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US20110174432A1 - Refastenable Absorbent Article - Google Patents

Refastenable Absorbent Article Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110174432A1
US20110174432A1 US13010072 US201113010072A US20110174432A1 US 20110174432 A1 US20110174432 A1 US 20110174432A1 US 13010072 US13010072 US 13010072 US 201113010072 A US201113010072 A US 201113010072A US 20110174432 A1 US20110174432 A1 US 20110174432A1
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US
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Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
waist
side
region
fastening
absorbent
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US13010072
Inventor
Gary Dean Lavon
Thomas Ludwig Woschnik
Yoichiro Yamamoto
Thomas Tombuelt
Hans Adolf Jackels
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Procter and Gamble Co
Original Assignee
Gary Dean Lavon
Thomas Ludwig Woschnik
Yoichiro Yamamoto
Thomas Tombuelt
Hans Adolf Jackels
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61FFILTERS IMPLANTABLE INTO BLOOD VESSELS; PROSTHESES; DEVICES PROVIDING PATENCY TO, OR PREVENTING COLLAPSING OF, TUBULAR STRUCTURES OF THE BODY, E.G. STENTS; ORTHOPAEDIC, NURSING OR CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICES; FOMENTATION; TREATMENT OR PROTECTION OF EYES OR EARS; BANDAGES, DRESSINGS OR ABSORBENT PADS; FIRST-AID KITS
    • A61F13/00Bandages or dressings; Absorbent pads
    • A61F13/15Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators
    • A61F13/45Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators characterised by the shape
    • A61F13/49Absorbent articles specially adapted to be worn around the waist, e.g. diapers
    • A61F13/496Absorbent articles specially adapted to be worn around the waist, e.g. diapers in the form of pants or briefs
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61FFILTERS IMPLANTABLE INTO BLOOD VESSELS; PROSTHESES; DEVICES PROVIDING PATENCY TO, OR PREVENTING COLLAPSING OF, TUBULAR STRUCTURES OF THE BODY, E.G. STENTS; ORTHOPAEDIC, NURSING OR CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICES; FOMENTATION; TREATMENT OR PROTECTION OF EYES OR EARS; BANDAGES, DRESSINGS OR ABSORBENT PADS; FIRST-AID KITS
    • A61F13/00Bandages or dressings; Absorbent pads
    • A61F13/15Absorbent pads, e.g. sanitary towels, swabs or tampons for external or internal application to the body; Supporting or fastening means therefor; Tampon applicators
    • A61F13/15577Apparatus or processes for manufacturing
    • A61F13/15699Forming webs by bringing together several webs, e.g. by laminating or folding several webs, with or without additional treatment of the webs
    • 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
    • Y10T156/00Adhesive bonding and miscellaneous chemical manufacture
    • Y10T156/10Methods of surface bonding and/or assembly therefor
    • Y10T156/1002Methods of surface bonding and/or assembly therefor with permanent bending or reshaping or surface deformation of self sustaining lamina
    • Y10T156/1051Methods of surface bonding and/or assembly therefor with permanent bending or reshaping or surface deformation of self sustaining lamina by folding

Abstract

An absorbent article is provided that comprises a front waist region, a back waist region, a crotch region disposed between the front waist region and the back waist region, a front waist end edge, a back waist end edge, a longitudinal axis extending from a mid-point of the front waist end edge to a mid-point of the back waist end edge, a first longitudinally extending side edge, a second longitudinally extending side edge, an exterior surface, an interior surface, a topsheet, a backsheet, and an absorbent core disposed between the backsheet and the topsheet. A portion of the front waist region and a portion of the back waist region are joined in a surface to surface relationship to form a pant comprising a first permanent side edge seam and a laterally opposed second permanent side edge seam. The first and second permanent side edge seams define an initial waist opening circumference and a pair of leg openings. The absorbent article comprises a first fastening component comprising a first fastening surface and a first attachment surface. The first attachment surface is disposed on the interior surface or the exterior surface of the absorbent article in the front waist region. The absorbent article comprises a second fastening component comprising a second fastening surface. The second fastening component is disposed on or forms a portion of the same surface of the absorbent article on which the first attachment surface is disposed. The initial waist opening circumference formed by the first and second permanent side edge seams is configured to be opened. The first fastening surface and the second fastening surface are configured to be refastenably engaged and separated with each other.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • [0001]
    This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Nos. 61/296,686, filed on Jan. 20, 2010, and 61/296,679, filed on Jan. 20, 2010, the substances of which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • FIELD
  • [0002]
    The present disclosure generally relates to absorbent articles and methods for manufacturing the same, and more particularly relates to refastenable and disposable absorbent articles and methods of manufacturing the same.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0003]
    Many refastenable pull-on disposable absorbent articles, such as pants or diapers, for example, are provided to a consumer with fastening components initially engaged. In such structures, where first and second fasteners or a first fastener and a second fastener, for example, are initially engaged, the fastening components may form a pant comprising two side seams, a waist opening, and two leg openings. Consumers generally prefer that the side seams of the pant be easily openable and reliably recloseable. Initially engaged fastening components, if designed to deliver a low initial opening force, may also have a low subsequent opening force after reclosing of the side seams. The side seam reopening force of an opened and reclosed side seam (i.e., fasteners) is likely to require a lower force than the initial opening force. Pants with a low subsequent side seam opening force may lead to poor side seam strength and a less secure closure, since the same fasteners provide not only the initial, preferably low opening force, but also must provide adequate side seam strength after refastening. What is needed is an improvement over the foregoing.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0004]
    In one non-limiting embodiment, the present disclosure is directed, in part, to an absorbent article comprising a front waist region, a back waist region, a crotch region disposed between the front waist region and the back waist region, a front waist end edge, a back waist end edge, a longitudinal axis extending from a mid-point of the front waist end edge to a mid-point of the back waist end edge, a first longitudinally extending side edge, a second longitudinally extending side edge, an exterior surface, an interior surface, a topsheet, a backsheet, and an absorbent core disposed between the backsheet and the topsheet. A portion of the front waist region and a portion of the back waist region are joined in a surface to surface relationship to form a pant comprising a first permanent side edge seam and a laterally opposed second permanent side edge seam. The first and second permanent side edge seams define an initial waist opening circumference and a pair of leg openings. The absorbent article comprises a first fastening component comprising a first fastening surface and a first attachment surface. The first attachment surface is disposed on the interior surface or the exterior surface of the absorbent article in the front waist region. The absorbent article comprises a second fastening component comprising a second fastening surface. The second fastening component is disposed on or forms a portion of the same surface of the absorbent article on which the first attachment surface is disposed. The initial waist opening circumference formed by the first and second permanent side edge seams is configured to be opened. The first fastening surface and the second fastening surface are configured to be refastenably engaged and separated with each other.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0005]
    The above-mentioned and other features and advantages of the present disclosure, and the manner of attaining them, will become more apparent and the disclosure itself will be better understood by reference to the following description of non-limiting embodiments of the disclosure taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
  • [0006]
    In the drawing and in the written description, lowercase letters appended to reference numerals indicate generally symmetric elements, e.g., left and right symmetric elements may be respectively identified by the reference numerals 1 a and 1 b. A reference numeral without an appended lowercase letter identifies all of the elements to which that particular reference numeral applies, unless otherwise indicated herein. In some instances herein, symmetric elements are referred to without using such elements, e.g., 1 a and 1 b.
  • [0007]
    Common elements of various figures may not be numbered in all figures for simplicity. Applicants reserve the right to rely on the specification and other figures of the specification for support. While common numbers may be used to denote particular elements in various figures, it will be understood that although an element has as a common number, the element could be an alternative embodiment (i.e., the same number does not necessarily mean the element is the same, although the element could be the same).
  • [0008]
    FIG. 1 is a plan view of a simplified absorbent article shown in its flat, uncontracted state prior to being formed into a pant in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment. In FIG. 1, the exterior surface of the absorbent article is shown facing the viewer.
  • [0009]
    FIG. 2A is a cross-sectional view of the absorbent article of FIG. 1, taken along line A-A in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0010]
    FIG. 2B is a cross-sectional view of the absorbent article of FIG. 1, taken along line B-B in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0011]
    FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a pant formed from the absorbent article of FIG. 1 joined by permanent side edge seams in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0012]
    FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of a pant being worn about a lower torso of a wearer in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0013]
    FIG. 5 is a rear elevation view of the pant of FIG. 4 in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 6 is a left side elevation view of the pant of FIG. 4 in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 7 is a right side elevation view of the pant of FIG. 4 in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a pant joined by a permanent side edge seam in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 9 is a plan view of a simplified absorbent article shown in a flat, uncontracted state and configured to be formed into a pant comprising an overlap seam in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 10 is a top view of the simplified absorbent article of FIG. 9 partially formed into the pant in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 11 is a top view of the simplified absorbent article of FIG. 9 formed into the pant in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 12 is a top view of the simplified pant of FIG. 11 with separation zones separated and in a flat, uncontracted state in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 13 is a top view of the simplified pant of FIG. 12 with the separation zones separated and first fastening components refastened to a second fastening component that is a part of, formed with, disposed on, or attached to a portion of front waist region of the pant in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 14 is a plan view of a simplified absorbent article shown in its flat, uncontracted state prior to being formed into a pant in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment. In FIG. 14, the exterior surface of the absorbent article is shown facing the viewer.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 15A is a cross-sectional view of the absorbent article of FIG. 14, taken along line A-A in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0024]
    FIG. 15B is a cross-sectional view of the absorbent article of FIG. 14, taken along line B-B in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0025]
    FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a pant formed with an overlap seam in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0026]
    FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view of the pant of FIG. 16, taken along line D-D in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0027]
    FIG. 18 is a top view of a pant formed with an overlap seam in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0028]
    FIG. 19 is a top view of the pant of FIG. 18 with the separation zones separated and the closure bonds broken. A first side of the pant is unfastened, while the second side of the pant is refastened to a front waist region of the pant.
  • [0029]
    FIG. 20 is a top view of a pant formed with an overlap seam in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0030]
    FIG. 21 is a top view of the pant of FIG. 20 with the separation zones separated and the closure bonds broken. A first side of the pant is unfastened, while the second side of the pant is refastened to a front waist region of the pant.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 22 is top view of a pant formed with an overlap seam in accordance with one non-limiting embodiment.
  • [0032]
    FIG. 23 is a top view of the pant of FIG. 22 with the separation zones separated and the closure bonds broken. A first side of the pant is unfastened, while the second side of the pant is refastened to a front waist region of the pant.
  • [0033]
    FIGS. 24-28 c illustrate equipment used to make the absorbent articles of the present disclosure in accordance with various non-limiting embodiments.
  • [0034]
    Various non-limiting embodiments of the present disclosure will now be described to provide an overall understanding of the principles of the structure, function, manufacture, and use of the apparatuses and methods disclosed herein. One or more examples of these non-limiting embodiments are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Those of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the apparatuses and methods specifically described herein and illustrated in the accompanying drawings are non-limiting example embodiments and that the scope of the various non-limiting embodiments of the present disclosure are defined solely by the claims. The features illustrated or described in connection with one non-limiting embodiment may be combined with the features of other non-limiting embodiments. Such modifications and variations are intended to be included within the scope of the present disclosure.
  • [0035]
    In this description, the following terms generally have the following meanings:
  • [0036]
    The term “absorbent article” refers to a device that is placed against or in proximity to a body of a wearer to absorb and contain the various exudates discharged from the body. Example absorbent articles may comprise diapers, training pants, pants, pull-on pant-type diapers (i.e., a diaper having a pre-formed waist opening and leg openings, such as illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 6,120,487), refastenable diapers, incontinence briefs and undergarments, diaper holders and liners, feminine hygiene garments, and related articles.
  • [0037]
    The term “fastening component” refers to the fastening element or elements that define an area of refastenable attachment. The fastening components enable refastening of the absorbent article to reconfigure the waist and leg openings into a closed configuration until the fastening components are separated. A fastening component may comprise of one or more refastenable fastening elements, e.g., hooks, loops, bulbs, mushrooms, arrowheads, balls on stems, buttons, snaps, refastenable cohesives, selective refastenable adhesives, etc. A fastening component may be opened and subsequently re-closed, reliably, without destroying the fastening component. A fastening component comprises those elements of a fastening system that form the area of attachment via direct surface-to-surface contact forming a refastenable closure. For the purpose of clarity, surface-to-surface contact encompasses contact between a surface of a hook material and a surface of as loop material, for example. For instance, a tab member joined to a backsheet would not be a fastening member as discussed. The fastening component may be the hooks or the loops that are joined to the tab and connect with the other fastening components or a portion of an absorbent article.
  • [0038]
    The term “initial waist opening circumference” refers to the circumference of a waist opening of the disposable training pant at the time the disposable training pant is placed in the package and, subsequently, when it is removed from the package by the consumer.
  • [0039]
    The term “lateral” refers to a direction running from a side edge to an opposing side edge of the absorbent article and generally at a right angle to the longitudinal direction. Directions within ±45° of the lateral direction are considered to be “lateral”.
  • [0040]
    The term “longitudinal” refers to a direction running from a waist edge to an opposing waist edge of the absorbent article and generally parallel to the maximum linear dimension of the article. Directions within ±45° of the longitudinal direction are considered to be “longitudinal”.
  • [0041]
    The term “pant” (also referred to as “disposable training pant,” “training pant,” and “pull-on pant-type diaper”) refers to disposable absorbent articles having a continuous perimeter waist opening and continuous perimeter leg openings designed for infant, child, or adult wearers (hereafter “wearer”). A pant may be configured with a continuous or closed waist opening and at least one continuous or closed leg opening prior to the pant being applied to the wearer. A pant may be pre-formed by any suitable technique including, but not limited to, joining together portions of the absorbent article using any refastenable and/or permanent closure member(s) (e.g., seams, heat bonds, pressure welds, adhesives, cohesive bonds, mechanical fasteners, etc.). A pant may be preformed anywhere along its circumference in the waist region (e.g., side fastened, front waist fastened, rear waist fastened). Example pants and pant configurations are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,246,433, 5,569,234, 6,120,487, 6,120,489, 4,940,464, 5,092,861, 5,897,545, 5,957,908, and U.S. Pat. Publ. No, 2003/0233082.
  • [0042]
    The term “secondary waist opening circumference” refers to the circumference of the waist opening of the pant after the initial waist opening circumference has been broken and the pant has been refastened.
  • [0043]
    The term “side edge seam” refers to a given side edge wherein a portion of the side edge, or region adjacent the side edge, in the front waist region is joined to a portion of the same side edge, or region adjacent the side edge, in the rear waist region to define closed, encircled leg openings and a closed waist opening. Because the side edge seam is closed with a permanent closure member, it cannot be opened without causing the permanent closure member to fail (i.e., the permanent closure member cannot again be reliably closed).
  • [0044]
    To improve the overall functionality of a refastenable side seam pant, it may be desirable to make the initial opening force and the opening force after refastening or re-closing the pant independent of each other. Stated another way, separate closure or fastening members may be used to create an initial waist opening circumference and a second waist opening circumference (refastened). Having fastening components initially disposed in a non-engaged orientation when the initial waist opening circumference is formed makes the initial opening force of the initial waist opening circumference independent of the opening force of the second waist opening circumference once the pant has been refastened or re-closed. If the fastening components are not initially engaged, the initial opening force may be controlled independently of the fastening components.
  • [0045]
    In one embodiment, the initial opening force may be a function of the strength of a separation zone defined in the pant. Since the initial opening force is independent of the subsequent opening force after refastening, a high subsequent opening force may be delivered thereby providing a more secure and stable side seam closure after refastening of the side seam. In addition, a pant that has permanent side seams as the structural elements that define the side seams, the waist opening, and the leg openings tend to deliver more robust and reliable side seams. In one embodiment, the permanent side seams may be formed using bonding, such as thermal bonding and/or ultrasonic bonding, for example, or may alternatively be formed using adhesives, permanent cohesives, or other suitable bonding or closure devices.
  • [0046]
    In one embodiment, both of the fastening components (i.e., first fastening component and second fastening component) of each side seam may be disposed or formed with in the front waist region of a pant to improve access to the fastening components. It is noted that the second fastening component may merely be disposed on or form a portion of the front waist region, to which the first fastening component is disposed. Improving access to the fastening components by placing the first and second fasting components in the front waist region may make opening and refastening of the pant significantly easier for a caregiver and allow front waist region to front waist region fastening, making the pant changing or pant checking process easier for the caregiver when the wearer is standing in front of the caregiver (e.g., face-to-face) or when the wearer is laying on his or her back. In addition, fastening of the fastening components in the front waist region of a pant or diaper is also familiar to caregiver since this is similar to tape-style diapers.
  • [0047]
    In one embodiment, both of the fastening components may also be disposed on the same surface of the pant. In one embodiment, the fastening components may both be disposed on or formed with an exterior surface or a garment-facing surface of the pant thereby making both of the fastening components readily recognizable for the caregiver, thereby making a pant change or pant check faster and easier for the caregiver.
  • [0048]
    These pull-on training pants have proven to be particularly desirable and useful products for wearers, such as children in the potty training stage, for example. Such pants generally comprise an absorbent chassis comprising a liquid impervious backsheet, a liquid pervious topsheet, and an absorbent core positioned intermediate the topsheet and the backsheet. The absorbent chassis and the side panels (when present) may be pre-closed to form an initial waist opening circumference and two initial leg opening circumferences.
  • [0049]
    Some pants have permanent side seams, or seams that cannot be refastened once broken, forming the leg opening circumferences and the waist opening circumference. Such permanent seams are generally pre-closed to provide a pant that looks like underwear and may be applied like underwear (i.e., slid up the legs of a wearer and into position around the wearer's waist region). Pants with permanent side seams, however, may require a separate element, for disposal of the pants, such as a disposal tape positioned on the external surface of the pants (such that the pant can be wrapped up and disposed of). Other pants have non-permanent side seams and are refastenable thereby allowing a caregiver to open and close the waist and leg openings of the pants similar to a traditional tape-style diaper.
  • [0050]
    The ability to open and refasten the pants offers convenience to the caregiver. For instance, it might be more convenient to apply the pants as a traditional tape-style diaper when away from home or when it is inconvenient to remove the clothing and/or shoes of the wearer. Because it is difficult to predict when the wearer will need to be changed and, therefore, when a particular mode of application will be needed, it would be beneficial to provide a pant that is adaptable to being applied either as a traditional tape-style diaper or as a disposable training pant. In addition, a product that may be applied like a traditional tape-style diaper or a disposable training pant also permits inspection of the interior of the product without having to slide the product down the legs of the wearer. The pants of the present disclosure provide dual functionality with regard to application and removal while enabling the easy wrapping up and disposal of the used pants.
  • [0051]
    Further to the above, some related art pants may be easier for a wearer to remove than the pant of the present disclosure. In related art pants, the overlap of the two portions that refasten the pants about the side seams often creates a flap that the wearer may grasp and pull to remove the pants at an undersirable time. Because this flap generally runs from the waist region to the leg openings, its length allows the wearer to easily remove the pant regardless of the wearer's dexterity. And, because the closure of the flap creates the initial waist opening circumference of the training pant, once opened, the pant may fall off of the wearer.
  • [0052]
    To alleviate some of the problems of the related art pants, the present disclosure, in part, teaches a pant that minimizes the opportunity given to a wearer to remove the pant while still offering refastenable convenience to the caregiver. The pant of the present disclosure comprises an opening and re-closure system that require greater dexterity to open owing at least to the location of the opening and closure system on the pant. In one embodiment, the pant may comprise one or more permanent side seams which form the absorbent article into the pant with pre-closed waist and leg openings and fastening components that enable ease of re-closing and disposal of the pant. In one embodiment, the opening and re-closure system may be oriented so that the closure member is unapparent to the wearer. Further, if the wearer does open the fastening components of the refastenabie closure system, the pant will not fall off since the fastening components do not, in their initial non-engaged position, form the initial waist opening circumference and leg opening circumferences. As a result, the pant of the present disclosure allows the caregiver to decide in what manner the pant will be applied to the wearer (as a pant or as a traditional tape-style diaper). Further, the caregiver receives the added security that the pant may not be easily removed by the wearer. Therefore, creating a pant with the flexibility to apply as a traditional tape-style diaper or a pant and with the aesthetics and appearance of underwear provides the best overall experience for the wearer and the caregiver.
  • [0053]
    The various components used to form various example pants of the present disclosure will now be described in greater detail.
  • Absorbent Article
  • [0054]
    In one embodiment, an absorbent article may comprise a chassis comprising a topsheet, a backsheet, and an absorbent core disposed at least partially between the topsheet and the backsheet. The absorbent chassis may comprise a waistband, leg cuffs and or elastic strands. In various embodiments, referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, an example absorbent article 10 is shown in its flat uncontracted state prior to being formed into a pant. The absorbent article 10 may be formed into a pant 20 shown in FIGS. 3 and 8, for example. Various suitable configurations of pant 20 are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,246,433, 5,569,234, 6,120,487, 6,120,489, 4,940,464, 5,092,861, 5,897,545, 5,957,908, and U.S. Pat. Publ. Nos. 2003/0233082, 2003/0088220, 2003/0233082, 2005/0215971, 2005/0215970, 2007/0078427, 2007/0093769, 2007/0074381, 2007/0078426, 2007/0078427, 2007/0093769, and 2008/0107861.
  • [0055]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, one end portion of the absorbent article 10 may be configured as a front waist region 36 and the longitudinally opposing end portion may be configured as a back waist region 38. An intermediate portion of the absorbent article 10 extending longitudinally between the front waist region 36 and the back waist region 38 may be configured as a crotch region 37. In one embodiment, although not illustrated as such, the length of each of the front waist region 36, the back waist region 38 and the crotch region 37 may be about ⅓ of the length of the absorbent article 10, for example. In other embodiments, the length of each of the front waist region 36, the back waist region 38, and the crotch region 37 may have other dimensions. In various embodiments, the absorbent article 10 may have a laterally extending front waist end edge 136 in the front waist region 36 and a longitudinally opposing and laterally extending back waist end edge 138 in the back waist region 38.
  • [0056]
    In one embodiment, still referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a chassis 100 of the absorbent article 10 may comprise a first longitudinally extending side edge 137 a and a laterally opposing and second longitudinally extending side edge 137 b. Both of the side edges 137 may extend longitudinally between the front waist end edge 136 and the back waist end edge 138. The chassis 100 may form a portion of the laterally extending front waist end edge 136 in the front waist region 36 and a portion of the longitudinally opposing and laterally extending back waist end edge 138 in the back waist region 38. Furthermore, the chassis 100 may comprise an interior surface 102, an exterior surface 104, a longitudinal axis 42, and a lateral axis 44. The longitudinal axis 42 may extend through a midpoint of the front waist end edge 136 and through a midpoint of the back waist end edge 138, while the lateral axis 44 may extend through a midpoint of the first side edge 137 a and through a midpoint of the second side edge 137 b.
  • [0057]
    In various embodiments, a portion of or the whole absorbent article 10 may be made to be laterally extensible. The extensibility of the absorbent article 10 may be desirable in order to allow the absorbent article 10 to conform to a body of a wearer during movement by the wearer. The extensibility may also be desirable, for example, in order to allow the caregiver to extend the front waist region 36, the back waist region 38, the crotch region 37, and/or the chassis 100 to provide additional body coverage for wearers of differing size, i.e., to tailor the absorbent article 10 to the individual wearer. Such extension may provide the absorbent article 10 with a generally hourglass shape, so long as the crotch region 37 is extended to a relatively lesser degree than the waist regions 36 and/or 38. This extension may also impart a tailored appearance to the absorbent article 10 during use.
  • Topsheet
  • [0058]
    In one embodiment, again referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the absorbent article 10 may comprise a topsheet 81. The topsheet 81 may be compliant, soft feeling, and non-irritating to the wearer's skin and may be elastically stretchable in one or more directions. Further, the topsheet 81 may be liquid pervious, permitting liquids (e.g., menses, urine, and/or runny feces) to penetrate through its thickness. Various topsheets may also comprise a hydrophilic material, for example, which is configured to draw bodily fluids into an absorbent core of the chassis 100 when these fluids are expelled from the body. A suitable topsheet 81 may be manufactured from a wide range of materials, such as woven and nonwoven materials, apertured or hydroformed thermoplastic films, apertured nonwovens, porous foams, reticulated foams, reticulated thermoplastic films, and/or thermoplastic scrims, for example. Suitable apertured films may comprise those described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,628,097, 5,916,661, 6,545,197, and 6,107,539. Apertured film topsheets typically may be pervious to bodily exudates, yet non-absorbent, and have a reduced tendency to allow fluids to pass back through and rewet the wearer's skin. Suitable woven and nonwoven materials may comprise natural fibers, such as, for example, wood or cotton fibers, synthetic fibers, such as, for example, polyester, polypropylene, or polyethylene fibers, or combinations thereof. If the topsheet 81 comprises fibers, the fibers may be spunbond, carded, wet-laid, meltblown, hydroentangled, or otherwise processed, for example, as is generally known in the art.
  • Backsheet
  • [0059]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 3 and 8, for example, the absorbent article 10 may comprise a backsheet 83. In FIGS. 3 and 8, the absorbent article 10 is shown formed into a pant 20. The backsheet 83 may be impervious, or at least partially impervious, to fluids or body exudates (e.g., menses, urine, and/or runny feces) and may be manufactured from a thin plastic film, although other flexible liquid impervious materials may also be used. The backsheet 83 may prevent the body exudates or fluids absorbed and contained in an absorbent core of the absorbent article 10 from wetting articles which contact the absorbent article 10, such as bedsheets, pajamas, clothes, and/or undergarments, for example, when formed into the pant 20. The backsheet 83 may comprise a woven or nonwoven material, polymeric films such as thermoplastic films of polyethylene or polypropylene, and/or a multi-layer or composite materials comprising a film and a nonwoven material (e.g., having an inner film layer and an outer nonwoven layer). A suitable backsheet may comprise a polyethylene film having a thickness of from about 0.012 mm (0.5 mils) to about 0.051 mm (2.0 mils). Examples of polyethylene films are manufactured by Clopay Corporation of Cincinnati, Ohio, under the designation BR-120 and BR-121, and by Tredegar Film Products of Terre Haute, Ind., under the designation XP-39385. In one embodiment, the backsheet 83 may be embossed and/or matte-finished to provide a more cloth-like appearance. Further, the backsheet 83 may permit vapors to escape from the absorbent core of the absorbent article 10 (i.e., the backsheet 83 is breathable) while still preventing, or at least inhibiting, fluids or body exudates from passing through the backsheet 83. In one embodiment, the size of the backsheet 83 may be dictated by the size of the absorbent article 10 and the design or configuration of the pant 20 to be formed, for example.
  • Absorbent Core
  • [0060]
    In various embodiments, referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the absorbent article 10 may comprise an absorbent core 200 that is disposed between the topsheet 81 and the backsheet 83. The absorbent core 200 may comprise a laterally extending front edge 236 in the front waist region 36, a longitudinally opposing and laterally extending back edge 238 in the back waist region 38, a first longitudinally extending side edge 237 a, and a laterally opposing and second longitudinally extending side edge 237 b. Both of the side edges 237 may extend longitudinally between the front edge 236 and the back edge 238. In one embodiment, more than one absorbent core 200 or more than one absorbent core layer may be provided in an absorbent article 10, for example. The absorbent core 200 may be any suitable size or shape that is compatible with the absorbent article 10. Example absorbent structures for use as the absorbent core 200 of the present disclosure that have achieved acceptance and commercial success are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,610,678, 4,673,402, 4,888,231, and 4,834,735.
  • [0061]
    In one embodiment, suitable absorbent cores may comprise cellulosic airfelt material. For instance, such absorbent cores may comprise less than about 40%, 30%, 20%, 10%, 5%, or even 1% of the cellulosic airfelt material as determined by weight. Additionally, such an absorbent core may be primarily comprised of an absorbent gelling material in amounts of at least about 60%, 70%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, or even about 100% as determined by weight, Furthermore, a portion of the absorbent core may comprise a microfiber glue (if applicable). Such absorbent cores, microfiber glues, and absorbent gelling materials are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,599,335, 5,562,646, 5,669,894, 6,790,798, and 7,521,587 and in U.S. Pat. Publ. No. 2004/0158212.
  • Leg Cuffs
  • [0062]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the chassis 100 of the absorbent article 10 may comprise longitudinally extending and laterally opposing leg cuffs 147 a and 147 b that are disposed on the interior surface of the chassis 100 that faces inwardly toward the wearer and contacts the wearer. The leg cuffs 147 a and 147 b may comprise one or more elastic gathering members 159 disposed at or adjacent the proximal edge of one or both of the leg cuffs 147. In addition, to the elastic gathering members 159 the leg cuff may also comprise one or more elastic strands 168 disposed at or adjacent the distal edge 139 of one or both of the leg cuffs 147. The elasticized leg cuffs 147 may comprise several embodiments for reducing the leakage of body exudates or fluids in the leg regions. The elasticized leg cuffs 147 are sometimes referred to as leg bands, barrier cuffs, elastic cuffs, or gasketing cuffs.) Suitable elasticized leg cuffs 147 may comprise those described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,860,003, 4,909,803, 4,695,278, 4,795,454, 4,704,115, and 4,909,803, and U.S. Pat. Publ. No. 2009/0312730. The leg cuffs 147 may be formed by folding portions of the chassis 100 laterally inward, i.e., toward the longitudinal axis 42, to form both the respective leg cuffs 147 and the side edges 137 of the chassis 100. In other embodiments, the leg cuffs 147 may be formed by attaching an additional layer or layers to the chassis 100 at or adjacent to each of the respective side edges 137 a and 137 b of the chassis 100. In one embodiment, the chassis 100 may also comprise other elastics 141 disposed adjacent the side edges 137 which may cause the pant 20 to form into a “U” shape when allowed to relax thereby pulling the interior surface 102 of the front waist region 36 toward the interior surface 102 of the back waist region 38.
  • [0063]
    In one embodiment, again referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, each leg cuff 147 may comprise a proximal edge 157 a and 157 b. These edges 157 a and 157 b are positioned proximate to the longitudinal axis 42 compared to distal edges 139 a and 139 b. The leg cuffs 147 may overlap the absorbent core 200, i.e., the proximal edges 157 a and 157 b lie laterally inward of the respective side edges 237 a and 237 b of the absorbent core 200. Such an overlapped configuration may be desirable in order to impart a more finished appearance to the absorbent article 10 than that imparted by a non-overlapped configuration. In other embodiments, the leg cuffs 147 may not overlap the absorbent core 200.
  • [0064]
    In one embodiment, still referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, each leg cuff 147 may be attached to the interior surface 102 of the chassis 100 in a leg cuff attachment zone (not shown) adjacent to the front waist end edge 136 and in a longitudinally opposing leg cuff attachment zone (not shown) adjacent to the back waist end edge 138. In one embodiment, between the leg cuff attachment zones, the proximal edge 157 of the leg cuff 147 remains free, i.e., not attached to the interior surface 102 of the chassis 100 or to the absorbent core 200. Also, between the longitudinally opposing leg cuff attachment zones, each leg cuff 147 may comprise one or more (specifically including one, two, three, or four elastic strands per leg cuff 147) longitudinally extensible cuff elastic gathering members 159 that may be disposed at or adjacent to the proximal edge 157 of the leg cuff 147 by any suitable methods. Each of such cuff elastic gathering members 159 may be attached over the leg cuff's entire length or over only a portion of the leg cuff's length. For example, such cuff elastic gathering members 159 may be attached only at or near the leg cuff's longitudinally opposing ends and may be unattached at the middle of the leg cuff's length. Such cuff elastic gathering members 159 may be disposed in the crotch region 37 and may extend into one or both of the front waist region 36 and the back waist region 38. For example, in the exemplary chassis 100 shown in FIG. 2, an elastic gathering member 159 may be attached at or adjacent to the proximal edge 157 of each of the leg cuffs 147 and extends into both the front waist region 36 and the back waist region 38.
  • [0065]
    In various embodiments, each cuff elastic gathering member 159 may be enclosed inside a folded hem 170 for example. In various embodiments, the cuff elastic gathering members 159 may be sandwiched between two layers forming the leg cuff 147, by two layers of the chassis 100, or may be attached on a surface of the chassis 100 or the leg cuff 147 and remain exposed.
  • [0066]
    In one embodiment, when stretched, the cuff elastic gathering member 159 disposed adjacent to each leg cuff's proximal edge 157 allows the leg cuff proximal edge 157 to extend to the flat uncontracted length of the chassis 100, e.g., the length of the chassis 100, as shown in FIG. 1. When allowed to relax, the cuff elastic gathering member 159 contracts to pull the front waist region 36 and the back waist region 38 toward each other and, thereby, bend the pant 20 into a “U” shape in which the interior of the “U” shape may be formed by the portions of the pant 20 that are intended to be placed toward the body of the wearer (i.e., interior surface 102). Because each of the proximal edges 157 remains free between the longitudinally oriented leg cuff attachment zones, the contractive force of the elastic gathering member 159 may lift the proximal edge 157 of the leg cuff 147 away from the interior surface 102 of the chassis 100. This lifting of the proximal edges 157 when the pant 20 is in the relaxed condition lifts the leg cuffs 147 into a position to serve as side barriers to prevent, or at least inhibit, leakage of bodily exudates.
  • [0067]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 2, one or more (specifically including one, two, three, or four elastic strands per leg cuff 147) elastic strands 168 a and 168 b may be attached at or adjacent the side edges 137 a and 137 b of the chassis 100 or the distal edge 139 of the leg cuff 147. When allowed to relax, the elastic strands 168 a and 168 b may gather the side edges 137 a and 137 b of the chassis 100 and/or distal edges 139 of the leg cuff 147 to form side barriers and function as a second barrier to leakage of bodily exudates (e.g., urine and fecal waste).
  • [0068]
    In various embodiments, the leg cuff 147 may be formed into a cuff flap 631 and a side barrier 633. Particularly, a side barrier attachment zone 630 may be oriented between the elastic gathering member 159 and elastic strands 168. The placement of side barrier attachment zones 630 a and 630 b relative to the longitudinal axis 42 may have a direct and coupled effect on the depth of cuff flaps 631 a and 631 b and the size of the side barriers 633 a and 633 b. For example, as illustrated by FIG. 2, when the side barrier attachment zone 630 is moved laterally inward, the depth of the cuff flaps 631 may decrease and the size of the side barrier 633 may increase. Conversely, when the side barrier attachment zone 630 is moved laterally outward, the depth of the cuff flaps 631 may increase and the size of the side barriers 633 may decrease. The depth and/or size of the cuff flaps 631 and side barriers 633 may be adjusted for various applications to provide enhanced functionality. In one such embodiment, it has been found that reduced depth cuff flaps 631 and larger side barriers 633 provide better application ease with regard to a pull-on pant-style application. This configuration may increase the size of the leg opening enabling the wearer to step into the diaper 20 more easily. In another embodiment, it has been found that increasing the depth of the cuff flaps 631 and reducing the size of the side barriers 633 may provide improved leakage protection and increased perception of capacity.
  • [0069]
    For embodiments wherein the leg cuffs 147 are formed by attaching additional layers to the chassis 100 at or adjacent to each of the respective side edges 137 a and 137 b of the chassis 100, the one or more elastic strands 168 a and 168 b may be oriented and attached between the layers (e.g., layers forming the backsheet 83 and leg cuff 147).
  • Waistband
  • [0070]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 3 and 8, the pant 20 formed from the absorbent article 10 may comprise an elasticized waistband 82.
  • [0071]
    In one embodiment, the elasticized waistband 82 may provide improved fit and containment and may be configured to elastically expand and contract laterally to dynamically fit a wearer's waist. The elasticized waistband 82 may extend longitudinally outwardly from the waist edge of the pant 20 toward the waist edge of the absorbent core 200. In one embodiment, the pant 20 may have two elasticized waistbands 82, one positioned in the back waist region 38 and one positioned in the front waist region 36, although other pant embodiments may be constructed with a single elasticized waistband 82. The elasticized waistband 82 may be constructed in a number of different configurations including those described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,515,595 and 5,151,092.
  • [0072]
    In one embodiment, the elasticized waistbands 82 may comprise materials that have been “prestrained” or “mechanically prestrained” (i.e., subjected to some degree of localized pattern mechanical stretching to permanently elongate the material). The materials may be prestrained using suitable deep embossing techniques. In other embodiments, the materials may be prestrained by directing the material through an incremental mechanical stretching system as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,330,458. The materials may then be allowed to return to their substantially untensioned condition, thus forming a zero strain stretch material that is extensible, at least up to the point of initial stretching. Examples of zero strain materials are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,075,189, 3,025,199, 4,107,364, 4,209,563, 4,834,741, and 5,151,092,
  • Side Panels
  • [0073]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the absorbent article 10 may comprise side panels 189 attached at or adjacent the side edges 137 of the chassis 100 in one or both of the front waist region 36 and/or the back waist region 38. In various embodiments, each side panel 189 may either be a discrete separate element affixed to the chassis 100 or may comprise a unitary piece of material that is neither divided nor discontinuous with an element of the chassis 100, for example, a backsheet, a topsheet, or as leg cuff. In various embodiments, a pair of laterally opposed side panels 189 may be attached adjacent the laterally opposing side edges 137 a and 137 b of the chassis 100 in the front waist region 36 and a longitudinally opposing pair of side panels 189 may be attached at or adjacent the laterally opposing side edges 137 a and 137 b of the chassis 100 in the back waist region 38. The side panels 189 in the front waist region 36 may have the same lateral extent from the side edge 137 of the chassis 100 to the distal edge (also indicated as 137 a and 137 b) of each side panel 189 as the longitudinally opposed side panels 189 in the back waist region 38 or, alternatively, the side panels 189 disposed in the front waist region 36 may have different lateral extents as measured from the side edges 137 of the chassis 100 to the distal edge of the side panel 189 than the side panels 189 disposed in the back waist region 38. When side panels 189 are present, the distal edges 137 of the side panels 189 form a portion of the side edge 137 or the absorbent article 10. In various embodiments, the side panels 189 may comprise a first nonwoven material layer 191, an elastomeric film layer 193, and a second nonwoven material layer 195. The film layer 193 may be disposed intermediate, or at least partially intermediate, the first nonwoven material layer 191 and the second nonwoven material layer 195.
  • [0074]
    In one embodiment, the side panels 189 may be substantially rectangular in shape or may be shaped in such a way as to provide an integral tab for ease of opening and refastening to create the secondary waist opening circumference 61. The side panels 189 may be extensible or elastically extensible in the lateral direction and/or the longitudinal direction, for example. In various embodiments, the side panels 189 may comprise an elastomeric film, such a nonwoven, or a combination of film and nonwoven. In one embodiment, the side panels 189 may also comprise a plurality of strand-like filaments and a nonwoven material, for example. The strand-like filaments may be elastically extensible in at least the lateral direction, for example. Suitable elastomeric side panels and absorbent articles comprising such side panels are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,669,897, 5,899,895, 4,940,464, 5,246,433, 5,545,158, 5,591,155, 5,897,545.
  • Side Edge Seam
  • [0075]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 3 and 8, the front waist region 36 and the back waist region 38 of the absorbent article 10 may be joined together to form the pant 20 having an initial waist opening circumference 160 and two leg opening circumferences 62. The joining of the front waist region 36 with the back waist region 38 may comprise side edge seams 51 a and 51 b. Such side edge seams 51 may be formed where the front and back waist regions 36 and 38 are joined such that the interior surface 102 of the front waist region 36 faces the exterior surface 104 of the back waist region 38 in a face-to-face relationship, e.g., in a so-called overlap seam attachment. Such side edge seams 51 are shown in FIGS. 3 and 8, for example. A finger tab 72 extending outwardly from the side edge seam 51 or bond forming the side edge seam 51 may be folded laterally inward towards either the front waist region 36 and/or the back waist region 38. Both of the side edge seams 51 may be pre-closed, meaning that the side edge seams 51 are closed prior to removal of the pant 20 from its package and, therefore, prior to being donned on the wearer. The initial waist opening circumference 160 and the leg opening circumferences 62 may be opened at predetermined separation zones 59, as described in further detail herein. In one embodiment, once broken, the side edge seams 51 may not be able to be re-closed to form a secondary waist opening circumference and secondary leg opening circumferences without the use of the first fastening components 53.
  • [0076]
    In one embodiment, the bonds of the side edge seams 51 may comprise permanent suitable bonds that are appropriate for the specific materials employed in construction of the pant 20. Suitable bond types may comprise discrete bonds, such as sonic sealed bonds, heat sealed bonds, high pressure bonds, radio frequency bonds, adhesive or cohesive bonds, sewed bonds, autogeneous bonds, and combinations thereof, for example. In various embodiments, the permanent side edge seams 51 may be joined by a predetermined pattern of heat/pressure or ultrasonic welds that are able to withstand the forces and stresses exacted onto the side edge seams 51 during application and wear of the pant 20. The permanent side edge seams 51 may be formed as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,779,831, 5,772,825, 5,607,537, 5,622,589, 5,662,638, 6,042,673, and 6,726,792, for example. The aforementioned patents also disclose various processing methods to produce pants.
  • Refastenable Member
  • [0077]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 1-8, the pant 20 of the present disclosure may comprise the side edge seam 51 (e.g., permanent bonds) that may form the initial waist opening circumference 160, a first fastening component 53 disposed at or adjacent to the side edge seam 51, a second fastening component 55 disposed in the area defined between the first fastening component 53 and the longitudinal axis 42. The first and second fastening components 53 and 55 may be disposed on the same surface of the pant 20 (i.e., exterior surface 104 or interior surface 102) and/or in the same waist region (i.e., front waist region 36 or back waist region 38) of the pant 20. In one embodiment, a separation zone 59 a may be disposed in the same waist region 36 as the first fastening component 53 a and a separation zone 59 b may be disposed in the same waist region 36 as the first fastening component 59 b. In one embodiment, the second fastening component 55 may not be a specific distinct element and may form a portion of one or both of the interior or exterior surface of the pant 20, e.g., a portion of the backsheet 83, such that the first fastening component 53 may be attached to the portion of the pant 20 formed by the second fastening component 55. In one embodiment, the first and second fastening components 53 and 55 are not in contact with each other when packaged (i.e., prior to use).
  • [0078]
    In one embodiment, the first and/or the second fastening components 53 and 55, respectively, may each comprise at least one of a fastening surface and an attachment surface. The fastening surface may comprise a fastener, a fastening device, and/or a fastening composition, for example. The fastening surface may be used to attach the fastening component to a fastening surface of another fastening component or to another portion of the absorbent article 10 or the pant 20. The attachment surface may be used to attach the first and/or second fastening components 53 and 55 to the chassis 100, a portion of the front waist region 36, or another portion of the absorbent article 10, for example. In one embodiment, the second fastening component 55 may not comprise an attachment surface as it may be integrally formed with or may be a portion of the front waist region 36. In such an embodiment, the second fastening component 55 may still comprise a fastening surface, such that it can be attached to the first fastening component 53.
  • [0079]
    In one embodiment, the first and second fastening components 53 and 55 may be disposed on the exterior surface 104 of the absorbent article 10 in the front waist region 36. In an alternative embodiment where the absorbent article 10 comprises side panels 189, the first and second fastening components 53 and 55 may be disposed on the surface of the side panels 189 in the front waist region 36, for example.
  • [0080]
    In various embodiments, each of the fastening components 53 and 55 may be permanently bonded, formed with, or adhered or otherwise joined directly or indirectly to the pant 20 at locations laterally inward from the side edges 137 a and 137 b, in the front waist region 36. One or more of the fastening components 53 and 55 may be permanently bonded or joined at a location at or proximate to the side edges 137 of the pant 20 by any suitable methods, such as adhesive bonding, sonic bonding, pressure bonding, thermal bonding or combinations thereof, for example.
  • [0081]
    In one embodiment, the first fastening component 53 and/or the second fastening component 55 may be made of a suitable releasably engageable fastener. For example, the first and second fastening components 53 and 55 may comprise mechanical fasteners, e.g., hook and loop fasteners, hook and hook fasteners, mechanical fasteners, macrofasteners, buttons, snaps, tab and slot fasteners, tape fasteners, adhesive fasteners, cohesive fasteners, magnetic fasteners, hermaphrodidic fasteners, and other suitable fasteners. Some suitable examples of fastening systems and/or the fastening components 53 and 55 are discussed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,848,594, 4,662,875, 4,846,815, 4,894,060, 4,946,527, 5,151,092, 5,221,274, 6,251,097, 6,669,618, 6,432,098, 7,101,359, and 7,407,468.
  • Non-Engagement Zone
  • [0082]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, for example, the absorbent article 10 may comprise one or more non-engagement zones 54 disposed on or forming a portion of the same surface and in the same waist region as the first fastening components 53. In various embodiments, the non-engagement zones 54 may be intended to prevent, or at least inhibit, the first fastening components 53 from becoming engaged with other elements of the absorbent article 10 when packaged. In certain embodiments, the non-engagement zones 54 may be in surface to surface contact with a fastening surface of the first fastening components 53 when the pant 20 is packaged.
  • [0083]
    In one embodiment, the non-engagement zone 54 may be disposed laterally inward of the first fastening component 53 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The non-engagement zone 54 may be disposed at or adjacent the permanent side edge seam 51. In various embodiments, the non-engagement zones 54 may comprise a film, a sheet, a coating, or another material that does not attach to or engage with the first fastening components 53. Suitable non-engagement zone materials may comprise films of polyethylene or polypropylene, Teflon, latex, non-tack adhesives, selective adhesives, cohesives, and other materials that do not engage with the first fastening component 53.
  • Separation Zone
  • [0084]
    In order to minimize the level of tensile force required to tear open or separate the pant 20 at a predetermined location for removal from the wearer, a separation zone 59 may be provided at or proximate to the side edge seams 51. The separation zone 59 may be located in the intact, initial waist opening circumference 160 of the pant 20 in the same waist region as the first fastening component 53 and the second fastening component 55, as shown in FIGS. 1-3 and 5-8, for example. In an embodiment, a portion of the separation zone 59 may be disposed laterally inward of the first fastening component 53. For embodiments comprising the first and second fastening components 53 and 55, a portion of the separation zone 59 may be disposed between the first and second fastening components 53 and 55 and may be disposed in the same waist region as the first and second fastening components 53 and 55.
  • [0085]
    In one embodiment, the separation zone 59 may be located on the pant 20 in any manner that provides the desired functionality and ease of application and refastening. For example, a separation zone 59 may be located laterally inward of the side edges 137 of the absorbent article 10 in one or both of the front waist region 36 and back waist region 38. In various embodiments, the separation zone 59 may be disposed adjacent to or be included in the area encompassed by the fastening components 53 and 55, for example. In various embodiments, the separation zone 59 may be disposed between the first fastening component 53 and the second fastening component 55. In other embodiments, a portion of the separation zone 59 may be disposed laterally inward of the first side edge seam 51 and the first fastening component 53 may be disposed between the side edge seam 51 and the first longitudinally extending side edge 137 a, for example. In one embodiment, a portion of the separation zone 59 may be disposed laterally inward of the first fastening component 53 or the first fastening component 53 may be disposed laterally inward of the separation zone 59. In other embodiments, the first fastening component 53 may be disposed laterally between the first longitudinally extending side edge 137 a and the first side edge seam 51 a.
  • [0086]
    While the separation zone 59 is illustrated as a dotted line in certain embodiments for simplicity, it will be understood that the separation zone 59 may, in fact, be a “zone” having an area verses a line. The separation zone 59 may be any suitable size for a particular pant. In one embodiment, a caregiver may have an option of separating the separation zone 59 at more than one place within the separation zone 59, for example.
  • [0087]
    In one embodiment, the separation zone 59 may be formed in a layer or a laminate of layers by any methods that encourage preferentially fracture or separation when stress is applied thereto. The separation zone 59 may also be formed by a variety of methods and may comprise a variety of patterns. In one embodiment, the separation zone 59 may comprise a pattern providing greater strength in the cross-machine or lateral direction (CD) than the strength in the machine or longitudinal direction (MD), for example. This configuration may help to maintain a pant-like form during application and use, and yet provide the ease of opening to enable removal of the pant 20 or enable application as a traditional tape-style diaper rather than a pant. In other embodiments, the separation zone 59 may not comprised a weakened area, but instead, the area of the pant 10 surrounding the separation zone 59 may comprise a strengthened area, for example in such an embodiment, the transition between the strengthened area and the adjacent area may form an area of stress concentration which can be utilized to help propagate the separation of the separation zone 59.
  • [0088]
    In one embodiment, each of the laterally opposing separation zones 59 may comprise laterally opposing separation zone edges that may be formed in one of the waist regions 36 and 38 laterally inward of the first fastening components 53. En such an embodiment, the separation zone edges may intersect with the front waist end edge 136 laterally inboard the side edge 137 and may intersect the side edge 137 of the absorbent article 10 at the margin of each leg opening 62. In other embodiments, the separation zone edges may also be disposed in other locations on the absorbent article 10. For example, if the separation zone edges continued generally linearly toward the lateral axis 44, continuous portions of the pant 20 may remain in place around the legs of the wearer. When the separation zone edges are shaped to intersect the margins of the respective leg opening 62 as described above, tearing or separating the pant 20 at both of the laterally opposing separation zone edges may release the pant 20 from the waist and both legs of the wearer. In one embodiment, the separation zone 59 may comprise a first separation zone edge extending from the waist opening of the absorbent article 10 to one of the leg openings of the absorbent article 10, and a second separation zone edge extending from the waist opening of the absorbent article 10 to the laterally opposing leg openings of the absorbent article 10. In various embodiments, the first and second separation zone edges and may be linear, non-linear, parallel, or non-parallel.
  • [0089]
    In one embodiment, the separation zone 59 may comprises a bond, such as a sonic sealed bond, a thermal sealed bond, a high pressure bond, a radio frequency bond, an adhesive bond, a cohesive bond, a sewed bond, an autogenous bond, and a combination thereof, for example. In such embodiments, the bond area may form an area of increased strength forming an area of stress concentration immediately adjacent. This area of stress concentration may help enable separation of the separation zone. In an alternative embodiment, the bond can be separated (not illustrated) to create the separation zone.
  • [0090]
    In one embodiment, the initial waist opening circumference 160 is configured to be opened by separating a first portion of the separation zone 59 from a second portion of the separation zone 59. The separation of the first portion of the separation zone 59 from the second portion of the separation zone 59 may create linear or non-linear separation edges through, or at least partially through, the separation zone 59.
  • [0091]
    In certain embodiments, a separation zone locator or visual signal comprising one or more structural, graphical or textural elements may be provided so a caregiver can clearly distinguish the separation zone 59 from the remainder of the pant 20. For example, a separation zone locator may be printed at or adjacent to the separation zone 59. In such an embodiment, the presence of the visible separation zone locator may prove helpful to the caregiver in locating the separation zone 59 for use in removal of the pant 20.
  • [0092]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIG. 8, a finger tab 72 may be disposed at or adjacent the side edge seam 51 allowing the caregiver to use the finger tab 72 to release the first fastening component 53 from the exterior surface 104 of the pant 20 (in one embodiment, by breaking the closure bond) and, subsequently, to break the separation zone 59. The finger tab 72 may be disposed adjacent the first fastening component 53 and extend beyond the side edge 137 of the pant 20. In other embodiments, the finger tab 72 may form a portion of the surface on which the first fastening component 53 is disposed.
  • [0093]
    Accordingly, the finger tab 72 may be partially aligned with the separation zone 59 as shown in FIG. 8. It should be appreciated, however, that the tab 72 may alternatively be positioned and arranged in any alternative manner that facilitates intentional opening of the separation zone 59. For instance, the tab 72 may extend substantially along the entire length of the separation zone 59. The tab 72 may be configured to be grasped by a caregiver when applying an opening or releasing force to the first fastening component 53 and the separation zone 59 in order to sever the initial waist opening circumference 160 and leg opening circumferences 62 to remove the pant 20 from the wearer. The tab 72 may also provide a visual grasping point and greater leverage for the caregiver to open the first fastening components 53 and sever the separation zone 59 and, in some embodiments, the closure bond.
  • [0094]
    In one embodiment, the tab 72 may comprise any suitable indicia that can be printed on the exposed surface of the tab 72 (i.e., the surface that is visible when the pant 20 is being worn). Alternatively, the indicia may be disposed on an auxiliary layer that is affixed to the tab 72, for example. Accordingly, the indicia may be visible to a caregiver who wishes to remove the pant 20 from the wearer.
  • [0095]
    In one embodiment, suitable indicia may comprise graphics, writings, (e.g., “pull here” or “open here” or other suitable language that communicates the use of the tab 72), regions that are colored differently than surrounding pant 20 components, such as the chassis 100, and combinations thereof that increase the visibility and intuitive use of the tab 72. Furthermore, the finger tab 72, the first fastening component 53, the non-engagement zone 54, the second fastening component 55, and the separation zone 59 may comprise distinctively different colors, patterns, characters, or carry other identifying indicia that provides contrast between the various components, thereby increasing their visibility and communicating their intuitive use to the caregiver. In various embodiments, the indicia may comprise pictorial symbols, photographs, drawings, cartoons, and logos, for example. The indicia 76 may also comprise a single icon or a series of the same or different icons. Graphics other than the images described above may be used to attract a caregiver's attention and indicate a gripping location, as described in U.S. Pat. Publ. Nos. 2006/0212010 and 2006/0212018, for example.
  • [0096]
    As described above, the separation zone 59 may be configured to be broken, separated, or severed, such that the caregiver may easily separate a portion of the front waist region 36 from itself or may separate a portion of the back waist region 38 from itself to inspect the pant 20 for soiling or to initially apply the pant 20 in a traditional tape-style diaper fashion, if desired, and also to remove the pant 20 from the wearer after it has been soiled. In one embodiment, the separation zone 59 may have an opening force of less than about 5000 grams, less than about 4000 grams, or less than about 3000 grams such that the caregiver can choose to break the separation zone 59 and remove the pant 20. Alternatively, the separation zone 59 may be left intact allowing a caregiver or a wearer to slide down the pant 20 from the waist and legs similar to conventional underwear, for example.
  • [0097]
    In one embodiment, the separation zone 59 may comprise a notch or a notched portion (not illustrated). In one embodiment, the notch may help get the separation or tearing of the two separation zone edges in an area of the separation zone 59, for example. In various embodiments, indicia or graphics may be oriented on a portion of the separation zone 59 (e.g., in the middle of the separation zone) such that the caregiver tears or separates the separation zone in that desired location. In such an embodiment, the separation may not be assisted by weakened areas, perforations, one material being positioned adjacent another material, etc. The resulting separation may be very rough, jagged, and/or unpredictable, for example.
  • EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS
  • [0098]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 1-7, when the pant 20 is worn on the lower torso of a wearer, the front waist end edge 136 and the back waist end edge 138 of the chassis 100 may encircle a portion of the waist of the wearer, while at the same time the side edges 137 a and 137 b may encircle at least a portion of the legs of the wearer. At the same time, the crotch region 37 may be generally positioned between the legs of the wearer and the absorbent core 200 may extend from the front waist region 36 through the crotch region 37 to the back waist region 38.
  • Overlap Seam Progression Figures
  • [0099]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 9-13, 18, and 22, the absorbent article 10 may be folded about a lateral axis 44 to form a pant 20 comprising overlap seams 58. The absorbent article 10 may comprise a front waist region 36 comprising a front waist end edge 136, a back waist region 38 comprising a back waist end edge 138, one or more first fastening components 53, one or more second fastening components 54, one or more non-engagement zones 54, optionally, one or more closure bonds 56, and a longitudinal axis 42. In one embodiment, the one or more closure bonds 56 may not be present until the absorbent article 10 is folded about the lateral axis 44 and readied to be formed into the pant 20. In various embodiments, the absorbent article 10 may comprise one or more first fastening components 53 disposed in a first waist region and may optionally comprise one or more second fastening components 55 disposed in the same waist region as the first fastening components 53. The one or more second fastening components 55 may be formed as a portion of the first waist region, formed integral with a portion of the first waist region, or attached to or disposed on a portion of the first waist region. In one embodiment, more than two second fastening components 55 may be provided along an area of the first waist region, for example. In various embodiments, the first fastening components 53 and the second fastening components 55 may be disposed in the same waist region (e.g., the first waist region 36) and on the same surface of the same waist region 36 (e.g., the exterior surface 104).
  • [0100]
    Now described is the progression of how the absorbent article 10 may be formed into the pant 20 (i.e., steps taken by the manufacturer). In one embodiment, referring to FIG. 9, a simplified version of the absorbent article 10 is illustrated. While the absorbent article 10 is illustrated as being comprised of a single panel, those of will in the art will recognize that the absorbent article 10 may be comprised of multiple panels or components, such as topsheets, backsheets, containment regions, absorbent cores, leg cuffs, waistbands, elastics, and/or side panels, for example. The simplified version is illustrated merely for simplicity in the explanation of the progression of formation. To form the pant 20, first, the absorbent article 10 is folded about the lateral axis 44 such that the interior surface 102 of the front waist region 36 is brought into a surface-to-surface facing position with the interior surface 102 of the back waist region 38. In one embodiment, this configuration is illustrated in FIG. 10. As can be seen, a permanent side seam 51 may be formed to create an overlap seam. The overlap permanent side edge seam 51 may be created by bringing a portion of the interior surface 102 of the front waist region 36 into a surface-to-surface orientation with a portion of the exterior surface 104 of the back waist region 38 as shown in FIG. 10. Alternatively, the overlap permanent side edge seam 51 may be created by bringing a portion of the exterior surface 104 of the front waist region 36 into a surface-to-surface orientation with a portion of the interior surface 102 of the back waist region 38 as shown in FIG. 18 (see also FIGS. 1 and 2). In other embodiments, the overlap permanent side edge seam 51 may be created by bringing a portion of the interior surface 102 of the front waist region 36 into a surface-to-surface orientation with a portion of the interior surface 102 of the back waist region 38 as shown in FIG. 22. In one embodiment, the bond used to form the permanent side seam 51 may be formed by various methods, such as adhesive bonding, permanent cohesive bonding, thermal bonding, ultrasonic bonding or pressure bonding, for example. While in the configuration of FIG. 10, the front waist region 36 is joined to the back waist region 38 via the overlap seams 58. A separation zone 59 may be formed between each first fastening component 53 and each permanent side edge seam 51 in the front waist region 36. Optionally, in the step illustrated in FIG. 10, one or more closure bonds 56 may be formed by various methods, such as adhesive bonding, cohesive bonding, thermal bonding, ultrasonic bonding or pressure bonding, for example. The closure bond 56 may be disposed on the exterior surface 104 of the front waist region 36 at or adjacent each side edge 137 and/or each first fastening component 53. Next, still referring to FIG. 10, the portions of the absorbent article 10 comprising the overlap seams 58 and/or the first fastening components 53 can be folded laterally inward, in a direction toward the longitudinal axis 42. In one embodiment, the closure bonds 56 may hold the folded over portion against the exterior surface 104 of the front waist region 36 of the pant 20. In one embodiment, the fully formed pant 20 is illustrated in FIG. 10. As can be seen in FIG. 10, the fully formed pant 20 comprises an initial waist opening circumference 160. In such an embodiment, the first fastening components 53 are not used to maintain or form the initial waist opening circumference 160 and, in fact, are not fastenably engaged with the second fastening components 55 or other portions of the pant 20 although they may be in surface-to-surface contact with the non-engagement zones 54. As discussed herein, the non-engagement zones 54 prevent, or at least inhibit, the first fastening components 53 from fastening with a portion of the pant 20 when packaged in certain instances, the consumer (e.g., caregiver) would receive the pant 20 in the configuration illustrated in FIG. 10.
  • [0101]
    In one embodiment, the caregiver, upon receipt of the pant 20 or removal of the pant 20 from a package (the pant 20, in one embodiment, being in the configuration illustrated in FIG. 10), may decide to apply the pant 20 as a pull-on training pant or as a type-style diaper. To apply the pant 20 as a pull-on training pant, the caregiver may use the pant 20 like underwear and have the wearer place one foot in each leg openings and pull the pant 20 up to an area about the wearer's waist. In this configuration, the first fastening components 53 would not be fastenably engaged with a portion of the pant 20 or with the second fastening components 55. Instead, the overlap seam 58 would maintain the initial waist opening circumference 160 around the wearer's waist. If the caregiver needs to check the pant 20 at any time during use by the wearer, the caregiver can pull on a portion of the pant adjacent the side edge 137 to separate or break the closure bond 56 and then rotate the folded over portion away from the longitudinal axis 42 thereby separating or tearing the separation zone 59. In one embodiment, the separated or torn separation zones 59 are illustrated in FIG. 11. In various embodiments, one or more portions of the front waist region 36 that have been separated from the remainder, central portion, of the front waist region 36 may then be reattached to the front waist region 36, similar to the example configuration illustrated in FIGS. 12 and 13. When the pant 20 is in the configurations of FIGS. 11 and 12, the caregiver can check the pant 20 to determine if a pant change needs to be made. If a pant change does not need to be made, the caregiver can refasten the pant 20 by engaging the first fastening components 53 and the second fastening components 55 with each other to create a second waist opening circumference 61. One embodiment of such engagement is illustrated in FIG. 13. In embodiments, where the separate second fastening components 55 are not provided, the caregiver may engage the first fastening components 53 with another portion of the front waist region 36 (e.g., the backsheet 83) forming the second fastening component 55.
  • [0102]
    In one embodiment, to apply the pant 20 as a type-style diaper, the caregiver can pull on a portion of the pant adjacent the side edge 137 to separate or break the closure bond 56 and rotate the folded over portion away from the longitudinal axis 42 thereby separating or tearing the separation zone 59. In one embodiment, this configuration is illustrated in FIG. 11. Referring to FIG. 12, the pant 20 may then be unfolded about the lateral axis 44. When the pant 20 is unfolded, in one embodiment, referring to FIG. 12, one or more portions of the front waist region 36 may remain attached to the back waist region 38. In this configuration the pant 20 can be applied to the wearer like a tape-style diaper. In one embodiment, the applied configuration is illustrated in FIG. 13. In FIG. 13, the first fastening components 53 are engaged with the second fastening components 55 or other portions of the front waist region 36 to create a second waist opening circumference 61.
  • EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS
  • [0103]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 14-17, the laterally opposing permanent side seams 51 may be disposed at or adjacent the side edges 137 in one or both waist regions 36 and/or 38. In embodiments wherein the lateral extent of the front waist region 36 is substantially equal to the lateral extent of the back waist region 38 during bonding of the permanent side edge seams 51, the permanent side edge seams 51 may be disposed at or adjacent the side edges 137 of the absorbent article 10 in both the front and back waist regions 36 and 38. In one embodiment, the absorbent article 10 is folded at a laterally extending fold line disposed in the crotch region 37 to bring the front waist region 36 and the back waist region 38 into an interior surface to interior surface, face to face orientation. The permanent side edge seams 51 may be formed by placing the interior surface 102 of one of the waist regions 36 or 38 in an overlapping relationship with the exterior surface 104 of the opposing waist region 36 or 38 adjacent the side edges 137 and subsequently bonding the waist regions 36 and 38 together. The first fastening component 53 may be applied to the absorbent article 10 prior to forming the permanent side edge seam 51. The second fastening component 55 may also be applied prior to forming the permanent side edge seam 51 or after forming the permanent side edge seam 51. In this embodiment, the first fastening component 53 and/or the non-engagement zone 54 may be disposed at least partially within the permanent side edge seam 51 with the fastening surface of the first fastening component 53 in a face to face surface to surface orientation with the non-engagement zone 54. When removed from the package, the absorbent article 10 is in the form of the pant 20. The caregiver may apply the absorbent article 10 to the wearer as a pant or as a tape-style diaper by first releasing the first fastening component 53 by separating the front waist region 36 from the back waist region 38 by breaking the permanent side edge seam 51 thereby opening the initial waist opening circumference 160 (the closure bond 56 if present may also be broken, for example), then placing the back waist region 38 of the absorbent article 10 under the wearer and fastening the first fastening component 53 to the second fastening component 55, another portion of the front waist region 36, or another portion of the absorbent article 10 to re-close the pant 20 on the wearer. In one embodiment, FIG. 15A is a cross-sectional view of the absorbent article 10 of FIG. 14, taken along line A-A. In one embodiment, FIG. 15B is a cross-sectional view of the absorbent article 10 of FIG. 14, taken along line B-B. In one embodiment, FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the pant 20 formed with an overlap seam. In various embodiments, FIG. 16 may comprise various indicia or graphics 76 to indicate to a caregiver where to land or fasten the first fastening component 53 to create the second waist opening circumference. In one embodiment, the indicia or graphics 76 may be shaped to illustrate various waist circumferences, for example. In one embodiment, FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view of the pant 20 of FIG. 16, taken along line D-D.
  • [0104]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 18 and 19, the laterally opposing permanent side seams 51 may be disposed at or adjacent the side edges 137 in one or both waist regions 36 and/or 38. In embodiments where the lateral extent of one of the front or back waist regions 36 or 38 is greater than the lateral extent of the opposing waist region 36 or 38 at the point of bonding the permanent side edge seams 51, the permanent side edge seams 51 may be disposed at or adjacent the side edge 137 of the absorbent article 10 in one waist region 36 or 38 and disposed laterally inward of the side edge 137 in the opposing waist region 36 or 38. In one embodiment, the absorbent article 10 is folded at a laterally extending fold line disposed in the crotch region 37 to bring the front waist region 36 and the back waist region 38 into an interior surface to interior surface, face to face orientation. The permanent side edge seams 51 may be formed by placing the interior surface 102 of one waist regions 36 or 38 in an overlapping relationship with the exterior surface 104 of the opposing waist region 36 or 38 adjacent the side edges 137 and subsequently bonding the waist regions 36 and 38 together. The first fastening component 53 may be applied to the absorbent article 10 prior to forming the permanent side edge seam 51. The second fastening component 55 may also be applied prior to forming the permanent side edge seam 51 or after forming the permanent side edge seam 51. In this embodiment, the first fastening component 53 and the non-engagement zone 54 may be disposed adjacent the permanent side edge seam 51 with the fastening surface of the first fastening component 53 in a face to face, surface to surface orientation with the non-engagement zone 54. When removed from the package, the absorbent article 10 is in the form of the pant 20. The caregiver may apply the pant 20 to the wearer as a pant or as a tape-style diaper by first breaking the initial waist opening circumference 160, releasing the first fastening component (by breaking the closure bond 56 if present, for example), placing the back waist region 38 of the absorbent article 10 under the wearer and fastening the first fastening component 53 to the second fastening component 53, to a portion of the front waist region 36, or to another portion of the absorbent article 10 to re-close the pant 10 about the waist of the wearer to form a second waist opening circumference. In one embodiment, FIG. 19 is illustrated with both separation zones 59 separated and a first side in the unattached configuration and a second side in the reattached configuration.
  • [0105]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 20 and 21, the lateral extent of the absorbent article 10 in one of the waist regions 36 or 38 is greater than the lateral extent of the absorbent article 10 in the opposing waist region 36 or 38 prior to bonding of the permanent side edge seams 51, the permanent side edge seam 137 may be disposed at or adjacent the side edge 137 of the one of the waist regions 36 or 38 and be disposed laterally outward from the side edge 137 of the opposing waist region 36 or 38. In one embodiment, the absorbent article 10 may be folded at a laterally extending fold line disposed in the crotch region 37 to bring the from waist region 36 and the back waist region 38 into an interior surface to interior surface, face to face orientation. In certain embodiments, a portion of the chassis 100 comprising the first fastening component 53 may be folded laterally inward thereby positioning the fastening surface of the first fastening component 53 in a face to face, surface to surface orientation with a non-engagement zone 54. The laterally inward folded portion of the chassis 100 comprising the first fastening component 53 and/or the permanent side edge seam 51 is releasably attached to the exterior surface 104 of the absorbent article 10 to maintain the position of the first fastening component 53 until it is released by the caregiver (by breaking the closure bond 56, for example). Subsequently, the permanent side edge seams 51 may be formed by bonding the interior surface 102 of one waist regions 36 or 38 to the exterior surface 104 of the opposing waist region 36 or 38. The first fastening component 53 may be applied to the absorbent article 10 prior to forming the permanent side edge seam 51. The second fastening component 55 may also be applied prior to forming the permanent side edge seam 51 or after forming the permanent side edge seam 51. When removed from the package, the absorbent article 10 is in the form of the pant 20. The caregiver may apply the pant 20 to the wearer as a pant or alternatively the caregiver may apply the absorbent article 10 as a tape-style diaper by first unfolding the laterally inwardly folded portion of the chassis 100 (breaking the closure bond 56, for example), breaking the initial waist opening circumference 160, placing the back waist region 38 of the absorbent article 10 under the wearer and fastening the first fastening component 53 to the optional second fastening component 55, to a portion of the front waist region 36, or to another portion of the absorbent article 10, thereby re-closing the pant 20 about the waist of the wearer to form a second waist opening circumference. In one embodiment, FIG. 21 is illustrated with both separation zones 59 separated and a first side in the unattached configuration and a second side in the reattached configuration.
  • [0106]
    In one embodiment, referring to FIGS. 22 and 23, the lateral extent of the absorbent article 10 in one of the waist regions 36 or 38 is greater than the lateral extent of the absorbent article 10 in the opposing waist region 36 or 38 prior to bonding of the permanent side edge seams 51, the permanent side edge seams 51 may be disposed at or adjacent the side edge 137 of the one of the waist regions 36 or 38 and be disposed laterally outward from the side edge 137 of the opposing waist region 36 or 38. In one embodiment, the absorbent article 10 may be folded at a laterally extending fold line disposed in the crotch region 37 to bring the front waist region 36 and the back waist region 38 into an interior surface to interior surface, face to face orientation. In certain embodiments, the portion of the chassis 100 comprising the first fastening component 53 may be folded laterally inward thereby positioning the fastening surface of the first fastening component 53 in a face to face, surface to surface orientation with a non-engagement zone 54. The laterally inward folded portion of the chassis 100 comprising the first fastening component 53 is releasably attached to the exterior surface 104 of the absorbent article 10 to maintain the position of the first fastening component 53 until it is released by the caregiver (by breaking the closure bond 56, for example). Subsequently, the permanent side edge seams 51 are formed by bonding the interior surface 102 of one waist regions 36 or 38 to the interior surface 102 of the opposing waist region 36 or 38. The first fastening component 53 may be applied to the absorbent article 10 prior to forming the permanent side edge seam 51. The second fastening component 55 may also be applied prior to forming the permanent side edge seam 51 or after forming the permanent side edge seam 51. When removed from the package, the absorbent article 10 is in the form of the pant 20. The caregiver may apply the absorbent article 10 to the wearer as a pant or as a tape-style diaper by unfolding the laterally inwardly folded portion of the chassis 100 (by breaking the closure bond 56, for example), breaking the initial waist opening circumference 160, placing the back waist region 38 of the absorbent article 10 under the wearer and fastening the first fastening component 53 to the second fastening component 55, a portion of the front waist region 36, or a portion of the absorbent article 10 thereby re-closing the pant 20 about the waist of the wearer to form a second waist opening circumference. In one embodiment, FIG. 23 is illustrated with both separation zones 59 separated and a first side in the unattached configuration and a second side in the reattached configuration.
  • [0107]
    Attorney Docket No. 11577P, filed on Jan. 20, 2010, naming Gary Dean LaVon as an inventor, generally discloses various acceptable product features that may be implemented in the embodiments described in the present application. Specifically, the above-described embodiments may, as appropriate, comprise a fastening system and side panels as described in Attorney Docket No. 11577P.
  • Method of Making
  • [0108]
    The following method of making description refers generally to FIGS. 24-28 c. Like element references from above will apply below even if they are not illustrated in FIGS. 24-28 c. Some numbering from above may also overlap with numbering from below.
  • [0109]
    In one embodiment, a method of forming an absorbent article 10 in the form of a prefastened pant incorporates the use of an apparatus that reconfigures the absorbent article 10 from an open partially assembled, unfastened configuration to a pre-fastened configuration during the manufacturing thereof.
  • [0110]
    In one embodiment, the apparatus comprises a plurality of folding devices 230 disposed on a transport device which is configured in the form of a wheel or drum as shown in FIGS. 24 and 25. During the manufacture of prefastened pants 20, the folding device 230 receives a discrete absorbent article 10 in a flat, open, unfastened, configuration. The discrete absorbent article 10 is held in place on folding arms 60 and 63. The folding device 230 is adapted to fold the discrete absorbent article 10 from its flat open configuration to a bifold configuration, to form pant 20, wherein the absorbent article 10 is folded about the lateral axis 44 disposed in the crotch region 37, folding a first waist region of the absorbent article 10 in a direction generally toward the opposing waist region as shown in FIG. 26. In addition to folding the absorbent article 10 about the lateral axis 44, the folding device 230 can also fold one or more portions of the absorbent article 10, for example portions of the side panels 189, disposed adjacent the longitudinally extending side edges 137 laterally inward such that a portion disposed in a first waist region is placed in an overlapping face-to-face orientation with a portion of the absorbent article 10 in the opposing waist region as shown in FIG. 27 to form an overlapping permanent side edge seam 51. When refastenable fastening elements are disposed at or adjacent the longitudinally extending side edges 137 in one or both of the waist regions 36 and 38, the folding device 230 may fold the portion of the absorbent article 10 comprising a first fastening component 53 toward the opposing waist region placing the portion of the absorbent article 10 comprising the first fastening component 53 in a face-to-face, surface-to-surface relationship with a portion of the chassis 100 in the opposing waist region. The folding device 230 may encourage the portions of the first waist region and the portions of the second waist region into contact to form a permanent side edge seam 51, examples of such permanent side edge seams are shown in FIGS. 28 a-c. The permanent side edge seam 51 may comprise an adhesive bond, a cohesive bond, a thermal bond, ultrasonic bond, a pressure bond or any suitable bonding methods or devices. The folding device 230 and/or the transport device 210 may comprise a retention device intended to maintain the position of the absorbent article 10 on the transport device 210 until the absorbent article 10 is removed for further processing, U.S. Pat. Publ. No. 2008/0083489 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,779,831 generally disclose various acceptable embodiments for carrying out the process as described above and as described in the present application's FIGS. 24-28 c. More specifically, the transport device (processing wheel), folding device (processing station), side panel folding and seaming devices (gripper and sealer) as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Publ. No. 2008/0083489 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,779,831 may be used in the process of the present application.
  • [0111]
    In one embodiment of the method of making, a continuous web comprising a plurality of interconnected backsheets 83 is combined with a series of laterally opposing pairs of discrete side panels 189. The side panels 189 may comprise a material that is elastically extensible and may additionally comprise a refastenable fastening component disposed on a surface of the side panel 189. The continuous web of interconnected backsheets 83 is subsequently joined with a continuous web comprising a plurality of interconnected topsheets 81. Discrete absorbent cores 200 are disposed between the continuous backsheet 83 web and the continuous topsheet 81 web thereby forming a plurality of interconnected absorbent containment assemblies. The web is severed to form a plurality of discrete absorbent articles 10. The discrete absorbent articles 10 are disposed in an unfolded and unfastened state, i.e., the first fastening component 53 and second fastening component 55 are unfastened. The discrete absorbent article 10 is transported in a machine direction and folded longitudinally about the lateral axis 44 disposed in the crotch region 37 such that the front waist region 36 and the back waist region 38 are disposed in an internal surface 102 to internal surface 102, face-to-face relationship. A portion of the absorbent article 10 comprising a first fastening component 53 in a first waist region is folded laterally inward toward the second waist region and a portion of the absorbent article 10 comprising a non-engagement zone 54 disposed in the second waist region is folded laterally inward toward the first waist region. The laterally folded portions of the absorbent article 10 comprising the first fastening component 53 is disposed in an overlapping, face-to-face relationship with the portion of the absorbent article 10 comprising the non-engagement zone 54. In such an embodiment, the fastening surface of the first fastening component 53 is brought into surface-to-surface contact with the non-engagement surface of the non-engagement zone 54. The overlapping region may be subsequently bonded to form a permanent side edge seam 51. The side edge seam 51 may be formed by a thermal bond, ultrasonic bond, a pressure bond or other suitable bonding methods or devices. A portion of one or both of the first fastening component 53 and non-engagement zone 54 may be disposed within the permanent side edge seam 51.
  • [0112]
    In an alternative embodiment of the method of making, a continuous web comprising a plurality of interconnected backsheets 83 is combined with a series of laterally opposing pairs of discrete side panels 189. The side panels 189 may comprise a material that is elastically extensible and may additionally comprise a refastenable fastening component disposed on a surface of a side panel 189. The side panel 189 may comprise a non-engagement zone 54 disposed on or forming a portion of the surface of the side panel 189. A portion of the side panel 189 comprising a first fastening component 53 may be folded laterally inward to position the first fastening component 53 in a face-to-face, surface-to-surface orientation with the non-engagement zone 54. The attachment of the first fastening component 53 to the side panel 189 as well as the folding of the side panel 189 may take place either before or after attaching the side panel 189 to the continuous web of interconnected backsheets 83. The continuous web of interconnected backsheets 83 is subsequently joined with a continuous web comprising a plurality of interconnected topsheets 81. Discrete absorbent cores 200 are disposed between the continuous backsheet 83 web and the continuous topsheet 81 web thereby forming a plurality of interconnected absorbent containment assemblies. The web is severed to form a plurality of discrete absorbent articles 10. The discrete absorbent articles 10 are disposed in an unfolded and unfastened state, i.e. the first fastening component 53 and second fastening component 55 are unfastened. The discrete absorbent article 10 is transported in a machine direction and folded longitudinally about the lateral axis 44 disposed in the crotch region 37 such that the first waist region and the second waist region are disposed in an internal surface 102 to internal surface 102, face-to-face relationship. A portion of the absorbent article 10 comprising a first fastening component 53 in a first waist region is folded laterally inward toward the second waist region and a portion of the absorbent article 10 comprising a non-engagement zone 54 disposed in the second waist region is folded laterally inward toward the first waist region. The laterally folded portions of the absorbent article 10 in a first waist region comprising the first fastening component 53 is disposed in an overlapping, face-to-face relationship with a portion of the absorbent article 10 disposed in the opposing waist region. The overlapping region may be subsequently bonded to form a permanent side edge seam 51. The permanent side edge seam 51 may be formed by an adhesive bond, cohesive bond, thermal bond, ultrasonic bond, a pressure bond or other suitable bonding methods or devices. A portion of one or both of the first fastening component 53 and non-engagement zone 54 may be disposed within the permanent side edge seam 51.
  • [0113]
    In one embodiment of the method of making, a continuous web comprising a plurality of interconnected backsheets 83 is combined with a series of laterally opposing pairs of discrete side panels 189. The side panels 189 may comprise a material that is elastically extensible and may additionally comprise a refastenable fastening component disposed on a surface of the side panel 189. The side panel 189 may comprise a non-engagement zone 54 disposed on or forming a portion of the surface of the side panel 189. The attachment of the first fastening component 53 and creation of the non-engagement zone 54 may take place either before or after attaching the side panel 189 to the continuous web of interconnected backsheets 83. The continuous web of interconnected backsheets 83 is subsequently joined with a continuous web comprising a plurality of interconnected topsheets 81. Discrete absorbent cores 200 are disposed between the continuous backsheet 83 web and the continuous topsheet 81 web thereby forming a plurality of interconnected absorbent containment assemblies. The web is severed to form a plurality of discrete absorbent articles 10. The discrete absorbent articles 10 are disposed in an unfolded and unfastened state, i.e. the first fastening component 53 and second fastening component 55 are unfastened. The discrete absorbent article 10 is transported in a machine direction and folded longitudinally about the laterally extending axis 44 disposed in the crotch region 37 such that the first waist region and the second waist region are disposed in an internal surface 102 to internal surface 102, face-to-face relationship. A portion of the absorbent article 10 comprising a first fastening component 53 in a first waist region is folded laterally inward toward the second waist region and a portion of the absorbent article 10 comprising a non-engagement zone 54 disposed in the second waist region is folded laterally inward toward the first waist region. The laterally folded portions of the absorbent article 10 in a first waist region comprising the first fastening component 53 are disposed in an overlapping face-to-face relationship with a portion of the absorbent article 10 disposed in the opposing waist region. The overlapping region may be subsequently bonded to form a permanent side edge seam 51. The side edge seam 51 may be formed by an adhesive bond, cohesive bond, thermal bond, ultrasonic bond, a pressure bond or other suitable bonding methods or devices. A portion of the side panel 189 comprising the first fastening component 53 may be folded laterally inward to position the first fastening component 53 in a face-to-face, surface-to-surface orientation with the non-engagement zone 54. A portion of one or both of the first fastening component 53 and non-engagement zone 54 may be disposed laterally inward of the permanent side edge seam 51.
  • [0114]
    The dimensions and values disclosed herein are not to be understood as being strictly limited to the exact numerical values recited. Instead, unless otherwise specified, each such dimension is intended to mean both the recited value and a functionally equivalent range surrounding that value. For example, a dimension disclosed as “40 mm” is intended to mean “about 40 mm”.
  • [0115]
    All documents cited in the Detailed Description are, in relevant part, incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. The citation of any document is not to be construed as an admission that it is prior art with respect to the present disclosure. To the extent that any meaning or definition of a term in the present disclosure conflicts with any meaning or definition of the term in a document incorporated by reference, the meaning or definition assigned to the term in the present disclosure document shall govern.
  • [0116]
    While particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it would be obvious to those skilled in the art that various other changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is therefore intended to cover in the appended claims all such changes and modifications that are within the scope of this invention.

Claims (4)

  1. 1. A method of making an absorbent article in the form of a refastenable pant comprising the steps of:
    attaching at least one first fastening component to a web comprising a plurality of interconnected side panels;
    attaching at least one second fastening component to a web comprising a plurality of interconnected backsheets;
    attaching a laterally opposing pair of elastomeric side panels to the web of interconnected backsheets at or adjacent the laterally opposing side edges of the backsheet;
    combining a backsheet, topsheet and absorbent core to form an absorbent containment assembly wherein the absorbent core is disposed between the backsheet and topsheet;
    severing the continuous web of interconnected absorbent articles thereby forming a plurality of discrete absorbent articles;
    folding the discrete absorbent articles about the lateral centerline bringing the interior surface of the front waist region into contact with the interior surface of the back waist region;
    folding one or more of the side panels laterally inward to bring the first fastening component into contact with a non-engagement zone;
    folding the laterally opposing pair of side panels in a first waist region toward the second waist region and folding the laterally opposing pair of side panels in the second waist region toward the first waist region forming an overlapped region between the first and second waist regions; and
    forming a permanent side edge seam bonding the first waist region to the second waist region in the overlapped region.
  2. 2. A method of making an absorbent article in the form of a refastenable pant comprising the steps of:
    attaching at least one first fastening component to a web comprising a plurality of interconnected side panels;
    attaching at least one second fastening component to a web comprising a plurality of interconnected backsheets;
    forming a non-engagement zone on a surface of one or both of the side panels and backsheet;
    attaching a laterally opposing pair of elastomeric side panels to the web of interconnected backsheets at or adjacent the laterally opposing side edges of the backsheet;
    combining a backsheet, topsheet and absorbent core to form an absorbent containment assembly wherein the absorbent core is disposed between the backsheet and topsheet;
    severing the continuous web of interconnected absorbent articles thereby forming a plurality of discrete absorbent articles;
    introducing a plurality of discrete articles onto a transport device comprising a plurality of folding devices each discrete article having a front waist region with at least one first fastening component and at least one second fastening component, a back waist region and a crotch region disposed between the front waist region and back waist region;
    folding the discrete absorbent articles about the lateral centerline bringing the interior surface of the front waist region into contact with the interior surface of the back waist region forming a bi-folded absorbent article;
    folding the laterally spaced side panels disposed in a first waist region laterally inward toward a second waist region and folding the laterally spaced side panels disposed in a second waist region laterally inward toward a first waist region thereby forming an overlap region between the first waist region and the second waist region.
    forming a permanent side edge seam bonding the first waist region to the second waist region in the overlap region.
  3. 3. The method of claim 2, wherein at least a portion of one or both of the first fastening component and non-engagement surface are disposed within the overlap region.
  4. 4. The method of claim 2, wherein at least a portion of one or both of the first fastening component and non-engagement surface are disposed within the permanent side edge seam.
US13010072 2010-01-20 2011-01-20 Refastenable Absorbent Article Abandoned US20110174432A1 (en)

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