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Numéro de publicationUS20050267614 A1
Type de publicationDemande
Numéro de demandeUS 11/071,919
Date de publication1 déc. 2005
Date de dépôt4 mars 2005
Date de priorité5 mars 2004
Autre référence de publicationEP1721271A1, EP1721273A1, EP1721274A1, EP1721275A1, EP1721276A2, US7634394, US20050264562, US20050264563, US20050267613, US20050267615, WO2005088484A1, WO2005088486A1, WO2005088487A1, WO2005088488A1, WO2005088582A2, WO2005088582A3
Numéro de publication071919, 11071919, US 2005/0267614 A1, US 2005/267614 A1, US 20050267614 A1, US 20050267614A1, US 2005267614 A1, US 2005267614A1, US-A1-20050267614, US-A1-2005267614, US2005/0267614A1, US2005/267614A1, US20050267614 A1, US20050267614A1, US2005267614 A1, US2005267614A1
InventeursMichael Looney, Bruce Lavash, Matthew Macura, Noble Rye
Cessionnaire d'origineLooney Michael T, Lavash Bruce W, Macura Matthew J, Rye Noble L Ii
Exporter la citationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Liens externes: USPTO, Cession USPTO, Espacenet
System and method of virtual modeling of thin materials
US 20050267614 A1
Résumé
A virtual model capable of simulating physical deformation of at least a portion of a product to be worn on a body. The portion comprises a thin, flexible material, wherein the model comprises a first zone of compression defining two major surfaces, wherein at least one of said major surfaces further comprises a zone of bending.
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Revendications(13)
1. A virtual model for simulating physical deformation of at least a portion of a product to be worn on a body, said portion comprising a thin, flexible material, wherein said thin flexible material is modeled as having at least a first zone comprising bending properties, said zone comprising bending properties modeled as micro-structure beam or shell elements.
2. The virtual model of claim 1, wherein said thin flexible material is modeled as having a second zone of contact and compression comprising at least one layer of three dimensional solid elements.
3. The virtual model of claim 2 in which said contact and compression zone is modeled as at least one layer of three dimensional solid elements defining at least two major surfaces, wherein at least one of said major surfaces is said first zone.
4. The virtual model of claim 2, wherein said solid elements comprise a plurality of elements joined to adjacent elements by at least one node to define a continuous structure.
5. The virtual model of claim 1, wherein said thin flexible material is a fibrous material.
6. The virtual model of claim 1, wherein said thin flexible material is an absorbent material.
7. The virtual model of claim 1, wherein said thin flexible material exhibits sided bending behavior.
8. The virtual model of claim 1, wherein said major surface is an external major surface.
9. The virtual model of claim 1, wherein said major surface is an internal major surface.
10. The virtual model of claim 1, wherein said product is a disposable product.
11. The virtual model of claim 11, wherein said product is a disposable diaper.
12. The virtual model of claim 11, wherein said product is a sanitary napkin.
13. The virtual model of claim 11, wherein said product is a thermal wrap.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/550,479, filed Mar. 5, 2004 and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/550,490 filed Mar. 5, 2004.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to three-dimensional computer-aided modeling and design of garments to be worn on a body.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Computer simulations of motion, e.g., using FEA, have long been used to model and predict the behavior of systems, particularly dynamic systems. Such systems utilize mathematical formulations to calculate structural volumes under various conditions based on fundamental physical properties. Various methods are known to convert a known physical object into a grid, or mesh, for performing finite element analysis, and various methods are known for calculating interfacial properties, such as stress and strain, at the intersection of two or more modeled physical objects.

Use of computer simulations such as computer aided modeling in the field of garment fit analysis is known. Typically, the modeling involves creating a three-dimensional (hereinafter “3D”) representation of the body, such as a woman, and a garment, such as a woman's dress, and virtually representing a state of the garment when the garment is actually put on the body. Such systems typically rely on geometry considerations, and do not take into account basic physical laws. One such system is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,310,627, issued to Sakaguchi on Oct. 30, 2001.

Another field in which 3D modeling of a human body is utilized is the field of medical device development. In such modeling systems, geometry generators and mesh generators can be used to form a virtual geometric model of an anatomical feature and a geometric model of a candidate medical device. Virtual manipulation of the modeled features can be output to stress/strain analyzers for evaluation. Such a system and method are disclosed in WO 02/29758, published Apr. 11, 2002 in the names of Whirley, et al.

Further, U.S. Pat. No. 6,310,619, issued to Rice on Oct. 30, 2001, discloses a three-dimensional, virtual reality, tissue specific model of a human or animal body which provides a high level of user-interactivity.

Also, U.S. Pat. No. 6,810,310 discloses methods for modeling products to be worn on a body. However, this patent does not provide any disclosure directed to specific product features and how they can be modeled.

The problem remains, therefore, how to model fit of a specific garment features in a virtual environment.

Further, there is a need to model fit of a specific garment features in a virtual environment in both static and dynamic conditions while calculating physics-based deformations of either the body or the garment. The problem is complicated more when two deformable surfaces are interacted, such as when a soft, deformable garment is in contact with soft, deformable skin.

Further, there remains a need for a system or method capable of modeling specific product features of a soft, deformable garment, particularly while worn on a soft deformable body consistent with fundamental laws of physics.

Further, there remains a need for a system or method capable of modeling soft, deformable garment features, particularly while worn on a soft deformable body under dynamic conditions, such as walking or the act of sitting that simulates real stress/strain behavior.

Finally, there remains a need for a system or method capable of modeling soft, deformable garment features, particularly while worn on a soft deformable body under dynamic conditions that is not overly computer-time intensive; that is, it does not require such time and computing capability as to make it effectively un-usable for routine design tasks.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A virtual model capable of simulating physical deformation of at least a portion of a product to be worn on a body is disclosed. The portion comprises a thin, flexible material, wherein the model comprises a first zone of compression defining two major surfaces, wherein at least one of said major surfaces further comprises a zone of bending.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a flow chart depicting schematically one embodiment of a system of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a depiction of a point cloud.

FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of two defined volumes.

FIG. 4 is another schematic representation of two defined volumes.

FIG. 5 is a meshed, three-dimensional model of a portion of a body.

FIG. 6 is a meshed, three-dimensional model of a garment to be virtually prototyped by the system and method of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a schematic representation of solid elements and a shell.

FIG. 8 is plan view of a garment having elastic elements modeled.

FIG. 9 is a detail view of a portion of an elastic element modeled on a garment.

FIG. 10 is another detail view of a portion of an elastic element modeled on a garment.

FIG. 11 is plan view of a garment having elastic elements modeled.

FIG. 12 is a detail view of a portion of an elastic element modeled on a garment.

FIG. 13 is a detail view of a portion of an elastic element modeled a garment.

FIG. 14 is detail view of a portion of an elastic element modeled on a garment.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a garment model modeled on a body model.

FIG. 16 is a schematic representation of a model for modeling a fold.

FIG. 17 is a schematic representation of a model for modeling a series of folds.

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of a product model going through several steps of folding.

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of a folded product model going through several steps of unfolding.

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of several steps in the model of applying a garment model to a body model.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The virtual model of the present invention can be used to virtually model the dynamic behavior of a body, such as a human body, and the body's interaction with garments. As used herein, the term “garments” means any article or object intended for placement on or in the body and intended for temporary wear. Therefore, the term garments includes externally-worn articles, such as clothing including hats, gloves, belts, shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, thermal wraps (that can be worn over other clothing) and the like. The term garments also includes internally-worn articles such as earplugs, hearing aids, mouth guards, and tampons. Internally-worn articles generally have externally-disposed access means for placement and removable, such as finger extensions on earplugs and strings on tampons. Some garments can be partially external and partially internal, such as earrings in pierced ears, hearing aids having externally-disposed portions, and interlabially-placed catamenial devices.

It is believed that the method and system of the present invention is best suited for designing garments intended for close body contact, such as shoes, gloves, brassieres and other intimate garments. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention a three-dimensional, virtual body is utilized to model the crotch region of a human woman and a sanitary napkin garment. The invention is not limited to such a person or garment, however, and it may be used for modeling the interaction of any garment/body interface, particularly under dynamic conditions. In the present invention, whether externally-worn, internally-worn, or a combination thereof, virtual modeling is used to simulate wear based on fundamental physical laws.

The invention can be understood by following the steps discussed below in conjunction with the flowchart in FIG. 1. The flowchart of FIG. 1 depicts elements associated with the virtual model of the invention, starting with the step of generating an image of a body, or a portion of a body to be surfaced. Surfacing is a technique for rendering a computer generated three-dimensional (3D) image of an actual 3D object. In one embodiment the portion of the body to be surfaced is the waist region of a human, including the crotch area and pudendal region, of an adult female. In another embodiment, the waist region is the waist region of an infant, useful for modeling disposable diapers. If the model is to be used to model a garment, the surfaced portion of the body includes that which is to be modeled with a garment.

Surfacing of a body can be achieved by means known in the art, such as by imaging the external surface of a portion of a body by making a series of images of the desired portion of the body using surface digital imaging techniques. However, in a preferred embodiment, surfacing of portions of a human body can be achieved by imaging techniques that also capture internal portions, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Other techniques for obtaining suitable images for surfacing could be used, such as ultrasound imaging or x-ray imaging, but MRI scans have been found to be preferred in the present invention.

The resolution of the MRI images will determine the level of detail available for analysis of fit. Therefore, the MRI scan should have sufficient resolution, including a sufficient number of “slices,” to capture anatomical features relevant to fit and comfort for the garment being modeled. The term “slices” is used in its ordinary sense with respect to MRI scans, and denotes the two-dimensional images produced by MRI imaging. In one embodiment, coronal slices of the waist region of an adult female were imaged with a 2 mm (1:1 scale) increment resolution using a GE Medical Systems Genesis Sigma 1.5 Echo Speed LX MRI unit. The data output can be a series of DICOM image files that can be exported for further evaluation and analysis. The DICOM image files can have multiple regions corresponding to various components or tissues of the body. For example, each slice of an MRI image may show regions of fat, skin, muscle, bone, internal organs, and the like. For the purposes of the preferred embodiment of a sanitary napkin, the regions of skin, fat and muscle in the pudendal region are of the most interest.

A point cloud representation can be made from the DICOM image files. On each slice of MRI images, the various regions, and the interface between regions can be located and designated by a series of points which can be identified and designated by either the software or manually by the user. The points so designated create a point cloud representation of each slice of MRI image. The number, concentration, and spacing of the points can be chosen to get sufficient resolution for the body portion being modeled, such as sufficient resolution to capture the undulations of tissues, e.g., the skin, in the various regions. In general, the number of points and their spacing should be such that relevant body portions are accurately represented to a sufficient resolution relevant to fit and comfort. In one embodiment, a distance of about 2 mm (1:1 scale) between points of the point cloud was found to provide sufficient resolution for analyzing fit and comfort of a garment worn on a body.

Once the points on each two-dimensional MRI slice are placed, software, such as the sliceOmatic® software referred to above, can generate a three-dimensional point cloud based on the relative position of the MRI slices. Once the three-dimensional point cloud is obtained, the data can be stored in electronic format in a variety of file types. For example, the point cloud can include a polygonal mesh in which the points are connected and the point cloud can be saved as a polygonal mesh file, such as a stereolithography file, that can be exported for further evaluation and analysis. An example of a visual rendering of a 3D point cloud 12 for the waist and crotch region 10 of a human female is shown in FIG. 2.

The point cloud of the body portion can then be surfaced by utilizing suitable software, including most computer aided design (CAD) software packages, such as, for example, Geomagic® available from Raindrop Geomagic (Research Triangle Park, N.C.). Surfacing can also be achieved by any of various means known in the art, including manually, if desired. In a preferred embodiment particular regions of the body can be surfaced, such as the interface between fat and muscle, fat and skin, and/or muscle and bone.

Once the body portion of interest is surfaced, the specific body portion of interest to be modeled is determined. For example, when modeling sanitary napkin garments, the body portion surfaced may be the entire waist and crotch region of an adult female, while the body portion of interest to be modeled is the pudendal region. The body portion of interest to be modeled is the portion of the body in which deformations are to be measured to model comfort and fit.

After determining the body portion of interest to be modeled, the surfaced portion can be arbitrarily partitioned into at least two volumes to isolate in one volume the body portion of interest to be modeled, i.e., portion of the body that is to remain deformable during modeling based on physics-based criteria. The remainder of the surfaced volume can simply be modeled by prescribed motion, thereby conserving resources in computing time. In a preferred embodiment, the surfaced body is partitioned into two separate, non-intersecting volumes, including at least a first deformable volume, and at least a second a prescribed motion volume. By “deformable volume” is meant a volume in which, when the simulation is performed, e.g., via finite element analysis (FEA), physical behavior, e.g., stress, deformation and motion, are computed. Conversely, by “prescribed motion volume” is meant a volume in which the deformations and motions are dictated by input to the simulation, and are not computational outputs of the simulation.

The prescribed motion volume is used to ensure realistic garment fit and positioning, but otherwise can have little impact on the physics-based analysis of body fit and comfort for the garment under evaluation. That is, the prescribed motion volume represents areas in which the garment may or may not interact with the wearer, or, where interaction is of lesser interest for a particular fit analysis. In general, the extent of the prescribed motion volume, and, likewise, the deformable volume, can be varied to obtain optimum results, depending on the specific garment being analyzed. For example, in the preferred embodiment of a sanitary napkin, the portion of the body corresponding to the pudendal region of a female, including interior anatomical features, can be rendered deformable as one volume, while the remaining portions of the body are rendered as a separate, non-deformable volume.

By “non-intersecting” with respect to the two volumes of the preferred embodiment is meant that the volumes do not overlap, i.e., no portion of the modeled body consists of both the deformable volume and the prescribed motion volume, but the two volumes are distinctly partitioned. In one embodiment, only the deformable volume need be determined, and then, by definition, the remainder of the body portion to be modeled represents the prescribed motion volume. The two volumes can share a common surface interface, which is all or a portion of their respective surfaces shared between the two volumes.

As shown in FIG. 3, interfacial surface 24 can be fully interior to the surfaced body portion 12, i.e., a surface defined as being a certain distance “in,” so to speak, from the external surface 20. The distance “in” should be great enough so as to allow for the external surface 20 to be deformable when modeled. Further, the interfacial surface should be in sufficient proximity to the external surface so as to be capable of driving motion of at least a portion of the external surface. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, interfacial surface 24 defines prescribed motion volume 26 which is “inside” deformable volume 22 and forms no part of the external surface 20 except at the cross-sections of the body portion 12.

As shown in FIG. 4, interfacial surface 24 can extend to and be partially bounded by a portion of the external surface 20. In FIG. 4, deformable volume 22 and prescribed motion volume 26 meet at interfacial surface 24 that extends to external surface 20. FIG. 4 shows two volumes that have been found to be useful for modeling feminine hygiene devices, such as sanitary napkins. As shown, a deformable volume 22 corresponds to the body portion of interest to be modeled, in this case the pudendal region of an adult female for evaluation of a sanitary napkin garment. Likewise, a prescribed motion volume 26 corresponds to the portions of the body not of interest for comfort and fit of the sanitary napkin, but helpful to understand and simulate overall body movement.

After partitioning into volumes is complete, the surfaced and partitioned body portion(s) can be meshed. From the surfacing software, such as Geomagic®, the surfaces can be imported into software capable of rendering the surfaces in three dimensions, such as I-DEAS® available from UGSPLM Solutions, a subsidiary of Electronic Data Systems Corporation (Plano, Tex.), through an IGES file format. Using I-DEAS®, the surfaces are used to generate 3D renderings defining corresponding separate components corresponding to the tissues in the portions of the body to be analyzed, for example the fat, muscle, and bone. To generate these 3D renderings, the technique of volume rendering from surfaces can be used as is commonly known in the art.

The defined volumes can be meshed separately into a mesh of nodes and elements by means known in the art. For example, meshes can be created containing solid elements, shell elements, or beam elements. In a preferred method of the present invention, the deformable volume is meshed as solid elements as shown in FIG. 5. Various tissues within the deformable volume, such as fat tissues, muscle tissues, and the like can be meshed into separate parts, and each part can have appropriate material properties assigned to it, while maintaining the continuity of the mesh. As shown in FIG. 5, the body portion of interest, which is generally part of the deformable volume, can be meshed with a greater density of nodes and elements.

The prescribed motion volume may be meshed as shell elements or solid elements, or no mesh at all, at least in some portions. The prescribed motion volume need only be meshed sufficiently to enable realistic garment positioning, in both static and dynamic conditions. Having the two volumes with different mesh properties allows for a significant reduction in the number of nodes and elements necessary to simulate the body portion of interest. Those skilled in the art will recognize that minimizing the number of nodes and elements directly correlates with reducing the cost of the simulation.

To do motion simulation and fit modeling it is necessary that motion of the body portion being modeled be driven, i.e., moved through space in time. In the present invention, motion is driven by driving at least portions of the interfacial surface. Since the deformable volume is subject to physics based constraints, driving the interfacial surface in turn drives motion of the deformable volume that is free to move and deform, with the deformations producing measurable stress and strain. The prescribed motion volume, as its name suggests, follows motion curves consistent with the motion of the interfacial surface.

The measurable stress and strain can be due to contact with the garment being modeled. Moreover, a series of garments can be tested in sequence by using the same partitioned body portion, thereby enabling multiple garments to be relatively quickly tested for fit or comfort.

The interfacial surface is driven along predetermined motion curves in space and time. The predetermined motion curves can be generated by use of external motion capture or by manually selecting and inputting a series of points in space and time. In another embodiment, the predetermined motion curves are produced from kinematic animations using animation software, for example Maya® from Alias Wavefront. In a kinematic animation a kinematic skeleton can be created and attached to the interfacial surface. The user can then prescribe the motion of the kinematic skeleton through time. The animation software uses the prescribed kinematic motion to drive the motion of the interfacial surface. Finally, the time dependent motion can be exported for all or a portion of the nodes on the interfacial surface. That is, the motion curves can be assigned to only portions of the interfacial surface.

The garment to be evaluated in the virtual model of the present invention can be generated by producing a computer aided design (CAD) geometry of the actual garment of interest. CAD geometries can be produced from CAD drawings, as is known in the art. Once the CAD geometry is produced, it can be meshed into a mesh of nodes and elements by means known in the art. The number of nodes and elements can be varied as necessary or desired for adequate garment modeling.

In one embodiment, the garment is a sanitary napkin intended to be worn against the body of an adult woman as shown in FIG. 6, which shows a meshed sanitary napkin garment. In most cases the sanitary napkin is worn inside the undergarment, such as elasticized panties. Therefore, in one embodiment of the present invention, the garment can actually be a garment system comprised of two or more garments interacting during wear. For example, certain sports equipment, such as shoulder pads and jerseys can be analyzed for fit and comfort as a multiple garment system. Likewise, the interaction between shoes and socks can be analyzed.

The garment can be comprised of more than one structural component, and each component can be created as a separate part and meshed independently. This enables individual material properties to be assigned to each component. For example, a woman's undergarment can have at least three components: the overall panty fabric, the crotch fabric, and the elastic strands. Each of these components can be created as separate parts with individualized material properties appropriate for each material. The material properties can be revised by the user as necessary for different garments.

The garment can be modeled in various initial states, such as in a relaxed, undeformed state, or in a non-relaxed or deformed state. For example, a sanitary napkin can be initially modeled in a generally flat, undeformed initial state, as shown in FIG. 6, or it can be initially modeled in a bunched, folded state. In one embodiment, a garment is initially modeled by having the fewest number of components initially stressed. For example, sanitary napkin can be modeled in a flat-out, undeformed configuration.

Predetermined fixed points on the meshed garment, or garment system, can be identified, the fixed points being fixed in space or with respect to the meshed body during fit analysis according to the present invention. In general, the fixed points can be a maximum distance from the deformable volume of the meshed body.

The fixed points aid in the garment being “applied” to the meshed body by using motion curves to prescribe motion to the fixed points such that the fixed points are translated from a first initial modeled position to a second fixed position relative to the meshed body. To simulate fit and comfort of the garment and body, respectively, the garment or garment system is first “applied” as described above. At this point, the simulation can calculate stresses and strains associated with fit prior to body motion. By driving motion of the body through the predetermined motion curves of the interfacial surface, dynamic stress-strain calculations on the deformable volume and garment or garment system can be made and correlated with dynamic fit and comfort.

Fit and comfort analysis can be achieved by use of a dynamic stress-strain analyzer, such as, for example, LS-DYNA® (Livermore Software Technology Corporation, Livermore, Calif.), ABAQUS® (ABAQUS Inc., Pawtucket, R.I.), or, ANSYS® (ANSYS Inc., Canonsburg, Pa.). Any desired inputs, such as body mesh motion, garment mesh motion, contact surfaces, garment mesh, and/or body mesh can be inputted to accomplish the analysis. The stress-strain analyzer supplies an output of deformed motion and corresponding forces, such as stress and strain. The forces include forces associated with deforming both the body and the garment. Garment deformation and the magnitude of the forces required to generate the deformation can be correlated to fit and comfort.

Optionally, the simulation output, such as deformations and forces can also be visualized using software such as LS-PREPOST® (Livermore Software Technology Corporation, Livermore, Calif.), Hyperview® (Altair Engineering, Troy, Mich.), Ensight® (Computational Engineering International, Apex, N.C.), or ABAQUS VIEWER® (ABAQUS Inc., Pawtucket, R.I.), for example. Visualization of the garment as the body portion is manipulated can show in visual representation the deformation of the garment. For example, a sanitary napkin can undergo buckling, twisting, and bunching during wear. Such deformation is difficult, if not impossible, to watch in real time on a real person due to the practical constraints of such a system. However, such pad fit characteristics can be easily visualized and manipulated in the computer simulation. This capability significantly reduces the time and expense of designing better fitting garments such as sanitary napkins. Properties of materials can be changed as desired and inputted through the dynamic stress-strain analyzer to change the characteristics of the garment, thereby providing for virtual prototyping of various designs. The methods, software and techniques disclosed above can be used in conjunction with standard modeling practices, including those disclosed U.S. Pat. No. 6,810,310.

Certain features of disposable absorbent articles and other soft, deformable garments and products can be modeled more efficiently by use of the methods and techniques disclosed below. These methods are useful for modeling disposable absorbent articles such as adult incontinence products, disposable diapers, and sanitary napkins. These methods are also useful for modeling other garments and disposable articles, including such products as ThermaCare® thermal wraps from The Procter & Gamble Co., or instant heat packs (disposable), such as infant heel warmers available from The Kimberly-Clark Co. These methods are also useful for other consumer products such as Crest® Whitestrips oral care products, Swiffer® floor cleaning pads, and other consumer products such as trash bags, ground covers, and the like.

Very thin structures, such as fibrous materials, nonwoven webs, polymer films, absorbent cores, paper webs, woven fabrics, and the like can be modeled using only shells, as is well known in the art of finite element analysis modeling. It has been found in modeling of very thin structures that shell elements have a drawback of being unstable in simulation requiring contact with other product features or a body. While such shells can work well for modeling tensile and bending stresses, shell structures cannot adequately handle compression through the thickness, and it is well known in the art that interaction with other features or components at the edges of the shell presents a significant challenge. For similar reasons two dimensional openings such as slits and slots contained within a structure built from a thin web pose similar challenges. It has been found that much more stable virtual simulations can be achieved by making thin structures using solid modeling elements, that is, model as a structure of 3-D solid elements having a shell superimposed thereon, as shown in FIG. 7.

It is believed solid elements can be in single layers or in multiple layers as shown in FIG. 7, and aid in accurate modeling of compression and edge interactions in contact, while the shell elements model bending and tensile deformation more accurately. By “layer” is meant that the elements are each connected to adjacent elements by at least one node to define a continuous structure. If a single layer of solid elements is used to model thin materials, the layer has two major surfaces, a top surface and a bottom surface. These surfaces are considered as external major surfaces. If more than one layer of solid elements is used through the thickness of the thin material, surfaces of adjacent solid elements are considered as internal major surfaces. The shell can be superimposed on any of the major surfaces of the solid element layers including the top surface or bottom surface or any internal major surface.

This approach permits the use of relatively simple material models to model far more complex material behavior with reasonable accuracy. In one embodiment reasonable accuracy of thin, flexible materials could be modeled using low density foam material models for the solid elements and linear elastic material for the shell elements. However, any variety of material models could be considered in this approach, including soil material models, foam material models, elastic-plastic material models, linear elastic material model, hypereleastic material models, hyperfoam material models, and such.

To model a region of increased flexibility, such as slits, score lines, perforations, or the like, the shell surface in the regions of increased flexibility can be removed. Because the shell can be the portion of the model having greater bending resistance, once removed, that portion of the model exhibits an increased flexibility and less resistance to bending.

Another benefit to modeling with the solid/shell structure disclosed above is that it can model sided bending behavior in thin materials. By sided bending is meant that the bending force required to bend a generally planar, flat material out of plane is different when bending out of plane in one direction versus bending out of plane in the other direction. For example, when bending a generally flat material such as a piece of paper, nonwoven, polymer film, or laminates thereof into a generally curved shape, one side is in tensile stress while the other side is in compressive stress. If the stress of either tension or compression differed depending on which way the material were bent, the material would be considered “sided.” Such behavior can be simulated in which the shell is intentionally placed on a surface which is not the surface that runs through the middle of the thickness of the structure. For example, placing the shell on the bottom surface or top surface would capture such sided behavior. This amount of sided bending can be adjusted in considering modifications to the tensile modulus of the solid elements.

In addition to modeling each material separately, a plurality of materials can be modeled as a single structure having properties of the composite material. For example, an absorbent core laminated on one side a polymer film, such as a backsheet. The absorbent core, lamination adhesive, and polymer film can be modeled as a composite structure using the technique above.

Another problem for modeling absorbent articles is the problem of modeling absorbent materials that collapse when wet. Absorbent core materials, such as some cellulosic, airfelt, or fluff cores, typically have a certain volume when dry, but when wetted, and subject to force, it does not recover to its original volume. This force can include the force of gravity of the wetted material resulting in a gravity-driven wet collapse. Modeling wet collapse, particularly in only a portion of a core material, e.g. the central region of a baby diaper core or a sanitary napkin core, can be a problem.

One approach to modeling a portion of an absorbent that has been saturated is to recognize that wet materials of the type used for absorbent core have virtually no bulk recovery, that is, little or no amount of thickness recovery after wet collapse. This can be modeled in an absorbent product by defining certain portions of the absorbent product, such as central portions of the absorbent core as being crushable foam, such as *MAT_CRUSHABLE_FOAM available from LS-Dyna. Further, by recognizing that saturated absorbent structures exhibit little stiffness in bending, this potion of the absorbent structure can be modeled as solid elements without shells underneath. In one embodiment, a very small tensile modulus of 2 psi was used in the foam material model since the tensile modulus can potentially impact the bending stiffness.

The remainder of the absorbent material which is not saturated with fluid can be modeled either as described above, or with solid elements or more generally with a single material model such as soil material models, foam material models, elastic-plastic material models, linear elastic material model, hypereleastic material models, hyperfoam material models, and such. This can include modeling of features such as channels, fold lines, embossments, fusion bonds, ultrasonic bonding points, seams, and other three-dimensional features, as well as other components such as absorbent gelling materials and fibers.

Another element to model on garments to be worn on a body is elastic. For example, on undergarments, elastic often encircles the leg openings and waist opening. On disposable diapers elastic elements are often disposed in waist regions and around leg openings and in barrier leg cuffs.

Using a woman's undergarment, commonly referred to as a panty, as an example, several methods of modeling elastic members can be disclosed. As shown in FIG. 8, a panty 30 is shown having leg and waist elastic members 32. In one embodiment, the elastic members 32 are modeled as a series of square, pre-stressed components 34, that can be shell elements, that create contraction of the leg elastic. FIG. 8 shows the square elements as being pre-stressed, and FIG. 9 shows the same elements in a relaxed mode.

As shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, the approach described above requires holes, or open spaces 36 to be modeled. The modeled holes can introduce instabilities into the simulation. Therefore, in another embodiment, elastic members can be modeled as shown in FIGS. 11 and 12 as pre-stressed beam elements. This approach involves modeling the elastic members as shells 40 and running a series of pre-contracted beams 42 along the edge of the shell elastics. In one embodiment, the shell element was un-stressed and had a Young's modulus of 70 psi and the beam elements were pre-stressed with 75% extension in the longitudinal direction and had a Young's modulus of 140 psi. While this approach resolves the issues of the square element approach above, it does have some stability issues as well, as the pre-stressed beams and unstressed shell elements share many nodes. Therefore, still another approach can be used.

In still another approach to modeling elastic members, the elastic member 32 is modeled as a series of pre-contracted beams 44 along the edge of the elastics, as shown in FIG. 13. These beam elements allow for linear extension and contraction in the stretch direction. To aid in stability, a series of connecting beam elements 46 are created that connect the two beams 44. The resulting structure resembles a ladder along the elastic, and is called a “laddered beam.” For contact purposes shell elements can be used, but a *MAT_NULL material model, available from LS-Dyna is used so that the shells can be used in contact but provide no structural support. In this approach the beams are all assigned a Young's modulus of 70 psi. The pre-stressed beams are assigned an initial principal stress of 52.5 psi in the stretch direction and 0 psi in the other principal stress directions, for 75% pre-stretch.

However, the laddered beam approach can result in a higher probability of the elastics twisting during application to a virtual body, as shown in FIG. 14. To resolve this issue, one can replace the *MAT_NULL of the shell elements with a linear elastic material model, each available from LS-Dyna. In one embodiment a material modulus of only 5 psi was used to maintain the beams as the main structural components of the leg elastics.

However, in some simulations it was observed that there were contact issues between the shell element and body of the garment wearer, especially in the waist elastics where the elastic nodes contact shell elements on the body that are significantly larger. Therefore, still another approach can be used. In another embodiment the cross beams 46 are removed. The elastic shells are made linearly elastic with an elastic modulus of 70 psi, which is the same as the non-pre-contracted leg elastic. The pre-stretch was maintained at 75%, meaning the initial principal stress in the stretch direction was 105 psi. By keeping both linearly, substantially-parallel beams in a pre-stretched condition and shell elements with an increased modulus, pre-contraction of the elastics can be maintained, and the on-body fit is more realistic, as shown in FIG. 15.

Those skilled in the art will recognize that while the discussion has focused on using a null material and linear elastic material, a variety of other properties are quite suitable for these purposes including elastic-plastic, hyper-elastic, visco-elastic, membrane elements, among many others. The above-disclosed techniques and materials are useful for modeling extruded strand elastics and scrim materials.

Another structure than can be modeled in a virtual simulation is elastic materials in the form of webs or films. To model generally flat, elastic materials, the model can comprise solid elements to represent varying section thickness in elastic films. Elastic films can include apertured formed films such as the formed film disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,968,029, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,410,129, and 5,993,432, each issued to Curro et al. Elastic films can also include printed elastics, hot-pin apertured elastics, monolithic, monolithic, multilayer, perforated, and extruded elastic structures such as generally flattened scrims or strands. When load conditions are substantially uniform, such elastic structures can be represented as unit/repeatable cells along lines of symmetry to model fundamental stress/strain, contact, responses in product and process conditions.

Micro-structure beam or shell elements can be utilized to represent varying section thicknesses in thin films and in films having three-dimensionality, such as apertured formed films. The term “micro-structure” refers to geometrical features that are less than a millimeter in any direction and are most conveniently described in the units of micrometers (microns). In the case of varying section thickness in a film (i.e., varying caliper), the thickness at each node can be specified and the average of the nodes that make up an individual element can be assigned as the section thickness. In this manner the computational efficiency and stability for varying section structures is provided.

When load requirements are governed by non-uniform conditions such as contact with asymmetric bodies (e.g. baby hip, pudendal region, or nonlinear tool path), asymmetric load distribution (e.g. laminates of varying local section properties), the elastic structures can be represented as a patterned unit cell on the feature to model stress/strain, contact, responses in product and process conditions.

Another structure that can be modeled in a virtual simulation is a fold, or pleat in a thin, flexible material. For example, a topsheet on a disposable absorbent article may have a longitudinal fold or pleat to permit excess material for expansion of the absorbent core within. In one embodiment, a fold or pleat can be made in a topsheet that is connected to a secondary topsheet and a backsheet. The fold or pleat would permit the topsheet and secondary topsheet to move independently of an underlying core, for example, which can be joined to a backsheet. As shown in the simple schematic in FIG. 16, a topsheet 50 can be joined to a secondary topsheet or other acquisition or distribution material 52, which can be independently moveable with respect to an underlying layer, such as absorbent core 54. The absorbent core can be joined to a backsheet 56, which is joined about an edge 58. The distances denoted as X and Y can be adjusted to give a total path length of excess material. In a virtual model, the fold or pleats can be modeled as shell or beam elements 60 and 62. In one embodiment the shell elements have no bending stiffness, but do have tensile properties, commonly referred to as membrane elements 64 and 66.

Another feature of products to be worn on the body is a series of folds or pleats, such as corrugated or ring rolled portions of thin, flexible materials. Folds or pleats can be parallel. Ring rolling is a process known in the art for making extensible materials, and involves processing a web material between the nip of two counter-rotating rollers having intermeshing teeth and grooves to produce folds, pleats or other residual deformations. Material that can be extended by way of unfolding in a direction perpendicular to the direction of the corrugated or pleated portions can be modeled as a material having a very low tensile modulus until a certain extension is reached, at which point unfolding is complete and the tensile modulus increases sharply. By tensile modulus is meant the slope of the tensile stress-strain curve at any given point along the curve.

As shown in FIG. 16, one model involves a plurality of generally parallel pleat elements 72, each pleat element having at least one shell element 68 and at least two membrane elements 70. Each pleat element can share nodes with each adjacent pleat element along a common edge, as shown in FIG. 16. Further, each membrane element can share nodes with each adjacent shell element along a common edge. As the material is strained in a direction F, as shown in FIG. 16, the pleat elements will be extended. Since the membrane elements carry little or no stiffness in bending, they contribute little or no additional stress to the material until the membrane elements approach a co-planar relationship to the shell elements, at which time the membrane elements contribute to an increase in tensile modulus of the pleat element. The amount of stretch prior to the region of increased modulus can be determined by the lengths A and B, or any additional lengths modeled. Because the membrane elements 70 can be pleated only in a single direction (perpendicular to the preferred direction of stretch), if a force is applied in a direction parallel to the pleat direction (and in the plane of the pleats), the membrane and elastic material will be stretched (without bending or unfolding) based on their material properties, which is the behavior replicating the actual behavior of pleated or ring rolled flexible webs.

Beam elements with no bending resistance, sometimes called a truss element can be used instead of membrane elements in a model for pleats. Trusses can be used to model mechanical behavior of materials or product features that have undergone pleating by the method known as ring-roll activation. Truss elements can be aligned in the direction of the tooling where the truss represents the unactivated component of the processed portion of the structure. Every other node along a line of connected trusses is tied or bonded to the laminate so that the unprocessed portion can buckle in compression and carry load in tension.

Also, it is not necessary that the pleats be parallel to one another. Pleats can be modeled in which the folds make a fan shape, or other non-linear, non-parallel arrangement.

Another feature that can be modeled is folds in a product to be worn on the body. In particular, folds that are put in during manufacture can affect the fit and comfort of a product when worn. Products that are folded in packaging and unfolded for wear can be difficult to use if, once unfolded, the product tends to want to return to the folded position. By way of example, sanitary napkins are often folded and packaged for discrete portability. For use a woman unfolds the sanitary napkin for generally flat placement in her undergarment. If the sanitary napkin tends to return to a folded configuration, placement can be hindered. Once placed, the tendency to fold back can affect wearing comfort and fit.

Sanitary napkins can be folded by what is referred to as “tri-folding,” in which the sanitary napkin is folded in thirds upon itself at two fold lines to fit into a smaller, relatively discrete package. The package can be flexible film, and can be attached to the release paper over the panty fastening adhesive, such that removal of the wrapper also removes the release paper.

FIG. 17 shows a virtual model of a sanitary napkin being folded. At step “A” the sanitary napkin is shown in its as-made flat condition. As shown, sanitary napkin 72 can have a backing such as a film wrapper modeled as backing 74 and channels, grooves, embossments, or other three-dimensional features, 76. At step “B” the sanitary napkin is folded slightly, and it can be seen in the virtual model that fold lines start to appear. With more folding, as in step “C” the fold lines are more pronounced.

FIG. 18 shows the same sanitary napkin model from FIG. 17 being unfolded. As shown moving from step “A” to step “C” the sanitary napkin can be virtually unfolded to a flat condition. But, as shown in step “C” the fold lines remain, that is, virtual fold lines qualitatively appear on the unfolded modeled sanitary napkin.

To show how the fold lines 80 that remain in the unfolded sanitary napkin 72 affect fit, the sanitary napkin can be virtually applied to a body, such as a body having a prescribed motion volume 26 and a deformable volume 22, as described above. The sanitary napkin 72 can be applied to a garment 80 in a flat configuration as shown in FIG. 19A, and then the garment can be applied to the body as shown in FIG. 19B. Compression or other movement can be applied to the sanitary napkin by moving the virtual body model to result in the deformation of the sanitary napkin as shown in FIG. 19C. As shown, the fold lines 78 can be qualitatively observed for effect on fit. In the virtual model, strains can be correlated to stresses, which can in turn be correlated to comfort of the garment, or the garment/sanitary napkin system.

When folds are modeled as above, it is possible to use the stress history, including residual stresses, in a subsequent step. For example in the folding illustrated in FIG. 17 the stress history of the folded sanitary napkin can be used when conducting the unfolding in FIG. 18. Alternatively, the stress history can be ignored in the unfolding step. Further, the stress history from either the folding and/or the unfolding step can be utilized in the step of applying to a garment/body system, as shown in FIG. 19.

Modeling involving folds can be used for other folded features as well, such as modeling residual stresses or residual deformations of fold lines, modeling folding and unfolding of wings of sanitary napkins, modeling folding and unfolding a diaper, folding and unfolding folded items such as maps, wallets, undergarments, and the like.

All documents cited in the Detailed Description of the Invention are, in relevant part, incorporated herein by reference; the citation of any document is not to be construed as an admission that it is prior art with respect to the present invention.

While particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it would be obvious to those skilled in the art that various other changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is therefore intended to cover in the appended claims all such changes and modifications that are within the scope of this invention.

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Classifications
Classification aux États-Unis700/98, 703/6
Classification internationaleG06F17/50, G06T15/00, G06T17/00, G06F19/00
Classification coopérativeG06T2210/16, G06F2217/42, G06F17/50, G06T7/00, G06F17/5018, G06T17/00, G06F2217/32
Classification européenneG06F17/50, G06T7/00, G06T17/00, G06F17/50C2
Événements juridiques
DateCodeÉvénementDescription
12 août 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY, THE, OHIO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:LOONEY, MICHAEL TIMOTHY;LAVASH, BRUCE WILLIAM;MACURA, MATTHEW JOSEPH;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:016635/0375;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050714 TO 20050810