Title:
Starch applicator system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides a new starch applicator devices, systems, and methods. In general, the device includes a substrate that is capable of releasably holding a compound that includes a starch. The substrate may hold the compound via a variety of means, such as absorption where the compound is a liquid, and adhesion when the compound is a powder. The systems teach methods of providing the compound-containing substrates, and the methods instruct how to use the compound-containing substrates.



Inventors:
Lynch, Heather (Mesquite, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/346632
Publication Date:
07/29/2004
Filing Date:
01/16/2003
Assignee:
LYNCH HEATHER
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D06M15/11; D06M23/02; (IPC1-7): B65D81/24
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Primary Examiner:
CEGIELNIK, URSZULA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Steven Thrasher (Richardson, TX, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A starch applicator system, comprising a substrate that is capable of releasably holding a compound comprising a starch.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein the substrate holds a compound comprising a starch via absorption to achieve a moist substrate.

3. The system of claim 1 wherein the substrate holds a compound comprising a starch via surface adhesion such that the substrate and compound are dry.

4. The system of claim 1 wherein the compound is a liquid comprising a starch.

5. The system of claim 1 wherein the compound is a powder comprising a starch.

6. The system of claim 1 wherein the compound comprises a starch and a stain blocker.

7. The system of claim 1 wherein the compound comprises a starch and a stain remover.

8. The system of claim 1 wherein the compound comprises a starch and a perfume.

9. The system of claim 1 wherein the compound comprises a starch and an insect repellent.

10. The system of claim 1 wherein the compound comprises a starch and an anti-flaking agent.

11. A starch applicator system, comprising: a substrate that is capable of releasably holding a compound that includes a starch; and a substrate container that is enabled to removably contain a substrate.

12. The system of claim 11 wherein the substrate container is adapted to minimize evaporation.

13. The system of claim 11 wherein the substrate container is adapted to promote the removal of one substrate at a time via a tight-opening located in the container.

14. The system of claim 11 further comprising a second substrate, the second substrate and the substrate being integrally attached, and being separated by a perforation that does not tear unless a predefined tearing force of tension is applied to the perforation.

15. The system of claim 11 further comprising a second substrate, the second substrate being folded with the substrate.

16. The system of claim 11 wherein the substrate container is a resealable plastic bag.

17. The system of claim 11 wherein the substrate container is a self-sealing cylindrical container that is adapted to accept a roll of substrates.

18. The system of claim 11 wherein the substrate container is resealable, and adapted to accept a plurality of folded and stacked substrates.

19. The system of claim 11 further comprising a removable package seal that environmentally isolates a substrate within the substrate container.

20. The system of claim 11 wherein the substrate container is a cardboard box.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The invention relates to fabric, and more particularly, the invention relates to fabric starch.

Statement of a Problem Addressed by the Invention

[0002] In both residential and commercial applications, starch has long been used to provide fabric with a wrinkle-free, crisp feel and appearance. One exemplary starch formulation is discussed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,023,978 to Messina, filed on May 17, 1977 and entitled Aerosol Spray Starch Formulation (Messina). Messina discloses the use of a starch component, a polyhydric material, a nonionic surfactant, and a mixture of boric acid and borax in an aqueous medium, the mixture being propelled with a normally gaseous liquefied propellant. Messina also discusses various starch components, such as that derived from corn, wheat, rice, grain sorghum, waxy grain sorghum, waxy maize or tapioca, or mixtures thereof. Other starches are also used in the industry, such as propoxylated and ethoxylated starches, alkoxylated low-viscosity starches and their related hydrophobic starches. Of course, other starches are also well known in the art, and it is anticipated that additional starches will be developed in the future that have applicability to the present disclosure.

[0003] Typically, starch is applied to fabric via an aerosol can, however some of the efficacy of the starch is lost in aerosol since the starch is diluted with a solvent that facilitates spraying (often such mixtures are as little as 2%-6% starch, by weight). This results in inefficient transport costs and less cost-effective starch delivery. In addition, cans of spray starch are heavy and thus expensive to transport, are potentially dangerous as a gas under pressure, and release hydrocarbons and other environmentally questionable materials into the environment. Accordingly, there are needed devices, systems and methods for delivering a spray starch, and there are also needed starch-containing compounds that are advantageously delivered using the disclosed devices and systems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The invention provides technical advantages as non-aerosol devices, systems and methods for applying starch to fabric. In one embodiment, the invention contemplates a substrate-type delivery, whereby the substrate is damp with a compound comprising a starch. In another embodiment, the invention contemplates a substrate-type delivery, whereby the substrate is dry and is powdered with a dry compound comprising a starch. Methods of delivery to achieve various starching qualities, and alternative packaging systems are also discussed, as are compounds comprising starch and an additive, such as a perfume, a fabric softener, an anti-flaking agent, a stain remover or a stain blocker, for example.

[0005] Of course, other features and embodiments of the invention will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. After reading the specification, and the detailed description of the exemplary embodiment, these persons will recognize that similar results can be achieved in not dissimilar ways. Accordingly, the detailed description is provided as an example of the best mode of the invention, and it should be understood that the invention is not limited by the detailed description. Accordingly, the invention should be read as being limited only by the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0006] Various aspects of the invention, as well as an embodiment, are better understood by reference to the following EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENT OF A BEST MODE. To better understand the invention, the EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENT OF A BEST MODE should be read in conjunction with the drawings in which:

[0007] FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a starch applicator system; and

[0008] FIG. 2 shows on one embodiment of a starch applicator;

[0009] FIG. 3 shows an alternative embodiment of a starch applicator;

[0010] FIG. 4 is a block-flow diagram of one method of using a starch applicator; and

[0011] FIG. 5 is a block-flow diagram of an alternative method of using a starch applicator, which is preferred to achieve a heavy-starch effect.

AN EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENT OF A BEST MODE

Interpretation Considerations

[0012] When reading this section (An Exemplary Embodiment of a Best Mode, which describes an exemplary embodiment of the best mode of the invention, hereinafter “exemplary embodiment”), one should keep in mind several points. First, the following exemplary embodiment is what the inventor believes to be the best mode for practicing the invention at the time this patent was filed. Thus, since one of ordinary skill in the art may recognize from the following exemplary embodiment that substantially equivalent structures or substantially equivalent acts may be used to achieve the same results in exactly the same way, or to achieve the same results in a not dissimilar way, the following exemplary embodiment should not be interpreted as limiting the invention to one embodiment.

[0013] Likewise, individual aspects (sometimes called species) of the invention are provided as examples, and, accordingly, one of ordinary skill in the art may recognize from a following exemplary structure (or a following exemplary act) that a substantially equivalent structure or substantially equivalent act may be used to either achieve the same results in substantially the same way, or to achieve the same results in a not dissimilar way.

[0014] Accordingly, the discussion of a species (or a specific item) invokes the genus (the class of items) to which that species belongs as well as related species in that genus. Likewise, the recitation of a genus invokes the species known in the art. Furthermore, it is recognized that as technology develops, a number of additional alternatives to achieve an aspect of the invention may arise. Such advances are hereby incorporated within their respective genus, and should be recognized as being functionally equivalent or structurally equivalent to the aspect shown or described.

[0015] Second, the only essential aspects of the invention are identified by the claims. Thus, aspects of the invention, including elements, acts, functions, and relationships (shown or described) should not be interpreted as being essential unless they are explicitly described and identified as being essential. Third, a function or an act should be interpreted as incorporating all modes of doing that function or act, unless otherwise explicitly stated (for example, one recognizes that “tacking” may be done by nailing, stapling, gluing, hot gunning, riveting, etc., and so a use of the word tacking invokes stapling, gluing, etc., and all other modes of that word and similar words, such as “attaching”). Fourth, unless explicitly stated otherwise, conjunctive words: (such as “or”, “and”, “including”, or “comprising” for example) should be interpreted in the inclusive, not the exclusive, sense. Fifth, the words “means” and “step” are provided to facilitate the reader's understanding of the invention and do not mean “means” or “step” as defined in §112, paragraph 6 of 35 U.S.C., unless used as “means for functioning-” or “step for -functioning-” in the Claims section.

The Exemplary Figures

[0016] FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a starch applicator system 100. The starch applicator system 100 generally includes a substrate container 130 having a substrate 110. The substrate 110 can be any solid material capable of carrying and releasing compounds that include a starch, which are described below. Exemplary substrates include, for example, solid particulates including solid absorbent particulates, paper, woven fabrics, nonwoven fabrics, natural fibers, polymeric films including formed polymeric films, formed polymeric particles or mixtures of any of the forgoing, for example. Of course, it is anticipated that upon reading this patent, those of ordinary skill in the art will identify other usable substrates. Preferably, the substrate 110 is capable of releasably holding a compound comprising a starch. In one embodiment the substrate 110 holds a liquid compound comprising a starch via absorption to achieve a moist substrate, while in an alternative embodiment the substrate and compound are dry, and surface adhesion causes the compound to store in the substrate until released by heat, tumbling, steam, rubbing or air circulation, for example. In a preferred embodiment, a cyclodextrin complex is used to facilitate the storage of a compound in the substrate 110. A substrate having a starch is sometimes called a starch applicator.

[0017] Many materials can be mixed with a starch to produce a starch-containing compound, and then incorporated with a substrate to produce a starch applicator. The use of different materials will depend, in part, on the desired results, as well as on the desired physical state of the compound. For example, when the compound is a liquid (including at least a starch), various choices of materials, (including chemicals) will be made and the materials selected are different from the materials selected to achieve similar effects when a solid-form starch compound (such as a powder) is used with a substrate. Nevertheless, preferred compound materials may be chosen from at least: stain blockers, stain removers, perfumes, insect repellents (including moth treatments), anti-flaking agents, or dry-cleaning chemicals, for example. The various concentrations and chemical formulations of these mixtures depend on desired treatment effects, and are at least experimentally knowable or discoverable by those of ordinary skill in the art. Accordingly, the varying concentrations and structure of each compound is incorporated into the claims of the invention.

[0018] The starch applicator system 100 also includes a means for removing 120 coupled to the substrate container 110. Means for removing 120 is any known structure that allows a substrate to be removed from the substrate container 110. Exemplary substrate containers include, for example, lids, closable holes, or crosscut plastic dispensers.

[0019] FIG. 2 shows one embodiment of an alternative starch applicator system 200. The starch applicator system 200 includes a roll of substrates 230, where each substrate is capable of releasably holding a compound that includes a starch (as described above), and a substrate container 210 that is enabled to removably contain a substrate. In FIG. 2 the substrate container 210 is a cylindrical in shape, and is adapted to limit evaporation by limiting the exposure of the substrate to the ambient environment. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 2, a crosscut plastic dispenser 214 is provided in a lid 212 that couples to the substrate container, such as via a snap or screw threads. The crosscut plastic dispenser 214 is one structure that promotes the removal of one substrate at a time via the tight opening created by the crosscut structure. Furthermore, the substrate container 210 has a nipple 220 therein on which the role of substrates 230 rests. The role of substrates 230 rests on the nipple 220 via a hollow center in the roll of substrates, which may be created by an optional tube 234, or may be formed by the natural hollow formation that occurs when flat sheets are rolled.

[0020] Accordingly, the role of substrates 230 comprises a first substrate 236 which partially protrudes through the crosscut plastic dispenser 214, and a second substrate 238, the second substrate 238 and the first substrate 236 being integrally attached, and being separated by a perforation 232 that does not tear unless a predefined tearing force of tension is applied to the perforation, typically by a person pulling on the first substrate 236. One advantage of the crosscut plastic dispenser 214 is that it allows the substrate container 210 to act as a self-sealing cylindrical container that is adapted to accept a roll of substrates 230.

[0021] FIG. 3 shows an alternative embodiment of a starch applicator system 300. The starch applicator system 300 is embodied as a generally oblong, cubical-shaped polygonal box 310, but of course may be embodied in almost any shape imaginable. The system 300 includes a lid 312 that is coupled to the box 310 via a hinge 314. In a preferred embodiment, the lid 312 is integrally formed with the box 310 and the hinge 314 is embodied as a line of inflection between the lid 312 and the box 310.

[0022] The lid 312 couples to the box so as to create an environmentally isolated and resealable system via a first clamp 324 which couple to a first nipple 320, and a second clamp 326, which couples to the second nipple 322. The clamps are coupled with, and preferably integral with the lid 312, while the nipples are coupled with and preferably integral with the box 310. It is preferred that the system 300 be made of a plastic, rubber or other water-resistant material (particularly when employing damp substrates), however, when dry substrates are used, the box may be made of cardboard or a cardboard having a lining of wax, plastic or other material. In one portable travel embodiment, the system is a resealable plastic bag (not shown). Also not shown is a removable package seal that environmentally isolates a substrate within the substrate container. Such seals include plastic and foil sheets that are glued to the box to environmentally isolate substrates in the box. Of course, the system may provide a first substrate and a second substrate as a stack of substrates. The stack of substrates may be inter-folded together, or merely stacked one on top of another.

[0023] One preferred method of using a starch applicator calls for removing the starch applicator from container, and then wiping it directly on an article of clothing or other fabric to remove wrinkles. This works with either a dry starch applicator or a damp starch applicator, although the starching (stiffness) and wrinkle-reducing effects of the damp starch applicator are generally stronger. Furthermore, it is appreciated that the starch applicator, when used this way, also reduces and may completely eliminate static cling.

[0024] FIG. 4 is a block-flow diagram of one method of using a starch applicator embodied as an iron method 400. The iron method 400 begins with a preparation act 410 where a user places the fabric to be starched on an ironing board or other surface that promotes wrinkle-reduction. Then, in an apply starch act 420, a starch applicator is removed from packaging and, depending on a starching effect desired, is used in the following manner:

[0025] 1. If only wrinkle reduction is desired, the user may apply the starch applicator to the fabric in areas of desired wrinkle reduction, and then proceed to an iron act 430 (below) and iron the fabric in a normal manner as if no starch were present;

[0026] 2. If a light starch is desired, then is the starch applicator is placed underneath the fabric before proceeding to the iron act 430; and

[0027] 3. If a heavy starch is desired, the starch applicator is placed on top of the fabric before proceeding to the iron act 430.

[0028] Of course, it will be appreciated that the order of the acts 410 and 420 is irrelevant.

[0029] Next, in the iron act 430, the user applies an iron to either the fabric area to be ironed (for wrinkle reduction or a light starch), or directly to the starch applicator (for a heavier starch) at a temperature appropriate for the fabric being starched (such temperatures are well known in the art). As the user irons the fabric, a starch applicator may be moved from location to location as ironing proceeds. Afterwards, a user can clean the iron in a manner known in the art.

[0030] FIG. 5 is a block-flow diagram of an alternative method (the dryer method 500) of using a starch applicator, which is preferred to achieve starching effects varying from wrinkle-reducing to a heavy-starch effect via the use of a dryer. The dryer method 500 begins with a dryer placement act 510 where a user employs dryer to apply starch to fabric. This is done by placing the fabric in a dryer with a starch applicator substrate. Is should be noted that the clothing may be either wet, damp, or dry, and that a damp or a dry substrate may be used. The clothing should be tumbled for several minutes, preferably at least 3 minutes (but could be tumbled for as few as one minute, or as long as the fumes may be maintained in the dryer) to allow the fumes from the substrate to be released into the fabric, and the clothing may be removed in either a damp or dry state. The clothing is immediately removed from the dryer. Note that the wrinkle reduction and starching effect achieved at this point may be sufficient to satisfy the user, and that the additional provided acts are merely optional.

[0031] The dryer method 500 then proceeds to a preparation act 520 where a user places the fabric to be starched on an ironing board or other surface that promotes wrinkle-reduction. Next, the user proceed to an iron act 530.

[0032] 1. If only wrinkle reduction/very light starching is desired, in the iron act 530 the user irons the fabric in a normal manner as if no starch were present (this produces a very nice light starch effect);

[0033] 2. If a moderate starch is desired, then is the starch applicator that was used in the dryer is placed underneath the fabric, and then the fabric is ironed; and

[0034] 3. If a heavy starch is desired, the starch applicator that was used in the dryer is placed on top of the fabric before proceeding to iron the fabric.

[0035] Of course, it will be appreciated that yet further starching can be achieved by using a fresh starch applicator in the ironing act 530. Furthermore, it will be appreciated that upon reading the present patent, additional alternative methods of using the starch applicator substrates will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

[0036] Though the invention has been described with respect to a specific preferred embodiment, many variations and modifications will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading the present application. It is therefore the intention that the appended claims be interpreted as broadly as possible in view of the prior art to include all such variations and modifications.