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Title:
FABRIC ARTICLE CLAMPING SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR USING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2003/005864
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to fabric article clamping systems and method for using the clamping systems alone or in conjunction with a stretching system to remove and/or reduce wrinkles and/or creases in a fabric article, preferably in a manner in which new wrinkles and/or creases are not formed or are minimized in the fabric article.

Inventors:
Pasin, Merih (Ave. Du Printemp 57, Waterloo, Brussels, B-1410, BE)
Hermie, Marina (Hoogstraat 9, Hever, B-3191, BE)
Dewaele, Joost Ignace (Hoogleenstraat 18, Oostrozebeke, B-8780, BE)
Application Number:
PCT/US2002/021791
Publication Date:
January 23, 2003
Filing Date:
July 11, 2002
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
THE PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY (One Procter & Gamble Plaza, Cincinnati, OH, 45202, US)
International Classes:
A44B99/00; A47G25/72; B42F1/00; (IPC1-7): A47G25/72; B42F1/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2000075412A1
Foreign References:
CH211894A
US2703444A
DE716199C1942-01-15
CH543268A
GB346106A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Reed, David T. (The Procter & Gamble Company, 6110 Center Hill Road Cincinnati, OH, 45224, US)
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Claims:
What is claimed is:
1. A fabric article clamping system comprising two fabric article contacting surfaces wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces are mechanically associated such that said fabric article contacting surfaces can apply a sufficient amount of gripping force to a fabric article positioned between said fabric article contacting surfaces such that said fabric article clamping system remains in contact with the fabric article in the presence of the force of gravity and/or a stretching force acting upon the fabric article clamping system, and wrinkles are removed and/or reduced from said fabric article and that new wrinkles and/or creases in the fabric article are minimized.
2. The fabric article clamping system according to Claim 1 wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces are arranged such that said fabric article contacting surfaces are parallel to one another when they are gripping the fabric article between them.
3. The fabric article clamping system according to Claim 1 wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces apply a gripping force of from about 1 Newton to about 10 Newtons.
4. The fabric article clamping system according to Claim 1 wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces have substantially equal surface areas, preferably wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces have surface areas of from about 50 cm2 to about 400 cm2, more preferably wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces have surface areas of from about 100 cm2 to about 375 cm2.
5. The fabric article clamping system according to Claim 1 wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces comprise a resilient material that contacts the fabric article, preferably wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces comprise a material that has a resilience of from about 40% to about 70%, more preferably wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces comprise rubber.
6. The fabric article clamping system according to Claim 5 wherein said resilient material has a thickness of from about 0.1 mm to about 4 mm.
7. The fabric article clamping system according to Claim 1 wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces comprise fingerlike structures which extend between the fabric article contacting surfaces to prevent fabric articles from extending over all of the edges of the fabric article contacting surfaces when the fabric article is in contact with the fabric article contacting surfaces.
8. The fabric article clamping system according to Claim 1 wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces are mechanically associated such that prior to gripping the fabric article, said fabric article contacting surfaces are spaced apart from one another a distance of from about 15 mm to about 60 mm, preferably, wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces are capable of being releasably locked in the spaced apart configuration.
9. The fabric article clamping system according to Claim 1 wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces are mechanically associated such that upon gripping the fabric article, said fabric article contacting surfaces are spaced apart from one another a distance equal to the thickness of the fabric article.
10. The fabric article clamping system according to Claim 1 wherein the fabric article contacting surfaces are mechanically associated with one another by pivoting around a coil spring.
11. A method for dewrinkling a fabric article in need of dewrinkling comprising the steps of attaching a fabric article clamping system according to Claim 1 to the fabric article such that wrinkles in the fabric article are removed and/or reduced, preferably the method further comprises a step of applying a stretching force to the fabric article.
Description:
FABRIC ARTICLE CLAMPING SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR USING Field of the Invention The present invention relates to fabric article clamping systems and method for using the clamping systems alone or in conjunction with a stretching system to remove and/or reduce wrinkles and/or creases in a fabric article, preferably in a manner in which new wrinkles and/or creases are not formed or are minimized in the fabric article.

Background of the Invention Wrinkles and/or creases in fabric articles continue to be a problem that consumers face during their fabric care operations.

Conventional methods for removing wrinkles and/or crease from fabric articles oftentimes create new wrinkles and creases in the fabric articles.

Accordingly, there is a need for a system and methods that can remove and/or reduce existing wrinkles and/or creases in fabric articles while at the same time avoid creating new wrinkles and/or creases in the fabric articles.

Summary of the Invention The present invention fulfills the need identified above by providing a fabric article clamping system and method for using the clamping system to remove and/or reduce wrinkles and/or creases in a fabric article, preferably in a manner in which new wrinkles and/or creases are not formed or are minimized in the fabric article.

It has been surprising found that in order to increase wrinkle removal efficiency, one needs to provide mechanical force as well in addition to the chemistry and/or favorable environment. One way to provide this mechanical force is to stretch the garment. Stretching the garment requires mechanical force to be applied to the garment. This force needs to be transmitted from stretching system to the garment via a system i. e. clamps.

Clamps should be able to hold garments tight enough to prevent any slippage due to gravitational and stretching force. Also it should not induce any wrinkles whilst doing that.

On top of that, some applications may require placement of the garment in environments (i. e. high temp and humidity) where they become more vulnerable for wrinkle induction by the clamps.

In one aspect of the present invention, a fabric article clamping system comprising two fabric article contacting surfaces wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces are mechanically associated such that said fabric article contacting surfaces can apply a sufficient amount of gripping force to a fabric article positioned between said fabric article contacting surfaces such that said fabric article clamping system remains in contact with the fabric article even in the presence of the force of gravity and/or a stretching force acting upon the fabric article clamping system is provided.

In another aspect of the present invention, a method for dewrinkling a fabric article in need of dewrinkling is provided. The method comprises the steps of attaching a fabric article clamping system according to the present invention to the fabric article, and optionally, applying a stretching force to the fabric article, such that wrinkles in the fabric article are removed and/or reduced, preferably in a manner in which new wrinkles and/or creases are not formed or minimized in the fabric article.

In still yet another aspect of the present invention, a treated fabric article produced by a method of the present invention is provided.

Accordingly, the present invention provides a fabric article clamping system and a method for using the fabric article clamping system to remove and/or reduce wrinkles and/or creases in a fabric article.

These and other objects, features and advantages will be clear from the following detailed description, examples and appended claims.

All percentages, ratios and proportions herein are on a weight basis based on a neat product unless otherwise indicated. All documents cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference.

Brief Description of the Drawings FIG. 1 is perspective view of a fabric article clamping system in accordance with the present invention in an open configuration; FIG. 2 is a front view of the fabric article clamping system of FIG. 1 in its closed configuration; FIG. 3 is a front view of the fabric article clamping system of FIG. 1; FIG. 4 is a front view of another fabric article clamping system in accordance with the present invention; FIG. 5 is a schematic of a fabric article having a fabric article clamping system in accordance with the present invention attached to it.

Detailed Description Definitions As used herein"fabric articles"is meant to encompass any and all articles of manufacture that are made at least partially of a natural or manmade fibrous material. Examples of fabric articles include, but are certainly not limited to: toys, shoes upholstery, garments, carpets, clothes hats, socks, towels, draperies, etc. The fabric articles may be of any type, nonlimiting examples include cotton and/or cotton blends, silk, wool and linen.

Fabric Article Clamping System FIGs. 1-4 illustrates a fabric article clamping system 10 in accordance with the present invention. The fabric article clamping system 10 comprises two fabric article contacting surfaces 12 wherein said fabric article contacting surfaces are mechanically associated such that the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 can apply a sufficient amount of gripping force to a fabric article positioned between the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 such that the fabric article clamping system 10 remains in contact with the fabric article in the presence of the force of gravity and/or a stretching force acting upon the fabric article clamping system 10.

The fabric article contacting surfaces 12 are arranged such that the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 are parallel to one another when they are gripping the fabric article between them, preferably they always remain parallel to one another.

It is desirable that the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 apply a gripping force of from about 1 Newton to about 10 Newtons, more preferably from about 2 Newtons to about 4 Newtons, most preferably from about 2.5 Newtons to about 3 Newtons to a fabric article positioned between the fabric article contacting surfaces 12.

Preferably, the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 have substantially equal surface areas, more preferably the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 have surface areas of from about 50 cm2 to about 400 cm2, even more preferably from about 100 cm2 to about 375 cm2.

The fabric article contacting surfaces 12 can be made of any suitable material known to those of skill in the art. Preferably, the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 comprise a resilient material that contacts the fabric article, more preferably the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 comprise a material that has a resilience of from about 40% to about 70%, even more preferably the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 comprise rubber. A nonlimiting example of a suitable resilient material is Chloroprene, which is commercially available from Eriks. The resilient material of the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 preferably has a thickness of from about 0.1 mm to about 4 mm.

In a preferred embodiment of the fabric article clamping system 10 of the present invention, each fabric article contacting surface 12 comprises a handle 14. The fabric article contacting surface 12 is preferably associated with the handle 14 such that the fabric article contacting surface is capable of pivoting around at least one pivot point 16 with respect to the handle 14. The fabric article contacting surface 12 is associated with the handle 14 at the proximal end of the handle 14.

Each handle 14 is mechanically associated to each other around at least one pivot point 18. The pivot point 18, preferably a spring, more preferably a coil spring, is located at a point along each handle 14 that is located between the pivot point 16 of the fabric article contacting surface 12 and a distal end of the handle 14. The pivot point 18 permits that handles 14 to move such that when the distal ends of the handles 14 move in relation to each other, the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 move in an opposite manner than the distal ends of the handles 14 in relation to each other. In other words, when the distal ends of the handles 14 are proximal to one another, the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 are distal from one another, and when the distal ends of the handles 14 are distal from one another, the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 are proximal to one another.

The fabric article clamping system 10 of the present invention is preferably capable of releasably locking the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 in an open position. Any suitable locking mechanism known to those of skill in the art could be used.

The fabric article contacting surfaces 12 are preferably mechanically associated with respect to each other such that prior to gripping a fabric article, the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 are spaced apart from one another a distance of from about 15 mm to about 60 mm, more preferably from about 20 mm to about 55 mm, more preferably from about 35 mm to about 50 mm.

The fabric article contacting surfaces 12 are preferably mechanically associated such that upon gripping a fabric article, the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 are spaced apart from one another a distance equal to the thickness of the fabric article gripped by the fabric article contacting surfaces 12.

As shown in FIG. 4, in a preferred embodiment, at least one, preferably both, fabric article contacting surface 12 comprises a finger-like structure 20 that axially extends from each fabric article contacting surface 12 toward the other fabric article contacting surface 12, wherein the finger-like structure 20 is positioned on the fabric article contacting surfaces 12 such that said fabric article contacting surfaces 12 are capable of gripping the fabric article. The finger-like structure (s) 20 prevent a fabric article from extending over all edges of the fabric article contacting surface 12 when the fabric article is gripped by the fabric article clamping system 10, and prevent the fabric article from being trapped in the fabric article clamping system 10. As a result, the potential for new wrinkles and/or creases being formed from the gripping of a fabric article by the fabric article clamping system 10 is removed or minimized.

Method A method for dewrinkling a fabric article in need of dewrinkling in accordance with the present invention comprises the step of attaching a fabric article clamping system according to the present invention to the fabric article such that wrinkles in the fabric article are removed and/or reduced.

Such a method may be conducted under ambient conditions or in heat and/or humid conditions.

Further, the method may further comprise a step of applying a stretching force to the fabric article. The stretching force may be any suitable stretching force known to those of skill in the art. Such stretching forces can be created by hanging weights on to the fabric articles or by other stretching devices known to those skilled in the art. Nonlimiting examples of suitable stretching devices are described in WO 00/75413 to The Procter & Gamble Company.

In one embodiment, the fabric article clamping system of the present invention may further be able to be linked and/or connected to the stretching force source/device.

Preferably, the fabric articles to be treated are mechanically stretched after placing them into the container and before starting the process. This stretching or so-called tensioning of the garment helps the relaxation of wrinkles during the process. Preferred stretching systems include weighted as well as light weight compactable or retractable stretching systems, wherein the system comprises a tensioning device like a spring. The latter systems have the benefit of not adding extra weight to the cleaning and refreshing apparatus, along with the possibility of adjusting tensioning force and directions as required. Preferably, these systems are mounted inside the container at its bottom. One example of such a system is a rollerblind that is conventionally used as sunfilter for cars and commercially available from Halfords. This system is a rollerblind which can be extended or compacted by means of a roll-up spring mechanism. Only slight modifications of this system are needed to adapt it to the tensioning of fabric articles. One preferred adaptation involves attaching the housing of this system at the bottom of the apparatus and providing one or more clamp at the other side so that the clamping and thus the stretching or tensioning of the fabric articles is obtained. The tension of the spring can also be adjusted to the desired stretching force for a given fabric article. The size of the clamp can vary so that more than one clamp is attached to this system. Still, another variation involves having only one clamp which run along or partly along the blind tensioning system located opposite the housing of the system.

Treated Fabric Article A treated fabric article produced by the method according to present invention.

Having described the present invention in detail with reference to preferred embodiments, it will be clear to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the invention, and the invention is not to be considered limited to what is described in the specification.




 
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