(19)
(11)EP 3 734 987 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION
published in accordance with Art. 153(4) EPC

(43)Date of publication:
04.11.2020 Bulletin 2020/45

(21)Application number: 18895204.8

(22)Date of filing:  28.12.2018
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
H04R 1/00(2006.01)
H04R 1/02(2006.01)
H04M 1/02(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/JP2018/048617
(87)International publication number:
WO 2019/132044 (04.07.2019 Gazette  2019/27)
(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
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 28.12.2017 JP 2017254869

(71)Applicant: NITTO DENKO CORPORATION
Ibaraki-shi Osaka 567-8680 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • FUKUSHIMA, Tamao
    Ibaraki-shi, Osaka 567-8680 (JP)
  • SUGAYA, Yosuke
    Ibaraki-shi, Osaka 567-8680 (JP)
  • HIRAI, Bunta
    Ibaraki-shi, Osaka 567-8680 (JP)
  • ABE, Yuichi
    Ibaraki-shi, Osaka 567-8680 (JP)

(74)Representative: Müller-Boré & Partner Patentanwälte PartG mbB 
Friedenheimer Brücke 21
80639 München
80639 München (DE)

  


(54)WATERPROOFING MEMBER AND ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT


(57) The waterproof member of the present disclosure is a waterproof member comprising a waterproof membrane configured to prevent entry of water while permitting sound and/or gas to pass therethrough, and a support layer having air permeability in a thickness direction thereof, wherein the member has a joining region where the waterproof membrane and the support layer are joined, and a non-joining region where the waterproof membrane and the support layer are spaced apart from each other, the non-joining region is surrounded by the joining region when viewed in a direction perpendicular to a main surface of the waterproof membrane, and a thickness of the support layer in the non-joining region is less than 100 µm. The waterproof member of the present disclosure is, for example, a waterproof sound-transmitting member including a waterproof sound-transmitting membrane and a support layer for the membrane and having improved sound transmission characteristics.




Description

TECHNICAL FIELD



[0001] The present invention relates to a waterproof member and an electronic device.

BACKGROUND ART



[0002] Electronic devices such as mobile phones, smartphones, wearable devices including smart watches, and cameras have an audio function. A sound converter (transducer) such as a speaker and a microphone is housed inside a housing of an electronic device having an audio function. The housing of the electronic device is provided with an opening (external sound-transmitting port) for introducing sound from the outside to the sound converter and/or from the sound converter to the outside. Entry of water into the housing has to be prevented. Thus, a waterproof sound-transmitting membrane that prevents entry of water while permitting sound to pass therethrough is attached to the external sound-transmitting port.

[0003] A waterproof sound-transmitting member that includes a waterproof sound-transmitting membrane and a support layer supporting the membrane has been known. Since the support layer is included in the member, for example, breaking of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane due to the water pressure applied to the member when an electronic device is dropped into water can be prevented. Patent Literature 1 discloses a waterproof sound-transmitting member in which a porous polytetrafluoroethylene (hereinafter, referred to as "PTFE") membrane and a porous support layer are selectively bonded to each other at peripheral portions thereof.

CITATION LIST


Patent Literature



[0004] Patent Literature 1: JP 2002-502561 A

SUMMARY OF INVENTION


Technical Problem



[0005] In the waterproof sound-transmitting member of Patent Literature 1, the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane and the support layer independently freely vibrate in the inner non-bonding region where the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane and the support layer are not bonded to each other, whereby high sound transmission characteristics can be obtained even through the support layer is included. However, in order to respond to size reduction of electronic devices, the size of the waterproof sound-transmitting member also tends to be limited. Therefore, further improvement of sound transmission characteristics is required for the waterproof sound-transmitting member.

[0006] Moreover, a waterproof membrane may be attached to an opening that is provided in a housing of an electronic device and through which transmission of sound is not required. The opening is, for example, a ventilation port for ensuring ventilation between the inside and the outside of the housing. In this case, the waterproof membrane serves only as a waterproof air-permeable membrane that prevents entry of water while permitting gas to pass therethrough. A waterproof air-permeable member that includes a waterproof air-permeable membrane and a support layer supporting the membrane is also used.

[0007] It is an object of the present invention to improve the characteristics of a waterproof member that is a waterproof sound-transmitting member and/or a waterproof air-permeable member.

Solution to Problem



[0008] Conventionally, improvement of the sound transmission characteristics of a waterproof sound-transmitting member that includes a waterproof sound-transmitting membrane and a support layer is achieved by improvement of the sound transmission characteristics of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane. However, there is a limit to improvement of the sound transmission characteristics only by improvement of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane. In addition, the improvement of the sound transmission characteristics of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane may reduce the waterproofness of this membrane. Through the study by the present inventors, it has been found that, in a waterproof sound-transmitting member formed by selectively bonding a waterproof sound-transmitting membrane and a support layer to each other, improvement of the support layer improves the sound transmission characteristics. This improvement of the support layer can also improve the characteristics of the waterproof air-permeable member.

[0009] Specifically, the present invention provides a waterproof member including a waterproof membrane configured to prevent entry of water while permitting sound and/or gas to pass therethrough, and a support layer having air permeability in a thickness direction thereof, wherein
the member has

a joining region where the waterproof membrane and the support layer are joined, and

a non-joining region where the waterproof membrane and the support layer are spaced apart from each other,

the non-joining region is surrounded by the joining region when viewed in a direction perpendicular to a main surface of the waterproof membrane, and
a thickness of the support layer in the non-joining region is less than 100 µm.

[0010] According to another aspect, the present invention provides an electronic device including:

a housing having an opening; and

the waterproof member of the present invention attached to the housing so as to close the opening, wherein

the member is attached to the housing such that the waterproof membrane side of the member faces the outside of the housing and the support layer side of the member faces the inside of the housing.


Advantageous Effects of Invention



[0011] According to the present invention, the characteristics of a waterproof member including a waterproof membrane and a support layer for the membrane can be improved, including improvement of the sound transmission characteristics of a waterproof sound-transmitting member including a waterproof sound-transmitting membrane and a support layer for the membrane.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0012] 

FIG. 1A is a cross-sectional view schematically showing an example of the waterproof member (waterproof sound-transmitting member) of the present invention.

FIG. 1B is a plan view of the waterproof sound-transmitting member shown in FIG. 1A as seen from the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane side.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view schematically showing another example of the waterproof member (waterproof sound-transmitting member) of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view showing still another example of the waterproof member (waterproof sound-transmitting member) of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view showing still another example of the waterproof member (waterproof sound-transmitting member) of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view showing still another example of the waterproof member (waterproof sound-transmitting member) of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view showing still another example of the waterproof member (waterproof sound-transmitting member) of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a front view showing an example of an electronic device (smartphone) in which the waterproof member (waterproof sound-transmitting member) of the present invention is attached to an opening (external sound-transmitting port) of a housing.

FIG. 8 is a diagram for describing an evaluation method for the sound transmission characteristics of a waterproof sound-transmitting member, conducted in Examples.


DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS



[0013] Hereinafter, embodiments of the present invention will be described with reference to the drawings. The present invention is not limited to the embodiments described below.

[0014] FIG. 1A and FIG. 1B show an example of the waterproof sound-transmitting member of the present invention. FIG. 1B shows a waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 as seen from the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 side. FIG. 1A shows a cross-section A-A shown in FIG. 1B.

[0015] The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 has a joining region 5 where a waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and a support layer 3 are joined, and a non-joining region 4 surrounded by the joining region 5 when viewed in a direction perpendicular to a main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 (FIG. 1B). The joining region 5 includes regions of peripheral portions of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the support layer 3. The waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the support layer 3 are joined by a joining portion 6.

[0016] As shown in FIG. 1A, in the non-joining region 4, the support layer 3 is spaced apart from the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2. The support layer 3 has air permeability in the thickness direction thereof. The thickness of the support layer 3 in the non-joining region 4 is less than 100 µm. That is, in the non-joining region 4, the support layer 3 having air permeability in the thickness direction thereof and having a thickness less than 100 µm is placed so as to be spaced apart from the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2.

[0017] The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be attached to a housing of an electronic device having an audio function. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be attached to the housing such that the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 covers an external sound-transmitting port and such that the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 side of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 faces the outside (external space). The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 including the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 can prevent entry of water into the electronic device through the external sound-transmitting port while allowing transmission of sound between the outside and a sound converter included in the electronic device. Moreover, when water pressure is applied to the external sound-transmitting port of the electronic device to which the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is attached, the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 becomes deformed in the direction to the support layer 3 (the direction from the outside to the inside of the housing) in the non-joining region 4. However, in the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1, the deformation of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is limited in a certain range by contact between the deformed waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the support layer 3, so that breaking of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is prevented. Therefore, since the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 includes the support layer 3, the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can have waterproofness (for example, limit water entry pressure) higher than the waterproofness of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2.

[0018] The deformation that remains in the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 even after being released from the water pressure (hereinafter, referred to as "permanent deformation") decreases the sound transmission characteristics of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1. The support layer 3 can reduce the permanent deformation of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 by limiting deformation of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2.

[0019] The shapes of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 and the non-joining region 4 are not limited. In the example shown in FIG. 1A and FIG. 1B, the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is rectangular, and the non-joining region 4 is circular, when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2. The shapes of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 and the non-joining region 4 are, independently of each other, for example, a circle (including a substantially circular shape), an ellipse (including a substantially elliptical shape), and a polygon including a rectangle and a square. The corners of the polygon may be rounded. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be attached, for example, between a sound-transmitting port (internal sound-transmitting port) of the sound converter and a sound-transmitting port (external sound-transmitting port) provided in the housing such that the surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 at the support layer 3 side covers the internal sound-transmitting port and the surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 at the waterproof sound -transmitting membrane 2 side covers the external sound-transmitting port.

[0020] The shape of the joining region 5 is not limited as long as the shape is a shape surrounding the non-joining region 4. The joining region 5 is typically a region including the peripheral portion of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and/or the support layer 3. In the example shown in FIG. 1A and FIG. 1B, the region other than the joining region 5 where the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the support layer 3 are joined is the non-joining region 4. In the example shown in FIG. 1A and FIG. 1B, in the non-joining region 4, the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is exposed on one surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1. In addition, in the non-joining region 4, the support layer 3 is exposed on the other surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1.

[0021] The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can have high sound transmission characteristics even though the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 has the non-joining region 4 having a reduced area. The area of the non-joining region 4 when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is, for example, 12 mm2 or less. The area of the non-joining region 4 may be 10 mm2 or less, 8.0 mm2 or less, 5.0 mm2 or less, 3.2 mm2 or less, 2.0 mm2 or less, or even 1.8 mm2 or less. The lower limit of the area of the non-joining region 4 is not limited, and is, for example, 0.02 mm2 or more. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is suitable for use in a small-size electronic device having an audio function. An example of the small-size electronic device is a wearable device such as a smart watch.

[0022] Regarding the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1, the proportion of the area of the non-joining region 4 to the sum of the area of the joining region 5 and the area of the non-joining region 4 when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is not limited, and is, for example, 1 to 90%. The upper limit of the proportion may be 50% or less, 20% or less, 15% or less, or even 10% or less. As the proportion decreases, that is, as the proportion of the joining region 5 in the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 increases, the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the support layer 3 can be more firmly joined. Thus, as the proportion decreases, the degree of deformation and permanent deformation of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 due to water pressure can be reduced more, so that the waterproofness of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be increased further, and a decrease in the sound transmission characteristics of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 due to water pressure can be inhibited more reliably.

[0023] The shape of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the shape of the support layer 3 may be the same or different from each other, when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2. In the example shown in FIG. 1A and FIG. 1B, the shape of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the shape of the support layer 3 are the same and are also the same as that of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1.

[0024] The thickness of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is, for example, 500 µm or less. The thickness of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 may be 300 µm or less, 250 µm or less, or even 200 µm or less. The lower limit of the thickness of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is not limited, and is, for example, 60 µm or more. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is suitable for use in a small-size electronic device for which the volume of the interior of a housing is limited. In addition, in an electronic device having an audio function, as the distance from an external sound-transmitting port to a sound converter increases, sound resulting from conversion by the sound converter tends to be deteriorated. The deterioration of the sound becomes particularly strong when the sound converter is a sound receiving unit such as a microphone, or when the area of the external sound-transmitting port and/or the internal sound-transmitting port is small. When the thickness of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is within the above range, the distance from the external sound-transmitting port to the internal sound-transmitting port does not become excessively large even if the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is placed. Therefore, the deterioration of the sound resulting from conversion by the sound converter can be inhibited.

[0025] The spacing distance between the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the support layer 3 in the non-joining region 4 is, for example, 200 µm or less. The spacing distance may be 150 µm or less, 130 µm or less, 100 um or less, less than 100 µm, or even 80 µm or less. The lower limit of the spacing distance is not limited, is, for example, 5 µm or more, and may be 10 µm or more, 20 µm or more, or even 30 µm or more. When the spacing distance between the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the support layer 3 in the non-joining region 4 is within these ranges, deformation and permanent deformation of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 due to water pressure can be inhibited more reliably. In addition, the thickness of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be more reliably caused to fall within the above-described range.

[0026] The thickness of the support layer 3 in the non-joining region 4 is less than 100 µm. The thickness of the support layer 3 may be 99 µm or less, 80 µm or less, 70 µm or less, 60 µm or less, 55 µm or less, 50 µm or less, 45 µm or less, or even 40 µm or less. The lower limit of the thickness is not limited, and is, for example, 2 µm or more. The support layer 3 can have the above thickness without being limited to the non-joining region 4. The entirety of the support layer 3 may have the above thickness. The fact that the thickness of the support layer 3 is less than 100 µm also contributes to a reduction in the thickness of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1.

[0027] The support layer 3 is not limited as long as the support layer 3 has air permeability in the thickness direction thereof. The air permeability in the thickness direction of the support layer 3 is normally higher than the air permeability in the thickness direction of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2. In addition, the strength of the support layer 3 is normally higher than the strength of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2.

[0028] The material forming the support layer 3 is not limited, and examples of the material include: metals such as aluminum and stainless steel; resins such as polyolefins (polyethylene, polypropylene, etc.), polyesters (polyethylene terephthalate (PET), etc.), polyamides (various aliphatic polyamides and aromatic polyamides including nylon, etc.), and polyimides; and composite materials thereof.

[0029] The form of the support layer 3 is not limited, and is, for example, a nonwoven fabric, a woven fabric, a net, a mesh, or a through-hole sheet. The net and the mesh have a lattice structure composed of skeletons and spaces between the skeletons (generally called "meshes"). The skeletons of the lattice structure are composed of fibers such as filaments, wires, and tubes. The filaments may be monofilaments or multifilaments. In the present description, the mesh is used as a term meaning a structure in which fibers are woven, and the fibers three-dimensionally intersect each at the intersections of the fibers (intersections of the lattice structure). The net is used as a term meaning a nonwoven structure in which intersecting fibers are integrated at the intersection thereof.

[0030] The through-hole sheet is a sheet obtained by providing an original sheet, for example, a non-porous sheet, which has a non-porous substrate structure, with a plurality of through holes (perforations) that penetrate the sheet in the thickness direction. The through-hole sheet may be a sheet having no ventilation path in the thickness direction other than the plurality of through holes. The through holes may be straight holes extending linearly in the thickness direction of the sheet. Whereas the meshes of the net and the mesh normally have a polygonal shape such as a quadrangular shape, the shapes of the openings of the through holes are normally a circle or an ellipse when viewed in a direction perpendicular to a main surface of the through-hole sheet. The cross-sectional shape of each through hole may be uniform from one main surface of the sheet to the other main surface of the sheet, or may change from one main surface of the sheet to the other main surface of the sheet. The through holes may be formed such that the openings thereof are regularly arranged or randomly located on the main surface of the sheet when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the sheet. The through-hole sheet can be a metal sheet or a resin sheet. The through holes can be formed, for example, by laser machining of the original sheet, or ion beam irradiation of the original sheet followed by hole-formation processing with chemical etching. With laser machining, through holes having openings regularly arranged on the main surface when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the sheet can be formed more reliably. As the through-hole sheet, for example, the sheet disclosed in JP 2012-20279 A can be used. However, the sheet may or may not be subjected to a liquid repellent treatment.

[0031] Any combination of the material and the form of the support layer 3 can be adopted.

[0032] The support layer 3 is preferably a mesh or a net, and particularly preferably a mesh. The mesh and the net are suitable for maintaining strength at a thickness less than 100 µm. Thus, in the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 including the support layer 3 that is a mesh or a net, deformation and permanent deformation of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 due to water pressure can be inhibited more reliably. In addition, in the case where the support layer 3 is a mesh or a net, the rigidity and handleability of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be improved. Among them, the mesh is suitable for improving the sound transmission characteristics of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1.

[0033] The weight per unit area of the support layer 3 that is a mesh is, for example, 25 to 70 g/m2 in the case where the skeletons are composed of a resin such as PET. The lower limit of the weight per unit area may be 30 g/m2 or more, 35 g/m2 or more, or even 38 g/m2 or more. The upper limit of the weight per unit area may be 60 g/m2 or less, 55 g/m2 or less, or even 45 g/m2 or less. The weight per unit area of the support layer 3 that is a mesh is, for example, 30 to 140 g/m2 in the case where the skeletons are composed of a metal such as stainless steel. The lower limit of the weight per unit area may be 35 g/m2 or more, 50 g/m2 or more, 60 g/m2 or more, or even 70 g/m2 or more. The upper limit of the weight per unit area may be 130 g/m2 or less, 120 g/m2 or less, or even 115 g/m2 or less.

[0034] The waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is not limited as long as the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is a membrane that prevents entry of water while permitting sound to pass therethrough. Various known waterproof sound-transmitting membranes can be used as the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2. The waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 may be subjected to a liquid repellent treatment or an oil repellent treatment.

[0035] The waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 can be formed from a resin such as a polyester (for example, PET), a polycarbonate, a polyethylene, a polyimide, and PTFE. As the material of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2, PTFE is suitable. A membrane formed from PTFE (PTFE membrane) has good balance between mass and strength.

[0036] The PTFE membrane can be a porous membrane (porous PTFE membrane) formed by stretching a cast membrane or a paste extrusion containing PTFE particles. The PTFE membrane may be sintered.

[0037] When the electronic device to which the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is attached is expected to be exposed to higher water pressure, the PTFE membrane is preferably a microporous PTFE membrane or a non-porous PTFE membrane. Both the PTFE microporous membrane and the PTFE non-porous membrane can have a higher water entry pressure and have a lower degree of deformation due to water pressure.

[0038] In the present description, the microporous PTFE membrane refers to a membrane having an air permeability, in the thickness direction thereof, of 20 seconds/100 mL or more and 10,000 seconds/100 mL or less as an air permeability (Gurley air permeability) measured according to Method B (Gurley method) of air permeability measurement specified in Japanese Industrial Standards (hereinafter, referred to as "JIS") L1096. The lower limit of the Gurley air permeability of the microporous PTFE membrane may be greater than 30 seconds/100 mL, and may be 40 seconds/100 mL or more, 50 seconds/100 mL or more, or even 70 seconds/100 mL or more. The upper limit of the Gurley air permeability of the microporous PTFE membrane may be 5000 seconds/100 mL or less, 1000 seconds/100 mL or less, or even 300 seconds/100 mL or less. In the present description, the non-porous PTFE membrane refers to a membrane having an air permeability, in the thickness direction thereof, greater than 10,000 seconds/100 mL as the Gurley air permeability.

[0039] Even when the size of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 does not satisfy the recommended test piece size (about 50 mm × 50 mm) in the Gurley method, it is possible to evaluate the Gurley air permeability by using a measurement jig. An example of the measurement jig is a polycarbonate disc provided with a through hole (having a circular cross section with a diameter of 1 mm or 2 mm) at the center thereof and having a thickness of 2 mm and a diameter of 47 mm. Measurement of a Gurley air permeability using the measurement jig can be performed as follows.

[0040] A waterproof sound-transmitting membrane to be evaluated is fixed to one surface of the measurement jig so as to cover the opening of the through hole of the jig. The fixation is performed such that, during measurement of a Gurley air permeability, air passes through only the opening and an effective test portion (portion overlapping the opening when viewed in a direction perpendicular to a main surface of the fixed waterproof sound-transmitting membrane) of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane to be evaluated, and the fixed portion of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane does not hinder passing of air through the effective test portion of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane. For fixing the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane, a double-faced adhesive tape having a ventilation port punched in a center portion thereof with a shape that matches the shape of the opening can be used. The double-faced adhesive tape can be placed between the measurement jig and the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane such that the circumference of the ventilation port and the circumference of the opening coincide with each other. Next, the measurement jig having the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane fixed thereto is set on a Gurley air permeability testing machine such that the surface on which the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane is fixed is at the downstream side of airflow during measurement, and a time t1 taken for air of 100 mL to pass through the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane is measured. Next, the measured time t1 is converted into a value t per effective test area of 642 [mm2] specified in Method B (Gurley method) of air permeability measurement in JIS L1096, by the equation t = {(t1) × (area of effective test portion of waterproof sound-transmitting membrane [mm2]) / 642 [mm2]}, and the obtained conversion value t can be regarded as the Gurley air permeability of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane. When the above disc is used as the measurement jig, the area of the effective test portion of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane is the area of a cross section of the through hole.

[0041] Condensation may occur inside the housing when the temperature of the housing decreases due to, for example, use or mounting of the electronic device in water. The occurrence of condensation can be prevented by reducing the amount of water vapor staying inside the housing. In the case where the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is a non-porous PTFE membrane, entry of water vapor into the housing through the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is prevented. Therefore, by selecting a non-porous PTFE membrane as the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2, the amount of water vapor staying inside the housing can be reduced, so that occurrence of condensation inside the housing can be prevented.

[0042] Meanwhile, even if water vapor does not enter the inside of the housing through the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2, retention of water vapor inside the housing is unavoidable in some cases. Such a case is, for example, the case where the housing is formed from a resin having hygroscopicity, such as polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene resin (ABS), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polypropylene (PP), or polycarbonate (PC). In the housing formed from a resin having hygroscopicity, external water vapor absorbed by the housing itself tends to be released to the inside of the housing by heat from a heat source inside the housing and stay inside the housing. In this case, to prevent occurrence of condensation in the housing, it is preferable to select the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 capable of releasing water vapor staying inside the housing to the outside. An example of the selectable waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is a microporous PTFE membrane. When the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is a microporous PTFE membrane, it is possible to discharge retained water vapor to the outside due to the appropriate air permeability of the membrane 2 even though high waterproofness is achieved, so that occurrence of condensation inside the housing can be prevented.

[0043] The average pore diameter of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 that is a microporous PTFE membrane is, for example, 0.01 to 1 µm. The porosity of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 that is a microporous PTFE membrane is, for example, 5 to 50%. The average pore diameter of the PTFE membrane can be measured according to American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F316-86. The porosity of the PTFE membrane can be calculated by substituting the mass, the thickness, the area (area of a main surface), and the true density of the membrane into the following equation. The true density of PTFE is 2.18 g/cm3.



[0044] The thickness of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is, for example, 1 to 50 µm. The thickness of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 may be 3 to 30 µm or 5 to 20 µm. When the thickness of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is within these ranges, the waterproofness and the sound transmission characteristics of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 can be improved in a well-balanced manner.

[0045] The surface density of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is, for example, 1 to 30 g/m2. The surface density of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 may be 1 to 25 g/m2. The surface density can be calculated by dividing the mass of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 by the area (area of a main surface) of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2.

[0046] The waterproofness of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 can be evaluated on the basis of water entry pressure (limit water entry pressure). The water entry pressure of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is, for example, 80 kPa or more. The water entry pressure of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 may be 100 kPa or more, 300 kPa or more, 500 kPa or more, 600 kPa or more, 700 kPa or more, 750 kPa or more, 800 kPa or more, 900 kPa or more, or even 1000 kPa or more. The upper limit of the water entry pressure is not limited, and is, for example, 2000 kPa or less. The water entry pressure of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 can be measured as follows according to Method A (low water pressure method) or Method B (high water pressure method) of the water resistance test in JIS L1092 using a measurement jig.

[0047] An example of the measurement jig is a stainless disc having a diameter of 47 mm and provided with a through hole (having a circular cross section) having a diameter of 1 mm at the center thereof. The disc has a thickness sufficient to prevent the disc from deforming due to the water pressure applied upon measurement of a water entry pressure. Measurement of a water entry pressure using the measurement jig can be performed as follows.

[0048] A waterproof sound-transmitting membrane to be evaluated is fixed to one surface of the measurement jig so as to cover the opening of the through hole of the jig. The fixation is performed such that, during measurement of a water entry pressure, water does not leak from a fixed portion of the membrane. For fixing the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane, a double-faced adhesive tape having a water port punched in a center portion thereof with a shape that matches the shape of the opening can be used. The double-faced adhesive tape can be placed between the measurement jig and the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane such that the circumference of the water port and the circumference of the opening coincide with each other. Next, the measurement jig having the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane fixed thereto is set on a testing device such that the surface opposite to the membrane-fixed surface of the measurement jig is a water pressure application surface to which water pressure is applied during measurement, and a water entry pressure is measured according to Method A (low water pressure method) or Method B (high water pressure method) of the water resistance test in JIS L1092. The water entry pressure is measured on the basis of the water pressure when water comes out from one spot on the membrane surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane. The measured water entry pressure can be regarded as the water entry pressure of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane. As the testing device, a device that has the same configuration as the water resistance testing device exemplified in JIS L1092 and that has a test piece attachment structure capable of setting the measurement jig can be used.

[0049] The sound transmission characteristics of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 can be evaluated on the basis of insertion loss at 1 kHz (insertion loss for sound having a frequency of 1 kHz). The insertion loss at 1 kHz of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is, for example, 17 dB or less, and can be 13 dB or less, 10 dB or less, 8 dB or less, 7 dB or less, or even 6 dB or less, when the area of the sound-transmission region of the membrane is 1.8 mm2.

[0050] The sound transmission characteristics of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 can also be evaluated on the basis of insertion loss at 200 Hz (insertion loss for sound having a frequency of 200 Hz). The insertion loss at 200 Hz of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is, for example, 13 dB or less, and can be 11 dB or less, 10 dB or less, or even 8 dB or less, when the area of the sound-transmission region of the membrane is 1.8 mm2.

[0051] Regarding the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2, the degree of decrease in sound transmission characteristics due to water pressure can be evaluated on the basis of the sound transmission characteristics decrease rate (insertion loss change rate) obtained from the insertion losses of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 before and after a water pressure retention test. The water pressure retention test is a test in which a constant water pressure is applied to a waterproof sound-transmitting membrane for a fixed time (water pressure application time). The water pressure retention test can be performed using the measurement jig and the water resistance testing device for measuring the water entry pressure of a waterproof sound-transmitting membrane. More specifically, similar to the case of measuring a water entry pressure, the measurement jig having the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane fixed thereto may be set on the testing device such that the surface opposite to the membrane-fixed surface of the measurement jig is a water pressure application surface, and a constant water pressure may be applied to the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane for a fixed time. In the case of evaluating whether water leakage occurs at the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane during the test, if water comes out from one spot on the membrane surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane, it is determined that "water leakage occurs". The water pressure applied to the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane during the test is not limited, and is, for example, 50 kPa to 1000 kPa. The water pressure application time is, for example, 10 to 30 minutes. The sound transmission characteristics decrease rate can be determined by the following equation. In the following equation, L1 is the insertion loss (for example, insertion loss at 1 kHz) of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane before the test, and L2 is the insertion loss (for example, insertion loss at 1 kHz) of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane after the test.



[0052] The sound transmission characteristics decrease rate of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 obtained from the insertion losses before and after the water pressure retention test (water pressure: 500 kPa, water pressure application time: 10 minutes) (calculated on the basis of insertion loss at 1 kHz) is, for example, 50% or less, and can be 40% or less, 30% or less, or even 25% or less.

[0053] In the example shown in FIG. 1A and FIG. 1B, the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 is a single-layer membrane. The waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 may be a laminate of two or more membranes. The waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 can be a laminate of two or more PTFE membranes.

[0054] The waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 may be a colored membrane. The waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 may be colored, for example, in gray or black. The gray or black waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 can be formed, for example, by mixing a gray or black coloring agent with the material forming the membrane. The black coloring agent is, for example, carbon black. A color in the range of 1 to 4 and a color in the range of 5 to 8 as represented by "achromatic color brightness NV" defined in JIS Z8721 can be defined as "black" and "gray", respectively.

[0055] The configuration of the joining portion 6 is not limited as long as the joining region 5 and the non-joining region 4 can be formed. The joining portion 6 is, for example, a pressure-sensitive adhesive layer or an adhesive layer. The joining portion 6 that is a pressure-sensitive adhesive layer or an adhesive layer can be formed, for example by applying a known pressure-sensitive adhesive or a known adhesive to the surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2. The joining portion 6 may be composed of a double-faced adhesive tape. That is, in the joining region 5, the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the support layer 3 may be joined by a double-faced adhesive tape. In the case where the joining portion 6 is composed of a double-faced adhesive tape, the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the support layer 3 are joined more reliably, so that the waterproofness of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be further improved. In addition, the spacing distance between the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the support layer 3 in the non-joining region 4 can be more easily controlled.

[0056] As the double-faced adhesive tape forming the joining portion 6, a known double-faced adhesive tape can be used. The substrate of the double-faced adhesive tape is, for example, a film, a nonwoven fabric, or a foam of a resin. The resin that can be used for the substrate are not limited, and examples of the resin include polyesters (PET, etc.), polyolefins (polyethylene, etc.), and polyimides. For the pressure-sensitive adhesive layer of the double-faced adhesive tape, various pressure-sensitive adhesives such as acrylic-based pressure-sensitive adhesives and silicone-based pressure-sensitive adhesives can be used. Acrylic-based pressure-sensitive adhesives are preferably used for the pressure-sensitive adhesive layer since the joining strength between the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the support layer 3 can be improved. The double-faced adhesive tape may be a thermal adhesive tape.

[0057] The thickness of the joining portion 6 is, for example, 200 µm or less. The thickness of the joining portion 6 may be 150 µm or less, 130 µm or less, 100 µm or less, less than 100 µm, or even 80 µm or less. The lower limit of the thickness of the joining portion 6 is not limited, is, for example, 5 µm or more, and may be 10 µm or more, 20 µm or more, or even 30 µm or more. When the thickness of the joining portion 6 is within these ranges, the spacing distance between the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the support layer 3 in the non-joining region 4 can be controlled to be within the above-described preferable range, and deformation and permanent deformation of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 due to water pressure can be inhibited more reliably.

[0058] The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be placed between a housing of an electronic device and a sound converter housed in the housing. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is normally fixed to an inner wall surface of the housing so as to cover an external sound-transmitting port. In addition, the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be fixed to a housing of the sound converter or the surface of a substrate having the sound converter so as to cover an internal sound-transmitting port. The positional relationship between: the external sound-transmitting port and the internal sound-transmitting port; and the non-joining region 4 of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 in the fixed state is not limited as long as sound can be transmitted between the outside and the sound converter. The external sound-transmitting port and the internal sound-transmitting port, and the non-joining region 4 in the fixed state may overlap each other when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2.

[0059] The method for fixing the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 to the housing and the sound converter is not limited. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be fixed to the housing and/or the sound converter by various kinds of welding such as heat welding, ultrasonic welding, and laser welding, or adhesion using a pressure-sensitive adhesive, an adhesive, or the like. It is also possible to fix the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 by a fixing portion composed of a pressure-sensitive adhesive layer, an adhesive layer, or a double-faced adhesive tape. Among them, in the case where the fixing portion is composed of a double-faced adhesive tape, the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be more reliably fixed to the housing and the sound converter. As the double-faced adhesive tape forming the fixing portion, the double-faced adhesive tape described above in the description of the joining portion 6 can be used. Regarding the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 fixed to both the housing and the sound converter, the method for fixing to the housing and the method for fixing to the sound converter may be the same or different from each other.

[0060] FIG. 2 shows an example of the waterproof sound-transmitting member of the present invention further including a fixing portion 7A. In the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 shown in FIG. 2, the fixing portion 7A is placed on the surface, of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2, opposite to the surface, of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2, joined to the support layer 3. The fixing portion 7A includes the region of the peripheral portion of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2. The fixing portion 7A has the same shape as the joining region 5 when viewed in the perpendicular direction. The fixing portion 7A has an opening 8 with a shape corresponding to the non-joining region 4, when viewed in the perpendicular direction. Sound is mainly transmitted through the opening 8 of the fixing portion 7A. The opening 8 is a sound-transmission region of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 and the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1. The opening 8 coincides with the non-joining region 4 when viewed in the perpendicular direction. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 shown in FIG. 2 can be fixed to the housing by the fixing portion 7A. The shape of the opening 8 of the fixing portion 7A may be the same as that of the external sound-transmitting port of the housing. In this case, the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be fixed to the housing such that the circumference of the opening 8 and the circumference of the external sound-transmitting port coincide with each other when viewed in the perpendicular direction.

[0061] FIG. 3 shows another example of the waterproof sound-transmitting member of the present invention further including the fixing portion 7A. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 shown in FIG. 3 is the same as the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 shown in FIG. 2, except that the shape of the fixing portion 7A is different. The fixing portion 7A of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 shown in FIG. 3 has an opening 8 that is larger than the non-joining region 4 and overlaps the non-joining region 4 (more specifically, includes the non-joining region 4) when viewed in the perpendicular direction. Also, in the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 shown in FIG. 3, the shape of the opening 8 of the fixing portion 7A may be the same as that of the external sound-transmitting port of the housing. In the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 shown in FIG. 3, it is possible to make the area of the non-joining region 4 smaller than the area of the external sound-transmitting port. Thus, the waterproof performance of the electronic device to which the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is fixed can be further enhanced.

[0062] FIG. 4 shows an example of the waterproof sound-transmitting member of the present invention further including a fixing portion 7B. In the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 shown in FIG. 4, the fixing portion 7B is placed on the surface, of the support layer 3, opposite to the surface, of the support layer 3, joined to the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2. The fixing portion 7B can have the same shape as the fixing portion 7A shown in FIG. 2 or FIG. 3 when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 shown in FIG. 4 can be fixed to the sound converter by the fixing portion 7B.

[0063] FIG. 5 shows an example of the waterproof sound-transmitting member of the present invention further including the fixing portions 7A and 7B. In the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 shown in FIG. 5, the fixing portion 7A is placed on the surface, of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2, opposite to the surface, of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2, joined to the support layer 3. In addition, the fixing portion 7B is placed on the surface, of the support layer 3, opposite to the surface, of the support layer 3, joined to the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2. The fixing portions 7A and 7B can have the same shape as the fixing portion 7A shown in FIG. 2 or FIG. 3 when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2. The shape of the fixing portion 7A and the shape of the fixing portion 7B may be the same or different from each other. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 shown in FIG. 5 can be fixed to the housing by the fixing portion 7A and can be fixed to the sound converter by the fixing portion 7B.

[0064] The shapes of the fixing portions 7A and 7B are not limited to the above respective examples. However, the fixing portions 7A and 7B each preferably have a shape in which the fixing portion 7A or 7B is included in the joining region 5 when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2, since sound is mainly transmitted through the openings 8 of the fixing portions 7A and 7B. The thickness of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 further including the fixing portion 7A and/or 7B is determined including the thickness of the fixing portion.

[0065] The waterproof sound-transmitting member of the present invention can have any layer other than the above-described layers, and/or a member, as long as the advantageous effects of the present invention are obtained.

[0066] The waterproofness of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be evaluated on the basis of water entry pressure (limit water entry pressure). The water entry pressure of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be measured according to the above-described method for measuring the water entry pressure of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2. However, upon the measurement, the water pressure is applied to the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 from the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 side. The water entry pressure of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is higher than the water entry pressure of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2.

[0067] The waterproofness of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can also be evaluated by a water pressure retention test. The water pressure retention test can be performed in the same manner as the water pressure retention test for the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane. However, in the test, the water pressure is applied to the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 from the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 side. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be a member in which water leakage does not occur at the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 even when the water pressure retention test is performed under the conditions of a water pressure of 60 kPa and a water pressure application time of 10 minutes. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be a member in which water leakage does not occur at the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 even when the water pressure retention test is performed under the conditions of a water pressure of 500 kPa and a water pressure application time of 10 minutes. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be a member in which water leakage does not occur at the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 even when the water pressure retention test is performed under the conditions of a water pressure of 700 kPa and a water pressure application time of 30 minutes. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be a member in which water leakage does not occur at the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 even when the water pressure retention test is performed repeatedly 30 times under the conditions of a water pressure of 700 kPa and a water pressure application time of 30 minutes with the interval between each test being set as 1 minute.

[0068] The sound transmission characteristics of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be evaluated on the basis of insertion loss at 1 kHz (insertion loss for sound having a frequency of 1 kHz). The insertion loss at 1 kHz of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is, for example, 17 dB or less, and can be 13 dB or less, 10 dB or less, 9 dB or less, 8 dB or less, 7 dB or less, or even 6.5 dB or less, when the area of the non-joining region 4 is 1.8 mm2.

[0069] The sound transmission characteristics of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can also be evaluated on the basis of insertion loss at 200 Hz (insertion loss for sound having a frequency of 200 Hz). The insertion loss at 200 Hz of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is, for example, 14 dB or less, and can be 12 dB or less, 11 dB or less, 10 dB or less, or even 9 dB or less, when the area of the non-joining region 4 is 1.8 mm2.

[0070] The sound transmission characteristics of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can also be evaluated on the basis of an increment of the insertion loss of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 (increment with respect to the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane alone) with respect to the insertion loss of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 (the insertion loss of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 itself measured without placing the support layer 3). The increment can be determined by the equation: [increment of insertion loss] = [insertion loss of waterproof sound-transmitting member 1] - [insertion loss of waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2]. The increment of the insertion loss at 1 kHz of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is, for example, 5 dB or less, and can be 4 dB or less, 2 dB or less, 1.5 dB or less, or even 1 dB or less, when the area of the non-joining region 4 is 1.8 mm2. The increment of the insertion loss at 200 Hz of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is, for example, 10 dB or less, and can be 6 dB or less, 5 dB or less, 4 dB or less, 2 dB or less, 1.5 dB or less, or even 1 dB or less, when the area of the non-joining region 4 is 1.8 mm2. Particularly, in the case where the support layer 3 is a mesh, the increment can be decreased.

[0071] In the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1, a decrease in sound transmission characteristics due to water pressure can be inhibited. Even after the water pressure retention test under the conditions of a water pressure of 500 kPa and a water pressure application time of 10 minutes, the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 exhibits, for example, an insertion loss at 1 kHz of 11 dB or less when the area of the non-joining region 4 is 1.8 mm2. The insertion loss can be 10 dB or less, 9 dB or less, 7 dB or less, or even 6.5 dB or less.

[0072] The sound transmission characteristics decrease rate of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 obtained from the insertion losses before and after the water pressure retention test (water pressure: 500 kPa, water pressure application time: 10 minutes) (calculated on the basis of insertion loss at 1 kHz) is, for example, less than 6.6%, and can be 6.0% or less, 5.5% or less, 5.0% or less, 4.0% or less, 3.0% or less, 2.0% or less, 1.5% or less, or even 1.0% or less. The sound transmission characteristics decrease rate of the waterproof sound-transmitting member can be evaluated according to the above method for evaluating the sound transmission characteristics decrease rate of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane, except that the object to be measured for insertion loss is changed from the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane to the waterproof sound-transmitting member.

[0073] The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be supplied, for example, in a state of being placed on a sheet-shaped base film, or in a state of being placed on a band-shaped base film and wound on a roll or a reel. The fixing portion 7A or the fixing portion 7B can be used for placing the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 onto the base film. A peeling layer that allows the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 to be easily peeled from the base film may be formed on the surface, of the base film, on which the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is placed. As the base film, for example, a polymer film, paper, a metal film, and composite films thereof can be used. FIG. 6 shows an example of a state where the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is placed on the base film. In the example shown in FIG. 6, the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is placed on a base film 11 with the fixing portion 7A interposed therebetween. In addition, the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 shown in FIG. 6 includes, on the fixing portion 7B, a separator 12 for protecting the fixing portion 7B and the non-joining region 4. When the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is used, the separator 12 is peeled off.

[0074] The application of the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is not limited. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be used for applications requiring both sound transmission and waterproofness, for example, a waterproof sound-transmitting structure, an article having a waterproof sound-transmitting structure, etc. The waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is typically used for an electronic device having an audio function.

[0075] FIG. 7 shows an example of an electronic device for which the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is used. The electronic device shown in FIG. 7 is a smartphone 20. Sound converters that perform conversion between an electric signal and sound are placed inside a housing 22 of the smartphone 20. The sound converters are, for example, a speaker and a microphone. The housing 22 is provided with an opening 23 and an opening 24 that are external sound-transmitting ports.

[0076] In the smartphone 20, a first waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is fixed to an inner wall surface of the housing 22 so as to cover the opening 23. In addition, a second waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is fixed to the inner wall surface of the housing 22 so as to cover the opening 24. In each waterproof sound-transmitting member 1, the surface at the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 side faces the outside through the opening 23 or 24. In addition, the non-joining region 4 of each waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 overlaps the opening 23 or the opening 24 when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2.

[0077] Each of the first and second waterproof sound-transmitting members 1 is fixed to the sound converter housed in the housing (not shown). In each waterproof sound-transmitting member 1, the surface of the support layer 3 side is in contact with the sound converter. In addition, the non-joining region 4 of each waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 and an internal sound-transmitting port of the sound converter to which each waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 is fixed overlap each other when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2.

[0078] The sound converters (sound conversion parts) are, for example, a speaker and a microphone. Each sound converter may be a microphone.

[0079] The electronic device for which the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can be used is not limited to the smartphone 20. Examples of the electronic device include: wearable devices such as a smart watch and a wristband; various cameras including an action camera and a security camera; communication devices such as a mobile phone and a smartphone; virtual reality (VR) devices; augmented reality (AR) devices; and sensor devices.

[0080] In the case where the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 has air permeability in the thickness direction thereof, the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 can also be used as a waterproof air-permeable member. In this case, the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane 2 serves as a waterproof air-permeable membrane that prevents entry of water while permitting gas to pass therethrough. The waterproof air-permeable member can be attached to the housing such that the waterproof air-permeable member covers an opening (ventilation port) connecting the inside and the outside of the housing and the waterproof air-permeable membrane side of the waterproof air-permeable member faces the outside (external space). The waterproof air-permeable member including the waterproof air-permeable membrane can prevent entry of water into the housing through the opening in the electronic device while allowing ventilation between the inside and the outside of the housing through the opening. The electronic device does not have to have a sound conversion part. In addition, when water pressure is applied to the opening of the electronic device to which the waterproof air-permeable member is attached, the waterproof air-permeable membrane becomes deformed in the direction to the support layer 3 (direction from the outside to the inside of the housing) in the non-joining region 4. However, in the waterproof air-permeable member, deformation of the waterproof air-permeable membrane is limited in a certain range by contact between the deformed waterproof air-permeable membrane and the support layer 3, so that breaking of the waterproof air-permeable membrane is prevented. Therefore, since the support layer 3 is included, the waterproof air-permeable member can have waterproofness (for example, limit water entry pressure) higher than the waterproofness of the waterproof air-permeable membrane.

[0081] The permanent deformation that remains in the waterproof air-permeable membrane even after being released from the water pressure decreases the air-permeability characteristics of the waterproof air-permeable member, and, for example, variation in air permeability occurs, or deviation from the air-permeability characteristics designed for the waterproof air-permeable member occurs. The support layer 3 can reduce the permanent deformation by limiting deformation of the waterproof air-permeable membrane. For example, in the case where the electronic device is a sensor device such as a pressure sensor, variation in air permeability and deviation from the designed air-permeability characteristics may adversely affect the performance of the device.

[0082] Furthermore, when the thickness of the support layer 3 in the non-joining region 4 is less than 100 µm, the responsiveness of air permeation of the waterproof air-permeable member can be improved. The improved responsiveness of air permeation is particularly advantageous when the electronic device is a sensor device such as a pressure sensor.

[0083] The waterproof member of the present invention that is a waterproof air-permeable member can have the same configuration as the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1 as long as the waterproof membrane has air permeability in the thickness direction thereof. As the waterproof air-permeable membrane included in the waterproof air-permeable member, a membrane having air permeability in the thickness direction thereof can be selected from among the waterproof sound-transmitting membranes 2 described above. In addition, the waterproof member of the present invention that is a waterproof air-permeable member can have the same characteristics as the waterproof sound-transmitting member 1.

[0084] In the waterproof member of the present invention that is a waterproof air-permeable member, deviation of the air-permeability characteristics due to water pressure can be inhibited. The degree of change in air-permeability characteristics before and after the water pressure retention test (water pressure: 500 kPa, water pressure application time: 10 minutes) is, for example, 5% or less, and can be 4% or less, 3% or less, 2% or less, or even 1% or less. The degree of change in air-permeability characteristics of the waterproof air-permeable member can be determined by the formula: | (AP2 - AP1) | / AP1 × 100 (%), where the air permeability of the waterproof air-permeable member (air permeability in the direction of permeation through the waterproof air-permeable membrane and the support layer 3) before the water pressure retention test is AP1 and the air permeability of the waterproof air-permeable member after the water pressure retention test is AP2. In addition, the air permeability of the waterproof air-permeable member can be obtained as an air resistance (unit: seconds/100 mL) according to the Oken type testing machine method specified in JIS P8117: 2009. The recommended test piece size in the Oken type testing machine method is 50 mm × 50 mm. Even when the size of a waterproof air-permeable member to be evaluated does not satisfy the recommended size, evaluation of air resistance according to the Oken type testing machine method is possible by using a measurement jig.

[0085] The measurement jig has a shape and a size that allow the measurement jig to be placed on an air permeability measuring portion of the Oken type testing machine, and the thickness and the material of the measurement jig are a thickness and a material that do not change by a differential pressure applied to a test piece upon measurement of air resistance. An example of the measurement jig is a polycarbonate disc having a thickness of 2 mm and a diameter of 47 mm. A through hole having an opening with a smaller size than a waterproof air-permeable member to be evaluated is provided at the center in a surface of the measurement jig. The through hole typically has a circular cross-section and has a diameter that allows the opening of the through hole to be fully covered with the waterproof air-permeable member to be evaluated. As the diameter of the through hole, for example, 1 mm or 2 mm can be adopted. Next, the waterproof air-permeable member to be evaluated is fixed to one surface of the measurement jig so as to cover the opening. The fixation is performed such that, during measurement of air resistance, air passes through only the non-joining region 4, and the fixed portion does not hinder passing of air in the non-joining region 4. The waterproof air-permeable membrane may face the measurement jig side, or the support layer 3 may face the measurement jig side. For fixing the waterproof air-permeable member, a double-faced adhesive tape having a ventilation port punched in a center portion thereof with a shape that matches the shape of the opening can be used. The double-faced adhesive tape can be placed between the measurement jig and the waterproof air-permeable member such that the circumference of the ventilation port and the circumference of the opening coincide with each other. Next, the measurement jig having the waterproof air-permeable member fixed thereto is set on the air permeability measuring portion of the Oken type testing machine such that the fixed surface of the member is at the downstream side of airflow during measurement, a test by the Oken type testing machine method is conducted, and an air resistance indication value t2 indicated by the testing machine is recorded. Next, the recorded air resistance indication value t2 is converted into a value tK per effective test area of 6.452 [cm2] specified in the Oken type testing machine method, by the equation tK = {t2 × (area of non-joining region 4 [cm2]) / 6.452 [cm2]}, and the obtained conversion value tK can be regarded as the air resistance of the waterproof air-permeable member measured according to the Oken type testing machine method.

[0086] Examples of the electronic device for which the waterproof member of the present invention that is a waterproof air-permeable member can be used include sensor devices such as a pressure sensor, a flow rate sensor, and a gas concentration sensor (O2 sensor, etc.). However, the electronic device is not limited to the above examples.

[0087] As described above, the waterproof member of the present invention may be a waterproof sound-transmitting member including a waterproof sound-transmitting membrane configured to prevent entry of water while permitting sound to pass therethrough, and a support layer having air permeability in a thickness direction thereof, wherein
the member has

a joining region where the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane and the support layer are joined, and

a non-joining region where the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane and the support layer are spaced apart from each other,

the non-joining region is surrounded by the joining region when viewed in a direction perpendicular to a main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane, and
a thickness of the support layer in the non-joining region is less than 100 µm.

[0088] Moreover, the waterproof member of the present invention may be a waterproof air-permeable member including a waterproof air-permeable membrane configured to prevent entry of water while permitting gas to pass therethrough, and a support layer having air permeability in a thickness direction thereof, wherein
the member has

a joining region where the waterproof air-permeable membrane and the support layer are joined, and

a non-joining region where the waterproof air-permeable membrane and the support layer are spaced apart from each other,

the non-joining region is surrounded by the joining region when viewed in a direction perpendicular to a main surface of the waterproof air-permeable membrane, and
a thickness of the support layer in the non-joining region is less than 100 µm.

EXAMPLES



[0089] Hereinafter, the present invention will be described more specifically by way of Examples. The present invention is not limited to the following Examples. In the following Examples, for convenience, membranes that can be used as air-permeable membranes are also referred to as sound-transmitting membranes.

(Preparation of Waterproof Sound-Transmitting Membrane)



[0090] The following sound-transmitting membranes A to C were prepared as waterproof sound-transmitting membranes.

[Sound-Transmitting Membrane A]



[0091] 1 part by mass of a fluorine-based surfactant (MEGAFAC F-142D, manufactured by DIC) per 100 parts by mass of PTFE was added to a PTFE dispersion that is a dispersion liquid of PTFE particles (concentration of PTFE particles: 40% by mass, average particle diameter of PTFE particles: 0.2 µm, containing 6 parts by mass of a nonionic surfactant per 100 parts by mass of PTFE). Next, a coating membrane (thickness: 20 µm) of the above PTFE dispersion containing the fluorine-based surfactant was formed on the surface of a band-shaped polyimide substrate (thickness: 125 µm). The coating membrane was formed by immersing the polyimide substrate in the PTFE dispersion and then pulling up the polyimide substrate. Next, the entirety of the substrate and the coating membrane was heated to form a cast PTFE membrane. The heating was performed in two stages, first heating (100°C, 1 minute) and subsequent second heating (390°C, 1 minute). The first heating promoted removal of the dispersion medium contained in the coating membrane, and the second heating promoted the formation of the cast membrane based on binding of the PTFE particles contained in the coating membrane. The above immersion and subsequent heating were repeated further twice, and the formed PTFE cast membrane (thickness: 25 µm) was then peeled from the polyimide substrate.

[0092] Next, the peeled cast membrane was rolled in an MD direction (longitudinal direction) and further stretched in a TD direction (width direction). The rolling in the MD direction was performed by roll rolling. The rolling ratio (area ratio) was set to 2.0 times, and the temperature (roll temperature) was set to 170°C. The stretching in the TD direction was performed with a tenter stretching machine. The stretch ratio in the TD direction was set to 2.0 times, and the temperature (temperature of stretching atmosphere) was set to 300°C. Thus, the sound-transmitting membrane A which is a microporous PTFE membrane was obtained.

[0093] The thickness of the obtained sound-transmitting membrane A was 10 µm, the surface density thereof was 14.5 g/m2, the porosity thereof was 30%, the air permeability in the thickness direction thereof was 100 seconds/100 mL as represented by a Gurley air permeability, and the water entry pressure (limit water entry pressure) thereof was 1600 kPa.

[Sound-Transmitting Membrane B]



[0094] 100 parts by mass of PTFE fine powder (F104, manufactured by Daikin Industries, Ltd.) and 20 parts by mass of n-dodecane (manufactured by JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation) as a molding aid were uniformly mixed. Next, the obtained mixture was compressed using a cylinder, then formed into a sheet by ram extrusion, and further rolled by roll rolling. Next, the obtained sheet (thickness: 0.2 mm) was heated at 150°C to remove the molding aid by drying to obtain a PTFE sheet molded body.

[0095] Next, the obtained sheet molded body was stretched in the MD direction (rolling direction) at a stretching temperature of 260°C and a stretch ratio of 10 times, and then stretched in the TD direction (width direction) at a stretching temperature of 150°C and a stretch ratio of 15 times. Then, the entire sheet molded body was sintered at 360°C, which is higher than the melting point of PTFE (327°C), to obtain the sound-transmitting membrane B which is a PTFE porous membrane.

[0096] The thickness of the obtained sound-transmitting membrane B was 4 µm, the surface density thereof was 5.0 g/m2, the porosity thereof was 90%, the air permeability in the thickness direction thereof was 0.9 seconds/100 mL as represented by a Gurley air permeability, and the water entry pressure (limit water entry pressure) thereof was 100 kPa.

[Sound-Transmitting Membrane C]



[0097] A non-porous PET film (LUMIRROR # 5AF53, manufactured by Toray Industries, Inc.) was prepared as the sound-transmitting membrane C. The thickness of the sound-transmitting membrane C was 4 µm, the surface density thereof was 5.5 g/m2, the air permeability in the thickness direction thereof was 10,000 seconds/100 mL or more as presented as a Gurley air permeability, and the water entry pressure (limit water entry pressure) thereof was 650 kPa.

(Preparation of Support Layer)



[0098] In the present example, 12 types of waterproof sound-transmitting members (samples 1 to 12) were produced. For the respective samples, the following support layers were prepared.

1. Mesh


(1) Resin mesh having PET skeleton


Samples 1 and 12



[0099] #420 (thickness: 60 µm, surface density: 39.7 g/m2, air permeability: 500 cm3/(cm2·sec) or more, wire diameter: 33 µm, space ratio: 21%, opening: 27 µm), manufactured by NBC Meshtec Inc.

(2) Wire mesh having stainless skeleton


Sample 2



[0100] MS-250 (thickness: 62 µm, surface density: 109.3 g/m2, air permeability: 500 cm3/(cm2·sec) or more, wire diameter: 30 µm, space ratio: 50%, opening: 72 µm), manufactured by ASADA MESH CO., LTD.

Sample 3



[0101] SHS-380 (thickness: 33 µm, surface density: 37.2 g/m2, air permeability: 500 cm3/(cm2·sec) or more, wire diameter: 14 µm, space ratio: 62%, opening: 53 µm), manufactured by ASADA MESH CO., LTD.

Sample 4



[0102] BS-400 (thickness: 55 µm, surface density: 117.6 g/m2, air permeability: 370 cm3/(cm2·sec), wire diameter: 23 µm, space ratio: 41%, opening: 41 µm), manufactured by ASADA MESH CO., LTD.

Sample 5



[0103] MS-640 (thickness: 35 µm, surface density: 78.2 g/m2, air permeability: 260 cm3/(cm2·sec), wire diameter: 15 µm, space ratio: 39%, opening: 25 µm), manufactured by ASADA MESH CO., LTD.

Sample 6



[0104] MS-730 (thickness: 28 µm, surface density: 63.3 g/m2, air permeability: 260 cm3/(cm2·sec), wire diameter: 13 µm, space ratio: 40%, opening: 22 µm), manufactured by ASADA MESH CO., LTD.

Sample 7 (Comparative Example)



[0105] #100 (thickness: 200 µm, surface density: 480.0 g/m2, air permeability: 500 cm3/(cm2·sec) or more, wire diameter: 80 µm, space ratio: 50%, opening: 175 µm), available from Eggs (TAIHO TRADING)

2. Through-Hole Sheet


Sample 8



[0106] A through-hole sheet used for the support layer of sample 8 was prepared as follows.

[0107] A commercially available non-porous PET sheet (Track Etched Membrane, thickness: 45 µm, manufactured by it4ip) having a plurality of through holes formed so as to penetrate the sheet in the thickness direction was prepared. The through holes of the sheet had a diameter of 3.0 µm, and the pore density of the sheet was 2.0 × 106 holes/cm2. Next, the prepared PET sheet was immersed for 30 minutes in an etching treatment solution (aqueous solution having a potassium hydroxide concentration of 20% by mass) kept at 80°C. After the end of etching, the sheet was taken out from the treatment solution, immersed in RO water (reverse osmosis membrane filtered water) for cleaning, and then dried in a drying oven at 50°C to obtain a non-porous resin sheet having a plurality of through holes formed so as to penetrate the sheet in the thickness direction. The through hole diameter of the obtained resin sheet was 5.9 µm, and the area of a cross-section perpendicular to a direction along the central axis of each through hole was constant in the thickness direction of the sheet. The pore density was the same before and after the etching. Next, the produced sheet was dipped in a liquid repellent treatment solution for 3 seconds and left to dry at room temperature for 30 minutes to form a liquid repellent layer on the surface of the sheet and the inner peripheral surfaces of the through holes, thereby obtaining a through-hole sheet. A solution (liquid repellent agent concentration: 1.0% by mass) obtained by diluting a liquid repellent agent (X-70-029C, manufactured by Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd.) with a diluent (FS thinner, manufactured by Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd.) was used as the liquid repellent treatment solution.

[0108] The thickness of the obtained through-hole sheet was 45 µm, the surface density thereof was 27.7 g/m2, the porosity thereof was 40%, the air permeability thereof was 15.5 cm3/(cm2·sec), and the through hole diameter thereof was 5.9 µm. The shape of a cross-section of each through hole in the sheet was uniform from one main surface of the sheet to the other main surface of the sheet.

3. Nonwoven Fabric


Sample 9



[0109] HOP15 (material: polyethylene, thickness: 63 µm, surface density: 15.2 g/cm2, air permeability: 500 cm3/(cm2·sec) or more), manufactured by Hirose Paper Mfg Co., Ltd.

Sample 10 (Comparative Example)



[0110] HOP60HCF (material: polyethylene, thickness: 170 µm, surface density: 60.0 g/cm2, air permeability: 46.0 cm3/(cm2·sec) or more), manufactured by Hirose Paper Mfg Co., Ltd.

4. Resin net having polypropylene skeleton


Sample 11 (Comparative Example)



[0111] Conwed Net X06065 (thickness: 350 µm, surface density: 105.0 g/m2, air permeability: 500 cm3/(cm2·sec) or more, wire diameter: 200 µm, space ratio: 50%, opening: 660 µm), available from SAN-AI OIL CO., LTD.

(Production of Waterproof Sound-Transmitting Member)



[0112] Samples 1 to 12 were produced as follows using the prepared waterproof sound-transmitting membranes and support layers. The sound-transmitting membrane A was used for samples 1 to 11, and the sound-transmitting membrane B was used for sample 12.

[0113] The prepared waterproof sound-transmitting membranes and support layers were each cut into a circle having a diameter of 5.8 mm. Separately from this, a double-faced adhesive tape A (a ring shape with an outer diameter of 5.8 mm and an inner diameter of 1.5 mm, thickness: 50 µm, No. 5605 manufactured by Nitto Denko Corporation) and a double-faced adhesive tape B (a ring shape with an outer diameter of 5.8 mm and an inner diameter of 1.5 mm, thickness: 50 µm, No. 5605 manufactured by Nitto Denko Corporation) were prepared.

[0114] Next, the double-faced adhesive tape A was attached to one main surface of each waterproof sound-transmitting membrane, and the double-faced adhesive tape B was attached to the other main surface of each waterproof sound-transmitting membrane. The double-faced adhesive tapes A and B were attached to each waterproof sound-transmitting membrane such that the outer circumferences of the tapes and the circumference of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane coincided with each other. Next, the double-faced adhesive tape A on the one main surface and the support layer were attached together such that the double-faced adhesive tape A was interposed between the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane and the support layer. The support layer was attached such that the outer circumference of the double-faced adhesive tape A and the circumference of the support layer coincided with each other. Next, a further double-faced adhesive tape A was attached to the exposed surface of the support layer. The further double-faced adhesive tape A was attached to the support layer such that the outer circumference of the tape and the circumference of the support layer coincided with each other. Thus, samples 1 to 12 were produced, which are each a waterproof sound-transmitting member in which the area of the non-joining region is 1.8 mm2, and the spacing distance between the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane and the support layer in the non-joining region is 50 µm, and which has a fixing portion composed of a double-faced adhesive tape, on each main surface. In each sample, the proportion of the area of the non-joining region to the sum of the area of the joining region and the area of the non-joining region when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane was 7%.

[0115] Next, methods for evaluating the waterproof sound-transmitting membranes and the support layers used for producing samples 1 to 12, and methods for evaluating produced samples 1 to 12 will be described.

[Thickness]



[0116] The thicknesses of the waterproof sound-transmitting membranes and the support layers were measured with a dial gauge.

[Surface Density]



[0117] The surface densities of the waterproof sound-transmitting membranes and the support layers were each obtained by measuring the mass of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane or support layer punched out in a circle having a diameter of 48 mm and converting the measured mass into a mass per 1 m2 of the main surface area.

[Porosity]



[0118] The porosities of the sound-transmitting membranes were obtained by the above-described method.

[Air Permeability]



[0119] The air permeability in the thickness direction of each waterproof sound-transmitting membrane was obtained as a Gurley air permeability according to Method B (Gurley method) of air permeability measurement specified in JIS L1096. The air permeability in the thickness direction of each support layer having higher air permeability than the waterproof sound-transmitting membranes was obtained according to Method A (Frazier method) of air permeability measurement specified in JIS L1096.

[Water Entry Pressure]



[0120] The water entry pressure (limit water entry pressure) of each waterproof sound-transmitting membrane was measured according to Method A (low water pressure method) or Method B (high water pressure method) of the water resistance test in JIS L1092 using the above-described measurement jig.

[Water Pressure Retention Test]



[0121] A water pressure retention test for the waterproof sound-transmitting membranes and samples 1 to 12 was performed by the above-described method. The conditions for the test were selected from the following a to c in accordance with the water entry pressure (limit water entry pressure) of each waterproof sound-transmitting membrane. Specifically, for the sound-transmitting membranes A and C having a water entry pressure of 650 kPa or more and samples 1 to 11 including the sound-transmitting membrane A, the water pressure retention test was performed under Condition a and Condition b. For the sound-transmitting membrane B having a water entry pressure of 100 kPa and sample 12 including the sound-transmitting membrane B, the water pressure retention test was performed under Condition c and Condition b. In the test, the case where water leakage occurred at the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane was determined as bad (×), and the case where no water leakage occurred at the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane was determined as good (○).

Condition a: the water pressure was 500 kPa, and the water pressure application time was 10 minutes.

Condition b: the water pressure was 700 kPa, the water pressure application time was 30 minutes, and the test was repeated 30 times with the interval between each test being set as 1 minute.

Condition c: the water pressure was 60 kPa, and the water pressure application time was 10 minutes.


[Insertion Loss]



[0122] Insertion losses (insertion loss at 200 Hz and insertion loss at 1 kHz) of the waterproof sound-transmitting membranes and samples 1 to 12 were measured before and after the water pressure retention test was performed. For samples 1 to 11 and the sound-transmitting membranes A and C, insertion losses before and after the water pressure retention test under Condition a were measured. For sample 12 and the sound-transmitting membrane B, insertion losses before and after the water pressure retention test under Condition c were measured. The insertion losses were measured by the following method using a dummy housing simulating a housing of a mobile phone.

[0123] As shown in (a) and (b) of FIG. 8, a speaker unit 65 to be housed in the dummy housing was produced. Specifically, the speaker unit 65 was produced as follows. A speaker 61 (SCC-16A, manufactured by STAR MICRONICS CO., LTD.), which is a sound source, and fillers 63A, 63B, and 63C composed of a urethane sponge and used for housing the speaker 61 and preventing unnecessary diffusion of sound from the speaker (preventing, as much as possible, generation of sound to be inputted into a microphone for evaluation without passing through a waterproof sound-transmitting membrane or waterproof sound-transmitting member sample to be evaluated), were prepared. A sound-transmitting port 64 having a circular cross-section with a diameter of 5 mm is provided in the filler 63A in the thickness direction thereof. A cut having a shape corresponding to the shape of the speaker 61 and a cut used for housing a speaker cable 62 and guiding the speaker cable 62 to the outside of the speaker unit 65 are provided in the filler 63B. Next, the fillers 63C and 63B were overlaid on each other, and the speaker 61 and the speaker cable 62 were housed in the cuts of the filler 63B. Next, the filler 63A was overlaid such that sound is transmitted from the speaker 61 through the sound-transmitting port 64 to the outside of the speaker unit 65, to obtain the speaker unit 65 ((b) of FIG. 8).

[0124] Next, as shown in (c) of FIG. 8, the produced speaker unit 65 was housed inside a dummy housing 51 (made of polystyrene, outer shape: 60 mm × 50 mm × 28 mm) simulating a housing of a mobile phone. Specifically, the speaker unit 65 was housed as follows. The prepared dummy housing 51 includes two portions 51A and 51B, and the portions 51A and 51B can be fitted to each other. A sound-transmitting port 52 (having a circular cross-section with an inner diameter of 1 mm) through which sound emitted from the speaker unit 65 housed inside is transmitted to the outside of the dummy housing 51 and a guide hole 53 for guiding the speaker cable 62 to the outside of the dummy housing 51 are provided in the portion 51A. By fitting the portions 51A and 51B to each other, a space having no opening other than the sound-transmitting port 52 and the guide hole 53 was formed inside the dummy housing 51. The produced speaker unit 65 was placed on the portion 51B, and the portion 51A and the portion 51B were then fitted to each other, thereby housing the speaker unit 65 inside the dummy housing 51. At this time, the sound-transmitting port 64 of the speaker unit 65 and the sound-transmitting port 52 of the portion 51A were overlapped such that sound is transmitted from the speaker 61 through both sound-transmitting ports 64 and 52 to the outside of the dummy housing 51. The speaker cable 62 was drawn from the guide hole 53 to the outside of the dummy housing 51, and the guide hole 53 was closed with putty.

[0125] Next, as shown in (d) of FIG. 8, each sample 83 (area of non-joining region: 1.8 mm2) before or after the water pressure retention test was fixed to the sound-transmitting port 52 of the dummy housing 51 by the fixing portion (double-faced adhesive tape A) at the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane side of the sample. The sample 83 was fixed such that the entirety of the non-joining region of the sample 83 was located in the opening of the sound-transmitting port 52 when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane.

[0126] Next, as shown in (e) of FIG. 8, a microphone 71 (SPU0410LR5H, manufactured by Knowles Acoustics) was fixed to the support layer side of the sample 83 so as to cover the non-joining region of the sample 83. The microphone 71 was fixed by the fixing portion (further double-faced adhesive tape A) at the support layer side of the sample 83. The distance between the speaker 61 and the microphone 71 when the microphone 71 is fixed varies by several hundred micrometers depending on the thickness of the waterproof sound-transmitting member sample to be evaluated, but was within the range of 23 to 24 mm. Next, the speaker 61 and the microphone 71 were connected to an acoustic evaluation apparatus (Multi-analyzer System 3560-B-030, manufactured by Brueel & Kjaer Sound & Vibration Measurement A/S), a solid state response (SSR) mode (test signal: 20 Hz to 20 kHz, sweep up) was selected and executed as an evaluation method, and the insertion loss of the sample 83 was evaluated. The insertion loss was automatically determined from a test signal inputted from the acoustic evaluation apparatus to the speaker 61 and a signal received by the microphone 71. Prior to evaluating the insertion loss of the sample 83, a value (blank value) of insertion loss when the sample 83 was removed had been determined in advance. The blank value was -24 dB at a frequency of 1 kHz. The insertion loss of the sample 83 is a value obtained by subtracting the blank value from a value measured by the acoustic evaluation apparatus. As the value of insertion loss is lower, sound outputted from the speaker 61 is maintained at a higher level (sound volume).

[0127] The insertion loss of each waterproof sound-transmitting membrane was measured as follows. The waterproof sound-transmitting membrane, before or after the water pressure retention test, to be evaluated was cut out into a circle having a diameter of 5.8 mm. The double-faced adhesive tape A was attached to each main surface of the cut-out waterproof sound-transmitting membrane. Each tape A was attached to the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane such that the outer circumference of the tape and the circumference of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane coincided with each other. Next, the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane was fixed to the sound-transmitting port 52 of the dummy housing 51 by one of the tapes A. The waterproof sound-transmitting membrane was fixed such that the entirety of the sound-transmission region (circular region with a diameter of 1.5 mm corresponding to the opening of the double-faced adhesive tape A) was located in the opening of the sound-transmitting port 52 when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the membrane. Next, the microphone 71 was fixed so as to cover the sound-transmission region of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane, and the insertion loss of the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane was measured by the above-described method. The microphone 71 was fixed to the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane by the other tape A.

[Sound Transmission Characteristics Decrease Rate]



[0128] The sound transmission characteristics decrease rates of the waterproof sound-transmitting membranes and samples 1 to 12 were determined by the equation: sound transmission characteristics decrease rate (%) = (L2 - L1) / L1 × 100 from the insertion loss (insertion loss at 1 kHz) L1 before the water pressure retention test and the insertion loss (insertion loss at 1 kHz) L2 after the water pressure retention test.

[Degree of Change in Air-Permeability Characteristics]



[0129] For each of the sound-transmitting membrane A and samples 1 to 6 including the sound-transmitting membrane A, an air permeability (air permeability in the direction of permeation through the sound-transmitting membrane A or through the sound-transmitting membrane A and the support layer) was measured before and after the water pressure retention test was performed, and the degree of change in air-permeability characteristics of the sample before and after the water pressure retention test was evaluated. The degree of change in air-permeability characteristics was determined by the formula: | (AP2 - AP1) | / AP1 × 100 (%), where the air permeability of each of the sound-transmitting membrane A and the samples before the water pressure retention test was A1 and the air permeability of each of the sound-transmitting membrane A and the samples after the water pressure retention test was A2. The air permeability of each of the sound-transmitting membrane A and the samples was obtained as an air resistance tK with a pressure sensor type air permeability tester (EG02-S, manufactured by Asahi Seiko Co., Ltd.) capable of performing the Oken type testing machine method specified in JIS P8117: 2009, using the above-described measurement jig (a polycarbonate disc having a thickness of 2 mm and a diameter of 47 mm and having a through hole with a diameter of 1 mm). In addition, air permeability measurement after the water pressure retention test was performed after the sound-transmitting membrane or the sample was dried at 60°C for 1 hour after the test.

[0130] Each table below shows the evaluation results for the sound-transmitting membranes A to C and samples 1 to 12.
[Table 1]
Sample No.123456
Sound-transmitting membraneA
Support layerMesh
PET skeletonStainless skeleton
Thickness [µm] 60 62 33 55 35 28
Weight per unit area [g/m2] 39.7 109.3 37.2 117.6 78.2 63.3
Wire diameter [µm] 33 30 14 23 15 13
Space ratio [%] 21 50 62 41 39 40
Opening [µm] 27 72 53 41 25 22
Air permeability (Frazier) [cm3/(cm2/sec)] 500 or more 500 or more 500 or more 370 260 260
Water pressure retention test 500 kPa×10 min
700 kPa×30 min ×30 cycles
Sound transmission characteristics before water pressure retention test 200 Hz 8.8 9.2 7.9 8.8 8.6 7.6
1 kHz 6.2 6.7 6.0 6.7 6.5 5.9
Sound transmission characteristics before water pressure retention test (increment with respect to sound-transmitting membrane alone) 200 Hz 1.4 1.8 0.5 1.4 1.2 0.2
1 kHz 0.8 1.3 0.6 1.3 1.1 0.5
Sound transmission characteristics after water pressure retention test 200 Hz 8.6 8.9 8.0 8.4 8.2 7.8
1 kHz 6.3 6.8 6.3 6.8 6.5 6.1
Sound transmission characteristics decrease rate (1 kHz) [%] 1.0 0.8 4.6 1.7 0.1 3.1
Degree of change in air-permeability characteristics [%] 2 3 1 3 1 3
[Table 2]
Sample No.7 (Com. Example)8910 (Com. Example)11 (Com. Example)12
Sound-transmitting membraneAB
Support layerMesh Stainless skeletonThrough-hole sheetNonwoven fabricNetMesh PET skeleton
Thickness [µm] 200 45 63 170 350 60
Weight per unit area [g/m2] 480 27.7 15.2 60.0 105.0 39.7
Wire diameter [µm] 80 -   - 200 33
Space ratio (porosity) [%] 50 40 -   50 21
Opening [µm] 175 - - - 660 27
Air permeability (Frazier) [cm3/(cm2/sec)] 500 or more 15.5 500 or more 46.0 500 or more 500 or more
Water pressure retention test 500 kPa×10 min -
60 kPa×10 min - - - - -
700kPa×30 min ×30 cycles ×
Sound transmission characteristics before water pressure retention test 200 Hz 22.6 11.3 13.4 19.9 41.1 1.2
1 kHz 12.3 8.5 9.8 11.5 26.5 2.4
Sound transmission characteristics before water pressure retention test (increment with respect to sound-transmitting membrane alone) 200 Hz 15.2 3.9 6.0 12.5 33.7 -0.1
1 kHz 6.9 3.1 4.4 6.1 21.1 -0.1
Sound transmission characteristics after water pressure retention test 200 Hz 24.3 13.6 19.2 21.3 43.9 1.5
1 kHz 13.5 9.0 10.3 12.3 31.5 2.5
Sound transmission characteristics decrease rate (1 kHz) [%] 9.8 5.9 5.1 6.6 18.9 4.2
[Table 3]
(Evaluation of sound-transmitting membrane alone : No support layer)
Sound-transmitting membraneABC
Thickness [µm] 10 4 4
Weight per unit area [g/m2] 14.5 5.0 5.5
Porosity [%] 30 90 0
Air permeability (Gurley) [seconds/100 mL] 100 0.9 10000 or more
Water pressure retention test 500 kPa×10 min -
60kPa×10 min - -
700kPa×30 min ×30 cycles × × ×
Sound transmission characteristics before water pressure retention test 200 Hz 7.4 1.3 5.9
1 kHz 5.4 2.5 5.3
Sound transmission characteristics after water pressure retention test 200 Hz 8.5 1.9 39.1
1 kHz 6.7 3.0 30.0
Sound transmission characteristics decrease rate (1kHz) [%] 24.1 20.0 466.0
Degree of change in air-permeability characteristics [%] 7 - -


[0131] As shown in Tables 1 to 3, in samples 1 to 6, 8, 9, and 12 including a support layer having a thickness less than 100 µm, high sound transmission characteristics (low insertion loss) were achieved. In addition, low values were obtained for not only insertion loss for sound of 1 kHz but also insertion loss for sound of 200 Hz. Furthermore, in samples 1 to 6, 8, 9 and 12, low insertion loss was achieved even though the area of the non-joining region was 1.8 mm2 and very small. Among these samples, particularly low insertion loss was achieved in samples 1 to 6 in which the support layer is a mesh. In addition, in samples 1 to 6, the sound transmission characteristics decrease rate was particularly reduced.

[0132] Moreover, among samples 1 to 6, 8, 9, and 12, in samples 1 to 6, 8, and 9 in which the sound-transmitting membrane A, which is a microporous PTFE membrane, was used as the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane, very high waterproofness was achieved, that is, no water leakage occurred at the waterproof sound-transmitting membrane even when the water pressure retention test was repeated 30 times under the conditions of a water pressure of 700 kPa and a water pressure application time of 30 minutes.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY



[0133] The technology of the present invention can be applied to various electronic devices including: wearable devices such as a smart watch; various cameras; communication devices such as a mobile phone and a smartphone; and sensor devices.

DESCRIPTION OF THE REFERENCE CHARACTERS



[0134] 
1
waterproof sound-transmitting member
2
waterproof sound-transmitting membrane
3
support layer
4
non-joining region
5
joining region
6
joining portion
7A, 7B
fixing portion
8
opening
11
base film
12
separator
20
smartphone
22
housing
23, 24
opening
51
dummy housing
51A, 51B
portion (of dummy housing 51)
52
sound-transmitting port
53
guide hole
61
speaker
62
speaker cable
63A, 63B, 63C
filler
64
sound-transmitting port
65
speaker unit
71
microphone
83
sample



Claims

1. A waterproof member comprising a waterproof membrane configured to prevent entry of water while permitting sound and/or gas to pass therethrough, and a support layer having air permeability in a thickness direction thereof, wherein
the member has

a joining region where the waterproof membrane and the support layer are joined, and

a non-joining region where the waterproof membrane and the support layer are spaced apart from each other,

the non-joining region is surrounded by the joining region when viewed in a direction perpendicular to a main surface of the waterproof membrane, and
a thickness of the support layer in the non-joining region is less than 100 µm.
 
2. The waterproof member according to claim 1, wherein the support layer is a nonwoven fabric, a woven fabric, a net, a mesh, or a through-hole sheet.
 
3. The waterproof member according to claim 1, wherein the support layer is a mesh.
 
4. The waterproof member according to any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein an area of the non-joining region when viewed in the perpendicular direction is 12 mm2 or less.
 
5. The waterproof member according to any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein a proportion of the area of the non-joining region to a sum of an area of the joining region and the area of the non-joining region when viewed in the perpendicular direction is 20% or less.
 
6. The waterproof member according to any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the waterproof membrane includes a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) membrane.
 
7. The waterproof member according to any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein air permeability in a thickness direction of the waterproof membrane is 20 seconds/100 mL or more as represented by a Gurley air permeability.
 
8. The waterproof member according to any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein the waterproof membrane and the support layer are joined by a double-faced adhesive tape in the joining region.
 
9. The waterproof member according to any one of claims 1 to 8, wherein a spacing distance between the waterproof membrane and the support layer in the non-joining region is 200 µm or less.
 
10. The waterproof member according to any one of claims 1 to 9, wherein a fixing portion having a shape surrounding the non-joining region when viewed in the direction perpendicular to the main surface of the waterproof membrane is formed on a surface, of the waterproof membrane, opposite to a surface, of the waterproof membrane, joined to the support layer and/or on a surface, of the support layer, opposite to a surface, of the support layer, joined to the waterproof membrane.
 
11. An electronic device comprising:

a housing having an opening; and

the waterproof member according to any one of claims 1 to 10 attached to the housing so as to close the opening, wherein

the member is attached to the housing such that the waterproof membrane side of the member faces the outside of the housing and the support layer side of the member faces the inside of the housing.


 
12. The electronic device according to claim 11, wherein
a sound conversion part configured to perform conversion between an electric signal and sound is housed in the housing, and
the opening is located between the sound conversion part and the outside of the housing.
 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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Patent documents cited in the description