreads the chips out across the conveyor 24 so that, when they drop upon the grid surface 22, they will be somewhat spread traversely across the grid surface sheet. As can be seen in area 28, the chips are placed on the grid surface with a large number of excess chips. That is, there are more chips present on the grid surface than there are pockets to receive the chips. The grid surface sheet passes across a horizontal vibrator 30 which vibrates the sheet and chips and provides for a 100% filling of the pockets of the grid surface by the chips. Naturally, the chips are sized so that they will readily slide into the pockets.
The grid surface sheet, with its pockets full, and the excess chips are now fed to a second vibrator 32 which is inclined. This vibrator may be inclined like the ridge of a roof with a raised area in the center and slopes down either side, or there may be a single incline from the high side to a low side. The incline is about 2 degrees. The incline plus the vibration will cause the excess chips, which are not retained in a pocket, to slide on the grid surface sheet. However, the vibration and incline are not such as to cause chips to jump out of the pockets in which they are retained. As the sheet leaves vibrator 32, all the pockets should be filled with chips and all excess chips should be removed from the sheet. The chips which could be of various color combinations have now been placed in selective positions to provide a particular pattern layout for the chips. This differs from the prior art structures, which provided only a random chip pattern displacement. The sheet material now passes to a heating means 34 which softens both the chips and back-up layer or the previously melted dry blend. The assembly then passes on to a roll press 36 which presses the chips slightly into the softened former dry blend structure so that there is a certain degree of adherence of the chips to the grid pattern material.
At this point the grid pattern sheet could be moved on to the operation of FIG. III or it could be rolled up on a roll-up assembly 38 and then later unrolled in an unrolling assembly 40 and passed into a heating area 42. Likewise, the heating area 34 could be used to perform the function of the heating area 42. In area 42 the former dry blend material and the chips are heated sufficiently so that the chips may be pressed into the former dry blend material by a roll press 44 to yield a fiat surface sheet. Obviously, the degree of softening of the former dry blend material and the degree of pressing by the roll press structure 44 could provide an embossed-like structure by not pressing the chips completely into the grid pattern sheet, but allowing the chips to be slightly raised above the surface of the grid pattern sheet. A second heating area 46 and a second roll press 48 may also be utilized to further consolidate the chips and the grid surface material to provide the finished product which, after cooling, is rolled up on assembly 50.
As previously indicated, the particular material utilized is basically the material disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,056,- 224. The operating temperatures for the dilferent heating areas are basically the same as that set forth in the above- 4 mentioned patent. The method herein differs from the above-mentioned patent and the bulk of the prior art in that the provision of a grid surface sheet with a prearranged pocket pattern now permits the selective placement of chips in a predetermined pattern, and, therefore, something other than a random design may be utilized.
What is claimed is:
1. The method of manufacturing a floor material comprising the steps of: forming a thermoplastic sheet material with a plurality of pockets embossed therein in a predetermined pattern configuration, depositing a large excess of thermoplastic chips on the surface of the sheet, said chips being sized to fit into the pockets of the sheet with one chip per pocket, passing the sheet and chips across a vibrating structure to cause vibration of the chips and sheet so that the pockets of the sheet are 100% filled with chips, passing the sheet material with its filled pockets and excess chips across a second vibrator with the sheet inclined slightly from the horizontal so that the vibration of the second vibrator causes the excess chips to slide oi the sheet without the dislodging of any chips from the pockets of the sheet, and then consolidating the chips and sheet material by heat and pressure to permanently afiix the chips to the sheet material with the chips in the prearranged pattern determined by the pockets in the sheet.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,056,224 10/1962 Almy et al. 161-38 3,012,901 12/1961 Reese 264- 3,351,510 11/1967 Harris 264--246 3,536,794 10/1970 Stevenson 264-250 3,377,184 4/1968 Ku'koff 117-19 2,931,736 4/1960 Park 117-19 3,383,442 5/1968 Mountain 156-297 X DONALD J. ARNOLD, Primary Examiner W. E. HOAG, Assistant Examiner U.S. Cl. X.R.