US20080003907A1 - Facing Product for Vehicular Trim - Google Patents

Facing Product for Vehicular Trim Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080003907A1
US20080003907A1 US11427179 US42717906A US2008003907A1 US 20080003907 A1 US20080003907 A1 US 20080003907A1 US 11427179 US11427179 US 11427179 US 42717906 A US42717906 A US 42717906A US 2008003907 A1 US2008003907 A1 US 2008003907A1
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Prior art keywords
layer
fibers
layers
facing material
tm
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Abandoned
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US11427179
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Samuel Keith Black
Quentin Kampf
Sean Morin
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Freudenberg Nonwovens Ltd
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Freudenberg Nonwovens Ltd
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    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D04BRAIDING; LACE-MAKING; KNITTING; TRIMMINGS; NON-WOVEN FABRICS
    • D04HMAKING TEXTILE FABRICS, e.g. FROM FIBRES OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL; FABRICS MADE BY SUCH PROCESSES OR APPARATUS, e.g. FELTS, NON-WOVEN FABRICS; COTTON-WOOL; WADDING NON-WOVEN FABRICS FROM STAPLE FIBRES, FILAMENTS OR YARNS, BONDED WITH AT LEAST ONE WEB-LIKE MATERIAL DURING THEIR CONSOLIDATION
    • D04H3/00Non-woven fabrics formed wholly or mainly of yarns or like filamentary material of substantial length
    • D04H3/08Non-woven fabrics formed wholly or mainly of yarns or like filamentary material of substantial length characterised by the method of strengthening or consolidating
    • D04H3/14Non-woven fabrics formed wholly or mainly of yarns or like filamentary material of substantial length characterised by the method of strengthening or consolidating with bonds between thermoplastic yarns or filaments produced by welding
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B5/00Layered products characterised by the non- homogeneity or physical structure, i.e. comprising a fibrous, filamentary, particulate or foam layer; Layered products characterised by having a layer differing constitutionally or physically in different parts
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60RVEHICLES, VEHICLE FITTINGS, OR VEHICLE PARTS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B60R13/00Elements for body-finishing, identifying, or decorating; Arrangements or adaptations for advertising purposes
    • B60R13/02Internal Trim mouldings ; Internal Ledges; Wall liners for passenger compartments; Roof liners
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D04BRAIDING; LACE-MAKING; KNITTING; TRIMMINGS; NON-WOVEN FABRICS
    • D04HMAKING TEXTILE FABRICS, e.g. FROM FIBRES OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL; FABRICS MADE BY SUCH PROCESSES OR APPARATUS, e.g. FELTS, NON-WOVEN FABRICS; COTTON-WOOL; WADDING NON-WOVEN FABRICS FROM STAPLE FIBRES, FILAMENTS OR YARNS, BONDED WITH AT LEAST ONE WEB-LIKE MATERIAL DURING THEIR CONSOLIDATION
    • D04H1/00Non-woven fabrics formed wholly or mainly of staple fibres or like relatively short fibres
    • D04H1/40Non-woven fabrics formed wholly or mainly of staple fibres or like relatively short fibres from fleeces or layers composed of fibres without existing or potential cohesive properties
    • D04H1/54Non-woven fabrics formed wholly or mainly of staple fibres or like relatively short fibres from fleeces or layers composed of fibres without existing or potential cohesive properties by welding together the fibres, e.g. by partially melting or dissolving
    • D04H1/559Non-woven fabrics formed wholly or mainly of staple fibres or like relatively short fibres from fleeces or layers composed of fibres without existing or potential cohesive properties by welding together the fibres, e.g. by partially melting or dissolving the fibres being within layered webs
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2250/00Layers arrangement
    • B32B2250/40Symmetrical or sandwich layers, e.g. ABA, ABCBA, ABCCBA
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2262/00Composition of fibres which form a fibrous or filamentary layer or are present as additives
    • B32B2262/02Synthetic macromolecular fibres
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2262/00Composition of fibres which form a fibrous or filamentary layer or are present as additives
    • B32B2262/04Cellulosic plastic fibres, e.g. rayon
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2262/00Composition of fibres which form a fibrous or filamentary layer or are present as additives
    • B32B2262/06Vegetal fibres
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2262/00Composition of fibres which form a fibrous or filamentary layer or are present as additives
    • B32B2262/14Mixture of at least two fibres made of different materials
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2272/00Resin or rubber layer comprising scrap, waste or recycling material
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2307/00Properties of the layers or laminate
    • B32B2307/10Properties of the layers or laminate having particular acoustical properties
    • B32B2307/102Insulating
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B2605/00Vehicles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B5/00Layered products characterised by the non- homogeneity or physical structure, i.e. comprising a fibrous, filamentary, particulate or foam layer; Layered products characterised by having a layer differing constitutionally or physically in different parts
    • B32B5/02Layered products characterised by the non- homogeneity or physical structure, i.e. comprising a fibrous, filamentary, particulate or foam layer; Layered products characterised by having a layer differing constitutionally or physically in different parts characterised by structural features of a fibrous or filamentary layer
    • B32B5/022Non-woven fabric
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B5/00Layered products characterised by the non- homogeneity or physical structure, i.e. comprising a fibrous, filamentary, particulate or foam layer; Layered products characterised by having a layer differing constitutionally or physically in different parts
    • B32B5/02Layered products characterised by the non- homogeneity or physical structure, i.e. comprising a fibrous, filamentary, particulate or foam layer; Layered products characterised by having a layer differing constitutionally or physically in different parts characterised by structural features of a fibrous or filamentary layer
    • B32B5/08Layered products characterised by the non- homogeneity or physical structure, i.e. comprising a fibrous, filamentary, particulate or foam layer; Layered products characterised by having a layer differing constitutionally or physically in different parts characterised by structural features of a fibrous or filamentary layer the fibres or filaments of a layer being of different substances, e.g. conjugate fibres, mixture of different fibres
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B5/00Layered products characterised by the non- homogeneity or physical structure, i.e. comprising a fibrous, filamentary, particulate or foam layer; Layered products characterised by having a layer differing constitutionally or physically in different parts
    • B32B5/22Layered products characterised by the non- homogeneity or physical structure, i.e. comprising a fibrous, filamentary, particulate or foam layer; Layered products characterised by having a layer differing constitutionally or physically in different parts characterised by the presence of two or more layers which are next to each other and are fibrous, filamentary, formed of particles or foamed
    • B32B5/24Layered products characterised by the non- homogeneity or physical structure, i.e. comprising a fibrous, filamentary, particulate or foam layer; Layered products characterised by having a layer differing constitutionally or physically in different parts characterised by the presence of two or more layers which are next to each other and are fibrous, filamentary, formed of particles or foamed one layer being a fibrous or filamentary layer
    • B32B5/26Layered products characterised by the non- homogeneity or physical structure, i.e. comprising a fibrous, filamentary, particulate or foam layer; Layered products characterised by having a layer differing constitutionally or physically in different parts characterised by the presence of two or more layers which are next to each other and are fibrous, filamentary, formed of particles or foamed one layer being a fibrous or filamentary layer another layer next to it also being fibrous or filamentary
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B7/00Layered products characterised by the relation between layers, i.e. products comprising layers having different physical properties and products characterised by the interconnection of layers
    • B32B7/02Layered products characterised by the relation between layers, i.e. products comprising layers having different physical properties and products characterised by the interconnection of layers in respect of physical properties, e.g. hardness
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B7/00Layered products characterised by the relation between layers, i.e. products comprising layers having different physical properties and products characterised by the interconnection of layers
    • B32B7/04Layered products characterised by the relation between layers, i.e. products comprising layers having different physical properties and products characterised by the interconnection of layers characterised by the connection of layers
    • B32B7/045Layered products characterised by the relation between layers, i.e. products comprising layers having different physical properties and products characterised by the interconnection of layers characterised by the connection of layers the layers being not connected over the whole surface, e.g. discontinuous connection, patterned connection
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B32LAYERED PRODUCTS
    • B32BLAYERED PRODUCTS, i.e. PRODUCTS BUILT-UP OF STRATA OF FLAT OR NON-FLAT, e.g. CELLULAR OR HONEYCOMB, FORM
    • B32B7/00Layered products characterised by the relation between layers, i.e. products comprising layers having different physical properties and products characterised by the interconnection of layers
    • B32B7/04Layered products characterised by the relation between layers, i.e. products comprising layers having different physical properties and products characterised by the interconnection of layers characterised by the connection of layers
    • B32B7/12Layered products characterised by the relation between layers, i.e. products comprising layers having different physical properties and products characterised by the interconnection of layers characterised by the connection of layers using an adhesive, i.e. any interposed material having adhesive or bonding properties
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T442/00Fabric [woven, knitted, or nonwoven textile or cloth, etc.]
    • Y10T442/60Nonwoven fabric [i.e., nonwoven strand or fiber material]

Abstract

A composite facing material is disclosed that may be used in combination with, e.g. foam, fibers and/or shoddy in a vehicular application. The composite may provide heat insulation and/or sound attenuation in a vehicular trim panel. The facing material may include a layer of staple fibers with a spunbonded continuous filament web layer. The layers may be intermittently thermally bonded in a desired pattern.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to a laminate for use as a facing product on automotive trim components, and more particularly, to a facing product for vehicular components, such as headliners, hood liners and dash insulators.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Non-woven sheets made of synthetic fibers have been used as substrates in a variety of applications, e.g., carpets, tiles, wall coverings, coatings, etc. Non-woven fabric laminates such as spun-bonded/melt-blown/spun-bonded (SMS) laminates are useful, e.g., for towels, industrial garments, medical garments and drapes, sterile wraps, diapers, etc. Non-woven sheets may be manufactured by a dry or wet process, or by extrusion of a molten mass in the form of filaments (i.e., a spun-bonded sheet).
  • Generally, these articles require high dimensional stability and the ability to withstand, especially during manufacture, simultaneous mechanical and thermal stresses. Such stresses may result in risks of distortion during aging of the laid article, e.g., lengthwise elongation, transverse shrinkage, and inverse distortions, due to “elastic recovery”.
  • A spun-bonded web layer may be made from continuous, randomly deposited filaments of synthetic polymers. Such webs may not in themselves possess textile-like or drapability qualities, but may be thin, paper-like layers with an open, uneven fleece appearance. These webs may possess good tensile and tear strength and have dimensional stability.
  • In contrast, a firmly bonded drylaid non-woven, i.e., made from short staple fibers, may have poor dimensional stability and poor tensile and tear strength. However, such non-woven product may provide drapability and textile quality.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In a first exemplary embodiment the present invention relates to an automotive trim panel comprising a non-woven composite facing material and one or more backing layers. The facing material may comprise at least one layer of a non-continuous thermoplastic staple fiber and at least one spun bonded web layer comprising continuous thermoplastic filaments. Bonds between the layers of the facing material may be formed as thermal bonds with the thermoplastic fibers over at least a portion of confronting surfaces between the layers, the thermal bonds being point-bonded.
  • In a second exemplary embodiment the present invention relates to a non-woven composite facing material comprising a layer of non-continuous, thermoplastic staple fiber having a first melting point Tm1 and an opposed to a layer of spun bonded web comprising continuous thermoplastic filaments having a second melting point Tm2 wherein Tm1<Tm2. The facing material may further include thermal bonds between the layers formed from heat softened portions of the thermoplastic fibers, the thermal bonds being point bonds wherein the staple fiber layer may act as an adhesive layer when the facing material is combined with one or more backing layers.
  • In a third exemplary embodiment the present invention relates to a non-woven composite facing material comprising a layer of non-continuous, thermoplastic staple fiber having a first melting point Tm1, opposed to a layer of spun bonded web comprising continuous thermoplastic filaments having a second melting point Tm2 and a third melting point Tm3 wherein Tm1<Tm2 and/or Tm1<Tm3. Thermal bonds between the layers may be formed from heat softened portions of the thermoplastic fibers, the thermal bonds being point bonds wherein the staple fiber layer may act as an adhesive layer when the facing material is combined with one or more backing layers.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reference to the following written description and accompanying drawings in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic drawing of a composite facing material having a staple fiber layer and a spun-bonded non-woven web layer.
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic drawing of a composite facing material having a staple fiber layer sandwiched between two spun-bonded non-woven web layers.
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic drawing of a composite facing material having a spun-bonded non-woven web layer sandwiched between two staple fiber layers.
  • FIG. 4 is a schematic drawing of the external surface of one side of a composite facing material of the invention, in which the material is point-bonded continuously over approximately 10% of its surface area.
  • FIG. 5 is a schematic drawing of the external surface of one side of a composite facing material of the invention, in which the material is bonded intermittently over approximately 20% of its surface area.
  • FIG. 6 is a schematic drawing of a section of an automotive trim panel illustrating a composite facing material attached to a backing layer for use as a headliner, hoodliner or dash insulator.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention is described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention, may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art.
  • The invention relates in one exemplary embodiment to composite fabric-like materials suitable for use as a facing layer for automotive trim components, particularly panels which may require sound attenuating or heat insulating properties. Thus, the facing layer may feature a non-woven composite material which may include a layer of staple fiber and a spunbonded web layer, the latter comprising continuous filament thermoplastic fibers forming at least a portion of the layer. The layers may be thermally bonded over at least a portion of their confronting surface area.
  • The staple fiber layer and the spunbonded web layer may be opposed surface-to-surface and point-bonded in any desired pattern and may be continuous over the entire surface area. In addition, the opposed layers may be intermittently bonded over 5-40% of the surface area of the composite material. As used herein, “continuous” thermally bonded over a portion of confronting surface layers' refers to heat bonding of layers both along the width and length of the surface area of the material comprising the layers (as opposed to bonding only at the edges of the layers), and substantially evenly over that area; “point”-bonded refers to bonding of the layers at discrete points which may optionally include a desired pattern of point bonding; “intermittently” bonded refers to a bonding pattern in which the layers are bonded within discrete areas over the entire surface area of the material. Continuous or intermittent bonding, according to the invention, may therefore occur across the width and along the length of the material, rather than simply at the edges, and confer integrity to the composite material along its length and width.
  • The term “fiber”, as used herein, may be taken to mean a unit of matter characterized by having a length of at least two orders of magnitudes greater than its diameter or width and which can be formed into a fabric web.
  • Various methods of making the non-woven composite facing material are described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,653,041, which is assigned to the assignee of the present invention and included herein by reference in its entirety. One procedure may include the steps of: (a) positioning a layer of staple fiber and a layer of spunbonded continuous filament web in surface-to-surface alignment; and (b) bonding the layers together by applying heat and pressure substantially evenly or at selected points over the entire surface area. “Substantially evenly” refers to the application of heat and pressure across the width and along the length of the aligned layers.
  • Another method of making the non-woven composite facing material may include the steps of: (a) positioning a layer of staple fiber and a layer of spunbonded continuous filament web in a surface-to-surface alignment, wherein the layer of spunbonded web includes a filament of a thermoplastic polymer having a melt point which facilitates bonding of the layers; and (b) bonding the layers by applying heat continuously over the surface area of one layer together with pressure, wherein the heat is high enough to induce softening of the thermoplastic polymer.
  • “Non-woven spunbonded web” refers to a web of material which has been formed without the use of a weaving process and which has a construction of individual fibers, filaments or threads which are substantially continuous and randomly disposed. “Substantially continuous” fibers means that a majority of polymeric filaments of a web are unbroken or uncut fibers. “Staple” fibers are non-continuous, i.e., cut filament fibers. A “staple fiber batt” or “layer” refers to a batt or layer of staple fibers of uniform weight held together by fiber to fiber cohesion and having limited dimensional stability. “Bonding” of a fiber or filament refers to the attachment of a polymer fiber or filament upon reaching at or near its melt point (Tm) to another fiber.
  • Non-woven composite facing materials of the invention may be useful in manufactured goods such as automotive trim components when combined with layers of fiberglass, foam, shoddy or other materials to form sound attenuating or heat insulating panels. Laminates so formed may be used as headliners, hood liners and dash insulators. The facing material may further be treated to provide fire retardancy and/or repel water. The facing materials of the present invention may provide improved moldability and drapability due to their isotropic nature. They may further provide improved coverage (hiding) as well as reduced weight and reduced cost.
  • Accordingly, one aspect of the invention relates to the manufacture of non-woven facing materials that may exhibit isotropic tensile and tear strength as well as drapability and/or a textile-like appearance for use as a facing layer in automotive trim panel applications. By isotropic tensile strength it is meant that the tensile strength of the facing material in either a horizontal (width) or vertical (length) direction is within ±10% of either value, including all values and increments therein. For example, if the tensile strength in the vertical direction is 7500 psi, the tensile strength in the horizontal direction may also be between about 6750 psi to 8250 psi. Similarly, the tear strength, which may be measured, e.g., according to the Elmendorf ASTM D-1922 test, may also be evaluated in a horizontal (TH) and vertical direction (TV) and may be reported in grams. According, the value of TH/TV will have no units and may have a value between 0.9-1.1. Materials of the invention may include composites of one or more layers of spunbonded web made from continuous and randomly deposited fibers of thermoplastic polymers and one or more layers of carded polymeric staple fibers. Spunbonded fabrics and fabrics using staple fibers are discussed in “Encyclopedia of Textiles, Fibers and Non-woven Fabrics”, Ed. M. Grayson, John Wiley and Sons, NY, 1984, pages 252-304, hereby incorporated by reference.
  • As used herein, “thermoplastic polymer” refers to polymers which are capable of melting or softening (e.g. passing through a Tg) and therefore becoming suitable for molding or shaping when subject to heat. One or a plurality of different thermoplastic polymers may be employed in either or both of the spunbonded web layer and/or the staple fiber layer of the composite material of the invention. These polymers may form filaments which may be used in combination with other filaments which have different melt points, particularly in the spunbonded web layer. Thus, in some embodiments of the invention, the thermoplastic fibers of the layers may be composed solely of one type of thermoplastic, whereas in other embodiments, they may be composed of mixtures of two or more types of thermoplastic polymers. See, for example, the webs described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,906,507, hereby incorporated by reference. In the spunbonded web, these polymers may form continuous filaments, whereas in the staple fiber layer, non-continuous fibers may be used. Thermoplastic polymers of the invention include, but are not limited to polyesters or polyamides, polyamides based upon nylon-6, 66, and 12, polypropylene, polyethylene, polybutane, polymethylpentene, ethylenepropylene copolymers, polystyrene, thermoplastic elastomers such as polyurethanes, or thermoplastic polymers such as polytrifluorochloroethylene or mixtures thereof, as well as mixtures of these thermoplastic polymers and/or co-polymers. In addition, the polymers may include ethylene vinyl acetate polymers, synthetic polymers comprising 40% or more of polyurethane, polyetheresters, polyetherurethane, polyamide elastomeric materials, and polyester elastomer materials, polyester and polyurethane elastomeric materials. For example, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) alone or in combination with polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) may be used as a polyester-based filament, the polymers being spun together in the form of a twin component or spun separately and arranged side-by-side or coaxially.
  • Any of the fiber-forming thermoplastic polymers including fiber forming hot melt adhesives, and viscoelastic hot melt adhesives may also be used in the spunbonded web as a bonding agent. The invention is not limited to the above polymers, for any polymer, co-polymer or mixture (with the same or different melting or softening points) capable of forming a heat-sensitive plastic filament or fiber is suitable in the invention. The softening points of a fiber made from any of the above polymers will be known to those of skill in the art and, if not known, may be readily determined according to conventional means.
  • Thermoplastic fibers useful in the invention may have a melting point or softening point (e.g. Tg) of at least about 120 degrees C. The upper limits and preferred ranges will depend on practical consideration of the intended uses and processes of manufacture. The invention is not limited to the use of any particular fiber, but takes advantage of many properties of different fibers. For example, the spunbonded web layer may be composed of one, two or more of these thermoplastic polymers and comprises not only a thermoplastic component, but also may include other type of fibers, e.g., natural or manmade fibers, including textile threads or yarns composed of cotton, rayon, hemp, etc. Where the spunbonded layer comprises different melt point polymers, the fiber polymer having the lower melt point may act as the bonding agent upon heat bonding of not only the spunbonded web structure, but also of the composite structure.
  • Forming spunbonded material may be accomplished via conventional methods. Any method for forming a non-woven web having continuous fibers of a polymer is encompassed for use in the invention. For example, the spunbonded web may be made by extrusion of a molten mass in the form of filaments, Thus, the non-woven spunbonded web 14 may be prepared in conventional fashion as described, e.g., in Dorschner et al., U.S. Pat. No. 3,692,618; Kinney, U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,338,992 and 3,3411,394; Levy, U.S. Pat. No. 3,502,538; Hartmann, U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,502,763 and 3,909,009; Dobo et al., U.S. Pat. No. 3,542,615; and Appel et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,340,563; the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
  • Non-woven spunbonded webs made from continuous fibers may generally be made from a polymer which is continuously extruded through a spinnerette in discrete fibers. The fibers may be drawn mechanically or pneumatically without breaking in order to orient the polymer fibers. The continuous fibers may then be deposited in a substantially random manner onto a carrier belt to form a web. The continuous fiber layer generally may a thickness in the range of about 0.01 to about 1 mm, including all values and increments therein. A non-woven fleece-like web may be characterized by an extreme entanglement of the fibers, which provides coherency and strength to a web and also confers on the web increased dimensional strength. As the aspect ratio (ratio of length to diameter) of the fibers of the web approaches infinity, i.e., the fibers may be considered essentially continuous. The fibers may be relatively long and entangled sufficiently such that it is generally impossible to remove one complete fiber from the mass of fibers or to trace one fiber from beginning to end.
  • The polymeric staple fiber layer or layers, which may provide softness, absorbency, and/or drapability, may be made from one or a plurality of fibers sourced from different polymers. Staple fiber herein may be understood as a fiber that is not continuous within the layer. Such fibers may include fibers that have therefore been cut to a desired length. The fiber composition of the staple fiber layer may contain at least 15%, preferably 20%, 25%, or 30%, up to 100% thermoplastic fibers, including all values and increments therein. The preferred fiber blend for the layer or layers of staple fiber may act as a bonding agent for the staple fiber layer and also contribute to the bonding to the adjacent fiber layers. The layer of staple fiber may be formed by any conventional method, including air-laying, carding, garneting, or similar batt-forming techniques. The fiber length of the staple fiber may range from about 1.0 inches to about 4.5 inches, including all values and increments therein. The denier may be between about 0.7 and about 50, including all values and increments therein. Preferably, the denier may be between about 1 and about 6 denier. The staple fiber layer may be in the weight range of about 5 to about 100 gm/sq. meter.
  • The bonding method for bonding the composite facing material is preferably thermal-bonding. The bonding may be preferably done with calendar rolls, one or both of which may be heated and one or both of which may be embossed, which may allow discrete point or area bonding across the surface area of at least one of the layers to thereby bond two layers together. That is, if one calendar roll is heated and embossed, the aligned spunbonded continuous-filament layer and staple fiber layer are passed between two calendar rolls and the layer closest to the heated and embossed calendar roll may become bonded to the remaining layer(s). Preferably, both rollers may be heated. While non-woven materials of the invention are not limited to a particular bonding pattern, the ability of the polymer fibers to bond at the discrete bonding points or areas may be significant to formation of a composite structure having high tensile and tear strength. Bonding according to the invention may occur both across the width and along the length of the composite material, and thus may strengthen the composite material over all of its surface area. Point or area bonding may serve to hold the layers of the composite together across their surfaces as well as to provide integrity to each individual layer by bonding fibers within each layer.
  • Thermal bonding for thermoplastic polymers may be achieved by heating the rollers sufficiently in conjunction with pressure to bond with melting. The corresponding temperature to which the calendar roll may be heated in order to achieve the desired temperature may be approximately the same, or slightly above, the desired softening point temperature. Pressure may be exerted on the layers as they are passed between the two calendar rolls, which may cause the layers to bond and may be a function of the area bonded between rollers.
  • A typical embossing or bonding pattern may have round or square pin bonding points wherein each embossing pin has a side dimension of, e.g., 0.010-0.050 inch, including all values and increments therein. The pin may have a spacing between pins of e.g., 0.010-0.100 inch, and a depth of bonding of, e.g., 0.015-0.070 inch, including all values and increments therein. The resulting pattern may have a bonded area of, e.g., between 10 and 40%, including all values and increments therein. The spunbonded web or webs and the layer or layers of the staple fiber web may be bonded together by positioning them in a surface-to-surface alignment and melting or softening one or more components within the structure which may be achieved by a combination of heat and pressure. The heat and pressure may be applied over the total surface area of the composite material. Preferably, the heat and pressure may be applied in a well-defined intermittent point pattern which may expose between five and forty or fifty percent of the surface area of the composite structure, including all values and increments therein.
  • The heat and pressure applied to the composite structure may be high enough to induce softening of at least one of the thermoplastic polymer components. Heat and pressure bonding of the continuous, randomly deposited fibers of thermoplastic polymer into the composite structure may confer isotropic tensile and tear strength. The resultant composite material may be subjected to relatively high stress and strain.
  • FIGS. 1-3 illustrate preferred composite facing materials of the invention. For example, in FIG. 1 the composite facing material 10 comprises a single layer of staple fiber 16 and a single layer of spunbonded web 14. The layers may be surface to surface and point-bonded in discrete areas 24′ of the material. In FIG. 2, the composite facing material 10′ includes a staple fiber layer 16 sandwiched between two spunbonded web layers 14, 14′. This material may also be point-bonded in discrete areas 24, 24′. In FIG. 3, the composite facing material 10″ includes a layer of spunbonded web 14 sandwiched between two layers of staple fiber 16, 16′ and point-bonded in discrete areas 24″.
  • FIG. 4 is a schematic drawing of the external surface of one side of a composite facing material 10 of the invention, in which the material is point-bonded continuously over approximately 10% of its surface area. FIG. 5 is a schematic drawing of the external surface of one side of a composite facing material 10 of the invention, in which the material is bonded intermittently over approximately 20% of its surface area.
  • FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary facing material 10 of the present invention in combination with one or more layers 20 of backing materials which may form a trim panel 22 for a vehicle application. Preferably, the panel may find use in applications where heat resistance, sound attenuation, water resistance and/or heat insulation are important, such as headliners, hood liners (engine covers) and dash insulators.
  • One important selling point for vehicles today is reduced noise, both from external and internal sources. The present invention may therefore serve to reduce external and/or internal noise. External noise may include noise from the engine, the transmission, the road, vibrations, etc. Internal noise may emanate from the passenger compartment, such as radio noise, etc. Automotive trim panels such as headliners, dash insulators and hood liners (also known as engine covers) may therefore be prepared according to the present invention. The present invention as a facing layer may therefore be used to provide coverage (hiding of backing layers) and/or to encapsulate loose materials and to assist in forming the product to shape.
  • Dash insulators, in particular, also are designed to reduce the transfer of engine heat into the passenger compartment. The present invention when used as a facing material over other materials is also contemplated for use to regulate heat transfer from the engine compartment to the passenger compartment.
  • One particular application for the present invention is a vehicle headliner which may separate the passenger compartment from the sheet metal forming the roof of the vehicle. While providing an aesthetically pleasing finish, as alluded to above, the headliner of the present invention may be designed to attenuate sounds from within the passenger compartment as well as sounds originating outside the passenger compartment. By attenuate it is meant to absorb, reduce the transmission, insulate or serve as a barrier to sound. Headliners have been made with impregnated fiberglass batting, with synthetic fibers, with foam layers and with combinations thereof. Because of their complex shape, headliners are generally molded or formed to shape. A facing layer 10 for headliners according to the present invention may then preferably have good moldability and drapability properties in order to conform to the desired molded shape. In addition, low weight and low cost may be important factors when selecting a facing material. The facing materials of the present invention have properties making them uniquely suitable for use as facing materials for headliners.
  • With attention again directed to FIG. 6, a headliner 22 may comprise the facing layer 10 of the present invention backed by one or more layers 20 of one or a combination of foam, fibers or shoddy. For headliners comprising fiberglass batting, the facing materials of the present invention may be used on both sides of the batt and essentially encapsulate the fiberglass, controlling dispersion into the atmosphere.
  • Dash insulators are often mounted to a vehicle firewall which may separate the passenger compartment from the engine compartment. They may be designed to reduce the intrusion of heat and noise from the engine compartment, vehicle transmission, etc. into the passenger compartment. Dash insulators generally comprise an open-cell polyurethane foam layer, a felt layer or a resinated fiber pad and a barrier sheet of heavily filled thermoplastic material. The barrier sheet may comprise EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and a high mass filler such as glass, calcium carbonate or barium sulfate. A porous (foam or fiber) decoupler layer may also be included. In FIG. 6, 22 therefore may also identify a dash insulator and may comprise the facing layer 10 of the present invention backed once again by one or more layers 20 of one or a combination of foam, fibers, barrier sheet or shoddy. Where shoddy may be employed as the backing layer, the facing materials of the present invention may provide coverage (hiding) of the somewhat varied and bright color of the shoddy, making the insulator more attractive.
  • As noted above, hood liners or engine covers are generally attached to the underside of a vehicle hood to reduce the transmission of noise and heat from the engine. One or more layers of heat and sound insulative materials are generally covered by an outer facing layer. Hood liners have the added requirement of functioning under extreme environmental conditions, including temperatures of approximately 150° C. for extended periods of time, as well as exposure to water, oil, steam, etc. Facing materials may provide a pleasing appearance and withstand the environmental conditions. In FIG. 6, item 22 may also represent a hood liner or engine cover that may again comprise the facing layer 10 of the present invention backed by one or more layers 20 of one or a combination of foam, fibers or shoddy. The outer facing layer 10 may be preferred to also package the layers and to again provide an attractive outer surface. In one embodiment, a facing layer may be provided on both sides of the combined layers of insulative materials to encapsulate them and improve handling. Encapsulating sound attenuating fibrous materials such as glass fibers, synthetic fibers, resinated cotton or shoddy provides a cleaner workplace and neater product. In addition, the facing material of the present invention may be rendered water repellent, to act as a water barrier, and flame retardant. This may be accomplished by treating the fibers/filaments before or after formation of the facing material 10.
  • While three different laminate constructions for use as facing layers are described in FIGS. 1-3, a particularly preferred construction comprises a layer of spunbonded web pointbonded to a layer of staple fibers having a first melting point (Tm1) or combination of melting points (in the case of a plurality of different polymers) that are less than the melting point of the spunbonded web layer, which may be characterized as having a second melting point Tm2. Thus, the melting point of the staple fiber layer Tm1 is less than the second melting point Tm2. When combined with any of the aforementioned backing layers for use as an automotive trim component, the staple fiber layer may be placed in contact with the backing layer and therefore act as an adhesive layer when the component is formed, as the outer continuous layer would not experience melting. This may then eliminate the need for a separate adhesive layer in the construction of the component.
  • In addition, it should be appreciated that the facing layer may also include a layer of non-continuous, thermoplastic staple fiber having a first melting point Tm1, opposed to a layer of spunbonded web comprising continuous thermoplastic filaments having a second melting point Tm2 and a third melting point Tm3 wherein Tm1<Tm2 and/or Tm1<Tm3.
  • The weight of the layers which may comprise the laminate facing material of the present invention may vary depending on the application and specific properties desired (coverage, cost, weight, etc.). The spunbonded web layer may range from about 5 to about 50 grams/sq. meter, and the staple fiber layer form about 5 to about 100 grams/sq. meter, including all values and increments therein in connection with such properties. As a facing material for fiberglass, it has been found that facing materials of the present invention may be useful when of a range of about 20 to about 35 grams/sq. meter, including all values and increments therein. To provide hiding of an underlying distracting color, it has been found that facing materials of the present invention may be useful when of a range of about 65 to about 130 grams/sq. meter, including all values and increments therein.
  • A unique facing material for encapsulating one or both sides of a heat or sound insulative composite therefore may be provided by the present invention. The facing material may provide advantages in moldability, coverage, cost and weight. In addition, the present invention may provide a fabric-like composite material that may include isotropic tensile and tear strength. The invention may also provide a tear-resistant fabric-like material which may provide drapability and textile-like surface properties. The present invention may also provide a fabric-like composite material that may be useful as a facing product for automotive trim components, particularly panels that may find use as sound attenuators or heat insulators when the composite is combined with one or more layers of another material, such as fiberglass, shoddy, foam, etc.
  • The description and drawings illustratively set forth the presently preferred invention embodiment. We intend the description and drawings to describe this embodiment and not to limit the scope of the invention. Obviously, it is possible to modify these embodiments while remaining within the scope of the following claims. Therefore, within the scope of the claims one may practice the invention otherwise than as the description and drawings specifically show and describe.

Claims (19)

  1. 1. An automotive trim panel comprising;
    a non-woven composite facing material and one or more backing layers, wherein the facing material comprises at least one layer of a non-continuous thermoplastic staple fiber and at least one spunbonded web layer comprising continuous thermoplastic filaments;
    wherein bonds between said layers of said facing material are formed as thermal bonds with said thermoplastic fibers over at least a portion of confronting surfaces between said layers, said thermal bonds being point-bonded.
  2. 2. The automotive trim panel of claim 1 wherein said layer of a non-continuous thermoplastic staple fiber may comprise one or a plurality of polymers.
  3. 3. The automotive trim panel of claim 1 wherein said spun bonded web layer may comprise one or a plurality of polymers.
  4. 4. The automotive trim panel of claim 3 wherein said spun bonded layer comprises at least two polymers, each of said polymers having different melting points.
  5. 5. The automotive trim panel of claim 1 wherein said layer of staple fiber comprises at least 15% thermoplastic fiber.
  6. 6. The automotive trim panel of claim 1 wherein said composite facing material has a surface area said thermal bonds being point bonded to cover about 5-40% of said surface area of the composite material.
  7. 7. The automotive trim panel of claim 1 wherein said composite facing material has a surface area and said thermal bonds being point bonded are intermittent over about 5-40% of the surface area of the composite material.
  8. 8. The automotive trim panel of claim 1 comprising two layers of spun bonded fibers and a layer of staple fibers between said two layers of spun bonded fibers.
  9. 9. The automotive trim panel of claim 1 comprising two layers of staple fibers and a layer of spun bonded fibers between said two layers of staple fibers.
  10. 10. The automotive trim panel of claim 1 wherein said one or more backing layers is comprised of one or a combination of a foam, natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and shoddy.
  11. 11. The automotive trim panel of claim 1 wherein said trim panel comprises a first backing layer, a second layer of non-continuous thermoplastic staple fibers, and a third outer spunbonded web layer.
  12. 12. The automotive trim panel of claim 1 wherein said panel is employed as a headliner, a hood liner or engine cover, or a dash insulator for a vehicle.
  13. 13. A non-woven composite facing material, comprising;
    a layer of non-continuous, thermoplastic staple fiber having a first melting point Tm1, opposed to a layer of spunbonded web comprising continuous thermoplastic filaments having a second melting point Tm2 wherein Tm1<Tm2
    thermal bonds between said layers formed from heat softened portions of said thermoplastic fibers, said thermal bonds being point bonds; and
    wherein said staple fiber layer acts as an adhesive layer when the facing material is combined with one or more backing layers.
  14. 14. The facing material of claim 13 wherein said staple fiber comprises one or a plurality of polymers, at least one of said polymers having said first melting point Tm1.
  15. 15. The facing material of claim 13 wherein said composite facing material has a surface area, said thermal bonds being point bonded to cover about 5-40% of said surface area of the composite material.
  16. 16. The facing material of claim 13 wherein said composite facing material has a surface area and said thermal bonds being point bonded are intermittent over about 5-40% of the surface area of the composite material.
  17. 17. The facing material of claim 13 wherein said one or more backing layers is comprised of one or a combination of a foam, natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and shoddy.
  18. 18. A non-woven composite facing material, comprising;
    a layer of non-continuous, thermoplastic staple fiber having a first melting point Tm1, opposed to a layer of spunbonded web comprising continuous thermoplastic filaments having a second melting point Tm2 and a third melting point Tm3 wherein Tm1<Tm2 and/or Tm1<Tm3;
    thermal bonds between said layers formed from heat softened portions of said thermoplastic fibers, said thermal bonds being point bonds; and
    wherein said staple fiber layer acts as an adhesive layer when the facing material is combined with one or more backing layers.
  19. 19. The non-woven composite facing material of claim 18 wherein said staple fiber comprises one or a plurality of polymers, at least one of said polymers having said first melting point Tm1.
US11427179 2006-06-28 2006-06-28 Facing Product for Vehicular Trim Abandoned US20080003907A1 (en)

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