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Title:
A PACKAGE OF PROTECTIVE MASKS, A METHOD AND A MACHINE FOR THE PRODUCTION THEREOF
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/198156
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The protective masks (1) are produced by perforating a continuous web material. To this end, each protective mask can be separated from the other masks along perforation lines (1.3), and then wound into a roll. The protective masks have transverse perforation lines (1.4) which are opened at the time of use to form openings into which the ears can be inserted and thus secure the protective mask to the face.

Inventors:
MAZZACCHERINI GRAZIANO (IT)
MORELLI ROBERTO (IT)
MADDALENI ROMANO (IT)
GALOPPINI MATTEO (IT)
PIERONI RICCARDO (IT)
Application Number:
PCT/EP2021/058111
Publication Date:
October 07, 2021
Filing Date:
March 29, 2021
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
PERINI FABIO SPA (IT)
International Classes:
A41D13/11; B65H18/28; B65H35/02; B65H35/04
Domestic Patent References:
WO2014026037A12014-02-13
Foreign References:
US20110114690A12011-05-19
KR101973087B12019-08-16
EP3174819A12017-06-07
EP2539259A12013-01-02
EP2678257A12014-01-01
EP0635444A21995-01-25
EP2032488A22009-03-11
EP2694414A12014-02-12
EP2655227A12013-10-30
EP1888440A12008-02-20
US3116890A1964-01-07
EP0785157A21997-07-23
EP0994820A12000-04-26
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MANNUCCI, Michele et al. (IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A package of protective masks comprising a plurality of protective masks each consisting of a portion made of a web material, wherein the protective masks are joined to each other along respective main perforation lines, to form a con tinuous web material.

2. The package of claim 1, wherein the protective masks forming the continuous web material are wound in a roll.

3. The package of claim 1 or 2, wherein each protective mask consists of a substantially rectangular portion of web material, with two larger sides and two smaller sides, and wherein each protective mask has at least one first opening line in the vicinity of a first smaller side and at least one second opening line in the vicinity of a second smaller side.

4. The package of claim 3, wherein each protective mask consists of a substantially rectangular portion made of web material, with two larger sides and two smaller sides, and wherein each protective mask has a plurality of first opening lines in the vicinity of a first smaller side and a plurality of opening lines in the vicinity of a second smaller side.

5. The package of claim 3 or 4, wherein the opening lines are approxi mately parallel to the first smaller side and to the second smaller side.

6. The package of one or more of claims 3 to 5, wherein each opening line consists of a secondary perforation line.

7. The package of one or more of claims 3 to 6, wherein the main per foration lines define the smaller sides or larger sides of each protective mask.

8. The package of one or more of the preceding claims, wherein the web material comprises a non-woven fabric, or tissue paper, or it integrally consists of tissue paper.

9. A method for the production of protective masks, comprising the following steps: supplying a continuous web material along an advancement path, toward forming unit; dividing the web material into a plurality of portions by means of main perforation lines, approximately transverse with respect to a direction for the advancement of the web material along the advancement path; the main perfo ration lines separating the consecutive protective masks from each other; packaging the protective masks joined to each other along the main per foration lines in a package.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein the forming unit is a winding unit and wherein the step of packaging the protective masks comprises the step of winding the protective masks into a roll form.

11. The method of claim 10, further comprising the step of cutting the roll into individual rolls by means of cuts approximately orthogonal to the axis of the roll, each roll consisting of a row of consecutive protective masks, j oined to each other along the main perforation lines and each defined by two consecutive main perforation lines and two consecutive cutting lines; or cutting the web material into strips upstream of the winding unit, each strip being wound into a roll, each roll consisting of a row of consecutive protective masks, joined to each other along the main perforation lines and each defined by two consecutive main perforation lines and two consecutive cutting lines.

12. The method of claim 10 or 11, wherein the step of winding the masks into a roll comprises the step of winding the masks in a peripheral winding unit com prising peripheral winding members, in particular winding rollers.

13. The method of one or more of claims 9 to 12, wherein each protec tive mask is approximately rectangular-shaped with two larger sides and two smaller sides, and wherein the method further comprises the step of forming at least one first opening line in the vicinity of a first smaller side and at least one second opening line in the vicinity of a second smaller side.

14. The method of one or more of claims 9 to 12, wherein each protec tive mask has an approximately rectangular shape with two larger sides and two smaller sides, and wherein the method further comprises the step of forming a plurality of first opening lines in the vicinity of a first smaller side and a plurality of second opening lines in the vicinity of a second smaller side.

15. The method of claim 13 or 14, wherein the opening lines are approx imately parallel to the first smaller side and to the second smaller side.

16. The method of one or more of claims 12 to 15, wherein the opening line consist of secondary perforation lines of the web material.

17. The method of one or more of claims 12 to 16, wherein the main perforation lines define the smaller sides or larger sides of each protective mask.

18. The method of one or more of claims 9 to 17, wherein the step of winding the protective masks comprises the step of winding the protective masks in a peripheral winding cradle or on a central winding spindle.

19. A machine for producing protective masks, comprising: a path for the advancement of a web material; a packaging unit adapted to gather the web mate rial into a package; along the advancement path, a perforator for dividing the web ma terial into a plurality of portions by means of main perforation lines, transversal to the advancement direction, pairs of main perforation lines separating consecutive protec tive masks.

20. The machine of claim 19, wherein the packaging unit is a winding unit adapted to wind the web material into rolls.

21. The machine of claim 20, wherein the winding unit comprises pe ripheral winding members and/or central winding members.

22. The machine of claim 19 or 20 or 21, wherein the perforator is adapted to form approximately rectangular-shaped portions of web material, with two larger sides and two smaller sides; and wherein arranged along the advancement path is a device adapted to obtain at least one first opening line in the vicinity of a first smaller side and at least one second opening line in the vicinity of a second smaller side of each protective mask.

23. The machine of claim 19 or 20 or 21, wherein the perforator is adapted to form approximately rectangular-shaped portions of web material, with two larger sides and two smaller sides; and wherein arranged along the advancement path is a device adapted to obtain a plurality of first opening lines in the vicinity of a first smaller side and a plurality of second opening lines in the vicinity of a second smaller side.

24. The machine of claim 22 or 23, wherein said device is adapted to obtain opening lines approximately parallel to the first smaller side and to the second smaller side.

25. The machine of claim 22 to 24, wherein the device is adapted to form secondary perforation lines defining said opening lines.

26. The machine of one or more of claims 22 to 25, wherein the device is adapted to form opening lines transversal to the direction for the advancement of the web material along the advancement path, or approximately parallel to the direction of advancement of the web material along the advancement path.

Description:
A package of protective masks, a method and a machine for the production thereof

DESCRIPTION

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present invention relates to the production of personal protective equip- ment. In particular, herein disclosed are methods and machines for the production of protective masks, as well as packages of, mainly disposable, protective masks

BACKGROUND ART

[0002] Protective masks are used in many situations in which guaranteeing a given level of personal safety is required, avoiding or reducing the risk of infection or con- tamination. Typically, protective masks are used massively in the medical field, as a surgical device, as a means of protecting the patient from infections that can be carried by medical or paramedical staff during surgery in the operating theatre. Protective masks are also used to protect medical and paramedical staff in health and hospital facilities, on emergency vehicles. Protective masks are also used by potentially in- fected subjects who may carry pathogens, such as bacteria, microbes or viruses, dis persing them into the surrounding environment.

[0003] Disposable protective masks must be replaced quite frequently and they lose or greatly reduce the effectiveness thereof if used multiple times, for example after sanitising between uses. [0004] The current systems for producing protective masks, especially disposable masks, have limited production rates, which may be insufficient especially in health emergency situations, for example in the case of widespread epidemics or pandemics.

[0005] It would therefore be useful to provide machines and methods capable of pro ducing protective masks, in particular disposable protective masks, at low cost and with very high production rate.

SUMMARY

[0006] According to a first aspect, herein provided for is a new form of packaging of protective masks, especially disposable protective masks, is provided, made of web material, for example consisting of a single layer or of multiple layers of suitable ma terials, made of non-woven fabric, for instance.

[0007] In some embodiments, if multiple layers are used, they may be made of ma terials that are identical or different from each other, for example in order to obtain particular barrier effects.

[0008] According to embodiments disclosed herein, a package of protective masks is provided, in which a plurality of protective masks consisting of a single or multi layer web material are joined together along respective perforation lines, so as to be wound into a roll or in any case packaged in multiple packages where the individual masks are joined together and separable by tearing.

[0009] The individual protective masks can be removed from the package by tearing them along the perforation line.

[0010] Especially if in the form of a roll, the package is practical to use, easy to pack and suitable to be protected over a long time, for example in a container with a dis pensing opening, from which the individual protective masks can be pulled out one by one. For example, the protective masks can be pulled out from a dispenser one by one.

[0011] Basically, each protective mask may consist of an approximately rectangular portion made of web material, with two larger sides and two smaller sides.

[0012] The protective masks may be suitably provided with members for applying onto the face of the user. To this end, in particularly advantageous embodiments, each protective mask may have at least one first opening line in the vicinity, and preferably approximately parallel to a first smaller side and at least one second opening line in the vicinity, and preferably approximately parallel to a second smaller side. The open ing lines form cuts in the web material which the mask is made of, into which the ears of the user can be inserted. Basically, the opening lines form means for fixing to the face.

[0013] Protective masks may be produced in various sizes to adapt to different sizes of the user’s head. For example, disposable protective masks for children, women and men may be provided for. [0014] In order to reduce production, storage and transportation costs, it is advanta geous to provide disposable protective masks which can adapt to users with faces and heads of even markedly different sizes, for example which can be worn by children and adults. To this end, in advantageous embodiments it may be foreseen that each protective mask does not have only two opening lines, but a plurality of opening lines in proximity of the first smaller side and the second smaller side. The opening lines may be approximately parallel to each other and they may be equally spaced from each other, but this is not strictly necessary.

[0015] Thus, in these embodiments each protective mask has an elongated approxi mately rectangular shape, i.e. with two long sides and two short sides. In the vicinity of each smaller side an opening line, and preferably a series or plurality of opening lines, for example two or three opening lines are provided. Each opening line is pref erably approximately parallel to the smaller side of the protective mask, or inclined with respect to the smaller side of the protective mask by an appropriate angle to im prove the fit, i.e., the adaptability to the shape of the face. For example, each opening line may form an angle comprised between 0° and 30°, preferably between 0° and 20° with the respective smaller side of the protective mask. Opening lines approximately parallel to the short sides of the protective mask are preferable from the point of view of ease of construction.

[0016] The term “in the vicinity” referred to the position of the opening lines with respect to the smaller sides of the protective mask means that the respective opening line is closer to the smaller side than to the centre-line of the protective mask, so that the central part of the protective mask is free from interruptions.

[0017] Each opening line extends between the two long sides of the protective mask. The distance of the ends of the opening line from the edges of the protective mask is such to guarantee a sufficient mechanical resistance to the protective mask and it may also depend on the mechanical characteristics of the material used.

[0018] Each of the two groups of opening lines are adjacent to the respective smaller side of the protective mask and the two groups of opening lines (where the expression group can also be understood as a single opening line, in the simplest case) are spaced from each other so as to ensure that the central area of the protective mask is devoid of openings. This whole area without openings covers the nose and mouth of the per son wearing the protective mask.

[0019] Should several opening lines be provided on each side of the protective mask, i.e. adjacent to each smaller side thereof, the lengths of the opening lines on each side may be equal or variable and more particularly decreasing from the outermost one, that is, closer to the smaller edge or side of the protective mask, toward the innermost one. This given that the outermost opening lines will be used by those with a larger head and thus presumably also larger ears that require a larger opening line so as to wear the protective mask more easily. Shorter opening lines guarantee greater stability on the face of those with smaller ears.

[0020] In some embodiments, each opening line may be formed by a cut through the web material constituting the protective mask. However, this discontinuity in the web material may lead to some challenges in the production line. Thus, in improved and currently preferred embodiments, the opening lines consist of secondary perforation lines. In this manner, the continuity of the web material is maintained up to the use of the protective mask. When the latter is to be worn, the user detaches it from the roll of the package along the main perforation lines and tears the secondary perforations form ing two cuts along the opening lines.

[0021] The protective masks may be joined to each other along the long sides, or along the short sides.

[0022] According to another aspect, herein proposed is a novel method for the pro duction of protective masks, which allows to obtain high productivity and a reduction of costs. In embodiments described herein, the method comprises the following steps. A web material, for example of non-woven fabric or other suitable material, is supplied along an advancement path. The advancement path extends up to a winding station or unit, for example a peripheral winding unit. Furthermore, the method provides for di viding the web material into a plurality of portions by means of main perforation lines, approximately transversal with respect to an advancement direction of the web mate rial along the advancement path. In this manner, the web material is divided into por tions, each of which is approximately rectangular-shaped and constituting a respective protective mask. The rectangular portions of web material remain connected to each other, so that the web material may then be wound into a roll constituting the package of protective masks. Alternatively, protective masks joined to each other along the perforation lines may be zigzag-folded to form a pack or package.

[0023] In advantageous embodiments, each portion of web material has an elongated rectangular shape, with two larger sides and two smaller sides. Perforation lines may define the larger sides or the smaller sides.

[0024] In advantageous embodiments, the starting web material has a width equal to a multiple of the size of the protective masks. If the protective masks are joined to each other by perforation lines parallel to the long sides of the protective masks, the width of the web material may be a multiple of the long side of the protective masks. If the protective masks are joined to each other by perforation lines parallel to the short sides of the protective masks, the width of the web material may be a multiple of the smaller side of the protective masks.

[0025] In both cases, the roll which is formed by winding the web material may be cut to separate rolls, each formed by a sequence of protective masks.

[0026] Alternatively, the web material may be cut longitudinally into strips before winding. In this case, each strip comprises a row of protective masks and it is wound to form a roll having the final size of the package of protective masks.

[0027] When the protective masks are joined along the larger sides, it is preferable that the roll of protective masks be such to be used using a dispenser. As a matter of fact, in this case the roll has a greater axial length with respect to when the roll is formed by protective masks joined along the smaller side. Thus, the roll of greater axial length has a greater encumbrance and a greater overall dimension and greater number of protective masks and it is therefore more suitable to be dispensed by means of a dispenser.

[0028] In particularly advantageous embodiments, the method further comprises the step of forming at least one first opening line in the vicinity of a first smaller side and at least one second opening line in the vicinity of a second smaller side of the protective mask. Preferably, in order to obtain protective masks adapted to be worn by users hav ing heads of different sizes, the method includes the step of providing a plurality of first openings in the vicinity of the first smaller side and a plurality of second openings in the vicinity of the second smaller side. As mentioned above, the opening lines may be approximately parallel to the smaller sides of the protective mask, or they can have a small inclination, for example between 0° and 30°, preferably between 0° and 20° with respect to the smaller side of the protective mask.

[0029] The opening lines may be formed before or after the formation of the smaller sides of the individual protective masks. The production sequence depends on how the web material is cut into strips forming the individual rolls or rolls of protective masks.

[0030] In advantageous embodiments, the opening lines are pre-cut lines or perfora tion lines.

[0031] The protective masks may be formed along the continuous web material so as to be joined to each other at the long sides, or at the short sides. In the first case, the main perforation lines define the long sides, in the second case the short sides of each protective mask.

[0032] The method may comprise the step of winding the protective masks in the form of rolls by means of a peripheral rewinding machine. In other embodiments, the protective masks may be wound by means of a central or spindle type rewinding ma chine. As known in the winding machine industry, a peripheral rewinding machine is a machine in which the rotary movement to the roll being formed is imparted by fric tion by means of winding members, for example belts and/or rollers, in contact with the outer cylindrical surface of the roll being formed. A central or spindle type rewind ing machine is a machine in which the winding occurs about a motor-driven spindle. The method can also be carried out using combined or mixed rewinding machines, with central and peripheral winding members combined.

[0033] According to yet another aspect, disclosed herein is a machine for the produc tion of protective masks, comprising: a path for the advancement of a web material; and a packaging head or unit adapted to gather the protective masks in the form of web material into packages or packs. Preferably, the packaging unit is a winding unit for packaging the protective masks in the form of rolls.

[0034] When the packaging unit is a winding unit, it may advantageously be a peripheral winding unit. A perforator is arranged along the advancement path to form main perforation lines which separate consecutive protective masks from each other, each protective mask being contained between two consecutive main perforation lines.

[0035] Preferably, a device adapted to provide opening lines for each protective mask is arranged along the advancement path.

[0036] In some embodiments, the device that makes the opening lines may be inte grated into the perforator, or be part thereof.

[0037] Advantageously, the device is adapted to provide groups of opening lines spaced from each other, arranged so that on each protective mask there are two groups of opening lines in the vicinity of two smaller sides of the protective mask, said pro tective mask being substantially rectangular in shape with two smaller sides and two larger sides.

[0038] The device is preferably configured to form secondary perforation lines, each of which defines an opening line.

[0039] In some embodiments, the device is adapted to form opening lines transversal to the direction of advancement of the web material along the advancement path. In other embodiments, the device is adapted to form opening lines approximately parallel to the direction for advancement of the web material along the advancement path.

[0040] Further features and embodiments of the protective masks, of the production method and of the relative machine are illustrated in the following description and defined in the attached claims, which form an integral part of the present description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0041] The invention will be clearer from the description and the attached drawings, which illustrate embodiments thereof by way of non-limiting examples of the inven tion. More particularly, in the drawings:

Fig. l is a group of masks unwound from a roll package, in an embodiment;

Fig. 2 is a group of masks unwound from a roll package, in another embodiment; Fig. 3 is an individual mask;

Figs. 4 and 5 are two packages of masks in the form of rolls, in two different embodiments;

Fig. 6 is a diagram of a machine for the production of masks according to the present invention;

Fig. 7 is a diagram of the device for forming opening lines in an embodiment;

Fig. 8 is a portion of perforated web material for forming masks;

Fig. 9 is a diagram of a perforating blade for producing the opening lines in a web material according to Fig. 8;

Fig. 10 is a diagram of the device for forming opening lines in a further embod iment;

Fig. 11 is a machine for the production of masks in another embodiment;

Fig. 11 A is an enlargement of a detail of Fig. 11;

Fig.12 is a diagram of a machine for the production of masks in another embod iment;

Fig.l2A is an enlargement of the perforating roller of the machine of Fig.12;

Fig. 13 is a diagram of the device for forming opening lines in a further embod iment; and

Figure 14 is a portion of web material divided into individual masks with open ing lines made with the device of Fig. 13.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0042] According to the present description, each protective mask 1 is rectangular shaped, with two larger sides 1.1 and two smaller sides 1.2. An individual protective mask 1 is shown in Fig.3. Typically, the protective masks 1 are packaged in rolls, and each roll consists of a strip of web material divided into individual protective masks 1 along main perforation lines 1.3. The protective masks 1 may be aligned and joined to each other along the short sides 1.2 or along the long sides 1.1. Fig. 1 shows a portion of a multiple package of protective masks joined along the short sides 1.2 and Fig. 4 shows the roll package R2 of said protective masks. Fig. 2 shows a portion of a multi ple package of protective masks 1 joined along the long sides 1.1 and Fig. 5 shows the roll package R1 of such protective masks. Each protective mask 1 is detached by tear ing from the roll-wound strip Rl, R2 of the respective package. The connection line between consecutive masks is indicated with reference numeral 1.3 and advanta geously consists of a main perforation line. In Figs. 1 and 4, once the protective masks are separated from each other, the main perforation lines 1.3 form the smaller sides 1.2 of the protective masks 1. In Figs. 2 and 5, once the protective masks are separated from each other, the main perforation lines 1.3 form the larger sides 1.1 of the protec tive masks 1.

[0043] To wear the protective mask 1, each of them has at least one opening line 1.4 in the vicinity of each smaller side 1.2. The opening line is used to fit the protective mask 1 onto the ear of the user. In the illustrated embodiment, the opening lines are approximately parallel to the smaller sides 1.2 of the protective masks 1.

[0044] In order to allow anyone to wear a single-size protective mask, a plurality of opening lines 1.4 are advantageously provided, parallel to each other, in the vicinity of each smaller side 1.2 of the mask. In the illustrated example, three opening lines 1.4 are provided on each side of the protective mask. The number and the mutual distance between the opening lines 1.4 and the distance of the latter from the respective smaller side 1.2 may vary in terms of construction options.

[0045] This type of package allows to have a large number of masks in little space. The masks can also be preserved and dispensed under hygienic conditions using a dis penser similar to those provided for dispensing web materials made of tissue paper or the like.

[0046] The web material constituting the masks can be a non-woven fabric made of suitable material and thickness. Web materials consisting of several layers joined to each other, even of different type, for example tissue paper, can also be used. In some embodiments, the web material may be a single or multi-layer material, integrally made of tissue paper.

[0047] Advantageously, even in order to make the handling of the web material eas ier during the production of the packages with the machines and methods described hereinafter, it is advantageous to provide that the opening lines 1.4 be perforation lines. The user may open the secondary perforations by pulling. The secondary perforations allow the web material to behave like an integral material and substantially without discontinuity during the production and packaging step.

[0048] The protective masks 1 may be produced using various methods and ma chines, some of whose embodiments will be described hereinafter. [0049] Figure 6 schematically shows a first embodiment of a machine for the pro duction of protective masks of the present invention. The machine is indicated in its entirety with the reference numeral 11 and it is substantially a peripheral rewinding machine modified for the production of protective masks. The rewinding machine 11 has a winding unit or head 13, which may be made in any known fashion and not described in detail. By way of example, the winding unit 13 comprises four winding rollers 11.1, 11.2, 11.3 and 11.4. In the illustrated example, the web material forming the protective masks 1 is wound around winding cores A, which are inserted by an introduction device 11.5. However there also are rewinding machines which allow the formation of rolls of web material without a central winding core.

[0050] In the rewinding machine 11 a path P for the advancement of the web material N is defined. The path extends through a main perforator 17 and through a secondary perforator 15, constituting a device for making the secondary perforation lines 1.4.

[0051] The main perforator 17 is adapted to form on the web material N main perfo ration lines 1.3 which divide the protective masks 1 from one another keeping them joined along the perforation lines. Fig. 6 shows a main perforator 17 configured in a per se known manner and comprising a fixed beam, provided with one or more anvil- blades 21. If several anvil-blades are provided, one of the latter is selectively used to cooperate with rotary perforating blades 25, for example with helical shape, carried by a rotary perforating roller 23. In the illustrated example, a second perforating roller 27 is provided with perforating blades 29, which can be used alternatively to the rotary perforating roller 23 and to the perforating blades 25.

[0052] The secondary perforator 15 is indicated in Fig. 6 only with a functional block, to indicate the function carried out by this part of the machine. Alternative em bodiments of the secondary perforator 15 are described by way of example hereinafter with reference to the subsequent figures. The secondary perforator 15 constitutes the device to form the secondary perforating lines 1.4, which define the opening lines of the protective masks 1.

[0053] In some embodiments, the protective masks 1 are produced in the configura tion of Figs. 1 and 4. In this case, the secondary perforator 15 must form secondary perforating lines parallel to the main perforating lines 1.3 which define the smaller sides 1.2 of each individual protective mask 1.

[0054] A possible embodiment of a secondary perforator 15 adapted to provide pro tective masks of this type is shown schematically in Fig. 7. The secondary perforator 15 has three perforating units 15.1, 15.2, 15.3, each of which comprises a roller with a rotary perforating blade 15.4 cooperating with a fixed perforating anvil-blade 15.5. The position of the members of the secondary perforator 15 is such that the web ma terial N is perforated along secondary perforation lines 1.4 as illustrated in Fig. 1.

[0055] In general, the web material N may have a width equal to a multiple of the smaller side 1.2 of the protective masks 1. This allows to simultaneously produce a plurality of strips of protective masks 1 from the same web material N. This is shown schematically in Figure 8, in which a portion of web material N is shown divided into a plurality of six strips of protective masks 1. The number of strips of protective masks 1 is by way of example and it may be different (greater or smaller) than the one indi cated.

[0056] Separation lines of the strips of protective masks 1 are indicated with refer ence numeral 1.6. These separation lines, which extend according to the machine di rection M, that is, the direction of advancement of the web material N along the ad vancement path P, are obtained by cutting the web material N.

[0057] Cutting may occur after winding of the web material in the winding unit 13, for example by means of a cutting machine for tissue paper logs, known in the industry. Alternatively, the separation lines 1.6 may be generated by longitudinally cutting the web material N upstream of the winding unit 13, for example by means of disc-shaped blades 31 (Fig. 6).

[0058] In order to carry out secondary perforations of suitable length, i.e., less than the length of the smaller sides 1.2 of the rectangular portions of web material N con stituting the individual protective masks 1, the perforating blades 15.4 and/or anvil- blades 15.5 may have a serrated sharp edge with interruptions at the separation lines 1.6. A diagram of a blade 15.4 of this type is illustrated in Fig. 9. The cutting edge portions of the blade 15.4 are indicated with 15.6, while the interruptions of the sharp edge are indicated with 15.7. Secondary perforation lines 1.4 are formed at the edge portions 15.6. The web material N remains intact at the interruptions 15.7. Each edge portion 15.6 is in turn serrated, so as to perform discontinuous cuts, i.e. perforations, instead of complete cuts.

[0059] In less advantageous embodiments, the possibility of providing the opening lines 1.4 in the form of complete cuts cannot be ruled out.

[0060] Fig. 10 illustrates a different embodiment of the secondary perforator 15. In this embodiment, the secondary perforator 15 comprises a rotary perforating roller

15.7 provided with two groups of perforating blades 15.8. Each perforating blade unit comprises a number of perforating blades equal to the number of secondary perforation lines 1.4 adjacent to each smaller side 1.2 of the mask. The perforating blades 15.8 cooperate with a fixed blade 15.10 carried by a fixed beam 15.9. The perforating blades

15.8 may be provided in the same way as the blade 15.4 described with reference to Fig. 9.

[0061] Figure 11 shows a machine 11 in a different embodiment. The right part of Fig. 11 corresponds to Fig. 6 and the same reference numerals indicate parts corre sponding to those of Fig. 6. In Fig. 11, the secondary perforator 15 is arranged beside the main perforator and it has a sequence of pairs of perforating units 16, each com prising a rotary roller 16.1 and a fixed beam 16.2. The rotary roller 16.1 carries a plu rality of perforating blades 16.3. In the illustrated embodiment, each rotary roller 16.1 carries four perforating blades 16.3, arranged in diametrically opposite pairs. The beam 16.2 carries an anvil-blade 16.4.

[0062] The perforating units 16 are arranged so that each generates respective in- phase opening lines 1.4. The blades 16.2 may be configured as shown in Fig. 9.

[0063] The number of perforating units may be different from the one represented in Fig. 11. For example, only three perforating units 16 may be provided.

[0064] In the embodiments described heretofore, the device 15 for forming the sec ondary perforation lines is a device separate from the main perforator 17. This allows the advantage of using the same machine to produce protective masks, or other types of products, for example paper towels, simply by-passing the device 15.

[0065] However, this approach is not mandatory. Different configurations may also be provided, wherein the device forming the opening lines may be integrated into the main perforator 17. This allows to obtain a more compact machine.

[0066] Figs. 12 and 12A show an embodiment in which the device for forming the opening lines 1.4 is integrated into the main perforator 17. The structure of the machine 11 is generally similar to that shown in Fig. 6. The same numbers indicate identical or corresponding parts, which are not described again. The main perforator 17 comprises a rotary roller 60 and a beam or a fixed roller 61. The rotary roller 60 is shown in enlarged view in Fig. 12A. It has two perforating blade units, each indicated in its entirety with the reference numeral 60.1, in diametrically opposite positions. Each per forating blade unit 60.1 comprises a central main perforating blade 60.2, adapted to generate the main perforation lines 11.3, which divide the individual protective masks 1. Three secondary perforating blades 60.3 are arranged on both sides of each main perforating blade 60.2. These are adapted to form the opening lines 1.4. Each blade 60.3 may be configured as illustrated in Fig. 9.

[0067] The set of secondary perforating blades 60.3 constitute the device adapted to form the opening lines 1.4, in this example in the form of secondary perforation lines, and they are integrated in the main perforator 17. This results in a particularly compact structure of the machine 11.

[0068] To form protective masks 1 arranged side by side and joined to each other along the larger side, as indicated in Figs. 2 and 5, there may be used a machine 11, in which the device 15 for producing the secondary perforation lines is configured to generate the lines 1.4 in the machine direction M. Fig. 13 shows a diagram of the secondary perforating device 15 and Fig. 14 shows a portion of web material N from which the protective masks 1 of the type illustrated in Figs. 2 and 5 are obtained.

[0069] In Fig. 14, the same numbers indicate parts identical or equivalent to the ones described with reference to Fig. 8. The separation lines, which separate strips of pro tective masks 1 wound on a same roll are still indicated with reference numeral 1.6. As already described above, the lines 1.6 may be obtained by cutting the web material N before winding; alternatively, the lines 1.6 may be generated by cutting the roll formed in the winding unit 13. In both cases, in this embodiment the separation lines 1.6 generate the smaller sides 1.2 of the protective masks 1, while the larger sides 1.1 are formed by the main perforation lines 1.3 which may be formed by the main perforator 17. The opening lines 1.4, advantageously consisting of secondary perfo ration lines, are generated by the secondary perforator 15 which may comprise several suitably serrated cutters, mounted coaxial to each other on a drive shaft, and cooperat ing with an anvil -roller, which may advantageously have annular grooves correspond ing to the perforating rollers.

[0070] A diagram of the secondary perforator 15 in this embodiment is illustrated Fig. 13. The secondary perforator has a plurality of coaxial disc-shaped blades 15.12, mounted on a drive shaft 15.13. The periphery of the disc-shaped blades 15.12 has serrated cutting sections 15.14 separated by recessed areas 15.15 without a cutting edge. The disc-shaped blades 15.12 cooperate with a counter-disc 15.6, provided with a plurality of annular channels or grooves 15.17 in positions corresponding to the disc shaped blades 15.12. The disc-shaped blades 15.12 generate with the serrated sections 15.14 the secondary perforation lines 1.4 in the machine direction.

[0071] It is clear that the above is provided by way of example and that the illustrated methods and machines may be subjected to numerous variations.

[0072] For example, different winding units with respect to the ones briefly described above may be used. In some variants, without departing from the scope of protection, the winding unit 13 may be formed by a four-roller peripheral rewinding machine in which the roller which supplies the web material is fixed (EP3174819), or comprising only three winding rollers, two of which are fixed and one is movable (EP2539259). The winding unit 13 of the peripheral type can be supplied with tubular cores, for example made of cardboard, about which the perforated web material is wound, or with spindles which are subsequently removed from the wound web material (EP2678257, EP635444) and possibly recycled. As described in the prior art, the an choring of the leading edge of the web material to a tubular core or to a spindle may occur with or without adhesives (EP2032488). There can also be used peripheral re winding machines which wrap the web material without the use of cores and spindles, winding the web material on itself forming a roll without a central hole (EP2694414, EP2655227, EP1888440).

[0073] As mentioned above, the winding unit 13 may be a central winding unit, for example as disclosed in US3116890 or EP0785157. In this case, the rotary motion of a winding spindle or of a winding core, for example made of cardboard, plastic or other material, occurs by means of a motor-driven axis inserted into the core or spindle and which applies a rotary torque to the core or spindle. In these cases expandable elements on the motor-driven axes may be used to engage the cores or spindles and transmit the rotary torque.

[0074] It is therefore clear that any type of rewinding machine may be used without departing from the scope of protection of the invention both in the case where the web material is cut along the lines 1.6 before winding and where it is subsequently cut with a cutting machine of the known type (EP0994820). [0075] The description outlined above may be subjected to numerous variations and additions. For example, the addition of loose products, for example liquids, typically lotioned products, containing adjuvant substances, such as antivirals, bactericides and the like to the web material, before, during or after winding may be provided.

[0076] In less advantageous embodiments, the protective masks may be packaged by zigzag-folding the web material. However, the production of rolls allows for a higher production rate.