Title:
Woven product having a sublimation printing surface for imaging and a method of manufacturing same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A woven product formed by providing natural fiber warp yarns of various colors, providing natural fiber weft yarns of various colors, and providing synthetic weft yarns capable of receiving sublimation printing ink dyes. The yarns are woven together by selectively exposing the natural fiber warp yarns, the natural fiber weft yarns, and the synthetic weft yarns during weaving. Selected areas containing exposed synthetic weft are dyed by sublimation printing for personalizing the woven product. During weaving, the yarns are controlled to float the synthetic weft yarns in the selected areas where exposure of the synthetic weft yarns is concentrated to provide a print receiving face for sublimation printing which holds sublimation printing dye.



Inventors:
Ford, Douglas (Williamston, SC, US)
Application Number:
11/060951
Publication Date:
08/25/2005
Filing Date:
02/18/2005
Assignee:
FORD DOUGLAS
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D06P3/60; (IPC1-7): D06P3/60
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
KHAN, AMINA S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Burr Forman LLP (Charlotte, NC, US)
Claims:
1. A method of constructing a woven product having a sublimation printing surface for imaging to personalize said woven product, said method comprising the steps of: providing natural fiber warp yarns of various colors; providing natural fiber weft yarns of various colors; providing synthetic weft yarns capable of receiving sublimation printing ink dyes; weaving said natural fiber warp yarns, said natural fiber weft yarns, and said synthetic weft yarns together to form said woven product; selectively exposing said natural fiber warp yarns, said natural fiber weft yarns, and said synthetic weft yarns during weaving to form woven images; and, dying by sublimation printing selected areas containing exposed synthetic weft yarns for personalizing said woven product.

2. The method of claim 1 including controlling said natural fiber warp yarns, said natural fiber weft yarns, and said synthetic weft yarns to float said synthetic weft yarns in said selected areas and concentrating exposure of said synthetic weft yarns in said selected areas to provide a print receiving face for said sublimation printing which holds sublimation printing dye.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein said synthetic weft yarns are selected from the group consisting of polyester, nylon, and acrylic yarns.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein said natural fiber warp yarns and said natural fiber weft yarns are selected from cotton yarns.

5. The method of claim 1 including weaving said natural fiber warp yarns, said natural fiber weft yarns, and said synthetic weft yarns to produce a positive image displayed on a front side of said woven product, and a negative image displayed on a reverse side of said woven product.

6. The method of claim 1 including exposing said synthetic weft yarns on a front side of said woven product across the entire surface of said front side so that said woven image is a blank image forming a print receiving face over the entire front side.

7. The method of claim 1 wherein approximately 60% to 80% of all warp and weft yarns in said woven product are natural fiber yarns and approximately 20% to 40% of all warp and weft yarns are synthetic yarns.

8. The method of claim 1 including the step of providing synthetic warp yarns capable of receiving sublimation printing ink dyes and selectively exposing said synthetic warp yarns together with said synthetic weft yarns in said selected areas to provide saturated coverage of said selected areas with synthetic yarns for increased printing resolution.

9. The method of claim 1 wherein said synthetic weft yarns are selected from the group consisting of white and uncolored synthetic yarns.

10. The method of claim 1 wherein said synthetic weft yarns are provided with a fluffy nap that overlap with said warp yarns to provide an increased print receiving face.

11. A woven product having a sublimation printing surface for imaging to personalize said woven product, said woven product comprising: natural fiber warp yarns of various colors; natural fiber weft yarns of various colors; synthetic weft yarns adapted for receiving sublimation printing ink dyes; said natural fiber warp yarns, said natural fiber weft yarns, and said synthetic weft yarns woven together and selectively exposed; and, said synthetic weft yarns being exposed in concentration in selected areas providing a print receiving face for being dyed by sublimation printing to personalize said woven product.

12. The woven product of claim 11 wherein said synthetic weft yarns are selected from the group consisting of polyester, nylon, and acrylic yarns.

13. The woven product of claim 11 wherein said natural fiber warp yarns and said natural fiber weft yarns are selected from cotton yarns.

14. The woven product of claim 11 wherein said natural fiber warp yarns, said natural fiber weft yarns, and said synthetic weft yarns are woven together to produce a positive image displayed on a front side of said woven product, and a negative image displayed on a reverse side of said woven product.

15. The woven product of claim 11 wherein said synthetic weft yarns are exposed on a front side of said woven product across the entire surface of said front side to provide a blank woven image forming a print receiving face over the entire front side.

16. The woven product of claim 11 wherein approximately 60% to 80% of all warp and weft yarns in said woven product are natural fiber yarns and approximately 20% to 40% of all warp and weft yarns are synthetic yarns.

17. The woven product of claim 11 including synthetic warp yarns capable of receiving sublimation printing ink dyes being selectively exposed together with said synthetic weft yarns in said selected areas to provide saturated coverage of said selected areas with synthetic yarns for increased printing resolution.

18. The woven product of claim 11 wherein said synthetic weft yarns are selected from the group consisting of white and uncolored synthetic yarns.

19. The woven product of claim 11 wherein said synthetic weft yarns include a fluffy nap that overlap with said warp yarns to increased said print receiving face.

20. A method of constructing a woven product having a sublimation printing surface for imaging to personalize said woven product, said method comprising the steps of: providing first warp yarns consisting of natural fiber yarns of various colors; providing second warp yarns consisting of synthetic yarns capable of receiving sublimation printing ink dyes; providing weft yarns consisting of natural fiber yarns of various colors; weaving said first warp yarns, said second warp yarns, and said weft yarns together to form said woven product; selectively exposing said first and second warp yarns, and said weft yarns during weaving; and, dying by sublimation printing selected areas containing exposed synthetic warp yarns for personalizing said woven product.

21. The method of claim 20 including controlling said first and second warp yarns and said weft yarns to float said synthetic second warp yarns in said selected areas and concentrating exposure of said synthetic warp yarns in said selected areas to provide a print receiving face for said sublimation printing which holds sublimation printing dye.

22. The method of claim 20 including exposing said synthetic warp yarns on a front side of said woven product across the entire surface of said front side to provide a blank woven image forming a print receiving face over the entire front side.

23. The method of claim 20 wherein approximately 60% to 80% of all warp and weft yarns in said woven product are natural fiber yarns and approximately 20% to 40% of all warp and weft yarns are synthetic yarns.

24. The method of claim 20 including the step of providing second warp yarns consisting of synthetic yarns capable of receiving sublimation printing ink dyes, and selectively exposing said synthetic weft yarns together with said synthetic warp yarns in said selected areas to provide saturated coverage of said selected areas with synthetic yarns for increased printing resolution.

25. The method of claim 20 wherein said synthetic warp yarns are provided with a fluffy nap that overlap with said weft yarns to provide an increased print receiving face.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority from a provisional application filed Feb. 19, 2004 under Ser. No. 60/546,068.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1) Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to sublimation printing on a woven product, and more particularly, to a woven product containing natural and synthetic yarns constructed and arranged to provide a print receiving face for imaging using sublimation printing techniques to personalize the woven product.

2) Description of Related Art

Sublimation printing is a process well known in the prior art for transferring dyes to synthetic textile fabrics, such as polyester, to print virtually any image on the item. A problem arises in that natural fibers, such as cotton, do not hold the inks used in most sublimation printing processes. As is noted in U.S. Pat. No. 4,576,610, substantial difficulty has arisen in attempting to print cotton and other natural fiber fabrics by sublimation transfer of sublimation printing dye stuffs. As is well known to those skilled in the art, attempts to print fabrics made from cotton or blends of cotton and synthetic fibers illustrate this difficulty. It is known, generally, that any fabric containing cotton and printed by sublimation dye transfer of sublimable dye without a special agent assisting in transfer or bonding of the dye to the fabric, will not satisfactorily be printed with the dye. For example, unaided sublimation dye transfer printing of a fabric consisting of cotton or a mixture of cotton and polyester fibers, for example in a weight ratio of 35:65 respectively, results in totally unsatisfactory products with readily visible unprinted areas and poor wash fastness. If the cotton content of the fabric is lowered so that the ratio is 20:80, the graininess in the fabric coloration persists. Even if the ratio is changed to 10:90, so that only a very small fraction of the fabric consists of cotton fibers, the desirable fastness of the dye still is not achieved.

Attempts to solve this problem have resulted in a variety of coating and impregnation solutions that are used to treat the natural fiber yarns to allow the inks to transfer and hold to the yarns. However, these treatments increase the cost of production and have produce yarns of less than desirable texture. Further, the performance of the coatings and impregnation solutions have been generally unacceptable in holding the inks to the natural yarns for extended periods of time and washings.

Afghans are typically woven using cotton and other natural fibers. Unlike printing an image on a t-shirt, the weave of the afghan is such as to produce a desired image using a plurality of colored yarns. However, as noted above, when using only natural yarns, there is no ability to use sublimation printing to personalize the afghan with letters or images as the inks will not properly adhere to the natural fibers.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a woven product with a high concentration of natural yarn that also incorporates synthetic yarns selectively exposed in the weave to provide a print receiving face for imaging by sublimation printing techniques.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The above objective is accomplished according to the present invention by providing a method of constructing a woven product that includes the steps of providing natural fiber warp yarns of various colors; providing natural fiber weft yarns of various colors; and providing synthetic weft yarns capable of receiving sublimation printing ink dyes. The method includes weaving the natural fiber warp yarns, the natural fiber weft yarns, and the synthetic weft yarns together to form the woven product. The method also includes selectively exposing the natural fiber warp yarns, the natural fiber weft yarns, and the synthetic weft yarns during weaving to form woven images, and dying by sublimation printing selected areas containing exposed synthetic weft yarns for personalizing the woven product.

In a preferred embodiment, the method includes the step of controlling the natural fiber warp yarns, the natural fiber weft yarns, and the synthetic weft yarns to float the synthetic weft yarns in the selected areas and concentrating exposure of the synthetic weft yarns in the selected areas to provide a print receiving face for the sublimation printing which holds sublimation printing dye.

Preferably, the synthetic weft yarns are selected from the group consisting of polyester, nylon, and acrylic yarns. Also, it is preferred that the natural fiber warp yarns and the natural fiber weft yarns are selected from cotton yarns.

In a further embodiment, the method includes weaving the natural fiber warp yarns, the natural fiber weft yarns, and the synthetic weft yarns to produce a positive image displayed on a front side of the woven product, and a negative image displayed on a reverse side of the woven product.

In an particularly advantageous embodiment, the synthetic weft yarns are exposed on a front side of the woven product across the entire surface of the front side so that the woven image is a blank image forming a print receiving face over the entire front side.

Preferably, the natural fiber warp yarns and the natural fiber weft yarns comprise a majority of the yarns used to construct the woven product. In a particularly preferred embodiment, approximately 60% to 80% of all warp and weft yarns in the woven product are natural fiber yarns and approximately 20% to 40% of all warp and weft yarns are synthetic yarns.

In a further advantageous embodiment, the method includes the step of providing synthetic warp yarns capable of receiving sublimation printing ink dyes and selectively exposing the synthetic warp yarns together with the synthetic weft yarns in the selected areas to provide saturated coverage of the selected areas with synthetic yarns for increased printing resolution.

Preferably, the synthetic weft yarns are selected from the group consisting of white and uncolored synthetic yarns. In a preferred embodiment, the synthetic weft yarns are provided with a fluffy nap that overlap with the warp yarns to provide an increased print receiving face.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The construction designed to carry out the invention will hereinafter be described, together with other features thereof. The invention will be more readily understood from a reading of the following specification and by reference to the accompanying drawings forming a part thereof, wherein an example of the invention is shown and wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a front side view of an afghan according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows a reverse side of the afghan displaying a negative image of FIG. 1 according to the present invention; and,

FIG. 3 shows a detailed view of a portion of the afghan with exposed synthetic yarns providing a print receiving face according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

With reference to the drawings, the invention will now be described in more detail. Referring to FIG. 1, an afghan in accordance with the invention is generally indicated by the reference number 10. To be clear, it is noted that all the components and parts of afghan 10 are not shown and/or marked in all the drawings. It is also noted that the present invention is described as an afghan in the preferred embodiment, which is intended to describe the novel characteristics and features of the invention, in addition to its function, and that the invention generally relates to any woven piece of material in which the characteristics and features described herein can be applied by those skilled in the art of weaving.

To arrive at the invention, a method for constructing afghan 10 is disclosed herein in which the method involves incorporating both natural fiber yarns and synthetic yarns woven to provide a woven image. As used herein, the term woven image is used generally to refer to the arrangement of natural and synthetic yarns which provide anything from a blank woven image to an image depicting various patterns, figures, symbols, and the like. In an embodiment as described herein, the yarns are woven to provide a woven image having printable and non-printable surfaces on a front side, designated generally as 16, of the afghan for personalization of the afghan.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 3, warp yarns, designated generally as 12, consisting of a plurality of natural fiber yarns 13 of various colors, are provided for weaving. In a preferred embodiment, the natural fiber yarns are cotton, but alternatively, these yarns may be selected from any of the well known naturally fiber yarns used by those skilled in the art to produce items such as afghan 10.

The weft yarns, designated generally as 14, also known as the “fill”, consist of a combination of natural fiber yarns 15 and synthetic yarns 17 of various colors. Again, in a preferred embodiment, natural fiber yarns 15 are cotton, but are not limited to cotton as a variety of other well known naturally fiber yarns are available for use by those skilled in the art. The synthetic yarns 17, in a preferred embodiment, are polyester, which are capable of receiving and holding ink dyes for use in sublimation printing techniques. Other synthetic yarns such as nylon and acrylics, alone or in combination with the polyester or each other may alternatively be used in the weft yarns for weaving with the warp yarns. Alternatively, the synthetic yarns could be incorporated with the natural fiber warp yarns, and the weft yarns may include only natural fiber yarns. Accordingly, the invention is not limited to specifically using the synthetic yarns in one or other of the warp and weft yarns, and may be incorporated in either or both the warp and weft. As discussed in detail herein below, synthetic yarns may advantageously be included in both the warp and the weft for selective exposure to provide a higher resolution print receiving face.

The warp and weft yarns 12 and 14 are woven together to form afghan 10 with a front side 16 and a reverse side 18, shown in FIG. 2. Both natural fiber yarns 13 and 15, and synthetic yarns 17 are selectively exposed from the warp and weft in a selected arrangement on front side 16 of afghan 10 to form a positive image which is properly displayed and viewed on front side 16 of the afghan. As can be seen from FIG. 2, a negative image is produced on reverse side 18 of the afghan which is not intended for viewing and is the result of the typical weaving process between the warp and weft yarns being selectively exposed on front side 16. Although generally rectangular in shape as depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2, afghan 10 can assume any desired shape, and is not limited to the rectangular shape depicted.

Advantageously, warp yarns 12 and weft yarns 14 are controlled to expose, also known as “floating”, synthetic yarns 17 in selected areas on front side 16 of afghan 10 to concentrate exposure of the synthetic yarns in the selected areas. The ability to control the weave to float a particular yarn is well known to those skilled in the art and will not be presented in detail herein. This controlled floating of synthetic yarns 17 provides a print receiving face where the synthetic yarns are concentrated, which is able to receive printing by sublimation printing techniques. As is depicted in FIG. 1, a plurality of print receiving faces, designated as 20a, 20b and 20c, are provided on front side 16 where letters, numbers or images can be printed, also known as imaged, on the synthetic yarns. Accordingly, the exposed synthetic yarns concentrated in the selected areas are selectively dyed using sublimation printing techniques for personalizing afghan 10.

Alternatively, the synthetic weft yarns may be arranged to be exposed on front side 16 across the entire surface of front side 16 so that the woven image is a blank image forming a print receiving face over the entire front side. In this arrangement, reverse side 18 would expose only natural yarns so that front side 16 may be saturated with exposed synthetic yarns for imaging.

In a preferred arrangement, the afghan can be constructed using a majority of cotton yarns at a ratio of approximately 60% to 80% cotton to only 20% to 40% polyester, which is the opposite teaching of the prior art that required a majority of polyester to provide an adequate sublimation printing surface. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the woven product is formed using approximately 75% cotton and 25% polyester. Since the polyester yarns are floated on the top of front side 16 and concentrated in a specific area, the amount of polyester may be significantly reduce to maintain the benefits of feel from the natural fiber, while still maintaining the ability to provide a sublimation print receiving surface in selected areas.

Referring to FIG. 3, in a preferred embodiment, synthetic yarns 17 included a fluffy nap that further overlaps with natural fiber yarns 13 and 15. Ink dye 21 is shown bonded to the nap of the synthetic yarns. The nap provides an increase in surface area for print receiving faces 20a-20c, which enhances the resolution and of the print receiving faces without increase the concentration of synthetic yarn in the weave.

Although it is not necessary that 100% of the selected area where the synthetic yarns are concentrated be printing receiving material, such as polyester, it is highly desired that as much as possible comprise synthetic yarns. To provide 100% coverage in the selected area, the weave would have to include polyester yarns in the warp, as well as the weft. When printing receiving faces 20a-20c comprise less than 100% of the polyester floated on the selected portion of the image on front side 16, the printable image definition is proportionally less than it would be were the printing receiving faces 20a-20c made up of 100% polyester. However, as noted above, it is not necessary to provide a fabric made of 100% polyester to produce a print receiving face that is 100% polyester. Rather, the weave can be controlled to concentrate the polyester or other printable synthetic yarn in selected areas for printed by controlling the floating of the synthetic yarn. When synthetic yarns in the weft are combined with synthetic yarns included in the warp, which would also be floated at the selected location for forming a print receiving face, a 100% polyester print receiving face may be provided for high image quality.

Afghan 10 can be formed with synthetic yarns 17 in any desired color, although it is preferred that both the warp yarn passing through the print receiving face, as well as the weft yarn floated to form the printing receiving face 20a-20c be either white or uncolored material so as to provide for the highest possible definition and brilliance of the printing applied to the yarns.

The process of printing on the print receiving faces using sublimation printing techniques is well known in the art, and set forth in detail in U.S. Pat. No. 5,486,500, which is herein incorporated by reference for its description of sublimation printing techniques.

While a preferred embodiment of the invention has been described using specific terms, such description is for illustrative purposes only, and it is to be understood that changes and variations may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the following claims.