Title:
Utility textile with microfiber core
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A utility textile having, in one embodiment, three layers: a working layer, a core layer, and a backing layer. The working layer can include any suitable cleaning material, but preferably contains microfibers. The core layer preferably contains microfibers instead of, or in addition to, the traditional sponge core layer. In one embodiment the core layer also contains antimicrobial properties. Lastly, the backing layer preferably contains a surface that allows the utility textile to be attached to a frame using, for instance, a hook and loop attachment system.



Inventors:
Clarke, George (Wilmette, IL, US)
Application Number:
10/841332
Publication Date:
11/10/2005
Filing Date:
05/07/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
442/189, 442/286, 442/304, 442/308, 442/334, 442/394, 442/123
International Classes:
A47L13/20; B32B5/02; D04H1/00; D04H5/00; (IPC1-7): D04H1/00; D04H5/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
PIZIALI, ANDREW T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Daniel H. Shulman (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A utility textile comprising: a working layer; a core layer adjacent said working layer; and a backing layer adjacent said core layer, wherein said core layer comprises microfibers.

2. The utility textile of claim 1, wherein said core layer contains antimicrobial properties.

3. The utility textile of claim 2, wherein said antimicrobial properties are imparted using an antimicrobial compound that is permanently bonded to fibers in both the working layer and the core layer.

4. The utility textile of claim 2, wherein said antimicrobial properties are imparted after the flat mop is assembled.

5. The utility textile of claim 1, wherein said core layer is in the form of a woven sheet of microfibers.

6. The utility textile of claim 1, wherein said core layer is in the form a knitted sheet of microfibers.

7. The utility textile of claim 1, wherein said core layer is in the form of a non-woven, non-knitted web of microfiber material.

8. The utility textile of claim 1, wherein the core layer is in the form of a loose filling-type microfiber material.

9. The utility textile of claim 1, wherein said core layer is substantially said microfibers

10. The utility textile of claim 1, wherein said core layer further comprises polyester fibers blended with said microfibers.

11. The utility textile of claim 1, wherein said utility textile is a flat mop.

12. The utility textile of claim 1, wherein said utility textile is an applicator.

13. The utility textile of claim 1, wherein said applicator is used to apply flooring finishes.

14. A utility textile comprising: a layer of microfiber material and no other layers, wherein said layer of microfiber material performs the functions of a working layer, a core layer and a backing layer.

15. The utility textile of claim 14, wherein said layer contains antimicrobial properties.

16. The utility textile of claim 15, wherein said antimicrobial properties are imparted using an antimicrobial compound that is permanently bonded to fibers in the core layer.

17. The utility textile of claim 15, wherein said antimicrobial properties are imparted after the flat mop is assembled.

18. The utility textile of claim 14, wherein said layer is in the form of a woven sheet of microfibers.

19. The utility textile of claim 14, wherein said layer is in the form a knitted sheet of microfibers.

20. The utility textile of claim 14, wherein said layer is in the form of a non-woven, non-knitted web of microfiber material.

21. The utility textile of claim 14, wherein the layer is in the form of a loose filling-type microfiber material.

22. The utility textile of claim 14, wherein said layer is substantially said microfibers

23. The utility textile of claim 14, wherein said layer further comprises polyester fibers blended with said microfibers.

24. The utility textile of claim 14, wherein said utility textile is a flat mop.

25. The utility textile of claim 14, wherein said utility textile is an applicator.

26. The utility textile of claim 14, wherein said applicator is used to apply flooring finishes.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

This invention relates generally to utility textiles, and more particularly to utility textiles used, for instance, with mops or applicators.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

In recent years, flat mops have gained in popularity. As opposed to traditional string mops that must be submerged in a cleaning solution and wrung out before use, a flat mop can be easily used by applying a light mist of cleaning solution on a floor and then mopping up that solution with the flat mop. Alternatively, the flat mop can come pre-loaded with a cleaning solution, and a user needs only to place the mop on a floor and begin mopping. In both instances, using flat mops obviates the traditional problem with string mops, in that a dirty flat mop never has to come into contact with a cleaning solution in a bucket that has been contaminated by virtue of prior mopping operations. However, because flat mops do not utilize a traditional bucket and wringer arrangement, the mops depend substantially on their removal and absorption qualities to allow for an efficient cleaning operation. A flat mop that has limited absorption qualities or that looses its absorption qualities over time (i.e., due to multiple washings of the flat mop or due to repeated exposure to cleaning agents) will not be effective and will require a user to frequently change a used flat mop with a new flat mop. It is desirable, therefore, that a flat mop can be used over and over again without losing its absorption qualities.

Traditionally, flat mops have utilized a synthetic sponge material as a core layer of the flat mop to impart the majority of the mop's absorption qualities. However, sponge material tends to break down and become less absorbent the more it is used, especially if it is cleaned after each use in a washing machine or has prolonged exposure to a cleaning solution. Moreover, flat mops with sponge material cores can allow bacteria and other organisms to grow and propagate, which is an undesirable result.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One embodiment of the invention comprises a utility textile having three layers, a working layer, a core layer, and a backing layer. The working layer can include any suitable material, but preferably contains microfibers. The core layer preferably contains microfibers instead of, or in addition to, the traditional sponge core layer. In one embodiment, the core layer contains at least antimicrobial properties. Lastly, the backing layer preferably contains a surface that allows the utility textile to be attached to a frame using, for instance, a hook and loop attachment system.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the utility textile of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a cut-away side view taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the utility textile of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a cut-away side view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

While the present invention is capable of embodiment in various forms and sizes, there is shown in the drawings and will be hereinafter described a presently preferred embodiment with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the invention, and is not intended to limit the invention to the specific embodiment illustrated.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, one embodiment of the utility textile of the present invention, in the form of a flat mop and designated generally as reference numeral 10, contains a working layer 12, a core layer 14 and a backing layer 16. The working layer 12 is preferably a microfiber material, but can comprise any type of material that will provide the desired abrasion, absorption, and removal qualities, which will vary from application to application. The working layer therefore can comprise microfibers combined with traditional polyester fibers, polyester fibers alone, etc. It should be understood that the term “microfiber”, as that term is used herein includes all products having a denier of approximately 1.0 denier or less, which may be referred to as “microfibers”, “ultra-microfibers”, “micro-filaments”, “nanofibers”, etc.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the core layer 14 comprises a microfiber material. Because of the increased surface area of a microfiber material, it has the capability of holding and absorbing vast amounts of water, cleaning solution, finish or any other liquid, as the case may be. Also, to improve performance and longevity, the microfibers may be mixed with polyester fibers to give the microfibers added strength. It has been found that a core layer 14 comprising a microfiber material absorbs better than a sponge material and maintains its structural integrity better than a sponge material through multiple uses. It should be noted, however, that the present invention is not limited to a core layer 14 having only a microfiber material. Indeed, the core layer can comprise any additional materials that may assist with a moping operation. For instance, the core layer can comprise a microfiber material sandwiched between two layers of sponge material. Alternatively, the core layer can comprise a sponge material sandwiched between two layers of a microfiber material. Thus, any other type of material in addition to a microfiber can be added to the core layer 14 in the practice of the present invention. However, it is preferred in one embodiment of the invention to have a core layer comprising substantially a microfiber material.

It should also be noted that the core layer 14 comprising microfibers can be a woven or knitted sheet of microfiber material that can be of a varying density, or alternatively can comprise a non-woven, non-knitted web of microfiber material. Further, the core layer 14 can be in the form of a loose filling-type microfiber material that is held in place by enclosing the filling material between the working layer and the backing layer and joining the edges thereof, similar to the way in which a pillow holds a down filling material.

In a preferred embodiment, the core layer 14 also contains an antimicrobial, antiviral agent, such as triclosan, to inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold, mildew, viruses and/or fungi, etc. in the core layer. One possible material choice for the core layer is the material disclosed in my U.S. Pat. No. 6,258,455, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference. As those with skill in the art will recognize, the antimicrobial, antiviral agent can be added before or after the material is formed, may be permanently bonded to the fibers of the core layer or be rechargeable in the presence of chlorine, such as is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,882,357, and may constitute compounds other than triclosan that have the desired antimicrobial, antiviral properties.

The backing layer 16 preferably comprises a sheet of polyester material that can be attached to a mop frame or other frame by use of a hook and loop attachment system Thus, the mop frame will preferably contain the hook portion of the attachment system and these hooks will attach to the strands of polyester (loops) from the backing layer. Alternatively, the backing layer 16 can contain hook and loop specific strips attached thereto, which typically will be more dense in terms of the number of fiber loops that the hooks of the attachment system can attach to than the bare polyester material. As those with skill in the art will appreciate, the utility textile can utilize any type of attachment method, instead of a hook and loop system, such as snaps, zippers, glue, etc. Also, those with skill in the art will appreciate that the utility textile of the present invention can be manufactured in any size, as dictated by the intended use of the utility textile.

In one embodiment of the invention, the backing layer 16 can also have contained thereon a label 17, which preferably covers a substantial portion of one side of the utility textile for ease of use and viewing, and which can be used to help identify the utility textile's owner. This is particularly beneficial, for instance, in hospital settlings, where the utility textile may be shipped off-site for cleaning. Having such a label will help to increase the chances that the utility textile will be returned to its proper owner after cleaning.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the flat mop of the present invention can also comprise a microfiber material without any discrete layers. In this embodiment, generally designated as reference numeral 18, the flat mop 18 comprises a dense layer 20 of microfiber material mixed with polyester fibers (for strength). Preferably, the layer 20 also contains antimicrobial properties, just as in the core layer 14 discussed above. In this embodiment, the single layer 20 provides the all of the functions of the working layer, core layer and backing layer, discussed above. Indeed the microfiber, in addition to having excellent cleaning and absorption qualities, also is amenable to being attached to a mop frame using a hook and loop attachment system due the fiber structure and nap of the microfiber. As those with skill in the art will recognize, the layer 20 can be varied in density and thickness, depending on the intended use for the flat mop.

It should be appreciated the that utility textile of the present invention is not limited to use with flat mops. Indeed, the utility textile of the present invention could be easily used as an applicator of, for instance, flooring or other finishes. In such an embodiment, the core layer is preferably not be as thick as in a flat mop application, namely because the core layer's absorptions qualities would not be as important when applying a finish.

The foregoing description of a preferred embodiment of the invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description, and is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. For example, although a utility mop with three layers is shown, a flat mop comprising more or less than three layers can be used without departing from the teachings of the present invention. The description was selected to best explain the principles of the invention and their practical application to enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention in various embodiments and various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention not be limited by the specification, but be defined by the claims set forth below.