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Title:
TOWEL WITH A LIQUID REPELLENT COATING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/055861
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A towel or wipe including a fibre web having a first face and an opposing second face. A coating of material is provided on fibres of the fibre web to form a layer at the first face. The material may be liquid repellent and/or a barrier to liquid vapour or liquids, so as to prevent the first face from becoming wet and/or preventing evaporation of liquid vapour.

Inventors:
SCHOENMAKERS, Wilbert Paulus Johanna Maria (35 St Marks Road, Henley-on-Thames Oxfordshire RG9 1LP, RG9 1LP, GB)
SMITH, Rodney Edward (Levant House, High StreetLittle Chesterford, Saffron Walden Essex CB10 1TS, CB10 1TS, GB)
PHILIPPSON, Jeffrey (72 Russet Way, Melbourn, Royston Hertfordshire SG8 6HF, SG8 6HF, GB)
FAWCUS, Philip Russell (12 St Laurence Road, Foxton Cambridgeshire CB22 6SF, CB22 6SF, GB)
KEW, Simon (20 Fairsford Place, Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB1 2QS, CB1 2QS, GB)
KINALLY, Yaan Thomas (52 Beche Road, Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB5 8HU, CB5 8HU, GB)
Application Number:
GB2016/053043
Publication Date:
April 06, 2017
Filing Date:
September 29, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PA KNOWLEDGE LIMITED (123 Buckingham Palace Road, London Greater London SW1W 9SR, SW1W 9SR, GB)
International Classes:
D06M11/77; B32B5/02; B32B29/00; C11D17/04; D06M11/45; D06M11/79; D06M11/83; D06M15/227; D06M15/244; D06M15/256; D06M15/263; D06M15/643; D21H21/16
Foreign References:
US4603069A1986-07-29
US20040118532A12004-06-24
US20120164901A12012-06-28
US20030027473A12003-02-06
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SMITH, Samuel Leonard (J A Kemp, 14 South SquareGray's Inn, London Greater London WC1R 5JJ, WC1R 5JJ, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A towel including:

a fibre web having a first face and an opposing second face;

a coating of liquid repellent material on fibres of the fibre web forming a liquid repellent layer at the first face.

2. A towel according to claim 1 wherein the coating of liquid repellent material coats fibres of the fibre web from a monolayer or 0.3 nanometres to 50 micrometres, preferably in a range from a monolayer or 0.3 nanometres to 100 nanometres, and more preferably in a range from a monolayer or 0.3 nanometres to 50 nanometres.

3. A towel according to claims 1 or 2 wherein the coating of liquid repellent material comprises one or more of polytetrafluoroethylene or other fluorohydrocarbons, or halo hydrocarbons, halogenated polymers, polyethylene, parylene, silicones, acrylates or other polymers, and may include superhydrophobic structures.

4. A towel according to claim 1 , 2 or 3 further including, inwardly of the liquid repellent layer, a coating of barrier material on fibres of the fibre web forming a barrier layer inward of the liquid repellent layer.

5. A towel according to claim 4 wherein the fibre web includes a plurality of plies of fibre material including a first ply at the first face, wherein the fibres of the first ply are coated with said coating of barrier material substantially throughout the thickness of the first ply and the fibres of the first ply at the first face have an outer coating of said liquid repellent material so as to form the liquid repellent layer at the first face.

6. A towel according to claim 4 wherein the fibre web includes a plurality of plies of material including a first ply at the first face and a second ply inward of the first ply, wherein the fibres of the first ply are coated with said coating of liquid repellent material substantially throughout the thickness of the first ply and the fibres of the second ply are coated with said coating of barrier material substantially throughout the thickness of the second ply.

7. A towel according to claim 4, 5 or 6 wherein the coating of barrier material coats the fibres of the fibre web from a monolayer or 0.3 nanometres to 50 micrometres, preferably in a range from a monolayer or 0.3 nanometres to 100 nanometres, and more preferably in a range from a monolayer or 0.3 nanometres to 50 nanometres.

8. A towel according to any one of claims 4 to 7 wherein the open space left between the fibres coated with the barrier material is in a range from 0% to 90% by volume, preferably in a range from 0% to 30% by volume, and more preferably in a range from 0% to 5% by volume, and in any case forming a substantially continuous barrier layer.

9. A towel according to any one of claims 4 to 8 wherein the coating of barrier material comprises one or more of aluminium, aluminium oxide, silicon, silicon oxide, parylene, other metals, metal oxides and other polymers.

10. A towel according to any one of claims 4 to 9 wherein the barrier layer is substantially impervious to liquid vapour and liquid, preferably a contiguous barrier layer.

11. A towel according to any one of claims 1 to 4 wherein the fibre web includes a plurality of plies of fibre material including a first ply at the first face, wherein the fibres of the first ply are coated with said coating of liquid repellent material substantially throughout the thickness of the first ply.

12. A towel according to any one of claims 1 to 11 where in the liquid repellent layer is laid down in a selective pattern to direct liquid flow or absorption.

13. A towel according to any one of claims 1 to 12 wherein the fibre web includes a layer of fibre material at the second face.

14. A towel according to claim 13 wherein the fibre material at the second face is substantially dry for absorbing liquids.

15. A towel according to claim 14 wherein the fibre web includes:

inwardly of the layer of fibre material at the second face, a coating of sealant material on fibres of the fibre web forming a sealant layer; and

inwardly of the sealant layer, a layer of liquid impregnated fibre material which is sealed between the barrier layer and the sealant layer. 16. A towel according to claim 15 wherein the sealant layer is substantially impervious to liquid in the liquid impregnated fibre material.

17. A towel according to claim 14 wherein the fibre web includes:

inwardly of the layer of fibre material at the second face, a layer of superabsorbent material containing liquid;

inwardly of the layer of superabsorbent material, a coating of sealant material on fibres of the fibre web forming a sealant layer; and

inwardly of the sealant layer, a layer of releasing agent for releasing liquid from the superabsorbent material.

18. A towel according to claim 17 wherein the sealant layer is substantially impervious to the releasing agent.

19. A towel according to claim 17 or 18 wherein the layer of superabsorbent material includes superabsorbent material coated on fibres of the fibre web.

20. A towel according to claim 17, 18 or 19 wherein the layer of releasing agent includes releasing agent dispersed between fibres of the fibre web. 21. A towel according to any one of claims 15 to 20 wherein the coating of sealant ยท material coats fibres of the fibre web from a monolayer or 0.3 nanometres to 50 micrometres, preferably in a range from a monolayer or 0.3 nanometres to 100 nanometres, and more preferably in a range from a monolayer or 0.3 nanometres to 50 nanometres.

22. A towel according to any one of claims 15 to 21 wherein the open space left between the fibres coated with the sealant material is in a range from 0% to 90% by volume, preferably in a range from 0% to 30% by volume, and more preferably in a range from 0% to 5% by volume, and in any case forming a substantially continuous sealant layer. 23. A towel according to any one of claims 15 to 22 wherein the coating of sealant material comprises one or more of aluminium, aluminium oxide, silicon, silicon oxide, parylene, other metals, metal oxides and other polymers.

24. A towel according to any one of claims 15 to 23 wherein the sealant layer is configured to rupture upon bending or other mechanical actions so as to allow liquid transfer from one side of the sealant layer to the other side of the sealant layer.

25. A towel according to claim 14 further comprising a dry layer of fibre material on the first face.

26. A towel according to claim 13 wherein the fibre material at the second face is impregnated with liquid.

27. A towel according to any preceding claim wherein the liquid is water based.

28. A towel according to any one of claims 1 to 26 wherein the liquid is oil based.

29. A towel according to any one of claims 1 to 26 wherein the liquid is alcohol based.

30. A towel according to any one of claims 1 to 26 wherein the liquid is solvent based.

Description:
TOWEL WITH A LIQUID REPELLENT COATING

The present invention relates to a towel, in particular a towel which is supplied dry for absorbing a liquid such as water or oil, or which is supplied, as a wipe, pre-impregnated with a liquid, such as a water based, oil based, alcohol or solvent based liquid.

Disposable towels having a fibre web structure are well known both for use as absorbent cloths and (when pre-impregnated with a liquid such as water, alcohol or solvents) as wet wipes. US 4,837,078 also proposes a structure having a dry absorbent face on one side and a wet face on the other.

In the field of wet wipes, there have been proposals to reduce evaporation from packs of stacked wet wipes. For example, WO 00/07490 proposes the use for anti-evaporation layers interspersed within a stack of wet wipes.

The present invention considers a new structure for a towel to be provided as an absorbent cloth or wet wipe. It allows at least a reduction in the problems with previous

arrangements and can provide significant advantages. According to the present invention, there is provided a towel including a fibre web having a first face and an opposing second face. The fibre web may include one, two or more plies. The towel may include a coating of liquid repellent (such as hydrophobic) material on fibres of the fibre web. The resulting layer of coated fibres forms a liquid repellent layer on the first face.

In this way, the first face will remain "dry" of the liquid. The towel may be supplied dry for use as an absorbent cloth. In particular, a user handles the towel by its first face and uses the second face to absorb liquids as necessary. Alternatively, the towel may be provided as a wet wipe with the second face of the fibre web pre-impregnated with a liquid, for instance for personal care, household cleaning or other applications.

Alternatively the wipe can be supplied dry and wetted by the user before use. It will be appreciated that the liquid could be water, alcohol or solvent based, with the liquid repellent layer being hydrophobic. Alternatively, the liquid could be oil based with the liquid repellent layer being lipophobic. It is also possible to use omniphobic materials for the liquid repellent layer so that the towel can be used with water, oil and/or alcohol based liquids.

As a wet wipe, the towel could be used as a baby wet wipe (to provide clean hands on the dry side), a disinfectant wet wipe, a sanitiser or anti-bacterial wet wipe, a moisturiser wipe, an engineer's wipe (for example including swarfega), toilet paper or paper tissue based products. There are also applications where the liquid may be harmful to the touch of skin, for instance a powerful solvent such as paint thinner.

The coating of liquid repellent material is preferably a nano-coating. The coating may range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 50 micrometres. In preferred embodiments, the coating thickness can be in the range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 100 nanometres. In most preferred embodiments, the coating thickness can range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 50 nanometres.

The broad range of coating thicknesses is compatible with the wide range of coating techniques described herein. The preferred range of coating thickness is compatible with Plasma, Evaporation, Sputtering and Sublimation based nanocoating methods for example. The most preferred coating thickness range is compatible with variants of the Plasma, Evaporation, Sputtering and Sublimation nanocoating methods capable of depositing particularly thin coatings, to reduce material quantities and potentially reduce coating rates and sample throughputs.

It is not necessary for the coating to form a continuous solid layer. By coating individual fibres of the fibre web, even with spaces between the fibres, the liquid will be non wetting and will "bead" and be prevented from passing through the fibre web or being absorbed into the fibre web. The coating of the liquid repellent material may comprise one or more of

polytetrafluoroethylene or other fluorohydrocarbons, halo based hydrocarbons, halogenated polymers, polyethylene, polypropylene, parylene, polyester, silicones, acrylates or other polymers.

Where the fibre material at the second face is dry, an additional layer of dry fibre material may be provided on and outwardly of the first layer, the resulting towel may thus be absorbent on both sides. However, even when both such sides have become wet the liquid repellent layer remains dry and retains structural integrity for the towel. It may be beneficial to lay down the liquid repellent layer with holes, tracks or features to allow liquid to flow between the two layers, or channel the water in a desired direction, or to a specific area, where required.

It will be appreciated that the towel having the coating of liquid repellent material may still allow vapour to traverse the liquid repellent layer.

According to the present invention, there is also provided a towel including a fibre web having a first face and an opposing second face. The towel may include a coating of barrier material on fibres of the fibre web. The resulting layer of coated fibres form a barrier layer. The barrier layer may be at the first face or inward of the first face. The barrier layer may be substantially or partially impervious to liquid vapour or liquid.

A towel having the coating of liquid repellent material on fibres of the fibre web forming a liquid repellent layer at the first face may further include, inwardly of the liquid repellent layer, a coating of barrier material on fibres of the fibre web forming a barrier layer inward of the liquid repellent layer to prevent or reduce transmission of liquid vapour and liquid and, hence, useful for wet- wipes.

The barrier layer may act as a barrier to prevent liquid vapour or the liquid moving from one side of the barrier layer to the other. The barrier layer may be particularly useful with towels already impregnated with liquid, such as wet wipes.

With a stack of such towels and the barrier layer of each towel positioned toward the open side of the stack, the barrier layer of the most outward towel acts as a barrier to prevent evaporation of the liquid from the outermost towel and other towels in the stack. Similarly with other arrangements of towels, for instance a rolled towel, having the barrier layer towards the outside prevents evaporation of liquid in the towel. The coating of barrier material coats the fibres of the fibre web. The coating may range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 50 micrometres. In preferred embodiments, the coating thickness can be in the range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 100 nanometres. In most preferred embodiments, the coating thickness can range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 50 nanometres.

The broad range of coating thicknesses is compatible with the wide range of coating techniques described herein. The preferred range of coating thickness is compatible with Plasma, Evaporation, Sputtering and Sublimation based nanocoating methods for example. The most preferred coating thickness range is compatible with variants of the Plasma, Evaporation, Sputtering and Sublimation nanocoating methods capable of depositing particularly thin coatings, to reduce material quantities and potentially reduce coating rates and sample throughputs.

In preferred embodiments, the open space left between the fibres coated with the barrier material is in a range from 0% to 90% by volume, preferably in a range from 0% to 30% by volume, and more preferably in a range from 0% to 5% by volume, and in any case forming a substantially continuous barrier layer

In this way, even though the barrier layer is not completely solid, the proportion of vacant spaces and the occurrences of interconnection of those spaces is sufficiently low as to significantly resist egress of vapour through the barrier layer. In preferred embodiments, the material structure will be made up of less than 10% free space or void. In alternative embodiments, the material structure will be made up of less than 20% free space or void. The material structure of the towel can be made up of 0% - 95% free space or void dependent on the performance requirement or application.

The coating of barrier material may comprise one or more of aluminium, aluminium oxide, silicon, silicon oxide, parylene, or other metals and metal oxides or other polymers.

Although it is possible to provide a single ply of fibre web and coat the fibres of different portions of that web as required, in some embodiments, the fibre web may be provided as a plurality of plies of fibre material. Each ply may include one of the layers extending partially through its thickness or may include a layer throughout its thickness.

Thus, in the case of a liquid repellent layer, the fibre web may include a first ply of a fibre material wherein the fibres of the first ply are coated with the coating of liquid repellent material substantially throughout the thickness of the first ply. One or more additional plies may include wet or dry fibre material or a layer of barrier material.

Similarly where a barrier layer is to be formed, the fibre web may include a barrier ply of fibre material either at the first face or inwardly of a liquid repellent ply. The fibres of the barrier ply may be coated with the coating of barrier material substantially throughout the thickness of the barrier ply.

In one arrangement, the fibre web may comprise a plurality of plies of fibre material including a fist ply at the first face and a second ply inwardly of the first ply wherein the fibres of the first ply are coated with the coating of liquid repellent material substantially throughout the thickness of the first ply and the fibres of the second ply are coated with the coating of barrier material substantially throughout the thickness of the second ply. It is also possible for barrier material and liquid repellent material to be formed as part of the same ply. For example, the fibre web may include a first ply of fibre material, wherein the fibres of the first ply are coated with the coating of barrier material substantially throughout the thickness of the first ply and the fibres of the first ply at the first face have an outer coating of the liquid repellent material to form the liquid repellent layer at the first face. As another example, the fibre web may include a first ply of fibre material, wherein the fibres of the first ply are coated with the coating of liquid repellent material substantially throughout the thickness of the first ply and the fibres of the first ply at the second face have an outer coating of the barrier material to form a barrier layer at the second face. As noted above, the fibre web may include a layer of fibre material at the second face and this fibre material may be dry.

In another arrangement, the fibre web may include, inwardly of the layer of fibre material at the second face, a coating of sealant material on fibres of the fibre web forming a sealant layer. The fibre web may additionally include a layer of liquid impregnated fibre material inwardly of the sealant layer.

The sealant material may be similar or identical to the barrier material discussed above. The sealant layer may be at least substantially impervious to the liquid impregnated in the fibre material so as to hold the liquid in that fibre material. It may additionally be substantially impervious to liquid vapour so as substantially to prevent evaporation from the liquid impregnated fibre material. The coating of sealant material may coat fibres of the fibre web. The coating may range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 50 micrometres. In preferred embodiments, the coating thickness can be in the range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 100 nanometres. In most preferred embodiments, the coating thickness can range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 50 nanometres.

The broad range of coating thicknesses is compatible with the wide range of coating techniques described herein. The preferred range of coating thickness is compatible with Plasma, Evaporation, Sputtering and Sublimation based nanocoating methods for example. The most preferred coating thickness range is compatible with variants of the Plasma, Evaporation, Sputtering and Sublimation nanocoating methods capable of depositing particularly thin coatings, to reduce material quantities and potentially reduce coating rates and sample throughputs.

In preferred embodiments, the open space left between the fibres coated with the sealant material is in a range from 0% to 90% by volume, preferably in a range from 0% to 30% by volume, and more preferably in a range from 0% to 5% by volume, and in any case forming a substantially continuous sealant layer.

In preferred embodiments, the material structure will be made up of less than 10% free space or void. In alternative embodiments, the material structure will be made up of less than 20% free space or void. The material structure of the towel can be made up of 0% - 95% free space or void dependent on the performance requirement or application.

The coating of sealant material may comprise one or more of aluminium, aluminium oxide, silicon, silicon oxide, parylene, or other metals and metal oxides or other polymers.

The sealant layer is configured to enable rupturing on bending so as to allow liquid transfer from one side of the sealant layer to the other.

Thus, with the arrangement as defined above, as supplied, inwardly of the sealant layer, a layer of liquid is held within the liquid impregnated fibre material. This layer may be held on the other side by one or both of the liquid repellent layer and barrier layer discussed above. Upon bending the towel, more particularly perhaps scrunching the towel up in a user's hand, liquid in the layer of liquid impregnated fibre material is caused to cross the sealant layer into the layer of fibre material at the second face. In this way, the layer of fibre material at the second face becomes wet with the liquid and becomes available for use by the user.

An arrangement is provided whereby liquid can be stored within a towel for a long period of time without loss due to evaporation. In an alternative arrangement, the fibre web may include, inwardly of the layer of fibre material at the second face, a layer of superabsorbent material. The fibre web may include, inwardly of the layer of superabsorbent material, a coating of sealant material on fibres of the fibre web. The resulting layer of coated fibres form a sealant layer. The fibre web may also include, inwardly of the sealant layer, a layer of the releasing agent for the

superabsorbent material.

In a further alternative arrangement, the fibre web may include, inwardly of the layer of fibre material at the second face, a layer of releasing agent for a superabsorbent material. The fibre web may include, inwardly of the layer of releasing agent, a coating of sealant material on fibres of the fibre web. The resulting layer of coated fibres form a sealant layer. The fibre web may also include, inwardly of the sealant layer, a layer of the said superabsorbent material.

The sealant layer may be constructed from sealant material in the same manner as defined above.

The sealant layer may be configured to rupture upon bending so as to allow transfer and mixing between the layer of superabsorbent material and the layer of releasing agent.

The coating of sealant material may coat fibres of the fibre web. The coating may range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 50 micrometres. In preferred embodiments, the coating thickness can be in the range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 100 nanometres. In most preferred embodiments, the coating thickness can range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 50 nanometres.

The broad range of coating thicknesses is compatible with the wide range of coating techniques described herein. The preferred range of coating thickness is compatible with Plasma, Evaporation, Sputtering and Sublimation based nanocoating methods for example. The most preferred coating thickness range is compatible with variants of the Plasma, Evaporation, Sputtering and Sublimation nanocoating methods capable of depositing particularly thin coatings, to reduce material quantities and potentially reduce coating rates and sample throughputs.

In preferred embodiments, the open space left between the fibres coated with the sealant material is in a range from 0% to 90% by volume, preferably in a range from 0% to 30% by volume, and more preferably in a range from 0% to 5% by volume, and in any case forming a substantially continuous sealant layer.

In preferred embodiments, the material structure will be made up of less than 10% free space or void. In alternative embodiments, the material structure will be made up of less than 20% free space or void. The material structure of the towel can be made up of 0% - 95% free space or void dependent on the performance requirement or application.

The coating of sealant material may comprise one or more of aluminium, aluminium oxide, silicon, silicon oxide, parylene, or other metals and metal oxides or other polymers.

The layer of superabsorbent material may include superabsorbent material coated on fibres of the fibre web. The layer of releasing agent may include releasing agent dispersed in the fibres of the fibre web.

By bending the towel, perhaps by scrunching the towel in a user's hand, the superabsorbent material and the releasing agent are brought into contact. The superabsorbent material may have been pre-impregnated with liquid which is released by the releasing agent and is able to pass into the layer of fibre material at the second face for use by the user.

Hence, this arrangement also provides for a towel which stores liquid within the towel until required for use. Because the liquid is locked within the superabsorbent material, liquid is not lost by evaporation or the evaporation rate is reduced. The superabsorbent material may be a superslurper, a hydrogel, a superabsorbent polymer, a water lock or a hydrocolloid. Releasing agents include salt, or other inorganic and organic salts or materials. The invention will be more clearly understood from the following description, given by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figures 1(a), (b) and (c) illustrate schematically arrangements of dry and wet towels; Figures 2(a), (b) and (c) illustrate arrangements for packaging towels as stacks;

Figures 3(a), (b) and (c) illustrate arrangements for packaging towels as a roll;

Figure 4 illustrates a towel arrangement having a barrier layer;

Figure 5 illustrates a towel arrangement having a liquid repellent layer and a barrier layer; Figures 6(a), (b), (c) and (d) illustrate arrangements for stacking towels or wipes;

Figure 7 illustrates a towel structure containing liquid;

Figures 8(a), (b), (c) and (d) illustrate arrangements for stacking towels such as illustrated in Figure 7; and

Figure 9 illustrates the structure of a towel for locking liquid therein. The present invention may be embodied in many different ways.

Figures 1(a) and (b) illustrate schematically a first arrangement for the layered structure of a towel 10. The towel comprises fibre material of any known structure suitable for one or both of holding and absorbing liquid. At a first face 12, there is provided a liquid repellent layer 14 and, at an opposite second face 16, the fibre material 18 is available for use.

As illustrated in Figure 1(a), the fibre material is provided to the user dry. However, as illustrated in Figure 1(b) the fibre material may be pre-impregnated with a liquid 20, most usually water, alcohol or solvent based. The liquid repellent layer 14 is preferably a coating of liquid repellent material on fibres of the fibre web of the towel 10. This coating forms the liquid repellent layer 14 at the first face 12. The repellent coating may range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 50 micrometres. In preferred embodiments, the coating thickness can be in the range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 100 nanometres. In most preferred embodiments, the coating thickness can range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 50 nanometres.

The broad range of coating thicknesses is compatible with the wide range of coating techniques described herein. The preferred range of coating thickness is compatible with Plasma, Evaporation, Sputtering and Sublimation based nanocoating methods for example. The most preferred coating thickness range is compatible with variants of the Plasma, Evaporation, Sputtering and Sublimation nanocoating methods capable of depositing particularly thin coatings, to reduce material quantities and potentially reduce coating rates and sample throughputs. It is preferably a nano-coating which may be hydrophobic, lipophobic or omniphobic. Methods of application may include plasma polymerisation, plasma coating, evaporative coating, sublimation, spray coating, vapour deposition, plasma surface activation, and printing. In one arrangement, the towel 10 is provided as a multi-ply structure. The liquid repellent layer 14 may be provided in its own respective ply and extend throughout the thickness of that ply. The ply forming the liquid repellent layer 14 may then be adhered/attached to a ply of fibre material in any known manner. Alternatively, it is possible to apply the liquid repellent material 14 to only a given thickness/depth within the fibre material of the fibre web forming the towel 10.

Techniques of applications include cast film extrusion, glancing angle spray coating, glancing angle vapour deposition and vapour deposition on a saturated fibre web.

In preferred embodiments, the hydrophobic coating can be applied using plasma deposition, plasma polymerisation, plasma torch, plasma activation, evaporation, fine spraying, condensation or sublimation methods. In alternative embodiments, the hydrophobic coating can be applied by spraying a polymer based dispersion, liquid spraying, dipping processes, hot melt, chemical vapour deposition (CVD), vapour deposited polymer, spin-on coating, cast film extrusion and sputtering methods.

Even though the liquid repellent layer may allow water vapour to pass therethrough, this may not be of significance for dry towelling used for its absorbent properties, for instance as a kitchen towel. In particular, use of the liquid repellent layer will be sufficient to keep the dry side of the towel remaining dry even when the towel is used to absorb liquid into its previously dry fibre web side.

As illustrated in Figure 1(c), an additional diy layer 22 of fibre material may be provided on the first face 12 of the fibre web. With dry fibre web material on both sides of the liquid repellent layer 14, both sides of the towel 10 can be used for its absorbent properties. Of course, by using both sides, there is no longer a dry side. However, the coating of liquid repellent material forming the liquid repellent layer 14 maintains the structural integrity of the fibre web upon which the liquid repellent material is coated. As a result, in contrast to many prior art examples, the towel 10 will retain its structural integrity even when wet, enhancing its wet strength considerably. Selected areas of the towel can be coated with the liquid repellent layer so as to provide structural integrity, acting as a coated spine, grid, pattern or form of structural reinforcement.

The towels 10 may be provided in a known manner, for instance as individual flat sheets, as individual sheets taking a three dimensional shape, such as a conical shape or as a roll of cheating, perhaps divided by serrations.

In dry form, the arrangement has particular application as a kitchen towel or toilet paper/wipe. The liquid repellent layer provides a surface which will remain dry to a user and, hence, help the user to keep a clean hand. Furthermore, many known fibre materials used for absorbent fibre webs will lose strength once wet and disintegrate. By virtue of the liquid repellent layer 14, a portion of the towel always remains diy and maintains its initial strength. Hence, this arrangement has additional strength and is less prone to

disintegrating during use.

When supplied wet according to Figure 1(b), the towel may have application for baby wet wipes, disinfectant wet wipes, sanitiser wet wipes/antibacterial, moisturiser wipes, engineers wipes (swarfega), toilet paper/wipe, tissue paper etc. The arrangement is advantageous in that the first face 12 formed by the liquid repellent layer 14 remains dry. In this way, the user's hand remains dry and clean. The user's hand may also be protected from components in the liquid, for instance cleaning products that are harmful on contact with skin or unpleasant substances being removed from a surface during cleaning.

As with the dry form illustrated in Figure 1(a), the wet form illustrated in Figure 1(b) may be provided in many different manners. Figures 2(a), (b) and (c) illustrate an arrangement in which towels 10 are stacked inside an outer packaging 30. The outer packaging 30 may be provide with a perimeter seal 32 around an opening through which individual towels 10 protrude sequentially. The perimeter seal 32 around the opening acts to keep moisture within the packaging 30. The towels 10 may be arranged with dispensing tabs 34 which are dry (have liquid repellent layer) on both sides so that a user may withdraw a towel 10 from the packaging without contacting the wet fibre material.

In the arrangement of Figures 3(a), (b) and (c), the towels 10 may be provided as a rolled sheet 36, for instance with perforations to separate the individual towels 10. According to the arrangement of Figure 3(a), the roll 36 is provided in a sealed box or tube 38 that remains static on unrolling. As with the packaging 30 of Figure 2(b), a perimeter seal 32 may be provided around the opening for the individual towels 10.

Figures 3(b) and (c) provide a roll 36 which need not be housed in external packaging. A weld 40 is provided around the perimeter of each individual towel/sheet 10 so as to retain moisture on its wet side. The dry side, namely that formed with the liquid repellent layer 14 is provided on the outer surface of the roll 36 and, hence, liquid is retained within the roll 36.

As illustrated, the weld can also provide for a tab 42 which is dry on both sides.

Although the liquid repellent layer 14 discussed above repels liquid and, hence remains dry, it need not necessarily be a strong barrier to vapour. In particular, it is possible to form an effective liquid repellent layer 14 with only a thin coating of liquid repellent material 14 on fibres of the fibre web whilst still allowing significant openings in the original fibre web structure through which vapour may escape.

Figure 4 illustrates an arrangement equivalent to that of Figure 1(b) in which a barrier layer 50 is formed in place of the liquid repellent layer. The barrier layer 50 may be formed from a barrier material. The barrier layer may be formed from a barrier material such as one or more of aluminium, aluminium oxide, silicon, silicon oxide, parylene, or other metals and metal oxides or other polymers in a crystalline, polycrystalline, amorphous or non ordered structure. The barrier coating may range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 50 micrometres. In preferred embodiments, the coating thickness can be in the range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 100 nanometres. In most preferred embodiments, the coating thickness can range from a monolayer or 0.3nm to 50 nanometres.

The broad range of coating thicknesses is compatible with the wide range of coating techniques described herein. The preferred range of coating thickness is compatible with Plasma, Evaporation, Sputtering and Sublimation based nanocoating methods for example. The most preferred coating thickness range is compatible with variants of the Plasma, Evaporation, Sputtering and Sublimation nanocoating methods capable of depositing particularly thin coatings, to reduce material quantities and potentially reduce coating rates and sample throughputs. In preferred embodiments, the barrier or sealant coating may be applied using plasma assisted coating, reactive thermal evaporation, thermal evaporation or other evaporative based methods. In alternative embodiments, the barrier or sealant coating can be applied by sputtering, sublimation, chemical vapour deposition (CVD), vapour phase deposition, thermal spraying, metal spraying, powder coating, liquid spraying, metallisation, galvanisation, paint based coating or dipping processes. Use of such a barrier layer 50 will have particular advantages for stacked towels 10 containing liquid, because the outermost barrier layer 50 will resist evaporation of the liquid through that barrier layer 50. Hence, the stack or pack of towels 10 will remain wet.

In practice, it is expected that many suitable barrier materials will not withstand deformation of the towel 10 without fracturing the layer 50 in some way. Once fractured, not only will the vapour pass through the barrier layer 50, but liquid may also. Removing and using a towel 10 is likely to cause fracture of the barrier layer 50. In most cases, once a towel 10 is being used, evaporation of the liquid is no longer an issue. Also, in many cases, the fact that the first face 12 becomes wet with the contained liquid may similarly not be an issue. However, according to the arrangement illustrated in Figure 5, it becomes possible to retain the advantages of a dry first face 12.

As illustrated in Figure 5, this structure of towel 10 includes a barrier layer 50 between the liquid repellent layer 14 and the fibre material 18.

Whilst stacked, the barrier layer 50 remains intact and resists evaporation of the liquid 20 from the fibre material 18. However, when the towel 10 is removed from its stack and the barrier layer 50 perhaps becomes damaged, the liquid repellent layer 14 still prevents the liquid 20 from migrating to the first face 12 of the towel 10 such that the first face remains dry.

Figure 6(a), (b), (c) and (d) illustrates examples of packaging such towels 10. Unlike previous packaging, it is not necessary to provide a seal and the packaging may be open. Figures 6(a) and (b) illustrate an arrangement in which each individual towel 10 is welded with a central rib 52 to be used by a user for removing of a towel 10 from the pack 53. The hand of the user need only ever touch the dry side of the towel 10. Figure 6(c) illustrates a simple flat stack of towels accessible at an edge. It will be appreciated that migration of liquid and evaporation from the edge will be relatively small. Where this is considered at all to be an issue, it is possible to provide dividing walls across the thickness of individual towels 10, for example as a honeycomb structure, to resist liquid migration and evaporation in a planar direction of the towels 10.

Figure 6(d) illustrates a stack of towels arranged as cones. A spring 54 may be provided at the bottom of the outer casing 56 with a top gasket o-ring seal 58 engaging with the dry side 12 of the outermost conical towel 10.

In the arrangement of Figure 7, the layer 18 of fibre material at the second face is provided dry. Inwardly of that the layer 18 is another barrier layer 60, also described as a sealing layer, and inwardly of that barrier/sealing layer 60 is a layer 62 of fibre material pre- impregnated with liquid.

As noted above, the barrier layer formed by the barrier material can fracture with deflection of the towel. According to the arrangement of Figure 7, the barrier/sealing layer 60 is configured to have such a property.

As supplied, a towel with intact barrier layer 50 and barrier/sealing layer 60 holds liquid in the layer of fibre material 62 and substantially prevents evaporation of that liquid from the layer 62. Upon using the towel 10, at least the barrier/sealing layer 60 will fracture allowing the liquid in the layer 62 to pass into the layer 18 of fibre material at the second face 16. A user may be encouraged to promote this process by deforming the towel 10, for instance scrunching the towel 10 in his/her hand.

Thus, according to the arrangement of Figure 7, individual towels 10 seal liquid within them until use. Open packs may be provided with long life for the product. Migration of liquid and vapour from the edges of the towels 10 will be limited. However, if necessary, towels 10 may be provided with sealed edges or walls provided internally of the structure to limit such migration. Figures 8(a), (b), (c) and (d) illustrate how such towels 10 may be provided and used.

As illustrated in Figures 8(a) and (b), towels 10 may be stacked with a fold 70 to facilitate withdrawal and subsequent scrunching as illustrated in Figure 8(c). A foil layer may be included outwardly of the liquid repellent layer as an additional barrier layer and to facilitate dispensing. Towels 10 may similarly be stacked as cones as illustrated in Figure 8(d). According to the arrangement of Figure 9, rather than store the liquid directly between the fibres of the fibre material, a layer 80 of superabsorbent material is provided inward of the layer 18 of fibre material at the second face 16.

Inward of the layer 80 of superabsorbent material is a barrier/sealing layer 60 and inward of the barrier/sealing layer 60 is a layer 82 of releasing agent. The superabsorbent material in the layer 80 is already activated with liquid, for instance water. The releasing agent in the layer 82 causes the superabsorbent material 80 to release the liquid which may then be absorbed into the layer 18 of fibre material at the second face 16. In this arrangement, because the liquid is locked in the superabsorbent material, there may not be a need for a barrier layer beneath the liquid repellent layer 14 to prevent egress of water vapour. In this arrangement, a barrier/sealing layer 60 is provided between the superabsorbent material of the layer 80 and the releasing agent of the layer 82. The barrier/sealing layer 60 is configured to fracture with deformation of the towel 10 so that the releasing agent comes into contact with the superabsorbent material and the liquid becomes unlocked and passes into the layer 18 of fibre material at the second face 16. With arrangements where it is acceptable for the first face to become wet, it is also possible to dispense with the liquid repellent layer 14 in the structure. The superabsorbent material may be coated on fibres of the fibre web forming the towel. The superabsorbent material may include one or more of sodium polyacrylate, polyacrylamide copolymer, ethylene maleic anhydride copolymer, cross-linked carboxymethylcellulose, polyvinyl alcohol copolymer, cross-linked polyethylene oxide, polyacrylonitrile, hydrogels, or other such superabsorbent materials.

In an alternative embodiment, the locations of the superabsorbent material layer and the release agent layer may be exchanged, still separated by the barrier layer.

The releasing agent may be dispersed within and between the fibres of the fibre web.

Controlling Moisture Content, Water Evaporation and Permeation

Controlling the moisture composition and reducing water, alcohol or solvent liquid and gaseous based permeation processes is important for some wet wipe and towel products. This can be accomplished by using a variety of means including using repellent

(hydrophobic) coatings and barrier coatings, as well as controlling the porosity of the material or paper substrate material. These techniques can be applied individually but in preferred embodiments, they are applied as a combination of two or more of these approaches. The repellent and barrier coatings can be applied as single layers, multiple layers, layers laminated together or multiple laminates. In addition, the coatings can be applied as mixed layers, fused layers or graded layers. The structure can be made up of material or paper exhibiting different porosities which may include low porosity material or paper to act as a barrier for water, alcohol or solvent liquid or gaseous permeation, as well as paper or material which has higher porosity to enable absorption, evaporation or permeation of water, alcohol or solvent liquids or gases.

In addition, other physical and material approaches may be applied to control moisture content and reduce liquid and gaseous based permeation processes, used in conjunction with repellent coatings, barrier coatings and material or paper porosity. These include using adhesives, heat sealing, welding, hot melt, polymer coating, chemical deposition, plasma processing, dip coating or compression processes. Ways of Enhancing the Performance of the Repellent and Barrier Properties

The performance of the repellent coatings and barrier coatings can be enhanced by optimising the physical properties of the coating and controlling parameters in the coating or deposition methods. Performance of the coatings can be improved by increasing coating thicknesses, increasing coating continuity and evenness, increasing the density of the coating material, reducing cracks and defects, modifying the molecular weight of polymer materials, optimising granularity and crystallinity, optimising coating adhesion and sticking, and enhancing coating abrasion resistance and durability. Many of these features can be enhanced by controlling the parameters in the deposition or coating method. For example for depositing repellent coatings by plasma polymerisation the coating thickness, continuity and evenness, occurrence of defect features, molecular weight of the polymer, adhesion and abrasion resistance can all be optimised by controlling the composition and characteristics of the chamber plasma used to deposit the coatings.

In addition the performance of the repellent, barrier and sealant coatings can be enhanced by applying enabling techniques conducted both pre and post coating to improve coating performance. These techniques may include processes for activating or roughening the surface of the material or paper prior to coating so as to improve for example coating continuity, adhesion and abrasion resistance. Pre-processing plasma activation and etching techniques can be particularly beneficial in enhancing coating processes.

Selected Area Coating of Towel and Wet Wipe Products Selected areas of the wet wipe or towel product can be coated with the repellent, barrier and sealant coatings so as to provide differential performance properties, including controlling moisture content, liquid based absorption, liquid egress or gaseous or vapour evaporation. This can be achieved by selected area deposition, masking or folding the material or paper as part of the deposition process. The material or paper can be folded and introduced into the coating method so as to coat only the uppermost surfaces. By using folded, fluted, fanned, conical and other physical forms, a variety of coating patterns can be achieved. This is of particular value for towel and wipe products to maintain some non- wetting areas or structures which enhance the wet strength of the product, whilst still presenting other surface areas of high absorbency. Areas or lines of non- wetting material may be used as barriers to prevent transmission of liquid between different regions of the wet wipe or towel product. In one embodiment, this could be used to reduce replacement of evaporated liquid adjacent to the edges of the wet wipe or towel product and hence reduce the overall evaporation rate. In other embodiments, this could be used to keep different liquid separate in different regions of the wet wipe or towel product.

Shape of Wet Wipe or Towel Product

The repellent and barrier coatings can be applied to a wide range of wet wipe and towel products including flat sheets, multi-ply sheets, folded sheets, conical or other 3-D physical forms. Sealing the Edges or Sides of the Towel or Wet Wipe

The edges or sides of the towel or wet wipe can also be sealed by a variety of means to reduce evaporation of water, alcohol or solvent. Examples of methods that may be used include sealing edges or sides by adhesives, heat sealing, welding, hot melt, polymer coating, chemical deposition, plasma processing, dip coating or compression processes.

Incorporating Additional Active Components into the Towel or Wet Wipe

In addition, it is possible to incorporate additional active components, including chemical additives, into the repellent, barrier or sealant coatings or incorporated between these coating layers, in order to enable releasing these components on active wiping or use. This has the advantage that active chemical cleaners, fragrances, wetting agents, two part formulations and other chemical components can effectively be protected, entrained or encapsulated in or between these layers and then effectively actuated or released by wiping or the addition of water, alcohol or solvents.