NONWOVEN FABRIC COMPRISING NEEDLED
AND SELECTIVELY FUSED FINE AND COARSE
FILAMENTS HAVING DIFFERING SOFTENING
TEMPERATURES WHICH IS USEFUL AS A 5 BACKING IN THE PRODUCTION OF TUFTED
MATERIALS New uses are being developed for nonwoven fabrics, a major use of which is as a primary and/or secondary backing for a carpet. Traditionally, jute has been used as 10 a backing material for carpets but because of the lack of reliability in the supply of jute, substitutes have had to be developed. It has been found that nonwoven fabric can be used successfully but some of these fabrics have had a tendency toward excessive shrinkage during car- IS pet manufacture and failure of the backing to retain the tufted pile secured to the backing because of fiber breakage. In the use of nonwoven fabrics for carpet backing, the integrity of the fabric is normally maintained by fusing or bonding portions of the fibers to- 20 gether. Tufting the pile in such a backing to form a carpet requires excessive tufting force because the fibers are less capable of moving relative to one another to allow the tufting to be inserted through the carpet backing. This also leads to excessive tufting noise plus weak- 25 ening of the carpet backing.
The principal objects and advantages of the present invention are: to provide a nonwoven fabric which is useable as a carpet backing or the like which overcomes the above-mentioned difficulties; to provide such a fab- 30 ric which is easy to manufacture with currently available equipment requiring a minimum, of equipment modification; to provide such a fabric which is well adapted for its intended use; and to provide a method of manufacturing a non-woven fabric wherein the pro- 35 duced fabric requires reduced needling force for tufting.
Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings 40 wherein are set forth by way of illustration and example certain embodiments of the present invention.
FIG. 1 is a top view of a nonwoven fabric shown magnified approximately 50 X.
FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the fabric shown in FIG. 45 1 magnified approximately the same amount.
FIG. 3 is an edge view of the fabric shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 and is magnified approximately SOX.
FIG. 4 is an edge view of the fabric as used to form a carpet backing and having pile inserted therein. 50
FIG. 5 is a plan view of an apparatus used to produce a nonwoven fabric.
As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein, however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely 55 exemplary of the invention which may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to 60 variously employ the present invention in virtually any appropriate detailed structure.
The reference numeral 1 designates generally a nonwoven fabric comprised of a blend of fine staple fibers and coarse staple fibers, both of which are randomly 65 oriented within the network of the fabric 1. The fibers are of a synthetic material such as polypropylene and copolymers thereof, with the coarse fibers being of a
denier at least twice the denier of the fine fibers. The use of the word "denier" herein is interpreted to mean fiber denier value is based on the assumption that the materials of the fibers have the same density. In other words, denier is used as a measure of the relative cross-sectional areas of the particular fibers. The fine fibers are selectively needled instead of the coarse fibers whereby portions of the fine fibers extend generally transverse to the plane of the fabric as can be seen in FIG. 3 with the fine fibers being those that are darker. Also, the fine fibers are fused at overlapping portions thereof to provide integrity for the nonwoven fabric.
The material of the coarse fibers can be of the same material or the fine fiber can be of one material and the coarse fiber can be of another material to help provide for the selective fusing or bonding of the fine fibers. To accomplish this, the fine fibers have a higher melt flow than the coarse fibers. This difference should be at least 10 melt flow units as measured by ASTM D1238-65T condition L. This, then, means that the fine fibers have a lower softening temperature whereby same will fuse or bond together in preference to bonding or fusing of the coarse fibers. However, proper selection of the fusing temperature will allow a certain limited amount of fusing and/or mechanical bonding between the fine fiber and the coarse fiber when the fabric is produced by the method described below. However, the majority of the length of the coarse fibers is unfused to the fine fibers and thereby allows the coarse fibers to move within the interstices of the fabric. The coarse fibers are also held within the interstices of the fabric by frictional engagement with fine fibers and other coarse fibers.
The coarse fibers are preferably of a longer length than the fine fibers as for example, about 5 to 8 inches and preferably 6 to 7 inches (15 cm.) or longer, while the fine fibers are about 1£ to 5 inches and preferably 3 to 4 inches (10 cm.). The use of long fibers provides more strength for the fabric and also results in a fabric having decreased elongation and the use of the fine fibers in connection with the coarse fibers provides for better cover with less material fibers when the nonwoven fabric is in use as for example as a primary or secondary carpet backing.
As described above, when needling of the nonwoven fabric during manufacture, a proper selection of barb size on the needles results in selection of the fine fibers in preference to the coarse fibers wherein certain portions of the fine fibers extend generally transverse to the plane of the fabric to help provide integrity for same after fusing. By proper selection of the coarse fiber cross-sectional area, same will not be selected by the needles during needling wherein same will lie in a plane substantially parallel to the plane of the fabric. Because of the selective fusion by the proper selection of melt flows for the respective fibers, the coarse fibers are relatively free to move within the interstices of the fabric which when the fabric is used, as for example for a carpet backing, the tufting force can be reduced. Four fabrics having substantially the same weight of fibers were made and the tufting force measured is shown in the following table: