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Publication numberWO2008052250 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberPCT/AU2007/001624
Publication date8 May 2008
Filing date25 Oct 2007
Priority date3 Nov 2006
Publication numberPCT/2007/1624, PCT/AU/2007/001624, PCT/AU/2007/01624, PCT/AU/7/001624, PCT/AU/7/01624, PCT/AU2007/001624, PCT/AU2007/01624, PCT/AU2007001624, PCT/AU200701624, PCT/AU7/001624, PCT/AU7/01624, PCT/AU7001624, PCT/AU701624, WO 2008/052250 A1, WO 2008052250 A1, WO 2008052250A1, WO-A1-2008052250, WO2008/052250A1, WO2008052250 A1, WO2008052250A1
InventorsJohn Scheirs, Patrick John Volpe
ApplicantTristano Pty Ltd
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: Patentscope, Espacenet
Personal grooming tool
WO 2008052250 A1
Abstract
The invention provides a personal grooming tool, at least part of which comprises structural members formed from a biodegradable polymer, wherein the structural members have at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm.
Claims  (OCR text may contain errors)
CLAIMS:
1. A personal grooming tool, at least part of which comprises structural members formed from a biodegradable polymer, wherein the structural members have at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm.
2. The personal grooming tool according to claim 1, wherein the structural members represent at least 50 wt.% of the tool.
3. The personal grooming tool according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the tool comprises a body portion, at least a part of which is intended to be held during use of the tool.
4. The personal grooming tool according to claim 3 in the form of a hairbrush, wherein a plurality of bristles for brushing hair extend from the body portion.
5. The personal grooming tool according to claim 3 in the form of a hair comb, wherein a plurality of comb members for combing hair extend from the body portion.
6. The personal grooming tool according to claim 3 in the form of a nailbrush, wherein a plurality of bristles for brushing nails extend from the body portion.
7. The personal grooming tool according to any one of claims 4 to 6, wherein the body portion and bristles or comb members are formed entirely of the structural members.
8. The personal grooming tool according to claim 3 further comprising a head portion connected to the body portion.
9. The personal grooming tool according to claim 8 in the form of a hairbrush, wherein a plurality of bristles for brushing hair extend from the head portion.
10. The personal grooming tool according to claim 8 in the form of a hair comb, wherein a plurality of comb members for combing hair extend from the head portion.
11. The personal grooming tool according to claim 8 in the form of a nailbrush, wherein a plurality of bristles for brushing nails extend from the head portion.
12. The personal grooming tool according to claim 8 in the form of a toothbrush, wherein a plurality of bristles for brushing teeth extend from the head portion.
13. The personal grooming tool according to claim 8 in the form of a shaving razor, wherein the head portion comprises at least one shaving blade.
14. The personal grooming tool according to any one of claims 9 to 13, wherein the body portion, the head portion and the bristles or comb members are formed entirely of the structural members.
15. The personal grooming tool according to any one of claims 1 to 14, wherein the structural members have at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.2mm.
16. The personal grooming tool according to any one of claims 1 to 15, wherein the biodegradable polymer comprises a natural fibre.
17. The personal grooming tool according to any one of claims 1 to 16, wherein the biodegradable polymer is selected from aliphatic or aliphatic-co-aromatic biodegradable polyester resins.
18. The personal grooming tool according to any one of claims 1 to 17, wherein the biodegradable polymer comprises a starch material.
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

PERSONAL GROOMING TOOL

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to personal grooming tools that are used by people to maintain their appearance and/or hygiene.

Background of the Invention

Personal grooming tools are commonly used by many people to maintain their appearance and/or hygiene and include items such as a shaving razor, a toothbrush, a hairbrush, a hair comb, a nailbrush and the like. Although most people have one or more of these tools, there are many circumstances where their "regular" grooming tools are not available when needed. For example, this may occur when a person is travelling and/or staying in a hotel.

To accommodate a person's need for personal grooming tools under these circumstances, "temporary" grooming tools may be purchased or they are sometimes provided as a complimentary service. When faced with a situation of needing a temporary grooming tool, it is common for people to seek a low cost item. If a temporary grooming tool is provided as a complimentary service, the service provider is also likely to seek a low cost item. Thus, apart from their intended temporary use, such tools are often designed and manufactured to be used only a few times in order to minimise their cost.

By circumstance and design, temporary personal grooming tools are therefore often disposed of after being used only a few times. With an ever increasing awareness of the effects waste disposal has on the environment, the disposal of such products, which are often made from a polymer material, is a growing concern. Indeed, strict legislation on the disposal of consumer products targeted at the manufacturers of such products is being introduced in many countries.

Against this background, it would be desirable to develop personal grooming tools that can promote a reduction in the negative environmental impact associated with the disposal of such products. Summary of the Invention

The present invention provides a personal grooming tool, at least part of which comprises structural members formed from a biodegradable polymer, wherein the structural members have at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm.

As used herein the term "structural members" is intended to mean features of structure that individually or collectively contribute to the overall structure of at least a part of the grooming tool. Provided the structural members have at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm, they may take any shape and perform or serve any function. For example, the structural members may take the form a wall, a strut, a web, a rib and the like. The structural members may serve to collectively form, for example, a body and/or head portion of the grooming tool.

Grooming tools in accordance with the invention are in effect formed at least in part from biodegradable polymer. Thus, upon being disposed of in landfill at least part of the tool can biodegrade. However, simply forming an article or part thereof from biodegradable polymer does not necessarily mean that the article or part thereof will biodegrade at an acceptable rate (e.g. at a rate specified in certain legislation and/or standards). It is not uncommon for articles made from biodegradable polymer to take many months if not years to biodegrade. Although such articles may be considered more "environmentally friendly" than their non-biodegradable counterparts, they will nevertheless adversely impact on at least the landfill volume until they eventually biodegrade.

Personal grooming tools in accordance with the invention not only comprise structural members formed from a biodegradable polymer, but the structural members also have at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm. By providing the structural members with this type of structural profile, they, and any part of the tool that they collectively form, can attain a relatively high surface area. This high surface area can in turn advantageously lead to an increase in the biodegradation rate of the structural members and any part of the tool that they collectively form. Accordingly, upon being disposed of in landfill, at least those parts of grooming tools formed from the structural members can rapidly biodegrade and minimise any adverse impact on the environment.

It will be appreciated that as the proportion of structural members that make up the grooming tool increases, any adverse impact that the tool may have on the environment decreases. Thus, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, at least a significant part (e.g. at least 50 wt.%) of the grooming tool comprises the structural members.

With stringent guidelines being introduced in many countries requiring that products be certified as being biodegradable according to certain standards, grooming tools in accordance with the invention may be formed in such a way to meet many if not all of these standards.

Detailed Description of the Invention

As used herein, the expression "personal grooming tool" is intended to mean an implement used by a person to maintain their appearance and/or hygiene. Examples of personal grooming tools include, but are not limited to, a shaving razor, a toothbrush, a hairbrush, a hair comb, a nailbrush and the like.

The structural members that form at least part of the grooming tools "have at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm". By this is meant that at least one of the height, length or width dimensions of a given structural member does not exceed 1.5mm.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the term "biodegradable" does not have a universal definition. For avoidance of any doubt, the term "biodegradable" used herein in association with the term "polymer" is intended to mean a polymer material that meets the biodegradability criteria specified in ASTM 6400 or EN 13432. Thus, a polymer is considered to be biodegradable if, upon exposure to a composting environment, 90 wt.% of it disintegrates into particles having an average size of less than 2mm within 12 weeks, and after 6 months at least 60 wt.% of it, in the case of ASTM 6400, or at least 90 wt.% of it, in the case of EN 13432, has degraded into carbon dioxide and/or water. Preferably, a biodegradable polymer used in accordance with the invention meets the more stringent biodegradability criterion set forth in EN 13432.

For some applications, it may be desirable or required that the grooming tool per se is biodegradable. To market the tools as being "biodegradable" it may be necessary for them to meet a particular biodegradability standard. Many of these standards generally require that a certain percentage of the product degrades to a specified extent within a set period of time. By adjusting the proportion of the structural members, grooming tools in accordance with the invention may be formed in such a way to meet many if not all of such standards. Thus, it may be desirable that grooming tools in accordance with the invention comprise at least 60 wt.%, at least 70 wt.%, at least 80 wt.%, or at least 90 wt.% of the structural members.

Grooming tools in accordance with the invention, or a specified part thereof, can advantageously be formed entirely from or consist essentially of the structural members. By this, it will of course be appreciated that where a given tool, or part thereof, necessarily requires a non-polymer component(s) (e.g. a razor blade in a shaving razor), the terms "formed entirely from" or "consisting essentially of used herein are not intended to embrace such non-polymer component(s).

The biodegradability characteristics of the grooming tool can also be modified by adjusting the structural profile of the structural members. Thus, where a greater rate of biodegradability of the structural members is required, for example in order to meet biodegradability criterion specified by a given standard, it may be desirable that the at least one dimension of the structural members does not exceed about 1.2mm. In some cases, it may be desirable that the at least one dimension does not exceed about lmm.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the grooming tools comprise at least 90 wt.% of the structural members, and the at least one dimension of the structural members does not exceed about lmm. Grooming tools manufactured with these specifications will generally meet the biodegradability criterion specified in ASTM 6400 or EN 13432. Depending upon the intended function of the part(s) of the grooming tool that comprises the structural members, the part(s) may need to be designed to maximise its mechanical strength given that the structural members have at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm. For example, a handle portion of a toothbrush will generally need to be sufficiently rigid and resilient such that during use the handle does not bend excessively or break.

Where properties such as rigidity and resilience are required for a part of the grooming tool comprising the structural members, the part may include a plurality of reinforcing members. In this case, the reinforcing members may also be formed of a biodegradable polymer and have at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm. Thus, from a practical point of view the reinforcing members may be seen as structural members that perform the specific function of reinforcing the part of the grooming tool with which they are associated (e.g. a handle portion). The reinforcing members will generally be in the form of webs, struts, ribs and the like and may have the properties of the structural members herein described.

Design criterion for maximising mechanical properties of thin walled articles is well known in the art and can be readily applied to designing one or more parts of a grooming tool in accordance with the invention. For example, one or more parts of a tool in accordance with the invention may be designed with structural members in the form of an outer wall or skin formed of a biodegradable polymer having a thickness of no greater than about 1.5mm. The outer wall may cover a plurality of reinforcing members (e.g. having a honeycomb or cross-member design) that are also formed of a biodegradable polymer and have at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm.

As alluded to above, grooming tools in accordance with the invention will in practice generally comprise a number of different structural components. For example, the tools may comprise a body portion, a head portion that is connected to the body portion, and structural features that may be associated with the body and/or head portion that provide a specific grooming function. For convenience, the invention will hereinafter be described with reference to such structural components. Thus, a personal grooming tool in accordance with the invention may comprise a body portion, at least a part of which is intended to be held during use of the tool. The body portion of the tool will generally comprise structural features that provide a specific personal grooming function. For example, a hairbrush, a hair comb or nailbrush may have a body portion from which a plurality of bristles suitable for brushing hair, a plurality of comb members for combing hair, or a plurality of bristles for scrubbing nails, respectively, extend or are attached.

Depending on the type of the personal grooming tool, the body portion may primarily function as a handle. In this case, the grooming tool will generally further comprise a head portion connected to the body portion. The head portion will generally comprise structural features that provide a specific personal grooming function. For example, in the case of a shaving razor the head portion will generally comprise one or more razor blades, and in the case of a toothbrush the head portion will generally comprise a plurality of bristles suitable for brushing teeth. A hairbrush, hair comb and nailbrush may also be provided with a head portion connected to a body portion. Thus, in the case of a hairbrush the head portion will generally comprise a plurality of bristles suitable for brushing hair, in the case of a hair comb the head portion will generally comprise a plurality of comb members suitable for combing hair, and in the case of a nailbrush the head portion will generally comprise a plurality of bristles suitable for scrubbing nails.

For the avoidance of any doubt, the terms "hairbrush" and "hair comb" used herein are intended to define different personal grooming tools. Thus, a hair comb will generally have a single row of comb members extending from the tool, whereas a hairbrush will generally have multiple rows of bristles or brush members extending from the tool.

Ih a preferred embodiment of the invention, the body portion and/or the head portion (if present) of the grooming tool is formed entirely from or consists essentially of the structural members. Where the personal grooming tools in accordance with the invention are in the form of a toothbrush, hairbrush, hair comb or nailbrush, the tools preferably comprise as structural features that provide the grooming function a plurality of bristles suitable for brushing teeth, a plurality of bristles suitable for brushing hair, a plurality of comb members suitable for combing hair, and a plurality of bristles suitable for scrubing nails, respectively, that are formed from a biodegradable polymer and have at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm. Thus, from a practical point of view the structural features that provide the grooming function may be seen as structural members that perform the specific function of grooming. The structural features that provide the grooming function may have the properties of the structural members herein described.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the body portion and the head portion (if present) of the grooming tools include as part of their structure a plurality of reinforcing members as herein described.

Personal grooming tools in accordance with the invention may be formed using techniques known in the art for manufacturing conventional personal grooming tools. Such techniques include, but are not limited to injection moulding. A preferred injection moulding technique is known as External Gas Moulding (EGM). This technique is particularly suited for manufacturing articles having thin wall sections.

A diverse array of biodegradable polymers can advantageously be used in accordance with the invention, and include but are not limited to aliphatic or aliphatic-co-aromatic biodegradable polyester resins. Examples of suitable specific biodegradable polymers include, but are not limited to, polyhydroxy butyrate (PHB), polyhydroxy valerate (PHV), polyhydroxy butyrate valerate (PHBV), polylactic acid (PLA), polybutylene succinate (PBS), polybutylene succinate adipate (PBSA), polyester carbonate (PC), polybutylene succinate carbonate (PBSC), polyethylene succinate (PES), polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT), polytetramethylene adipate terephthalate (PTMAT), cellulose acetate (CA), cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB), cellulose acetate propionate (CAP), polybutylene adipate (PBA), polycapralactone (PCL), polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) or combinations thereof. The biodegradable polymers may also comprise starch materials such as corn starch, potato starch, tapioca starch, and gelatinous or thermoplastic starch (TPS), or combinations thereof.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that different biodegradable polymer can exhibit different physical and/or mechanical properties. For example, some polymers may be more flexible or rigid than others. Polymers with the most appropriate properties for the intended application will of course be selected to manufacture the tools of the invention.

Preferred biodegradable polymers to provide more rigid properties include, but are not limited to, PLA, PBS, PBSA, a starch or TPS blend with one or more of PLA, PBS or PBSA, or combinations thereof.

Aliphatic-co-aromatic polyester resins are preferably synthesised from butanediol, adipic acid and terephthalic acid and contain approximately 30 to 55 mol% terephthalic acid based on the total mol% of acid.

Blending thermoplastic or gelatinous starch materials with aliphatic or aliphatic-co- aromatic polyesters can increase biodegradability and reduce cost of the resulting resin. The ratio of starch to polyester is balanced to achieve a favourable compromise between moldability, cost, mechanical properties, water resistance and the rate of biodegradation. Typically the ratio of starch material to polyester ranges from about 5:95 to about 70:30 weight percent based on the total mass of the blend.

The biodegradable polymer used in accordance with the invention may include a biodegradable fibre to help reinforce the structure and/or enhance biodegradability of the structure. The biodegradable fibre is preferably a natural fibre such as coconut, elephant grass, straw, cotton, flax, jute, sisal or bamboo fibre, used alone or in combination. The fibres used will typically have a length of about 1 mm to about 4 mm and a diameter of about 80 μm to about 600 μm.

The fibres may be present in the biodegradable polymer in an amount up to about 50 weight percent. Preferably, the biodegradable polymer comprises 5 to 30 weight percent, more preferably 10 to 20 weight percent of the fibres. The fibres are preferably dispersed substantially uniformly throughout the biodegradable polymer. The biodegradable fibres used are preferably hydrophilic, or in other words capable of absorbing or being swollen with water.

The biodegradable polymer may also include filler materials. In this case, the filler materials are preferably biodegradable, or of a type that would be considered inert from an environmental impact point of view. Suitable filler materials include, but are not limited to, starch materials such as corn starch, potato starch, tapioca starch, high-amylose starch in particulate form, calcium based mineral fillers such as calcium carbonate, calcium hydroxyapatite, aragonite such as crushed oyster shells, or combinations thereof.

Filler materials may be present in the biodegradable polymer in an amount up to about 50 weight percent. Preferably, the biodegradable polymer comprises 5 to 30 weight percent, more preferably 10 to 20 weight percent of filler.

Brief Description of the Drawings

Preferred embodiments of the invention will now be illustrated by way of example only with reference to the accompanying Drawings in which:

Figure 1 illustrates a personal grooming tool in accordance with the invention in the form of a toothbrush;

Figure 2 illustrates a personal grooming tool in accordance with the invention in the form of a shaving razor;

Figure 3 illustrates a personal grooming tool in accordance with the invention in the form of a hairbrush; and

Figure 4 illustrates a personal grooming tool in accordance with the invention in the form of a hair comb. Detailed Description of the Drawings

Figure 1 shows a personal grooming in accordance with the invention in the form of a toothbrush from a side view (A) and from an underside view in the direction X (B). The toothbrush comprises a body portion (10). In this case, the body portion (10) functions primarily as a handle. The toothbrush has a head portion (20) connected to the body portion (10). The body portion (10) and the head portion (20) are formed entirely from structural members of biodegradable polymer having at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm, shown in part in side view (A) by the outer biodegradable polymer skin (30). The toothbrush also comprises bristles (40) that extend from the head portion (20) and are suitable for brushing teeth. The bristles (40) are also formed entirely from structural members of biodegradable polymer having at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm. From the underside view in the direction X (B), the outer biodegradable polymer skin having a thickness of no greater than about 1.5mm (30) can also be seen. The underside view (B) also shows the internal hollow structure of the body (10) and head (20) portions that include as part of their structure structural members of biodegradable polymer having at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm in the form of reinforcing cross-members (50).

Figure 2 shows a personal grooming tool in accordance with the invention in the form of a shaving razor from a front (A) and back (B) view. The shaving razor comprises a body portion (10). In this case, the body portion (10) functions primarily as a handle. The shaving razor has a head portion (20) connected to the body portion (10). The body portion (10) and the head portion (20) are formed entirely from structural members of biodegradable polymer having at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm, shown in part by the outer biodegradable polymer skin (30). The shaving razor also comprises at least one razor blade (40) mounted in the head portion (20). The front (A) and back (B) views also show the internal hollow structure of the body (10) and head (20) portions, respectively, that each include as part of their structure structural members of biodegradable polymer having at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm in the form of reinforcing cross-members (50). Figure 3 shows a personal grooming tool in accordance with the invention in the form of a hairbrush from a side view (A) and from an underside view in the direction X (B). The hairbrush comprises a body portion (10). In this case, the body portion (10) functions primarily as a handle. The hairbrush has a head portion (20) connected to the body portion (10). The body portion (10) and the head portion (20) are formed entirely from structural members of biodegradable polymer having at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm, shown in part by the outer biodegradable polymer skin (30). The hairbrush also comprises bristles (40) that extend from the head portion (20) and are suitable for brushing hair. The bristles (40) are also formed entirely from structural members of biodegradable polymer having at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm. From the underside view in the direction X (B), the outer biodegradable polymer skin having a thickness of no greater than about 1.5mm (30) can also be seen. The underside view (B) also shows the internal hollow structure of the body (10) and head (20) portions that include as part of their structure structural members of biodegradable polymer having at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm in the form of reinforcing cross- members (50). The hairbrush may also be illustrated without reference to the body portion (10) as shown in dashed lines. In this case, head portion (20) described above would represent the body portion of the tool.

Figure 4 shows a personal grooming tool in accordance with the invention in the form of a hair comb from a side view (A) and from a birds-eye view in the direction X (B). The hair comb comprises a body portion (10). In this case, the body portion (10) functions primarily as a handle. The hair comb has a head portion (20) connected to the body portion (10). The body portion (10) and the head portion (20) are formed entirely from structural members of biodegradable polymer having at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm, shown in part by the outer biodegradable polymer skin (30). The hair comb also comprises comb members (40) that extend from the head portion (20) and are suitable for combing hair. The comb members (40) are also formed entirely from structural members of biodegradable polymer having at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm. From the birds-eye view in the direction X (B), the outer biodegradable polymer skin having a thickness of no greater than about 1.5mm (30) can also be seen. The birds-eye view (B) also shows the internal hollow structure of the body (10) and head (20) portions that include as part of their structure structural members of biodegradable polymer having at least one dimension that does not exceed about 1.5mm in the form of reinforcing cross-members (50). The hair comb may also be illustrated without reference to the body portion (10) as shown in dashed lines. In this case, head portion (20) described above would represent the body portion of the tool.

From the description of Figures 1-4 above, it will be appreciated that other personal grooming tools such as a nailbrush may be described in similar terms.

Throughout this specification and the claims which follow, unless the context requires otherwise, the word "comprise", and variations such as "comprises" and "comprising", will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or step or group of integers or steps but not the exclusion of any other integer or step or group of integers or steps.

The reference in this specification to any prior publication (or information derived from it), or to any matter which is known, is not, and should not be taken as an acknowledgment or admission or any form of suggestion that that prior publication (or information derived from it) or known matter forms part of the common general knowledge in the field of endeavour to which this specification relates.

Patent Citations
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WO1990011874A1 *3 Apr 199018 Oct 1990Irad, Inc.Disposable razor
WO1993014911A1 *16 Dec 19925 Aug 1993Warner-Lambert CompanyBiodegradable shaped article with a resistant coating and means for exposing the core, and a process for making said article
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
WO2011111881A1 *9 Mar 201015 Sep 2011Dorco Co., Ltd.Biodegradable razor handle, method for manufacturing same, and razor including a biodegradable razor handle manufactured by same
Classifications
International ClassificationA45D24/00, B25G1/10, A45D8/12, B26B21/52
Cooperative ClassificationA46B15/00, B25G1/10, A45D24/00, A46B2200/104, B29K2995/006, B29C45/174, B29L2031/42, B29K2995/0059, A46B2200/1013, A46B1/00, B26B21/40, A46B2200/1066
European ClassificationB25G1/10, B26B21/40, A45D24/00, A46B15/00, A46B1/00
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