Patent Application - PROTECTIVE BIB > Description
This application claims priority to U.S. provisional application No. 61/239,610 filed Sep. 3, 2009, which is hereby incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.
This invention is directed to bibs, and more particularly to protective bibs that are contoured to be easily attached to a user while providing a dignified appearance to the user.
Bibs are used by people of different ages and sizes, and are used in a variety of settings, such as in homes, restaurants, hospitals, assisted care facilities, and nursing homes. Regardless of who uses them or where they are used, bibs may help to prevent clothes from being soiled. Bibs exist in a variety of sizes to cover a user anywhere between the user's chin to the user's lap, and below. Some bibs are reusable, being made from cloth or plastic, while others are disposable, being made from inexpensive materials such as a plastic coated paper or thin plastic.
Regardless of the bib's size or the bib's material, most bibs require a securing means for retaining the bib in the desired location on the user. When the bib is positioned on the user, the securing means, e.g., ties, snaps, hook and loop (e.g., Velcro), etc., is normally disposed behind the user's neck and therefore requires the user to reach behind their neck to secure the bib. Though this configuration poses no problems for most people, young children, elderly, and/or disabled individuals who still maintain some degree of independence may find it difficult to reach behind their necks to secure the bib. Further, elderly or disabled adults who resent any intrusion on their independence may refuse to wear a “bib” solely because it is a traditional “bib.”
However, elderly and/or disabled individuals who may require the use of a bib are more cooperative with bibs that appear less like a bib and more akin to a napkin. Therefore, a more dignified “bib” such as one that appears more similar to a napkin worn by a business person at an upscale restaurant is better accepted by an elderly or disabled individual than a cheap, plastic bib such as those commonly worn by infants. In fact, some states now require bibs used in nursing homes have a more “dignified” appearance.
Accordingly, there is a long-felt, unmet need for a bib that can be easily attached to and retained on the user without requiring a securing means that is difficult to secure, while also providing a dignified appearance.
In one aspect, a protective bib comprises a body portion, a neck portion extending from the body portion and defining a minimum neck width, and a head portion extending from the neck portion and defining a maximum head width. The maximum head width is greater than the minimum neck width, such that the protective bib may be easily attached to a user.
In another aspect, a protective bib comprises a front layer and a back layer that is adjacent and attached to the front layer. At least one of the front layer and the back layer define a body portion, a neck portion extending from the body portion, and a head portion extending from the neck portion. The neck portion defines a minimum neck width and the head portion defines a maximum head width. The maximum head width is greater than the minimum neck width, such that the protective bib may be easily attached to a user.
In yet another aspect, a method of manufacturing a protective bib comprises providing a first sheet of material, and shaping the first sheet of material into a first layer having a first body portion, a first neck portion adjacent the first body portion, and a first head portion adjacent the first neck portion, wherein a first maximum width of the first head portion is greater than a first minimum width of the first neck portion.
These and still other aspects will be apparent from the description that follows. In the detailed description, example embodiments are described with reference to the accompanying drawings. These embodiments do not represent the full scope; rather, the invention may be employed in other embodiments. Reference should therefore be made to the claims for interpreting the breadth of the invention.
In the specification and in the claims, the terms “including” and “comprising” are open-ended terms and should be interpreted to mean “including, but not limited to . . . .” These terms encompass the more restrictive terms “consisting essentially of” and “consisting of.” As used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” include plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. As well, the terms “a” (or “an”), “one or more” and “at least one” can be used interchangeably herein. It is also to be noted that the terms “comprising,” “including,” “characterized by” and “having” can be used interchangeably.
Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meanings as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. As used herein, the term “facing surface” refers generally to either side of a piece of material, such as a fabric. As is well known to those of ordinary skill in the art, a piece of fabric has a front and a back. The front and the back of any piece of fabric may have the same or different finishes, which may, for example, be smooth or textured. The terms “front” and “back” refer to the front and back of a sheet of fabric as it is made on the knitting machine, and do not necessarily correspond to a front and back, respectively, of the fabric as it is incorporated in a fabric laminate. Where only one side of the piece of fabric is smooth, and the other is textured, the smooth side is generally referred to as the front (which may or may not be the same as the front of the fabric as it is made on the knitting machine) and the textured side is generally referred to as the back (which may or may not be the same as the back of the fabric as it is made on the knitting machine). In a fabric with a smooth face, the fabric may have a gloss or sheen on that side. In a fabric with a relatively rough or textured back, the fabric may have a dull or “porous” appearance on that side. Where one side of the piece of fabric has a design or pattern therein, or has a bright or colored surface, while the other side is matte, plain, monotone, or uncolored, the former side is generally referred to as the front and the latter as the back.
Several example embodiments of protective bibs will be described with reference to the accompanying figures. In one form, the protective bib encompasses a reusable, absorbent bib that projects a dignified appearance that may be easily attached to a user. A first example embodiment of a protective bib (10) is shown in
The front layer (12) and the back layer (14) are shown to define one example form factor of the protective bib (10) in which both the front layer (12) and the back layer (14) define respective front and back body portions, neck portions, and head portions. The respective front and back body portions, neck portions, and head portions are aligned and overlapped to form the two-layer protective bib (10) and are attached, for instance, by one or more threads (not shown) sewn about a perimeter (24) of the protective bib (10). In one form, an edge member (26) (e.g., bias tape) is wrapped over the front layer (12) and the back layer (14) about the perimeter (24) to provide a secure, finished appearance. Alternatively, the front layer (12) and the back layer (14) may be glued together, affixed by hooks and loops (e.g., Velcro), snaps, buttons, and the like, as will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill when given the benefit of this disclosure.
As shown best in
The body portion (16) of the protective bib (10), as generally viewed from the front (shown in
The shape of the head portion (20) may also be configured to help secure or attach the protective bib (10) between a user and a user's clothing. For example, the head portion (20) is configured to provide additional material bulk, surface area, wedging-action, deformation, friction, and/or general interference between the user's clothing, the user, and the protective bib (10) to inhibit the protective bib (10) from being easily removed (e.g., by gravity or inadvertent pulling). The head portion (20) may become partially captured between the user and the user's clothing to inhibit unwanted removal of the protective bib (10) from the user. For instance, in some circumstances, the larger maximum width of the head portion (20) (as compared to the minimum width of the neck portion (18)) results in the head portion (20) being deformed generally inward from the larger width toward the smaller width as a user (or another) attempts to pull the protective bib (10) generally downward or outward (or gravity urges the protective bib (10) downward) when the protective bib (10) is secured to the user. This deformation of the head portion (20) further inhibits undesired removal of the protective bib (10). As shown in the first example protective bib (10), the head portion (20) is substantially in the form of an inverted triangle with the apex pointing down (as viewed in
In the first example embodiment shown in
With continued reference to the first example embodiment shown in
In one alternative embodiment, while not shown, the protective bib may comprise a single layer that includes more than one material type secured together at an adjacent seam, such as abutting or overlapping (e.g., one-half inch) a bottom edge of a polyester material to a top edge of an absorbent material to define a body portion. In addition, the material(s) may be folded over upon itself one or more times to provide additional material at the seam. In this manner, the polyester material provides the quick drying, dignified appearance of a napkin (from, for example, the user's chin to mid-chest area) while the absorbent material (e.g., cotton) provides an absorbent surface (for, for instance, the user's lower chest and lap). As the lower portion of the body portion will typically be hidden by a table, it will not lessen the dignified appearance of the protective bib. Furthermore, having an absorbent material accessible from the front provides an absorbable surface for wiping a user's hands or mouth, and for absorbing any spillage that may dribble downward from the polyester material.
The protective bib may be sized and configured to protect adults and children of all shapes and sizes. In one form, the protective bib ranges from approximately twenty-four inches to forty-eight inches in length so as to protect an individual user from approximately his or her chin to his or her lap. In other forms, the protective bib may range from approximately fifteen inches to thirty inches in width for similar reasons. The protective bib may be of any desired thickness, and of any color or combination of colors. In one form, the protective bib (10) has an overall length (i.e., top to bottom, as best illustrated in
Another example protective bib (310) is illustrated in
Another example protective bib (410) is illustrated in
While the protective bibs have been described as either comprising a single layer with multiple materials or as a multi-layer, overlapping laminate, the protective bib may alternatively be formed of a single, continuous layer or from three or more layers. In a single-layer embodiment, the single layer may be of a uniform material type, or a second type of material may be attached (as discussed above). Turning to
Another alternative protective bib (610) is illustrated in
In general, the protective bibs incorporating multiple layers are prepared by securing the layers at least partially over each other and then joining together the overlapping edges, such as by sewing in some forms. Assembly of the layers and pieces of the protective bibs may be done as a manual operation, or assembly on a batch basis can be automated, with machines arranging the layers in sequence and placing the inserted pieces in position as required.
With continued reference to
When the protective bib comprises two or more layers or sheets (i.e., either fully overlapping, slightly overlapping, abutting, and the like) the other layers or sheets are manufactured similar to the above with the additional portions being shaped from additional sheets of material. For instance, as shown in
As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, with the protective bib worn with its front layer of polyester facing out, spillage can be absorbed, but the quick drying properties of the back layer reduce possible penetration to the clothing being worn by the user. In use, the protective bib is secured to or engaged with a user by folding the head portion (e.g., the T-shaped protrusion) of the protective bib around the user's clothing (e.g., collar) near the user's neck. With the front layer facing out, and the back layer facing in, the user appears to be wearing a napkin tucked under their chin, and not a bib secured around their neck. In this manner, a more dignified appearance is projected while continuing to protect the user's clothes.
In one form, the disclosed protective bib design both absorbs moisture and dries quickly. Such characteristics minimize the tendency for spillage to flow off the protective bib onto clothing. By quickly drying, the protective bib can be reused throughout the day, enabling it to be simply washed (if necessary) before being used again. The protective bib of the present invention may be configured in multiple sizes to accommodate individuals of all heights and weights, as well as to accommodate individuals in wheel chairs or those who may be bed-ridden.
The protective bib in accordance with the description has many advantages and benefits. For instance, the contoured head portion of the protective bib easily attaches at a user's neck (such as by being folded around the user's collar) without the need for additional support or securing around the user's neck. In this manner, the protective bib appears more akin to a napkin than a bib, lending a more dignified appearance to the user. Further, where employed, the combination of materials of the protective bib are both decorative and highly absorbent. For instance, having a first, napkin-like material protecting the upper chest attached to a second, absorbent material protecting the lower chest and upper lap area of the user provides the user an efficient design to protect the user's clothes as well as allow wiping the user's hands, if necessary. Further still, the protective bib in some forms has certain economical efficiencies since it can be washed and reused, or manufactured from inexpensive plastics, thus substantially reducing the costs associated with of the protective bib.
It should be noted that the above description and accompanying figures are intended to be illustrative and not limiting. Many themes and variations of the example embodiments will be suggested to one skilled in the art in light of the disclosure. All such themes and variations are within the contemplation of the claims. For instance, while this invention has been described in conjunction with the various exemplary embodiments outlined above, various alternatives, modifications, variations, improvements, and/or substantial equivalents, whether known or that are, or may be presently unforeseen, may become apparent to those having at least ordinary skill in the art. Various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Therefore, the invention is intended to embrace all known or later-developed alternatives, modifications, variations, improvements, and/or substantial equivalents of these exemplary embodiments.