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United States Patent Application 20170254006
Kind Code A1
Baker; John J. ;   et al. September 7, 2017

Textile Product Having Reduced Density

Abstract

Embodiments described herein may take the form of a textile product having one or more regions of reduced density. These reduced density volumes may form one or more features in the product. For example, the reduced density volumes may have better acoustic transmission properties, optical transmission properties, flexibility, and the like. Sound transmission may be enhanced not only in terms of clarity, but also overall range. That is, certain audio frequencies that the textile may normally block when in an unaltered state may pass through a textile having reduced density or reduced density regions.


Inventors: Baker; John J.; (Cupertino, CA) ; Howes; Michael B.; (Mountain View, CA) ; Nashner; Michael S.; (San Jose, CA) ; Hamada; Yoji; (Wakayama-ken, JP)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Apple Inc.

Cupertino

CA

US
Family ID: 1000002624533
Appl. No.: 15/598146
Filed: May 17, 2017


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
13802460Mar 13, 2013
15598146

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: D04H 13/00 20130101; D04H 1/00 20130101; Y10T 428/13 20150115; Y10T 428/24992 20150115
International Class: D04H 13/00 20060101 D04H013/00; D04H 1/00 20060101 D04H001/00

Claims



1. A cover for an electronic device with a speaker, the cover comprising: a first fabric portion that covers the speaker, wherein the first fabric portion has first and second opposing surfaces and a plurality of perforations that extend through the first fabric portion from the first surface to the second surface; and a second fabric portion that does not cover the speaker, wherein the second fabric portion does not have any perforations and wherein a visual appearance of the first fabric portion matches a visual appearance of the second fabric portion.

2. The cover defined in claim 1, wherein each perforation of the plurality of perforations extends at a right angle between the first and second surfaces.

3. The cover defined in claim 1, wherein each perforation of the plurality of perforations extends at a non-right angle between the first and second surfaces.

4. The cover defined in claim 1, wherein the first and second fabric portions form a sidewall for the cover.

5. The cover defined in claim 4, further comprising an opening in the sidewall.

6. The cover defined in claim 1, further comprising a third fabric portion configured to cover a light source in the electronic device.

7. The cover defined in claim 6, wherein the third fabric portion has an additional plurality of perforations, and wherein the third fabric portion has a greater light transmission than the second fabric portion.

8. The cover defined in claim 1, wherein the first fabric portion has a greater acoustic transmission than the second fabric portion.

9. The cover defined in claim 1, wherein the first fabric portion has a lower density than the second fabric portion.

10. A cover for an electronic device with a speaker, the cover comprising: first and second parallel surfaces; and first, second, third, and fourth sidewalls that are interposed between the first and second surfaces, wherein the first sidewall is formed from fabric, wherein the first sidewall has a first portion with perforations in the fabric that defines an acoustic outlet for the speaker, and wherein the first sidewall has a second portion that surrounds the first portion and does not include any perforations in the fabric.

11. The cover defined in claim 10, wherein the first portion of the first sidewall has a greater acoustic transmission than the second portion of the first sidewall.

12. The cover defined in claim 10, wherein the first portion of the first sidewall has a visual appearance that matches a visual appearance of the second portion of the first sidewall.

13. The cover defined in claim 10, wherein the perforations comprise a first set of perforations that extend through the first sidewall at a first angle and a second set of perforations that extend through the first sidewall at a second angle that is different than the first angle.

14. The cover defined in claim 10, wherein the first sidewall has a third portion configured to cover a status indicator light in the electronic device, and wherein the third portion has additional perforations that reduce the density of the third portion relative to the second portion.

15. The cover defined in claim 10, wherein the first portion of the first sidewall has a lower density than the second portion of the first sidewall.

16. A cover for an electronic device with a speaker and a microphone, the cover comprising: an upper surface; a lower surface that is parallel to the upper surface; and a fabric side portion that extends between the upper surface and the lower surface, wherein the fabric side portion has an opening between first and second regions, wherein the first region is configured to cover the speaker, wherein the second region is configured to cover the microphone, and wherein the first and second regions of the fabric side portion include a plurality of perforations that increase acoustic transmission of the first and second regions of the fabric side portion relative to a surrounding region of the fabric side portion.

17. The cover defined in claim 16, wherein the first and second regions of the fabric side portion have a visual appearance that matches a visual appearance of the surrounding region of the fabric side portion.

18. The cover defined in claim 16, wherein the first region of the fabric side portion defines an acoustic outlet.

19. The cover defined in claim 18, wherein the second region of the fabric side portion defines an acoustic inlet.

20. The cover defined in claim 16, wherein the first and second regions of the fabric side portion have a lower density than the surrounding region of the fabric side portion.
Description



[0001] This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/802,460, filed Mar. 13, 2013. This application claims the benefit of and claims priority to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/802,460, filed Mar. 13, 2013, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] Embodiments described herein relate generally to a nonwoven textile product, and more particularly to a nonwoven textile product having a reduced density region and a full density region.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Textile products have been in use for thousands of years and come in many forms. One way to classify textile products is by whether they are woven products (such as cotton products, and including knitted textiles) or non-woven products (such as felt products). Generally, both have many applications and are widely used.

[0004] One example of a nonwoven textile is felt, which has been used to make goods for centuries. Felt may be formed by placing randomly aligned wool and/or synthetic fibers under pressure and adding moisture, and optionally chemicals. With sufficient time, heat and water, the fibers bond to one another to form a felt cloth. This process may be known as "wet felting."

[0005] As another option, fibers may be formed into a felt through "needle felting." In needle felting, a specialized notched needle is pushed repeatedly in and out of a bundle or group fibers. Notches along the shaft of the needle may grab fibers in a top layer of the bundle and push them downward into the bundle, tangling these grabbed fibers with others. The needle notches face toward the felt bundle, such that the grabbed felt is released when the needle withdraws. As the needle motion continues, more and more fibers are tangled and bonded together, again creating a felt cloth.

[0006] Although two different ways to create felt products have been described, it should be appreciated that variants and/or other methods may be employed. Regardless of the production method, however, felts share certain characteristics. For example, felts are often used as an acoustic damper due to their relatively dense natures. Likewise, felt tends to pull apart readily, due to its nonwoven nature, if the integrity of the bonds between the threads is compromised. This tendency to break apart when subjected to certain stresses and/or chemical may limit the usefulness of felt for certain applications.

SUMMARY

[0007] Embodiments described herein may take the form of a textile fabric, including: a first volume defined by a first plurality of textile fibers; a second volume adjacent the first volume and comprising: a second plurality of textile fibers; and at least one micro-feature formed in the second volume, the at least one micro-feature reducing a density of the second volume. In certain embodiments, the at least one micro-feature comprises a plurality of microperforations; and the plurality of microperforations cooperate to reduce the density of, and/or allow air flow through, the second volume.

[0008] Other embodiments may take the form of a method for fabricating a textile product, including the operations of: defining a feature volume on the textile product; forming a micro-feature in the feature volume; and shaping the textile product into a final configuration.

[0009] Additional embodiments and configurations will be apparent upon reading this disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0010] FIG. 1A depicts a magnified view of a portion of a fabric incorporating a variety of microperforation patterns.

[0011] FIG. 1B depicts a magnified view of a portion of a fabric incorporating a variety of microbore patterns.

[0012] FIG. 2 depicts a sheet of textile material.

[0013] FIG. 3A depicts the sheet of FIG. 2 in cross-section with a number of reduced density volumes formed therein.

[0014] FIG. 3B depicts the sheet of FIG. 2 in cross-section with a number of variant reduced density volumes formed therein.

[0015] FIG. 4 depicts the sheet of FIG. 3A in a top-down view.

[0016] FIG. 5 shows a sample consumer product formed from a textile product having thinned regions.

[0017] FIG. 6 is a sample method of manufacturing a textile product having thinned regions.

[0018] FIG. 7 shows a second sample consumer product formed from a textile product having thinned regions.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0019] Embodiments described herein may take the form of a textile product having one or more regions of selectively reduced density. In certain embodiments, the textile may be a woven fabric, such as a cotton, polyester or the like. In other embodiments, the textile may be a nonwoven fabric, such as a felt.

[0020] Generally, embodiments described herein may take the form of a textile product having one or more regions of reduced density. These reduced density volumes or regions may form one or more characteristics in the product. For example, the reduced density volumes may have better acoustic transmission properties, optical transmission properties, flexibility, and the like. Sound transmission may be enhanced not only in terms of clarity, but also overall range. That is, certain audio frequencies that the textile may normally block when in an unaltered state may pass through a textile having reduced density or reduced density regions.

[0021] The characteristics may be formed either by introducing microperforations into certain regions to create a reduced textile density, or by introducing microbores into these regions, thereby also creating a reduced textile density. A microperforation generally extends through the textile product, while a microbore does not. Thus, a microbore may extend partially through a textile. The term "microperforation," as used herein, generally encompasses microbores, as well. In this fashion, various patterns may be created in a textile for a variety of effects, many of which are discussed herein. Microperforations and microbores (e.g., "micro-features") are generally not visible to the naked eye under typical lighting conditions, but may be visible if properly backlit.

[0022] Microperforations and/or microbores may be created in a textile product in a variety of ways. For example, a laser may be used to generate microperforations and/or microbores. In certain embodiments, either or both of a carbon dioxide (CO2) and ultraviolet laser may be used to generate microperforations or microbores;other types of lasers may be used in other embodiments. In some embodiments, the laser may have a power of 1 Watt and a 20 kHz frequency. The laser may have a pulse energy of 0.05 microJoules, a speed of 100 nanometers/sec, a wavelength of 355 nanometers, and a spot size of 0.03 micrometers. Generally, a laser with these operating parameters may make between 10 and 1,000 passes to create a microperforation or microbore, or set of the same. The number of passes may vary with the thickness of the textile and/or the depth of the micro-feature(s) being formed.

[0023] It should be appreciated that any or all of the foregoing laser parameters may be varied between embodiments. Generally, a laser suitable to create a micro-feature or micro-feature set may have a wavelength from about 10.6 microns to about 355 nanometers, a pulse width ranging from approximately 1 nanosecond to a continuous wave, a frequency ranging from about 5 kHz to a continuous wave, and a spot size of roughly 10 icrions to roughly 100 microns. Any or all of the foregoing parameters may change with the type of laser used, as well as the micro-features being created and the physical properties of the textile and/or its fibers.

[0024] As another option, the microperforations may be mechanically created by a sufficiently thin awl, needle, or the like. Additional options exist to create microperforations in textiles, as known to those skilled in the art.

[0025] FIG. 1A shows a sample set of microperforations 105, 110, 115, 120 extending through a cross-section of a textile product 100 to form reduced density regions. It should be appreciated that the microperforations are meant to be illustrative only; various types of microperforations in various patterns may be used in different embodiments. As shown in FIG. 1A, the microperforations may extend straight through the textile product 100, as with microperforations 105. Alternately, the microperforations 110 may extend through the textile product at an angle; the angle may vary between textile products and/or different portions of a single product.

[0026] As a third option, microperforations 115 may extend at multiple angles and intersect one another in a portion of the textile product 100. This may permit even greater reductions in density of the textile in an internal region where the microperforations intersect. By creating internal regions having reduced density of textile fibers, even when compared to surface regions having reduced fiber density, certain characteristics of the textile may be enhanced while the look, feel and other attributes remain unaffected. For example, internal regions like those described herein may increase the range and/or clarity of sound transmitted through the textile. As yet another option, internal voids 125 may be formed by intersecting microperforations 120 and spacing the microperforations appropriately.

[0027] FIG. 1B illustrates a cross-sectional view of a textile product 100 having various sets of microbores 130, 135, 140, 145, 150 forming reduced density regions. One set of microbores 130 may extend partially through the cross-section of the textile 100 to a uniform depth. As an alternative, microbores in a set or group 135 may extend to differing depths. Each microbore may extend to a different depth, or subsets of microbores may each extend to different depths, as shown. In still another manner, microbores 140 may extend from opposing sides of the textile 100 to form a reduced density region. The microbores 140 generally do not intersect in this embodiment.

[0028] Still another set of microbores 145 is similar to the set 140 in that they extend from opposing or different surfaces of the textile 100. Here, however, the microbores 145 enter the textile surface at angles. Another set of microbores 150 may intersect one another, forming a void 155 or cavity within the textile. Again, the microbores 150 may extend from different surfaces of the textile 100.

[0029] By changing the spacing, patterning, diameters or thickness, and depth of the microperforations and/or microbores, the physical characteristics and functionality of the various reduced density regions may be changed. Such regions may be optimized or enhanced for particular functions, such as optical transmission, audio transmission, bendability, weight reduction, and the like. As one non-limiting example, the reduced density regions may form acoustic channels that may not only permit sound to pass through the textile 100, but also may channel sound from an entry point to an exit point. It should be appreciated that the exit point need not be directly across from the entry point. Instead, the shape, angle and other attributes of the microperforations/microbores may channel audio to an exit point that is offset in multiple directions from the audio entry point. This may occur, for example, when the microperforations/microbores are at a non-right angle to a surface of the textile 100.

[0030] FIG. 2 illustrates a sample textile sheet 200 that may be formed into a cover for a tablet computing device (not shown) in accordance with the discussion and methods herein. The textile sheet 200 may be formed from textile fibers 100 (woven or nonwoven). Generally, the textile sheet 200 is patterned into a series of volumes having reduced density 205 and full density 210. The reduced density volumes 205 may have microperforations 105 present therein, while the full density volumes 210 may lack microperforations.

[0031] For example, FIGS. 3A and 3B depict alternative examples of the textile sheet 200 with microperforations 105 in the reduced density volumes 205. In the example of FIG. 2A, the microperforations 105 are interspersed throughout the textile sheet 200 in each reduced density volumes 205. That is, the microperforations may run randomly or semi-randomly throughout the reduced density volumes of the textile sheet. As can be seen in FIG. 2A, there are generally no (or very few, or only incidental) microperforations in the full density volumes 210. As also illustrated, one reduced density volume 205 may have microperforations formed therein in a first pattern, a second reduced density volume may have microperforations formed therein in a second pattern, and so on.

[0032] FIG. 3B illustrates an alternative textile fiber sheet 200 having microbores 130 associated therewith. In this embodiment, the microperforations 130 may extend through only a portion of the textile fibers 100 to define a reduced density volume 205, specifically those on an upper surface 300 of the textile sheet 200. That is, the micro perforations may extend partially, but not fully, through the textile sheet 200. Such microperforations may be referred to as "microbores" in some embodiments. It should be appreciated that the term "microperforations," as used herein, is intended to cover microbores as well. As also illustrated in FIG. 3B, the microbores 130 may extend through the textile sheet 200 to different depths, and at different angles or forming different patterns. Full density volumes 210 may be formed between the reduced density volumes 205.

[0033] The discussion now turns to FIG. 4. FIG. 4 depicts the textile sheet 200 after formation of the microperforations. As discussed below with respect to FIG. 6, microperforations may be formed in at least the upper surface 300 of the textile sheet 200 (or, in some embodiments, a lower or inner surface of the textile sheet). In many embodiments, microperforations may extend through the entirety of the textile sheet 200.

[0034] Selectively thinning or microperforating the textile sheet 200 in specific volumes 400 (generally corresponding to the reduced density volumes 205) to form a desired pattern may provide certain benefits. For example, the reduced density volumes 205 may be altered to be acoustically transmissive or transparent, or near-transparent, even though the textile itself generally may be an acoustic muffle or baffle. Likewise, the reduced density volumes 400 may be thinned or changed sufficiently by the micro-features to be light-transmissive, at least partially. For example, the unprotected volumes may appear translucent when backlit or may emit a relatively diffuse light, or may be at least partially see-through when backlit. As yet another example, the textile sheet may bend more easily in the reduced density volumes 400 after formation of the microperforations while the full density volumes 405 may retain their original stiffness. Thus, by selectively perforating portions of the textile sheet with a laser or in another fashion, the textile sheet 200 may be configured to provide certain functionality that is otherwise lacking in a standard textile sheet.

[0035] FIG. 5 shows one example of a cover 500 for an electronic device that may be formed from a textile sheet with one or more reduced density volumes 205, as discussed herein. Generally, the cover 500 may be a finished product corresponding to the textile sheet 200 shown in FIGS. 2 and 4. The cover may bend at the reduced density volumes 205, which may be more flexible due to the microperforations formed therein. The full density volumes 210 may be relatively stiff when compared to the reduced density volumes. Thus, the cover 500 may be configured to selectively bend and/or be reshaped.

[0036] FIG. 6 is a flowchart setting forth general operations in accordance with certain embodiments herein. In method 600, microperforations 105 or microbores 130 are added to a textile sheet 200 to form a particular pattern or patterns. The microperforations may be added or introduced in any fashion described herein.

[0037] First, in operation 605, a characteristic volume is defined on a textile sheet. The characteristic volume may be any portion of the sheet that is to be patterned to produce a reduced fiber density in that volume.

[0038] In operation 610, the depth of the micro-feature (e.g., microperforation or microbore) that is to be formed in the characteristic volume is determined. The micro-feature depth may depend on a variety of factors. Sample factors may include the thickness of the textile, the diameter or other physical attribute of the micro-feature, the density of the textile, the resulting property desired for the characteristic, the end use of the textile, and so on.

[0039] Next, in operation 615, it is determined if a microperforation or microbore is to be formed. This determination may be based, at least in part, on the depth of the micro-feature determined in operation 610.

[0040] If a microperforation is to be formed, this is done in operation 620. Otherwise, a microbore is formed in operation 625. Following either operation 620 or 625, the textile is formed into its final configuration in operation 630. It should be appreciated that multiple holes may be formed, and microperforations and microbores may be mixed together either on the same textile or even in the same reduced density volume/characteristic.

[0041] It should be appreciated that a variety of items may be made from a textile fabric 200 selectively treated or processed to form microperforations 105 and/or reduced density volumes 205. For example, a variety of covers or cases may be formed. FIG. 7 shows one example of an exterior case 700 for a tablet computing device 705 that may be formed in accordance with the present disclosure. The case 700 may define one or more acoustic outlets 710 and/or acoustic inlets 715. These acoustic outlets/inlets may be reduced density volumes 400 that include microperforations and/or microbores, thereby thinning the textile fabric sufficiently to permit sound to pass therethrough without substantial impedance or distortion. An acoustic outlet 710 may cover a speaker of the tablet computing device 705 while an acoustic inlet 715 may cover a microphone, for example. It should be appreciated that the look of these acoustic outlets 710 and inlets 715 may be identical or substantially similar to the rest of the case 700, including any full density portions 720. Thus, although the acoustic properties of the outlets 710 and inlets 715 may be altered, the visual appearance, and optionally the feel, of these elements may match the rest of the case. The dashed lines signify that these elements, while transmissive, may not form an aperture permitting objects to pass through the textile fabric.

[0042] The case 700 may also define a light-transmissive section 725. The light-transmissive section may emit light when backlit. For example, when a status indicator is activated, the outputted light may be visible through the light-transmissive section. In some embodiments the light may be visible even though the status indicator is not.

[0043] Through multiple microperforation operations, or through the use of varying concentrations of lasers or other perforating elements selectively applied simultaneously, one or more apertures 730 passing through the textile 700 may be formed in the textile material.

[0044] It should be appreciated that any number of items may be formed from a textile fabric that is selectively altered in the fashions described herein. For example, textile seat covers for automobiles may be so manufactured. Likewise, grilles or covers for audio elements, such as speakers, may be formed. As still another example, bands or bracelets may be fabricated in this fashion. Covers for other electronic devices, such as telephones and notebook computers, may also be created. Various other products will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading this disclosure in its entirety. Accordingly, the proper scope of protection is set forth in the appended claims.

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