Title:
BREATHABLE WATERPROOF GARMENT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of manufacturing a breathable waterproof garment, the method comprising: forming a first garment layer (30) in a stretched configuration over an oversized three-dimensional garment former (20) having a profile extending substantially in three dimensions and corresponding to an oversized three-dimensional profile of the garment when worn; covering the first garment layer with an intermediate garment layer (40) resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour; covering the intermediate garment layer (40) with a second garment layer (50); and while the first and second garment layers (30, 50) are simultaneously stretched over the three-dimensional garment former (20) adhering the intermediate garment layer (40) to both the first and second garment layers (30, 40) at a plurality of discrete securement locations.



Inventors:
Greenacre, Robert James (Norfolk, GB)
Application Number:
14/783150
Publication Date:
02/18/2016
Filing Date:
03/27/2014
Assignee:
SEALSKINZ LIMITED (Norfolk, GB)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/169, 2/227, 2/243.1, 156/229
International Classes:
A41D1/06; A41D31/00; A41D3/04; A41D19/00; A41H43/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ANNIS, KHALED
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sheridan Ross PC (Denver, CO, US)
Claims:
1. A method of manufacturing a breathable waterproof garment, the method comprising: forming a first garment layer in a stretched configuration over an oversized three-dimensional garment former having a profile extending substantially in three dimensions and corresponding to an oversized three-dimensional profile of the garment when worn; covering the first garment layer with an intermediate garment layer resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour; covering the intermediate garment layer with a second garment layer; and while the first and second garment layers are simultaneously stretched over the three-dimensional garment former adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers at a plurality of discrete securement locations.

2. A method according to claim 1, wherein the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers occurs substantially simultaneously.

3. A method according to claim 1, wherein the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers comprises applying heat.

4. A method according to claim 3, wherein heat is applied internally via a heating element provided inside the three-dimensional garment former.

5. A method according to claim 3, wherein heat is applied externally via an external heating element.

6. A method according to claim 1, wherein the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers comprises applying pressure.

7. A method according to claim 6, wherein pressure is applied by pressure application apparatus comprising a first part defining a first mould chamber and a second part defining a second mould chamber, the first and second mould chambers together defining an internal profile substantially corresponding to an external profile of the oversized three-dimensional garment former, whereby when the first and second parts are brought together the pressure device and three-dimensional garment former act together to apply pressure to the first, second and intermediate garment layers.

8. A method according to claim 1, the step of applying pressure comprises creating a pressure differential between fluid exposed to an outer surface of the second garment layer and fluid exposed to an inner surface of the first garment layer

9. A method according to claim 8, wherein pressure is applied by exposing an outer surface of the second garment layer with a pressurised fluid.

10. A method according to claim 9, wherein the pressurised fluid is applied to the outer surface of the second garment layer in a pressurised chamber.

11. A method according to claim 10, wherein the pressurised fluid is applied to the outer surface of the second garment layer at a temperature exceeding an activation temperature of the adhesive.

12. A method according to claim 1, wherein the oversized three-dimensional garment former is alterable between an expanded configuration and a contracted configuration, and the method further comprises placing at least one of the first, intermediate and second garment layers over the oversized three-dimensional garment former whilst the oversized three-dimensional garment former is in the contracted configuration.

13. A method according to claim 1, wherein: the oversized three-dimensional garment former is alterable between an expanded configuration and a contracted configuration; and pressure is applied by providing pressure application apparatus comprising a body defining: a chamber having an internal profile substantially corresponding to an external profile of the oversized three-dimensional garment former; and an opening for inserting the oversized three-dimensional garment former into the chamber when the oversized three-dimensional garment former is in the contracted configuration; whereby pressure is applied to opposed sides of the intermediate garment structure by moving the oversized three-dimensional garment former into the expanded configuration after being positioned inside the chamber in a predetermined orientation relative to the chamber.

14. A method according to claim 13, wherein the oversized three-dimensional garment former comprises at least one inflatable part.

15. A method according to claim 14, wherein pressurised fluid is applied to the at least one inflatable part when the oversized three-dimensional garment former is positioned inside the chamber to move the oversized three-dimensional garment into the expanded configuration.

16. A method according to claim 15, wherein pressurised gas is applied to the at least one inflatable part at a temperature exceeding an activation temperature of the adhesive.

17. A method according to claim 14, wherein the oversized three-dimensional garment former is inserted into the chamber with the at least one inflatable part in a partially inflated configuration.

18. A method according to claim 1, wherein the garment includes a pair of apertures for receiving a wearer's arms or legs.

19. A method according to claim 12, wherein the garment comprises a pair of tubular sleeves or a pair of tubular leg parts.

20. A method according to claim 1, wherein the garment comprises a glove.

21. A method according to claim 1, wherein the first garment layer forms an inner layer of the garment and the second garment layer forms an outer layer of the garment.

22. A method according to claim 1, wherein at least one of the first and second garment layers is a knitted garment layer.

23. A method of manufacturing a breathable waterproof garment, the method comprising: providing an intermediate garment structure comprising a first garment layer and an inflatable oversized intermediate garment layer resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour provided over the first garment layer; inflating the intermediate garment structure to stretch the first layer into a predetermined stretched configuration; and while the first garment layer is in the predetermined stretched configuration adhering the intermediate garment layer to the first garment layer at a plurality of discrete securement locations.

24. A method according to claim 23, wherein: the intermediate garment layer is provided over the first garment layer and the intermediate garment structure further comprises a second garment layer provided over the intermediate garment layer, wherein the step of inflating the intermediate garment structure stretches each of the first and second garment layers into the predetermined stretched configuration; and the method further comprises while the first and second garment layers are simultaneously in the pre-determined stretched configuration adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers at a plurality of discrete securement locations by applying pressure to an outer surface of the second garment layer whilst the intermediate garment structure is inflated.

25. A method according to claim 24, wherein the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers occurs substantially simultaneously.

26. A method according to claim 24, wherein the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers comprises applying heat.

27. A method according to claim 26, wherein heat is applied externally via an external heating element.

28. A method according to claim 24, wherein the pressure is applied to the outer surface of the second garment layer by providing pressure application apparatus comprising a body defining: a chamber having an internal profile substantially corresponding to an oversized three-dimensional external profile of the garment when worn; and an opening for inserting the intermediate garment structure into the chamber; whereby pressure is applied to opposed sides of the intermediate garment structure by inflating the intermediate garment structure after being positioned inside the chamber in a predetermined orientation relative to the chamber.

29. A method according to claim 23, wherein the intermediate garment structure is formed on an oversized garment former.

30. A method according to claim 23, wherein the garment includes a pair of apertures for receiving a wearer's arms or legs.

31. A method according to claim 30, wherein the garment comprises a pair of tubular sleeves or a pair of tubular leg parts.

32. A method according to claim 23, wherein the garment comprises a glove.

33. A method according to claim 23, wherein the first garment layer forms an inner layer of the garment and the second garment layer forms an outer layer of the garment.

34. A method according to claim 23, wherein at least one of the first and second garment layers is a knitted garment layer

35. A breathable waterproof garment having a profile extending substantially in three dimensions when stretched over a planar former, the garment comprising: an inner garment layer; an outer garment layer; and an intermediate garment layer provided in a folded configuration between the inner and outer garment layers, the intermediate garment layer being resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour; wherein the intermediate garment layer is attached to both the inner garment layer and the outer garment layer by regions of adhesive provided at a plurality of discrete securement locations.

36. A breathable waterproof garment according to claim 35, wherein at least one of the inner and outer garment layers is a knitted garment layer.

37. A breathable waterproof garment according to claims 35, wherein the inner and outer garment layers and the intermediate garment layer all have a profile corresponding to a predetermined profile of the garment.

38. A breathable waterproof garment according to claim 35, wherein at least one of the inner and outer garment layers each consist of a single seamless part.

39. A method of manufacturing a breathable waterproof garment including a pair of apertures for receiving a wearer's arms or legs, the method comprising: providing a first garment layer in a stretched configuration over an oversized garment former having a profile defining a pair of oversized arm or leg parts; while the first garment layer is in the stretched configuration adhering the first garment layer to a first surface of an intermediate garment layer resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour at a plurality of discrete securement locations; and adhering a second garment layer to a second surface of the intermediate garment layer opposed to the first surface at a plurality of discrete securement locations while the second garment layer is in a stretched configuration.

40. A method according to claim 39, wherein the garment comprises a pair of tubular sleeves.

41. A method according to claim 39, wherein the garment comprises a pair of tubular leg parts.

42. A method according to claim 39, wherein the first garment layer forms an inner layer of the garment and the second garment layer forms an outer layer of the garment.

43. A method according to claim 39, wherein at least one of the first and second garment layers is a knitted garment layer

44. A method according to claim 39, wherein the step of adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer is carried subsequently to the step of adhering the first garment layer to the intermediate garment layer.

45. A method according to claim 44, wherein the step of adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer is carried out while the second garment layer is stretched over the intermediate garment layer.

46. A method according to claim 45, wherein the step of adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer is carried out while the first and intermediate garment layers are on the oversized garment former.

47. A method according to claim 39, wherein the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to the first garment layer and adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer are carried out simultaneously whilst the first and second garment layers and the intermediate garment layer are stretched over the oversized garment former.

48. A method according to claim 39, wherein the oversized garment former is alterable between an expanded configuration and a contracted configuration, and the method further comprises placing at least one of the first, intermediate and second garment layers over the oversized garment former whilst the oversized garment former is in the contracted configuration.

49. A breathable waterproof garment including a pair of apertures for receiving a wearer's arms or legs, the garment comprising: an inner garment layer; an outer garment layer; and an intermediate garment layer provided in a folded configuration between the inner and outer garment layers, the intermediate garment layer being resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour; wherein the intermediate garment layer is attached to both the inner garment layer and the outer garment layer by regions of adhesive provided at a plurality of discrete securement locations.

50. A breathable waterproof garment according to claim 49, wherein at least one of the inner and outer garment layers is a knitted garment layer.

51. A breathable waterproof, garment according to claim 49, wherein the inner and outer garment layers and the intermediate garment layer all have a profile corresponding to a predetermined profile of the garment.

52. A breathable waterproof garment according to claim 49, wherein at least one of the inner and outer garment layers each consist of a single seamless part.

Description:

The present invention relates to breathable waterproof garments, and particularly but not exclusively to garments worn during outdoor recreation or outdoor sports.

In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of manufacturing a breathable waterproof garment, the method comprising: forming a first garment layer in a stretched configuration over an oversized three-dimensional garment former having a profile extending substantially in three dimensions and corresponding to an oversized three-dimensional profile of the garment when worn; covering the first garment layer with an intermediate garment layer resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour; covering the intermediate garment layer with a second garment layer; and while the first and second garment layers are simultaneously stretched over the oversized three-dimensional garment former adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers at a plurality of discrete securement locations (e.g. to form a discontinuous pattern of securement locations between each of the first and second garment layers and the intermediate garment layer to enable folding of the intermediate garment layer relative to the first and second garment layers).

In this way, method of manufacturing a waterproof breathable (and windproof) garment having a profile extending substantially in three dimensions when in an unworn condition is provided comprising inner and outer water-permeable stretchable garment layers and an intermediate garment layer that is waterproof (e.g. resistant to penetration by liquid water under normal conditions during wear) but breathable and allows significant stretching of the inner and outer garment layers (e.g. by at least 5% in at least one direction, for example by at least 10% in at least one direction, at least 20% in at least one direction or at least 30% in at least one direction). Advantageously, the method of present invention provides a 1-stage adhesive application process for the manufacture of waterproof breathable garments having a close-fitting profile extending substantially in three dimensions. The garments made in accordance with the present invention may be formed with first and second garment layers having no or minimal seams (a crotch seam may be desirable for certain garments including leg parts) thereby maximising stretchability whilst avoiding or minimising the risk of water leakage through seams and potential for seams rubbing against a wearer's skin, or perforation of the waterproof intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment the garment includes a pair of apertures for receiving a wearer's arms or legs. For example, in one embodiment the garment comprises a pair of tubular sleeves (short-sleeved tops (e.g. T-shirts) or long-sleeved tops) or a pair of tubular leg parts (e.g. trousers, shorts or leggings). In another embodiment, the garment comprises a sleeveless top (e.g. sleeveless vest) or legless trunks.

In another embodiment, the garment comprises a glove.

In another embodiment, the garment comprises a sock (e.g. stocking).

In one embodiment, one or both of the steps of covering the first garment layer with the intermediate garment layer and covering the intermediate garment layer with the second garment layer occur before the first garment layer is formed into the stretched configuration over the oversized three-dimensional garment former.

In one embodiment, the oversized three-dimensional garment former is alterable between an expanded configuration and a contracted configuration (e.g. for assisting placement of the garment layers over the oversized three-dimensional garment former and subsequent removal of the garment from the oversized three-dimensional garment former), and the method further comprises placing at least one of the first, intermediate and second garment layers over the oversized three-dimensional garment former whilst the oversized three-dimensional garment former is in the contracted configuration.

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the first and second garment layers to the intermediate garment layer is carried out whilst the oversized three-dimensional garment former is in the expanded configuration.

In one embodiment, the oversized three-dimensional garment former comprises at least one movable (e.g. pivotable) or inflatable part (e.g. limb part).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers occurs substantially simultaneously.

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers comprises applying heat.

In one embodiment, heat is applied internally via a heating element provided inside the oversized three-dimensional garment former.

In one embodiment, heat is applied externally via an external heating element.

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers comprises applying pressure.

In a first pressure application embodiment, pressure is applied by pressure application apparatus comprising a first part defining a first mould chamber and a second part defining a second mould chamber, the first and second mould chambers together defining an internal profile substantially corresponding to an external profile of the oversized three-dimensional garment former, whereby when the first and second parts are brought together the pressure device and oversized three-dimensional garment former act together to apply pressure to the first, second and intermediate garment layers. In the case of a method in which heat is applied externally via an external heating element, the pressure application apparatus may comprise the external heating element.

In a second pressure application embodiment, the step of applying pressure comprises creating a pressure differential between fluid (e.g. gas such as air) exposed to an outer surface of the second garment layer and fluid exposed to an inner surface of the first garment layer. The pressure differential may be positive or negative.

In one embodiment, pressure is applied by exposing an outer surface of the second garment layer to a pressurised fluid (e.g. pressurised gas such as compressed air). In one embodiment wherein the pressurised fluid is applied to the outer surface of the second garment layer in a pressurised chamber.

In one embodiment, the oversized three-dimensional garment former has a rigid gas permeable structure and pressure is applied by reducing gas pressure inside the oversized three-dimensional garment former relative to a gas pressure exposed to the outer surface of the second garment (e.g. by creating a relative vacuum inside the oversized three-dimensional garment former).

In one embodiment, the pressurised fluid is applied to the outer surface of the second garment layer at a temperature exceeding an activation temperature of the adhesive.

In a third pressure application embodiment, the oversized three-dimensional garment former is alterable between an expanded configuration and a contracted configuration; and pressure is applied by providing pressure application apparatus comprising a body defining: a chamber having an internal profile substantially corresponding to an external profile of the oversized three-dimensional garment former; and an opening for inserting (e.g. slidably inserting) the oversized three-dimensional garment former into the chamber when the oversized three-dimensional garment former is in the contracted configuration; whereby pressure is applied to opposed sides of the intermediate garment structure by moving the oversized three-dimensional garment former into the expanded configuration after being positioned inside the chamber in a predetermined orientation relative to the chamber. In the case of a method in which heat is applied externally via an external heating element, the pressure application apparatus may comprise the external heating element.

In one embodiment, the oversized three-dimensional garment former comprises at least one inflatable part. In one embodiment, pressurised fluid is applied to the at least one inflatable part when the oversized three-dimensional garment former is positioned inside the chamber to move the oversized three-dimensional garment into the expanded configuration.

In one embodiment, the pressurised gas is applied to the at least one inflatable part at a temperature exceeding an activation temperature of the adhesive.

In one embodiment, the oversized three-dimensional garment former is inserted into the chamber with the at least one inflatable part in a partially inflated configuration.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer comprises a hydrophilic polyurethane membrane or microporous hydrophobic polyurethane membrane of types well know in the art.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer comprises a flexible film (e.g. 10-80 microns thick).

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer is substantially inelastic.

In one embodiment, the first garment layer forms an inner layer of the garment and the second garment layer forms an outer layer of the garment. Advantageously, forming the outer garment layer onto the oversized three-dimensional garment former protects the (typically softer) inner garment layer from damage resulting from contact with the oversized three-dimensional garment former, whilst also protecting the intermediate garment layer when pressure is applied during construction.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is elastic. In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is configured to provide a compression action against a part of a wearer's body.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is water-permeable.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is a knitted garment layer (e.g. warp knitted garment layer) or woven garment layer.

In one embodiment, the first and second garment layers and the intermediate garment layer all have a profile corresponding to a predetermined profile of the garment (e.g. with each layer including a pair of sleeves or pair of leg parts in the case of a garment comprising a tubular arm or leg part, or finger parts in the case of a glove).

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers each consist of a single seamless part (e.g. single knitted or woven part).

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer is formed by connecting a plurality of discrete parts (e.g. with the discrete parts being welded together to form a garment layer that is resistant to penetration by liquid water). In one embodiment, the plurality of discrete parts comprise front and rear parts.

In one embodiment, the plurality of discrete parts are connected together prior to the step of covering the first garment layer with the intermediate garment layer (e.g. the intermediate garment layer is pre-formed).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the first garment layer to the intermediate garment layer comprises activating adhesive provided to adhere between the first garment layer and the intermediate garment layer. In one embodiment, the adhesive is heat activated.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is provided as a first adhesive layer between the first garment layer and the intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the first garment layer and the intermediate garment layer (e.g. first adhesive layer) is formed as a discontinuous pattern of adhesive.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is carried by the intermediate garment layer. For example, the first adhesive layer may be applied to the first surface of the intermediate garment layer (e.g. before or after connecting discrete parts of the intermediate garment layer together).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer comprises activating adhesive provided to adhere between the second garment layer and the intermediate garment layer. In one embodiment, the adhesive is heat activated.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is provided as a second adhesive layer between the second garment layer and the intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the second garment layer and the intermediate layer (e.g. second adhesive layer) is formed as a discontinuous pattern of adhesive.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is carried by the intermediate garment layer. For example, the second adhesive layer may be applied to the second surface of the intermediate garment layer (e.g. before or after connecting discrete parts of the intermediate garment layer together).

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the second garment layer and the intermediate layer is applied to the intermediate garment layer before covering the first garment layer with the intermediate garment layer.

In accordance with a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of manufacturing a breathable waterproof garment, the method comprising: providing an intermediate garment structure comprising a first garment layer and an inflatable oversized intermediate garment layer resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour provided over the first garment layer; inflating the intermediate garment structure (e.g. after sealing any apertures provided therein) to stretch the first layer into a predetermined stretched configuration; and while the first garment layer is in the predetermined stretched configuration adhering the intermediate garment layer to the first garment layer at a plurality of discrete securement locations (e.g. to form a discontinuous pattern of securement locations between each of the first and second garment layers and the intermediate garment layer to enable folding of the intermediate garment layer relative to the first and second garment layers).

In this way, a further method of manufacturing a waterproof breathable (and windproof) garment having a profile extending substantially in three dimensions when in an unworn condition is provided a water-permeable stretchable first garment layer and an intermediate garment layer that is waterproof (e.g. resistant to penetration by liquid water under normal conditions during wear) but breathable and allows significant stretching of the first garment layer (e.g. by at least 5% in at least one direction, for example by at least 10% in at least one direction, at least 20% in at least one direction or at least 30% in at least one direction).

In one embodiment, the first garment layer is formed as an outer layer of the intermediate garment structure and pressure is applied to an outer surface of the first garment layer whilst the intermediate garment structure is inflated.

In another embodiment, the first garment layer is formed as an inner layer of the intermediate garment structure (e.g. with the inflated intermediate garment structure applying pressure to an outer surface of the first garment layer).

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer is provided over the first garment layer and the intermediate garment structure further comprises a second garment layer provided over the intermediate garment layer (e.g. with the first garment layer forming the inner garment layer of the intermediate garment structure as orientated during manufacture), wherein the step of inflating the intermediate garment structure stretches each of the first and second garment layers into the predetermined stretched configuration; and the method further comprises while the first and second garment layers are simultaneously in the pre-determined stretched configuration adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers at a plurality of discrete securement locations by applying pressure to an outer surface of the second garment layer whilst the intermediate garment structure is inflated.

In one embodiment the garment includes a pair of apertures for receiving a wearer's arms or legs. For example, in one embodiment the garment comprises a pair of tubular sleeves (short-sleeved tops (e.g. T-shirts) or long-sleeved tops) or a pair of tubular leg parts (e.g. trousers, shorts or leggings). In another embodiment, the garment comprises a sleeveless top (e.g. sleeveless vest) or legless trunks.

In another embodiment, the garment comprises a glove.

In another embodiment, the garment comprises a sock (e.g. stocking).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to one or both the first and second garment layers comprises applying heat.

In one embodiment, heat is applied externally via an external heating element.

In one embodiment, the pressure is applied to the outer surface of the outer garment layer of the intermediate garment structure by providing pressure application apparatus comprising a body defining: a chamber having an internal profile substantially corresponding to an oversized three-dimensional external profile of the garment when worn; and an opening for inserting (e.g. slidably inserting) the intermediate garment structure into the chamber (e.g. when the intermediate garment structure is in a partially inflated or uninflated configuration); whereby pressure is applied to opposed sides of the intermediate garment structure by inflating the intermediate garment structure after being positioned inside the chamber in a predetermined orientation relative to the chamber.

In the case of a method in which heat is applied externally via an external heating element, the pressure application apparatus may comprise the external heating element.

In one embodiment, pressure is applied by exposing an outer surface of the outer layer of the intermediate garment structure to a pressurised fluid (e.g. pressurised gas such as compressed air). In one embodiment wherein the pressurised fluid is applied to the outer surface of the outer garment layer of the intermediate garment structure in a pressurised chamber. In one embodiment, the pressurised fluid is applied to the outer surface of the outer garment layer of the intermediate garment structure at a temperature exceeding an activation temperature of the adhesive.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment structure is inflated by applying pressured fluid (e.g. pressurised gas such as compressed air) into the intermediate garment layer or into the inner garment layer of the intermediate garment structure (e.g. after sealing any apertures provided therein). In one embodiment, the pressurised gas is applied a temperature exceeding an activation temperature of the adhesive.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment structure is inserted into the chamber or pressurised chamber in a partially inflated configuration.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment structure is formed on an oversized garment former (e.g. substantially planar former).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers occurs substantially simultaneously.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer comprises a gas impermeable hydrophilic polyurethane membrane of a type well know in the art.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer comprises a flexible film (e.g. 10-80 microns thick).

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer is substantially inelastic.

In one embodiment, the inner garment layer of the intermediate garment structure forms an inner layer of the garment and the outer garment layer of the intermediate garment structure forms an outer layer of the garment.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is elastic. In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is configured to provide a compression action against a part of a wearer's body.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is water-permeable.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is a knitted garment layer (e.g. warp knitted garment layer) or woven garment layer.

In one embodiment, the first and second garment layers and the intermediate garment layer all have a profile corresponding to a predetermined profile of the garment (e.g. with each layer including a pair of sleeves or pair of leg parts in the case of a garment comprising a tubular arm or leg part, or finger parts in the case of a glove).

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers each consist of a single seamless part (e.g. single knitted or woven part).

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer is formed by connecting a plurality of discrete parts (e.g. with the discrete parts being welded together to form a garment layer that is resistant to penetration by liquid water). In one embodiment, the plurality of discrete parts comprise front and rear parts.

In one embodiment, the plurality of discrete parts are connected together prior to the step of covering the first garment layer with the intermediate garment layer (e.g. the intermediate garment layer is pre-formed).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the first garment layer to the intermediate garment layer comprises activating adhesive provided to adhere between the first garment layer and the intermediate garment layer. In one embodiment, the adhesive is heat activated.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is provided as a first adhesive layer between the first garment layer and the intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the first garment layer and the intermediate garment layer (e.g. first adhesive layer) is formed as a discontinuous pattern of adhesive.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is carried by the intermediate garment layer. For example, the first adhesive layer may be applied to the first surface of the intermediate garment layer (e.g. before or after connecting discrete parts of the intermediate garment layer together).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer comprises activating adhesive provided to adhere between the second garment layer and the intermediate garment layer. In one embodiment, the adhesive is heat activated.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is provided as a second adhesive layer between the second garment layer and the intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the second garment layer and the intermediate layer (e.g. second adhesive layer) is formed as a discontinuous pattern of adhesive.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is carried by the intermediate garment layer. For example, the second adhesive layer may be applied to the second surface of the intermediate garment layer (e.g. before or after connecting discrete parts of the intermediate garment layer together).

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the second garment layer and the intermediate layer is applied to the intermediate garment layer before covering the first garment layer with the intermediate garment layer.

In accordance with a third aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of manufacturing a breathable waterproof garment, the method comprising: providing an intermediate garment structure comprising a first garment layer, an inflatable oversized intermediate garment layer resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour provided over the first garment layer, and a second garment layer provided over the intermediate garment layer; inflating the intermediate garment structure to stretch each of the first and second garment layers into a predetermined stretched configuration; and while the first and second garment layers are simultaneously in the pre-determined stretched configuration adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers at a plurality of discrete securement locations (e.g. to form a discontinuous pattern of securement locations between each of the first and second garment layers and the intermediate garment layer to enable folding of the intermediate garment layer relative to the first and second garment layers) by applying pressure to an outer surface of the second garment layer whilst the intermediate garment structure is inflated.

In this way, a further method of manufacturing a waterproof breathable (and windproof) garment having a profile extending substantially in three dimensions when in an unworn condition is provided comprising inner and outer water-permeable stretchable garment layers and an intermediate garment layer that is waterproof (e.g. resistant to penetration by liquid water under normal conditions during wear) but breathable and allows significant stretching of the inner and outer garment layers (e.g. by at least 5% in at least one direction, for example by at least 10% in at least one direction, at least 20% in at least one direction or at least 30% in at least one direction).

In one embodiment the garment includes a pair of apertures for receiving a wearer's arms or legs. For example, in one embodiment the garment comprises a pair of tubular sleeves (short-sleeved tops (e.g. T-shirts) or long-sleeved tops) or a pair of tubular leg parts (e.g. trousers, shorts or leggings). In another embodiment, the garment comprises a sleeveless top (e.g. sleeveless vest) or legless trunks.

In another embodiment, the garment comprises a glove.

In another embodiment, the garment comprises a sock (e.g. stocking).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers comprises applying heat.

In one embodiment, heat is applied externally via an external heating element.

In one embodiment, the pressure is applied to the outer surface of the second garment layer by providing pressure application apparatus comprising a body defining: a chamber having an internal profile substantially corresponding to an oversized three-dimensional external profile of the garment when worn; and an opening for inserting (e.g. slidably inserting) the intermediate garment structure into the chamber when the oversized three-dimensional garment former is in the contracted configuration; whereby pressure is applied to opposed sides of the intermediate garment structure by inflating the intermediate garment structure after being positioned inside the chamber in a predetermined orientation relative to the chamber.

In the case of a method in which heat is applied externally via an external heating element, the pressure application apparatus may comprise the external heating element.

In one embodiment, pressure is applied by exposing an outer surface of the second garment layer to a pressurised fluid (e.g. pressurised gas such as compressed air). In one embodiment wherein the pressurised fluid is applied to the outer surface of the second garment layer in a pressurised chamber. In one embodiment, the pressurised fluid is applied to the outer surface of the second garment layer at a temperature exceeding an activation temperature of the adhesive.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment structure is inflated by applying pressured fluid (e.g. pressurised gas such as compressed air) into the first garment layer (e.g. after sealing any apertures provided therein). In one embodiment, the pressurised gas is applied a temperature exceeding an activation temperature of the adhesive.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment structure is inserted into the chamber in a partially inflated configuration.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment structure is formed on an oversized garment former (e.g. substantially planar former).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to both the first and second garment layers occurs substantially simultaneously.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer comprises a gas impermeable hydrophilic polyurethane membrane of a type well know in the art.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer comprises a flexible film (e.g. 10-80 microns thick).

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer is substantially inelastic.

In one embodiment, the first garment layer forms an inner layer of the garment and the second garment layer forms an outer layer of the garment.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is elastic. In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is configured to provide a compression action against a part of a wearer's body.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is water-permeable.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is a knitted garment layer (e.g. warp knitted garment layer) or woven garment layer.

In one embodiment, the first and second garment layers and the intermediate garment layer all have a profile corresponding to a predetermined profile of the garment (e.g. with each layer including a pair of sleeves or pair of leg parts in the case of a garment comprising a tubular arm or leg part, or finger parts in the case of a glove).

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers each consist of a single seamless part (e.g. single knitted or woven part).

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer is formed by connecting a plurality of discrete parts (e.g. with the discrete parts being welded together to form a garment layer that is resistant to penetration by liquid water). In one embodiment, the plurality of discrete parts comprise front and rear parts.

In one embodiment, the plurality of discrete parts are connected together prior to the step of covering the first garment layer with the intermediate garment layer (e.g. the intermediate garment layer is pre-formed).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the first garment layer to the intermediate garment layer comprises activating adhesive provided to adhere between the first garment layer and the intermediate garment layer. In one embodiment, the adhesive is heat activated.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is provided as a first adhesive layer between the first garment layer and the intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the first garment layer and the intermediate garment layer (e.g. first adhesive layer) is formed as a discontinuous pattern of adhesive.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is carried by the intermediate garment layer. For example, the first adhesive layer may be applied to the first surface of the intermediate garment layer (e.g. before or after connecting discrete parts of the intermediate garment layer together).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer comprises activating adhesive provided to adhere between the second garment layer and the intermediate garment layer. In one embodiment, the adhesive is heat activated.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is provided as a second adhesive layer between the second garment layer and the intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the second garment layer and the intermediate layer (e.g. second adhesive layer) is formed as a discontinuous pattern of adhesive.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is carried by the intermediate garment layer. For example, the second adhesive layer may be applied to the second surface of the intermediate garment layer (e.g. before or after connecting discrete parts of the intermediate garment layer together).

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the second garment layer and the intermediate layer is applied to the intermediate garment layer before covering the first garment layer with the intermediate garment layer.

In accordance with a fourth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a breathable waterproof garment having a profile extending substantially in three dimensions when stretched over a planar former, the garment comprising: an inner garment layer; an outer garment layer; and an intermediate garment layer provided in a folded configuration (e.g. corrugated, ruched or puckered configuration) between the inner and outer garment layers, the intermediate garment layer being resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour; wherein the intermediate garment layer is attached to both the inner garment layer and the outer garment layer by regions of adhesive provided at a plurality of discrete securement locations.

In one embodiment the garment includes a pair of apertures for receiving a wearer's arms or legs. For example, in one embodiment the garment comprises a pair of tubular sleeves (short-sleeved tops (e.g. T-shirts) or long-sleeved tops) or a pair of tubular leg parts (e.g. trousers, shorts or leggings). In another embodiment, the garment comprises a sleeveless top (e.g. sleeveless vest) or legless trunks.

In another embodiment, the garment comprises a glove.

In one embodiment, the garment has a profile that includes at least one protuberant part extending normal to the planar former when the garment is stretched over the planar former.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer comprises a hydrophilic polyurethane membrane or microporous hydrophobic polyurethane membrane of types well known in the art.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer comprises a flexible film (e.g. 10-80 microns thick).

In one embodiment, the folded configuration of the intermediate garment layer is configured to allow stretching of the garment by at least 5% in at least one direction (e.g. by at least 10% in at least one direction, by at least 20% in at least one direction or by at least 30% in at least one direction).

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer is substantially inelastic.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the inner and outer garment layers is elastic. In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the inner and outer garment layers is configured to provide a compression action against a part of a wearer's body.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the inner and outer garment layers is water-permeable.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the inner and outer garment layers is a knitted garment layer (e.g. warp knitted garment layer) or woven garment layer.

In one embodiment, the inner and outer garment layers and the intermediate garment layer all have a profile corresponding to a predetermined profile of the garment (e.g. with each layer including a pair of sleeves or pair of leg parts in the case of a garment including tubular sleeve or leg parts).

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the inner and outer garment layers each consist of a single seamless part (e.g. single knitted or woven part).

In accordance with a fifth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of manufacturing a breathable waterproof garment including a pair of apertures for receiving a wearer's arms or legs, the method comprising: providing a first garment layer in a stretched configuration over an oversized garment former having a profile defining a pair of oversized arm or leg parts; while the first garment layer is in the stretched configuration adhering the first garment layer to a first surface (e.g. inner or outer surface) of an intermediate garment layer resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour at a plurality of discrete securement locations; and adhering a second garment layer to a second surface (e.g. outer or inner surface) of the intermediate garment layer opposed to the first surface at a plurality of discrete securement locations (e.g. to form a discontinuous pattern of securement locations between each of the first and second garment layers and the intermediate garment layer to enable folding of the intermediate garment layer relative to the first and second garment layers) while the second garment layer is in a stretched configuration.

In this way, a method of manufacturing a close-fitting waterproof breathable (and windproof) garment with a pair of arm holes/leg holes is provided comprising inner and outer stretchable garment layers and an intermediate garment layer that is waterproof (e.g. resistant to penetration by liquid water under normal conditions during wear), but breathable and configured to allow significant stretching of the inner and outer garment layers (e.g. by at least 5% in at least one direction, for example by at least 10% in at least one direction, at least 20% in at least one direction or at least 30% in at least one direction). Advantageously, the method of present invention allows the manufacture of waterproof breathable garments with no or minimal seams (a crotch seam may be desirable for certain garments including leg parts) in the first and second garment layers thereby maximising stretchability whilst avoiding or minimising the risk of water leakage through seams and potential for rubbing of seams against a wearer's skin, or perforation of the waterproof intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment, the garment comprises a pair of tubular sleeves (short-sleeved tops (e.g. T-shirts) or long-sleeved tops) or a pair of tubular leg parts (e.g. trousers, shorts or leggings). In another embodiment, the garment comprises a sleeveless top (e.g. sleeveless vest) or legless trunks.

In one embodiment the method comprises forming the first garment layer in a stretched configuration over the oversized garment former and while the first garment layer is in the stretched configuration forming the intermediate garment layer adjacent the first garment layer (e.g. over the first garment layer).

In one embodiment, the oversized garment former is alterable between an expanded configuration and a contracted configuration (e.g. for assisting placement of the garment layers over the oversized garment former and subsequent removal of the garment from the oversized garment former), and the method further comprises placing at least one of the first, intermediate and second garment layers over the oversized garment former whilst the oversized garment former is in the contracted configuration.

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the first and second garment layers to the intermediate garment layer is carried out whilst the oversized garment former is in the expanded configuration.

In one embodiment, the oversized garment former comprises at least one movable (e.g. pivotable) or inflatable part (e.g. limb part).

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer comprises a hydrophilic polyurethane membrane or microporous hydrophobic polyurethane membrane of types well know in the art

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer comprises a flexible film (e.g. 10-80 microns thick).

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer is substantially inelastic.

In one embodiment, the first garment layer forms an inner layer of the garment and the second garment layer forms an outer layer of the garment. Advantageously, forming the outer garment layer onto the oversized garment former protects the (typically softer) inner garment layer from damage resulting from contact with the oversized garment former, whilst also protecting the intermediate garment layer when pressure is applied during construction.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is elastic. In one embodiment, at least one of the first and second garment layers is configured to provide a compression action against a part of a wearer's body.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is water-permeable.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the first and second garment layers is a knitted garment layer (e.g. warp knitted garment layer) or woven garment layer.

In one embodiment, the first and second garment layers and the intermediate garment layer all have a profile corresponding to a predetermined profile of the garment (e.g. with each layer including a pair of sleeves or pair of leg parts).

In one embodiment, at least one of the first and second garment layers each consist of a single seamless part (e.g. single knitted or woven part).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer is carried subsequently to the step of adhering the first garment layer to the intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer is carried out while the second garment layer is stretched over the intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer is carried out while the first and intermediate garment layers are on the oversized garment former.

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the intermediate garment layer to the first garment layer and adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer are carried out simultaneously whilst the first and second garment layers and the intermediate garment layer are stretched over the oversized garment former.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer is formed by connecting a plurality of discrete parts (e.g. with the discrete parts being welded together to form a garment layer that is resistant to penetration by liquid water). In one embodiment, the plurality of discrete parts comprise front and rear parts.

In one embodiment, the plurality of discrete parts are connected together prior to the step of forming the intermediate garment layer adjacent to the first garment layer (e.g. the intermediate garment layer is pre-formed).

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the first garment layer to the intermediate garment layer comprises activating adhesive provided to adhere between the first garment layer and the intermediate garment layer. In one embodiment, the adhesive is heat activated.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is provided as a first adhesive layer between the first garment layer and the intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the first garment layer and the intermediate layer (e.g. first adhesive layer) is formed as a discontinuous pattern of adhesive.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is carried by the intermediate garment layer. For example, the first adhesive layer may be applied to the first surface of the intermediate garment layer (e.g. before or after connecting discrete parts of the intermediate garment layer together).

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the first garment layer and the intermediate layer is applied to the intermediate garment layer before covering the first garment layer with the intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment, the step of adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer comprises activating adhesive provided to adhere between the second garment layer and the intermediate garment layer. In one embodiment, the adhesive is heat activated.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is provided as a second adhesive layer between the second garment layer and the intermediate garment layer.

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the second garment layer and the intermediate layer (e.g. second adhesive layer) is formed as a discontinuous pattern of adhesive.

In one embodiment, the adhesive is carried by the intermediate garment layer. For example, the second adhesive layer may be applied to the second surface of the intermediate garment layer (e.g. before or after connecting discrete parts of the intermediate garment layer together).

In one embodiment, the adhesive provided between the second garment layer and the intermediate layer is applied to the intermediate garment layer before covering the intermediate garment layer with the second garment layer or alternatively before covering the second garment layer with the intermediate garment layer (e.g. if the ordering of the layers on the oversized garment former is reversed prior to adhering the second garment layer to the intermediate garment layer).

In accordance with a sixth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a breathable waterproof garment including a pair of apertures for receiving a wearer's arms or legs, the garment comprising: an inner garment layer; an outer garment layer; and an intermediate garment layer provided in a folded configuration (e.g. corrugated, ruched or puckered configuration) between the inner and outer garment layers, the intermediate garment layer being resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour; wherein the intermediate garment layer is attached to both the inner garment layer and the outer garment layer by regions of adhesive provided at a plurality of discrete securement locations.

In one embodiment, the garment comprises a pair of tubular sleeves (short-sleeved tops (e.g. T-shirts) or long-sleeved tops) or a pair of tubular leg parts (e.g. trousers, shorts or leggings). In another embodiment, the garment comprises a sleeveless top (e.g. sleeveless vest) or legless trunks.

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer comprises a hydrophilic polyurethane membrane or microporous hydrophobic polyurethane membrane of types well know in the art

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer comprises a flexible film (e.g. 10-80 microns thick).

In one embodiment, the folded configuration of the intermediate garment layer is configured to allow stretching of the garment by at least 5% in at least one direction (e.g. by at least 10% in at least one direction, by at least 20% in at least one direction or by at least 30% in at least one direction).

In one embodiment, the intermediate garment layer is substantially inelastic.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the inner and outer garment layers is elastic. In one embodiment, at least one of the inner and outer garment layers is configured to provide a compression action against a part of a wearer's body.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the inner and outer garment layers is water-permeable.

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the inner and outer garment layers is a knitted garment layer (e.g. warp knitted garment layer) or woven garment layer.

In one embodiment, the inner and outer garment layers and the intermediate garment layer all have a profile corresponding to a predetermined profile of the garment (e.g. with each layer including a pair of sleeves or pair of leg parts).

In one embodiment, at least one (e.g. both) of the inner and outer garment layers each consist of a single seamless part (e.g. single knitted or woven part).

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of components of a novel three-layer garment being sequentially inserted over an oversized three-dimensional garment former in accordance with a first embodiment of the method of the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows the components of the novel garment of FIG. 1 assembled in position over the oversized three-dimensional garment former during a heat/pressure application step in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 shows the components of the novel garment of FIG. 1 assembled in position over the oversized three-dimensional garment former during a heat/pressure application step in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 shows the final novel product formed following the steps illustrated in FIGS. 1-3;

FIG. 5 is a schematic illustration of components of a novel three-layer garment being sequentially inserted over an oversized three-dimensional garment former in accordance with a further embodiment of the method of the present invention;

FIG. 6 shows the components of the novel garment of FIG. 5 assembled in position over the oversized three-dimensional garment former during a first part of a heat/pressure application step;

FIG. 7 shows the components of the novel garment of FIG. 5 assembled in position over the oversized three-dimensional garment former during a second part of a heat/pressure application step;

FIG. 8 is a schematic illustration of a method of manufacturing a novel three-layer garment in accordance with a yet further embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a schematic illustration of components of a novel three-layer garment being sequentially inserted over an oversized garment former in accordance with an embodiment of the method of the present invention;

FIG. 10 shows the components of the novel garment of FIG. 9 assembled in position over the oversized garment former;

FIG. 11 is a schematic illustration of a laminating step in accordance with an embodiment of the method of the present invention; and

FIG. 12 shows the final novel product formed following the steps illustrated in FIGS. 9-11.

FIGS. 1-4 illustrate methods of manufacturing a novel three-layer waterproof, windproof breathable top 10 comprising a pair of tubular sleeves 12.

As shown in FIG. 1, a first stage of the method comprises sequentially forming the three layers of top 10 on an oversized three-dimensional garment former 20 having a profile extending substantially in three dimensions and corresponding to an oversized three-dimensional profile of the garment when worn and including defining a pair of oversized arm parts 22. Depending upon the shape of the garment, the degree of stretch required in the garment and the degree of stretchability in each of the three layers of the garment, oversized three-dimensional garment former 20 may be alterable between an expanded configuration and a contracted configuration for assisting placement of the garment layers over the oversized three-dimensional garment former and subsequent removal of the garment from the oversized three-dimensional garment former. For example, oversized three-dimensional garment former 20 may comprise at least one movable (e.g. pivotable) or inflatable part (e.g. limb part).

In step one, an elastic, stretchable water permeable knitted outer garment layer 30 having approximately the same profile as the eventual top 10 and including a pair of tubular sleeves 32 is stretched over the oversized three-dimensional garment former 20 with tubular sleeves 32 being stretched over pair of oversized arm parts 22. The outer garment layer 30 is intended in use to provide the outermost layer of the garment and may be formed from a single continuous (e.g. seamless) warp knitted layer. In the illustrated embodiment, oversized three-dimensional garment former 20 is at least 30% larger than the eventual top 10 in its two major dimensions.

In step two, a flexible intermediate garment layer 40 having approximately the same profile as oversized three-dimensional garment former 20 and including a pair of oversized tubular sleeves 42 is drawn over outer garment layer 30 with tubular sleeves 42 covering tubular sleeves 32 of outer garment 30. Intermediate garment layer 40 is of limited stretchability relative to the outer garment layer 30 comprises an inelastic membrane (typically 30-40 microns thick) resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour perspiration (e.g. a hydrophilic polyurethane membrane or microporous hydrophobic polyurethane membrane of types known in the art). Intermediate garment layer 40 includes inner and outer surfaces 44, 46 on which are printed first and second discontinuous patterns (e.g. dots, a network, lines or a combination thereof) of water based co-polyamide heat activatable adhesive, or other types of adhesive known in the art (e.g. powder coat or hot-melt types) 45, 47 respectively. The membrane may be formed from a plurality of shaped membrane sheets welded together (e.g. radio frequency, ultrasonic or hot-bar welded). An outer perimeter of intermediate garment layer 40 is additionally welded to form a watertight seal.

In step three, a water permeable knitted stretchable inner garment layer 50 having approximately the same profile as the eventual top 10 and including a pair of tubular sleeves 52 is stretched over intermediate garment layer 40 with tubular sleeves 52 being stretched over pair of sleeves 42. The inner garment layer 50 is intended in use to provide the innermost layer of the garment and like the outer garment layer may be formed from a single continuous warp knitted layer. Since the inner garment layer 50 is likely to be contact with a wearer's skin, this layer will typically configured to wick moisture away from the wearer (with water vapour being allowed to escape through intermediate garment layer 40).

Once inner garment layer 50 has been stretched over intermediate garment layer 40 (to form the arrangement shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 with all three garment layers 30, 40, 50 mounted sequentially on oversized three-dimensional garment former 20), oversized three-dimensional garment former 20 with the three garment layers 30, 40, 50 mounted thereon is subjected to a combined heating and pressure application stage to laminate the article.

In the embodiment of FIG. 2, heat is applied internally to activate first and second discontinuous patterns of adhesive 45, 47 via a heating element 24 provided inside the three-dimensional garment former 20. Simultaneously, pressure and heat is applied by pressure application apparatus (e.g. a heated press mould) 60 comprising a first part 62 defining a first mould chamber 63 and a second part 64 defining a second mould chamber 63, the first and second mould chambers 63, 65 together defining an internal profile substantially corresponding to an external profile of the oversized three-dimensional garment former 20, whereby when the first and second parts 62, 64 are brought together pressure device 60 and three-dimensional garment former 20 act together to apply pressure to the outer, intermediate and inner garment layers 30, 40, 50 to squeeze the softened adhesive into the knit of the fabric of the outer and inner garment layers 30, 50.

In the embodiment of FIG. 3, heat is again applied internally to activate first and second discontinuous patterns of adhesive 45, 47 via a heating element 24 provided inside the three-dimensional garment former 20. However, pressure is applied by placing oversized three-dimensional garment former 20 with the three garment layers 30, 40, 50 mounted thereon into a pressurised chamber 70 and exposing the outer garment layer 50 to a pressurised gas. The gas may or may not be heated (e.g. to a temperature exceeding an activation temperature of the patterns of adhesive 45, 47).

After lamination in accordance with the technique of FIG. 2 or FIG. 3, the resulting article is removed from oversized three-dimensional garment former 20 at which point the outer and inner garment layers 30, 50 will retract slightly by the pulling in of the fabric knit. Once the article has cooled, it is then put through a shrinking process including the steps of wetting outer garment layer 30 (but not inner garment layer 50) with water, removing some of the moisture mechanically and then exposing the article to heat (e.g. in a tumble dryer) to form the final top 10 as shown in FIG. 4. After a predetermined period of drying, top 10 is removed. The shrinking of the outer and inner garment layers 30, 50 has now resulted in folding of the inelastic intermediate garment layer 40 and also closed the knit of both the outer and inner garment layers 30, 50 to their original knitted shapes. Outer and inner garment layers 30, 50 can now be stretched back to their pre-laminated stretched configurations without applying any stress to intermediate garment layer 40.

FIGS. 5-7 illustrate a method of manufacturing a novel three-layer waterproof, windproof breathable glove.

As shown in FIG. 5, a first stage comprises sequentially forming the three layers of the glove on a partially inflated inflatable oversized three-dimensional garment former 120 having a profile extending substantially in three dimensions and corresponding (when fully inflated) to an oversized three-dimensional profile of the glove when worn. Oversized three-dimensional garment former 120 includes a gas supply connection 122 for selectively inflating/deflating the garment former.

In step one, an elastic, stretchable water permeable knitted outer garment layer 130 having approximately the same profile as the eventual glove and defining an opening 132 for receiving a wearer's hand is stretched over the inflatable oversized three-dimensional garment former 120. The outer garment layer 130 is intended in use to provide the outermost layer of the glove and may be formed from a single continuous (e.g. seamless) warp knitted layer. In the illustrated embodiment, when fully inflated inflatable oversized three-dimensional garment former 120 is at least 30% larger than the eventual glove in its two major dimensions.

In step two, a flexible intermediate garment layer 140 having approximately the same profile as oversized three-dimensional garment former 120 and defining an opening 142 for receiving a wearer's hand is drawn over outer garment layer 130. Intermediate garment layer 140 is of limited stretchability relative to the outer garment layer 130 comprises an inelastic membrane (typically 30-40 microns thick) resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour perspiration (e.g. a hydrophilic polyurethane membrane or microporous hydrophobic polyurethane membrane of types known in the art). Intermediate garment layer 140 includes inner and outer surfaces 144, 146 on which are printed first and second discontinuous patterns (e.g. dots, a network, lines or a combination thereof) of water based co-polyamide heat activatable adhesive, or other types of adhesive known in the art (e.g. powder coat or hot-melt types) 145, 147 respectively. The membrane may be formed from a plurality of shaped membrane sheets welded together (e.g. radio frequency, ultrasonic or hot-bar welded). An outer perimeter of intermediate garment layer 140 is additionally welded to form a watertight seal.

In step three, a water permeable knitted stretchable inner garment layer 150 having approximately the same profile as the eventual glove and defining an opening 152 for receiving a wearer's hand is stretched over intermediate garment layer 140 to form intermediate garment structure 180 comprising the three garment layers 130, 140, 150 as shown in FIG. 6. The inner garment layer 150 is intended in use to provide the innermost layer of the garment and like the outer garment layer may be formed from a single continuous warp knitted layer. Since the inner garment layer 150 is likely to be contact with a wearer's skin, this layer will typically configured to wick moisture away from the wearer (with water vapour being allowed to escape through intermediate garment layer 140).

Once intermediate garment structure 180 is formed, partially inflated oversized three-dimensional garment former 120 with intermediate garment structure 180 mounted thereon is subjected to a combined heating and pressure application stage pressure application apparatus 160 as illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7.

Pressure application apparatus 160 comprises a body 161 defining: a chamber 162 having an internal profile substantially corresponding to an oversized three-dimensional external profile of the glove when worn; and an opening 164 for inserting the intermediate garment structure 180 into chamber 162 when the oversized three-dimensional garment former 120 is partially inflated. Pressure application apparatus 160 further comprises heating elements 165, 166 for supplying heat to chamber 162.

As illustrated in FIG. 7, once partially inflated oversized three-dimensional garment former 120 is fully inserted in chamber 162 and correctly orientated with the internal profile of chamber 162, oversized three-dimensional garment former 120 is fully inflated gas supply connection 122 connected to a pressurised gas source (e.g. compressed air source) to urge an outer surface 182 of garment structure 180 against inner walls 163 of chamber 162, whereby the combined action of inflation of oversized three-dimensional garment former 120 and the resistance of outer surface 182 acts to apply pressure to opposed sides of intermediate garment layer 140. Heat is applied externally using heating elements 165, 166 (and in addition the gas used to inflate oversized three-dimensional garment former 120 may additionally be heated if required) to activate first and second discontinuous patterns of adhesive 145, 147 whilst pressure is applied to the outer, intermediate and inner garment layers 130, 140, 150 to squeeze the softened adhesive into the knit of the fabric of the outer and inner garment layers 130, 150.

After lamination, oversized three-dimensional garment former 120 is fully deflated and removed from pressure application apparatus 160. The resulting article is removed from oversized three-dimensional garment former 120, cooled and subjected to a shrinking process as before (including the steps of wetting outer garment layer 130, but not inner garment layer 150, with water, removing some of the moisture mechanically and then exposing the article to heat) to form the final glove. The shrinking of the outer and inner garment layers 130, 150 has now resulted in folding of the inelastic intermediate garment layer 140 and also closed the knit of both the outer and inner garment layers 130, 150 to their original knitted shapes. Outer and inner garment layers 130, 150 can now be stretched back to their pre-laminated stretched configurations without applying any stress to intermediate garment layer 140.

FIG. 8 illustrates an alternative method of manufacturing a novel three-layer waterproof, windproof breathable glove using outer, intermediate and inner garment layers 130, 140 and 150 and pressure application apparatus 160 of FIG. 7.

In step one, inner garment layer 150 is inserted through opening 164 and into chamber 162.

In step two, and whilst inner garment layer 150 is positioned inside chamber 162, intermediate garment layer 140 (formed from an inflatable membrane such as a hydrophilic polyurethane membrane of a type well known in the art) is inserted into inner garment layer 150.

In step three, and whilst inner garment layer 150 and intermediate garment layer 140 are positioned inside chamber 162, outer garment layer 130 is inserted into intermediate garment layer 140.

In step four, a plug 170 including a gas supply connection 172 connected to a regulated pressurised gas supply (e.g. compressed air source) is inserted into opening 164 to seal chamber 162.

In step five, pressurised gas is supplied through plug 170 to inflate intermediate garment layer 140 and stretch outer and inner garment layers 130, 150 into a stretched configuration in which an outer surface of inner garment layer 150 is urged against inner walls 163 of chamber 162. External heat is again applied using heating elements 165, 166 (and in addition the gas used to inflate oversized three-dimensional garment former 120 may additionally be heated if required) to activate first and second discontinuous patterns of adhesive 145, 147 whilst pressure is applied to the outer, intermediate and inner garment layers 130, 140, 150 to squeeze the softened adhesive into the knit of the fabric of the outer and inner garment layers 130, 150.

After lamination, intermediate garment layer 140 is deflated, plug 170 is removed and the resulting article is withdrawn from chamber 162 for cooling and subsequent shrinking as before.

FIGS. 9-12 illustrate a method of manufacturing a novel pair of three-layer waterproof, windproof breathable shorts 210 comprising a pair of tubular leg parts 212.

As shown in FIG. 9, a first stage of the method comprises sequentially forming the three layers of pair of shorts 210 on an planar oversized garment former 220 having a profile defining a pair of oversized leg parts 222. Depending upon the shape of the garment, the degree of stretch required in the garment and the degree of stretchability in each of the three layers of the garment, oversized garment former 220 may be alterable between an expanded configuration and a contracted configuration for assisting placement of the garment layers over the oversized garment former and subsequent removal of the garment from the oversized garment former. For example, oversized garment former 220 may comprise at least one movable (e.g. pivotable) or inflatable part (e.g. limb part).

In step one, an elastic, stretchable water permeable knitted outer garment layer 230 having approximately the same profile as the eventual pair of shorts 210 and including a pair of tubular leg parts 232 is stretched over the oversized garment former 220 with tubular leg parts 232 being stretched over pair of oversized leg parts 222. The outer garment layer is intended in use to provide the outermost layer of the garment and may be formed from a single continuous (e.g. seamless) warp knitted layer. In the illustrated embodiment, oversized garment former 220 is at least 30% larger than eventual pair of shorts 210 in both planar dimensions.

In step two, a flexible intermediate garment layer 240 of limited stretchability relative to the outer garment layer 230 and having approximately the same profile as oversized garment former 220 and including a pair of oversized tubular leg parts 242 is drawn over outer garment layer 230 with tubular leg parts 242 covering tubular leg parts 232 of the outer garment. Intermediate garment layer 240 comprises an inelastic membrane (typically 30-40 microns thick) resistant to penetration by liquid water but permeable to water vapour perspiration (e.g. a hydrophilic polyurethane membrane or microporous hydrophobic polyurethane membrane of types known in the art). Intermediate garment layer 240 includes inner and outer surfaces 244, 246 on which are printed first and second discontinuous patterns (e.g. dots, a network, lines or a combination thereof) of water based co-polyamide heat activatable adhesive, or other types of adhesive known in the art (e.g. powder coat or hot-melt types) 245, 247 respectively. The membrane may be formed from a plurality of shaped membrane sheets welded together (e.g. radio frequency, ultrasonic or hot-bar welded). An outer perimeter of intermediate garment layer 240 is additionally welded to form a watertight seal.

In step three, a water permeable knitted stretchable inner garment layer 250 having approximately the same profile as the eventual pair of shorts 210 and including a pair of tubular leg parts 252 is stretched over intermediate garment layer 240 with tubular leg parts 252 being stretched over pair of oversized leg parts 242. The inner garment layer 250 is intended in use to provide the innermost layer of the garment and like the outer garment layer may be formed from a single continuous warp knitted layer. Since the inner garment layer 250 is likely to be contact with a wearer's skin, this layer will typically configured to wick moisture away from the wear (with water vapour being allowed to escape through intermediate garment layer 240).

Once inner garment layer 250 has been stretched over intermediate garment layer 240 (to form the arrangement shown in FIG. 10 with all three garment layers 230, 240, 250 mounted sequentially on oversized garment former 220), oversized garment former 220 with the three garment layers 230, 240, 250 mounted thereon is passed through a laminating machine 260 in which first and second discontinuous patterns of heat activatable adhesive 245, 247 are activated by heat. Pressure is than applied by one or more rollers 262 to squeeze the softened adhesive into the knit of the fabric of the outer and inner 230, 250.

After lamination, the resulting article is removed from oversized garment former 220 at which point the outer and inner garment layers 230, 250 will retract slightly by the pulling in of the fabric knit. Once the article has cooled, it is then put through a shrinking process including the steps of wetting outer garment layer 230 (but not inner garment layer 250) with water, removing some of the moisture mechanically and then exposing the article to heat (e.g. in a tumble dryer) to form pair of shorts 210 as shown in FIG. 12. After a predetermined period of drying, pair of shorts 210 are removed from the heat. The shrinking of the outer and inner garment layers 230, 250 has now resulted in folding of the inelastic intermediate garment layer 240 and also closed the knit of both the outer and inner garment layers 230, 250 to their original knitted shapes. Outer and inner garment layers 230, 250 can now be shorts 210 can now be stretched back to their pre-laminated stretched configurations without applying any stress to intermediate garment layer 240.

It should be noted that although the detailed description above describes the manufacture of specific articles of clothing (e.g. a top, gloves, shorts), the techniques described may equally apply to other types of clothing and therefore the techniques described should not be considered to be limited to the specific article of clothing described.