Title:
Plastic heddle
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Heddles for use within a harness frame of a weaving machine are provided. Each of the heddles includes a body formed from a liquid crystal polymer resin. The body forms at least one rod slot enabling engagement with a harness frame. The body also has an eyelet section with the eyelet section forming a yarn eye through which a yarn is capable of passing.



Inventors:
Korbutt, Thomas A. (Greer, SC, US)
Faasse, Gene E. (Easley, SC, US)
Kramer, Charles F. (Greenville, SC, US)
Perry, John F. (Alpharetta, GA, US)
Neel, Joseph Patrick (Charlotte, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/248020
Publication Date:
04/12/2007
Filing Date:
10/10/2005
Assignee:
GTP Greenville, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D03C9/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MUROMOTO JR, ROBERT H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DORITY & MANNING, P.A. (GREENVILLE, SC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A heddle for use within a harness frame of a weaving machine, said heddle comprising a body formed from a liquid crystal polymer resin, said body forming at least one rod slot enabling engagement with a harness frame and said body having an eyelet section with said eyelet section forming a yarn eye through which a yarn is capable of passing.

2. A heddle as in claim 1, wherein said liquid crystal polymer resin comprises an unfilled liquid crystal polymer.

3. A heddle as in claim 1, wherein said eyelet section is turned at an angle as compared to the rest of said body.

4. A heddle as in claim 3, wherein said angle ranges between about 20 degrees and 30 degrees.

5. A heddle as in claim 1, wherein said eyelet section comprises thickened eyelet section walls that define the sides of the yarn eye in a direction of yarn travel such that said yarn eye comprises a tunnel eye, said tunnel eye providing an extended contact surface on which the yarn may reside.

6. A heddle as in claim 5, wherein the depth of said contact surface is substantially larger than the width of the portion of said body that is disposed between said eyelet section and said at least one rod slot.

7. A heddle as in claim 5, wherein said eyelet section defines a gap through one of said eyelet section walls, said gap providing an opening for insertion of the yarn into said tunnel eye.

8. A heddle as in claim 7, wherein said gap is biased to prevent said yarn from exiting said yarn eye during a weaving process.

9. A heddle as in claim 5, wherein at least one of said eyelet section walls defines an indention to facilitate insertion of the yarn into said tunnel eye.

10. A heddle as in claim 1, wherein said body includes longitudinal walls defining said at least one rod slot.

11. A heddle as in claim 10, wherein said at least one rod slot comprises an O-shaped rod slot having a slit formed in one of said longitudinal walls, said one longitudinal wall defining at least a first edge of said slit being resiliently deformable to permit insertion of a rod of a harness frame into said rod slot.

12. A heddle as in claim 1, wherein said at least one rod slot comprises at least one of an O-shaped rod slot, a C-shaped rod slot, or a J-shaped rod slot.

13. A heddle as in claim 1, wherein a first rod slot is disposed at one end of said body and a second rod slot is disposed at an opposite end of said body.

14. A heddle as in claim 13, wherein at least one sharpened edge is defined on said body proximal to at least one of said two slots, said at least one sharpened edge being configured to aid in the automatic draw-in of yarn through said yarn eye.

15. A heddle as in claim 1, wherein said body includes gap-forming protrusions thereon to aid in creating separation between heddles when placed on a harness frame.

16. A heddle as in claim 1, wherein a flow modifier is blended with said liquid crystal polymer resin before molding of said liquid crystal polymer resin into said body of said heddle.

17. A heddle molded from plastic for use within a harness frame of a weaving machine, said heddle comprising, an eyelet section having thickened eyelet section walls that define the sides of a tunnel eye in a direction of yarn travel, said tunnel eye being configured to receive a yarn therethrough and said tunnel eye being configured to provide an extended contact surface on which the yarn may reside; a first longitudinal section disposed on a first end of said eyelet section, said first longitudinal section defining a first rod slot distal from said eyelet section; and a second longitudinal section disposed on an opposing second end of said eyelet section, said second longitudinal section defining a second rod slot distal from said eyelet section.

18. A heddle as in claim 17, wherein said contact surface defines a depth that is substantially larger than the width of at least one of said first longitudinal section and said second longitudinal section.

19. A heddle as in claim 17, wherein said eyelet section defines a gap through one of said eyelet section walls, said gap providing an opening for insertion of the yarn into said yarn eye.

20. A heddle as in claim 19, wherein said gap is biased to prevent said yarn from exiting said yarn eye during a weaving process.

21. A heddle as in claim 17, wherein one of said eyelet section walls defines an indention to facilitate yarn entry into said tunnel eye.

22. A heddle as in claim 17, wherein each of said eyelet section walls defines an indention to facilitate yarn entry into said tunnel eye, whereby said indention on one eyelet section wall is on a first end of said tunnel eye and said indention of said other eyelet section wall is on a second end of said tunnel eye.

23. A heddle as in claim 17, wherein each of said first and second longitudinal sections include longitudinal walls defining each of said rod slots.

24. A heddle as in claim 23, wherein each of said first and second rod slots comprises an O-shaped rod slot having a slit formed in one of said longitudinal walls of each of said first and second rod slots, each of said one of said longitudinal walls defining one of said slits being resiliently deflectable to permit insertion of a rod of a harness frame into said respective rod slot.

25. A heddle molded from plastic for use within a harness frame of a weaving machine, said heddle comprising: an eyelet section having eyelet section walls that define the sides of a yarn eye in a direction of yarn travel, said yarn eye being configured to receive a yarn therethrough; a first longitudinal section disposed on a first end of said eyelet section, said first longitudinal section having longitudinal walls defining a first rod slot distal from said eyelet section; a second longitudinal section disposed on an opposing second end of said eyelet section, said second longitudinal section having longitudinal walls defining a second rod slot distal from said eyelet section; and each of said first and second rod slots comprising an O-shaped rod slot having a slit defined in one of said longitudinal walls of said first longitudinal section and said second longitudinal section of each of said first and second rod slots, said longitudinal walls of said first longitudinal section and said second longitudinal section that define said slits being resiliently deflectable to permit insertion of a rod of a harness frame into said respective rod slot.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

N/A

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

N/A

BACKGROUND

The invention relates to a plastic heddle and, in particular, heddles molded from liquid crystal polymer resins.

Heddles used within harness frames serve the purpose of controlling warp yarns in weaving machines. The warp yarns run through yarn eyes that are positioned intermediate of the ends of the respective heddles. As is commonly understood, a single warp yarn passes through the yarn eye of the heddle. The raising and lowering of different harness frames in which the heddles reside form sheds within a weaving machine to allow insertion of filling yarns to weave a fabric. The heddles are typically mounted on a support bar of a harness frame within the weaving machine. In this manner, the depth, or flat strip side, of the heddle is parallel to the direction of travel of the warp yarn. The eye of the heddle is typically rectangular with full rounded ends to minimize chafing of the yarn passing through the eye. In an ideal configuration, the eye of the heddle should not bind or shape the warp end passing therethrough and should not crowd or contact the adjacent warp ends controlled by heddles bound in adjacent harness frames during the shed change.

Heddles may be formed by stamping and polishing of metal strips. Most common heddles for use in weaving machines consist of a relatively thin flat strip of metal, such as steel. These metal heddles may be formed by soldered wire, or by stamping of strips of metals. Metal heddles are more common within the industry because of their durability and ease of use within the harness frame. However, the metal heddles are limited by the fact that they are usually stamped or soldered, thereby limiting the configurations the heddles may possess. Further, the metal heddles require fine machining such as polishing to ensure that the yarn eye is internally smooth and will not cause any undue damage or chafing of the warp yarn during the weaving process. The use of metal as material and the handling involved in preparing the metal heddles increases the cost of the heddles.

Heddles made out of plastics are also used within the weaving industry. Plastic heddles can be formed by stamping or by molding. Plastic heddles can be made more inexpensively as compared to metal heddles. The plastics that are used are inexpensive relative to steel and can be molded into heddles with relative ease. Common plastics used to create such heddles include polyester, vinyl chloride, and acetal. These plastics are used because of their flow capabilities that facilitate successful molding. However, due to the size and tolerance limitations needed for the use of heddles in weaving machines, the heddles made from such plastics are more flimsy than the metal heddles. Such heddles also wear quickly where the warp yarns come in contact with the walls of the yarn eye. Such wearing within the yarn eye can be especially detrimental by creating a greater opportunity to damage the yarn during the weaving process. Heretofore, the plastic heddles have seen limited use, because the plastic heddles cannot obtain enough rigidity, strength and durability to perform as well as metal heddles.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore a principal object of the present invention to provide a molded heddle which does not require extensive machining or polishing while providing enough rigidity, strength, and durability within the size limitations and tolerances needed for the heddle's use within a weaving machine and with automatic drawing-in machines.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a heddle that reduces the wear within the rod slots as well as within the yarn eye of the heddle over extended use as compared to commonly used plastic heddles.

It is also an object of the present invention to provide a heddle formed from liquid crystal polymer resins.

It is yet another object of the invention to provide a heddle having an increased contact surface within the yarn eye that supports the warp yarn passing therethrough to decrease damage caused to warp yarn during the weaving operation.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a rod slot for a plastic heddle that increases the ease of installation of the heddle on a rod of a harness frame, while securely holding the heddle to the rods of the harness frame.

Additional objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the description that follows and in part will be obvious from the description, or may be learned by the practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

To achieve the objects in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and described herein, a heddle for use within a harness frame of a weaving machine is provided that includes a body formed from a liquid crystal polymer resin. The body defines at least one rod slot enabling engagement with a harness frame. The body has an eyelet section which defines a yarn eye therein. The yarn eye permits a yarn to pass therethrough.

In another embodiment, a heddle molded from plastic for use within a harness frame within a weaving machine is provided. The heddle comprises an eyelet section having thickened eyelet section walls that define the sides of a tunnel eye in a direction of yarn travel through the tunnel eye. The tunnel eye is capable of receiving a yarn therethrough and provides an extended contact surface on which the yarn may reside. A first longitudinal section is disposed on a first end of the eyelet section. The first longitudinal section defines a first rod slot distal from the eyelet section. Further, a second longitudinal section is disposed on an opposing second end of the eyelet section with a second longitudinal section defining a second rod slot distal from the eyelet section.

In yet another embodiment that is configured as in the above embodiment with the tunnel eye, at least one of the eyelet section walls defines a gap providing an opening for insertion of the yarn into the tunnel eye. The gap desirably is biased to prevent the yarn from exiting the yarn eye during a weaving process.

In a further embodiment, a heddle molded from plastic for use within the harness frame of the weaving machine is provided. An eyelet section having eyelet section walls that define the sides of a yarn eye in the direction of yarn travel through the yarn eye is provided. The yarn eye is capable of receiving a yarn therethrough. A first longitudinal section is disposed on a first end of the eyelet section. The first longitudinal section has longitudinal walls defining a first rod slot distal from the eyelet section. A second longitudinal section is disposed on an opposing second end of the eyelet section. The second longitudinal section has longitudinal walls defining a second rod slot distal from the eyelet section. The first and second rod slots defined within the heddle comprise O-shaped rod slots having a slit defined in one of the longitudinal walls of both the first longitudinal section and the second longitudinal section. The longitudinal walls of the first longitudinal section and the second longitudinal section that define the slits are capable of being deflected to permit insertion of a rod of a harness frame into the respective rod slots.

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate at least one presently preferred embodiment of the invention as well as some alternative embodiments. These drawings together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention but by no means are intended to be exhaustive of all the possible manifestations of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a schematic perspective view of a heddle according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a partial cross-sectional view along the line 2-2 of the heddle of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 illustrates a schematic front view of another embodiment of a heddle according to the present invention;

FIG. 4A illustrates a partial cross-sectional view of the heddle along the line 4A-4A shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 4B illustrates a partial cross-sectional view across the eyelet section of an alternative embodiment of the heddle according to the present invention;

FIG. 4C illustrates a partial cross-sectional view across the eyelet section of a further embodiment of a heddle according to the present invention taken along the line 4C-4C in FIG. 7;

FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of an end of a longitudinal section of a heddle according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 illustrates a perspective view of the yarn eye section of a further embodiment of a heddle according to the present invention;

FIG. 7 illustrates a perspective view of the embodiment of the heddle illustrated in the partial cross-sectional view of FIG. 4C;

FIG. 8 illustrates a schematic of a harness frame having heddles according to the present invention disposed therein;

FIG. 9A illustrates a side view of a rod slot section of an embodiment of a heddle according to the present invention; and

FIG. 9B illustrates a side view of a rod slot section of a further embodiment of a heddle according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made in detail to the presently preferred embodiments of the invention, one or more examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Each example is provided by way of explanation of the invention, which is not restricted to the specifics of the example. In fact, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the scope of spirit of the invention. For instance, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment, can be used in another embodiment to yield a still further another embodiment. Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover such modifications and variations as come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents. The same numerals are assigned to the same components throughout the drawings and description.

FIG. 8 illustrates a harness frame for use within a weaving machine. In general, harness frame, generally 10, comprises two end braces 12 connected to horizontal slat members 14. The harness frame 10 includes support rods 20 supported lengthwise on the harness frame 10 by attachments to slat members 14. As is commonly understood in the art, heddles 16 are supported on support rods 20. Rod slots 18 on the heddles 16 engage the support rods 20 to support the heddles 16 within the harness frame 10. The heddles 16 further include yarn eyes 40 through which warp yarns to be woven into a fabric pass.

FIG. 1 shows a schematic side view of a single heddle 16. The body 22 of the heddle 16 is molded and includes an eyelet section 28 which defines a yarn eye 40 through which a yarn 42 passes. The eyelet section 28 includes eyelet section walls 44 which extend longitudinally on either side of the yarn eye 40. A first longitudinal section 24 of heddle 16 is disposed on a first end of the eyelet section 28. The first longitudinal section 24 defines a first rod slot 30 that is distal from the eyelet section 28. The first longitudinal section 24 has longitudinal walls 32 at one end that define the first rod slot 30 through which an upper rod 20 of the harness frame 10 can be inserted.

A second longitudinal section 26 of heddle 16 is disposed on the opposing second end of the eyelet section 28. The second longitudinal section 26 also possesses longitudinal walls 36 at one end that define a second rod slot 34 on an end of the second longitudinal section 26 distal from the eyelet section 28.

In accordance with the present invention, the heddles 16 are formed from a thermoplastic resin material such as a liquid crystal polymer that can flow easily enough into the mold to create the desired shape of the heddle 16. At the same time, the desired liquid crystal polymer must be durable enough to add rigidity to the heddle 16 as well as a strength and durability that other plastics do not provide. The liquid crystal polymer provides more rigid and durable heddles 16 than conventional plastic heddles. In fact, the heddles 16 molded from the liquid crystal polymer exhibit similar strength and rigidity characteristics as heddles stamped out of steel. This added rigidity, strength, and durability provides a longer lasting heddle that does not wear at the rod slots 30, 34, or within the yarn eye 40 as easily as other plastic heddles. Further, the rigidity of the heddles 16 molded from the liquid crystal polymer prevent the bowing out of the heddles within the harness frame to allow for more precise weaving and also to permit the heddles 16 to be handled in a manner similar to steel heddles, which conventional plastic heddles cannot do. An example of a suitable liquid crystal polymer is Solvay's XYDAR liquid crystal polymer grade SRT-900, available from Solvay Advanced Polymers, LLC of Alpharetta, Ga. (website: solvay.com).

Preferably, the heddle 16 of the present invention can be made from unfilled liquid crystal polymer. However, the use of liquid crystal polymer also permits the insertion of additives which can be useful within the heddle. For example, additives for controlling static electricity may be added to the liquid crystal polymer as it is molded into the heddle 16. Such an additive allows for easier separation of heddles once they are packed onto a harness frame. Other additives such as antimicrobial additives, strengthening additives, or other commonly known additives may be included or mixed in with the liquid crystal polymer. However, the additives that are used within the liquid crystal polymer should not be of a consistency or type which will damage the yarn 42 during use of the heddles 16 within a weaving process.

A flow modifier may be blended with the liquid crystal polymer to enhance the material flow properties of the liquid crystal polymer. The flow modifier helps to increase the ease of flow of the liquid crystal polymer, thereby permitting an easier fill of a mold cavity used to mold the heddles. An example of a suitable flow modifier is Solvay's LCP-1000, available from Solvay Advanced Polymers, LLC of Alpharetta, Ga. (website: solvay.com).

The use of unfilled liquid crystal polymer resins creates a plastic heddle that has outstanding strength at extreme temperatures and excellent mechanical property retentions after extended use and exposure to extreme conditions. Also, the liquid crystal polymer resins can be easily processed and molded into the desired shapes and configurations of the heddles. Further, the liquid crystal polymer resins are exceptionally inert and resist stress cracking in the presence of most chemicals even at elevated temperatures. The easy processability of the liquid crystal polymer resins provides a high melt flow and set up in molded parts. The properties of the liquid crystal polymer resins are not affected by minor variations in processing conditions and no post-curing is necessarily required. The following are test results run on commonly available samples of Solvay's XYDAR liquid crystal polymer grade SRT-900 according to ASTM test methods.

Mechanical Properties According to ASTM
Tests (Specimen thickness 3.08 mm)
Mechanical PropertyResultsASTM Test Method
Tensile Strength20,300psiD638
Tensile Modulus1,740,000psiD638
Elongation2%D638
Flexural Strength20,600psiD790
Flexural Modulus1,590,000psiD790
Izod Impact, notched0.9ft-lb/in.D256A

Thermal Properties According to ASTM Tests
Thermal PropertyResultsASTM Test Method
Heat deflection232 degrees C.D648
temperature
Processing330 degrees C.-excellent
Temperatureflow for 0.018″ (0.46 MM)
wall width of a heddle

General Properties According to ASTM Tests
General PropertyResultsASTM Test Method
Specific Gravity1.38 D792
Water Absorption, 24 hours0.05%D570

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the plane in which the eyelet section 28 resides is turned at an angle relative to the plane in which the first and second longitudinal sections 24, 26 reside. This twisted eyelet section 28 permits the yarn eye 40 to open toward the path of warp yarn 42 to allow for easy insertion of the yarn and to prevent undue wear on the warp yarn 42 through excessive chafing or other contact with the eyelet section walls 44. As the harness in which the heddle 16 is placed is moved upward or downward as it rides along a cam, the yarn eye 40 in the heddle 16 will move the yarn 42. More specifically, as the harness frame rides up the cam, a lower contact surface 27 of the yarn eye 40 contacts the yarn 42 and pushes the yarn 42 upward. Similarly, as the harness frame rides the down the cam, the upper contact surface 29 of the yarn eye 40 pushes the yarn 42 downward.

FIG. 2 illustrates a cross-sectional view of the heddle 16 along the FIG. 1 line 2-2, which bisects the eyelet section 28. As can be seen, the eyelet section 28 resides in a plane that is turned at a twist angle α relative to the position of the plane in which the second longitudinal section 26 resides. As stated above, the eyelet section 28 is turned at a twist angle α to increase the ease in which the yarn 42 may be inserted therethrough and also to lessen the wear and tear on the yarn 42 during the weaving process. By turning the eyelet section 28 at a twist angle α, the yarn eye 40 creates a distance WE through which the yarn 42 may pass.

As can be seen in the embodiment shown in FIG. 2, the portion of the lower contact surface 27 that contacts the yarn 42 within the yarn eye 40 while the yarn 42 is being pushed upward by the bottom of the heddle 16 is defined by a depth that is designated DE. Similarly, the upper contact surface 29 (FIG. 1) has a similar depth DE (not shown) on the upper portion of the yarn eye 40 to contact the yarn and push it downward when the harness frame within which the heddle resides moves downward to form a bottom portion of a shed during the weaving process. The depth DE is slightly greater than the width Wb of the longitudinal sections 24, 26. The surface area created by the depth DE on which the yarn resides during its positioning within a shed is greater than the width Wb of the longitudinal sections 24, 26 because of the twist imposed by the twist angle α. In heddles lacking a twist, the lower contact surface area is determined by the thickness of the heddle and is more prone to wear during extended use of heddles made out of other types of plastics. Such wear creates grooves in the eyelet section of other types of plastic heddles that lead to greater opportunity to damage the yarn during weaving. However, the heddle 16 made from a liquid crystal polymer resin better resists wear on the upper and lower contact surfaces 29, 27 of the yarn eye 40 within the eyelet section 28, thereby decreasing the chance of damaging the yarn 42 after extended periods of use of the heddle 16.

Depending on the type of fabric to be woven, weavers want to have the flexibility to include as many ends per inch in a fabric as possible. To maximize the number of ends per inch, heddles are often packed tightly together within the harness frame. For this reason, the twist angle α at which the eyelet section 28 is turned should be great enough to create a yarn eye 40 with a width WE great enough allow easy insertion of the yarn 42, while at the same time not causing damage to the yarn during the weaving process. Further, the width of the heddle Ws should be minimized to allow as many heddles to be placed on a harness frame as possible to increase the number of ends per inch that may be woven. Thus, the twist angle α should be great enough to increase the efficiency of the threading of the heddle and to reduce the wear on the yarn while at the same time minimizing the increased width of the heddle. The twist angle α may range from between about five degrees to about forty-five degrees. A twist angle α from about 20 degrees to about 30 degrees is desirable.

The eye section can also be formed in a manner consistent with the heddle eyelet structure disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,348,055, which is hereby incorporated herein by this reference in its entirety. For example, the eyelet section 28 may also be formed in a manner so that the heddle includes a substantially flat width section which is substantially parallel to the warp ends passing through the yarn eye. The eye may be disposed through the width section and may be defined by a first side segment and a second side segment. The side segments are oppositely laterally disposed a predetermined distance relative to the width section so that a plane through the eye forms a predetermined angle with the plane of the width section. The side segments are also formed so that a plane through each of the side segments also forms a predetermined angle with the plane of the eye. The side segments can be formed parallel to the width section.

As shown in FIG. 5, the heddles 16 that are formed from the desired liquid crystal polymer may include a sharpened edge 49 that permits an automatic draw-in machine to select the heddle on the harness frame during the draw-in of yarn ends through the yarn eye 40 of the respective heddle 16. The sharpened edge 49 permits a fork-like mechanism on the automatic draw-in machine to engage the sharpened edge 49, and thereby the heddle 16, to position the heddle relative to a needle that inserts a yarn 42 through the yarn eye 40 of the eyelet section 28. While such a mechanism may be employed on steel heddles, conventional plastic heddles are too flimsy to allow automatic draw-in machines to engage the heddle in the same manner. The rigid heddle 16 formed by the liquid crystal polymer also allows for desorting slots 38 to be molded in both the first longitudinal section 24 and the second longitudinal section 26 to facilitate the separation of two rows of heddle eyes (duplex heddles) in preparation for automatic draw-in. Further, the rigidity of the liquid crystal polymer also allows for the formation of a porter hole in both the first longitudinal section 24 and the second longitudinal section 26 for insertion of a handling pin to facilitate handling and shipping of heddles in stacked relationship.

The width Wb of the heddle in each of the longitudinal sections 24, 26 should be relatively thin in order to increase the number of heddles that will fit side-by-side on a harness. For example, the width of the heddle may be somewhere around 0.012 inches (0.3 mm) in many commonly used heddles. Such a small tolerance of the width still allows for a heddle 16 formed of the liquid crystal polymer to perform many of the same functions as a steel heddle, which other plastic heddles cannot do. Other larger widths for the heddles may also be produced using liquid crystal polymer to form the body of the heddle.

To prevent the sticking together of the heddles 16 formed of the liquid crystal polymer once they are placed on a harness frame, protrusions 48 may be molded at different points along the heddle, for example at an end near a rod slot 34. As shown in FIG. 5, the protrusions 48 extend outward from the surface 45 of the heddle 16. Such protrusions 48 help to prevent the heddle 16 from becoming too close to a neighboring heddle. The protrusions 48 can be figures, letters, waves, bends or the like molded within the heddle 16. For example, the protrusions 48 can be formed as the likeness of a manufacturer's logo or brand. These protrusions 48 create a separation between the heddles to allow for easier drawing in of the yarns through the respective yarn eyes 40 of the eyelet sections 28.

Heddles 16 may have different types of rod slots at either end of the body 22. As illustrated in FIG. 1, the rod slots 34 may be closed and oblong-shaped, which are commonly referred to as O-shaped rod slots. The rod slots may also be C-shaped or J-shaped as illustrated in FIGS. 9A and 9B, respectively. Such C-shaped and J-shaped rod slots can be easily molded in the heddle using liquid crystal polymer while still having the rigidity and strength to engage the rods of the harness frame during extended use within a weaving machine. FIG. 9A shows an end section of a body 22 of a heddle 16 comprising molded liquid crystal polymer. A C-shaped rod slot 134 is defined in an end of a body 22 between first longitudinal wall 136 and second longitudinal wall 36. The first longitudinal wall 136 is interrupted to define an opening 135 through which a rod may enter into the rod slot 134. FIG. 9B shows an end section of a body 22 of a liquid crystal polymer heddle 16 defining a J-shaped rod slot 234 between first longitudinal wall 236 and second longitudinal wall 36. The first longitudinal wall 236 is interrupted to define an opening 235 through which a rod may enter into the J-shaped rod slot 234. Since the heddles 16 illustrated in FIGS. 9A and 9B are molded from liquid crystal polymer, the first longitudinal walls 136, 236 of the respective C-shaped rod slot 134 and J-shaped rod slot 136 may be deflected to one side to allow the respective heddles to engage the rod. The respective longitudinal walls 136, 236 should be resilient enough to resume a position to engage the rod if any portion is deflected. For the C-Shaped rod slot 134, one or both portions of the longitudinal wall 136 may be deflectable.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, FIG. 5 shows a further embodiment for the rod slots 34 of the heddles 16 that are molded from liquid crystal polymer. FIG. 5 shows a portion of a second longitudinal section 26 wherein the second longitudinal section 26 forms a first longitudinal wall 36 and a second longitudinal wall 36 that is opposed to the first wall 36. An O-shaped rod slot 34 is defined between the first and second longitudinal walls 36, 36′. The second longitudinal wall 36′ is interrupted to define a slit 46 that is configured to allow for easier installation of the heddle onto the rods of the harness frame. The slit 46 is defined by opposed free edges of the second longitudinal wall 36′ where wall 36′ is interrupted. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the slit 46 effectively divides the second wall 36′ into a relatively longer leg and a relatively shorter leg. Since the heddle 16 is made from a liquid crystal polymer, the second longitudinal wall 36′ may be deflected to one side to allow the heddle to engage the rods of the harness frame in a similar manner as the C-shaped rod slot or the J-shaped rod slot. At least the longer leg of the deflected longitudinal wall 36′ can be deflected one way, and the shorter leg can be deflected the opposite way or remain fixed and undeflected. Once the rod slot 34 is inserted onto the rod, at least the longer leg of the deflected longitudinal wall 36′ is sufficiently resilient so that it generally resumes its original position, thereby permitting the heddle 16 to have longitudinal walls 36 and 36′ on either side of the rod that resides in the rod slot 34. In some embodiments, the legs of the deflecting wall 36′ are about equal in length. In some embodiments, both legs of the deflected longitudinal wall 36′ are resiliently deflectable.

The use of a thermoplastic polymer to mold the heddles in accordance with the present invention allows the heddles to be created in different embodiments. For example, FIGS. 3, 4A, 4B, 4C, 6 and 7 illustrate a portion of a heddle having an eyelet section 50 which has an extended depth Dt as compared to the heddle illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. As seen in FIG. 3 in a plane front view, a middle portion of the heddle 16 is shown. The heddle 16 has a first longitudinal section 24 and a second longitudinal section 26 on either side of an eyelet section 50. The first and second longitudinal sections 24, 26 have a width WL. The eyelet section 50 has thickened eyelet section walls 52, 54 as shown in cross-sectional view of FIG. 4A.

The cross section in FIG. 4A illustrates that the eyelet section 50 and the eyelet section walls 52, 54 are thickened in its depth Dt, while the width Wt of the eyelet section 50 is no greater than the width Ws of the turned eyelet section 28 of FIG. 2. Such an eyelet section 50 creates a tunnel eye 56 having a width We and a depth equal to the depth Dt thereby creating an extended contact surface 60. The contact surface 60 may be substantially larger than the width WL of the first and second longitudinal sections 24, 26. For example, the depth Dt may be one and a half to more than three times larger than the width WL of the first and second longitudinal sections 24, 26. Also, the contact surface 60 is larger than the depth De of the turned eyelet section 28 of FIG. 2. Such a tunnel eye 56 with its larger contact surface 60 gives more support to the warp yarn extending through the tunnel eye 56 during weaving and does not create as large a pressure point in the yarn as the contact surfaces 27, 29 of the yarn eye 40 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The tunnel eye 56 thereby can further reduce wear and tear on the yarn passing therethrough as well as wear and tear on the heddle 16 during extended use within a weaving machine. The edges 58 of the eyelet section walls may be round and smooth to further reduce wear and tear on the yarn passing through the tunnel eye 56.

The eyelet section 50 can have different configurations to improve the insertion of a yarn through the tunnel eye 56. As shown in FIG. 6, a thickened eyelet wall 53 may be interrupted to form a gap 62. Each opposed edge of the gap 62 is defined by one of the opposed, free edges of the eyelet wall 53. The gap 62 may extend through the thickened eyelet wall 53 and create an opening within the thickened eyelet section wall 53 that is wide enough to accept a yarn therethrough so that the yarn may reside in the tunnel eye 56 between the eyelet walls 53, 54. The gap 62 may be biased at an angle β so as to prevent an inadvertent removal of the yarn from the tunnel eye 56 during movement of the heddle 16. By having the gap 62 biased at angle β, then during normal operations of the weaving machine, the yarn would not enter a position that would permit the yarn to exit through the gap 62. The angle β may range from about five degrees to about sixty degrees.

FIG. 7 shows a further embodiment of an eyelet section 50 of a portion of a heddle 16. The eyelet section 50 has a first thickened eyelet section wall 52′ and a second eyelet section wall 54 with the tunnel eye 56 defined therebetween. The first eyelet section wall 52′ has an indention 64 formed therein to permit easier insertion of the yarn through the tunnel eye 56. Further, the indention 64 has a smooth rounded surface which slopes down to the contact surfaces 60, 60′ of the tunnel eye 56. The smooth surfaces and the curved slopes remove sharp edges that can damage the yarn during operation of the weaving machine.

FIG. 4C illustrates a cross-sectional view through the eyelet section 50 and the tunnel eye 56 shown in FIG. 7. By having the indention 64 within the first eyelet section wall 52′, the depth Di which the yarn must pass between both eyelet section wall 54 and eyelet section wall 52′ is greatly reduced as compared to the cross-section shown in FIG. 4A. By reducing the distance in which the warp end must pass between the two eyelet section walls, the efficiency and ability to draw the warp end through the tunnel eye 56 of the heddle 16 can be increased. Further, by having a sloping rounded surface 66 forming the ends of the indentions 64, the yarn is less likely to be damaged during operation of the weaving machine. Further, by having softened rounded edges 58 at the ends of the eyelet section walls 52′, 54, the warp yarns are further protected from damage.

FIG. 4B shows a cross-sectional view of a further embodiment of an eyelet section 50 forming a tunnel eye 56. In this embodiment, however, both first eyelet section wall 52′ and second eyelet section wall 54′ form indention 64 and indention 68, respectively, on opposite sides of the eyelet section 50. Such an embodiment further increases the opportunity for increased efficiency and drawing in of warp ends through the tunnel eye 56 of the heddle 16 while still providing an extended contact surface 60 to help support the warp end passing through the tunnel eye 56 during operation. The eyelet section walls 52′, 54′ should be large enough to prevent any compromise of the integrity of the heddle 16. By employing eyelet section walls 52′, 54′, the depth of the distance of which the warp end must pass through the first eyelet section wall 52′ and the second eyelet section wall 54′ can be minimized or even possibly eliminated. Such a configuration can again increase the speed and efficiency of the draw-in of the warp yarns through the tunnel eyes of the heddles 16. The eyelet section walls 52′, 54′ may be sloped in a manner similar to the first eyelet section wall 52′ shown in FIGS. 4C and 7. Again, the edges 58 of the eyelet section walls 52′, 54′ can be rounded and smooth to protect the yarn.

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