Title:
MICROFIBER DUSTER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus comprising a central member and a synthetic fiber material portion extending radially outward from the central member along at least a portion of the central member and comprising a plurality of synthetic threads, wherein each of the plurality of threads comprises a plurality of synthetic filaments, and wherein each of the plurality of filaments comprises a plurality of synthetic microfibers.



Inventors:
Treacy, Terrence (Mansfield, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/675997
Publication Date:
05/14/2009
Filing Date:
02/16/2007
Assignee:
TXF PRODUCTS, INC. (Arlington, TX, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
156/172, 428/373
International Classes:
B65H81/06; D02G3/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
GUIDOTTI, LAURA COLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CURTIS, MALLET-PREVOST, COLT & MOSLE, LLP (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus, comprising: a central member; and a synthetic fiber material portion extending radially outward from the central member along at least a portion of the central member and comprising a plurality of synthetic threads, wherein each of the plurality of threads comprises a plurality of synthetic filaments, and wherein each of the plurality of filaments comprises a plurality of synthetic microfibers.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the plurality of synthetic microfibers comprises a plurality of bi-component microfibers.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the plurality of synthetic microfibers comprises a plurality of “islands in the sea” microfibers.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the synthetic fiber material portion has a denier value ranging between about 0.01 denier and about 50 denier.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the synthetic fiber material portion has a denier value ranging between about 0.1 denier and about 30 denier.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the synthetic fiber material portion has a denier value ranging between about 0.09 denier and about 17 denier.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the synthetic fiber material portion has a denier value ranging between about 0.2 denier and about 15 denier.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the synthetic fiber material portion has a denier value of about 0.7 denier.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the plurality of filaments comprises between about 50 and about 150 filaments, and wherein the plurality of microfibers comprises between about 8 and about 16 microfibers.

10. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the synthetic fiber material portion has a linear density ranging between about 5 grams per centimeter and about 30 grams per centimeter where the synthetic fiber material portion has a diameter of about 6 inches.

11. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the synthetic fiber material portion has a linear density of about 18 grams per centimeter where the synthetic fiber material portion has a diameter of about 6 inches.

12. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the central member comprises a twisted metallic wire having a plastic coating, wherein the twisted wire has a number of turns ranging between about 0.5 and about 5 turns per inch.

13. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a handle detachably coupled to the central member.

14. A method of manufacturing an apparatus, comprising: processing a plurality of synthetic threads, wherein the plurality of threads comprises a plurality of synthetic filaments, wherein each of the plurality of filaments comprises a plurality of synthetic microfibers, and wherein processing the plurality of threads comprises splitting each of the plurality of filaments to release the plurality of microfibers therein; and winding the threads onto a central member.

15. The method of claim 14 wherein the processing is performed before the winding.

16. The method of claim 14 wherein splitting the filaments comprises exposing the filaments to at least one of heat and a chemical solution.

17. The method of claim 16 wherein splitting the filaments further comprises agitating the filaments in the presence of the at least one of the heat and the chemical solution.

18. The method of claim 14 further comprising adding color to a plurality of the threads.

19. The method of claim 14 wherein each of the plurality of filaments is one of a bi-component filament and an “islands in the sea” filament.

20. An apparatus, comprising: a central member comprising a twisted metallic wire having a number of turns ranging between about 0.5 and about 5 turns per inch; a handle detachably coupled to a first end of the central member; a cap attached to a second end of the central member; and a synthetic fiber material portion extending radially outward from the central member between the handle and the cap and comprising a plurality of synthetic threads, wherein each of the plurality of threads comprises between about 50 and about 150 synthetic filaments, each of the synthetic filaments comprises between about 8 and about 16 microfibers, and the synthetic fiber material portion has a denier value of about 0.7 denier, a linear density of about 18 grams per centimeter, and a diameter of about 6 inches.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/779,634, entitled “MICROFIBER DUSTER,” filed Mar. 6, 2006, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

Previous hand-held dusting apparatus, or “dusters,” are made from wool or other natural fibers. However, these dusters can be difficult to keep clean and the supply of natural fibers is not stable. Moreover, wool dusters are more expensive than dusters made from manufactured materials. For example, other previous dusters are made from shredded ribbons of plastic, such as polyester or polyamide. However, even these versions have their drawbacks. For example, the ability of the shredded ribbon to hold dirt and dust is quite limited, because of the relatively large size of the fibers as compared to the smaller fibers of microfiber materials. Smaller fibers have mechanical properties that improve the fibers' ability to hold dirt and dust.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present disclosure is best understood from the following detailed description when read with the accompanying figures. It is emphasized that, in accordance with the standard practice in the industry, various features are not drawn to scale. In fact, the dimensions of the various features may be arbitrarily increased or reduced for clarity of discussion.

FIG. 1 is a side view of at least a portion of apparatus demonstrating one or more aspects of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 is a block-diagram of at least a portion of one embodiment of a method of manufacture according to one or more aspects of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of at least a portion of a microfiber demonstrating one or more aspects of the present disclosure.

FIG. 4 is an exploded sectional view of the microfiber shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a side view of at least a portion of apparatus demonstrating one or more aspects of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 6a-6d are schematic diagrams of apparatus demonstrating aspects of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

It is to be understood that the following disclosure provides many different embodiments, or examples, for implementing different features of various embodiments. Specific examples of components and arrangements are described below to simplify the present disclosure. These are, of course, merely examples and are not intended to be limiting. In addition, the present disclosure may repeat reference numerals and/or letters in the various examples. This repetition is for the purpose of simplicity and clarity and does not in itself dictate a relationship between the various embodiments and/or configurations discussed. Moreover, the formation of a first feature over or on a second feature in the description that follows may include embodiments in which the first and second features are formed in direct contact, and may also include embodiments in which additional features may be formed interposing the first and second features, such that the first and second features may not be in direct contact.

As employed herein, the term “microfiber” may be a technical term that may indicate that a fiber is one denier or smaller. Such microfibers and larger fibers can be employed within the scope of the present disclosure. For example, a microfiber or fiber may be about 0.2 denier after undergoing a splitting process described herein or otherwise. However, lower denier values are also within the scope of the present disclosure. Moreover, microfibers and other fibers employed according to one or more aspects of the present disclosure may comprise polyester, polyamide, nylon, acrylic and/or other synthetic materials.

Referring to FIG. 1, illustrated is a side view of an apparatus 100 demonstrating one or more aspects of the present disclosure. The apparatus 100 may be referred to herein as a duster or microfiber duster. The duster 100 includes a central member 110 and synthetic fiber material 120 extending from at least a portion of the central member 110.

The central member 110 may be a looped and/or twisted wire. For example, the gauge of the wire may range between about 2 and about 24. The central member 110 may be or comprise uncoated steel, stainless steel, steel plated metal, galvanized zinc, chromed nickel, and/or other metallic materials, among other materials. The central member 110 may also have a plastic coating.

The material of the central member 110 may be selected such that the central member 110 may be flexible, such that central member 110 may be bent and either return to its original shape or retain the new shape. The material of the central member 110 may also, or alternatively, be selected such that a twisted configuration may be achieved during manufacturing. For example, the central member 110 may be twisted into a configuration having between about ½ turn and about 5 turns per inch, although other configurations are also within the scope of the present disclosure.

The synthetic fiber material 120 may comprise a plurality of threads, each comprising a plurality of microfibers. For example, each thread may comprise between about 50 and about 150 filaments, and each filament may have between about eight and about sixteen microfibers. In one embodiment, each thread includes 72 filaments. However, one or more aspects of the present disclosure may be applicable or readily adaptable to embodiments including threads having less than about 50 filaments, threads having greater than about 150 filaments, filaments having less than about eight microfibers, and/or filaments having greater than about sixteen microfibers.

The synthetic fiber material 120 may generally have a denier value ranging between about 0.01 and about 50. In one embodiment, the synthetic fiber material 120 may have a denier value ranging between about 0.09 and about 17. In another embodiment, the synthetic fiber material 120 may have a denier value ranging between about 0.1 and about 30. In yet another embodiment, the synthetic fiber material 120 may have a denier value ranging between about 0.2 and about 15. Example denier values of the filaments within the scope of the present disclosure include 2 denier, 3 denier, and 5 denier (pre-split filaments). The example denier values and ranges described above may be applicable to the raw microfiber material prior to a fiber splitting process employed during the manufacture of the duster 100, and/or to the microfiber material after such splitting process. Moreover, denier values other than those described above are also within the scope of the present disclosure.

The diameter D of the synthetic fiber material 120 section of the duster 100 may range between about four inches and about twelve inches. For example, the diameter D of the synthetic fiber material 120 may be about six inches. The length L of the synthetic fiber material section 120 of the duster 100 may range between about two inches and about thirty inches. For example, the length L of the synthetic fiber material 120 may be about three inches, about twelve inches, or about eighteen inches. However, other values of the diameter D and the length L are also within the scope of the present disclosure.

The linear density of the synthetic fiber material 120 used in the duster 100 may vary depending on the diameter. To maximize the ability of the synthetic fiber material 120 to trap and hold dirt and dust, a larger diameter D may require a larger linear density of synthetic fiber material 120 than a smaller diameter D. For example, the linear density for a six inch diameter D may vary between about five grams per centimeter and about thirty grams per centimeter. In one embodiment, a linear density of about eighteen grams per centimeter is used for a six inch diameter D. If too small of a linear density is used, then there may not be enough synthetic fiber material 120 to effectively trap and hold dirt and dust. Using a linear density that is too large may hinder the fibers' ability to separate, and may thus hamper the ability of the synthetic fiber material 120 to effectively trap and hold dirt and dust. Linear density values other than those described above are also within the scope of the present disclosure.

The duster 100 may also include a handle 130. The central member 110 may extend through at least a portion of the handle 130, or the central member 110 and the handle 130 may be coupled end-to-end. In either case, the handle 130 may be secured to the central member 110 by a friction or interference fit, adhesive, crimping, and/or other means. The handle 130 may also include a button, slide, or other means for aiding the removal of the central member 110 from the handle 130. Such means may include latching means for preventing inadvertent removal of the central member 110 from the handle 130.

The duster 100 may also include a cap 140. The central member 110 may extend through at least a portion of the cap 140, or the central member 110 and the cap 140 may be coupled end-to-end. In either case, the cap 140 may be secured to the central member 110 by a friction or interference fit, adhesive, crimping, and/or other means. The handle 130 and/or the cap 140 may be wooden, metallic, or plastic.

Referring to FIG. 2, illustrated is a block-diagram depicting at least a portion of a manufacturing method 200 according to one or more aspects of the present disclosure. The method 200 includes a step 210 in which raw microfibers contained in the filaments of a thread are split. In some embodiments of the present disclosure, a bi-component filament design may be employed, such that there are two separate materials (such as polyester and nylon) that are joined during yarn manufacture. In other embodiments of the present disclosure, all the filaments may be made of one material (such as polyester, nylon, acrylic or any other synthetic fiber). Moreover, filament designs other than those described above are also within the scope of the present disclosure.

For example, referring to FIG. 3, each raw microfiber 300 may include a central portion 310 and a plurality of outer segments 320. The central portion 310 may have a spoked or star-shaped cross-sectional geometry, such as in the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 3. Consequently, the outer segments 320 may each have a wedge-shaped cross-sectional geometry, such as in the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 3. However, the scope of the present disclosure is not limited to microfibers having portions according to the cross-sectional geometry examples shown in FIG. 3. Moreover, the number of outer segments 320 in each fiber 300 may be less than or greater than the eight segments 320 shown in FIG. 3. The central portion 310 and the outer segments 320 may comprise polyester, polyamide, nylon, and/or other materials. For example, the central portion 310 may comprise polyester and the outer segments 320 may each comprise nylon.

Returning to FIGS. 2 and 3, collectively, the outer segments 320 may be partially or completely separated from the central portion 310 during the fiber splitting step 210 of method 200. The splitting step 210 may include agitating the fiber 300 in the presence of heat and/or a chemical solution selected to separate the outer segments 320 from the central portion 310. For example, the chemical solution may comprise lye and/or other caustic compositions. The heat and/or chemical solution may also be employed in the absence of agitation. As a result of the splitting process, as shown in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 4, the outer segments 320 may become substantially or completely separated from the central portion 310. However, in some embodiments, the outer segments 320 may become only partially separated from the central portion 310.

After the splitting process of step 210, the microfiber threads may be wound around a central member (e.g., the central member 110 shown in FIG. 1) in a step 220. The winding process may be performed substantially simultaneously, and possibly as a result of, a process employed to twist a wire forming the central member. Thereafter, in a step 230, end pieces may be attached to the central member. For example, a handle and/or cap such as those shown in FIG. 1 may be attached to the appropriate end of the central member.

The method 200 may include an optional step 240 in which some or all of the microfiber threads are dyed one or more colors before the threads are wound on the central member. The dye process of step 240 may also or alternatively be performed after the threads are wound on the central member in step 220 and/or before the splitting process of step 210.

The method 200 may also include an optional step 250 in which some or all of the microfiber threads are cut into separate threads before the end pieces are attached in step 230. This thread cutting step 250 may be performed after the winding process of step 220 or elsewhere in the method 200. The thread cutting step 250 may optionally be performed substantially simultaneously with, and perhaps as a consequence of, the winding process of step 220.

Referring to FIG. 5, illustrated is a side view of an apparatus 500 demonstrating one or more aspects of the present disclosure. The apparatus 500 is substantially similar to the apparatus 100 shown in FIG. 1. For example, the apparatus 500 includes a central member 510, a microfiber portion 520, and a handle 530, each of which may be substantially similar in composition and manufacture relative to corresponding components of the apparatus 100 shown in FIG. 1. As described above, the central member 510/110 may substantially comprise a flexible material. Consequently, the central member 510/110 may be configured in a variety of shapes to suit a variety of applications.

For example, in the configuration shown in FIG. 5, the central member 510 is configured in a closed or substantially closed loop. Consequently, the duster 500 may be employed to remove dust and other particulate from a ceiling fan blade by inserting the ceiling fan blade through the loop and brushing the microfiber portion 520 across the blade.

In the example shown in FIG. 5, the looped configuration of the central member 510 has a generally rectangular shape. However, the looped central member 510 may also have other shapes, such as a circular shape resembling a conventional toilet bowl brush, or a slender shape configured to fit into small spaces, among other shapes.

Moreover, as also shown in the example depicted in FIG. 5, the apparatus 100, the apparatus 500, and/or other embodiments within the scope of the present disclosure may also include coupling means 550 at an end of the handle 530 opposite the microfiber portion 520. The coupling means 550 may be adhered, latched, clamped or otherwise attached to the handle 530, although the coupling means 550 may also be formed integral to the handle 530. The coupling means 550 is configured to couple the apparatus 500 to, for example, an extension pole. In the example embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the coupling means 550 forms one half of a threaded coupling. However, the scope of the present disclosure is not limited to such an embodiment.

Some terms employed herein may have common industrial meanings. For example, “fiber” may mean material that is generated by splitting a filament. “Filament” may refer to either pre-split material that contains microfibers, or a filament may refer to a synthetic material that is small and cannot be split. “Thread” may mean the combination of multiple filaments that may be woven into a cloth (pre-split) or wound to form a duster (post-split). Threads may come on a spool and may be used to make a tangible product. Nonetheless, the scope of the present disclosure is not limited to the common industrial meanings these terms may have.

FIGS. 6a-6d are schematic diagrams of various microfiber material manufacturing stages according to aspects of the present disclosure. FIG. 6a is a schematic diagram of a single bi-component filament 610. The bi-component filament design is discussed above, and is illustrated in more detail in FIGS. 3 and 4. FIG. 6b is a schematic diagram of a single “islands in the sea” filament 620, in which a plurality of substantially round or otherwise shaped microfibers (the “islands”) 622 are encased in another material (the “sea”) 624. The islands 622 may comprise polyester and/or other synthetics. The islands 622 within a single filament 620 may each comprise the same material. Alternatively, a single filament 620 may comprise islands 622 of more than one material.

FIG. 6c is a microfiber thread 630 comprising a plurality of microfiber filaments 635. For example, 50 to 100 single filaments 635, each possibly being about 3 denier, may be combined to create the thread 630, which may result in about 150 denier. One or more of the single filaments 635 combined to form the thread 630 shown in FIG. 6c may be substantially similar or identical to the filament 610 shown in FIG. 6a and/or the filament 620 shown in FIG. 6b.

Referring to FIG. 6d, illustrated is a plurality 630′ of the threads 630 shown in FIG. 6c after being woven together to form a cloth that is then subjected to a splitting process to release the microfibers from within the filaments in the thread used to make the cloth. For example, if a filament employs the “islands in the sea” approach, then upon splitting the filament, the sea may be dissolved, leaving the small islands. The “islands in the sea” design may yield as many as 1200 microfibers from one strand of yarn consisting of about 70 filaments. In one embodiment, each thread comprises 72 filaments and the splitting process releases 1152 microfibers, resulting in a denier of about 0.2. After splitting the filaments, the resulting cloth may be dyed and then wound onto central member to form a microfiber duster (such as shown in FIG. 1 or 5) or other apparatus within the scope of the present disclosure.

In view of all of the above, it should be readily apparent that the present disclosure introduces an apparatus comprising a central member and a synthetic fiber material portion extending radially outward from the central member along at least a portion of the central member and comprising a plurality of synthetic threads, wherein each of the plurality of threads comprises a plurality of synthetic filaments, and wherein each of the plurality of filaments comprises a plurality of synthetic microfibers.

The plurality of synthetic microfibers may comprise a plurality of bi-component microfibers and/or a plurality of “islands in the sea” microfibers. The synthetic fiber material portion may have a denier value ranging between about 0.01 denier and about 50 denier, a denier value ranging between about 0.1 denier and about 30 denier, a denier value ranging between about 0.09 denier and about 17 denier, a denier value ranging between about 0.2 denier and about 15 denier, or a denier value of about 0.7 denier. The plurality of filaments may comprise between about 50 and about 150 filaments, and the plurality of microfibers may comprise between about 8 and about 16 microfibers. The synthetic fiber material portion may have a linear density ranging between about 5 grams per centimeter and about 30 grams per centimeter at a synthetic fiber material portion diameter of about 6 inches, or a linear density of about 18 grams per centimeter at a synthetic fiber material portion diameter of about 6 inches. The central member may comprise a twisted metallic wire having a plastic coating, wherein the twisted wire may have a number of turns ranging between about 0.5 and about 5 turns per inch. The apparatus may further comprise a handle detachably coupled to the central member.

The present disclosure also introduces a method of manufacturing an apparatus comprising (1) processing a plurality of synthetic threads, wherein the plurality of threads comprises a plurality of synthetic filaments, wherein each of the plurality of filaments comprises a plurality of synthetic micro fibers, and wherein processing the plurality of threads comprises splitting each of the plurality of filaments to release the plurality of microfibers therein; and (2) winding the threads onto a central member.

The processing may be performed before, after or during the winding. Splitting the filaments may comprise exposing the filaments to at least one of heat and a chemical solution, and may further comprise agitating the filaments in the presence of the at least one of the heat and the chemical solution. The method may further comprise adding color to a plurality of the threads. Each of the plurality of filaments may be one of a bi-component filament and an “islands in the sea” filament.

The present disclosure also provides an apparatus comprising: (1) a central member comprising a twisted metallic wire having a number of turns ranging between about 0.5 and about 5 turns per inch; (2) a handle detachably coupled to a first end of the central member; (3) a cap attached to a second end of the central member; and (4) a synthetic fiber material portion extending radially outward from the central member between the handle and the cap and comprising a plurality of synthetic threads, wherein each of the plurality of threads comprises between about 50 and about 150 synthetic filaments, each of the synthetic filaments comprises between about 8 and about 16 microfibers, and the synthetic fiber material portion has a denier value of about 0.7 denier, a linear density of about 18 grams per centimeter, and a diameter of about 6 inches.

The foregoing outlines features of several embodiments so that those skilled in the art may better understand the aspects of the present disclosure. Those skilled in the art should appreciate that they may readily use the present disclosure as a basis for designing or modifying other processes and structures for carrying out the same purposes and/or achieving the same advantages of the embodiments introduced herein. Those skilled in the art should also realize that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure, and that they may make various changes, substitutions and alterations herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure.