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Title:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FORMING VARIABLE CUT AND/OR LOOP PILE TUFTS OVER LEVEL CUT LOOP PILE TUFTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2008/109078
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A tufting machine that includes spaced rows of needles of inserting yarns into a backing material. The needles are engaged by opposed loopers and level cut loop pile hooks that pass between one another so as to engage the opposite row of needles for forming cut pile and loop pile tufts of yarns in the backing material.

Inventors:
HALL, Wilton (206 Rock Creek Trail, Ringgold, GA, 30736, US)
NEELY, Marshal, Allen (12203 Country Road Lane, Soddy Daisy, TN, 37379, US)
Application Number:
US2008/002867
Publication Date:
September 12, 2008
Filing Date:
March 03, 2008
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CARD-MONROE CORPORATION (4936 Adams Road, Chattanoonga, TN, 37343, US)
HALL, Wilton (206 Rock Creek Trail, Ringgold, GA, 30736, US)
NEELY, Marshal, Allen (12203 Country Road Lane, Soddy Daisy, TN, 37379, US)
International Classes:
D05C15/36
Foreign References:
US6834602B1
US4815403A
US4103629A
US2982240A
US4155319A
GB2165560A
GB2050447A
GB2246371A
GB2115025A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SUDDERTH, D. Scott (WOMBLE CARLYLE SANDRIDGE & RICE, PLLCPost Office Box 703, Atlanta GA, 30357-0037, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:

What is claimed is;

1. A tufting machine for forming spaced rows of loop pile tufts and cut pile tufts in a base fabric passing through a tufting zone of the tufting machine, comprising: a first row of needles positioned along an upstream, loop pile side of the tufting zone, each needle having a pickup area formed therealong and carrying a yarn for introduction into the base fabric; a second row of needles spaced transversely across the tufting zone from said first row of needles along a downstream, cut pile side of the tufting zone, said second row of needles each having a pickup area formed therealong and carrying yarns for introduction into a base fabric; a series of level cut loop pile hooks positioned along said cut pile side of the tufting zone and moveable into engagement with said needles of said second row of needles to pickup the yarns therefrom; a series of clips selectively moveable along said level cut loop pile hooks between extended and retracted positions to selectively form loop pile and cut pile tufts in the base fabric; a series of knives each positioned adjacent one of said level cut loop pile hooks and adapted to engage the yarns picked up by said

level cut loop pile hooks for forming the cut pile tufts in the base fabric when said clips are in a retracted position; a series of loopers positioned along said loop pile side of the tufting zone and moveable into engagement with said needles of said first row of needles so as to engage and pickup the yarns therefrom to form the loop pile tufts in the base fabric.

2. The tufting machine of claim 1 and wherein said knives are of an opposite hand cutting to the pickup of said level cut loop pile hooks.

3. The tufting machine of claim 2 and wherein said knives are right hand cut and said level cut loop pile hooks are left hand pickup.

4. The tufting machine of claim 2 and wherein said knives are left hand cut and said level cut loop pile hooks are right hand pickup.

5. The tufting machine of claim 2 and wherein said knives each are positioned along a pickup side of an associated one of said level cut loop pile hooks .

6. The tufting machine of claim 1 and wherein said needles of said first and second rows of needles are spaced approximately 1/4 inch apart.

7. The tufting machine of claim 1 and wherein said level cut loop pile hooks are each aligned with a gap defined between said loopers, and said loopers are aligned with gaps defined between said level cut loop pile hooks, wherein said level cut loop pile hooks pass through said gaps between said loopers to engage said first row of needles and said loopers pass through said gaps between said level cut loop pile loopers to engage said second row of needles.

8. A method of forming spaced rows of cut pile and loop pile tufts in a base fabric, comprising: moving a base fabric along a path of travel through a tufting zone; engaging the base fabric with a first row of spaced needles carrying a plurality of yarns through the base fabric; engaging the base fabric with a second row of spaced needles, transversely spaced from the first row of needles across the tufting zone and carrying a second plurality of yarns through the base fabric; moving a plurality of level cut loop pile hooks having a pickup across the tufting zone between the needles of the second row of needles and into engagement with the yarns carried by the needles of the first row of needles; selectively engaging a series of clips associated with each of the level cut loop pile hooks so as to move the clips between retracted

and extended positions for forming cut or loop pile tufts of the yarns carried by the first row of needles; providing a series of knives of an opposite hand cutting to the pickup of each of the level cut loop pile hooks, each positioned adjacent one of the level cut loop pile hooks and reciprocating the knives into selective engagement with loops of yarns captured along the level cut loop pile hooks to form the cut pile tufts in the base fabric; and moving a series of loopers across the tufting zone between the needles of the first row of needles and into engagement with the yarns carried by the needles of the second row of needles to form the loop pile tufts in the base fabric.

9. The method of claim 8 and wherein providing the knives adjacent each level cut loop pile hook comprises positioning each knife on an opposite side of each level cut loop hook from an associated one of the needles of the first row of needles.

10. The method of claim 8 and further comprising staggering the first and second rows of needles up to approximately 1/2 inch apart.

11. The method of claim 8 and wherein providing the knives adjacent each level cut loop pile hook comprises positioning each knife along a pickup side of an associated level cut loop pile hook.

12. The method of claim 8 and wherein moving the plurality of level cut loop pile hooks and moving the plurality of loopers comprises passing the level cut loop pile hooks through gaps between the loopers and passing the loopers through gaps between the level cut loop pile hooks, interleaving the loopers and level cut loop pile hooks as the level cut loop pile hooks and loopers engage the needles of the first and second rows of needles, respectively.

13. A method of forming tufted articles having cut pile tufts and loop pile tufts, comprising: moving a backing through a tufting zone; reciprocating a first and a second row of needles, each carrying a plurality of yarns into and out of the backing moving through the tufting zone; moving a series of spaced level cut loop hooks positioned along a cut pile side of the tufting zone between a series of loopers positioned along a loop pile side of the tufting zone and into engagement with the needles of the first row of needles to pull loops of yarn therefrom to form cut pile and loop pile tufts;

moving and intermeshing the loopers between the level cut loop hooks and engaging the needles of the second row of needles to pull loops of yarns therefrom for forming loop pile tufts; selectively moving a series of clips, each associated with one of the level cut loop hooks, between an engaging position wherein the loops of yarn engaged and pulled from the needles by the level cut loop pile hooks are prevented from being captured along selected ones of the level cut loop hooks to thus selectively form loop pile tufts, and a non-engaging position enabling the loops of yarns to be captured on the level cut loop pile hooks to selectively form cut pile tufts; and engaging and severing the loops of yarns captured along the level cut loop pile hooks with a series of knives to form the cut pile tufts.

14. The method of claim 13 and further comprising positioning each of the knives along a pickup side of a level cut loop pile hook associated therewith.

15. The method of claim 14 and further comprising providing knives of an opposite hand cutting to the pickup of the level cut loop pile hooks.

16. The method of claim 13 and further comprising providing knives of an opposite hand cutting to a pickup of the level cut loop pile hooks.

7. The method of claim 13 and further comprising staggering the first and second rows of needles up to approximately 1/2 inch apart.

Description:

Attorney Docket No. C002 1230PCT

METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FORMING VARIABLE CUT

AND/OR LOOP PILE TUFTS OVER LEVEL CUT LOOP PILE TUFTS

Cross Reference to Related Applications

The present patent application is a continuation-in-part of previously filed, co- pending United States patent application serial no. 11/755,366, filed May 30 2007, by the inventors named in the present application, and incorporated fully herein by reference. That patent application claims the benefit of the filing date of United States provisional patent application serial no. 60/892,666, filed March 2, 2007, according to the statutes and rules governing provisional patent applications, particularly USC § 119(e)(l) and 37 CFR § 1.78(a)(4) and (a)(5). The specification and drawings of the provisional patent application are specifically incorporated fully herein by reference.

Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to tufting carpets, and in particular to a method and system for tufting loop, cut, and level cut loop pile tufts of yarn in a backing material to form patterned carpets.

Background of the Invention

In the field of tufting carpets, it has been known to tuft carpets having spaced rows of loop pile and cut pile tufts, including the formation of loop pile tufts and cut pile tufts in the same longitudinal tuft rows of the carpets. For example, U.S. Patent

No. 3,919,953 discloses an apparatus and method for tufting spaced rows of loop pile and cut pile tufts formed in a backing material using a multi-needle tufting machine having two transverse rows of needles with each row cooperating with a series of loop pile loopers or cut pile hooks. Still further, U.S. Patent Nos. 5,224,434 and 5,499,588 disclose methods and apparatus for producing cut pile and loop pile tufts in the same longitudinal rows of tufting and which further provide for the shifting of the needle bars carrying spaced rows of needles to provide enhanced pattern effects such as the formation of cut and loop pile tufts in the same tuft rows.

For higher or finer gauge tufting machines, i.e., 5/32 - 1/16 gauge machines, however, as the spacing between the needles is narrowed for forming finer gauge carpets, problems exist whereby the cut pile hooks can engage the previously formed loop and/or cut pile tufts, potentially resulting in the cutting or pulling of such tufts, creating defects in the carpet. Additionally, there are increasing demands for the capability of tufting machines to produce carpets with wider varieties of pattern designs and effects, including at finer gauges.

Accordingly, it can be seen that a need exists for a method and system of forming cut pile and loop pile tufts in a backing material to form patterned carpets that addresses the foregoing related and unrelated problems in the art.

Summary

Briefly, described, the present invention generally relates to a method and apparatus for forming or introducing loop and/or cut pile tufts and level cut loop pile tufts of yarns into a backing fabric passing through a tufting zone of a tufting machine

to form tufted carpets at varying pile heights. The tufting machine generally will include first and second rows of transversely spaced needles that receive a series of yarns from a yarn source or yarn feed drive mechanism. The needles generally are spaced along needle bars at a prescribed gauge spacing, i.e., 1/2 inch - 1/16 inch, etc., and are reciprocated into and out of engagement with a backing material passing through a tufting zone of the tufting machine for introduction of tufts of yarn into the backing material to form tufted carpets. The yarns can be fed to the needles using a variety of yearn fed rolls or systems, including scroll, roll and single end yarn feed systems to provide varying pattern effects including pile height differentials. For example, the yarns can be fed to the needles from an Infinity Yarn Feed System as manufactured by Card-Monroe Corp. The needle bars also can be shifted laterally to provide further pattern effects.

A looper mechanism is mounted below the backing material and generally includes spaced, transversely extending rows of loop pile loopers, cut pile hooks, and/or level cut loop pile hooks or loopers mounted along the upstream and downstream sides, respectively, of the tufting zone. Each of the loop pile loopers generally includes a shank portion attached to a looper support and a bill or forward portion extending forwardly from the shank portion toward an associated needle. The bill of each looper will engage or strike a take-off portion of its associated needle to engage and pickup a loop of yarn from the needle for forming loop pile tufts in the backing material. The cut pile hooks likewise generally will include a body or shank portion attached to a holder or support, and a throat or forwardly extending portion having a hooked forward end. The forward end of each cut pile hook will strike a

take-off portion of its associated needle and will pickup and capture a loop of yarn along its throat. A knife associated with each cut pile hook will engage and sever the loop(s) of yarn captured on the throat portion of its cut pile hook to form the cut pile tufts. Similarly, the level cut loop pile hooks each include a shank or body portion and a throat portion that extends forwardly from the shank portion and terminates in a hooked or curved forward end, and a clip that is moved into engaging position by an actuator for forming loop pile tufts according to the pattern design being tufted. Each level cut loop pile hook will engage an associated needle at a pickup or takeoff portion thereof so as to pickup and form loops of yarns along the throat portion of the hook. Each level cut loop pile hook further generally will include a knife assembly associated therewith, which includes a knife or cutting blade that is moved in a reciprocal cutting motion so as to sever or cut selected ones of the loops of yarn collected along the throat of its associated level cut loop pile hook to form cut pile tufts in the backing material.

With the system of the present invention, the level cut loop pile hooks on one side of the tufting zone generally are staggered transversely from the loop pile loopers, cut pile hooks or level cut pile hooks or loopers along the opposite side of the tufting zone, hi one example embodiment of the invention, a series of loop pile loopers can be mounted along the upstream or loop pile side of the tufting zone in positions aligned with a gap between each of the level cut loop pile hooks, and conversely, each of the level cut loop pile hooks accordingly are aligned with the gaps defined between each of the loop pile loopers. As the needles penetrate the backing, the loop pile

loopers and level cut loop pile hooks will be reciprocated into engagement with their associated needles, and in some applications, can be positioned so as to pass between each other. As a result, the loop pile loopers will pass through the gaps between the level cut loop pile hooks to engage the second or rear, downstream row of needles, while the level cut loop pile hooks will reach through the gaps between the loop pile loopers and engage the first or upstream row of needles of the tufting machine to enable level cut loop pattern formation and functionality with or without a pile differential on the cut-loop side of the tufting machine.

Further, the knives can be of the same or of an opposite hand cutting to the takeoff or pickup needles of the first row of needles and can be positioned on the pickup side their associated level cut loop pile hooks, so as to be positioned along the same side of their level cut loop pile hooks as the needle being engaged by the level cut loop pile hooks. In such an arrangement, during operation of the tufting machine, the loop pile loopers and level cut loop pile hooks will tend to pass between each other and engage the opposite row of needles as the needles penetrate the backing material to form both loop pile and level cut loop pile tufts of yarns in the backing material, as the knives of each of the cut pile hooks are moved in a reciprocating cutting motion to engage and cut the loops collected along the throat portions of their associated level cut loop pile hooks to form the cut pile tufts as needed. Additionally, as the clips of the level cut loop pile hooks are actuated and moved to their engaged position, they will prevent the capture and retention of loops of yarn on the level cut loop pile hooks to enable formation of additional loop pile tufts in the backing material.

In other embodiments of the invention, instead of the combination of loop pile loopers and level cut loop pile hooks, a series of cut pile hooks and/or level cut loop pile hooks or loopers can be used in conjunction with the level cut loop pile hooks for forming both cut and level cut loop pile tufts, and/or all level cut loop pile tufts in the backing material. The cut pile hooks and/or level cut loop hooks or loopers generally can be aligned with gaps between their opposing level cut loop pile hooks or loopers so as to be able to reach through these gaps.

In still further embodiments of the present invention, a series of level cut loop loopers or hooks can be used in conjunction with an additional series of level cut loop loopers or hooks, or with cut pile hooks, with both sets of gauge parts being located along the same side of the tufting zone, hi such embodiments, a first row or series of level cut loop loopers or hooks or the cut pile hooks generally are arranged in a vertically staggered configuration, spaced above a second series or row of level cut loop loopers or hooks. For example, an upper row of cut pile hooks can be mounted in a support or hook block and can have a raised shank or body portion so that the throats or bill portions of the cut pile hooks are spaced vertically by a desired distance above the throat portions of a lower row or grouping of level cut loop pile loopers or hooks mounted within the same hook block. Alternatively, the hook bar or support for the cut pile hooks can be manufactured with an expanded height or thickness so as to enable formation of slots at different elevations for receiving the different rows of cut pile hooks and/or level cut loop pile loopers or hooks therein. Similarly, where two rows or sets of level cut loop pile loopers or hooks are used, the level cut loop pile loopers of the first or uppermost row can have a body portion that is expanded

vertically so that the throat portions of such level cut loop pile loopers are positioned above the throat portions of the lower or second row of level cut loop pile loopers. In such arrangements, varying levels or pile heights of cut pile and/or loop pile tufts of yarns can be formed in the same backing material to enable formation of carpets having further enhanced and varying pattern effects.

Various objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon a review of the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

Description of Drawings

Fig. 1 is a side elevational view illustrating the engagement of the level cut loops pile hook assemblies and loop pile loopers with the opposed rows of needles according to the present invention.

Fig. 2 is a perspective illustration showing the movement of the loop pile loopers and level cut loop pile hooks between one another into engagement with the opposed rows of needles according to the present invention.

Fig. 3 is a side elevational view of the level cut loop pile hook assembly of Fig. 1.

Fig. 4 is a perspective illustration of the interaction between the level cut loop pile hooks, loop pile loopers, and knife assemblies.

Fig. 5A is a perspective view of an additional embodiment of the present invention utilizing cut pile hooks with level cut loop pile loopers or hooks.

Fig. 5B is a side elevational view of the embodiment of Fig. 5A.

Fig. 6A is a perspective view illustrating yet another embodiment of the present invention utilizing two sets of level cut loop pile loopers or hooks. Fig. 6B is a side elevational view of the embodiment of Fig. 6A.

Detailed Description of the Invention

Referring now in greater detail to the drawings in which like numerals indicate like parts throughout the several views, the present invention generally relates to a method and system for forming tufted carpets having loop pile and cut pile tufts of yarns Yl and Y2 formed therein for forming various sculpted or other patterned effects in the carpet. As illustrated in Figs. 1 - 2, a tufting machine T utilizing the present invention, generally will include a tufting zone 10 through which a backing material 11 is fed in a feed direction, generally indicated by arrows 12 for the introduction of yarns Yl and Y2 fed from a yarn feed device or source (not shown) through guides 13 for insertion into the backing material 11 to form loop pile tufts 14 (Fig. 1) and cut pile tufts 16, respectively, in the backing material. Such yarn feed devices could include various yarn feed pattern attachments such as scroll, roll, single, or double end yarn feed attachments such as the Infinity ™ and Yarntronics ™ Pattern attachment/yarn feed systems manufactured by Card-Monroe Corp. to control the yarn feed for producing various pattern effects. The tufting machine generally will include two spaced rows of needles 17 and

18, although only one needle 17, 18 of each row is shown for clarity. The first or forwardmost row of needles 17 generally comprise cut pile needles for inserting level cut loop pile yarns Yl in the backing 11, while the second or rear row of needles 18

comprise loop pile needles for inserting loop pile yarns Y2 into the backing material 11 as shown in Fig. 1, and with the rows of needles 17/18 being staggered by about 1/16 inch - 5/32 inch up to about 1 A inch or more. Each needle 17 or 18 includes a pickup or takeoff area or portion 19 (Fig. 3) along their lower end or point 21 and a channel along which a yarn Yl or Y2 is received. The needles generally are mounted to a pair of reciprocating needle bars 22 (Figs. 1 - 2) that are driven by the operation of the main shaft of the tufting machine so as to move the needles about a vertically reciprocating path indicated by arrows 23/23' into the backing material 11 for delivering the yarns Yl - Y2, thereto. The needle bars 22 further can be shiftable needle bars that are shifted transversely across the tufting zone by a shift mechanism (not shown) according to pattern instructions. Additionally, while two needle bars are shown, it is envisioned that a single needle bar, which further could be shifted transversely, with two rows of transversely spaced needles theralong also could be utilized in the tufting machine of the present invention. Mounted beneath the tufting zone 10 is a looper mechanism 30, as indicated in

Fig. 1. The looper mechanism 30 generally includes a series of loop pile loopers 31 mounted in spaced series along an upstream or first side of a tufting zone, beneath the cut pile needles 17 and facing in the feed direction 12 of the backing material 11. The looper mechanism 30 also includes a series of transversely spaced level cut loop pile looper/hook assemblies 32, each including a level cut loop hook or looper 33 and being positioned along the downstream side of the tufting zone below the loop pile needles 18, facing in a direction opposite the feed direction 12. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that while only a few loop pile loopers and level cut loop

pile hook assemblies have been illustrated in the drawings for clarity, in practice, the number of loop pile loopers and level cut loop pile hook assemblies will be provided in spaced series extending across the width of the tufting machine, with the number of loop pile loopers and level cut loop pile hook assemblies being dependant upon the size of the tufting machine and number of needles thereof.

As shown in Figs. 2 and 4, the loop pile loopers 31 are spaced transversely apart so as to define gaps 34 therebetween, while the level cut loop pile hooks 33 are similarly transversely spaced and correspondingly define gaps 36 therebetween. In one example embodiment of the present invention, the loop pile loopers 31 can be aligned with the gaps 36 between each of the level cut loop pile hooks 33, which in turn each can be aligned with the gaps 34 defined between the loop pile loopers. Similarly, in such an embodiment, the cut pile needles 17 will be positioned so as to travel through the gaps 34 between the loop pile loopers, while the loop pile needles 18 are positioned to reciprocate through the gaps 36 between the level cut loop pile hooks 33. In operation, the loop pile loopers and level cut loop pile hooks accordingly will pass through the respective gaps 34 and 36 therebetween so as to engage the cut pile and loop pile needles 17/18, respectively, as indicated in Figs. 2 and 4, in an intermeshing or interleaving movement in order to engage their respective needles 17/18 on the opposite sides of the tufting zone. As illustrated in Figs. 1 and 3, each loop pile looper 31 of the looper mechanism 30 generally includes a shank portion 41 that is mounted in a holder, block, or module 42 mounted along a gauge bar 43 (Fig. 2), and a forward body portion 44 that terminates in a tapered bill or forward end 45. During operation of the

tufting machine, the loop pile loopers are rocked forwardly by a looper drive 46 that reciprocates the gauge bar 43, and with it the loop pile loopers 31, in the direction of the needles 18, as indicated by arrows 47 and 47' in Fig. 1. As a result, the bill portion 44 of each loop pile looper 31 is reciprocated toward its associated loop pile needle and can pass into the gap 34 (Figs. 2 and 4) between each of the level cut loop pile hooks 32 as needed to engage the needle. The bill portion 44 of each loop pile looper engages the takeoff portion 19 of its associated loop pile needle 18, so as to pick up and pull a loop of yarn away from its associated loop pile needle 18. As each loop pile looper 31 is reciprocated rearwardly in the direction of arrow 47' (Fig. 1) and the loop pile needles 18 are reciprocated vertically back to their raised position out of engagement with the backing material, the loop pile loopers pull the yarns 13 away from the needles 18. As a result, as indicated in Fig. 3, a series of loops of yarn 48 will be formed along the bill portion 44 of each loop pile looper 31 for forming the loop pile tufts 14 in the backing material 11. As illustrated in Figs 1 and 3, each of the level cut loop pile hook assemblies

32 comprises a level cut loop hook 33 that includes a shank 51 portion mounted within a holder, support or module 52 (Figs. 1 - 2) that is mounted along a gauge bar 53. The gauge bar 53 and holder or supports 52 are driven by a drive mechanism 54 so as to carry the level cut loop hooks 33 about a reciprocal motion indicated by arrows 56 and 56', into and out of engagement with a cut pile needle 17 as illustrated in Figs. 1 and 3. The level cut loop hooks 33 each further include a tapered throat portion 57 projecting forwardly from the shank 51 and terminating in a hooked

forward or distal end 58. The level cut loop hooks each further include a pickup side 59 for engaging the take off or pickup area 19 of the cut pile needles 17.

As additionally shown in Figs. 1 and 3, the level cut loop pile hook assemblies 32 further include a series of extensible clips 60 that are moveable through the holders 52 in the direction of arrows 61 and 61' between a retracted position to an extended position. Each clip includes an elongated body, generally formed from metal, plastic, or other rigid, durable material, with a tapered first or forward end 62 and a second or rear end 63 that is received within a gate 64. As indicated in Figs. 1, 3 and 4, each gate 64 has an upwardly or downwardly slanting front position 66, with a slot 67 formed therein for receiving the rear end 63 of a clip 60, and a rear portion 68. Actuators, such as hydraulic or pneumatically operable cylinders 69, are mounted in an array behind the rear portions 68 (Fig. 3) of the gates 64, with the cylinder rod 71 of each cylinder 69 attached to a corresponding gate 64 for one of the level cut loop pile hook assemblies 32. As the actuators 69 are engaged and extend their cylinder rods, their associated gates 64 accordingly are extended so as to move the selected clips 60 to their extended positions with their front ends or tips 62 positioned adjacent the hooked forward ends 58 of their level cut loop pile loopers 33. In this position, the area behind the hooked forward end 58 is closed off to prevent loops of yarns from being captured and retained therealong. In similar fashion to the loop pile loopers 31, as the level cut loop hooks 33 are reciprocated in the direction of arrow 56, their hooked, forward ends 58 can pass through an associated gap 34 between adjacent loop pile loopers 31 as needed, and will engage the takeoff portions 19 of their associated cut pile needles 17 along the

upstream or front side of the tufting zone 10, as the needles 17 are reciprocated to their lowered, engaging position, penetrating in the backing material. As the hooked front ends 58 of the level cut loop hooks 33 engage takeoff portions 19 of their associated needles 17 and pick up and pull the yarns away from the needles 17, the needles generally begin to move along their return stroke, as they are reciprocated upwardly, after which the level cut loop hooks 33 begin to be moved rearwardly in the direction of arrow 56'. As a result, a series of loops of yarn 72 will be formed along the throat portions 57 of the level cut loop pile hooks. These loops of yarn will extend about the clips 60 when the clips are in their extended positions and thus generally will be pulled free from the level cut loop pile hooks as they are reciprocated rearwardly in the direction of arrow 56'. When the clips are in their retracted positions, however, the loops of yarn 72 will be captured on the throats of the level cut loop hooks, as indicted in Fig. 3, and retained for cutting by knife assemblies 70.

As further illustrated in Figs. 1 - 4, each level cut loop pile hook assembly 32 has a knife assembly 80 that is mounted adjacent the throat portion 57 of its associated level cut loop pile hook 33. Each knife assembly 80 includes a cutting blade or knife 81 mounted in a holder 82 (Figs. 1 and 4) and having a cutting edge 83. Each of the cutting blades 81 are reciprocated about a cutting path along the throat portion 57 of its associated level cut loop pile hook 33, so as to engage and sever the loops of yarn 72 (Fig. 3) formed along the throat portion 57 of each level cut loop pile hook in order to form the cut pile tufts 16 (Fig. 1) in the backing material 11.

Typically, in conventional tufting machines, the knife will be of the same "hand" cutting as the level cut loop pile hook, i.e., a right hand cutting blade for a

right hand takeoff level cut loop pile hook, or a left hand cutting blade for a left hand takeoff level cut loop pile hook, and generally will be positioned on the opposite side of the takeoff or pickup region of the loop pile loopers. With the level cut loop pile hook assemblies 32 of the present invention, however, the knives 81 (Fig. 4) can be of the same "hand" as the level cut loop pile hooks, or alternatively, can be of an opposite hand cutting to the pickup of their associated level cut loop pile hooks 33. For example, if the level cut loop pile hook is a left hand pickup hook, a right hand cutting blade or knife can be used, and conversely, for a level cut loop pile hook having a right hand pickup hook, a left hand cutting knife can be used. The knives 81 further can be mounted along the pickup side of their level cut loop pile hooks as indicated in Fig. 4. As a result, the knives will be aligned with, and thus are on the same side of their level cut loop pile hooks as their respective cut pile needles as the needles are engaged by their associated level cut loop pile hooks, although it is also possible to have the needles positioned on the opposite sides of the level cut loop pile hooks from the knives.

As the loop pile loopers and level cut loop pile hook assemblies 31 and 32 (Fig. 1) are reciprocated in the direction of arrows 47/47' and 56/56', respectively, and the loop pile and cut pile needles penetrate the backing material, the bills and throats of the loop pile loopers and level cut loop pile hooks will pass adjacent each other without obstruction and will engage their associated loop pile and level cut loop pile needles 18 and 17 to pickup and to form loops of yarn on the throat portion of each of the looper and level cut loop pile hooks. Thereafter, as the knives of each of the level cut loop pile hook assemblies are reciprocated about their cutting path, they will

engage and sever the loops of yams contained on the throats of each of the cut pile hooks to form the cut pile tufts 16. At the same time, the loops of yarn held on the bills of the loop pile loopers are simply pulled off the loop pile loopers as the backing material is moved along its path of travel 12, leaving the loop pile tufts 14 of yarn in the backing material 11. Thus, the backing fabric will have cut pile and loop pile tufts of yarn formed therein.

Additionally, the actuators 69 of the level cut loop pile assemblies 32 also can be engaged selectively as required by the pattern being formed to form additional loop pile tufts. As the selected actuators are engaged, they extend their cylinder rods so as to cause the clips 61 of selected ones of the level cut loop pile hook assemblies 32 to be moved to their extended positions. The loops of yarn are thus extended about the forward ends of the clips and are kept from being captured and retained by the hooked ends 58 of their associated level cut loop pile hooks 33. As the level cut loop pile hooks thereafter are reciprocated rearwardly in the direction of arrow 56', the loops of yarns formed about the clips/level cut loop pile hooks of yarns are pulled off the level cut loop pile hooks to form additional loop pile tufts and thus are not engaged and cut by the knives 81.

Figs. 5A and 5B illustrate an additional embodiment of the method and system for forming tufted carpets having loop pile and cut pile tufts of yarns according to the principles of the present invention. In this embodiment 100, a series of cut pile hooks 101 are mounted in a vertically spaced arrangement, together with a series of level cut loop pile loopers or hooks 102 along a downstream or cut pile side of the tufting zone of the tufting machine. As shown in Fig. 5 A, the cut pile hooks 101 and level cut loop

pile hooks 102 generally are mounted in a vertically spaced arrangement within a support block or holder 103 having a body 104 with a front face 106, a rear face 107, and a lower portion 108. The lower portion 108 further includes a bore or opening 109 extending therethrough and adapted to seat upon the hook bar 111 (Fig. 5B) for the looper drive as discussed above.

As indicated in Figs. 5 A and 5B, each cut pile hook 101 includes a body 112 having a rear or shank portion (not shown) that is received within a slot or other similar opening formed through the body 104 of the holder 103, and further includes a vertically oriented mid-portion 113 and a horizontally extending throat portion 114 that terminates in a hooked or barbed front end 116. The hooked front end of each cut pile hook 101 further includes a pickup area, indicated at 117 in Fig. 5 A. The throat portions 114 of the cut pile hooks further typically can be elongated so as to extend forwardly past the level cut loop pile hooks 102, as indicated in Figs. 5A and 5B, for engaging the row of needles 17 (Fig. 1) arranged along the upstream side of the tufting zone T. Additionally, the mid-portions 113 (Fig. 5B) of each cut pile hook 101 can have an extended height or configuration so that the throat portions 114 of each of the cut pile hooks are spaced vertically above the lower or second row of level cut loop pile hooks by a desired distance, or alternatively, the cut pile hooks can be mounted in slots that are spaced vertically above the corresponding slots in which the level cut loop pile hooks 102 are mounted in holder 103.

As shown in Figs. 5A and 5B, each of the level cut loop pile hooks 102 generally is arranged along a gap 118 between each of the spaced cut pile hooks 101, and is spaced along the holder 103 so as to define gaps 119 therebetween and along

which the cut pile hooks 101 are aligned. Each level cut loop pile hook further generally will be positioned at a lower elevation than the cut pile hooks 101. Each of the level cut loop pile hooks 102 similarly includes a body 121 having a rear or shank portion (not shown) that extends rearwardly through a slot or other opening formed in the holder 103, and a vertically oriented mid-portion 122. A tapered throat portion 123 extends forwardly from the mid-portion 122 and terminates in a hooked forward or distal end 124. Each of the level cut loop pile hooks 102 further generally includes a pickup area 126 (Fig. 5A), which pickup 126 typically is arranged along the same side of the level cut loop pile hooks 102 as the pickups 117 for the cut pile hooks 101. Additionally, as indicated in Fig. 5B, the level cut loop pile hooks can have shorter throat portions 123 than the throat portions 114 of the cut pile hooks so as to be in position to engage the rear or second row of needles 18 (Fig. 1) extending along the downstream side of the tufting zone T during a tufting operation.

As additionally shown in Fig. 5B, a series of extensible clips 127 are moveable through the holders 103 in the direction of arrows 128 and 128'. Each clip generally includes an elongated body 129 with a tapered forward or first end 131, and a hooked or curved second or rear end 132 that projects from the rear side or face 107 of the holder 103. As discussed above, actuators such as hydraulic or pneumatically operated cylinders mounted, in an array behind the level cut loop pile hooks, will attach to and/or engage the rear or second ends 132 of each of the clips 127. The actuators will be selectively engaged so as to cause the associated clips 127 to be moved between an extended position, with the forward or first end 131 of each such clip 127 positioned adjacent and extending beneath the hooked front end 124 of its

associated level cut loop pile hook, and a retracted position with the forward end 131 of each such clip 127 retracted rearwardly from the hooked front end of its associated level cut loop pile hook.

In their extended positions, the clips will prevent loops of yarn picked from the needles from being captured behind the hooked front ends 124 and along the throat portions 123 of their level cut loop pile hooks 102. The loops of yarns picked up from the needles thus will be pulled off of the level cut loop pile hooks as they are reciprocated away from the needles, such as for forming loop pile tufts in the backing material. When the clips are in their retracted positions, the loops of yarn picked from the needles will be captured behind the hooked front ends and along the throat portions of the level cut loop pile hooks 102, where they typically will be cut by a operation of a knife assembly 140/140'.

As indicated in Fig. 5B, a series of knife assemblies 140 and 140' generally will be mounted in spaced series extending across the tufting machine. Each knife assembly generally will be aligned with one of the level cut loop pile hooks 102 or cut pile hooks 101, and each typically will include a knife or cutting blade 141 mounted within a holder 142, which itself is attached to a reciprocating drive that moves the knifes into cutting engagement with the cut pile hooks and level cut loop pile hooks so as to sever or cut any loops of yarns retained thereon to form cut pile tufts in the backing material. The knives further can be of an opposite hand cutting to the pickups of their associated level cut loop pile hooks and/or cut pile hooks, and can be mounted along the pickup sides of their level cut loop pile hooks and/or cut pile hooks, while

the needles associated with such level cut loop pile hooks and/or cut pile hooks are on the opposite sides thereof.

The knives or cutting blades 141 of the knife assemblies 140 for each of the cut pile hooks 101 additionally can be mounted at a slightly higher elevation than the knife assemblies 140' for the level cut loop pile hooks 102, as indicated in Fig. 5B, so as to ensure sufficient cutting contact with the cut pile hooks 101. Alternatively, the knives 141 of the knife assemblies 140 for the cut pile hooks 101 can be of extended length, or mounted to a drive mechanism that extends the movement of the knives as needed to ensure accurate cutting of the loops of yarns collected along the cut pile hooks as needed for forming additional cut pile tufts.

Still a further embodiment 200 of the method and system for forming tufted articles having loop pile and cut pile tufts formed therein according to the principles of the present invention is illustrated in Figs. 6A - 6B. hi the embodiment of Figs. 6A - 6B, a first series of level cut loop pile hooks 201 are mounted in a vertically spaced alignment above a second series of level cut loop pile hooks 202, with the first and second sets of level cut loop pile hooks generally being mounted along the downstream or cut pile side of the tufting machine. The upper level cut loop pile hooks 201 are adapted to reach or extend through gaps between the needles 18 (Fig. 1) of the second or downstream needles so as to engage the needles 17 of the first or upstream row needles in the tufting zone T, while the second series of level cut loop pile hooks 202 (Fig. 6B) engage the needles 18 (Fig. 1) of the second or downstream row of needles. The level cut loop pile hooks 201 (Fig. 6A) further generally are aligned with gaps 203 defined between the level cut loop pile hooks 202, which in

turn are aligned along gaps 204 defined between each of the level cut loop pile hooks 201.

The level cut loop pile hooks 201/202 are mounted in spaced rows along a holder or support 206. The holder 206 has a body 207 with a front face 208, rear face 209, and a lower section 211 adapted to mount the support or holder 206 to a hook bar

(not shown). The level cut loop pile hooks are received within slots formed through the holder body 207 and extending from the front face 208 thereof to its rear face 209.

As indicated in Figs. 6 A and 6B, each cut loop pile hook 201 includes a body

212 having a rear or shank portion (not shown) that is received within one of the slots or other, similar openings formed through the body 207 of the holder 206, and further generally includes a vertically oriented mid-portion 213 and a horizontally extending throat portion 214 that terminates in a hooked or barbed front end 216. The hooked front end 216 of each level cut loop pile hook 201 further includes a pickup area, indicated at 217 in Fig. 6 A. The throat portions 214 of the cut pile hooks extend forwardly, past the level cut loop pile hooks 202, as indicated in Figs. 6A and 6B, for engaging the row of needles 17 (Fig. 1) arranged along the upstream side of the tufting zone T. Additionally, the mid-portions 213 (Fig. 6B) of each level cut loop pile hook 201 can have an extended size or height so that the throat portions 214 of each of the level cut loop pile hooks 201 are spaced vertically above the lower row of level cut loop pile hooks 202, or alternatively, the level cut loop pile hooks 201 can be mounted in slots that are spaced vertically above the corresponding slots in which the lower or second row of level cut loop pile hooks 202 are mounted in holder 206.

As shown in Fig. 6A, each of the lower or second row of level cut loop pile hooks 202 generally is arranged along a gap 204 between each of the spaced upper or first row of level cut loop pile hooks 201, and further generally will be positioned at a lower elevation than the level cut loop pile hooks 201. Each of the level cut loop pile hooks 202 similarly includes a body 218 having a rear or shank portion (not shown) that extends rearwardly through a slot or other opening formed in the holder 206, and a vertically extending mid-portion 219. A tapered throat portion 221 extends forwardly from the mid-portion 219 and terminates at a hooked forward or distal end 222. Each of the level cut loop pile hooks 202 further generally includes a pickup area 223 (Fig. 6A), which pickup 223 typically is arranged along the same side of the level cut loop pile hooks as the pickups 217 for the level cut loop pile hooks 201. Additionally, as indicated in Fig. 6B, the level cut loop pile hooks 202 of the second or lower row typically have shorter throat portions 221 than the throat portions 214 of the first or upper level cut loop pile hooks 201 so as to be in position to engage the rear or second row of needles 18 (Fig. 1) arranged along the downstream side of the tufting zone T, during a tufting operation.

As additionally shown in Figs. 6A - 6B, the level cut loop pile hooks 201/202 further include extensible clips 224 that are moveable along the bodies of the level cut loop pile hooks 201/202 through the holder 206 in the direction of arrows 226 and 226'. Each clip generally includes an elongated body with a tapered forward or first end 227, and a hooked or curved second or rear end 228 that projects from the rear side or face 209 of the holder 206. As discussed above, actuators, such as hydraulic or pneumatically operated cylinders mounted in an array behind the level cut loop pile

hooks, attach to and/or engage the rear or second ends 228 of each of the clips 224. The actuators will be selectively engaged so as to cause the associated clips 224 to be moved between an extended position, with the front or first end portion 227 of each clip positioned adjacent and extending beneath the hooked front end 216 or 222 of its associated level cut loop pile hook 201 and 202, and a retracted position wherein the front or first ends 227 of such clips are retracted rearwardly from the hooked front ends of their associated level cut loop pile hooks.

In their extended positions, the clips will prevent loops of yarn picked from the needles from being captured behind the hooked front ends and along the throat portions of each of the level cut loop pile hooks. The loops of yarns picked from the needles thus will be pulled off of the level cut loop pile hooks as they are reciprocated away from the needles for forming loop pile tufts in the backing material. When the clips are in their retracted positions, the loops of yarns picked from the needles will be captured behind the hooked front ends and along the throat portions of the level cut loop pile hooks 201/202, where they typically will be cut by a knife assembly 230/230' (Fig. 6B) to form cut pile tufts.

As indicated in Fig. 6B, a series of knife assemblies 230 generally will be mounted in spaced series extending across the tufting machine. Each knife assembly generally will be aligned with one of the level cut loop pile hooks 202 or cut pile hooks 201, and each typically includes a knife or cutting blade 231 mounted within a holder 232 that itself is attached to a reciprocating drive that moves the knives into cutting engagement with the level cut loop pile hooks 201/202 so as to sever or cut any loops of yarns retained thereon to form cut pile tufts in the backing material. As

discussed previously, each of the knives can be of an opposite hand cutting to the pickups of their associated level cut loop pile hooks 201/202. The knives also can be mounted along the pickup sides of their associated level cut loop pile hooks, on the opposite sides of their level cut loop pile hooks from the needles associated therewith. The knives or cutting blades 231 of the knife assemblies 230 for each of the level cut loop pile hooks 201 further can be mounted at a slightly higher elevation than the knives of knife assemblies 230', as indicated in Fig. 6B, so as to ensure sufficient cutting contact with the cut pile hooks 201. Alternatively, the knives 231 of the knife assemblies 230 for the level cut loop pile hooks 201 can be of an extended length, or mounted to a drive mechanism that extends the movement of the knives as needed to ensure accurate cutting of the loops of yarns collected along the cut pile hooks as needed for forming additional cut pile tufts.

The present invention thus enables varying arrangements of loop pile loopers, cut pile hooks, and level cut loop pile hooks to pass through gaps defined therebetween and/or between adjacent rows of needles, with the incidents of previously sewn loops of yarn being engaged by the level cut loop pile hooks during the production of finer or smaller gauge (i.e., 5/32 - 1/16 gauge) carpets being minimized, while allowing the formation of varying loop and level cut lop pile effects in the same backing fabric or carpet. The present invention further enables the stagger between the rows of needles to be reduced to as short as approximately 1/2 inch - approximately 1/4 inch or less without the knives engaging the previously sewn loops or otherwise engaging and interfering with the operation of the loopers. As a result, given the reduction in the stagger, the problems of side matching, i.e., matching of the

left and right seam of a carpet, are minimized since the stagger can be reduced, which correspondingly reduces the stretching and/or necking of the backing material as the backing material passes passing through the tufting zone. The use of varying yarn feeds also enables formation of variable pile height loop pile tufts together with level cut loop pile tufts in the same carpet or tufted article.

It will be further understood by those skilled in the art that while the present invention has been described above with reference to preferred embodiments, numerous variations, modifications, and additions can be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as set forth in the following claims.