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Method for Structural Characterization of Bi-Layer Materials for Use in Personal Care Products via Microscopy and Image Analysis

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000033526D
Publication Date: 2004-Dec-14
Document File: 23 page(s) / 2M

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Related People

David G. Biggs: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

A methodology has been developed to characterize the structural properties of multi-layer absorbent materials. The method is able to detect and measure the z-distribution of polypropylene and cellulose components. Output from the method was used to determine that the z-distributions are bi-modal in nature. Individual layer thicknesses were measured as well as the relative amounts of individual and combined components in each layer. The method combines unique optical microscopy sample preparations and image analysis programming algorithms.

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Method for Structural Characterization of Bi-Layer Materials for Use in Personal Care Products via Microscopy and Image Analysis

David G. Biggs, Michael G. Shlepr Kimberly-Clark Corporation

ABSTRACT

A methodology has been developed to characterize the structural properties of multi-layer absorbent materials. The method is able to detect and measure the z-distribution of polypropylene and cellulose components. Output from the method was used to determine that the z-distributions are bi-modal in nature. Individual layer thicknesses were measured as well as the relative amounts of individual and combined components in each layer. The method combines unique optical microscopy sample preparations and image analysis programming algorithms.

KEYWORDS

Z-profile, meltblown, layered structure, interface, microscopy, image analysis

INTRODUCTION

Physical properties of layered structures are vitally important for their use in personal care products. They are developed and designed into products to allow the end-user to have a comfortable, positive experience. Properties important to consumers include the product's ability to manage bodily fluids as well as its texture and feel. Layered structures are unique in the ways that they often can enhance these properties sought by consumers.

A bi-layered structure consisting of cellulose and synthetic fibers is an example of one such material that can be incorporated into personal care products. Briefly, such a material can be formed by feeding wood pulp and an extruded polymer into an air-stream (the coform process described at http://www.kcnonwovens.com/pulpmelt.html is one example). The resultant composite is deposited onto a moving forming wire. The intention is for the molten polymer to capture and bind to the pulp and thus form a lofty, porous structure. This single feedstock bank might be repeated several times, typically two to four, within a process to form the final layered composite.

In seeking ways to improve product performance and investigate novel materials, experiments were performed with the pulp/polymer ratio in a two-bank deposition process. The designed experiment included pulp/polymer ratios from 40/60 to 80/20 within and between the feedstock banks. Unique compression and wetting and fluid migration properties were noted for certain composite ratios. The experimental composites described above presented an opportunity to explore characterization techniques that quantitatively describe the distribution of the components through the thickness (z- axis).

The method that was developed had to be unique in that each component needed to be quantitatively assessed both individually and collectively. Previously developed methods were available for assessing z-distributions of single component materials1, but they did not offer the capability for assessing multi-component composites.

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MATERIALS and METHODS

Materials

All material (Table 1) was selected from twenty experimental...