Title:
Disposable absorbent portable covering
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A paper-thin disposable covering that is absorbent, moisture resistant, and portable, comprised of two or more layers of paper, cotton, or synthetic sheeting having air pockets and being coated with a bottom fluid-impervious surface, being particularly designed for attractive comfort, near imperceptibility, and discreet transport and disposal.



Inventors:
Grimes, Gail (Anaheim, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/459274
Publication Date:
12/16/2004
Filing Date:
06/11/2003
Assignee:
GRIMES GAIL
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/487
International Classes:
A47G9/00; A61F5/48; (IPC1-7): A47G9/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
TRETTEL, MICHAEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL A. SHIPPEY, PH. D., J.D. (Hacienda Heights, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A pad for use on a supporting surface of an article of bedding or other place where a person lays down, that is comprised of two layers, an upper thin layer in one or more plys of soft, water-absorbent material, and a backing layer of water-impervious material, so attached such that air pockets may form along the interface between layers, said backing possessing ridges indentations or other surface deviations from planarity to provide frictional resistance to slippage during use.

2. A pad as in claim 1 that is easily foldable into itself and into a small size for ease of packaging, storage, and transport.

3. A pad as in claim 1 which has impressed ridges and valleys, stripe, dimples, or other impressed surface irregularities, to improve frictional holding of the pad in use.

4. A pad as in claim 1 wherein the absorbent material is cotton or paper.

5. A pad as in claim 1 wherein the absorbent material is a synthetic material capable of adsorbing water.

6. A pad as in claim 1 wherein a hydrophilic additive has been added to the absorbent material.

7. A pad as in claim 1 wherein the water-impervious material is polypropylene or polyethylene.

8. A pad as in claim 1 wherein the layers are connected by weaving.

9. A pad as in claim 1 wherein the layers are connected by stitching.

10. A pad as in claim 1 wherein the layers are connected by a thermal process.

11. A pad as in claim 1 wherein the layers are connected by impressed seaming.

12. A method for protecting the mattress and conventional bed linen of a bed, the method comprising laying a sheet of disposable, waterproof, and ridged material on top of said linen or sheet, using said bed for normal uses, and removing said sheet after usage, and disposing of said sheet.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates generally to a protective covering, and specifically to a disposable, liquid-absorbent, paper-thin, soft-textured covering that maintains absorbency while protecting fabrics, bedding, linens, and any other materials from spilled liquids that could soil and possibly stain said materials, while at the same time being so thin as to be nearly unnoticeable during use.

[0003] 2. Description of Prior Art

[0004] Various types of bed pads and coverings have been developed for use by persons who are unable to prevent fluid discharge while in bed, whether because of incontinence, post-surgery wounds, or otherwise. These bed pads and coverings have been developed to replace rubber and vinyl sheeting, long known to be uncomfortable, hot, and malodorous for the persons lying or sleeping on them.

[0005] Generally, the prior art related to bed pads and coverings have emphasized their water-resistant nature, and thus they consist of at least one layer of material that is intended to prevent water penetration completely or to reduce the amount of moisture that penetrates and one or more additional layers of thicker absorbent padding materials. For example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,113,326, 3,60,894, 4,961,982, 5,534,340, 5,252,374, and 4,097,943 describe various constructions for absorbent pad materials comprised of a permeable top covering, a water-resistant bottom covering, and a water-absorbent center layer, preferably of fibrous material. Similar layered pads have been developed for bandage and wound dressing materials, such as in U.S. Pat. No. 3,545,442, but with the added feature of a top layer that is specially adapted to avoid sticking to the wound.

[0006] In the prior art, bed pads and coverings have further emphasized absorbency and durability, and specifically the amount of fluid they can absorb, the number of times they can be laundered without falling apart, and the integral strength of the materials used. Said prior art includes U.S. Pat. No. 5,099,532, which teaches a layered pad, one layer of which is quilted to a second layer, which is stabilized with stitched strips, which in turn are heat-bonded to a third water-resistant layer. U.S. Pat. No. 4,045,833 teaches a layered pad with a water-impervious backing joined to a unitary nonwoven fabric having concentrations of long and short fibers throughout its thickness. US Pat. No. Re. 30,972 (reissue of U.S. Pat. No. 4,128,686) describes a pad comprised of a hydrophilic layer comprised of a cross-laid fibrous web needled to form a felt and a hydrophobic layer.

[0007] One problem with the prior art is that the thickness of the padding remains noticeable to the person lying on it. The layers of absorbent padding can create an uncomfortable bumpy surface for a person lying down on said bed pad or covering. In addition, the thickness and size of these pads and coverings make transport and disposal of them difficult and space-consuming. Said coverings and pads are intended to be used for a fairly lengthy time, at least several hours if not longer, and so the thickness and absorbency of the padding is significant to the design, but less convenient and less attractive when utilized for shorter periods of time or for a single use. A third problem is complexity of manufacture in making layered pads of several different materials bonded, sewn, or otherwise connected together such that they are sufficiently durable to last under body weight and through frequent laundering.

[0008] Various prior art have tried to solve the problem of keeping the pads and coverings from slipping while in use, but at the same time being easily removed to be laundered or thrown away and replaced. Some prior art provides a sheeting material to cover the water-resistant materials, taking into account the fact that, when said materials are in direct contact with the user, they can be uncomfortable because they are not soft, often reflect the body heat of the user-, and can cause skin reactions, such as rashes and bed sores. U.S. Pat. No. 4,064,577 teaches a bed covering comprised of a nonwaterproof draw sheet bonded to a water-resistant panel that is further attached to a water-absorbent removable pad using hooks and fasteners. U.S. Pat. No. 4,097,943 teaches pressure-sensitive adhesive strips on the backing layer of a pad. U.S. Pat. No. 5,249,320 teaches a bed sheet and pad arrangement with a top sheet, absorbent central section, and waterproof bottom sheet. U.S. Pat. No. 4,922,565 describes a composite cover crib sheet comprised of a waterproof section covered by a fabric sheet secured to the crib by a hook and loop fastener. U.S. Pat. No. 5,068,936 teaches a disposable sheet, but does not provide for water-resistance or absorption. U.S. Pat. No. 5,701,617 teaches a bed sheet with a removable water-resistant central section having a water absorbent pad that can be changed when soiled without having to change the entire sheet and having a cover sheet held in place by a releasable attachment material. U.S. Pat. No. 4,572,174 describes a bed pad that provides for a lubricated insert between two layers for purposes of reducing friction. All said prior art continues to provide for relatively thick layers of absorbent padding, and some show seamed inserts, any of which features can create an uncomfortable bumpy surface for a person lying down on said bed pad or covering. In addition, the thickness, size, and fastening features of said bed pads and coverings, many of which are entire bed sheets, make transport and disposal of them difficult and space-consuming.

[0009] Undergarment pads have been developed to provide security against accidents for incontinence. Prior art includes U.S. Pat. No. 5,252,374, which introduced an underpad for incontinent patients demonstrating a total of six layers of materials compressed together. The absorbent tissue layers constitute at least ten plies of tissues. U.S. Pat. No. 4,097,943 discloses an absorbent pad comprised of three layers of material with the absorbent fabric core consisting of four plies of tissues. Such pads share the same drawbacks as the bed pads and coverings mentioned above, in that they are thick and would be not make a comfortable surface for a recumbent person.

[0010] Portable pads have long been used to protect babies whose diapers are being changed away from home. These pads typically have a padded inside layer completely covered with a pliable plastic vinyl outer layer. The thickness of the pad makes it difficult to fold or roll it for transport, requiring it to take up a large amount of space in a large diaper bag. The plastic vinyl layer is cold, slippery, and uncomfortable when in contact with the baby's skin, making the diaper-changing process more difficult for the mother. For the same reasons, said pads would also not be comfortable as a protective covering for the bedding materials of a recumbent person.

[0011] Because prior inventions focus mainly on the use of pads by incontinent and bedridden persons, no emphasis has been given to protective coverings needed of one-time usage before disposal. Said coverings do not need to last for an extended time under the weight of a person, they do not need to be thick, and they do not need to retain significant amounts of liquid for lengthy periods of time before disposal. Nor do they need to be laundered because they can be thrown away immediately after use.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

[0012] The present invention is comprised of a thin, water-resistant covering that is used once before disposal. Unlike conventional bed pads, this invention introduces a design to decrease the thickness while adding versatility and maintaining absorbency and durability. This invention is envisioned in a variety of shapes, including (but not limited to) rectangular, square, round, oval, and heart-shaped. The invention is comprised of two or more layers of paper, cotton, or synthetic fabric. Various types of materials already available can be used for manufacturing the present invention. It is preferable that the material used be a soft-textured woven or nonwoven fabric or paper with filaments or microfibers that have been rendered hydrophilic by an additive during the manufacturing process. This creates a top surface for the present invention that serves as the liquid pervious layer providing a soft touch to skin while absorbing body secretions. If desired, the material used can be made in various colors or stamped or otherwise colored with designs, words, or logos to add consumer appeal.

[0013] The surface of the bottom layer of the present invention is covered with a film that is liquid impervious, preferably made from a plastic barrier material such as polypropylene, as is the case with presently known underpads. This film layer is bonded by heat or other means to the bottom layer. The layers are pressed together to become a single two- or three-ply sheet and are embossed with patterns to form air pockets, increasing absorbency. The layers can be further secured together by means of a pressure seam at the edges of the covering. It is preferable to emboss, stamp, or otherwise press patterns into the materials after being seamed, which patterning will be impressed into each layer and will serve to hold the layers together with little or no movement of the layers when pressure is applied to the top or bottom of the covering.

[0014] It is an object of the present invention to provide an absorbent protective covering that is thin and light in weight for ease of transportation and storage. The present invention is made of materials that are extremely light in weight and ultra-thin, allowing the covering to be folded into a compact size that fits easily and discreetly into a purse, bag, or pocket for transportation. Hundreds of these coverings may be stacked and stored in a small space, such as a cabinet in a hospital emergency room. Said coverings may be used to protect linens during love-making, to provide a sanitary surface for diaper-changing, and even to provide a temporary sanitary surface for inspection and immediate bandaging of a wound. A large number of said coverings can be carried in backpacks by campers and hikers and transported with emergency medical technician crews, even into remote places.

[0015] It is a further object of the present invention to provide an absorbent protective covering that is comfortable and almost imperceptible to a recumbent person lying on it, while also being absorbent and liquid impervious for the protection of an underlying surface against becoming wet, stained, or otherwise contaminated by bodily secretions. While conventional under pads and bed pads have a thick construction, the present invention is as thin as a bed sheet and has no lumps or bumps that are noticeable to a recumbent person lying on it. The soft-textured side of the present invention is placed upwards, with the water-resistant film placed downwards against the bed or other surface, eliminating the discomfort of lying against a slippery, cold, sweat-inducing vinyl, rubber, or other water-resistant substance. This placement has the added advantage of providing slight friction between the filmed and patterned surface of the covering and the bed or other surface so that the covering does not slip when body weight moves on and over it.

[0016] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a protective absorbent covering that is inexpensive and fast to manufacture and that is uncomplicated to package and use. This invention has no belts, straps, or other attachments for securing it to a bed or other surface because the water impervious film and the patterning serve to cause sufficient friction as to prevent slippage of the covering for the short time it is intended to be used. The manufacturing process already available for this invention is simple and efficient, as two or three layers of absorbent materials can be dyed, laid out, stamped, embossed, film-coated, and cut into prearranged shapes with minimal expense and effort.

[0017] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a protective absorbent covering that requires minimal time and space for disposal. The thinness of the covering has an additional advantage in that the present invention can be easily used as a towelette for cleaning liquid off a person's skin. Disposal is quick, as the covering can be simply rolled into a ball and thrown into the trash. The thinness of the covering reduces the space consumed in disposal, making it more environmentally friendly than thicker padding.

[0018] It is a further object of the present invention to emphasize convenience of use and comfort. Many prior bed and under pads have had an emphasis on absorbency and durability, tending to make them bulky and uncomfortable. The goal of the present invention is to provide a modicum of liquid absorbency, while promoting convenience of use and comfort. It is needed for the consumer market where total liquid absorbency is not as much an issue as convenience, attractiveness, and comfort.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0019] FIG. 1 Top 3-D view of the present invention

[0020] FIG. 2 Top magnified view of the present invention

[0021] FIG. 3 Cutaway side view of the present invention

[0022] FIG. 4 Present inventions in stowed configuration

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0023] FIG. 1 is a 3-D drawing of the present invention from a top view. The invention is shown in its preferred rectangular shape, although other shapes can certainly be made if desired. For example, the corners could be rounded or the covering could be made in an oval shape. A rectangular or square shape is preferred because of the ease of manufacture. The covering may also vary in size, ranging from approximately 8 to 40 inches in width by 12 to 40 inches in length, with a preferred size of about 12 to 14 inches in width by 18 to 25 inches in length.

[0024] The invention is shown with a striped parallel ridge pattern, the ridges being formed by pressing or embossing the layers altogether. Various patterns or designs may be used, but the size of the patterns created would preferably remain small. By pressing or embossing the patterns into all of the layers together, the patterns serve to interlock the layers. Thus, the smaller the patterning, the less movement there will be between layers and the more stable and durable the covering will be overall. Examples of other possible embossing include dimples and round shapes.

[0025] In FIG. 2, a section of the present invention is magnified in a drawing that shows the striped patterning of parallel ridges, again from a top view. The embossing or pressed patterning need not be precisely even, but a careful patterning will enhance attractiveness for the consumer. The layers of material may also be colored for attractiveness. The striped pattern of parallel ridges (1) is particularly advantageous because it increases the roughness of the water-impervious side. Thus, when in use, the water-impervious side, which is resting on the mattress, will be less likely to slide with the weight of a moving body on, instead remaining in place with the aid of friction. The ridges also provide channels on the upper side of the present invention for capturing and diverting water spilled on it, which in turn reduces liquid run-off and increases the absorption of the liquid into the underlying layers.

[0026] FIG. 3 is a cross-section of the present invention, showing one preferred embodiment as a two-ply (10) covering with a water impervious film coating (12). A third layer may be added for additional absorbency. The weight and thickness of a third layer is so minimal as to be nearly imperceptible, while the improved protection and absorbency is of some advantage. The entire covering weighs about one ounce or less, whether in the two- or three-ply embodiment, and it is about 1 millimeter or less in thickness.

[0027] The pattern or design that has been pressed or embossed into the layers (1) can be clearly seen in to be interlocking. For purposes of easy viewing in this drawing, the layers have been pulled slightly apart for better viewing. When pressed together, these layers fit tightly ridge within ridge. The top side of the covering (20) can be seen to have small parallel channels that will divert and hold liquid spilled onto it for easy absorption into the underlying layers. The bottom side of the covering (30) can be seen to have a roughness created by said ridges. Without the roughness, the water-impervious film on the bottom side will be slick, having no means to create friction to hold the pad in place under moving body weight placed on top of it.

[0028] In FIG. 4, the present invention is shown folded into itself for purposes of storage and transport. This invention is paper-thin, and therefore can be folded within itself any number of times and in any number of configurations, and it can even pressed for further compaction. It is easily packaged in cellophane, plastic, paper, cloth, or sanitary bag or other wrapping, and can be balled or folded up and thrown away for easy disposal. When folded and compressed slightly, the present invention is 3 to 4 millimeters in thickness.