Image Number 6 for United States Patent #4100324.
A nonwoven fabric-like material having a unique combination of strength, absorbency and hand consists essentially of an air-formed matrix of thermoplastic polymer microfibers having an average fiber diameter of less than about 10 microns, and a multiplicity of individualized wood pulp fibers disposed throughout the matrix of microfibers and engaging at least some of the microfibers to space the microfibers apart from each other. The wood pulp fibers are interconnected by and held captive within the matrix of microfibers by mechanical entanglement of the microfibers with the wood pulp fibers, the mechanical entanglement and interconnection of the microfibers and wood pulp fibers alone forming a coherent integrated fibrous structure. The coherent integrated fibrous structure may be formed by the microfibers and wood pulp fibers without any adhesive, molecular or hydrogen bonds between the two different types of fibers. The wood pulp fibers are preferably distributed uniformly throughout the matrix of microfibers to provide a homogeneous material. The material is formed by initially forming a primary air stream containing the melt blown microfibers, forming a secondary air stream containing the wood pulp fibers, merging the primary and secondary streams under turbulent conditions to form an integrated air stream containing a thorough mixture of the microfibers and wood pulp fibers, and then directing the integrated air stream onto a forming surface to air form the fabric-like material. The microfibers are in a soft nascent condition at an elevated temperature when they are turbulently mixed with the wood pulp fibers in air.