Title:
Cleaning wipe with textured surface
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cleaning wipe for use in cleaning a surface may be used as a stand-alone product or incorporated with any manner of cleaning tool. The wipe includes a base material having an application face and a plurality of projections extending generally transversely from the application face. The projections may have various shapes, including a mushroom-shape. A high friction element is applied to at least a portion of the projections such that the projections provide the cleaning wipe with an enhanced abrasive scrubbing functionality.



Inventors:
Chen, Fung-jou (Appleton, WI, US)
Lindsay, Jeffrey D. (Appleton, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/300602
Publication Date:
06/14/2007
Filing Date:
12/14/2005
Assignee:
KIMBERLY-CLARK WORLDWIDE, INC.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/228, 15/229.11
International Classes:
A47L13/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SCRUGGS, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DORITY & MANNING, P.A. (GREENVILLE, SC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cleaning wipe for use in cleaning a surface, comprising: a base material having an application face; a plurality of projections extending generally transversely from said application face, said projections having a base portion and a head portion; and a high friction element applied to at least a portion of said projections such that said projections provide said cleaning wipe with an enhanced abrasive scrubbing functionality.

2. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein said high friction element is applied to a top surface of said head portions.

3. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein said high friction element is applied to side surfaces of said projections.

4. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein said high friction element comprises an elastomeric coating applied to said projections.

5. The cleaning wipe as in claim 4, wherein said coating is selected from the group consisting of rubber, neoprene, synthetic or natural latex, or silicone.

6. The cleaning wipe as in claim 5, wherein land areas of said base material between said projections is substantially void of said high friction element.

7. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein said base material comprises a nonwoven web, said high friction element comprising elastomeric fibers distributed in said web.

8. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein said head portion of said projections extends laterally beyond said base portion so as to overhang said base portion.

9. The cleaning wipe as in claim 8, wherein said projections comprise a mushroom shape.

10. The cleaning wipe as in claim 8, wherein said projections comprise elongated longitudinally extending structures such that a channel is defined between adjacent projections.

11. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein said base material comprises a nonwoven web, said projections formed integral with said nonwoven web.

12. The cleaning wipe as in claim 11, wherein said projections are molded into said nonwoven web and are generally hollow, said nonwoven web comprising a substantially uniform basis weight along said projections and land areas between said projections.

13. The cleaning wipe as in claim 11, wherein said projections formed essentially entirely of said nonwoven web and comprise a higher basis weight as compared to land areas of said nonwoven web between said projections.

14. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein said projections are defined in a uniform pattern over substantially the entire surface area of said application face.

15. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein said projections are defined in discrete regions of said application face.

16. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein said wipe is configured for attachment to a cleaning head of a cleaning tool.

17. The cleaning wipe as in claim 16, wherein said wipe comprises dimensions for attachment to a cleaning head of a mop.

18. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein said wipe further contains an agent contained in said base material.

19. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein the high friction element comprises a polymer having a kinetic coefficient of friction of at least 0.3.

20. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein the high friction element comprises a polymer having a kinetic coefficient of friction of at least 0.5.

21. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein the kinetic coefficient of the high-friction element is at least 30% greater than the kinetic coefficient of the base material.

22. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein the kinetic coefficient of the high-friction element is at least 70% greater than the kinetic coefficient of the base material.

23. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein at least one side of the wipe has a kinetic coefficient of friction as measured against a stainless steel surface according to ATSTM-D-1894 of at least 0.3.

24. The cleaning wipe as in claim 1, wherein at least one side of the wipe has a kinetic coefficient of friction as measured against a stainless steel surface according to ATSTM-D-1894 of at least 0.5.

25. A cleaning tool for cleaning a surface, said tool comprising: a cleaning head having a cleaning material applied thereto, said cleaning material having an application face; a plurality of projections extending generally transversely from said application face, said projections having a base portion and a head portion; and a high friction element applied to at least a portion of said projections such that said projections provide said cleaning wipe with an enhanced abrasive scrubbing functionality.

26. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein said cleaning material comprises a disposable wipe removably attached to said cleaning head.

27. The cleaning tool as in claim 26, wherein said tool comprises a mop, said disposable wipe removably attached to said cleaning head of said mop.

28. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein said high friction element is applied to a top surface of said head portions.

29. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein said high friction element is applied to side surfaces of said projections.

30. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein said high friction element comprises an elastomeric coating applied to said projections.

31. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein land areas of said cleaning material between said projections is substantially void of said high friction element.

32. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein said projections comprise a mushroom shape wherein said head portion overhangs said base portion.

33. The cleaning tool as in claim 34, wherein said projections comprise elongated longitudinally extending structures such that a channel is defined between adjacent projections.

34. The cleaning tool as in claim 33, wherein said projections are oriented so as to extend longitudinally across said cleaning head in a direction transverse to a wiping direction of said cleaning head.

35. The cleaning tool as in claim 33, wherein said projections are oriented so as to extend longitudinally along said cleaning head in a direction generally aligned with a wiping direction of said cleaning head.

36. The cleaning tool as in claim 35, wherein said channels between adjacent said projections taper in width along the length of said projections.

37. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein said cleaning material comprises a nonwoven web, said projections formed integral with said nonwoven web.

38. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein said projections are defined in a uniform pattern over substantially the entire surface area of said application face.

39. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein said projections are defined in discrete regions of said application face.

40. The cleaning tool as in claim 39, wherein said projections have a different configuration between at least two of said discrete regions.

41. The cleaning tool as in claim 39, wherein said discrete regions are defined to provide different cleaning functionalities to different areas of said cleaning head.

42. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein said wipe further contains an agent contained in said cleaning material.

43. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein the high friction element comprises a polymer having a kinetic coefficient of friction of at least 0.3.

44. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein the high friction element comprises a polymer having a kinetic coefficient of friction of at least 0.5.

45. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein the kinetic coefficient of the high-friction element is at least 50% greater than the kinetic coefficient of the base material.

46. The cleaning tool as in claim 25, wherein at least one side of the wipe has a kinetic coefficient of friction as measured against a stainless steel surface according to ATSTM-D-1894 of at least 0.4.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Various types of disposable cleaning wipes are well known in the art as stand-alone products or for attachment to any manner of cleaning tool, such as a mob, hand-held scrubbing device, and so forth. With many types of conventional mops, a disposable wipe or pad component may be attached to the mop head and configured to pick up dirt, lint, fluid, and other material from a surface when the mop head is moved over the surface. The disposable wipe may be designed to pick up these materials in a dry or wet state. Once the disposable wipe reaches the end of its design life, the user may remove the wipe from the mop head and subsequently dispose of the wipe. At such time, a new disposable wipe may be applied to the mop head in order to resume or start cleaning. Other disposable cleaning devices are also known in the art, such as disposable industrial wipes or pads, sponge or foam blocks, and other hand-held devices that are designed with a particular cleaning functionality. Once the products are beyond their useful life and have degraded to a point where the cleaning functionality is no longer accomplished, the products are disposed of.

The bottom surface of a conventional mop head, or other type of cleaning tool, is generally flat and the attached disposable wipe is pressed flat against the surface to be cleaned, which typically is also a substantially uniform flat surface. While smaller particles may be adequately removed and retained by the mop head, cleaning in this manner is often ineffective at capturing and retaining larger particles, such as hair and accumulations of dust or lint, from the surface to be cleaned. For instance, balls of dust and/or lint may be shed from the disposable wipe either during cleaning, or after the mop head has been lifted up from the surface that was being cleaned. Also, various types of surface dirt can only be removed with at least some degree of abrasive scrubbing action. In this regard, it has also been proposed in the art to configure disposable wipes or pads intended for use with mops with multiple cleaning functionalities, including an “abrasive” or scrubbing feature. For example, the cleaning surface of the wipe may be textured to include raised areas or “tufts” of increased density to provide the wipe with an abrasive characteristic, as well as a desired degree of absorbency. Reference is made, for example, to U.S. Pat. No. 6,797,357 that describes a disposable cleaning wipe that may be used with a mop head, wherein the wipe has a macroscopic three-dimensional surface topography created by peaks formed in the wipe material. It is alleged that this structure provides the wipe with the enhanced ability to pick up and retain particulate dirt particles.

The UK patent GB 2031039 discloses a disposable wipe for a dust mop made from a nonwoven fabric having areas of varying degrees of embossing. These areas possess different degrees of structural integrity and a desired cleaning characteristic for the working face of the wipe.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,741,941, entitled “Nonwoven Web with Projections,” incorporated herein by reference for all purposes, discloses a nonwoven web useful as a cleaning wiper having projections separated by land areas. In some embodiments, the projections render the wipes particularly useful for scrubbing applications.

The art is continually seeking improvements in the structure and functionality of disposable cleaning wipes that may be used as a stand-alone product, or for attachment to any manner of cleaning implement, such as a mop head. The present invention relates to just such an improvement.

SUMMARY

Various features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the following description, or may be obvious from the description, or may be learned through practice of the invention.

The present invention relates to a disposable cleaning wipe that may be used as a stand-alone product or attached to any manner of cleaning implement, such as a mop. The cleaning wipe provides a unique textured surface that provides the wipe with multiple cleaning functionalities, including an abrasive or scrubbing functionality. The cleaning wipe is thus useful for cleaning surfaces requiring more that a wiping action from a soft wipe to remove all undesired matter. For example, the cleaning wipe may provide a generally aggressive scrubbing or abrasive functionality for removing larger adhered matter, as well as a wiping functionality for removing finer surface particulates, dust, and so forth.

The invention encompasses any manner of cleaning tool or implement incorporating the unique textured surface as a removable wipe or integral component thereof.

In accordance with aspects of the invention, a cleaning wipe for use in cleaning any manner of surface includes a base material having an application face. This base material may be any one or combination of suitable materials, including a nonwoven material. A plurality of projections are defined on the base material and extend generally transversely from the application face, the projections having a base portion and a head portion. The projections provide the cleaning wipe with an additional cleaning functionality, namely an abrasive scrubbing function. To further enhance the scrubbing capability of the projections, a high friction element is applied to at least a portion of the projections.

The high friction element may be applied to various areas of the projections, or over the entire surface area of the projections. For example, in one embodiment, the high friction element is applied to a top surface of the projection head portions. In an alternate embodiment, the high friction element may be applied to the sides of the base portion, or to select areas of the base portion sides and head portions.

The high friction element may be any one or combination of materials. In one embodiment, the high-friction element comprises a thermoplastic or silicone elastomer. In a particular embodiment, this element is an elastomer coating applied to various surfaces of the projections by any conventional application method. The coating may be, for example, rubber, neoprene, polyurethanes, polyisoprenes, synthetic or natural latex, or silicone. Various know coatings may be selected by those skilled in the art to enhance the ability of the projections to frictionally “grip” the surface being cleaned as the wipe is moved across the surface. For many relatively smooth surfaces, such as tile or highly polished surfaces, without the high friction element, the projections would tend to merely glide across the surface without providing the desired scrubbing functionality. Suitable high friction element coatings may also include fluoropolymers, self-cohesive polymers, low-tack elastomers, elastomer blends, and the like. By way of example, high-friction coatings may include the ENDUR HFG silicone coatings of Rogers Corporation (Rogers, Conn.). Also by way of example, methods for coating silicone elastomers onto fibrous materials are disclosed in US Pat. No. 6,200,915. High-friction materials may also be applied uniformly or nonuniformly to a surface or selected portions of a surface using deposition of atomized droplets of a liquid that is subsequently cured or by known spray techniques, by contact coating, by printing such as inkjet printing, flexographic printing, or gravure printing, or by other known methods.

The high-friction element may comprise or substantially consist of an elastomeric compound with a Shore-A hardness of 90 or less, 75 or less, 60 or less, or about 50 or less. Alternatively or in addition, the elastomeric compound may have a kinetic coefficient of friction (COF) in accordance with ASTM D-1894 of at least one of the following: 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, or 0.7, such as from 0.4 to 2.5 or from 0.5 to 2. Testing should be done against a mild steel surface with a sled mass of 200 g. The static coefficient of friction for a substantially smooth, flat, 0.5-mm thick sample of the elastomeric material can be at least one of the following: 0.35, 0.45, 0.55, or 0.75. The kinetic coefficient of friction of the high-friction element (or of the high-friction material added to the projections) can be at least 30% greater than that of the base material, and may be at least 50% greater, at least 70% greater, or at least 100% greater than the coefficient of friction of the base material. In one embodiment, the high-friction element comprises a coating applied to portions of a wipe wherein the treated surface of the wipe has a coefficient of friction at least 30% greater or at least 50% greater than the original untreated wipe. The kinetic coefficient of friction (COF) for a dry wipe comprising high-friction elements as measured in accordance with ASTM D-1894 can be at least one of the following: 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, or 0.7, such as from 0.35 to 2.5 or from 0.5 to 2.

In still another embodiment, the high friction element may be in the form of discrete elements attached to the surface of the projections, or mixed uniformly or heterogeneously throughout the base material. For example, particularly in the case of a nonwoven web base material, the high friction element may comprise a grit (discrete particles of high-friction material) adhered to the projections, or distributed throughout the base material. Elastomeric fibers may be a component of the nonwoven material and also serve as the high friction element where exposed on the projections.

It may be desired that land areas of the base material between the projections remain substantially void of the high friction element, particularly if the land areas provide a different cleaning functionality as compared to the projections.

The projections may take on various sizes, shapes, and spacing on the application face. Depending on the desired cleaning functionality, the projections may have a height relative to the land areas of the base material of at least about 1 mm, 2 mm, or 3 mm. The projections may have a conical or dome shaped cross section and a spacing such that the base portions of the projections are generally in contact and continuous over the application face. Alternatively, the projections may be spaced apart such that land areas are defined between the projections. The spacing, size and shape of the projections may be varied widely as a function of the desired cleaning functionality to be provided by the cleaning wipe.

In a desirable embodiment, the projections have a cross-sectional shape such that the head portion extends laterally beyond and overhangs the base portion. An example of such a configuration is a mushroom shaped projection. This embodiment is unique in that the voids or spaces between the projections are particularly well suited for trapping hair and other difficult to retain materials from the surface being cleaned.

The projections may be defined as individual dot or point-like structures on the application face. In an alternative embodiment, the projections are defined as elongated longitudinally extending structures such that an elongated channel is defined between adjacent projections. This embodiment may be particularly useful when the wipe is configured as a disposable mop head attachment. For example, the projections may be oriented so as to extend longitudinally across the width of the mop head in a direction transverse to a wiping direction of the mop cleaning head. In an alternate embodiment, the projections are oriented so as to extend longitudinally along the mop head in a direction generally aligned with a wiping direction of said cleaning head (i.e., aligned with the shorter dimension of the mop head). In this embodiment, the channels between adjacent elongated projections may taper in width along the length of the projections. In this manner, dirt particles, hair, or other particulate matter is pushed along the channels and becomes wedged in the tapered regions of the channels in use of the mop.

The base material may be any material suitable for a cleaning wipe having any combination of desired cleaning functionalities and capable of being formed into and retaining the three-dimensional projections. In a particular embodiment, the base material is a nonwoven material wherein the projections are hydroentangled into the web with use of a porous forming substrate having cavities with the desired shape of the projections. Water jets in the hydroentangling process redistribute fibers in the web to create a textured web corresponding to the negative image of the forming substrate. In this embodiment, the projections will be composed essentially entirely of fibers and will have a greater basis weight as compared to the land areas of the base material between the projections. Principles of forming hydroentangled webs are given in U.S. Pat. No. 4,939,016, “Hydraulically Entangled Nonwoven Elastomeric Web and Method of Forming the Same,” issued Jul. 3, 1990 to Radwanski et al.

In alternate embodiments, the projections can be formed by any known process for texturing a web, including embossing, pleating, molding, and so forth. With these types of methods, the projections may have essentially the same thickness and basis weight as the land areas between the projections, and be essentially “hollow” and thus highly compressible. It certain cleaning situations, this is a desirable cleaning functionality.

It should be appreciated that the type of base material and process used for forming the projections may vary widely within the scope and spirit of the invention.

The projections may be defined in various patterns on the application face of the cleaning wipe. For example, the projections may be defined in a uniform pattern over generally the entire surface area of the application face. The spacing and aspect ratio of the projections may vary widely depending on the desired degree of abrasiveness for the cleaning wipe. In an alternate embodiment, the projections may be defined in discrete regions on the application face, for example along the edges of the application face, particularly along the leading or lateral edges of a mop head, or in a discrete middle region. The projections may have the same or a different configuration within the different discrete regions depending on the desired cleaning functionalities of the different regions. For example, the projections may have a first configuration and spacing along the leading and lateral side edges of the application face to provide a more intense scrubbing functionality as compared to a middle region of the application face that may be void of projections, or have smaller projections at a decreased aspect ratio.

It should be appreciated that cleaning wipes according to the invention may be configured for attachment to any manner of cleaning tool, such as a mop, hand-held tool, powered machine such as a buffer, and so forth. In still alternate embodiments, the unique textured surface according to the invention may be formed as an integral or non-removable component of a cleaning device. For example, the textured surface could be formed directly into the application face of a disposable hand-held cleaning sponge or foam pad. A material layer having the textured surface may be permanently adhered to the face of such a device. In this regard, the invention encompasses any manner of cleaning tool or implement that incorporates the novel textured surface.

Aspects of the invention will be described in greater detail below by reference to particular non-limiting embodiments illustrated in the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a cleaning tool configured as a mop incorporating a cleaning wipe of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a portion of the wipe of FIG. 1 particularly illustrating the projections on the application face of the wipe.

FIGS. 3A through 3B are cross-sectional views of an alternative embodiment of a wipe and particularly illustrate the effect of the high friction elements on the projection surfaces.

FIG. 4A is a perspective view of the application face of a mop head and particularly illustrates discrete regions of projections on the application face of the wipe.

FIGS. 4B and 4C are cross-sectional views of the projection configurations of the embodiment of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 5A is a perspective view of the application face of a mop head and particularly illustrates longitudinally extending projections at the leading edge of the mop head.

FIG. 5B is a cross-sectional view of the projection configurations of the embodiment of FIG. 5A.

FIG. 6A is a perspective view of the application face of a mop head and particularly illustrates longitudinally extending projections along the lateral edges of the mop head oriented in a direction corresponding to a wiping direction of the mop head.

FIG. 6B is a cross-sectional view of the projection configurations of the embodiment of FIG. 6A.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a cleaning wipe embodiment in accordance with the invention that may be used as a stand-alone cleaning implement.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a hand-held cleaning sponge incorporating a wipe material layer in accordance with aspects of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made in detail to embodiments of the invention, one or more examples of which are illustrated in the drawings. Each example is provided by way of explanation of the invention, and not meant as a limitation of the invention. For example, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment can be used with another embodiment to yield still a third embodiment. It is intended that the present invention include these and other modifications and variations.

Referring to the figures in general, the present invention relates to a unique cleaning wipe 10 intended as a stand-alone product or for incorporation with any manner of conventional cleaning tool, such as a mop. Various constructions of mops are well known in the art and need not be described in detail herein for an appreciation or understanding of the present invention. It should also be appreciated that various other cleaning tools may take advantage of the invention, such as a hand-held implement, powered machine (e.g., a buffer or scrubber), and so forth. In a particular embodiment, the wipe 10 may be incorporated into a cleaning glove useful, for example, in grooming animals or cleaning soiled carpet.

Referring to FIG. 1, a cleaning wipe 10 is illustrated as it might be incorporated with a cleaning tool 46, for example a conventional mop 40 having a handle 42 attached to a cleaning head 32 by any conventional pivotal connection 44. The wipe 10 may be held on the cleaning head 32 by any conventional means, such as the clips 43, slits defined in the top of the cleaning head 32, releasable adhesives, hook and loop material, and so forth. In this particular embodiment, the cleaning wipe 10 is intended as a disposable element that can be readily removed from the mop 44 and replaced with an additional wipe 10.

The wipe 10 includes a base material 12 and a plurality of projections 14 defined on the base material so as to extend generally transversely from the application face 15 of the wipe 10. An embodiment of the projections 14 is illustrated particularly in FIG. 2. The projections 14 generally include a head portion 20, and a base portion 22. As described in greater detail below, the projections 14 may be defined in any desired pattern, spacing, and so forth, so as to provide the wipe 10 with a particularly desired cleaning functionality, namely an abrasive or scrubbing function.

For illustrative purposes, the base material 12 is illustrated in the figures as a nonwoven material having the projections 14 formed integral on the application face 15. Various embodiments of a suitable base material 12 are described in greater detail below. Also, various methods for forming the projections 14 on the base material 12 are also discussed in detail below.

To further enhance the scrubbing capability of the projections 14, a high friction element 24 is applied to at least a portion of the projections 14. For example, referring to FIG. 2, the high friction element 24 is applied generally to the sides of the projections 14, with the head portion 20 of the projections 14 being essentially free of the high friction element 24. In the embodiment of FIG. 4B, the high friction element 24 essentially covers the head portion 20 and sides of the base portion 22. In the embodiment of FIG. 6B, the high friction element 24 is provided on the head portion 20 and to a limited area of the sides of the base portion 22. In the embodiment of FIG. 3A, the high friction element 24 is applied to only one side of the base portion 22, as discussed in greater detail below. It should be appreciated that the high friction element 24 may be provided on the protrusions 14 in any desired manner or pattern.

Referring for example to FIGS. 4B and 4C, the base material 12 defines a land area 18 between the projections 14. The land areas 18 may be thought of as the regions of the base material 12 that are void of projections 14. It may be desired that these land areas 18 are void of the high friction element 24 so that a desired separate functionality of the base material (separate from the projections 14) is not inhibited by the high friction element 24. For example, it may be desired that the base material 12 be a highly absorbent material. It would thus not be desired to cover the surface area of the base material 12 with the high friction element 24.

The high friction element 24 may be any one or combination of materials. In a particular embodiment, this element 24 is an elastomer coating applied to various surfaces of the projections 14 by any conventional application method, such as spraying, dipping, coating, etc. The coating may be, for example, rubber, neoprene, synthetic or natural latex, or silicone. Suitable high friction elements 24 may also include coatings of fluoropolymers, self-cohesive polymers, low-tack elastomers, elastomer blends, and the like.

In still an alternate embodiment, the high friction elements 24 may be discrete elements attached to the surface of the projections 14, or mixed uniformly or heterogeneously throughout the base material 12. For example, particularly for a nonwoven base material 12, the high friction element 24 may be a grit or other particulate matter adhered to the projections 14, or distributed throughout the base material. The high friction element 24 may also be defined by elastomeric fibers that constitute a component of the nonwoven material. These fibers may be homogeneous throughout the material 12, or selectively present near the application face 15 of the base material 12.

The high friction material 24 provides the protrusions 14 with the ability to more securely “grip” the surface being cleaned as the wipe is moved in a to-and-fro direction. For example, referring to the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 3A through 3C, the protrusions 14 are illustrated with the high friction element 24 applied along one side of the base portion 22 of the protrusions. FIG. 3B illustrates the cleaning head 32 being moved in the direction of the arrow. Because the high friction element 24 is not present on the leading edge sides of the protrusions 14, the protrusions will move along the surface with a first degree of frictional interface. Referring to FIG. 3C, the cleaning head 32 is moved in an opposite direction wherein the high friction elements 24 are now on the leading edge of the protrusions 14. The high friction elements 24 frictionally engage with the surface being cleaned with a second degree of frictional interface that is greater than the uncoated protrusions 14, as represented in FIG. 3B. This increased frictional interface results in an enhanced scrubbing or abrasive functionality. This may be particularly useful for cleaning of relatively smooth surfaces, such as tile or highly polished surfaces. Without the high friction elements 24, the projections 14 would tend to glide across the surface without providing the desired scrubbing or abrasive functionality.

As can be seen in the various figures, the projections 14 may take on various sizes, shapes, and spacing on the application face 15 of the wipe 10. All such characteristics will affect the cleaning functionality provided by the projections 14. The projections 14 may have any desired height relative to the land areas 18 of the base material 12. In a particular embodiment, the head portions 20 of the projections 14 extend at least about 2 mm above the land areas 18.

The projections 14 may have a conical or dome shaped cross section, such as illustrated in FIGS. 3A and 4B. In addition, the sides of the projections 14 may merge such that the base portions 22 of the projections are generally in contact and continuous over the application face 15. In other words, distinct land areas 18 may not be present between the projections 14. Alternatively, the projections 14 may be spaced apart such that the land areas 18 are defined between the projections 14.

In a particularly desirable embodiment, the projections 14 have a cross-sectional shape such that the head portion 20 extends laterally beyond and overhangs the base portion 22. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 4C, such a configuration may be, for example, a mushroom-shaped projection. This embodiment is particularly unique in that the voids or spaces between the projections 14 are particularly well suited for trapping hair and other difficult to retain materials from the surface being cleaned. The tapered voids (tapered from the head portion of the projections 14 towards the land areas 18) allow for hair and other relatively larger particulate matter to become essentially “wedged” into the void spaces, with the tapered profile of the projections serving to “lock” the particulate matter within the voids.

The projections 14 may be defined as individual dot or point-like structures over the surface of the application face 15, as illustrated in FIG. 1. In an alternative embodiment illustrated for example in FIGS. 5A and 6A, the projections 14 are defined as elongated longitudinally extending structures that define an elongated channel 26 between adjacent projections 14. This embodiment may be particularly useful when the wipe 10 is configured as a disposable attachment to a cleaning head 32 of a mop 40, as illustrated in the figures. For example, referring to FIG. 5A, the projections 14 may be oriented so as to extend longitudinally across the width of the mop head 32 in a direction that is transverse to the wiping direction of the head 32. In other words, the projections 14 may extend transversely between the lateral sides 36 of the mop head 32. The projections 14 may be oriented at the leading edge 34 of the mop head 32 so as to provide an initial scraping functionality as the mop head 32 is pushed in a forward direction. In an alternative embodiment, the projections 14 may be disposed along the trailing edge 38 of the mop head 32 so as to provide a squeegee-type of functionality. FIG. 5B illustrates a cross-sectional view of the projections 14 that may be used to define channels 26.

In an alternative embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6A, the projections 14 are oriented at the lateral sides of the mop head 32 so as to extend longitudinally along the mop head in a direction generally aligned with the wiping direction of the head 32. For example, the projections 14 may extend longitudinally between the leading edge 34 and trailing edge 38 of the mop head 32. This embodiment may be desired in that the formed channels 26 would tend to pick-up and retain particulate matter and hair along that accumulates, for example, along a floor board. Referring to FIG. 6A, the channels 26 may taper in width along the length of the projections 14 so as to define a tapered region 28. In these tapered regions 28, dirt particles, hair, or other particulate matter is pushed along the channels and becomes essentially wedged into the tapered width portions of the channels 26.

Composition of the base material 12 may vary widely within the scope and spirit of the invention depending on the desired cleaning functionality of the material, including softness or loft, abrasiveness, absorbency, particulate retention properties, and so forth. In certain embodiments, the base material 12 may be a material formed into an open, porous structure that has sufficient structural integrity for use as a cleaning wipe and also for maintaining the shape and integrity of the projections 14 formed therein. Suitable materials are abundant and may be either natural or synthetic materials. Possible exemplary materials may include any known abrasive materials formed into the desired open structure. Possible synthetic materials may be polymeric materials, such as, for instance, meltspun nonwoven webs formed of molten or uncured polymer which may then harden to form the desired abrasive layer.

Other materials used in known commercial scrubbing products could also be used, such as apertured nylon covers, nylon networks, and materials similar to those found in other abrasive products such as, for instance, SCOTCHBRITE pads of 3M Corp. (Minneapolis, Minn.).

In one embodiment, the base material 12 may include a meltspun web, such as may be formed using a thermoplastic polymer material. Generally, any suitable thermoplastic polymer that may be used to form meltblown nonwoven webs may be used for the abrasive layer of the scrubbing pads. For instance, in one embodiment, the material may include meltblown nonwoven webs formed with a polyethylene or a polypropylene thermoplastic polymer. Polymer alloys may also be used in the abrasive layer, such as alloy fibers of polypropylene and other polymers such as PET. Compatibilizers may be needed for some polymer combinations to provide an effective blend. In one embodiment, the abrasive polymer is substantially free of halogenated compounds. In another embodiment, the abrasive polymer is not a polyolefin, but comprises a material that is more abrasive than say, polypropylene or polyethylene (e.g. having flexural modulus of about 1200 MPa and greater, or a Shore D hardness of 85 or greater).

Thermosetting polymers may also be used, as well as photocurable polymers and other curable polymers.

The base material layer 12 may be a web comprising fibers of any suitable cross-section. For example, the fibers of the abrasive layer may include coarse fibers with circular or non-circular cross-sections. Moreover, non-circular cross-sectional fibers may include grooved fibers or multi-lobal fibers such as, for example, “4DG” fibers (specialty PET deep grooved fibers, with an eight-legged cross-section shape). Additionally, the fibers may be single component fibers, formed of a single polymer or copolymer, or may be multi-component fibers.

In an effort to produce an abrasive layer having desirable combinations of physical properties, in one embodiment, nonwoven polymeric fabrics made from multi-component or bicomponent filaments and fibers may be used. Bicomponent or multi-component polymeric fibers or filaments include two or more polymeric components which remain distinct. The various components of multi-component filaments are arranged in substantially distinct zones across the cross-section of the filaments and extend continuously along the length of the filaments. For example, bicomponent filaments may have a side-by-side or core and sheath arrangement. Typically, one component exhibits different properties than the other so that the filaments exhibit properties of the two components. For example, one component may be polypropylene which is relatively strong and the other component may be polyethylene which is relatively soft. The end result is a strong yet soft nonwoven fabric.

In one embodiment, the base material layer 12 comprises metallocene polypropylene or “single site” polyolefins for improved strength and abrasiveness. Exemplary single-site materials are available from H.B. Fuller Company, Vadnais Heights, Minn.

In another embodiment, the base material layer 12 may include a precursor web comprising a planar nonwoven substrate having a distribution of attenuated meltable thermoplastic fibers such as polypropylene fibers thereon. The precursor web may be heated to cause the thermoplastic fibers to shrink and form nodulated fiber remnants that impart an abrasive character to the resultant web material. The nodulated fiber remnants may comprise between about 10% and about 50% by weight of the total fiber content of the web and may have an average particle size of about 100 micrometers or greater. In addition to the fibers that are used to form nodulated remnants, the precursor web may contain cellulosic fibers and synthetic fibers having at least one component with a higher melting point than polypropylene to provide strength. The precursor web may be wet laid, air laid, or made by other methods. In one embodiment, the precursor web is substantially free of papermaking fibers. For example, the precursor web may be a fibrous nylon web containing polypropylene fibers (e.g., a bonded carded web comprising both nylon fibers and polypropylene fibers).

The material used to form the base material layer 12 may also contain various additives as desired. For example, various stabilizers may be added to a polymer, such as light stabilizers, heat stabilizers, processing aides, and additives that increase the thermal aging stability of the polymer. Further, auxiliary wetting agents, such as hexanol, antistatic agents such as a potassium alkyl phosphate, and alcohol repellants such as various fluoropolymers (e.g., DuPont Repellent 9356H) may also be present. Desired additives may be included in the abrasive layer either through inclusion of the additive to a polymer in the die or alternatively through addition to the abrasive layer after formation, such as through a spraying process.

It should be appreciated that the invention also encompasses any manner of multiple layer construction wherein one or more layers of material form a composite structure, with at least one of the layers incorporating the unique textured surface. For example, the base material 12 may be a high loft nonwoven material adhered to a relatively dense, high strength layer, such as a sponge, foam, or the like. The base material 12 may be apertured to expose the underlying layer.

Various means may be utilized to form the projections 14 into the base material 12, including any known conventional method for texturing a web of material, such as pleating, embossing, molding, and so forth. A particularly efficient method involves forming a porous customized hydroentangling substrate having a pattern of cavities formed therein corresponding to the negative image of the protrusions. The base material web is placed adjacent to this substrate and then subjected to a hydroentangling process wherein the water jets cause a redistribution of the fibers in the web into the cavities in the substrate to create the projections in the web. As discussed above with respect to FIG. 2, the resulting projections are composed entirely of the redistributed fibers and will have a greater basis weight than the adjacent land areas of the base material.

PGI Polymer Group Inc. of Charleston, S.C., USA, has developed customized hydroentangling substrate technology that may be useful in forming process described above. In particular, the PGI technology allows for the creation of complex hydroentangled textures in webs based on CAD drawings used to create a porous spunlace substrate onto which the web is hydroentangled. The use of spunlace technology to create three-dimensional webs is described in the following US patents assigned to PGI: 5,098,764 entitled “Non-Woven Fabric and Method and Apparatus for Making the Same”; 5,244,711 entitled “Apertured Non-Woven Fabric”; 5,670,234 entitled “Tricot Non-Woven Fabric”; 5,674,587 entitled “Apparatus for Making Nonwoven Fabrics Having Raised Portions”; 5,674,591 entitled “Nonwoven Fabrics Having Raised Portions”; 5,736,219 entitled “Absorbent Nonwoven Fabric”; 6,306,234 entitled “A Chemically Treated Spunlace Fabric with Cross Directional Stretch and Recovery”; 6,375,889 entitled “Machine Direction Stretchable Nonwoven Fabric and Method for Making Same”; 6,502,288 entitled “Imaged Nonwoven Fabric”; 6,671,936 entitled “Method of Fabricating Fibrous Laminate Structures with Variable Color”; and 6,675,429 entitled “Imaged Nonwoven Fabric for Imparting an Improved Aesthetic Texture to Surfaces.” An example of an existing nonwoven spunlace web that could be modified to incorporate a high friction element in accordance with aspects of the invention is PGI's CLC-248 NOB web (a 3.5 osy PET web material). This material includes a uniform pattern of dome-shaped projections that could be coated on any portion thereof with a suitable high friction element. Additionally, the dome-shaped projections could be flattened by, for example a calendaring process, to form mushroom-shaped protrusions. In the alternative, a “cap” structure could be added to the domes to create mushroom-shaped protrusions.

Complex hydroentangling geometries may be incorporated in a wipe for dry or wet mop applications wherein the resulting spunlace web has a macroscopically heterogeneous engineered structure with regions adapted for retention of large particles or dustballs, and other regions adapted for retention of smaller particles. As discussed above with respect to FIGS. 5A and 6A, for use with a mop, the three-dimensional structures can include relatively deep channels near the leading edge to receive and retain large particles, with a lower textured surface depth in the central portion of the mop head for better liquid uptake, wiping of sticky or viscous materials, scrubbing, etc. The leading edge structure may also have a higher basis weight or other reinforcing means t increase stiffness and resiliency. Side edges of the application face may also be provided with distinct projection structures to assist in cleaning corners or sideboards.

In addition to spunlace technology, nonwoven webs and airlaid webs could be modified to have a variety of cross-sectional shapes suitable for wipes 10. For example, a nonwoven web comprising thermally activated binder material and/or thermoplastic fibers could be molded into a desired wipe configuration using heated molding plates or porous molding surfaces, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,692,603 entitled “Method of Making Molded Cellulosic Webs for Use in Absorbent Articles” and U.S. Pat. No. 6,617,490 entitled “Absorbent Articles with Molded Cellulosic Webs.” The wipe may be formed by being molded with spunlace technology on a three-dimensional porous mesh having a suitable shape. Formation of shaped webs useful for the present invention could also be achieved by adapting the techniques for forming tissue with shaped elements described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,660,362 entitled “Deflection Members for Tissue Production” and U.S. Pat. No. 6,610,173 entitled “Three-Dimensional Tissue and Methods for Making the Same.” Other textured nonwoven webs that can be modified to have structures of the present invention include those of U.S. Pat. No. 4,741,941 entitled “Nonwoven Web with Projections.”

The cleaning wipe 10 may provide various functionalities in addition to presenting a surfacing having a desired cleaning functionality. For example, the wipe 10 may be configured to deliver any manner of agent to the surface to be cleaned. In a particular embodiment, the agent is a cleaning agent, such as a disinfectant, bleach, or other cleaning compound, that is contained within the wipe material and released upon use of the cleaning tool. This may be accomplished in various ways. For example, the agent may be a powder, or granular composition distributed throughout the wipe material. Various examples of agents that may be delivered by the wipe 10 include cleaning agents such as floor wax, scrubbing agents, disinfectants, deodorants, bleach, etc. The agent may also act as a biosensor for indicating the presence of a biological agent, such as anthrax, or chemical agents. In one such bioluminescent system, the agent includes B lymphocytes that contain antibodies for the target analytes and a green fluorescent protein from jellyfish that becomes activated when the antibodies contact the target analytes. Various types of biosensors are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/277,170 filed on Oct. 21, 2002 and entitled “Healthcare Networks With Biosensors”, which is assigned to the assignee of the present application. The entire contents of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/277,170 are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety for all purposes. The biosensor may be a fluorescent protein or a genetically engineered cell in a pathogen identification sensor that glows when the biosensor detects the presence of the particular bacterial or chemical agent. An example of a fluorescent protein may be found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,197,928 entitled “Fluorescent Protein Sensors for Detection of Analytes”, which issued on Mar. 6, 2001. The entire contents of U.S. Pat. No. 6,197,928 are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety for all purposes.

The wipe 10, or tool incorporating such a wipe, may be electrostatically charged either uniformly, or in a pattern, in order to assist in the capture and retention of the generally smaller size particles thereon. Methods for providing electrostatic charge (e.g., electrets) in a nonwoven web are well known. Examples include U.S. Pat. No. 6,365,088, issued Apr. 2, 2003 to Knight et al., and in U.S. Pat. No. 5,401,446 issued Mar. 28, 1995 to Tsai et al, both of which are herein incorporated by reference.

It should be understood that the present invention includes various modifications that can be made to the embodiments of the wipe or cleaning tools described herein as come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.





 
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