(19)
(11)EP 2 864 089 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
28.03.2018 Bulletin 2018/13

(21)Application number: 13807217.8

(22)Date of filing:  21.06.2013
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
D01F 8/00(2006.01)
D01D 5/253(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2013/047078
(87)International publication number:
WO 2013/192531 (27.12.2013 Gazette  2013/52)

(54)

ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIVE FIBERS AND GARMENTS

UMWELTFREUNDLICHE FASERN UND KLEIDUNGSSTÜCKE

FIBRES ET VÊTEMENTS RESPECTUEUX DE L'ENVIRONNEMENT


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 22.06.2012 US 201213531151

(43)Date of publication of application:
29.04.2015 Bulletin 2015/18

(60)Divisional application:
18153746.5

(73)Proprietor: NIKE Innovate C.V.
Beaverton, OR 97005-6453 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • WILLIAMS, Patrick
    Beaverton, OR 97005-6453 (US)

(74)Representative: Tombling, Adrian George 
Withers & Rogers LLP 4 More London Riverside
London SE1 2AU
London SE1 2AU (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2006/071023
US-A1- 2009 045 042
WO-A1-2012/044382
US-A1- 2011 068 493
  
  • HU ET AL.: 'A review of stimuli-responsive polymers for smart textile applications' SMART MATERIALS AND STRUCTURES vol. 21, no. 5, 18 April 2012, pages 1 - 23, XP020222498
  • LEE ET AL.: 'Spontaneous shape reconfigurations in multicompartmental microcylinders' PROC NATL ACAD SCI USA vol. 109, no. 40, 02 October 2012, pages 16057 - 62, XP055182789
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION



[0001] The present invention relates to shape-changing fibers that may be sensitive to different kinds of stimuli from the environment and to garments made using such fibers. The stimuli may include moisture, temperature, electric fields, magnetic fields, etc. The present invention offers several practical applications in the technical arts, not limited to adaptable comfort athletic garments. Small scale shape changes in the fibers in accordance with the present invention may have additive effects and be observable as a large scale change shape-changing fibers are incorporated into yarns and/or woven or knitted into a fabric/textile. Garments may be constructed from fabrics/textiles incorporating shape-changing fibers. Shape changes by incorporated fibers may alter a garment's wind and water permeability, color, moisture management properties, etc.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



[0002] Athletic apparel has evolved over time, and today treatments with different polymeric finishes or different kinds of synthetic yarns with specific physicochemical properties can be used in the manufacture of athletic apparel. In these examples, however, the physical properties of the fibers are substantially static over any given session of wearing a garment made using the fibers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0003] The present invention generally relates to the production and use of fibers capable of undergoing a radial mechanical shape change in response to external stimuli such as heat, moisture, an electric field, a magnetic field, light, etc. The present invention further relates to garments that use such fibers to provide environmentally adaptive apparel. Fibers as described herein may be incorporated into yarns that may be knit or woven into fabric used to create such garments. Articles of manufacture beyond garments may likewise be made in accordance with the present invention incorporating adaptive fibers.

[0004] In accordance with the present invention, a multiple component synthetic polymer fiber is provided. More specifically, the polymer fiber may comprise at least two synthetic polymers, each having different physicochemical properties from one another. According to the present invention, the synthetic polymer fiber may be manufactured by melt-spinning. The different polymers may, for example, be configured according to a predetermined orientation. Configuration of the different polymers may be performed inside a melting device that may be divided into multiple compartments corresponding to the final polymer configuration and shape of the fiber desired. The melting device may be, for example, a multicompartment crucible from which the polymer materials may be codrawn/extruded (drawn simultaneously) through an orifice of a predetermined size and shape for the desired fiber or fiber component. The fibers may be rapidly cooled so that the polymer materials may maintain their configuration and orientation in their solid state. Examples of fibers having first polymer and a second polymer are described herein, but the number of polymers and/or polymer shapes used in a fiber in accordance with the present invention are not limited to two. The fiber may be spun or otherwise collected to be used in a subsequent manufacturing step. The resulting fiber product may have varying physicochemical and mechanical properties in its radial direction.

[0005] Depending on the final configuration and orientation of the polymer materials desired, one of the polymers or an extruded fiber may be a removable filler polymer material. This sacrificial polymer material may aid in the manufacture of the fiber in accordance with the present invention by making the cross-sectional area of the initially extruded fiber, for example, essentially round so that it may be easier to collect and spin. The sacrificial polymer may be removed either before or after weaving a fabric/textile from the fibers and/or yarns incorporating fibers in accordance with the present invention. The sacrificial polymer, which may also be referred to as a filler polymer, may be removed selectively along a fiber, yarn, or garment to create zones with different properties on the ultimately created garment.

[0006] For example, in a fiber in accordance with the present invention the sacrificial polymer may be an acid-dissolvable polymer, with the other polymers being acid resistant. The sacrificial polymer may be removed by submitting the fiber (or yarns incorporating the fiber), prior to weaving a fabric/textile, to an acid bath. Or, alternatively, a woven fabric/textile comprising the raw fiber/yarn (still comprising the filler polymer), may be submitted to an acid bath to remove the sacrificial polymer. Alternatively, in different examples in accordance with the present invention, the sacrificial polymer may be base soluble, water soluble, oil soluble, etc. Accordingly, the fiber/yarn/textile/garment in accordance with the present invention may be submitted to the right substance for removing the filler polymer at one or more desired location.

[0007] In general, the cross-section of a fiber in accordance with the present invention may have any solid shape suitable for containing the radially distributed predetermined shape and orientation of the stimuli-sensitive polymer materials such as for example: circular, square, diamond, rectangle, etc. The stimuli-sensitive polymer materials contained inside the sacrificial polymer may be shaped and oriented in complex radial structures that are able to undergo mechanical changes in response to physicochemical changes induced by external stimuli. As a result, small changes manifested radially throughout the yarn may add up to tangible changes in a woven fabric/textile by multiplying the effect along the length of the fiber. Therefore, the fabric/textile comprising the yarn in accordance with the present invention may have a dynamic surface that when made into garments, the garments may be able to adjust or optimize conditions for a wearer in any given situation. The changes to the fiber may happen either automatically and/or may be user-controlled. For example, if the change in the fiber in accordance with the present invention is temperature induced, changes may be automatic as a function of the body temperature of the user, for example by making the fabric/textile moisture-wicking by exposing different fiber components, adjusting the level of insulation by making the fabric/textile more or less permeable to wind, water, etc.

[0008] The fiber in accordance with the present invention may comprise synthetic polymer materials such as, for example: polyesters, polyurethanes, polypropylenes, polyethylenes, nylons, other thermoplastic polymers, elastomers, etc., suitable for the manufacture of fibers and for inclusion in yarns/textiles/fabrics/garments.

[0009] Depending on the surface physical properties desired in a final fabric/textile product, the fabric/textile may be woven completely from the fiber/yarn in accordance with the present invention, or the fabric/textile may be woven from the fiber/yarn in accordance with the present invention and in combination with other types of fibers or yarns. For example, in order to obtain an extra resilient fabric/textile, the fiber in accordance with the present invention may be woven in combination with extra resilient aramid fibers, for example Kevlar®. If, for example, a natural "cottony feel" is desired in the final fabric/textile, the fabric/textile may be woven or knitted from the fiber in accordance with the present invention in combination with cotton fibers. The fiber in accordance with the present invention may be woven in combination with a fire resistant fiber/yarn to add a fire-resistance feature to the fabric/textile, etc., or the fiber in accordance with the present invention may be woven or knitted in combination with multiple types of specialty fibers or yarns such as the ones mentioned above, to obtain a multifunctional fabric/textile.

[0010] Fibers in accordance with the present invention may be incorporated into yarns that may be woven or knitted to form a fabric or textile. A yarn incorporating fibers in accordance with the present invention may comprise only shape-changing fibers or may incorporate shape-changing fibers in combination with other types of fibers. For example, the fiber in accordance with the present invention may also be formed into yarns or woven/knitted in combination with elastic fibers such as, for example, spandex, to give the woven fabric/textile elasticity. In other words, the fiber in accordance with the present invention may be combined with any other type of synthetic or natural fiber/yarn for the purposes of making a final fabric/textile with the specific desired properties. Further, fibers may be incorporated directly into a woven or knitted fabric/textile without incorporation into a multi-fiber yarn.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING



[0011] The present invention is described in detail below with reference to the attached drawing figures, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a yarn or fiber in accordance with the present invention before and after a mechanical change has been induced by an external environmental stimulus;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of a yarn or fiber in accordance with the present invention after extrusion and before and after treatment to dissolve away a filler polymer;

FIG. 3 is a close up view of the core first polymer material shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, having magnetorheological properties presented in the "on" and "off" states;

FIG. 4 is a representative garment made with a fabric/textile formed from a fiber/yarn in accordance with the present invention, with magnetorheological properties; and

FIG. 5 is a representative garment made with a fabric/textile formed from a fiber/yarn in accordance with the present invention, with the external stimulus being temperature.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a different yarn or fiber in accordance with the present invention after extrusion and before and after treatment to dissolve away a filler polymer;

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the yarn or fiber in FIG. 6 in accordance with the present invention before and after a mechanical change has been induced by an external environmental stimulus; and

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of a further different yarn or fiber (not in accordance with the present invention).


DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



[0012] The present invention relates to a novel fiber that undergoes radial physicochemical and a mechanical change in response to an external stimulus and yarns, textiles, fabrics, garments and/or articles of manufacture incorporating such fibers. The stimulus can be a change in temperature, moisture, the presence of an electromagnetic field, or a magnetic field, etc., to mention a few examples.

[0013] In reference to FIG. 1, a cross-section of an exemplary composite stimuli-sensitive fiber 100 in accordance with the present invention is shown. Other configurations having different shapes, types, and numbers of components may be used without departing from the present invention. The composite stimuli-sensitive fiber 100 in FIG. 1 comprises a first polymer material 130 located at the core of the fiber 100. The first polymer material 130 is capable of undergoing a reversible physicochemical change in response to an external stimulus. In the example depicted in FIG. 1, first polymer material 130 takes the form of a cross with arms, such as first arm 132, second arm 134, etc., connected at a center 133. In addition to the first polymer material 130, the composite stimuli-sensitive fiber additionally comprises a second polymer material 120 adjacent to the first polymer material 130. In the example depicted in FIG. 1, second polymer material 120 takes the form of pairs of horn-like projections extending in pairs from structures mechanically operative with arms, 132, 134, etc. of first polymer material 130. The second polymer material 120 may be capable of undergoing a mechanical change in direct response to the physicochemical change in the first polymer material 130. The mechanical change in the second polymer material 120 may be directly dependent on the shape and orientation of the second polymer material 120 in relation to the first polymer material 130. For example, as depicted in the example of FIG. 1, second polymer material 120 may take the form of diamond shaped portions between arms 132, 134, etc., of First polymer material 130. By way of further example, second polymer material 120 may comprise a first leg 122 connected at a first apex 123 to a first extension 124 at a first angle and a second leg 126 connected at a second apex 127 to a second extension 128 at a second angle. First leg 122 may be mechanically engaged with first arm 132 of first polymer material 130, while second leg 126 may be mechanically engaged with second arm 134 of first polymer material 130. When first arm 132 and second arm 134 expand, first leg 122 and second leg 126 are forced closer together, changing the angles of attachment at first apex 123 (between first leg 122 and first extension 124) and at second apex 127 (between second leg 126 and second extension 128). This mechanical action by the diamond shaped portions of second polymer 120 moves projections 120, 129, 141, etc., as illustrated in FIG. 1.

[0014] For example, in the fiber shown in FIG. 1, the first polymer material 130 located at the core of the fiber, has a first shape 101 in the absence of an external stimulus, the first shape of the first material 130 generally comprising at least four arms of substantially equal length, each arm progressively widening as the arm extends from the core. The second polymer material 120 may be adjacent, contacting, and mechanically engaged to the first polymer material 130 at at least one point so that the second material 120 having a second shape 101, may be in a first position in the absence of an external stimulus to the first material 130, and may be forced into a third shape 102 by the first material as the first material expands in response to an external stimulus.

[0015] The second polymer material 120 of the present example may generally have a shape that may form discrete hollow diamond shaped structures ending in two horn-like protrusions. For example, first leg 122 and first extension 124 may meet at a first apex 123 at a first angle, with a first protrusion 121 extending from first extension 124. Similarly, second leg 126 and second extension 128 may meet at a second apex at a second angle, with a second protrusion 129 extending from second extension 128. The hollow diamond shape may be mechanically engaged with the first polymer material 130 in each of the gaps between the arms of the first shape of the first polymer material 130, for example at first arm 132 and first leg 122 and at second arm 134 and second leg 126. Since the first polymer material 130 and the second polymer material 120 are mechanically engaged, when the first polymer material 130 expands or contracts in response to an external stimulus, the hollow diamond shapes comprising the second polymer material 120 may be compressed (when the first material 130 expands) or released (when the first material 130 contracts) resulting in a mechanical motion that may be transmitted from, for example, first leg 122 and second leg 126 to first extension 124 and second extension 128, to ultimately move the horn like protrusions 121, 129 formed by the second material 120 to a first open position 101 (when the first material 130 is contracted) to a second closed position 102 (when the second material 120 is expanded). Any number of additional structures may be used in a fiber in accordance with the present invention. In other words, the changes induced by an external stimulus in the core first polymer material 130 start a "chain reaction" that effects a radial change throughout the whole length of the fiber, which in turn may alter the properties of a fabric/textile when the fiber is woven or knitted into a fabric/textile for use in the manufacture of articles of clothing, bags, protective cases, or any other type of article accommodating the type of fabric/textile woven from the fiber in accordance with the present invention.

[0016] References to materials or structures as "first" or "second" or the like are for purposes of description only, and do not imply primacy or order of creation, importance, or any consideration other than ease of description and understanding of a particular example. For example, while the example of FIG. 1 describes the polymer material at the core of a fiber as a first material 130 and the polymer material mechanically engaged with the core polymer material 130 as a second material 120, but other terminology may be used. Further, the relative positions of different materials may vary from the examples depicted herein. For example, rather than locating one type of material at a fiber core and another type of material at a fiber periphery, different types of materials may be located and mechanically engaged within a fiber core, around a fiber periphery, across the width of a fiber, etc. Also, any number of types of materials may be utilized within a fiber in accordance with the present invention.

[0017] Now, in reference to FIG. 2, the fiber in accordance with the present invention may generally be manufactured by melt-spinning due to the nature of the polymer materials. The fiber in accordance with the present invention may have unique and fragile structures arranged and oriented according to a predetermined pattern suitable for the type of transformation desired. Due to the fragility of the radial shape of the fiber in accordance with the present invention, a removable third polymer material 110, may be used during manufacture of the fiber. The third polymer material 110, as seen in FIG. 2, may fill any of the gaps between the first polymer material 130 and the second polymer material 120 when the fiber is being extruded or melt-spun. The third polymer material 110 may aid in giving the extruded or melt-spun fiber a generally round cross-sectional area 201 but, as long as the cross-sectional area of the fiber is suitably filled, the cross-sectional area may be a square, oval, etc., or any other shape suitable for enclosing the complex fiber structures formed by the first polymers, second polymer, or other components of a fiber in accordance with the present invention.

[0018] The third polymer material 110 may comprise a sacrificial polymer that may be dissolvable without damaging the other polymers that make up the fiber. For example, if the first 130 and second 120 polymer materials are resistant to acid, the sacrificial third polymer material 110 may comprise a polymer that is dissolvable in an acid bath so that it may be easy to remove; or if the first 130 and second 120 polymer materials are base-resistant, the sacrificial third polymer material 110 may be a base-soluble polymer material. In a different example, the filler polymer material 110 may comprise a water soluble polymer so that it may be easily removed through washing with water, etc. Once the sacrificial third polymer material 110 is removed, the active cross-section form 202 of the fiber in accordance with the present invention is obtained.

[0019] The sacrificial third polymer material 110 may be removed from the fiber before forming a yarn and/or before weaving/knitting a fabric/textile from a fiber or a yarn incorporating the fiber. Alternatively, sacrificial third polymer material 110 may be removed after a fabric/textile has been woven or knitted from the fiber in accordance with the present invention, or the sacrificial polymer material 110 may be removed after the fabric/textile has been used to produce an article of manufacture. The sacrificial polymer material 110 may be removed selectively along a fiber, fabric/textile, and/or article of manufacture to create zones with different adaptability to environmental changes. In other words, the filler polymer material 110 may be removed in any step following the manufacture of the fiber in accordance with the present invention and the removable step may be adjusted according to the needs in the processing steps that follow.

[0020] Many different polymer materials that have the ability to contract and expand in response to an external stimulus may be used as the core first polymer material 130. For example, a magnetorheological polymer material may be used as the core first polymer material 130. The core magnetorhelological material may be a suspension of magnetic particles, or nanoparticles, where the suspension may be capable of undergoing a physical change in response to a magnetic field stimulus. For example, in known fluid magnetorheological materials, the viscosity of the fluid may increase at a predictable and proportional rate to the strength of the magnetic field applied, as the magnetic particles arrange themselves in the direction of the magnetic field. In the case of polymeric magnetorheological materials, the area occupied by the polymer may increase and decrease (expand or contract) in response to the presence or absence of a magnetic field. The magnetorheological material may be expanded in its "off" state and may contract in its "on" state when a magnetic field may be applied and the particles arrange themselves in the direction of the magnetic field.

[0021] If a magnetorheological material is used as the core first polymer material 130 in the fiber in accordance with the present invention, the fiber may microscopically radially change by applying a magnetic field on a fabric/textile incorporating this fiber. Referring to FIG. 1 again, in their off state the first 130 and second 120 polymer materials may be in a first closed position 102. Once a magnetic field is applied, the first 130 and second 120 polymer materials in their on state may change to a second open position 101, as the magnetic particles in the first polymer material 130 arrange themselves in the direction of the magnetic field. This feature may be better understood with the representative drawings in FIG. 3, where 310 is the off state and 320 is the on state, the off state 310 being when there is no magnetic field applied to the fiber, and the on state 320 being when a magnetic field is applied to the fiber. "Off" and "on" are merely relative states. The desired properties of a fiber, yarn, textile, and/or garment may be enabled by an "off" state or an "on" state, depending upon the materials and configurations used in a given fiber in accordance with the present invention.

[0022] The changes observable in the macroscopic change as an addition of all the microscopic changes happening at the fiber level may be observable when the fiber is incorporated into a fabric/textile. The macroscopic changes observed in a fabric/textile may be, for example, color changes (by employing different colored polymer materials as the first core polymer material and second mechanically engaged polymer material), level of insulation changes (by changing the "pore" size of the fabric/textile), fabric/textile feel changes (by shielding or exposing different polymer materials to the surface), etc. The changes may be controllable by the user since the magnetic field may be applied by the user by, for example, waving a physical magnet over the fabric/textile. As the magnetic field fades away, the first polymer material 130 may slowly revert back to its off state, which in turn, may return the original properties to the fabric/textile.

[0023] In a different example, the garment, or article of manufacture comprising a magnetorheological fiber in accordance with the present invention, may be engineered with electromagnetic field generating probes that may be turned on or off by providing a source of electricity such as a battery. In this example, a user may additionally be able to control the length of time desired for the change to take effect.

[0024] The magnetorheological properties of a fabric/textile incorporating a fiber in accordance with the present invention may be better understood in reference to FIG. 4, where a garment 400 with magnetorheological properties is shown. The properties of the fabric/textile making the garment may be changed, for example, by waving, as indicated by arrow 410, a magnet 420 over the textile 430. Alternatively, the change effects may be made to last longer, or the effects may be made controllable by, for example generating an electromagnetic field, which may be induced by including the necessary probes in the garment with a source of electricity such as a battery.

[0025] In a different example of a fiber in accordance with the present invention, a heat sensitive polymer material may be used as the core first polymer material 130. The heat sensitive polymer material may for example expand at temperatures slightly over normal body temperature, or any other temperature desired for the particular end purpose of a fabric/textile woven from a fiber in accordance with the present invention. Just as in the example presented above, for the use of magnetorheological polymer materials, a number of different changes, and a combination of changes may be manifested on a fabric/textile incorporating a fiber in accordance with the present invention. For example, both a color change and a change in the level of insulation may be observable in a garment in response to the wearer's body temperature increasing due to physical exertion. For example, if the first core polymer material 130 and the second mechanically engaged polymer material 120 shown in the example of FIG. 1 were different colors, the pore size of the fabric/textile may increase as the first and second polymer materials change from a first open position 101 to a closed position 102, while the second polymer material 120 is predominantly exposed to the surface of the fabric/textile. In other words, the color of the fabric/textile may change from being predominantly the color of the first core polymer 130, when open, to predominantly the color of the second mechanically engaged polymer 120 when closed.

[0026] In a different example the core first polymer material 130 may be a heat-sensitive polymer material, and the second mechanically engaged polymer material 120 may be a moisture wicking polymer material so that, for example, a garment 500 made from a fabric/textile 510 incorporating fibers in accordance with the present example may have altered moisture management properties as the body temperature and perspiration of a wearer increases with increased physical exertion. This may be better understood in reference to FIG. 5, where a heat induced change in the properties of an athletic garment is represented. Thus, a fabric/textile incorporating fibers in accordance with the present invention may dynamically adjust to the particular needs of the end product of manufacture.

[0027] In a different example, the core first polymer material 130 may be a moisture sensitive polymer material that may expand or contract in response to the presence or absence of moisture, either from body perspiration or, alternatively, from environmental sources, such as rain, fog, etc. If the fiber is made to be sensitive to perspiration, for example, a polymer that expands in response to the presence of moisture may be used for the core first polymer material 130 to decrease the level of insulation, and a moisture wicking polymer material may be used as the second mechanically engaged polymer material 120 to improve the moisture management properties of the fiber/yarn and fabric/textile incorporating the fiber.

[0028] In FIG. 6 a cross-section of a different exemplary composite stimuli-sensitive fiber 600 with a different configuration, is shown. Like the composite stimuli-sensitive fiber 100 described in FIG. 2, the fiber 600 in accordance with the present invention may generally be manufactured by melt-spinning, extrusion, or any other suitable method. The fiber 600 in accordance with the present invention may comprise at least three different kinds of polymer materials. The composite stimuli-sensitive fiber 600 in FIG. 6 may comprise a first polymer material 630 located at the core of the fiber 600. The first polymer material 630 may be capable of undergoing a reversible physicochemical change in response to an external stimulus. The composite stimuli-sensitive fiber 600 may additionally comprise a second polymer material 620 adjacent to the first polymer material 630. Since the first polymer material 630 and the second polymer material 620 in the fiber 600 may have unique and fragile structures arranged and oriented according to a predetermined pattern suitable for the type of transformation desired, a sacrificial third filler polymer material 610 may be used during manufacture of the fiber 600. The sacrificial polymer material 610, as seen in FIG. 6, may fill any of the gaps between the first polymer material 630 and the second polymer material 620 when the fiber is being extruded or melt-spun. The sacrificial polymer material 610 may aid in giving the extruded or melt-spun fiber a generally round cross-sectional area 601 but, as long as the cross-sectional area of the fiber is suitably filled, the cross-sectional area may be a square, oval, etc., or any other shape suitable for enclosing the complex fiber structures formed by the first polymers, second polymer, or other components of a fiber in accordance with the present invention.

[0029] The sacrificial polymer material 610 may be a polymer that may be dissolvable without damaging the other polymers that make up the fiber. For example, if the first polymer material 630 and second polymer material 620 are resistant to acid, the sacrificial polymer material 610 may comprise a polymer that is dissolvable in an acid bath so that it may be easy to remove; or if the first 630 and second 620 polymer materials are base-resistant, the sacrificial polymer material 610 may be a base-soluble polymer material. In a different example, the sacrificial polymer material 610 may comprise a water soluble polymer so that it may be easily removed through washing with water, etc. Once the sacrificial polymer material 610 is removed, the active cross-section form 602 of the fiber in accordance with the present invention may be obtained.

[0030] In FIG. 7 a cross-section of the exemplary composite stimuli-sensitive fiber 600 in its active configuration with the sacrificial polymer material 610 dissolved away is shown. The composite stimuli-sensitive fiber 600 in FIG. 7 comprises a first polymer material 630 and a second polymer material 620 adjacent to the first polymer material 630. In the example depicted in FIG. 6, the second polymer material 620 takes the form of pairs of horn-like projections extending in pairs from structures mechanically operative with physical changes in the first polymer material 630. In other words, the composite fiber 600 in this example may undergo a structural change from a first structure 701 to a second structure 702, as a response to a given physical change in the first polymer material 630.

[0031] FIG. 8 is yet another example of a composite fiber 800. In this example, the composite fiber 800 may first be extruded or melt-spun comprising a first polymer material 810, a second polymer material 820, and a third polymer material 830, shown collectively as 801, wherein the first polymer material 810 may be a sacrificial polymer material. Before removal of the first polymer material 810, the composite fiber 800 may first undergo a finishing process to impart additional desirable properties such as water resistance, fire resistance, etc. Such finishing processes may be chemical and/or mechanical. Examples of possible chemical finishes that may be used in accordance with the present invention are softeners, absorbency finishes, resin finishes, oil repellant finishes, water repellant finishes, ultra-violet protective finishes, various types of coatings, laminations, etc. Chemical finishes may be applied at a fiber, yarn, textile, partially constructed item, and/or fully constructed item stage of manufacturing. Chemical finishes may be applied with any technique, such as a bath, a spray, contact application by pads or other mechanisms, by using adhesives or bonding agents, etc. Examples of possible mechanical finishes that may be used are calendaring, compacting, peaching, sueding, sanding, brushing, shearing, embossing, etc. Mechanical finishes may be applied at a fiber, yarn, textile, partially constructed item, and/or fully constructed item stage of manufacturing. More than a single type of finish may be applied to a fiber/yarn/textile/item. The resulting fiber after finishing is shown collectively as 802. The finish applied may add material to fiber 800 or may modify the surface of fiber 800, as generally shown as 802. Because a finish may, but need not, interact differently to different materials, a first finished surface 840 may be formed over first polymer material and a second finished surface 850 may be formed over third polymer material 830. Additional finished surfaces may be formed over additional materials of a fiber exposed to a finish. After the finishing step has been completed, the first polymer material 810 may then be dissolved/removed by any suitable method that will remove the first polymer material 810 and finish layer 840 over sacrificial first polymer material 810. As a result, a fiber 803 having the second polymer material 820 and the third polymer material 830 with the desired finish layer 850 may be obtained in their active configurations, as shown as 803 while removing sacrificial first polymer material 810 and coating layer 840 overlaying the now removed sacrificial polymer material 810. As a result, both finished and unfinished surfaces are present in fiber 803, such that mechanical changes, such as described above, may expose different types of surfaces to alter the properties of the fiber.

[0032] Additional objects, advantages, and novel features of the invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following, or may be learned by practice of the invention.

[0033] From the foregoing, it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all the ends and objects hereinabove set forth together with other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the structure.


Claims

1. A stimuli-sensitive composite fiber (100) capable of undergoing a radial mechanical change, with its cross-sectional area comprising: a first material (130) at a core of the fiber, the first material capable of undergoing a physicochemical change in response to an external stimulus, the first material at a core of the fiber having arms (132, 134) of substantially equal length extending outwards from the core, each arm progressively widening as the arm extends from the core; and a second material (120) with a leg (122, 126) adjacent to both sides of each arm of the first material, each leg, contacting and mechanically engaging an arm first material at least at one point, the legs of the second material being forced closer together when the arms of the first material expand, the second material further comprising protrusions (120, 129) that change in position in mechanical response to movements of the legs of the second material.
 
2. The fiber of claim 1, further comprising a sacrificial polymer (110) that fills gaps between the first material and the second material to give the fiber a generally full cross-sectional area, the sacrificial polymer being dissolvable from a process that does not dissolve either of the first material and the second material.
 
3. The fiber from claim 2, wherein the sacrificial polymer is acid soluble.
 
4. The fiber from claim 2, wherein the sacrificial polymer is base soluble.
 
5. The fiber from claim 2, wherein the sacrificial polymer is water soluble.
 
6. A garment made of an adaptive fabric/textile with a stimuli-sensitive composite fiber, the fiber comprising: a first material (130) at a core of the fiber, the first material capable of undergoing a physicochemical change in response to an external stimulus, the first material at the core of the fiber having arms (132, 134) extending outwards from the core, each arm progressively widening as the arm extends from the core; and a second material (120) with a leg (122, 126) adjacent to both sides of each arm of the first material, each leg, contacting and mechanically engaging an arm first material at least at one point, the legs of the second material being forced closer together when the arms of the first material expand, the second material further comprising protrusions (120, 129) that change in position in mechanical response to movements of the legs of the second material.
 
7. The garment of claim 6, wherein the first material contracts in the presence of a magnetic field and expands in the absence of a magnetic field.
 
8. The garment of claim 6, wherein the first material expands when heated and contracts when cooled.
 
9. The garment of claim 6, wherein the first material expands in the presence of moisture.
 
10. The garment of claim 6, wherein the first material responds to an applied electric field.
 


Ansprüche

1. Stimulusempfindliche Verbundfaser (100), die fähig ist, einer radialen mechanischen Veränderung zu unterliegen, wobei ihr Querschnittsbereich aufweist: ein erstes Material (130) an einem Kern der Faser, wobei das erste Material fähig ist, in Antwort auf einen äußerlichen Stimulus einer physikochemischen Veränderung zu unterliegen, wobei das erste Material an einem Kern der Faser Arme (132, 134) von im Wesentlichen gleicher Länge hat, die sich von dem Kern nach außen erstrecken, wobei jeder Arm sich im Verlauf des Arms von dem Kern fortschreitend verbreitert; und ein zweites Material (120) mit einem Abschnitt (122, 126) angrenzend an beide Seiten eines jeden Arms des ersten Materials, jeder Abschnitt, mindestens an einem Punkt mit einem ersten Arm-Material in Berührung stehend und mechanisch zusammengreifend, wobei die Abschnitte des zweiten Materials enger zusammengedrückt werden, wenn die Arme des ersten Materials sich ausdehnen, wobei das zweite Material ferner Vorsprünge (120, 129) aufweist, die in mechanischer Antwort auf Bewegungen der Abschnitte des zweiten Materials die Position ändern.
 
2. Faser nach Anspruch 1, die ferner ein Opferpolymer (110) aufweist, das Lücken zwischen dem ersten Material und dem zweiten Material füllt, um der Faser einen allgemein vollen Querschnittsbereich zu geben, wobei das Opferpolymer aus einem Prozess, der weder das erste Material noch das zweite Material auflöst, auflösbar ist.
 
3. Faser nach Anspruch 2, wobei das Opferpolymer säurelöslich ist.
 
4. Faser nach Anspruch 2, wobei das Opferpolymer basenlöslich ist.
 
5. Faser nach Anspruch 2, wobei das Opferpolymer wasserlöslich ist.
 
6. Kleidungsstück, das aus einem adaptiven Gewebe/Textil mit einer stimulusempfindlichen Verbundfaser hergestellt ist, wobei die Faser aufweist: ein erstes Material (130) an einem Kern der Faser, wobei das erste Material fähig ist, in Antwort auf einen äußerlichen Stimulus einer physikochemischen Veränderung zu unterliegen, wobei das erste Material an dem Kern der Faser Arme (132, 134) hat, die sich von dem Kern nach außen erstrecken, wobei jeder Arm sich im Verlauf des Arms von dem Kern fortschreitend verbreitert; und ein zweites Material (120) mit einem Abschnitt (122, 126) angrenzend an beide Seiten eines jeden Arms des ersten Materials, jeder Abschnitt, mindestens an einem Punkt mit einem ersten Arm-Material in Berührung stehend und mechanisch zusammengreifend, wobei die Abschnitte des zweiten Materials enger zusammengedrückt werden, wenn die Arme des ersten Materials sich ausdehnen, wobei das zweite Material ferner Vorsprünge (120, 129) aufweist, die in mechanischer Antwort auf Bewegungen der Abschnitte des zweiten Materials die Position ändern.
 
7. Kleidungsstück nach Anspruch 6, wobei das erste Material sich beim Vorhandensein eines Magnetfelds zusammenzieht und sich beim Fehlen eines Magnetfelds ausdehnt.
 
8. Kleidungsstück nach Anspruch 6, wobei das erste Material sich bei Erwärmung ausdehnt und bei Abkühlung zusammenzieht.
 
9. Kleidungsstück nach Anspruch 6, wobei das erste Material sich beim Vorhandensein von Feuchtigkeit ausdehnt.
 
10. Kleidungsstück nach Anspruch 6, wobei das erste Material auf ein angelegtes elektrisches Feld antwortet.
 


Revendications

1. Fibre composite sensible aux stimuli (100) susceptible de subir une modification mécanique radiale, dont la section transversale renferme : un premier matériau (130) au niveau de l'âme de la fibre, le premier matériau étant susceptible de subir une modification physico-chimique en réponse à un stimulus externe, et comprenant des bras (132, 134) ayant essentiellement la même longueur s'étendant vers l'extérieur à partir de l'âme, chaque bras s'élargissant progressivement au fur et à mesure qu'il s'éloigne de l'âme, et un second matériau (120) avec une patte (122, 126) adjacente aux deux côtés de chaque bras réalisé dans le premier matériau, chaque patte venant en contact et venant en prise mécanique avec le premier matériau d'un bras en au moins un point, les pattes réalisées dans le second matériau étant rapprochées à force lorsque les bras réalisés dans le premier matériau s'élargissent, le second matériau comprenant en outre des prolongements (120, 129) dont la position se modifie en réponse mécanique aux déplacements des pattes réalisées dans le second matériau.
 
2. Fibre conforme à la revendication 1, renfermant en outre un polymère sacrificiel (110) qui remplit les intervalles entre le premier matériau et le second matériau de façon à conférer à la fibre une section transversale essentiellement pleine, le polymère sacrificiel pouvant être dissout par un procédé qui ne dissout pas le premier matériau et le second matériau.
 
3. Fibre conforme à la revendication 2, dans laquelle le polymère sacrificiel est soluble dans un acide.
 
4. Fibre conforme à la revendication 2, dans laquelle le polymère sacrificiel est soluble dans une base.
 
5. Fibre conforme à la revendication 2, dans laquelle le polymère sacrificiel est soluble dans l'eau.
 
6. Vêtement réalisé en un tissu / textile adaptatif avec une fibre composite sensible aux stimuli, la fibre renfermant un premier matériau (130) au niveau de son âme, le premier matériau étant susceptible de subir une modification physicochimique en réponse à un stimulus externe, et comprenant des bras (132, 134) s'étendant vers l'extérieur à partir de l'âme, chaque bras s'élargissant progressivement au fur et à mesure qu'il s'éloigne, et un second matériau (120) avec une patte (122, 126) adjacente aux deux côtés de chaque bras réalisé dans le premier matériau, chaque patte venant en contact et venant en prise mécaniquement avec le premier matériau d'un bras en au moins un point, les pattes réalisées dans le second matériau étant rapprochées à force lorsque les bras réalisés dans le premier matériau s'élargissent, le second matériau comprenant en outre des prolongements (120, 129) dont la position se modifie en réponse mécanique aux déplacements des pattes réalisées dans le second matériau.
 
7. Vêtement conforme à la revendication 6, dans lequel le premier matériau se contracte en présence d'un champ magnétique et s'étend en l'absence d'un champ magnétique.
 
8. Vêtement conforme à la revendication 6, dans lequel le premier matériau s'étend lorsqu'il est chauffé et se contracte lorsqu'il est refroidi.
 
9. Vêtement conforme à la revendication 6, dans lequel le premier matériau s'étend en présence d'humidité.
 
10. Vêtement conforme à la revendication 6, dans lequel le premier matériau répond à l'application d'un champ électrique.
 




Drawing