Ontex Group has been granted a patent for an absorbent core design that includes continuous zones of high fluid distribution structures and discontinuous zones of fluid absorption structures. The high fluid distribution structures are arranged to distribute fluid faster than the discontinuous absorption structures, improving the efficiency of the absorbent core. The patent also includes a process for making the absorbent core using a mold with a 3D insert. GlobalData’s report on Ontex Group gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Ontex Group, Incontinence monitoring sensors was a key innovation area identified from patents. Ontex Group's grant share as of September 2023 was 44%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Absorbent core with high fluid distribution and absorption structures

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Ontex Group NV

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11752047B2) describes a process for making an absorbent core using a 3D insert. The process involves providing a mold with a longitudinal axis and a transverse axis, and the mold contains a 3D insert with interconnected channels. The 3D insert has a first channel portion, a second channel portion, and a connecting channel portion that connects the first and second channel portions.

The patent claims that the 3D insert can have various cross-sectional shapes, including square, rectangular, oval, semicircular, or combinations thereof. It can also have a uniform depth throughout its perimeter or varying depths.

The interconnected channels in the 3D insert can be symmetric or asymmetric about the longitudinal axis. The connecting channel portion extends along the width of the mold, forming a closed end shape that is curvilinear in shape, creating a convex shape between the first and second channel portions.

The closed end of the 3D insert is positioned opposite to an open end formed by non-connected terminal positions of the first and second channel portions. These terminal positions face away from each other, creating a funnel-shaped gap between them.

The distance between the first and second channel portions can vary, with the first distance being greater than the second distance. In some embodiments, the first distance is at least 1.5 times the second distance, while in others, it can range from 1.8 to 3 times the second distance.

The 3D insert can comprise multiple interconnected channels arranged in a concentric manner. During the bonding step, an adhesive is applied to the second nonwoven web, and the web is joined to the first nonwoven web and/or the three-dimensional absorbent material. The adhesive is applied in stripes aligned with the channels, resulting in adhesive-rich and adhesive-poor regions in the core laminate.

The channels in the 3D insert can be formed solely by the vacuum force without any additional mechanical action. Additionally, the 3D insert can also include disconnected channels, with some of them arranged concentrically to the interconnected channels.

Overall, this patented process offers a method for manufacturing an absorbent core with specific channel configurations using a 3D insert, providing improved absorbency and fluid distribution properties.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.