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1. WO2017139427 - BRAIDED TEXTILE SLEEVE WITH SELF-SUSTAINING EXPANDED AND CONTRACTED STATES AND ENHANCED "AS SUPPLIED" BULK CONFIGURATION AND METHODS OF CONSTRUCTION AND SUPPLYING BULK LENGTHS THEREOF

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

BRAIDED TEXTILE SLEEVE WITH SELF-SUSTAINING EXPANDED AND CONTRACTED STATES AND ENHANCED "AS SUPPLIED" BULK CONFIGURATION AND METHODS OF CONSTRUCTION AND SUPPLYING

BULK LENGTHS THEREOF

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 62/293,110, filed February 9, 2016, and U.S. Utility Application Serial No. 15/428,029, filed February 8, 2017, which are incorporated herein by way of reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

[0002] This invention relates generally to textile sleeves, and more particularly to braided textile sleeves.

2. Related Art

[0003] It is known to protect elongate members in textile sleeves against a variety of environmental conditions and affects, or to just contain elongate members in textile sleeves for bundling and routing purposes, such as in knit, woven or braided sleeves. In the case of braided sleeves, the braided wall is commonly braided as a circumferentially continuous, seamless wall, sometimes referred to as a 'closed* wall. One known advantage of a closed, braided wall construction is that the wall can be circumferentially expanded to facilitate sliding the wall over an elongated member by manually pushing and physically holding the opposite ends of the wall in a compressed fashion. By pushing the opposite ends toward one another and manually holding the wall in an axialiy compressed state, the braided wall is caused to take on an increased diameter and a reduced length. When in the increased diameter state, the wall can be readily disposed over the elongate member. Then, after sleeve is installed over the elongate member, the installer can release the wall and the opposite ends automatically spring axially away from one another, thereby taking on a circumferentially decreased diameter and increased length.

[0004] Although the aforementioned ability to increase and decrease the diameter of a braided wall has an advantage over some other known types of sleeve construction, such as woven sleeves, it does come with potential drawbacks. Namely, the ability to manually increase the diameter of the braided sleeve requires applying a continual, externally applied compression force during installation, which can prove challenging, and thus, can complicate the ability of the installer to readily install the sleeve over the elongate member. Further complicating installation of a braided sleeve arises when the sleeve has a relatively long length. With the sleeve having a relatively long length, difficultly arises by having to axially compress the opposite ends toward one another without causing the sleeve to fold or buckle along the length of the sleeve. In addition, upon releasing the wall to have the sleeve resume its lengthened, decreased diameter state, the wall generally has a tendency to spring back, at least partially, toward its axially compressed configuration due to a pattern retention phenomenon caused by friction between the interlaced yarns. As such, the effective length of the sleeve can be unintentionally decreased.

[0005] It is further known to configure sleeves having a finished length and to supply the sleeves as such. Configuring and supplying sleeves in their finished length can result in various drawbacks, namely, increased part numbers, increased numbers of parts to inventory, having to inventory separate finished length sleeves for separate applications, occupying a relatively large area to stow the inventory, having to open the individual sleeves to facilitate assembly, and the like. Each of the aforementioned drawbacks comes at a cost, and thus, increases the overall cost to the end user.

[0006] It is further known to bundle elongate members, such as wires of a wire harness, using tape. The tape can be wrapped about the entirety of the sleeve, or wrapped

intermittently in axially spaced segments about the members being bundled. However, although the tape can prove effective at bundling the members, it is labor intensive, costly, subject to unravel, inconsistent in appearance and function, relatively heavy, among other drawbacks known by those skilled in the art.

[0007] A braided textile sleeve and bulk supply thereof overcomes at least those drawbacks discussed above, as well as others that will become readily apparent to persons skilled in the art of bundling elongate members.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] In accordance with one aspect of the invention, a protective textile sleeve includes a braided, tubular wall extending lengthwise along a central longitudinal axis between opposite ends. The wall has a decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state and an increased length, decreased cross-sectional area second state. The wall has heat-set, braided yarns causing the wall to remain substantially in the first and second states absent some externally applied force. The wall is finish cut having a bulk supply shipping length extending between the opposite ends, and is configured to be subsequently cut into a plurality of discrete use lengths after shipping.

[0009] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the discrete use lengths can be cut having any desired length, as needed for the intended application. As such, the ability to form custom length sleeves is provided by the "as shipped" bulk length of sleeve material, which allows the end user to avoid having to inventory discrete lengths of sleeves for separate applications, given the "as shipped" bulk supply of sleeve material can be custom cut into a plurality of different custom lengths, as desired.

[0010] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the "as shipped" bulk supply of sleeve material can be shipped in the decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state, thereby allowing an increased amount of the sleeve material to be shipped in a package. [0011] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the ratio of the "as shipped" compressed length to the total expanded length of the "as shipped" compressed length can be greater than about 1:5, and in some cases greater than about 1:20 or greater, thereby greatly increasing the amount of sleeve material contained within a relatively small package.

[0012] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the "as shipped" compressed bulk length of sleeve material can be maintained in a generally non-flattened, tubular configuration, thereby enhancing the ability to of the sleeve material to retain the desired tubular configuration, which in turn facilitates assembly of the sleeve about an elongate member.

[0013] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the "as shipped" compressed length of sleeve material can be maintained in a generally non-flattened, tubular configuration and coiled in the decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state within a package, whereupon discrete lengths can be uncoiled from the package, lengthened to the second state and subsequently cut to the finish use length, as desired.

[0014] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the "as shipped" compressed length of sleeve material can be maintained in a generally non-flattened, tubular configuration and coiled in the decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state within a package, whereupon discrete lengths can be uncoiled from the package, cut while in the first state, disposed about an elongate member to be protected while in the first state, thereby facilitating assembly about the elongate member, and then lengthened about the elongate member to the second state.

[0015] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, an "as shipped" length of sleeve material can be maintained in a generally non-flattened, tubular configuration and coiled in the increased length, decreased cross-sectional area second state within a package, whereupon discrete lengths can be uncoiled from the package, cut, compressed to the first state and disposed about an elongate member to be protected.

[0016] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the "as shipped" compressed length of sleeve material can be maintained in a generally non-flattened, tubular configuration and axially compressed in the decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state within a straight tubular package having an inner cross-sectional area slightly greater than the increased cross-sectional area of the compressed sleeve, whereupon discrete lengths can be pulled axially from the straight tubular package and subsequently cut to the finish use length, as desired.

[0017] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the "as shipped" sleeve allows the end user to reduce the number of part numbers placed on order, and the end user is readily able to cut any desired length of sleeve material from the "as shipped" sleeve material, thereby greatly simplifying ordering and inventorying of the sleeve material, and thus, reducing the cost of a finished part.

[0018] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the sleeve material can be axially stretched from its decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state to its increased length, decreased cross-sectional area second state and spooled into a flattened roll form, whereupon discrete lengths can be pulled from the spool and cut to the finish use length, whereupon the cut finished length can be opened to attain a non-flattened configuration and compressed to the second state for assembly about the elongate member.

[0019] In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the heat-set, braided yarns impart a bias on the wall, with the bias causing the wall to remain in the first and second states absent some externally applied force.

[0020] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, at least some of the heat-set, braided yarns can be braided in bundles, wherein the bundles include a plurality of yarns twisted with one another.

[0021] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, at least some of the bundles of twisted yams can be formed having loops interlinked with loops of another bundle of twisted yarns.

[0022] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, at least some of the bundles of twisted yarn can be formed entirely of heat-set yarns.

[0023] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, at least some of the bundles of twisted yarn can include non-heat-settable yarn.

[0024] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, at least some of the bundles of twisted yarn can be formed entirely of non-heat-settable yarns.

[002S] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the wall can include non-heat-settable yarn interlaced through loops of at least some of the bundles of twisted yarn.

[0026] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the wall can include a plurality of non-heat-settable yarns interlaced through loops of at least some of the bundles of twisted yarn.

[0027] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the non-heat-settable yarns interlaced through loops of at least some of the bundles of twisted yarn can be provided as bundles including a plurality of non-heat-settable yams arranged in side-by-side relation with one another with the bundles extending through common loops with one another.

[0028] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the wall can include bundles of heat-settable twisted yam braided solely in a single helical direction, thereby reducing the weight and cost of material content of the sleeve.

[0029] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, at least some of the yarns can include a non-heat-settable multifilament yarn twisted or served with a heat-set monofilament yarn, thereby enhancing the coverage protection provided by the wall.

[0030] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the wall can snap between the first and second states upon overcoming the bias imparted by the heat-set yarns.

[0031] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the wall can have a first diameter in the reduced length first state and a second diameter in the increased length second state, wherein the first diameter is greater than the second diameter.

[0032] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the wall can have a non-circular outer periphery, thereby allowing the wall to conform to similarly shaped, non-circular components.

[0033] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a method of constructing a textile sleeve includes braiding a plurality of yarns with one another to form a seamless tubular wall extending lengthwise along a central longitudinal axis, with at least some of the yarns being provided as heat-settable yarns. The method further includes compressing the wall to a decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state, then heat-setting the heat-settable yarns while the wall is in the first state, cutting an "as shipped" length of the wall while in the first state and packaging the cut length of the wall while in the first state, wherein the packaged sleeve has a bulk "as shipped" length intended to be subsequently cut to form a plurality of in-use, finished length sleeves.

[0034] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can include packaging the "as shipped" compressed length having a generally non-flattened, tubular configuration, thereby enhancing the ability to of the sleeve material to retain the desired tubular configuration, which in turn facilitates assembly of the sleeve about an elongate member.

[003S] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include coiling the wall while in the decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state within a package, whereupon discrete lengths can be uncoiled from the package, lengthened to the second state and subsequently cut to the finish use length, as desired.

[0036] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can include packaging the sleeve while generally in a non-flattened, tubular configuration and in the axially compressed, decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state within a tubular package having an inner cross-sectional area slightly greater than the increased cross-sectional area of the compressed sleeve, whereupon discrete lengths can be pulled axially from the tubular package and subsequently cut to the finish use length, as desired.

[0037] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can include axially stretching the wall from its decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state to its increased length, decreased cross-sectional area second state and spooling the stretched wall into a flattened roll form, similar to tape on a spool, whereupon discrete lengths can be pulled from the spool and cut to the finish use length, whereupon the cut finished length can be opened to attain a non-flattened configuration and compressed to the second state for assembly about the elongate member.

[0038] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include braiding the wall with a lace-braiding machine.

[0039] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include forming bundles of the yarns by twisting at least some of the yarns together and braiding the bundles with one another.

[0040] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include^ forming loops in at least some of the bundles and interlinking loops from one of the bundles with loops of another of the bundles.

[0041] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include forming at least some of the bundles including heat-settable yarns.

[0042] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include forming at least some of the bundles entirely with the heat-settable yarns.

[0043] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include forming all of the bundles of twisted yarns entirety with the heat-settable yarns to enhance the heat-shape retention capacity of the wall.

[0044] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include forming the wall in its entirety with heat-settable yarns to optimize the heat-shape retention capacity of the wall.

[0045] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include interlacing non-heat-settable yarns with at least some of the bundles of twisted yarns to enhance the coverage protection provided by the wall.

[0046] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include interlacing non-heat-settable yarns through loops of at least some of the bundles of twisted yarns to enhance the coverage protection provided by the wall.

[0047] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include forming at least some of the bundles including non-heat-settable yarn to enhance the coverage protection of the sleeve.

[0048] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include forming at least some of the bundles including a plurality of non-heat-settable yarns arranged in side-by-side, non-twisted relation with one another to enhance the coverage protection of the sleeve.

[0049] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include extending the bundles of non-heat-settable yams arranged in side-by-side relation with one another through common loops of other bundles of twisted yarns to enhance the coverage protection of the sleeve.

[0050] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the method can further include forming at least some of the bundles including heat-settable yarns twisted with non-heat-settable yarns to enhance the coverage protections provided by the wall.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0051] These and other aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more readily appreciated when considered in connection with the following detailed description of presently preferred embodiments and best mode, appended claims and accompanying drawings, in which:

[00S2] Figure 1A is a schematic side view of a tubular braided sleeve constructed in accordance with one embodiment of the invention shown in an axially compressed, reduced length first state;

[0033] Figure IB is a schematic side view of the sleeve of Figure 1A shown disposed about an elongate member to be protected while in its axially compressed, reduced length first state;

[00S4] Figure 1C is a side view of the sleeve of Figure 1 A shown in an axially extended, increased length second state about the elongate member;

[00SS] Figure 2 is an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of the sleeve of Figure 1 ;

[00S6] Figure 3A is a view similar to Figure 1C of the sleeve disposed about an elongate member having a centrally located connector;

[0057] Figure 3B is a view similar to Figure 1C of the sleeve disposed about an elongate member having a plurality of intermediately located connectors;

[0058] Figure 4 is a view similar to Figure 1C of a sleeve constructed in accordance with another aspect of the invention shown disposed about an elongate member;

[00S9] Figure SA is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with another aspect of the invention;

[0060] Figure SB is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0061] Figure 5C is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0062] Figure 5D is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0063] Figure SE is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0064] Figure SF is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[006S] Figure SG is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0066] Figure 5H is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0067] Figure SI is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0068] Figure SJ is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0069] Figure SK is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0070] Figure SL is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention; [0071] Figure SM is a view similar to Figure 2 showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a wall of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0072] Figure 6 is a cross-sectional view of a sleeve constructed in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0073] Figure 7A is a flow diagram illustrating a method of constructing a sleeve in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0074] Figure 7B is a flow diagram illustrating a method of constructing a sleeve in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[007S] Figure 8A is a schematic view of a bulk supply of sleeve material constructed and packaged in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention;

[0076] Figure 8B is a schematic view of a bulk supply of sleeve material constructed and packaged in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention; and

[0077] Figure 8C is a schematic view of a bulk supply of sleeve material constructed and packaged in accordance with yet another aspect of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PRESENTLY PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0078] Referring in more detail to the drawings, Figures 1A-1C illustrate a finished braided protective textile sleeve, referred to hereafter as sleeve 10, constructed in accordance with one aspect of the invention. The sleeve 10 has a braided, circumferentially continuous, seamless tubular wall 12 extending lengthwise along a central longitudinal axis 14 between opposite ends 16, 18, wherein one or both of the ends 16, 18 can be formed as an open or closed end, shown as both being open ends 16, 18. The wall 12 is axially compressible to attain a pre-assembled first state, having a decreased length LI and increased diameter Dl and/or increased cross-sectional area as viewed in lateral cross-section taken generally transversely to the central longitudinal axis 14 (Figures 1A and IB) and is axially extendible to attain a fully assembled second state, having an increased length L2 and decreased

diameter D2 and/or decreased cross-sectional area (Figure 1C). The wall 12 includes heat-settable, braided yarn 20, which upon being heat-set, causes at least a portion of the wall 12, in which the heat-set yarn 20 is contained, to remain in, or substantially in, a selected one of the first and second states absent some externally applied force, wherein the externally applied force can be selectively applied to overcome the bias, thereby axial ly contracting and extending the wall 12 between the first and second states, as desired. The heat-set yarn 20 imparts a bias on the wall 12, and upon overcoming the bias via the externally applied force, the wall 12 then remains in the newly selected state, whether the first or second state, until the wall 12 is further acted on by a suitable external force to again move the wall 12 to a different stable configuration, whereupon the wall 12 remains in the new stable configuration until acted on by a suitable external force. Accordingly, the wall 12 has bi-stable, self-sustaining axially compressed first and axially extended second states, though it should be recognized that the wall 12 is able to be readily manipulated to take-on multi-stable configurations as a result of being able to manipulate as many discrete regions of the wall 12 between the opposite ends 16, 18 between the first and second states as desired.

[0079] The wall 12 is preferably braided on a lace-braiding machine, though other braiding mechanisms are contemplated herein. In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the yarn, whether provided entirely of heat-settable yarns or only partially from heat-settable yarns, can be braided, at least in part, as bundles 21 of yarn, wherein the bundles 21 include a plurality of ends of yarn that can be twisted with one another, one yarn in an S-direction and the other yarn in a Z-direction, thereby allowing the separate bundles 21 of yarn to be braided as a single yarn. The embodiment illustrated in Figures 1-3 can be constructed, at least in part, with individual bundles 21 braided with one another, with each bundle 21 including a plurality, shown as a pair of yarns (Figure 2), twisted with one another. It should be recognized that more than 2 ends of yarn could be bundled with one another if desired for the intended application. The individual bundles 21 of twisted yams can be braided in a single S or Z direction or in both S and Z directions (with S representing a first helical direction and Z representing an opposite helical direction). The bundles 21 are shown as being interlinked with one another at cross-over locations by interlinked, circumferential ly closed openings or loops 22 (Figure 2) formed within each of the respective twisted pairs of yarns, and thus, the individual pairs of bundled yams 21 are effectively interlinked and locked together such that they are inseparable from one another. The interlinking of the loops 22 greatly enhances the effect of the bias imparted in the heat-set yarns 20 to move the wall 12 between the first and second bi-stable states and maintain the wall 12 or portion of the wall 12 in the selected state; however, it is contemplated herein that the yarns could be braided without being linked together, though it is with the understanding that the stable states discussed above are likely to be much less pronounced.

[0080] Upon braiding the wall 12, the heat-settable yarn 20, which can be provided as a heat-settable monofilament or a heat-settable multifilament, such as from, for example, nylon, polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), polyethyleneterephthalate (PET), or polypropylene (PP), having a diameter between about 0.1 -0.40mm, by way of example and without limitation, or being generally flat, having a thickness between about 0.15-0.25mm and a width between about 1.0-3.5mm, by way of example and without limitation, is then heat-set while the wall 12 in a selected configuration, such as in a fully or at least partially axially compressed, reduced length state. For maximum bias, the entire wall 12 can be formed from twisted bundles of heat-settable monofilaments 20, such as shown in Figure 2, by way of example and without limitations, though, if desired to provide additional types of protection other than abrasion, such as, enhanced coverage, thermal, acoustic or electromagnet interference (EMI), for example, at least some of the yarns can be provided as non-heat-settable yarn 24 (Figure 4), such as a mineral fiber, e.g. basalt, silica, or ceramic or fiberglass, or as flexible conductive filaments, such as from wire, metal coated polymeric yarn filaments, or hybrid yarns including a conductive filament or non-conductive filament served or twisted with another yarn filament, such as a heat-settable or non-heat-settable monofilament and/or multifilament, for example. As such, the individual twisted bundles 21 could have a desired number of heat-settable ends of yarn 20 and a desired number of non-heat-settable ends of yarn 24, as long as enough heat-settable yarns 20 are included to impart the bias necessary to maintain the wall 12 in its first and second positions. If the wall 12 includes a relatively low percentage of heat-settable yarns 20 relative to the content of non-heat-settable yarns 24, such less than 30% content, by way of example and without limitation, the diameter of the heat-settable yarns 20 can be increased, thereby being at the upper limit of the diameter range, to impart an increased bias as compared to if the heat-settable yarns 20 were provided toward the lower limit of the diameter range.

[0081] Prior to heat-setting the heat-settable yarn 20, the opposite ends 16, 18 of the wall 12 are axially compressed toward one another until the wall 12 is brought to its radially expanded, increased diameter Dl and/or increased cross-sectional area (the area bounded by the wall 12 as viewed in lateral cross-section taken generally transversely to the central longitudinal axis 14), reduced length LI, first state, and then a suitable degree of heat is applied to the heat-settable yarn 20, thereby causing the heat-settable yarn 20 to take-on a heat-set. Upon being heat-set, the wall 12 attains a bias imparted by the heat-set yarn 20 that tends to maintain the wall 12 in the selected in-use second state configuration having an axially extended length L2, reduced diameter D2 and/or reduced cross-sectional area (Figure 1C) or the in the pre-assembly first state configuration having an axially reduced length LI, radially expanded diameter Dl and/or increased cross-sectional area (Figures 1A and IB). Regardless of which state the sleeve 10 is in, the sleeve 10 remains in that state until a sufficient externally applied, axial force is applied to overcome the bias imparted by the heat- set yarn 20. When a suitable force is applied to the wall 12, generally along the direction central longitudinal axis 14 of the sleeve 10, the portion or section of the wall 12 acted on by the axial force snaps, springs, causes the wall 12 to move from one state to the other, whereupon the wall 12 remains in the altered state until acted on again by a suitable external, axially applied force, whether going from the first state to the second state, or vice versa. As such, it should be recognized, the entire length of the wall 12 can be formed into one of the decreased length, first state or increased length, second state, or any number of discrete lengthwise extending portions or segments of the wall 12 can be manipulated to change between the aforementioned first and second states, as desired. Accordingly, axially extending segments of the wall 12 adjacent one another can be biased to remain in different ones of the first and second states from one another, if desired, thereby allowing the wall to take on a varying outer profile along its length.

[0082] Prior to the heat-setting step, the wall 12 of the sleeve, while being compressed axially to the reduced length LI, first state, the outer periphery of the wall 12 can be shaped to be other than circular. Accordingly, the outer periphery can be formed into a non-circular shape as viewed in lateral cross-section taken generally transversely to the central longitudinal axis 14. The non-circular shape can be any desired shaped as may be beneficial for the particular end-use application, such as square, rectangular, triangular, or any polygonal, non-circular shape. Then, upon forming the wall 12 into the reduced length LI, first state, and upon configuring the outer periphery of the wall 12 into the desired cross-sectional shape, the heat can be applied to the wall 12 to impart the heat-set into the heat-settable yarn 20, thereby providing the wall 12 with the bi-stable functionality, as well as forming the outer periphery into the selected shape, whether circular or non-circular (Figure 6), as viewed in lateral cross-section. It should be recognized the wall 12 can be axially compressed to the desired reduced length, whether fully compressed or partially compressed, and further, the wall 12 can be compressed in sections and heat set prior to cutting the sleeve to its finished length, or the wall 12 can be cut to length, then compressed to the desired length, and then heat-set. While compressing the wall 12, it is contemplated that the wall 12 can be disposed about a central mandrel to facilitate uniform compression of the wall 12 without buckling. Further, the mandrel could be heated to facilitate heat-setting the wall 12 while in its fully or partially compressed state.

[0083] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, as illustrated in Figure 7A, the wall 12 can be compressed and heat-set in a length desired for shipping or otherwise supplying a "bulk" length of the sleeve wall 12, wherein the wall 12 is configured to be subsequently cut after receipt into a plurality of discrete finish use lengths. The discrete finish use lengths can be cut having any desired length, as needed for the intended application. As such, the ability to form custom length sleeves, without having to order a specified custom length, is provided by the "as shipped" sleeve, which further allows the end user or end supplier to avoid having to inventory discrete lengths of sleeves for separate applications.

[0084] The "as shipped" bulk length sleeve can be shipped in the decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state, thereby allowing for easy assembly upon removal of the compressed length sleeve from the packaging. With the wall 12 already having an increased cross-sectional area, the user does not need to further compress the wall 12 in order to have it fit over the item to be protected, and thus, assembly is made easy. Upon disposing the compressed length wall 12 about the item to be protected, the wall 12 can be readily extended axial ly to take on its increased length, decreased cross-sectional area second state, thereby bringing the wall 12 of the sleeve 10 into a relatively snug fit about the item being protected. The ratio of the "as shipped" compressed length to the total expanded length of the "as shipped" compressed length can be greater than about 1 :S, and in some cases greater than about 1:20 or greater, depending on the construction of the sleeve, thereby greatly increasing the amount of sleeve material contained within a relatively small package.

[0085] The "as shipped" compressed length of bulk sleeve material can be maintained in a generally non-flattened, tubular configuration, thereby enhancing the ability to of the sleeve material to retain the desired in-use tubular configuration, which in turn facilitates assembly of the sleeve 10 about an elongate member 23. As shown in Figure 8A, the "as shipped" length of bulk sleeve material can be maintained and packaged in the generally non-flattened, tubular configuration in coiled fashion in the decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state within a package, such as a box-shaped package 30, by way of example and without limitation. Then, as desired, discrete lengths can be uncoiled from the package 30, such as through an opening O along the arrow A, lengthened to the axially extended second state and subsequently cut to the desired finish use length. To facilitate cutting the desired finish length of sleeve material, the wall 12 of the bulk supply of sleeve material can be provided with axially spaced markings 28 at predetermined locations, such as every inch, by way of example and without limitation, of the sleeve material while in the first, compressed state, wherein a key or scale can be provided to indicate to the user the length of the resulting extended sleeve 10 that will be formed between adjacent markings 28, such as 1" collapsed sleeve material equals 5" extended sleeve material, by way of example and without limitation. Otherwise, it should be recognized that the markings can be provided on the wall 12 of the sleeve material to indicate the length of bulk sleeve material being cut while in the second, axially extended state. It should be recognized that the box-shaped package 30 could take on any suitable shape, wherein the width (W), height (H) and length (L) dimensions could be customized, as desired, to fit the desired size of coiled sleeve material. Accordingly, if cut while in the first state, as removed from the package 30, the sleeve 10 can be readily disposed about the item being protected and then lengthened to the increased length,

decreased cross-sectional area second state. The opening O can be sized to allow the bulk sleeve material to be freely removed from the package 30 in a clearance fit, thereby allowing the wall 12 to remain in the first state, if desired. Otherwise, the opening O could be sized for an interference fit to automatically cause the wall 12 to be lengthened to the second state as it is being pulled from the package 30, if desired. Further yet, it should be recognized the "as shipped" length of bulk sleeve material can be maintained and packaged in the generally non-flattened, tubular configuration in coiled fashion in the increased length, decreased cross-sectional area second state within the box-shaped package 30, thereby allowing for an increased amount of the bulk sleeve material to be disposed in the package 30, whereupon discrete lengths, as desired, can be uncoiled from the package along the arrow A, cut, then compressed to the increased cross-sectional area first state and disposed about the item being protected.

[0086] Otherwise, as shown in Figure 8B, rather than coiling the axially compressed, bulk length of the sleeve material, the "as shipped" compressed bulk length of sleeve material can be maintained in a generally non-flattened, tubular configuration and axially compressed in the decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state within a tubular package 32 having an inner cross-sectional area, diameter if the sleeve material has a round outer periphery, slightly greater than the increased cross-sectional area of the compressed sleeve material. Then, at the desired time and location, a discrete length can be pulled axially from the tubular package along the direction of arrow A and subsequently cut to the finish use length, as desired. It will be recognized by those skilled in the art that the sleeve material can be cut while in the axially compressed first state or in the axially extended second state. If cut in the axially extended second state, upon extending the segment of the bulk packaged sleeve material, and then cutting the desired finish length for the intended application, the cut finished length of the resulting sleeve 10 can be readily compressed axially to return the

finish length sleeve 10 to its first, axially compressed, radially expanded state to facilitate assembling the sleeve 10 about the elongate member 23, as discussed above. Accordingly, the "as shipped" bulk sleeve material allows the end user to reduce the number of part numbers placed on order, and the end user is readily able to cut any desired length of sleeve material from the "as shipped" sleeve material, thereby greatly simplifying ordering and inventorying of the sleeve material, and thus, reducing the cost of a finished part.

[0087] In accordance with another aspect of the invention, as shown in Figures 7B and 8C, the heat-set, bulk length of sleeve material can be axially stretched from its decreased length, increased cross-sectional area first state to its increased length, decreased cross-sectional area second state and spooled into a generally flattened roll form onto a spool 34, similar to a roll of tape, whereupon the end user or supplier can pull discrete lengths of the flattened sleeve material from the spool 34, as desired, and cut a discrete section or sections, such as at markings 28, to the desired finish use length. Of course, in this embodiment the markings indicate actual extended length of the resulting sleeve 10, wherein the markings 28 could be located ever 1", every Γ, or as desired by the end user. Then, the cut finished length sleeve 10 can be opened to attain a non-flattened configuration, whether round or otherwise, and compressed to the increased cross-sectional area second state for assembly about the elongate member 23. It is contemplate herein that any suitable tool, such as a cylindrical mandrel 36, by way of example and without limitation, can be used to facilitate opening and compressing the cut length of finished sleeve 12. It will be recognized that with the sleeve wall 12 being spooled in flatted form on the spool 34, an increased amount of sleeve material can be shipped in a reduced size package.

[0088] During assembly of the sleeve 10 about an elongate member 23 to be bundled and protected, such as a wire harness, conduit, or otherwise, the wall 12 can be axially compressed along its central longitudinal axis 14 to a fully or partially compressed first state (Figure 1A), wherein the wall 12 remains in, or substantially in the first state absent some externally applied forced sufficient to move the wall 12 to a different configuration. If the wall 12 is relatively long, such as about 2ft or longer, separate lengthwise extending regions can be axially compressed until the entire wall 12 is axial ly compressed at least in part, thereby making it easy to transform the entire length of the wall 12 to the first, axially compressed state. As such, the sleeve 10 takes on an increased diameter Dl and/or increased cross-sectional area, which allows the wall 12 to be more easily and readily disposed over the elongate member 23 to be protected, such as shown schematically in Figure IB, by way of example and without limitation, as well as over and about any enlarged connectors or fittings 26 attached thereto. Depending on the type of packing used, as discussed above, the wall 12 can already be in the second state as it is being removed from the package 30, and thus, assembly is made easy without having to compress the wall. Then, upon disposing the elongate member 23 through the radially expanded wall 12, an axially applied tensile force can be applied to the wall 12, such as by pulling at least one of the opposite ends 16, 18 axially away from the other of the opposite ends 16, 18, thereby causing the wall 12 to extend axially and snap or transform from the radially expanded, reduced length first state to the radially contracted, increased length second state, such as shown schematically in Figure 1C, by way of example and without limitation. It should be recognized that any portion or portions of the wall 12 can be lengthened from the reduced length state LI, as desired, while leaving the remaining portion or portions in the first, axially compressed, radially expanded state if desired. As such, the wall 12, which can be braided to extend over any desired axial length, can be extended axially over the desired length of the elongate member 23 to be protected. With the wall 12 being moved to the increased length L2, reduced diameter D2 and/or reduced cross-sectional area second state, the wall 12 is able to contain the elongate member 23, such as a wire harness, for example, in the desired envelope to allow the elongate member 23 to be neatly bundled and routed, as desired. Further, in addition to the braided wall 12 acting to bundle the elongate member 23, particularly in the case of a wire harness having a plurality of individual, exposed wires, the wall 12 acts to provide protection to the elongate member 23 against abrasion, particularly if the heat-settable yam 20 is provided as a monofilament. It should be recognized that the picks per inch can be provided, as desired, to provide the coverage needed for the intended application. As such, if less coverage is needed, a reduced picks per inch can be used, and if more coverage is needed, and increased picks per inch can be used. Further yet, the picks per inch can be varied over the length of the wall 12, as desired for the intended application. With less coverage, a benefit of seeing through the wall 12 is attained, thereby being able to see the contents within the sleeve, such as individual colors of separate wires, by way of example and without limitation. Otherwise, if provided with increased coverage, added protection against the ingress of contamination or enhanced acoustic and/or thermal protection can be provided.

[0089] In Figure 3 A, the sleeve 10 is shown extending about an elongate member 23 having a centrally located connector 26 between opposite end connectors 26. The ability of the sleeve 10 to remain expanded locally in the first state over a portion of the length of the sleeve 10 allows the wall 12 to accommodate the central connector 26, wherein the remaining portion of the sleeve 10 can be readily extended lengthwise to the second state upon assembly. It should be recognized that any number of expanded regions in the first state and contracted regions in the second state can be formed between the opposite ends 16, 18 of the sleeve 10, as desired, such as shown in Figure 3B, wherein the elongate member 23 includes a plurality of intermediate connectors 26 to be received within the sleeve 10, thereby allowing the sleeve 10 to accommodate and conform to a multitude of different radial dimensions and undulations of the elongate member 23 along the length of the sleeve 10.

[0090] In Figure 4, a sleeve 110 constructed in accordance with another aspect of the invention is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 100, are used to identify like features. The sleeve 110 has a braided wall, identified genetically by reference numeral 1 12, including heat-settable yarns 120, as discussed above, wherein upon being heat-set, impart a bias on the wall 1 12 that causes the wall 112 to remain in selected first and second states. As such, absent some externally applied force causing the wall 112 to move, the wall 112 remains in a selected one of the first and second states. As discussed above, an externally applied force can be selectively applied to the wall 1 12, in its entirety or to a discrete region, to move the wall 112 or portion thereof from one of the first and second states to the other of the first and second states, as desired. The wall 1 12 of the sleeve 110 further includes non-heat-settable yarns 124 braided with the heat-settable yarns 120. The non-heat-settable yarns 124 can be provided as a multifilament yarn and/or a monofilament yarn, from non-heat-settable materials discussed above to provide the desired type of protection. If provided as a multifilament yarn, enhanced coverage is provided, as generally shown in Figure 4, to protect the elongate member 23 against contamination from external debris. Further, the multifilaments enhance the softness to the sleeve 1 10, thereby reducing the abrasive effects of the wall 1 12 against neighboring objects. A plurality of braid patterns are contemplated for the wall 1 12, with those embodiments discussed hereafter.

[0091] As shown Figure 5 A, one embodiment of a wall 212 of the sleeve 1 10 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 200, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 212 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 212 is the same. The wall 212 includes the non-heat-settable yarns 224, which are shown as being bundled in twisted relation with the heat-settable yarns 220 to form discrete bundles 221, shown as a single non-heat-settable yarn 224 being twisted with a single heat-settable yarn 220, by way of example and without limitation. The discrete bundles 221 are braided with one another to form the entirety of the wall 212, with each of the loops 222 of each bundle shown as being interlinked with loops 222 of another bundle 221, in accordance with another aspect of the invention. As such, each of the bundles 221 provide a dual benefit of being able to impart a bias upon the heat-settable yarn 220 being heat-set, while each bundle also provides enhanced coverage protection via inclusion of a non-heat-settable yarn 224, such as a relatively bulky multifilament, for example.

[0092] In Figure SB, another embodiment of a wall 312 of the sleeve 310 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 300, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 312 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 312 is the same. The wall 312 includes the non-heat-settable yarns 324, which are shown as being bundled in twisted relation with one another to form discrete bundles 32 Γ entirely of twisted non-heat-settable yarn, wherein the discrete bundles 32Γ can be braided with other bundles 32 Γ containing heat-settable yarn 320, such as bundles of solely heat-settable yarn 320, with each of the loops 322 of each bundle 32 Γ, 321" shown as being interlinked with loops 322 of another bundle 32 Γ, 321", in accordance with another aspect of the invention. The twisted bundles 32 Γ of non-heat-settable yarn 324 and twisted bundles of heat-settable yarn 320 are shown as alternating with one another in each of the S and Z directions.

[0093] In Figure 5C, another embodiment of a wall 412 of the sleeve 110 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 400, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 412 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 412 is the same. The wall 412 includes the bundles 42Γ containing solely non-heat-settable yarn 424, wherein the discrete bundles 42 Γ can be braided with other bundles 421 containing both heat-settablc yarn 420 and non-heat-scttable yarn 424, with each of the loops 422 of each bundle 420, 42 Γ shown as being interlinked with loops 422 of another bundle 420, 42 Γ. In this embodiment, the bundles 421 are shown as extending entirely in a first S or Z helical direction, while the bundles 42 Γ are shown as extending entirely in an opposite second S or Z helical direction relative to the bundles 421. Accordingly, the use of the heat-settable yarns 420 is reduced, thereby adding to the degree of coverage provided by the non-heat-settable yarn 424, and further increasing the degree of flexibility of the sleeve 1 10.

[0094] In Figure SD, another embodiment of a wall 512 of the sleeve 110 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 500, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 512 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 512 is the same. The wall 512 includes the twisted bundles 521 containing solely heat-settable yarn 520, with the bundles 521 shown as extending in both the S and Z directions, such as described above with regard to the sleeve shown in Figure 2; however, the wall 512 also includes non-twisted, non-heat-settable yarn 524 extending in both the S and Z directions. The non-twisted, non-heat-settable yarn 524 is shown as being braided in pairs of side-by-side yarns, with each pair passing through a common loop 522 of the twisted bundles 521. Each of the non-twisted, non-heat-settable yarns 524 is braided such that each of the yarns 524 extending in an S-direction extend co-helically with and between bundles 521 extending in the S-direction and undulate over and under the yarns 524 extending in a Z-direction, and also undulate over and under corresponding heat-settable yarns 520 in the region of the loops 522, and each of the yarns 524 extending in a Z-direction extend co-helically with and between bundles 521 extending in the Z-direction and undulate over and under the yarns 524 extending in a S-direction, and also undulate over and under corresponding heat-settable yarns 520 in the region of the loops 522. As can be seen in the drawings, each yarn 520, 524 undulates over one yam and then under the next yarn, thereby forming a plain braid, similar to a pattern that would be found in a plain weave, although braided, of course. The presence of the non-heat-settablc yarn 524 functions to provide softness, flexibility and increased coverage protection to the sleeve 110. In the embodiment shown, a single pair of non-heat-settable yarn S24 extends between adjacent heat-settable bundles 521, in both the S and Z directions.

[0095] In Figure 5E, another embodiment of a wall 612 of the sleeve 110 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 600, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 612 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 612 is the same. The wall 612 is similar in construction to the wall 512; however, rather than the twisted bundles being formed entirely of heat-settable yarn, the twisted bundles 621 extending in at least one of the S or Z directions, and shown as extending in both the S and Z directions, are provided as a heat-settable yarn 620 twisted with a non-heat-settable yarn 624. Otherwise, the wall 612 includes the non-twisted, non-heat-settable yarns 624 as discussed above for the wall 512. Accordingly, the wall 612 has a slightly reduced presence of heat-settable yarn 620 and a slightly increased presence of non-heat-settable yarn 624 compared to the wail 512.

[0096] In Figure 5F, another embodiment of a wall 712 of the sleeve 110 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 700, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 712 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 712 is the same. The wall 712 is similar in construction to the wall 512; however, rather than having a single pair of non-twisted, non-heat-settable yarns extending between each twisted bundle 721 of heat-settable yarns 720, two separate pairs of non-twisted, non-heat-settable yarns 724 extend between each twisted bundle 721 of heat-settable yarns 720. As with the wall 512, each yarn 720, 724 undulates over one yarn and then under the next yarn, thereby forming a plain braid, similar to a pattern that would be found in a plain weave, although braided, of course. It should be recognized that the number of non-heat-settable yarns 724 extending between the heat-set bundles 721 could be different than as shown, depending on the requirements of the intended application. According, more non-heat-settable yarns 724 can be included where further enhance coverage protection is desired.

[0097] In Figure SG, another embodiment of a wall 812 of the sleeve 1 10 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 800, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 812 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 812 is the same. The wall 812 is similar in construction to the wall 612; however, rather than having a single pair of non-twisted, non-heat-settable yarns extending between each twisted bundle of heat-settable and non-heat-settable yarns, two separate pairs of non-twisted, non-heat-settable yarns 824 extend between each twisted bundle 821 of heat-settable and non-heat-settable yarns 820, 824. As with the wall SI 2, each yarn 820, 824 undulates over one yarn and then under the next yarn, thereby forming a plain braid, similar to a pattern that would be found in a plain weave, although braided, of course. It should be recognized that the number of non-heat-settable yarns 824 extending between the heat-set bundles 821 could be different than as shown, depending on the requirements of the intended application. According, more non-heat-settable yarns 824 can be included where further enhance coverage protection is desired.

[0098] In Figure SH, another embodiment of a wall 912 of the sleeve 110 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 900, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 912 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 912 is the same. The wall 912 includes twisted bundles 921 of heat-settable yarn 920 extending solely in one of an S or Z helical direction and non-twisted, non-heat-settable yam 924 extending in both the S and Z helical directions. The non-heat-settable yarn 924 extending in the opposite S or Z direction to the heat-settable yarns 920 extend through loops 922 of the twisted bundles 921 in pairs, similarly as discussed above, with one non-heat-settable yarn 924 of each pair extending over-and-under one side of the loop 922 and the other non-heat-settable yarn 924 of each pair extending over-and-under and opposite side of the respective loop 922, as shown. The non-heat-settable yarn 924 extending in the same S or Z direction to the heat-settable yarns 920, thereby being parallel and co-helical therewith, extend over-and-under the heat-settable yarns 920 extending transversely to the heat-settable yarns 920, such as would be seen in a plain weave, but being braided, of course. In the embodiment shown, a total of 6 non-heat-settable yarns are shown extending between adjacent twisted bundles 921, though it is contemplated herein that the number could be more or fewer, depending on the needs of the intended application.

[0099] In Figure SI, another embodiment of a wall 1012 of the sleeve 1 10 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 1000, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 1012 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 1012 is the same. The wall 1012 is similar to the wall 912, and includes twisted bundles 1021 extending solely in one of an S or Z helical direction and non-twisted, non-heat-settable yam 1024 extending in both the S and Z helical directions. In contrast to the wall 912, the twisted bundles 1021 include a non-heat-settable yam 1024 twisted with a heat-settable yam 1020. As such, less heat-settable-yam is included in the wall 1012 as compared to the wall 912; however, more non-heat-settable yam 1024 is included in the wall 1012 as compared to the

wall 912. As such, the wall 1012 is slightly more flexible, has a greater area of coverage protection, but has a slightly reduced ability to spring between the first and second states. Otherwise, the wall 1021 is the same as discussed above for the wall 912.

[00100] In Figure 5J, another embodiment of a wall 1112 of the sleeve 110 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 1100, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 1112 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 11 12 is the same. The wall 1 112 is similar to the wall 912; however, the wall 1 1 12 includes twisted bundles 1121 extending solely in one of an S or Z helical direction and non-twisted yarn 1124 extending solely in the opposite S or Z helical direction from the twisted bundles 1121. Accordingly, all yarns extending in one of the S or Z directions are twisted bundles 1121, while all the yarns extending in the S or Z direction opposite the helical direction of the twisted bundles 1 121 are non-twisted yarns 1 124. The twisted bundles 1121 are shown as including all heat-settable yarns 1120, shown as heat-settable monofilaments, by way of example and without limitation, as it is contemplated that heat-settable multifilaments could be used. In addition, the non-twisted yarns 1 124 are shown as including all non-heat-settable multifilaments, such as can be provided from the materials discussed above. As such, the twisted bundles 1121 extending in one of the S or Z directions, aside from providing protection to the elongate members being protected against abrasion, impart bias within the wall 11 12 to provide the wall 1 1 12 with bi-stable states, as discussed above. Meanwhile, the non-heat-settable, non-twisted yarns 1124 extending in the opposite helical direction S or Z provide the type of further coverage protection desired to the elongate members contained in the sleeve.

[00101] In Figure 5K, another embodiment of a wall 1212 of the sleeve 110 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 1200, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 1212 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 1212 is the same. The wall 1212 is similar to the wall 1112, with the wall 1212 having twisted bundles 1221 extending solely in one of an S or Z helical direction and non-twisted yarn 1220 extending solely in the opposite S or Z helical direction from the twisted bundles 1221. Accordingly, all yarns extending in one of the S or Z directions are twisted bundles 1221, while all the yarns extending in the S or Z direction opposite the helical direction of the twisted bundles 1221 are non-twisted yarns 1220. The twisted bundles 1221 are shown as including all heat-settable yarns 1220, shown as heat-settable monofilaments, by way of example and without limitation, as it is contemplated that heat-settable multifilaments could be used. In contrast to the wall 1 1 12, the non-twisted yarns 1220 are shown as including all heat-settable monofilaments.

[00102] In Figure SL, another embodiment of a wall 1312 of the sleeve 1 10 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 1300, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 1312 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 1312 is the same. The wall 1312 is similar to the wall 1112, with only the notable difference being discussed hereafter. Rather than the wall 1312 including twisted bundles solely comprising heat-settable yarn, the wall 1312 includes twisted bundles 1321, with each bundle 1321 including a heat-settable yarn 1320, shown as a monofilament, though heat-settable multifilaments are contemplated herein, and a non-heat-settable yarn 1324 twisted together, such as shown and described for the wall 1021 of Figure SI.

[00103] In Figure SM, another embodiment of a wall 1412 of the sleeve 1 10 of Figure 4 is shown, wherein the same reference numerals as used above, offset by a factor of 1400, are used to identify like features, wherein an enlarged fragmentary portion of the wall 1412 is shown for simplicity, with it being understood that the remaining portion of the wall 1412 is the same. The wall 1412 is similar to the wall 1112, with only the notable difference being discussed hereafter. Rather than the wall 1412 including twisted bundles solely comprising heat-settable yarn, the wall 1412 includes twisted bundles 1421 of solely heat-settable yarn 1420, shown as monofilaments, though heat-settable multifilaments are contemplated herein, and twisted bundles 1421 Of solely non-heat-settable yarn 1424, shown as non-heat-settable multifilaments. The respective twisted bundles 1421, 142 Γ are shown as alternating with one another; however, it is to be recognized that any desired number and pattern of the respective twisted bundles 1421, 142 Γ is contemplated herein.

[00104] Many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. In addition, it is to be recognized that any braided tubular wall constructed in accordance with the various aspects of the invention can by packaged in bulk length, as discussed above with reference to Figures 7A-7B and 8A-8C, and can take on a multitude of uses, including that of a protective member, a bundling member, or even a novelty item, by way of example and without limitation. It is, therefore, to be understood that the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described, and that the scope of the invention is defined by any ultimately allowed claims.