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Title:
THREE DIMENSIONAL POLYMERIC FIBER MATRIX LAYER FOR BEDDING PRODUCTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/036559
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer including a phase change material coated thereon or co-extruded therewith for use in a bedding product such as a mattress is disclosed. The phase change material is selected to provide improved cooling properties, which along with the free volume provided by the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix markedly improves temperature management when used in a bedding product.

Inventors:
CHIRACKAL KEVIN (US)
PRESTERA MACKENZIE (US)
MCGUIRE SHERI (US)
ANDERSON BRIAN (US)
Application Number:
US2018/046836
Publication Date:
February 21, 2019
Filing Date:
August 17, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SERTA SIMMONS BEDDING LLC (US)
International Classes:
D04H3/03; D04H3/07; D04H3/16
Foreign References:
US5639543A1997-06-17
EP3064627A12016-09-07
US20110281485A12011-11-17
US20050191487A12005-09-01
EP1614653A12006-01-11
US8813286B22014-08-26
US7690096B12010-04-06
Other References:
"Rauwendaal, Polymer Extrusion", 1986, HANSER PUBLISHERS, pages: 458 - 476
MEIJER ET AL.: "The Modeling of Continuous Mixers. Part 1: The Corotating Twin-Screw Extruder", POLYMER ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE, vol. 28, no. 5, March 1988 (1988-03-01), pages 282 - 284
GIBBONS ET AL.: "Modern Plastics Encyclopedia", 1986, article "Extrusion"
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAGERTY, Peter R. (US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer for a bedding product, comprising:

an extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer having a constant length, width and height dimensions, the extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber layer comprising randomly oriented polymer fibers bonded at coupling points between adjacent polymer fibers and having a free volume per unit area of the layer; and

a phase change material coated thereon or coextruded therewith.

2. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 1, wherein the phase change material is microencapsulated.

3. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 1, wherein the microencapsulated phase change material has at least a 70 percent loading by weight.

4. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 1, wherein the extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber layer is selected from the group consisting of polyesters, polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, elastomers, copolymers and its derivatives, including monofilament or bicomponent filaments having different melting points.

5. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 1, wherein the extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber layer comprises multiple zones of the polymer fibers having different densities and/or indention force deflection values.

6. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 2, wherein the phase change material is selected from the group consisting of fatty acids, waxes, and salt hydrates.

7. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 1, wherein the three dimensionally polymeric fiber matrix layer has a free volume greater than 50 percent by weight and is at a thickness between 1 inch and 6 inches.

8. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 1, wherein the preconditioned three dimensionally polymeric fiber matrix layer has an indention force deflection ranging from 5 to 25 pounds-force.

9. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 1, wherein the extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer with the PCM coated theron or coextruded therewith is pre-conditioned, wherein a portion of the coupling points and the randomly oriented polymer fibers are broken so as to change a mechanical property of the pre- conditioned three dimensionally polymeric fiber matrix layer relative to the three dimensionally polymeric fiber matrix layer without pre-conditioning.

10. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 1, wherein the one pre-conditioned three dimensionally polymeric fiber matrix layer has a height dimension that decreases relative to the three dimensionally polymeric fiber matrix layer without preconditioning.

11. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 1, wherein the preconditioned three dimensionally polymeric fiber matrix layer has a density that increases relative to the three dimensionally polymeric fiber matrix layer without pre-conditioning.

12. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 1, wherein the preconditioned three dimensionally polymeric fiber matrix layer has an indention force deflection ranging from 4 to 24.9 pounds-force.

13. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 1, wherein the preconditioned three dimensionally polymeric fiber matrix layer has an indention force deflection that decreases relative to the three dimensionally polymeric fiber layer without preconditioning.

14. A bedding product comprising the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer of claim 1.

Description:
THREE DIMENSIONAL POLYMERIC FIBER MATRIX LAYER FOR BEDDING

PRODUCTS

BACKGROUND

[0001] The present disclosure generally relates to bedding products and methods of manufacture, and more particularly, to bedding products including a three-dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer having an extruded or a coated phase change material.

[0002] One of the ongoing problems associated with all-foam mattress assemblies as well as hybrid foam mattresses (e.g., foam mattresses that include, in addition to one or more foam layers, spring coils, bladders including a fluid, and various combinations thereof) is user comfort. To address user comfort, mattresses are often fabricated with multiple layers having varying properties such as density and hardness, among others, to suit the needs of the intended user. One particular area of concern to user comfort is the level of heat buildup experienced by the user after a period of time. Additionally, some mattresses can retain a high level of moisture, further causing discomfort to the user and potentially leading to poor hygiene.

[0003] Unfortunately, the high density of foams used in current mattress assemblies, particularly those employing traditional memory foam layers that typically have fine cell structure and low airflow, generally prevents proper ventilation. As a result, the foam material can exhibit an uncomfortable level of heat to the user after a period of time.

[0004] In addition, the properties of the foam layers utilized in mattresses can change across the lifetime of owning the mattress, from the point of selecting the mattress until the mattress is eventually replaced. In particular, it has been noticed by consumers that the mattress they select when testing mattresses on the showroom floor may have a firmness that differs, at least somewhat, from the firmness of the mattress that ultimately is delivered to their home after they purchase the mattress. Commonly, the consumer finds that the mattress delivered to their home is more firm than the mattress they tested on the showroom floor. Additionally, over time the firmness of the mattress may change. As the consumer uses the mattress, the mattress may develop areas where the mattress is less firm than in other areas. Thus, over time the sleeping surface(s) of the mattress can have an inconsistent feeling, one where the firmness of the mattress varies or is perceived to vary.

[0005] Mattress manufacturers have circumvented this problem by educating the consumer about the nature of foam and informing them that they should expect the firmness of their newly purchased mattress to change over time. However, this approach fails to address the underlying reasons for the phenomenon and does not provide the consumer with a reliable estimate about how much the firmness of their new mattress is likely to change.

BRIEF SUMMARY

[0006] Disclosed herein are bedding products such as a mattress including a three- dimensional polymeric fiber matrix including a phase change material coated thereon or co- extruded therewith.

[0007] In one or more embodiments, a three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer for a bedding product includes an extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer having a constant length, width and height dimensions, the extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber layer including randomly oriented polymer fibers bonded at coupling points between adjacent polymer fibers and having a free volume per unit area of the layer; and a phase change material coated thereon or co-extruded therewith.

[0008] The disclosure may be understood more readily by reference to the following detailed description of the various features of the disclosure and the examples included therein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] Figure (FIG.) 1 schematically illustrates a partial cross sectional view of a three-dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer including a phase change material coated thereon; and

[0010] FIG. 2 schematically illustrates an exemplary mattress including a three- dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer having a PCM coating thereon.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0011] The present disclosure overcomes the problems noted in the prior art by providing a bedding product such as a mattress with one or more extruded three-dimensional polymeric matrix layers, wherein at least one of the extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layers includes a phase change material (PCM) co-extruded therewith or coated thereon to provide an extruded three-dimensional polymeric and phase change material fiber matrix layer. Phase change materials (PCM) are substances that absorb and release thermal energy when the material switches from one phase to another phase. For example, when a PCM solidifies from a liquid state, e.g., freezes, it releases a large amount of energy in the form of latent heat at a relatively constant temperature. Conversely, when such material melts from the solid state, it absorbs a large amount of heat from the environment. Advantageously, the PCM can be selected to provide improved cooling properties, which along with the free volume provided by the three dimensional fiber matrix markedly improves temperature management when used in a bedding product such as an all foam mattress.

[0012] As used in this disclosure, the term "bedding product" includes, without limitation, mattresses, pillows, mattress toppers, seat cushions and any product intended to cushion and support at least part of a person. It also includes like items made of memory foam such as that used in mattresses and pillows, such as lumbar supports, back supports, gaming chairs, ottomans, chair pads, benches and seats.

[0013] The PCM is applied as a coating on surfaces of the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix, and in some embodiments, can penetrate into the surface of the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix. In one or more embodiments, the PCM is co-extruded with the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix.

[0014] In one or more embodiments, suitable PCMs include, without limitation, microencapsulated PCMs. Any of a variety of processes known in the art may be used to microencapsulate PCMs. One of the most typical methods which may be used to microencapsulate a PCM is to disperse droplets of the molten PCM in an aqueous solution and to form walls around the droplets using techniques such as coacervation, interfacial polymerization, or in situ polymerization, all of which are well known in the art. For example, the methods are well known in the art to form gelatin capsules by coacervation, polyurethane or polyurea capsules by interfacial polymerization, and urea-formaldehyde, urea-resorcinol- formaldehyde, and melamine formaldehyde capsules by in situ polymerization. The microencapsulated PCMs can then be dispersed in a liquid vehicle such as a gel and applied to the surfaces of the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix or co-extruded therewith.

[0015] Encapsulation of the PCM creates a tiny, microscopic container for the PCM. This means that regardless of whether the PCM is in a solid state or a liquid state, the PCM will be contained. The size of the microcapsules typically range from about 1 to 100 microns and more typically from about 2 to 50 microns. The capsule size selected will depend on the application in which the microencapsulated PCM is used.

[0016] The microcapsules will typically have a relatively high payload of phase change material, typically at least 70% by weight, more typically at least 80% by weight, and in accordance with some embodiments, the microcapsules may contain more than 90% phase change material.

[0017] Gelling agents useful in the present disclosure include polysaccharides, nonionic polymers, inorganic polymers, polyanions and polycations. Examples of polysaccharides useful in the present disclosure include, but are not limited to, alginate and natural ionic polysaccharides such as chitosan, gellan gum, xanthan gum, hyaluronic acid, heparin, pectin and carrageenan. Examples of ionically crosslinkable polyanions suitable for use in the practice of the present invention include, but are not limited to, polyacrylic acid and polymethacrylic acid. Ionically crosslinkable polycations such as polyethylene imine and polylysine are also suitable for use in the present invention. A specific example of a non-ionic polymer is polyvinylalcohol. Sodium silicates are examples of useful inorganic polymers.

[0018] The gelling agents are typically provided as an aqueous solution at a concentration and viscosity sufficient to provide the desired amount of coating on the microcapsules. The technology of macroencapsulation is known to those skilled in the art as is the routine optimization of these parameters for the gelling agent.

[0019] The microencapsulated PCM can be dispersed in a liquid vehicle such as a gel and applied to the surface of the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix or co-extruded therewith. The surface application can include immersion coating, spray coating, or the like. The particular application method is not intended to be limited.

[0020] In one or more embodiments, the three dimensional PCM and polymeric fiber matrix layer is formed by extruding the desired three dimensional polymeric fibers with or without the PCM, which can include microencapsulated and/or non-micro encapsulated PCMs. For co-extrusion, granules, pellets, chips, or the like of a desired polymer along with the desired PCM are fed into an extrusion apparatus, i.e., an extruder, at an elevated temperature and pressure, which is typically greater than the melting temperature of the polymer. The particular PCM is selected to be thermally stable during the extrusion process. The polymer, in melt form, and the PCM are then co-extruded through a die, which generally is a plate including numerous spaced apart apertures of a defined diameter, wherein the placement, density, and the diameter of the apertures can be the same or different throughout the plate. When different, the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer co-extruded or coated with the PCM can be made to have different zones of density, e.g., sectional areas can have different amounts of free volume per unit area. For example, the three dimensional PCM and polymeric fiber matrix layer can include a frame-like structure, wherein the outer peripheral portion has a higher density than the inner portion; or wherein the three dimensional PCM and polymeric fiber layer has a checkerboard-like pattern, wherein each square in the checkerboard has a different density than an adjacent square; or wherein the three dimensional PCM and polymeric fiber layer has different density portions corresponding to different anticipated weight loads of a user thereof. The various structures of the extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber and PCM are not intended to be limited and can be customized for any desired application. In this manner, the firmness, i.e., indention force deflection, and/or density of the extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer and co-extruded or coated PCM can be uniform or varied depending on the die configuration, conveyor speed, and coating density, where appropriate.

[0021] The polymer (and co-extruded PCM, if present) is extruded into a cooling bath which results in entanglement and bonding of polymeric fibers through entanglement. Concurrently, the continuously extruded, cooled polymeric matrix is pulled onto a conveyor. The rate of conveyance and cooling bath temperature can be individually varied to further vary the thickness and density of the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer. Generally, the thickness of the extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer can be extruded as a full width mattress material at thicknesses ranging from about 1 to about 6 inches and can be produced to topper sizes or within roll form. However, thinner or thicker thicknesses could also be used as well as wider widths if desired. The extruded three dimensional polymeric matrix layer with co-extruded or coated PCM can have a thickness ranging from 0.5 to 5.9 inches.

[0022] Suitable extruders include, but are not limited to continuous process high shear mixers such as: industrial melt-plasticating extruders, available from a variety of manufacturers including, for example, Cincinnati-Millicron, Krupp Werner & Pfleiderer Corp., Ramsey, N.J. 07446, American Leistritz Extruder Corp.; Somerville, N.J. 08876; Berstorff Corp., Charlotte, N.C.; and Davis- Standard Div. Crompton & Knowles Corp., Paweatuck, Conn. 06379. Kneaders are available from Buss America, Inc.; Bloomington, III; and high shear mixers alternatively known as Gelimatâ„¢ available from Draiswerke G.m.b.H., Mamnheim-Waldhof, Germany; and Farrel Continuous Mixers, available from Farrel Corp., Ansonia, Conn. The screw components used for mixing, heating, compressing, and kneading operations are shown and described in Chapter 8 and pages 458-476 of Rauwendaal, Polymer Extrusion, Hanser Publishers, New York (1986); Meijer, et al., "The Modeling of Continuous Mixers. Part 1 : The Corotating Twin-Screw Extruder", Polymer Engineering and Science, vol. 28, No. 5, pp. 282-284 (March 1988); and Gibbons et al, "Extrusion", Modern Plastics Encyclopedia (1986- 1987). The knowledge necessary to select extruder barrel elements and assemble extruder screws is readily available from various extruder suppliers and is well known to those of ordinary skill in the art of fluxed polymer plastication.

[0023] The polymer in the extruded three dimensional PCM and polymeric fiber matrix layer may be formed from polyesters, polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, elastomers, copolymers and its derivatives, including monofilament or bicomponent filaments having different melting points. In one example, the polymer is an engineered polyester material. An exemplary polymer fiber structure according to this disclosure is a core polyester fibers that are sheathed in a polyester elastomer binder.

[0024] The extruded polymer fibers can be solid or hollow and have cross-sections that are circular or triangular or other cross sectional geometries, e.g. tri-lobular, channeled, and the like. Another type of polyester fiber has an entangled, spring-like structure. During manufacturing, the polymeric fiber structure is heated by extrusion to interlink the polymer fibers to one another to provide a more resilient structure. The polymer fibers may be randomly oriented or directionally oriented, depending on desired characteristics. Such processes are discussed in U.S. Pat. No. 8,813,286, entitled Tunable Spring Mattress and Method for Making the Same, the entirety of which is herein incorporated by reference.

[0025] The particular PCM is not intended to be limited and can be inorganic or organic. Suitable inorganic PCMs include salt hydrates made from natural salts with water. The chemical composition of the salts is varied in the mixture to achieve required phase- change temperature. Special nucleating agents can be added to the mixture to minimize phase- change salt separation. Suitable organic PCMs include fatty acids, waxes (e.g., paraffins) or the like.

[0026] Turning now to FIG. 1, there is depicted a three dimensional polymeric matrix layer generally designated by reference numeral 10. The three dimensional polymeric matrix layer 10 includes randomly oriented fibers 12 defining a significant number of voids 14, i.e., a relatively large amount of free volume per unit area, wherein the free volume is defined as an area not occupied by a polymer strand and is also referred to herein as voids. The three dimensional polymeric matrix layer 10 includes a plurality of bonding points 16 at points of intersection between the randomly oriented polymer fibers. At least a portion of the surfaces of the randomly oriented polymer fibers are coated with the PCM or infused with the PCM during the co-extrusion process. [0027] The free volume of the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer is generally between about 50 percent and about 95 percent. In one or more other embodiments, the free volume of the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer is between about 60 percent and about 90 percent; and in still one or more other embodiments, the free volume is between about 70 percent and about 90 percent.

[0028] The extruded polymer fibers and their characteristics are selected to provide desired tuning characteristics. One measurement of "feel" for a cushion is the indentation- force-deflection, or IFD. Indentation force-deflection is a metric used in the flexible foam manufacturing industry to assess the "firmness" of a sample of foam such as memory foam. To conduct an IFD test, a circular flat indenter with a surface area of 323 square centimeters (50 sq. inches - 8" in diameter) is pressed against a sample usually 100 mm thick and with an area of 500 mm by 500 mm (ASTM standard D3574). The sample is first placed on a flat table perforated with holes to allow the passage of air. It then compressed twice to 75% "strain", and then allowed to recover for six minutes. The force is measured 60 seconds after achieving 25% indentation with the indenter. Lower scores correspond with less firmness; higher scores with greater firmness. The IFD of the extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer with coated or co-extruded PCM tested in this manner and configured for use in a mattress has an IFD ranging from 5 to 25 pounds-force. The density of the extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer with coated or co-extruded PCM ranges from 1.5 to 6 lb/ft 3 .

[0029] FIG. 2 schematically illustrates an exemplary mattress 100 including a lower base layer 102, a three dimensional polymer fiber matrix layer including the PCM 104 coated thereon or co-extruded therewith, and at least one upper foam layer 106, wherein the three dimensional polymer fiber matrix layer 104 is intermediate to the base layer 102 and the upper foam layer 106. In alternative embodiments, the mattress can include the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer as the bottommost layer, as the topmost layer, as an intermediate layer, and combinations thereof. In still other embodiments, the mattress can include two or more three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer

[0030] Generally, the thickness of the lower base layer 102 is within a range of 4 inches to 10 inches, with a range of about 6 inches to 8 inches thickness in other embodiments, and a range of about 6 to 6.5 inches in still other embodiments. The lower base layer can be formed of open or closed cell foams, including without limitation, viscoelastic foams, latex foam, conventional polyurethane foams, and the like. [0031] The lower base layer 102 can have a density of 1 pound per cubic foot (lb/ft 3 ) to 6 lb/ft 3 . In other embodiments, the density is 1 lb/ft 3 to 5 lb/ft 3 and in still other embodiments, from 1.5 lb/ft 3 to 4 lb/ft 3 . By way of example, the density can be about 1.5 lb/ft 3 . The indention force deflection (IFD), is within a range of 20 to 40 pounds-force, wherein the hardness is measured in accordance with ASTM D-3574.

[0032] Alternatively, the lower base layer 102 can be a coil spring innercore disposed within a cavity defined by a bucket assembly, wherein the bucket assembly includes a planar base layer and side rails disposed about a perimeter of the planar base layer.

[0033] The at least one upper foam layer 106 defines a cover panel overlying the three dimensional polymeric matrix fiber layer 104. The cover panel can be formed from one or more viscoelastic foam and/or non-viscoelastic foam layers depending on the intended application. The foam itself can be of any open or closed cell foam material including without limitation, latex foams, natural latex foams, polyurethane foams, combinations thereof, and the like. The cover panel has planar top and bottom surfaces. The thickness of the cover panel is generally within a range of about 0.5 to 2 inches in some embodiments, and less than 1 inch in other embodiments so as to provide the benefits of motion separation and increased airflow from the underlying foam layer 104. As such, the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix including the PCM coating thereon or co-extruded therewith 104 is proximate to the sleeping surface such that heat transfer can occur.

[0034] The density of at least one upper foam layer 106 is within a range of 1 to 5 lb/ft 3 in some embodiments, and 2 to 4 lb/ft 3 in other embodiments. The IFD is within a range of about 10 to 20 pounds-force in some embodiments, and less than 15 pounds-force in other embodiments. In one embodiment, the cover panel is at a thickness of 0.5 inches, a density of 3.4 lb/ft 3 , and a hardness of 14 pounds-force.

[0035] The various multiple stacked mattress layers 102, 104, and 106 may be adjoined to one another using an adhesive or may be thermally bonded to one another or may be mechanically fastened to one another as may be desired for different applications.

[0036] Optionally, one or more of the layers 102, 104, and 106 can be preconditioned, wherein the layer or layers are compressed or stretched to break and/or open closed cells in the case of a foam layer or break bonds or polymer fibers in the case of the extruded three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer. Pre-conditioning can overcome the problems associated with fatigue. The three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer by itself is subject to fatigue in the shear direction such as may occur when a user rolls from side to side on the mattress including the three dimensional polymeric layer. As a result, compaction of the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer can occur as a function of use, which manifests itself over time as a change in firmness and height loss. To minimize property changes to the three dimensional polymeric matrix layer as a function of use, the three dimensional polymeric matrix layer is subjected to a pre-conditioning process that breaks the weaker bonds and/or structurally weaker fibers within the three dimensional polymer matrix layer. The preconditioning can be in accordance with the processes generally disclosed in US Pat. No. 7,690,096, incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. By way of example, the three dimensional polymeric fiber matrix layer can subjected to a mechanical force such as by application of a platen onto the three dimensional polymer fiber matrix layer so as to compress the three dimensional polymer fiber matrix layer. The amount of mechanical force applied is selected to adjust a mechanical characteristic such as the IFD of the three dimensional polymer fiber matrix layer. This change in mechanical property provides for a more consistent firmness across the full length and width of the mattress.

[0037] In certain embodiments, the three dimensional polymer fiber matrix layer may be posturized such that the three dimensional polymer fiber matrix layer is configured with a plurality of zones of varying firmness. In such embodiments, the three dimensional polymer fiber matrix layer may be posturized with selected zones having different firmness's from other zones to promote natural alignment of the S-curve of your spine by adding extra support in the lower back and under the knees or to provide varying firmness zones for partners that sleep on the same mattress including the pre-conditioned three dimensional polymer fiber matrix layer but desire different firmness. It should be apparent that the mattress may include additional layers of foam, coil springs, or the like.

[0038] This written description uses examples to disclose the invention, including the best mode, and also to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use the invention. The patentable scope of the invention is defined by the claims, and may include other examples that occur to those skilled in the art. Such other examples are intended to be within the scope of the claims if they have structural elements that do not differ from the literal language of the claims, or if they include equivalent structural elements with insubstantial differences from the literal languages of the claims.