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Publication numberUS3765580 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 16, 1973
Filing dateFeb 14, 1972
Priority dateFeb 14, 1972
Publication numberUS 3765580 A, US 3765580A, US-A-3765580, US3765580 A, US3765580A
InventorsMiranker S, Wilsker J
Original AssigneeAutomatic Steam Products Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Garment dewrinkling process and apparatus
US 3765580 A
Abstract
A garment finishing system adapted to provide dewrinkling of garments is described in which the garment is conveyed through a radiant heat energy zone which is effective to rapidly heat the garment and cause the fabric fibers to revert to their natural wrinkle-free condition.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Uite Stats Wilsiter et al.

tent 1 [45] Get. 116, 1973 GARMENT DEWRINKLING PROCESS AND APPARATUS [75] Inventors: Jay M. Wilsker, Englewood Cliffs,

N.J.; Samuel H. Miranker, Brooklyn, NY.

[73] Assignee: Automatic Steam Products Corp.,

Long Island, NY.

22 Filed: Feb. 14, 1972 211 Appl. No.: 226,096

223/51, 52; 38/144, 1 R, 1A, 3; 223/51, 52; 34/4, 37, 41; 68/5 D, 5 E, 5 C; 8/150, 149.3

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,576,661 4/1971 Dekoekkoer 34/37 X 3,696,523 10/1972 Beeley et al. 34/216 3,644,085 2/1972 Beeley et a1. 8/150 1,998,615 4/1935 Groven 34/4 X 2,374,936 1/1945 Tucker et a1. 34/4 X 2,335,798 11/1943 Schuch 34/4 X 2,745,191 5/1956 Southerland.... 223/76 X 3,145,088 8/1964 McKay 34/4 2,856,108 10/1958 Richtter 223/76 3,121,520 2/1964 Gann 223/76 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 651,704 4/1951 Great Britain 223/76,

Primary Examiner-Geo V. Larkin AttorneyMaxwe11 James et al.

[57] ABSTRACT A garment finishing system adapted to provide dewrinkling of garments is described in which the garment is conveyed through a radiant heat energy zone which is effective to rapidly heat the garment and cause the fabric fibers to revert to their natural wrinkle-free condition.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the heating elements comprise a bank of infrared heating elements disposed on opposite sides of a processing tunnel through which garments are continuously conveyed. A pre-steaming operation provided at the inlet section of the processing tunnel enhances the subsequent dewrinkling by radiant heat energy but in many cases is unnecessary. The use of radiation heating eliminates many of the problems associated with prior hot air blowing systems and in addition enables the use of plastic shipping hangers without distortion thereof. The process gives good results with a variety of fabric compositions but is particularly effective in restoring to a wrinkle-free condition garments having memory retention.

7 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures PATENTEnncnsmrs 3 765 580 sum 20F 2 fja GARMENT DEWRINKLTNG PROCESS AND APPARATUS This invention relates to garment finishing systems and more particularly to a dewrinkling system utilizing radiant heating.

The present invention relates primarily to the last step in the manufacture or cleaning of garments. During the manufacture of garments from bolt fabric, the fabric often becomes wrinkled, creased or disheveled. For example, the garment in various stages of manufacture may be disposed, between manufacturing steps, in a wrinkled condition for a period long enough for those wrinkles to set. In addition, the fabrication process itself may result in minor unwanted wrinkles or creases.

A similar problem arises in commercial laundering systems, in which the garments are laundered by washing them in heated wash water with a detergent to remove dirt and strains. The elevated temperature of the wash water together with the agitation of the washing process (usually of a tumbling nature in a confined space) invariably causes the garments to wrinkle. Upon drying the garments, the wrinkles tend to set in the fabric causing an unkempt and disheveled appearance. The above holds true to some extent for substantially all garments, even those which have been chemically treated.

In the past, such wrinkling was removed by a separate ironing process often requiring the use of a form or dummy and necessitating expensive and cumbersome pressing equipment. This process was often ineffective to remove all the wrinkles and creases, particularly in garments having pleats, collars, seams, etc.

More recently, with the advent of so called permanent press garments, new dewrinkling systems have been proposed to replace the conventional ironing process. These systems are adapted to provide dewrinkling of hanging garments and typically comprise a moisture impregnation step followed by a heating step accompanied by agitation to dry and finish the garment with a pressed-like" look. These systems have been found unsatisfactory in several important respects. Thus, the previously proposed processes utilize convective heat transfer to the garment typically in the form of a high velocity stream of air which is adapted to simultaneously provide the heating and agitation presumably required to shake out the wrinkles. Accordingly, a complex system of blowers and heat exchangers is generally required. The use of hot air blowers of this type has the significant drawback of sucking in loose threads, dust and other debris in the ambient air. As a result, filters must be used and those filters must be frequently cleaned and replaced to maintain the effectiveness of the system. Moreover, the use of such powerful blowers creates positive pressure within the finishing compartment, whereby hot air is driven into the workroom to the extreme discomfort of the operators. In addition, convective heat transfer, to be efficient, must be carried out within an enclosed compartment to avoid excessive heat dissipation and power consumption. As a result, it has been found necessary to provide mechanical doors, bags and air curtains to entrap the circulating hot air. Moreover, it has been found that convective heating sufficient to rapidly dry the garment requires temperatures of a level tending to damage the garments. As a result, these processes typically employ a relatively low temperature drying medium resulting in a rather long drying time and a slow process. The damaging effect of a high temperature drying medium apparently may be somewhat reduced by increasing its velocity or its moisture content. However, even if damage to the garment is successfully avoided, the temperature of the drying medium is limited by another important practical consideration. In the manufacture of new garments, typically the apparel is shipped to retail outlets on plastic hangers. Those hangers will begin to deform when subjected to temperatures above about F. As a result the use of a drying medium above about 180 F. requires the use of metal wire hangers for processing, after which the garments must be transferred to the plastic hangers for shipping.

Finally, it will be appreciated that garments, to which processes of this type are applicable, come in a variety of sizes, shapes and fabrics. Each garment therefore has an optimum treatment condition in terms of time, temperature, and moisture content and velocity of the drying medium (i.e., agitation), etc. While it is of course desirable in a conveyorized system to process garments of the same general character in a given run, it will be appreciated that it will often be necessary to change the above mentioned treatment conditions to accommodate the wide variety of garments typically treated. Such adjustment of temperatures, times, and drying medium content and velocity is time consuming and requires expensive control equipment.

It is a primary object of the present invention to provide a garment finishing system in which garments may be processed to a wrinkle-free condition in an extremely rapid and effective manner without the need for a'drying medium blown thereover.

It is yet another object of the invention to provide a garment dewrinkling process of the type described wherein the need for blowers, heat exchangers and filters requiring frequent servicing and maintenance is completely eliminated.

It is yet another object of the present invention to design a garment finishing process and apparatus wherein the garment is effectively rendered wrinkle free without the need for any agitation whatsoever.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide a garment finishing process and apparatus in which the garments hung on plastic hangers may be heated to elevated temperatures well above the melting point of the plastic shipping hangers, without deforming those hangers.

It is still another object of the present invention to design a garment finishing system which is suitable for garments of all sizes and shapes and provides for adjustment for garments of different fabrics in a simple and effective manner.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a garment finishing process which for many garments provides satisfactory results without the need for pre-steaming.

It is yet another object of the present invention to design a garment finishing apparatus of the conveyorized type which requires no drying medium enclosures, is extremely simple and inexpensive in construction, and operates effectively at high speeds heretofore unattainable.

To these ends, the present invention provides a garment finishing process and apparatus in which garments are moved along an endless conveyor system and are subjected to heat in the form of radiation. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the apparatus comprises an elongated narrow compartment, open at both ends and defining a tunnel through which the garment is adapted to move. One flight of an endless conveyor guide rod extends through the processing tunnel and is provided with a series of spaced hooks suitable for mounting garment hangers, those hooks being moved at an adjustable speed along the guide rod. While as here specifically described the garments are moved through the apparatus on conventional garment hangers, it will be appreciated that various other methods might be utilized to dipose the garments in a hanging condition. In this regard the term hanging condition" as used herein means any condition in which the garment under its own weight may revert to its natural unwrinkled condition.

A bank of radiative heating elements are disposed on opposite side walls, those heating elements being effective to direct radiant heat energy at the garment, along a major portion of the tunnel length. That heat energy is absorbed directly by the garment and is effective to restore the fabric fibers in the garment to their natural wrinkle-free condition thereby to produce a crisp pressed look.

In a preferred form of the invention the heating elements comprise a series of infrared lamps extending vertically along the tunnel side walls. Under optimum conditions, those lamps are adapted to subject gar ments of all shapes and sizes in a given run to an elevated temperature for a uniform time. Those optimum conditions are established for each garment fabric type by a percent timer operatively connected to the infrared lamps and adapted to provide an adjustable on-off cycle for the lamps. The conveyor speed is also preferably adjustable. In a preferred embodiment the percent timer is responsive to the conveyor drive mechanism to shut off the heating elements in the event of conveyor breakdown, thereby to avoid damage to the garments.

As here specifically described, the apparatus also includes steam generating means at the inlet area of the tunnel in the form of a pair of perforated steam pipes provided in the side walls of the processing compartment. Steam is fed under pressure to the pipes and exits through the apertures therein into the processing compartment thereby to subject incoming garments to pressurized steam at either side thereof. The steam generating means is preferably controlled by a switch at the inlet to the tunnel, which switch is effective to activate the steamer to produce a jet of steam for a predetermined duration in response to a garment entering the tunnel.

It will be appreciated, however, that while the presteaming step generally enhances the subsequent dewrinkling by radiant heat energy, in many cases equally good results are achieved in the absence of such presteaming.

The system is particularly effective in achieving a pressed-like look for all memory-recall or permanent press fabrics. Improved results are achieved in accordance with the present invention without the need for bulky and expensive heat exchangers, blowers or other agitating means. It is believed that the need for agitation is eliminated by the extremely good garment penetration of the radiant energy, whereby all creases and wrinkles in all parts of the garment are subjected to substantially uniform radiant heating.

To the accomplishment of the above, and to such other objects as may hereinafter appear, the present invention relates to a method and apparatus for finishing garments as defined in the appended claims and as de scribed in this specification taken together with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic block diagram showing the dewrinkling process of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of the processing tunnel of the present invention with the front wall broken away;

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view taken along the line 3-3 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view taken along the line 44 of FIG. 2; and

FIG. 5 is a cross sectional view taken along the line 5--5 of FIG. 2.

The processing system of the present invention is illustrated schematically by the block diagram of FIG. 1. As there shown the system is adapted for use with newly cleaned garments represented by block 10 (either conventional laundering or dry cleaning) or newly manufactured garments represented by block 12. In either case the garment is conveyed through a processing enclosure in which it is first subjected to a controlled application of steam (block 14). The steam is applied to both sides of the garment and is effective to impregnate the fabric with moisture thereby to relax the fabric fibers and loosen all wrinkles previously set" therein. The thus relaxed garment is next subjected to a controlled level of radiant heating (block 16) for a given length of time. The heating level is dictated generally by the ability of the fabric to absorb the radiant energy and the temperature level which it is capable of withstanding without permanent damage or modification of the fabric characteristics. For most typical fabrics a temperature of from 200 F. to 300 F. is sufficient and leaves a considerable safety margin. The heating time and temperature are controlled by a percent timer" 18 which is effective in response to a manual setting to maintain the radiant heating elements on for a given percentage of a 30 second heating cycle. The use of cylical actuation of the heating elements provides increased versatility at minimum power consumption. That percent timer is in turn operatively connected to the conveyor drive 20, whereby failure of the conveyor system will automatically trigger a shut off of the heating elements to protect the garments from damage. In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, the radiant heating elements are metal sheathed tubular infrared heating elements, which are preferred because of their relatively low cost and mechanical strength.

The radiant heating process herein provided has several important advantages. Primary among them is the ability to penetrate the garment fabric and rapidly provide heat energy to the entire garment. As a result, the use of a high velocity drying medium, previously considered a prerequisite to effective drying and wrinkle removal, may be completely eliminated. Because dry air is almost completely transparent to infrared radiation, substantially all of the radiant energy reaches the garment and a large percentage is absorbed (the amount of energy absorbed depends upon the wavelength used and upon fabric characteristics such as color and surface texture), thereby to provide extremely efficient heating. The garment is thus rapidly dried and dewrinkled and emerges at the outlet of the apparatus with a crisp, pressed-like appearance, yet having an extremely soft finish.

A preferred embodiment of the processing apparatus used with the above process is illustrated in FIGS. 2-5. Since that apparatus is rather conventional, it is illustrated semi-schematically and will not be described in any great detail. As best shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, it comprises a processing enclosure generally designated having side walls 22, a bottom wall 24 and a top wall 26 defining therebetween a narrow rectangular tunnel 27 having an inlet 28 and an outlet 30. The dimensions of the tunnel need only be sufficient to accommodate the steam generating means and infrared heating elements (hereinafter described) along the interior side walls with sufficient space therebetween to accommodate the passage therethrough of a typical garment in a vertically hanging position.

As best shown in FIG. 3, the garments are carried through the tunnel by a conveyor means generally designated 32. Conveyor means 32 comprises an endless conveyor guide rail 34 mounted on one side wall 22 near the top of tunnel 27 by suitable bracket means 36 and extending through the tunnel 27 and thence outwardly of wall 22 in a closed loop therearound. Mounted on guide rail 34 for movement therealong is a conveyor in the form of a chain or belt (preferably carried within the hollow guide rail and therefore not shown) carrying a plurality of hooks 38 depending in space relation therealong. Hooks 38 are spaced from one another so as to each accommodate a hanging garment 40.

The conveyor is driven in a counterclockwise direction (as viewed in FIG. 3) by a motor represented at 42 through suitable drive means such as a pulley or sprocket drive'44 in a conventional manner. Accordingly, the freshly laundered, dry cleaned or manufactured garment is placed on a hanger 68 which in turn is hung on hooks 38 at the outer flight of the conveyor, whereupon the garment enters the tunnel 27 at the inlet 28, is processed therethrough and exits at the outlet 30 in a pressed-like condition where it is removed from the conveyor for shipment orstorage.

Internally of tunnel 27, near the inlet end is a steam applying means comprising a pair of internal walls 46 slightly spaced from side walls 22 to define a pair of narrow compartments 48. As best shown in FIG. 2, positioned within compartments 48, are a pair of steam pipes 50 having a series of oppositely facing apertures 52 vertically spaced along said pipes. Internal walls 46 are provided with registering apertures 54, whereby' steam under pressure within pipes 50 may be sprayed outwardly through apertures 52 and 54, in opposing directions into the tunnel 27. That pressurized steam is provided through an inlet conduit 56 extending through top wall 26 and communicating at one end with pipes 50 and at its other end with a suitable source of pressurized steam (not shown). The steam jet is preferably activated intermittently under the control of a limit switch or the like indicated at 58 (FIG. 3) at the inlet 28 to the tunnel, which switch is tripped each time a garment enters the tunnel 27, and is effective in response thereto to activate a jet of steam through pipes 50 for a time sufficient to provide effective impregnation of the entire garment as it passes pipes 50. The primary purpose of this pre-steaming operation is to relax the fabric fibers in preparation for the subsequent radiation heating process. In addition, the moisture in the garment and the resulting vapor surrounding the garment are strong absorbers of infrared radiation and thus enhance the subsequent rapid and penetrating heating of the garment. It is noted, however, that the operative dewrinkling process is accomplished by the subsequent radiant heat treatment and pre-steaming in many cases may be dispensed with.

That heating is accomplished by a bank of infrared heating lamps 60 disposed along the internal surfaces of side walls 22 downstream of steam pipes 50. As best shown in FIG. 3, merely for illustrative purposes, there are three such infrared lamps vertically mounted on a suitable mounting frame 62 in spaced relationship along each side wall 22. Frame 62 includes a protective wire grid 63 disposed along the front face of the lamps 60. The spacing of those lamps is preferably designed to provide a uniform radiation level along the full length of the bank of lamps. Top wall 26 is provided with a plurality of closely spaced vent openings 66 to vent the slight ambient heat generated. As the garment is conveyed past the heating elements 60, it is subjected to penetrating infrared radiant energy. Substantially all of that radiant energy is absorbed by the garment and the water vapor surrounding it. As a result the entire garment is rapidly heated, causing the fabric fibers to revert to their natural wrinkle-free condition, while at the same time the garment is completely dried.

Radiative heating as described herein has been found to result not only in a more rapid and efficient heating of the garment but also in significantly improved dewrinkling results. The mechanism by which wrinkles are removed is by no means fully understood but it is believed that rapid thermal exitation of the fiber molecules is effective to shake them loose from temporary wrinkle forming bonds whereby the fabric fibers are returned to their original contour. By contrast to previous processes utilizing convective heat transfer, only a relatively short heating time is needed to bring the garment to an elevated temperature (below the critical temperature at which irreversible damage to the fabric occurs) sufficient to provide the required thermal agitation. In general that temperature varies in a range from about 200 F. to 300 F. for most garments on the market today and may be accurately found for any particular garment type only by trial and error. However, once that temperature is reached or exceeded, the dewrinkling process occurs relatively rapidly and subjection of the garment to further heating at that temperature for any substantial length of time is unnecessary. As a result, substantially increased processing speeds may be attained with no deterioration in quality. It is believed that this improved heating efficiency results at least in part from the ability of radiant heat energy to penetrate the garment and provide uniform thermal agitation throughout the entire garment whereby all portions of the garment, including internal layers at seams or collars, are rapidly brought to the required elevated temperature. The markedly improved dewrinkling effect may be a result of the mechanism of radiant energy transfer (i.e. photon induced electron excitation).

' It will be noted that the optimum intensity will vary slightly for different garments depending upon absorption characteristics and penetration. The provision for cyclically activating the infrared lamps by means of a percent timer allows considerable versatility in varying the average intensity of the radiant energy to which the garment is subjected while providing for maximum efficiency in power consumption.

An additional important advantage of the present process results from the ability to accurately control tured by E. L. Wiegand under model No. VCF202A having setting numbers -100 indicating the percentage of a 30 second cycle during which the lamps are turned on (i.e., setting 60 indicates 60 percent). As is the direction of radiant heat energy. Thus, for example, well known, the wave-length of radiant energy generthe heating elements may be designed to provide maxiated by a heating element varies with the temperature mum intensity radiation only to the height of the garof that element. Settings of from 60-80 were used and ment itself, whereby the exposed portion of the hanger those settings are believed to provide the optimum upon which it is mounted is subject to substantially less range of wavelengths for maximum absorption by the radiant heating than the garment iself. This may be a(:- garments and surrounding water vapor. The maximum complished for example as shown in FIG. 5 by positiongarment temperature reached was measured by an ining the heating elements below the top of the garment. frared thermometer manufactured by Barnes Engineer- Since as previously noted, little heat is imparted to the ing Co., model lT-3 DRl. All garments tested were air in tunnel 27, there is onlyaslight increase in the ammanufactured by the Pioneer Dress Division of Elkay bient temperature within the tunnel due to convective Manufacturing Co. and included acrylic A, polyester P, heat transfer from the internal walls of the tunnel. Concotton C and nylon N fabric compositions. The dewrinsequently, the hangers 68 may be maintained at temkling results were measured on a scale of 04 in which peratures far below the garments. As a result, the gar- 0 represents no dewrinkling effect and 4 represents exments may be processed on plastic shipping hangers 68 cellent dewrinkling effects, and is tabulated in the fol-, and the need to use metal hangers for processing and lowing table:

T emperaturatvf Setting Description Model No. Cure Garment Composition Color Weave g rm n F. of timer Results Dress 07904-B 100% Acrylic Print purple Woven 300 60 4 Smock 023694-H Perm. press 50%P/50%C Red Woven 275 60 4 Dress 8797-1 100%? Yellow Knit 245 60 3 240 70 3 275 80 4 Dress 23594-N Perm. press 50%P/50%C Egg shell & red Woven 255 60 4 Dress 43317-A 100%C White top, Woven 225 (top) 60 3+ multi-color 240 (bottom) bottom 265 (top) 70 4 280 (bottom) Dress 23098-D I00%P Navy blue Knit 260 60 3 290 70 4 Dress 43495-3 (Bodice: 65%P, %C) White Woven 255 60 4 This garment was also tested at 642 garments/hour with the following results:

(Note: Those garments that did not respond completely at a setting of 6 on the percentage timer were also run at a setting of 7.)

then to switch to plastic hangers for shipping, a mode of operation which in the past was found necessary to avoid distortion of the plastic hangers during heat treatment of the garments, is completely eliminated, resulting in increased efficiency and reduced costs.

In addition, because there is little increase in the ambient temperature within the tunnel 27, the workroom is maintained relatively cool without the need for mechanical doors, air bags or curtains to entrap hot air.

EXAMPLES 1-7 Seven different garments were processed in the instant dewrinkling system as described above. In each case the steam pressure utilized was 20 psi and the conveyor was run at approximately 12 feet per minute (320 garments per hour, the hooks 38 being spaced about 27 inches apart). The banks of infrared lamps 60 were approximately 6 feet long so that each garment took 30 seconds to traverse the heating elements. The heating elements utilized were 0.315 diameter alloy sheath tubular infrared heating elements manufactured by Chromalox, Inc. rated at 3,000 watts, 208 volts, and having a peak wavelength of 4.5 microns. The heating lamps were controlled by a percent timer manufac- Except for garments 2 and 4, the type of cure was un available from the manufacturer. As indicated from the above table, the process is particularly effective for garments with memory retention characteristics (e.g. permanent press finish, polyester, acrylic, etc.). None of the tested garments was burned or damaged. While excellent results were attained with the garments exemplified, it has been found that the present process yields results which are less than satisfactory with garments having a subsantial percentage of rayon and those in which laundering or other treating has produced uneven shrinkage.

While pre-steaming is helpful in relaxing the fabric fibers prior to radiant heating, in many instances garments have been found to react favorably to radiant heating in the absence of pre-steaming as indicated by the following examples:

EXAMPLES 8-12 The test apparatus was identical to that described above with the following exceptions. An additional heating element was added to the bank of elements on each side wall for a total of eight elements, each bank of elements being 8 feet long. The conveyor speed was tripled to 36 feet per minute (960 garments per hour) so that each garment took approximately 13 seconds to traverse the heating elements. All garments were run through at a 7.5 setting (75 percent on) of the percentage timer. Each of the garments was run through the apparatus twice, once utilizing a jet of steam (20 psi) and once without any steam. Garment temperature was not measured. In all cases the garments were wrinkled at the start. The garment compositions were as follows:

8. 65 percent polyester/35 percent cotton 9. 100 percent polyester 10. 50 percent polyester/50 percent cotton 11. 100 percent cotton permanent press 12. 100 percent Arnel triacetate Garments 8-11 were dresses. Garment 12 was a robe. All garments were manufactured by Kelwood Co. of Little Rock, Arkansas.

In each case (with or without steam) the dewrinkling results were excellent (rating 4). The garments emerged at the outlet of the tunnel 27 with substantially no wrinkles with a crisp, pressed-like look. None of the garments was burned or damaged.

lt will be apparent from the foregoing that the present invention represents a major improvement in the garment finishing or dewrinkling art. While the present process has been described specifically in connection with radiation in the infrared range of wavelengths, it will be appreciated that at least equally good results may be attained by the use of radiative heat energy in a wide range of wavelengths. For example, microwave radiation is known to have a greater penetration than infrared radiation and would give equally good (if not better) results in the present process. The possibly improved results, however, may be outweighed by the increased cost of the equipment needed to generate microwave energy. In any event, however, the basic concept of the present invention resides in the discovery that radiant heat energy when applied to a wrinkled fabric under controlled conditions is suprisingly effective to cause the fibers to revert to their natural wrinkle free condition. The use of pre-steaming enhances the dewrinkling process herein described but in many cases it is completely unnecessary. The use of radiant heating as opposed to piror conventional convective heating systems provides a tremendous increase in heating efficiency and processing speed. In addition, the directional control of radiant heating makes it possible to heat the garments to a temperature substantially above that which would cause distortion of the conventional plastic shipping hanger yet maintains such plastic shipping hangers well below that distortion temperature. Accordingly, the substantial time and expense involved in shifting the garments from metal to plastic hangers is completely eliminated.

Finally, the use of radiant heat energy eliminates the need for expensive and space consuming hot air blowing equipment which necessitates the use of filters, mechanical doors, bags and air curtains.

The process described herein is particularly effective in eliminating wrinkles from garments of fabrics with memory retention such as polyester and acrylic garments or those having a permanent press finish but equally good results have been achieved with a majority of cotton garments and most wools.

As here specifically described, the processing apparatus is designed for use by garment manufacturers or commercial launderers or dry cleaners. It will be appreciated, however, that the apparatus may be readily modified for use in coin operated cleaning establishments or even for home use.

While only a single embodiment of the present invention has herein been specifically described, it will be appreciated that many variations may be made therein Without departing from the scope of the invention, as defined in the following claims.

We claim:

l. A process for dewrinkling a wrinkled fabric garment without chemically altering same by supporting said garment in loose free-hanging condition and subjecting said garment to radiant heat energy along substantially its entire surface area to rapidly raise the temperature of said garment to a predetermined level of at least ZOO-300 F and below the level at which the fabric of said garment is burned or otherwise damaged, thereby to restore the fabric fibers to their natural wrinkle-free condition.

2. The process of claim 1, in which said radiant heat energy is in the infrared range.

3. The process of claim 1, wherein said fabric is subjected to said radiant heat energy for less than 15 seconds.

4. A process for dewrinkling fabric garments comprising: hanging said garment on a hanger in loose freehanging condition; moving said garment along a processing conveyor line while thus hung on said hanger; and while so moved subjecting said garment to radiant heat energy; thereby to rapidly heat said garment to restore the fabric fibers thereof to their natural wrinklefree condition.

5. The process of claim 4, in which said garment is subjected to said radiant heat energy for less than l5 seconds.

6. The process of claim 4, in which said radiant heat energy is in the infrared range.

7. An apparatus for dewrinkling garments, comprising a narrow tunnel having side walls, conveyor means extending in a closed loop around one of said side walls through said tunnel, hanger mounting means mounted in spaced relationship along said conveyor means and adapted to mount hangers thereon, said conveyor means being effective to move said hanger mounting means through said tunnel, and radiative heating means along said side walls of said tunnel effective when activated to radiate intense heat energy into said tunnel, the intensity of said radiation dropping sharply above the level corresponding to the top of a garment when said garment is mounted on a hanger mounted on said mounting means.

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Referenced by
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US3891389 *Jan 31, 1973Jun 24, 1975Us AgricultureShrinkage-control treatment for knitted fabrics
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Classifications
U.S. Classification223/52, 68/5.00D, 34/266, 223/70, 8/149.3
International ClassificationD06F73/00, D06F73/02
Cooperative ClassificationD06F73/02
European ClassificationD06F73/02