Composite feather filament material
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The present invention relates to the combination of feather fibers or barbs, along with a thermoplastic binder, such as polypropylene or polyethylene, to form a thermally processed composite mat useful in vehicle interior trim and insulation components.

Keller, Michael D. (Fort Wayne, IN, US)
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International Classes:
C08J5/04; D04H1/04; D04H1/42; G10K11/162; (IPC1-7): D04H3/08
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What is claimed is:

1. A composite mat comprising: feather fibers; and a thermoplastic binder.

2. The mat of claim 1 in which said thermoplastic is selected from the group consisting of polypropylene and polyethylene.

3. The mat of claim 1 in which said feather fibers are between 0.25 inches to 2.0 inches in length.

4. The mat of claim 1 in which the ratio of said fibers to said binder is in the ranges of 1:1 to 1:10 by weight.

5. The mat of claim 1 further comprising a surface material applied to one side of said mat.

6. The mat of claim 1 further comprising a second fiber selected from the group consisting of hemp and jute.

7. The method of forming a composite filament material comprising the steps of: mixing feather filaments with a binder; and molding the mixed composition into a vehicle interior trim panel.



[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to the creation of a new composite utilizing thermoplastic materials and feather fiber for use in the transportation industry. The invention is especially useful in creation of a composite mat having light weight, superior acoustical properties, and a low cost.

[0003] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0004] The bird and poultry rendering industry has had, for a long time, an excess of material leftover from production. Such leftover material typically includes bird feathers.

[0005] Additionally, there is a need for materials that are light weight, economical, use inexpensive base materials, and are strong, moldable, and have high acoustic attenuation characteristics. Industries that need such material would include the transportation industry, namely for manufacturing and installation of vehicle's interior trim and insulation components, and in the building industry for creation of acoustical insulation panels for home and office, along with other interior partition panels. Currently these industries use molded foam or fiberglass composite materials that are costly.


[0006] According to the present invention a composite filament material is created combining various lengths of feather material filaments with a thermoplastic material binder, such as polypropylene and polyethylene. The composite material is thermally or chemically processed to form a mat material for subsequent forming. Such material may be molded or formed as needed into a molding or interior trim panel, along with or without the addition of vinyl, cloth, or other surface materials in vehicle trim applications.

[0007] By varying the ratio of the feather filaments and binding materials, along with the composite thickness, and/or by adding hemp, jute, or other similar fiber components, a thicker mat may be produced. Such thicker mat may be used for insulation, acoustic or sound barrier products.

[0008] The invention comprises, in one form thereof, a method of mixing feather filaments with a thermoplastic material binder to form a composite material which is thermally or chemically processed to form a material mat. The mat may be subsequently molded or formed as needed into an article, such as a vehicle interior trim panel.

[0009] The invention comprises, in another form thereof, a method of combining feather fibers or barbs, but possibly including portions of the quill shaft, with a thermoplastic fiber binder to form a composite feather filament material. Such composite material may be formed or molded into articles such as insulation panels, or other items for the transportation and building industry.

[0010] One advantage of the present invention is that the composite material is lighter than current foam products utilized in the transportation or building industry for interior trim or insulation components.

[0011] Another advantage of the present invention is that the composite material compared to current foam products, have improved acoustic attenuation characteristics.

[0012] Yet another advantage of the present invention is that the composite material may be useful in vehicles for particular parts, such as head liners, back panels, wall panels, side panels, door panels, insulation and acoustic barriers, along with stationary engine applications for sound, vapor, or other barrier type uses.


[0013] Feathers, the principle cover of birds, are typically of flat two-dimensional construction. Feathers include a hard tubular quill shaft from one end to the other, with a large number of serially paired branches, either barbs or filaments, forming a flattened, usually curved surface, the vane, having leading and trailing edges. The barbs or filaments possess further branches, the barbules, and such barbules connect to adjacent barbs which are connectable to one another by hooks thereby stiffening the vane.

[0014] The present invention utilizes the barbs or filaments of the feathers after they have been removed from the center quill. After such separation, barbs or filaments are separated into various size lengths.

[0015] Thermoplastic binders utilized in the present invention include polypropylene and polyethylene. In other forms of the invention, other binders may include styrenes, nitrites, polycarbonates, polytherimides, acrylonitriles, polyesters, polyurethanes, polybutylenes, and/or terephthalate resins. In other forms of the invention similar amorphous, semi-crystalline, amorphous/crystalline blends of polymers, or resins may utilized. The actual selection of any particular thermoplastic is dependent upon the end product desired, such that interior trim panels of vehicles versus sound barriers may necessitate a different selection of the thermoplastic binder. Additionally, dependent upon the species of feather utilized, different binders or pre-treatments of the filament or barbs may be needed.

[0016] The combination of the feather fibers, along with a thermoplastic binder, would typically be combined in a chamber with swiftly circulating air (in one form of the invention) to ensure entire coverage of the filaments with the binder. Alternatively, simple batch processing of the combination may be utilized. The combined materials may be thermally processed into a mat or other shape that would eventually serve as a substrate or molding for forming the desired end products. An alternative to the thermoprocessing (as typically used with thermoplastics) may include a chemical or resin process to adhere or congeal the product together.

[0017] Of importance in the final product, would be its physical characteristics. The inventor foresees necessitating a particular critical selections of the fiber filament lengths to create the necessary features of the composite mat. Fiber lengths between approximately 0.25 inches to 2 inches is foreseen as being utilized in the invention with a preference to a fiber length of approximately 1 inch in length.

[0018] Ratios between the feather fibers and the thermoplastic binder may range from 1:1 to 1:10 by weight. Alternatively, other ratios may be utilized. The preferred ratio is that of utilizing just enough binder by weight to sufficiently hold the fibers together in their matrix having the required physical features of strength and acoustic impedance as necessitated by the ultimate use or end product.

[0019] After the composite mat has been formed, additionally, other molding or forming of the composite may be utilized, along with application of vinyls, cloths, or other surface material to create a standardized outside surface or appearance. Such finishing outer surfaces would serve well for the composite mats utilized in vehicles interior trim applications or panel utilization at home or in offices.

[0020] While this invention has been described as having a preferred design, the present invention can be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles. Further, this application is intended to cover such departures from the present disclosure as come within known or customary practice in the art to which this invention pertains and which fall within the limits of the appended claims.