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Patent Searching and Data

Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1997/026400
Kind Code:
Ropes made of plastic filaments are used extensively for fishing equipment such as nets and trawl bags, and it has been found that a wax impregnation of the ropes is advantageous in several respects. However, the presence of free wax on the rope surface is undesirable, and according to the invention this is avoided by moving the rope through an impregnation unit (1) comprising a warm wax bath, in such a controlled manner that the rope is only partially saturated, whereafter the rope is air heated at a temperature higher than the melting point of the wax in order for the free surface wax to penetrate into the rope surface.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
July 24, 1997
Filing Date:
January 17, 1997
Export Citation:
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A/s N.
Utzon Andersen, Stig Brog�rd
International Classes:
D07B1/14; D07B7/12; (IPC1-7): D07B7/12
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C L A I S :
1. A method of manufacturing a wax impregnated rope, characterized in that the rope is moved through a warm bath of melted wax so as to become widely impregnated with wax, whereafter the rope, in a state not fully saturated with wax, is subjected to air heating at a temperature above the melt¬ ing point of the wax during a period sufficient for the wax to be further distributed in the rope such that surplus wax at the surface of the strands of the rope is withdrawn into the strands, leaving these substantially without any exterior wax deposits.
2. A method according to claim l, in which the nonsatu¬ rated state of the rope is effected by controlling the resi dence time of the rope in the wax bath to be insufficient for a complete saturation of the rope.
3. A method according to claim l, in which the nonsatu¬ rated state of the rope is effected by squeezing the rope in a fully or widely saturated condition thereof.
4. A method according to claim 1, in which the residence time of the rope in the wax bath is less than 10 seconds.
5. A method according to claim 2, in which the residence time of the rope in the wax bath is less than 10 seconds, preferably 0.54 seconds. 6. A method according to claim l, in which the duration of the air heating is 0.
6. 590 minutes, preferably 530 min¬ utes.
7. A method according to claim 6, in which the rope is guided through a heating zone in such a manner that it is substantially free to undergo crimping.
8. A method according to claim 6, in which the rope is guided from the heating zone into and through a cooling zone for solidifying the wax, whereafter the rope passes further to a coiling station.
9. A wax impregnated rope, characterized by the combina¬ tion of being practically totally free of free wax on the surface of the rope strands and being precri ped to such an extent that its residual crimpability is less than 2%, pre¬ ferably zero or less than 0.5%.
10. A system for manufacturing a wax impregnated rope ac¬ cording to claim 9, characterized in comprising a wax bath and means for moving the rope through that bath, and an af tercoupled heater cabinet for air heating of the impregnated rope, optionally with a following cooler cabinet for cooling the rope prior to coiling thereof.

The present invention relates to a method of manufactur¬ ing wax impregnated rope. In particular for fishing equipment such as nets and trawl bags and the like it is desirable that the ropes used for the forming or binding of these objects are as ductile and handy as possible and very important that they maintain their strength and dimension during long time of use. The ropes for this purpose are normally made from artificial ma¬ terial, mostly of Nylon.

For preserving the strength and the knot stability of a rope and for making it wear resistant it is known to effect a wax treatment thereof in connection with the rope production. This also has the purpose to make the rope more ductile and handy.

Another purpose of such a treatment is to prevent that the rope, when used in water e.g. for fishing, takes up water and thus becomes heavier and more difficult to handle, while also its tensile strength decreases. Moreover, a wax treat¬ ment of the rope may prevent sand particles from entering the rope, where the sand, in use, may wear on the filaments of the rope such that the strength of the rope is reduced, re¬ sulting in rupture hazards with potential, very serious con- sequences. Also, the wax treatment will reduce the internal friction in the rope as the filaments can more easily slide on each other when the rope is stretched, slackened or bent.

Thus, for an efficient treatment of the rope it is desir¬ able to achieve an impregnation, whereby the wax is deposited between and around the filaments of the rope. It is a possi¬ bility to arrange a current waxing of the filaments or strands of which the rope is made, as these may be guided briefly through a bath with warm, liquid wax. This may result in a fine impregnation, but normally the method will imply noticeable difficulties in the rope production, where uncon- venient wax deposits are liable to occur at critical places of the machinery, while also the generally wax greasy fila¬ ments are difficult to handle in the production of the rope.

It has been found more suitable, therefore, that it is the finished rope that is subjected to the impregnation treatment. In this connection, the rope should not only be surface treated, but deep impregnated, and according to GB 1,296,339 it has even been suggested to make use of a real pressure impregnation, inasfar as it is proposed that a multi core cable to be correspondingly treated is moved through a treating chamber to which an impregnation agent is supplied under pressure. In connection with rope, however, it has not been found necessary to use such a method, because a suffi¬ cient wax intrusion may be achieved solely by passing the rope through a wax bath through a suitable distance or dura¬ tion.

In both cases, however, there will be left a noticeable wax coating on the outer surface of the rope. It is attrac¬ tive that the rope be feelable as being 'wax impregnated', but this is soon turned into a drawback if a real wax layer is exposed on the surface, even if the layer is very thin. It is possible to minimize the thickness of the layer by sub- jecting the rope to a scraping or by squeezing it between op¬ posed clamping rollers, already for reducing the wax consump¬ tion, but is has been found that even hereby it is difficult to avoid the non-desired greasy character of the rope as caused by even the slightest occurrence of free wax on the surface.

It should be considered that the wax is left in a natural condition, i.e. in a solidified, semi rigid state by the cooling after the rope passage through the warm wax bath, without any kind of further fixation of curing. It is known to use other, environmentally and operatively less attractive impregnation agents, which may be subjected to real curing, cf. US-3,424,608 and US-3,911,785, e.g. by a subsequent pas¬ sage of the impregnated rope through a heating zone. Hereby, of course, even a remaining outer layer of the impregnation agent may be caused to become non-sticky or non-greasy, but this has no bearing on the present invention, which is con¬ centrated on the use of environmentally clean and non-cur¬ able, pure wax as the impregnation agent.

By extensive tests in connection with the invention it has been found that in fact it is possible to obtain a rope surface which, after the passage of the rope through a warm wax bath, is entirely free of surplus wax, viz. in that the rope before or for that sake after a cooling following its passage through the warm wax bath is moved through a heating zone for heating of the impregnation wax to above its melting temperature. This treatment will have nothing to do with a curing of the impregnation agent, but to the contrary with a fluidization thereof, such that by an existing capillary ac¬ tion the wax will draw inwardly in the rope, partly for com¬ pletion of the interior impregnation and partly for removal of surplus wax from the outer surface. It has been found pos¬ sible to hereby achieve an ideal result with respect to the surface being liberated for free wax, yet maintaining its character of being wax impregnated.

Hereby the said operative advantages are achievable while the rope appears non-greasy and is suitable for stable knot binding in connection with fishing nets, trawl bags and the like.

It is important to notice that the running-through im¬ pregnation of the rope should be controlled in such a manner that the rope is not fully impregnated, as there will not otherwise be the required capacity for the take up of the surplus wax on the exterior surface.

Moreover, it is important to note that the application of the warm wax with its associated intensive heating of the rope filaments will present a problem which is already known in connection with any heating treatment of ropes: A heating is or may be highly desirable in order to produce a pre- crimping of the ropes, such that it will thereafter be resis¬ tant to such a crimping which would otherwise, inevitably, occur in practical use of the rope as a result of relaxation of internal stresses originating from the production of the filaments and/or the rope making. For some uses or products, e.g. for trawl bags, it is important that the rope used for making the product is generally pre-crimped so as to show a very low residual crimpability when taken in use, because

further uneven crimping, e.g. up to an extent of 10% may re¬ sult in disadvantageous wrynesses of the product. The other side of the problem is that any heating of the virgin rope will inevitably result in a reduction of the strength of the rope, the more the higher the temperature goes.

For any rope product, therefore, it should be considered whether the strength or the residual cri pability has the first priority for the intended use. In connection with the present invention it has been found possible to aim at both a very low residual crimpability of only 0-1.5% and a rela¬ tively low strength reduction, while this value is normally higher for effectively precrimped ropes.

For these combined reasons it is important that the rope should be in contact with the warm wax bath for seconds only, e.g. less than 10 seconds or even for less than one second, while the following heating in air may extend over e.g. 5-30 minutes in order to achieve the desirable wax distribution without seriously further reducing the rope strength.

Thus, it is rather critical to adjust the resident time of the rope in the wax bath in accordance with the desired properties of the final rope product, and in general this will be a matter of empirical adjustment of the process pa¬ rameters.

The degree of wax absorption and crimping can be con- trolled by the temperatures of the wax bath and the heating zone, respectively, as well as by the associated duration of the rope passage therethrough. The dimension of the rope is important, as a thick rope may well require twice the treat¬ ing time in the heating zone compared with a thin rope. A preferred wax is of the type known as micro crystalline wax, having a melting point of about 75°C. The temperature of the wax bath may be some 80-100°C or more, and normally it will be sufficient to arrange for the rope to dip through the bath rather briefly, e.g. during some 2 seconds. Thereafter, when surplus wax has been squeezed off, the rope should con¬ tinue into a heating unit with an air temperature of e.g. 120-130°C, ranging preferably between 100 and 150°C. The residence time of the rope in the heating unit is compara-

tively long, e.g. some 10 minutes, ranging generally between some 5 and 20 minutes or more. This does not mean that the rope should be moved particularly slowly, inasfar as it may be present at great length in the heating unit. In this unit the rope should be guided such that it is free to undergo the said shrinking to the desired extent.

Preferably, after the heating unit the rope should be subjected to some cooling, sufficient to make the wax solid¬ ify before a following coiling of the rope, as it may then be coiled without sticking problems.

As mentioned, the preferred wax has a melting point of about 75°C, whereby it is taken into account that the wax im¬ pregnation can be resistant to sun heating, without the turns of a rope coil left in the sun sticking together by subse- quent cooling. However, the invention is not limited to the use of wax with any particular melting point and thus not ei¬ ther to any particular temperature range of the wax bath. The bath should be at least a few degrees warmer than the melting point of the applied wax, but with a relatively cool bath the dripping time should be increased again without specific lim¬ its. On the other hand the bath temperature should of course not be hither than the degeneration temperature of the wax or so high as to cause damage to the rope.

Correspondingly, it is difficult to indicate specific limits for the dipping time and the duration and temperature of the air heating of the rope. At an elevated air tempera¬ ture the desired 'retraction' of the surface wax into the rope might be effected in half a minute, but a longer treat¬ ing time is preferred anyway, also for achieving the desired shrinkage of the rope. At a relatively low heating tempera¬ ture the rope will be treated more gently, but then a heating time of e.g. 90 minutes may be desirable.

The rope itself, when properly treated, exhibits a re¬ markable character in that even when unravelled there is no visible deposit of wax, not either on the single strands or filaments. There is a small amount of adhesion or rather 'packing together' between the finest filaments, but not be¬ tween the strands, so the rope is well suited for easy splic-

ing. Thus, it is apparent that the wax has really been drawn off from the surface of the strands, even where these touch one another, yet leaving the surface "impregnated from the inside". The surface is less glossy than normally for ropes of Nylon or the like, and it can be touched with a pleasant soft feeling ("soft hand") . In use, the smooth and compact surface will account for a low water resistance when the rope products are dragged through the water, and the rope will maintain its dimensions, with insignificant residual crimping (0-1.5%) and without swelling or otherwise increase its thickness.

In the following the invention is described in more de¬ tail with reference to the drawing, in which

Fig. l is a schematic view of a modular production system for manufacturing of wax impregnated ropes according to the invention.

Fig. 2 is a schematic view of an impregnation module,

Fig. 3 is a schematic view of a cooler cabinet module, and Fig. 4 is a schematic view of a cooler cabinet module.

According to Fig. 1, a rope 4 made by a conventional pro¬ duction system (not shown) is guided by guiding means 5 first through an impregnation module l, then through a heating ca¬ binet module 2 and finally through a cooler cabinet module 3, whereafter the rope is coiled in a non-illustrated coiling station. In each of the modules 1,2 and 3 and if required even between them the rope is guided and advanced by guiding means 5 made as wheels or cylinders. Some of them may be driving. The rate of advance can be controlled by a control unit (not shown) .

In Fig. 2 the impregnation module 1 is shown in more de¬ tail. A rope 4 enters the module in a mainly horizontal di¬ rection as shown by the arrow A, via a guiding means 5, whereafter the rope changes direction to substantially verti- cal and is moved down into an impregnation section 6 holding a wax bath 8. In this bath the rope is guided by two guiding rollers 7 which are displaceable horizontally and vertically, whereby the submerged length of the rope can be adjusted. The

rope 4 moves substantially horizontally between the rollers 7 and leaves the wax bath 8 and the unit 6 upwardly, whereafter it passes through a unit 9 for removal of surplus wax, if any, on the rope. This unit consists of two squeezing rollers 10 at opposed sides of the rope 4. The rollers 10 are pressed together with a force which is adjustable according to the amount of wax to be squeezed out of the rope. Thereafter the rope 4 leaves the impregnation module 1.

The heating cabinet module 2, Fig. 3, receives the rope 4 into a closed, insulated chamber 11 which is heated to be¬ tween 80 and 160°C. Inside this chamber 11 the rope is guided by a plurality of guiding members 5. The air is kept in con¬ stant motion by suitable agitation means, as indicated by ar¬ rows 12. Hereby a more even heat distribution in the rope 4 is obtainable.

In the cabinet 11 the rope is guided through a plurality of loops, e.g. 20-30 loops, whereby a cabinet of a reasonable size may hold a noticeable length of rope, e.g. 50-100 m. The guiding means, e.g. comprising individually rotatable carrier pulleys, should be adapted so as to allow for the relevant shrinkage of the rope, preferably amounting to some 8-15% and implying that the roap speed is somewhat lower at the outlet than at the inlet. The inlet speed may be of the magnitude 5- 25 meters per minute. From the heating unit 2 the rope continues to the cooling unit 3 which, as shown in Fig. 4, may be practically identi¬ cal with the unit 2, except for its cabinet 14 being held cooled at some 0-30°C in order to make the warm wax solidify. Also here, it is preferred to make use of air circulation as shown at 13.

As mentioned, a correct treatment of any new rope product will have to be empirically based, taking into account the desired properties with respect to shrinkage and strength. On the other hand, once suitable processing parameters have been ascertained, such parameters will then be reusable for achieving fully reproduceable results as long as the particu¬ lar rope product is not changed.

The following two comparative examples may be illustrat¬ ing:

E X A M P L E 8:

Two three strand Nylon ropes with diameters 11 and 16 mm, respectively, are subjected to an impregnation treatment ac¬ cording to the invention. The following parameters are cho¬ sen:

Rope diameter 11 mm 16 mm

Speed through wax bath 15 m/min 9 m/min Submerged rope length 200 mm 250 mm Bath temperature 100°C 100°C Residence time in bath 0.8 sec 1.7 sec Rope length in heater unit 80 80 m Temperature of heater unit 120°C 125°C Residence time in heater unit 5.3 min 8.8 min Rope length in cooler unit 80 m 80 Temperature in cooler unit 23°C 23°C Crimping 10-13% Weight increase 5% Strength reduction 10% Residual crimping 0.5%