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Title:
RESPIRATORY PROTECTION FACE MASK SHELL, RESPIRATORY PROTECTION FACE MASK, FILTER INLAY, AND METHOD OF MANUFACTURING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/078415
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention discloses a respiratory protection face mask shell (12), comprising a layer structure (101) with at least three layers (102, 104, 112), an outer layer (102) and an inner layer (112), both provided in the form of a flat material and an intermediate layer (104) sandwiched between the inner (112) and the outer layer (102). The at least three layers (102, 104, 112) are bonded together. The intermediate layer (104) comprises a plurality of polygonal shaped pieces (20) that are arranged in a predefined pattern and with a predefined spacing between each other. Furthermore a respiratory protection face mask comprising the respiratory protection face mask shell and a filter inlay, the filter inlay itself and a method for assembly of the respiratory protection face mask shell are disclosed.

Inventors:
MENG, Xiaohua (Road QiuzhuShanghai, CN)
HERRERA MENDEZ, Yuritzi (San PabloQueretaro, CP, MX)
KLOESS, Isabell (Unit 521Raleigh, NC, US)
AWOGBAMI, Christian (Ilford IG6 1 QJ, GB)
HUCH, Lea (Berlin, DE)
REINECK, Julian (Berlin, DE)
KUCHARSKA, Katarzyna (Berlin, DE)
Application Number:
EP2020/060480
Publication Date:
April 29, 2021
Filing Date:
April 14, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
MANN+HUMMEL WATER SOLUTIONS HOLDING PTE. LTD. (Singapore 3, SG)
MANN+HUMMEL GMBH (Ludwigsburg, DE)
International Classes:
A62B7/10; A41D13/11; A62B9/04; A62B18/02; A62B23/02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SEYBOTH, Matthias et al. (Ludwigsburg, DE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A respiratory protection face mask shell (12), comprising

- a layer structure (101) with at least three layers (102, 104, 112),

- an outer layer (102) and an inner layer (112), both provided in the form of a flat material and

- an intermediate layer (104) sandwiched between the inner (112) and the outer layer (102)

- wherein the at least three layers (102, 104, 112) are bonded together characterized in that

- wherein the intermediate layer (104) comprises a plurality of polygonal shaped pieces (20) that are arranged in a predefined pattern and with a predefined spacing between each other.

2. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to claim 1 , characterized in that the polygonal shaped pieces (20) have the shape of triangles and/or rectangles and/or hexagons and/or pentagons.

3. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to claim 1 or 2, characterized in that the polygonal shaped pieces (20) of the intermediate layer (104) comprise a non-air-permeable material, in particular a plastic material, especially a Polyurethane material.

4. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to any of the claims 1 to 3, characterized in that on an inner side of the inner layer (112) at least one fixing element (138) is provided that is adapted for a releasable connection of at least one filter inlay (22).

5. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to claim 4, characterized in that the at least one fixing element (138) being provided as hook-and-loop means, snap fastener means and/or push button means or the at least one fixing element (138) being provided as an insertion pocket.

6. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to claim 4 or 5, characterized in that the at least one fixing element (138), especially the hook-and-loop means, having a shape that corresponds to at least one of the polygonal shaped pieces (20) and being arranged in a region of the inner side of the inner layer (112) under which a respective polygonal shaped piece (20) is located.

7. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to any of the claims 1 to 6, characterized in that the layer structure (101) comprising at least one additional layer (110), the at least one additional layer (110) being provided as bonding layer and being in particular arranged between the inner layer (112) and the intermediate layer (104), wherein the bonding layer (110) in particular contains a bonding agent.

8. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that the face mask shell (12) has a facepiece (14) with a bulged mouth region, in particular also a nose region that radially protrudes beyond the mouth region.

9. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to claim 8, characterized in that the polygonal shaped pieces (20) of the intermediate layer (104) being arranged in the mouth region and/or the nose region.

10. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to claim 9, characterized in that the polygonal shaped pieces (20) of the intermediate layer (104) being arranged in the mouth region and the nose region, wherein the polygonal shaped pieces (20) in the nose and mouth region having different shapes, especially different dimensions.

11. The respiratory protection face mask shell (20) according to any of the claims 8 to 10, characterized in that the face mask shell (20) having at least one breathing hole (114, 116) that extends through the layer structure (101) and being arranged in the mouth region, wherein in particular the at least one breathing hole (114, 116) being arranged in an area of the predefined spacing between the plurality of polygonal shaped pieces (20).

12. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to any of the claims 8 to 11 , characterized in that the intermediate layer (104) further comprising a deformable nose piece (108), in particular a metal nose piece (108) that extends in the nose region and being adapted to provide a tailored sealing shape in a use-condition.

13. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to any of the claims 8 to 12, characterized in that on the inner side of the inner layer (112) a deformable sealing element (118) is provided in the nose region, in particular the sealing element (118) comprising or consisting of a rubber material, especially a silicone rubber material.

14. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that the outer layer (102) being at least partially reflective, wherein in particular the outer layer (102) being covered at least partially with a reflective coating and/or at least partially comprising a reflective material

15. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that the outer (102) and/or the inner (112) layer comprising a textile material, in particular a knitted and/or woven material.

16. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that the respiratory face mask shell (12) further comprising a neck piece that enables the face mask shell (12) in a use-condition to be worn in a scarf-like manner.

17. The respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to any proceeding claim, characterized in that a three-dimensional shape is formed by bonding a nose region (120, 122) and a chin region (134).

18. Respiratory protection face mask (10) comprising a respiratory protection face mask shell and a filter inlay (22), characterized in that the respiratory face mask shell is a respiratory face mask shell (12) according to any of the preceding claims.

19. The respiratory protection face mask (10) according to claim 18, characterized in that the filter inlay (22) is releasably connected to the least one fixing element (138) on the inner side of the inner layer (112) of the face mask shell (12).

20. The respiratory protection face mask (10) according to claim 18 or 19, characterized in that the filter inlay (22) comprises a filter medium, especially a flat sheet filter medium or pleated filter medium, wherein in particular the filter medium comprises a nonwoven material, especially a spunbonded material.

21. The respiratory protection face mask (10) according to claim 20, characterized in that the filter inlay (22) further comprising at least one air-permeable cover layer (202, 208) covering the filter medium, wherein in particular the filter inlay comprises two cover layers (202 208), wherein the filter medium is sandwiched between the two cover layers (202, 208), and wherein preferably the at least one cover layer (202, 208) provides a counter fixing element (210) for the at least one fixing element (138) of the respiratory face mask shell (12).

22. A replaceable filter inlay (22) for attaching to a respiratory protection face mask shell (12), in particular to a respiratory protection face mask shell (12) according to any of the preceding claims, the filter inlay (22) comprising:

(a) an outer layer (202);

(b) an adhesive layer (204);

(c) a filter media layer (206); and

(d) an inner layer (208);

(e) wherein the layers are bonded together by the application of heat and pressure.

23. A method for assembling a respiratory protection facemask shell (12), the method comprising the steps of:

(a) forming a layer structure (101) having an outer layer (102), an inner layer (112), and an intermediate layer (104) positioned between the outer layer (102) and the inner layer (112), the intermediate layer (104) having a plurality of spaced-apart polygonal shaped pieces (20) that are arranged in a predefined pattern and with a predefined spacing between each other; and

(b) bonding the layer structure (101) together.

24. The method according to claim 23, further comprising the step of

(c) cutting the layer structure (101) to a pre-determined shape.

25. The method according to claim 23 or 24, further comprising the step of

(d) cutting a plurality of breathing holes (114, 116) into a facepiece area (14) of the layer structure (101), especially the breathing holes (114, 116) being arranged in an area of the predefined spacing between the plurality of polygonal shaped pieces (20).

26. The method according to any of the claims 23 to 25, further comprising the step of

(e) bonding a nose protrusion to a facepiece area (14) thereby creating a three-dimensional shape which radially protrudes from a wearer’s nose. 27. The method according to any of the claims 23 to 26, further comprising the step of

(f) bonding a chin protrusion to a facepiece area (14) thereby creating a three-dimensional shape which radially protrudes from a wearer’s chin and mouth.

28. The method according to any of the claims 23 to 27, further comprising the step of (g) positioning a bonding layer (110) between the intermediate layer (104) and the inner layer

(112).

29. The method according to any of the claims 23 to 28, further comprising the step:

(h) attaching a fixing element (138) on an inner side of the inner layer (112) that is adapted for a releasable connection of at least one filter inlay (22).

30. The method according to any of the claims 23 to 29, wherein the bonding in step (b) comprises applying heat and pressure to the layer structure (101).

Description:
RESPIRATORY PROTECTION FACE MASK SHELL, RESPIRATORY PROTECTION FACE MASK, FILTER INLAY, AND METHOD OF MANUFACTURING

Technical Field and Background of the Invention

Respiratory protection face masks are air filtration devices which remove contaminants from the air prior to inhalation and after exhalation by a wearer. The present invention pertains to a respiratory protection face mask shell, filter inlay, and methods for manufacturing the same. Specifically, this application discloses a respiratory protection face mask which has a shell with polygonal features and a replaceable filter inlay.

Prior art respiratory protection face masks traditionally have pre-formed round shapes. Often prior art face masks are single-use, disposable products which are not environmentally sustainable. Other prior art face masks are reusable with hard, bulky shells and replaceable filters or filter cartridges. Storage and transport of prior art face masks is not ideal as round shaped disposable face masks may become deformed or damaged when folded or compressed to a smaller footprint. Hard shelled reusable face masks are unable to be folded or compressed without risking damage to the shell.

Additionally, prior art face masks attach to a wearer’s ear with straps, elastic or otherwise. Wearers often experience ear and nose discomfort after extended usage. When a wearer must also have glasses or other eye protection this combination with a prior art face mask may cause leakage at the point of contact and/or cause fogging of glasses.

EP3375308A1 and US2011067700A teach prior art face masks. These prior art face masks are a disposable, single-use, and foldable with triangular features which are achieved by welding lines which bond individual layers of the mask together to create a kind of embossed structure. Deficiencies of these prior art masks include environmentally unsustainability, stiffness when used over extended periods of time, and insufficient adaptability in the nose region where no polygonal features exist.

There is a need for a respiratory protection face mask which is reusable, environmentally sustainable and comfortable over extended usage.

Summary of the Invention

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a respiratory protection face mask shell and a respiratory protection face mask that is re-usable, ergonomic and comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and provides an improved sealing against a face of a user. It is another object of the present invention to provide a respiratory protection face mask filter inlay which is simple to install and replace.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a method of manufacturing of a respiratory protection face mask shell that simple and can be scaled for mass-production.

These and other objects and advantages of the present invention are achieved in the preferred embodiments set forth below.

According to a first aspect a respiratory protection face mask shell according to the invention is having a layer structure with at least three layers, namely an outer layer and an inner layer, both provided in the form of a flat material and an intermediate layer sandwiched between the inner and the outer layer. The at least three layers are bonded together. The intermediate layer comprises a plurality of polygonal shaped pieces that are arranged in a predefined pattern and with a predefined spacing between each other.

The use of an intermediate layer with the plurality of polygonal shaped pieces that are arranged in a predefined pattern and with a predefined spacing between each other gives an improved stiffness of the mask and makes it more suitable for continued use and/or as a re usable mask as the respiratory protection face mask shell according to the invention does not crumple as easily as known face masks. In addition the shape and/or dimensions of the polygonal shaped pieces can be customized in order to achieve the best possible comfort for the user and an optimized sealing against a face of the user.

According to a preferred embodiment the polygonal shaped pieces have the shape of triangles and/or rectangles and/or hexagons and/or pentagons. Especially the use of triangular polygonal shaped pieces provides an optimal adaptability to the face of a user in all three dimensions and therefore provides superior comfort and sealing properties.

According to another embodiment the polygonal shaped pieces of the intermediate layer comprise a non-air-permeable material, in particular a plastic material, especially a Polyurethane material. In an exemplary embodiment, the polygonal shaped pieces comprise a material with a thickness of 0.3-2mm, preferably 0.6-1.2mm, most preferably 1 mm. The use of a non-air- permeable material for the polygonal shaped pieces is advantageous as those materials are in general able to provide a stiffness that is larger than the typical stiffness of air-permeable materials. In yet another embodiment the respiratory protection face mask shell has on an inner side of the inner layer at least one fixing element that is adapted for a releasable connection of at least one filter inlay. The filter inlay can be replaced in regular intervals and/or when its filtration capacity is exhausted or the filter inlay is dirty. The respiratory protection face mask shell can be re-used together with a new filter inlay which saves material consumption and provides a sustainable product.

According to a preferred embodiment the at least one fixing element is being provided as hook-and-loop means, snap fastener means and/or push button means or the at least one fixing element being provided as an insertion pocket.

In an even more preferred embodiment the at least one fixing element, especially the hook-and-loop means, is having a shape that corresponds to at least one of the polygonal shaped pieces and being arranged in a region of the inner side of the inner layer under which a respective polygonal shaped piece is located. This is advantageous as connection forces that are applied on the at least one fixing element can be optimally transferred and the layer structure does not excessively deform under those connection forces, which as a result leads to a safer fixing of the filter inlay and prevents unintentional loss.

According to another embodiment the layer structure is comprising at least one additional layer, the at least one additional layer being provided as bonding layer and being in particular arranged between the inner layer and the intermediate layer. The bonding layer can in particular contain a bonding agent.

In yet another preferred embodiment the face mask shell has a facepiece with a bulged mouth region, in particular also with a nose region that radially protrudes beyond the mouth region.

In particular the polygonal shaped pieces of the intermediate layer are being arranged in the mouth region and/or the nose region.

According to an especially preferred embodiment the polygonal shaped pieces of the intermediate layer are being arranged in the mouth region and the nose region, wherein the polygonal shaped pieces in the nose and mouth region having different shapes, especially different dimensions. This allows for a better adaptability of the face mask shell to the face of a user and therefore provides even improved comfort and sealing properties. In addition the face mask shell can have at least one breathing hole that extends through the layer structure and is arranged in the mouth region. In particular the at least one breathing hole is arranged in an area of the predefined spacing between the plurality of polygonal shaped pieces. The at least one breathing hole can be covered on the inner side of the inner layer with a replaceable filter inlay to provide the desired filtration characteristic. The breathing hole can be preferably arranged in a section of the predefined spacing that neighbors to corners of at least two polygonal shaped pieces. In an alternative embodiment the breathing hole can pierce through the polygonal shaped pieces as well.

Furthermore the intermediate layer can comprise a deformable nose piece, in particular a metal nose piece, that extends in the nose region and is adapted to provide a tailored sealing shape in a use-condition. Metal nose-pieces per se are known to the person skilled in the art and can be deformed plastically in order to achieve the best possible adaption to the face of a user.

In addition on the inner side of the inner layer a deformable sealing element can be provided in the nose region, in particular the sealing element can comprise or consist of a rubber material, especially a silicone rubber material. Sealing elements per se are known to the person skilled in the art and can be deformed elastically in order to achieve a sealing against the face of a user. In an alternative embodiment the sealing element can comprise or consist of a foamed material, especially a foamed plastic material.

These additional feature lead to an even improved comfort and sealing.

According to an equally preferred embodiment the outer layer can be at least partially reflective, wherein in particular the outer layer is covered at least partially with a reflective coating and/or at least partially comprising a reflective material.

The reflective coating can be applied in a predefined pattern in order to form a specific 2D-object as a logo, outlines of images or the like. This provides an important safety feature for the user as visibility in dark environments is improved significantly.

The outer lay and/or the inner layer can comprise a textile material, in particular a knitted and/or woven material.

According to another embodiment the reflective properties are not provided by means of a coating but being provided by inherent reflective properties of the used year that forms the textile material. This has the advantage that the reflective properties are nearly invisible in a non- illuminated state. In yet another embodiment the respiratory face mask shell can comprise a neck piece that enables the face mask shell in a use-condition to be worn in a scarf-like manner.

Furthermore the respiratory protection face mask shell can have a three-dimensional shape that is formed by bonding a nose region and a chin region.

Another aspect of the invention concerns a respiratory protection face mask comprising a respiratory protection face mask shell according to the inventions and a filter inlay. In other words the inventive respiratory protection face mask is the respiratory protection face mask shell with an installed filter inlay. The features and advantages that are described with regards to the respiratory protection face mask shell apply to the respiratory protection face mask as well and vice versa.

According to an especially preferred embodiment the filter inlay is releasably connected to the least one fixing element on the inner side of the inner layer of the face mask shell.

In another embodiment the filter inlay comprises a filter medium, especially a flat sheet filter medium or pleated filter medium, wherein in particular the filter medium comprises a nonwoven material, especially a spunbonded material.

In addition the filter inlay can comprise at least one air-permeable cover layer covering the filter medium. In particular the filter inlay comprises two cover layers, wherein the filter medium is sandwiched between the two cover layers, and wherein preferably the at least one cover layer provides a counter fixing element for the at least one fixing element of the respiratory face mask shell. The respective counter fixing element can be especially of a hook-and-loop type and for example be provided by inherent properties of the cover layer. This embodiment provides the important advantage that the filter medium is protected by the cover layer(s) against mechanical damage and dirt.

Yet another aspect of the invention concerns a replaceable filter inlay for attaching to a respiratory protection face mask shell, in particular to a respiratory protection face mask shell according to the invention.

The filter inlay comprising:

(a) an outer layer;

(b) an adhesive layer respectively a bonding layer;

(c) a filter media layer; and

(d) an inner layer; (e) wherein the layers are bonded together by the application of heat and pressure.

The filter media layer is especially sandwiched between the outer layer and the inner layer so that it is protected by the outer layer and the inner layer that act as cover layers against mechanical damage and dirt. In addition the outer and/or inner layer act as an additional filtration stage and form a pre- and/or post filter.

Finally another aspect of the invention concerns a method for assembling a respiratory protection facemask shell, the method comprises the steps of:

(a) forming a layer structure having an outer layer, an inner layer and an intermediate layer positioned between the outer layer and the inner layer, the intermediate layer having a plurality of spaced-apart polygonal shaped pieces that are arranged in a predefined pattern and with a predefined spacing between each other; and

(b) bonding the layer structure together.

This method for assembling is simple, comprises only a few steps, is based on flat materials and therefore can be scaled easily up to mass-production.

In a preferred embodiment the method can additionally comprise the step of (c) cutting the layer structure to a pre-determined shape. The cutting-step is only necessary if the bonded layer-structure of step (b) has oversize.

In an equally preferred embodiment the method can additionally comprise the step of (d) cutting a plurality of breathing holes into a facepiece area of the layer structure, especially the breathing holes being arranged in an area of the predefined spacing between the plurality of polygonal shaped pieces.

The cutting can be done by punching, laser-cutting, ultrasonic cutting, knife-cutting or other cutting methods that are suitable for the individual composition of the layers.

In addition the method can comprise the step of (e) bonding a nose protrusion to a facepiece area thereby creating a three-dimensional shape which radially protrudes from a wearer’s nose.

Additionally or alternatively the method can comprise the step of (f) bonding a chin protrusion to a facepiece area thereby creating a three-dimensional shape which radially protrudes from a wearer’s chin and mouth.

In some embodiments the intermediate layer can further comprise a nose piece that is bonded in step (b) as well. In yet another embodiment the method can comprise the step of (g) positioning a bonding layer between the intermediate layer and the inner layer. The bonding layer contains at least one bonding agent that provides for the fixation of the layers. The bonding agent can be a bonding agent that is activated by temperature and/or pressure for example a hot melt.

In another preferred embodiment the method can comprise the step of

(h) attaching a fixing element on an inner side of the inner layer that is adapted for a releasable connection of at least one filter inlay.

Finally the bonding in step (b) can comprise applying heat and pressure to the layer structure.

According to an alternative embodiment the method of assembling could be claimed as follows:

A method for assembling a respiratory protection face mask shell, the method comprising the steps of:

(a) assembling and joining a plurality of layers comprising the steps of:

(i) providing a flat sheet first layer, a second layer having an arrangement of spaced-apart polygons, a third bonding layer, and a fourth flat sheet layer,

(ii) positioning the second layer onto the first layer,

(iii) applying the third bonding layer onto the second layer,

(iv) positioning the fourth layer onto the third layer, and

(v) applying heat and pressure to the stacked layers;

(b) cutting the assembled and joined plurality of layers to a pre-determined shape;

(c) forming a three-dimensional facepiece comprising the steps of:

(i) bonding a nose protrusion to a main region with polygonal shapes, and

(ii) bonding a chin protrusion to a main region with polygonal shapes; and

(d) providing a fastener for fastening the shell around a user’s neck.

Brief Description of the Drawing Figures

The present invention is best understood when the following detailed description of the invention is read with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a side perspective view of a respiratory protection face mask according to the invention;

Figure 2 is a rear perspective view of the respiratory protection face mask shown in Figure 1 with a filter inlay installed;

Figure 3 is a front view of the respiratory protection face mask shown in Figure 1 ; Figure 4 is a perspective view of the respiratory protection face mask shown in Figure 1 in a folded configuration;

Figures 5A-5B are perspective views of a respiratory protection face mask according to one embodiment of the invention;

Figures 6A-6B are perspective views of a respiratory protection face mask according to one embodiment of the invention;

Figure7 is a perspective view of a respiratory protection face mask according to one embodiment of the invention;

Figure 8 is an exploded view of a respiratory protection face mask layer structure according to one embodiment of the invention;

Figure 9 is a top, inner view of the respiratory protection face mask from Figure 8 in an assembled condition;

Figures 10A-10B are top, inner views of the respiratory protection face mask from Figure 8 in an assembled condition;

Figure 11 is a top, inner view of the respiratory protection face mask from Figure 8 in an assembled and three-dimensionally bonded condition;

Figure 12 is a top, inner view of the respiratory protection face mask from Figure 8 showing filter inlay attachment features;

Figure 13 is an exploded view of a filter inlay layer structure according to one embodiment of the invention;

Figure 14 is a top, outer view of the filter inlay from Figure 13; and

Figure 15 is a partial top view of the respiratory protection face mask from Figure 8.

Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiment

Referring now to the drawings, a respiratory protection face mask 10 is shown according to one embodiment in Figures 1-3. The face mask 10 has a shell 12 which includes a facepiece for covering a wearer’s face from mouth-to-nose 14, straps 16, and a fastener 18. The straps 16 wrap around the wearer’s head at a position below the wearer’s ear and the fastener 18 connects the straps 16 to secure the shell 12 to the wearer. Polygonal shapes 20 are formed on the facepiece 14 in regions which correspond to the wearer’s mouth and nose. These polygonal shapes 20 enable the facepiece 14 to radially protrude away from the wearer’s mouth region and provide for improved adaptability in the wearer’s nose region. A filter inlay 22 may be attached to or inserted into the body 14 of the shell 12. The replaceable filter inlay 22 provides filtration of contaminants in air prior to inhalation by the user and after exhalation by the wearer.

Another optional benefit of the polygonal shapes 20 is the ability to easily fold. In one exemplary embodiment, shown in Figure 4, the shell 12 is capable of folding along a portion of the facepiece 14 to form a folded edge 24. This folded edge 24 may enable the wearer to store or transport the shell 12 more easily. The wearer may also wear the shell 12 around the neck in a manner like a scarf or a necklace. Wearing the shell 12 around the neck enables the wearer to quickly unfold and position over mouth and nose when desired. The folded edge 24 may secured in place by a fastener (not shown) such as snaps or hook-and-loop. Other folded configurations of the shell 12 are also envisioned.

It is envisioned that the fastener 18 has many different embodiments. Figures 5-7 show exemplary embodiments of fasteners 18 and to not preclude other methods of connection. One such other method is an elastic strap 16 that is pulled down the wearer’s head and held into position by the elastic properties of the strap 16

Figures 5A and 5B show a face mask 50 according to one embodiment of the invention with a hook-and-loop fastener 52 where strips of either hook or loop material are attached to opposing straps 56.

Figures 6A and 6B show a face mask 60 according to one embodiment of the invention with a snap fastener 62. The snap fastener 62 is formed by interlocking a male portion 64 and a female portion 66. Each portion 64, 66 is attached to opposing straps 68. Wearer adjustment is achieved by sliding the female portion 66 along a track 69.

Figure 7 shows a face mask according to one embodiment of the invention with a cord lock and drawstring fastener 72. A drawstring cord 74 is connected to straps 76 of the face mask 70 and lopped through a comfort backing 78. To fasten the face mask the wearer tightens the drawstring cord 74 to a desired position and then secures the position with a cord lock 71.

Manufacturing of a respiratory protection face mask 100 according to one embodiment of the invention is shown in Figures 8-18. Generally, creation of the shell 101 is accomplished by assembling and joining a plurality of layers (Step 1), cutting shape and holes (Step 2), forming a three-dimensional shape (Step 3), enabling a connection to a removable filter inlay (Step 4), and creation of a filter inlay (Step 5). The following will describe Steps 1-5 according to one embodiment of the invention and will provide example dimensions for two exemplary embodiments (“Small” and “Large” sizes of the face mask). It should be noted that the following steps and examples are for exemplary purposes, other similar materials, methods, order of steps, dimensions, and other factors are also envisioned for this invention.

Step 1 - Assembling and Joining a Plurality of Lavers

As shown in Figure 8, in one embodiment the plurality of layers which create the shell 101 comprises a first layer 102, a second layer 104, a third layer 110, and a fourth layer 112. Other embodiments may include fewer or additional layers and layers may be provided in different order. The first outer layer 102 is a fabric layer that may have sublayers which provide additional features to the first layer 102 such as but not limited to stretch, adhesion, pigmentation and reflective properties. This first outer layer 102 faces away from the wearer. The second layer 104 has two parts, a polygonal structure 106 and a nose piece 108. Layer three 110 is an adhesive and layer four 112 is another fabric layer which faces the wearer and may also have additional features. The layers 102, 104, 110, 112 are bonded together to form the shell 100.

First Layer

In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, the first layer 102 is a 4-way stretch jersey fabric having an optional reflective layer, a bonding layer with pigment, and a backing. It is envisioned that the first layer 102 is cut into a specific shape at a later step, however the first layer 102 may be pre-cut into a pre-determined shape. Reflective properties may be achieved by high refractive index microbeads. Reflectivity increases safety of the wearer in situations with minimal light. A reflective pattern or picture may be applied to the first layer 102 for aesthetic purposes. This pattern or picture may be arranged such that flash from a camera shows the pattern or picture. A combination of adhesive and pigment make up the bonding layer. Lastly, in the exemplary embodiments, the first layer 102 has a backing of Polyamide and Spandex (Elastan).

Both “Small” and “Large” versions of the shell 101 in the exemplary embodiments provide for the first layer 102 to be approximately 350gsm. The reflective layer is 31 % by weight, the bonding layer is 14% by weight (85% by weight adhesive and 15% by weight pigment), and the backing is 55% by weight (80% by weight Polyamine and 20% by weight Spandex).

Second Layer

The polygonal structure 106 of the shell’s 101 second layer 104 is created with polyurethane on transfer foil in the exemplary embodiments. A pre-determined pattern of polygons is formed on the transfer foil with polyurethane and adhesive is applied to the other side of the transfer foil. The side of the transfer foil with adhesive is then positioned onto the first layer 102. In one exemplary embodiment the polygons are formed individually by die tooling and the die is used to correctly position the polygons onto the first layer 102. This invention is not limited to polyurethane and therefore other materials with similar features are also envisioned. In the exemplary embodiments, the polygonal structure 106 has a p re-determined pattern of triangles 107 and is 0.3-2mm, preferably 0.6-1 2mm, most preferably 1mm in thickness. The pattern of triangles 107 has five different configurations of triangles 107A-E. Dimensions for the “Small” and “Large” versions of the exemplary embodiment are shown in the Tables below. The nose piece 108 is made of a metal, but other materials are also envisioned. In an exemplary embodiment the nose piece 108 is positioned onto the first layer 102 at the same time as the polygonal structure 106. In the exemplary embodiments, the nose piece 108 has a thickness of 0.3-0.9mm, preferably 0.4-0.6mm.

Third Laver

In the exemplary embodiments, the third layer 110 is an adhesive which creates a bond when heat and/or pressure is applied. Specifically, in these embodiments, the third layer 110 is a hemming web made of 100% Polyamide and has a 0.1mm thickness and is placed onto the second layer 106. This third layer 110 may be pre-cut into a shape which conforms to the first layer 102, may be cut after positioning or after bonding, or may be in the form of strips or other smaller sections.

Fourth Laver

The fourth layer 112 is a 4-way stretch jersey fabric in the exemplary embodiments and is positioned onto the third Iayer110. Specifically, the fourth layer 112 of the exemplary embodiments is 130gsm and formed from 78% by weight Polyamine and 22% by weight Spandex. Again this fought layer 112 may be pre-cut into shape or may be cut in Step 2.

Once the layers 102, 104, 110, 112 are assembled a bonding process takes place. This bonding can be the application of heat, pressure, or both heat and pressure. Other types of bonding are also envisioned such as, but not limited to, lamination, other chemical bonding, mechanical bonding such as rivets, or a combination of heat, pressure and lamination. At this point in manufacturing the assembled and bonded layers 102, 104, 110, 112 are relatively flat. Additional steps are required to create the three-dimensional shape of the shell 101. Step 2 - Cutting Shape and Hole Pattern

After bonding the layers 102, 104, 110, 112 the shape for the shell 101 may be cut if the shape was not already pre-cut prior to Step 1. Overall dimensions for the “Small” and “Large” versions of the exemplary embodiments are shown in Tables below. In one exemplary embodiment, the shape for the shell 101 is laser cut.

Breathing holes 114, 116 may be cut into the shell 101 in pre-determined positions. In the exemplary embodiments, the breathing holes 114 are cut at pre-selected junctures of triangles 107 as shown in Figure 9 into “x” shapes. Additional breathing holes 116 may be made in pre-determined positions between triangles 107 in the shape of elongate slots. These breathing holes 114, 116 may be cut in other shapes/sizes and/or may all be of the same shape and size for aesthetic purposes. Positioning of the breathing holes 114, 116 may also be different. In one embodiment, the breathing holes 114, 116 are laser cut.

Step 3 - Three-Dimensional Shaping and Nose Piece

Figures 10A and 10B show the process by which the shell 101 is given a three- dimensional shape. First, a nose piece 118 is attached to the shell 101 on an internal surface which faces the wearer when the shell 101 is worn. This nose piece 118 is made of three- dimensionally molded silicone rubber and glued to the shell 101 with silicon glue in one exemplary embodiment. Other embodiments of nose pieces may be made of different materials and attached by different methods in order to serve the purpose of contacting the nose and providing shape, comfort and/or sealing.

To facilitate creation of the three-dimensional shape, three hemming webs 120, 122, 124 having polygonal shapes are installed into position as shown in Figures 10A and 10B.

Dimensions of the three hemming webs 120, 122, 124 are shown in Tables below for the “Small” and “Large” exemplary embodiments. Two of the hemming webs 120, 122 are positioned for bonding a nose area protrusion 126 into a three-dimensional shape. Arrows 128, 130 show the direction for bonding the nose area protrusion 126 into a three-dimensional shape. Similarly, hemming web 124 is positioned for bonding to a chin area protrusion 132 in a manner shown by arrow 134 to create a three-dimensional chin area protrusion 132. Bonding is performed with the application of heat, pressure, or the combination of heat and pressure. A polygonal shape region 136 forms a slightly rounded shape due to the polygons 107 to enable the region 136 to radially project slightly outward from the wearers nose and mouth. Figure 11 shows a front view of the completed three-dimensionally bonded shell 101. Step 4 - Removeable Filter Inlay Connection

The fourth and last step of creating the shell 101 is to enable a filter inlay to be connected to the shell 101 in a removeable fashion such that the wearer can replace filter inlays when desired. This is accomplished in the exemplary embodiments by applying corresponding hook- and-loop material to an inside of the shell 101 and to the filter inlay. Other fastening methods are also envisioned such as snaps, ties, a pouch for holding the filter inlay, a zipper connection, and other types of fasteners.

Figure 12 shows filter inlay connecting hook-and-loop pieces 138A-B positioned onto the internal, wearer facing side of the shell 101. These hook-and-loop pieces 138A-B are fixed into place with glue in the exemplary embodiment, but the present invention is not limited to the use of glue and other connections are envisioned. Two shapes of hook-and-loop pieces 138A-B may be used where there are two first shaped hook-and-loop pieces 138A and five second shaped hook-and-loop pieces 138B. These dimensions for the “Small” and “Large” versions of the exemplary embodiments are found in Tables below. Other sizes, shapes and configurations are also envisioned.

For the exemplary embodiments, the shell 101 has hook-and-loop fasteners 140, 142 attached by glue to straps 144, 146 of the shell 101. Other fasteners are also envisioned, and a few examples were provided above.

Step 5 - Filter Inlay Creation

Figures 13 and 14 show the creation of a filter inlay 200 according to one embodiment of the invention. The filter inlay 200 is created by three sub-steps assembling and joining a plurality of layers, cutting the filter inlay 200 to shape, enabling connection of the filter inlay 200 to the shell 101 , and forming a three-dimensional shape. While these steps outline the exemplary embodiments, it is envisioned that other embodiments may have additional steps, fewer steps, and/or steps in a different order. As shown in Figure 13, the filter inlay 200 is created with four layers 202, 204, 206, 208. The first outer layer 202 and the fourth inner layer 208 are fabric layers. Layer two 204 is an adhesive layer and the third layer 206 is filter media.

For the exemplary embodiments, the first layer 202 is a 130gsm 4-way stretch jersey material made of Polyamide (80% by weight) and Spandex (20% by weight). The second layer 204 is a hemming web having a 0.1mm thickness for bonding the layers together. In order to prevent the adhesive from adversely impacting the filtration capabilities of the filter inlay 200, the hemming web may be in the form of a strip around the perimeter of the filter inlay 200. The third layer 206 is made of filter media and the fourth and final layer 208 is a 130gsm 4-way stretch jersey material made of Polyamide (78% by weight) and Spandex (22% by weight). The layers 202, 204, 206, 208 are bonded together with heat, pressure, or a combination of heat and pressure.

Once the layers 202, 204, 206, 208 are bonded, the shape of the filter inlay 200 may be cut according to pre-determined specifications and dimensions. Alternatively, the layers 202, 204, 206, 208 of the filter inlay 200 may be pre-cut prior to assembling and bonding. In one exemplary embodiment the shape is laser cut. Next, hook-and-loop pieces 210A-B may be glued onto an outer surface of the filter inlay

200 such that the filter inlay hook-and-loop pieces 210A-Bcorrespond in size, shape and configuration to the hook-and-loop pieces 138A-B on the shell 101. Finally, a strip of hemming web adhesive 212 may be positioned onto the outer surface of the filter inlay 200 as shown in Figure 14 along an edge 214. This strip of adhesive 212 facilitates forming a three-dimensional shape by bonding the edge 214 to another edge 216 in a manner shown by arrow 218.

Examples

Dimensions for “Small” and “Large” versions of the face mask 100 are outlined below, however it should be noted that other sizes are envisioned to better accommodate a variety of wearers. The tables use reference numbers as discussed above and shown in Figures 8-15. Both versions have an overall shell 101 height 150 and length 152. The triangle structure 106 has an overall height 154 and length 156. Dimensions for these heights 150, 154 and lengths 152, 156 are in the tables below. Tables 1 and 2 provide dimensions for the “Small” version of the face mask 100 and Tables 3 and 4 provide dimensions for the “Large” version of the face mask 100.

Table 1 - "Small" (Overall Table 2 - "Small" (Triangle Dimensions) Dimensions)

Width Height

Measurement (cm) (cm) (cm)

150 107A

152 107B

154 107C

156 107D

107E

120/122

124

138A/210A

138B/210B

Table 3 - "Large" (Overall Table 4 - "Large" (Triangle Dimensions) Dimensions)

Width Height

Measurement (cm) (cm) (cm)

150 107A

152 107B

154 107C

156 107D

107E

120/122

124

138A/210A

138B/210B

A respiratory protection face mask according to the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments and examples. Various details of the invention may be changed without departing from the scope of the invention. Furthermore, the foregoing description of the preferred embodiments of the invention and best mode for practicing the invention are provided for the purpose of illustration only and not for the purpose of limitation, the invention being defined by the claims.