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Publication numberUS20030217483 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/154,688
Publication dateNov 27, 2003
Filing dateMay 24, 2002
Priority dateMay 24, 2002
Publication number10154688, 154688, US 2003/0217483 A1, US 2003/217483 A1, US 20030217483 A1, US 20030217483A1, US 2003217483 A1, US 2003217483A1, US-A1-20030217483, US-A1-2003217483, US2003/0217483A1, US2003/217483A1, US20030217483 A1, US20030217483A1, US2003217483 A1, US2003217483A1
InventorsCarl Abraham
Original AssigneeAbraham Carl J.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Enhanced impact and energy absorbing product for footwear, protective equipment, floors, boards, walls, and other surfaces
US 20030217483 A1
Abstract
A complete energy absorbing system for a variety of items, including athletic shoes. To accomplish the foregoing, the invention utilizes a series of encapsulated springs that are always in a state of suspension. Such is a result of the unique stiffening of the conical spring during compression thereof. In the preferred mode, the encapsulated springs are conical in nature, and alternate between standard and upside-down orientation, providing the utmost in strength and support while preventing the springs from bottoming out upon impact. Importantly, as distinguished from the prior art, an encapsulating material placed around a plurality of conical springs prevents the springs from being continually placed in a stressed situation, thus maintaining their structural integrity. Such encapsulating material may be made of a polymeric or thermoplastic material, which conforms to the conical shape of the springs and their respective apertures, functioning to aid in the dissipation of impact forces. In enhanced modes, the polymeric or thermoplastic material may also be placed within the interior of a conical spring, to provide additional stability and absorption and dissipation of forces. The uniqueness of the encapsulation of the springs is that such a configuration allows for specific designs, lengths, and widths, as well as ease of placement in pre-formed openings in the padding or encapsulating material for the manufacture of the final product. Because the springs work in conjunction with one another, and because the springs work in conjunction with the encapsulating material, the present invention provides a durable, long-lasting system that allows for previously-unattained stability and comfort.
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Claims(20)
What is claimed is:
1. An impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple conical springs, comprising: padding comprising an outermost layer and innermost layer, and further comprising a plurality of conical apertures, each of a previously-determined size, and each located in a previously-determined area in a previously-determined proximity to one another; a plurality of conical spring members, each of a previously-determined varying length, inserted within the conical apertures of the padding, and encapsulated by the padding; a previously-determined quantity of the conical spring members upright in orientation, and a previously-determined quantity of the conical spring members upside-down in orientation, functioning to allow for increased absorption and dissipation of forces per unit volume; the outermost panel covering the plurality of springs of the assembly, the outermost panel functioning to receive primary forces coming in contact therewith, with the plurality of springs receiving secondary forces, the padding encapsulating same receiving additional forces, and only remaining dissipated forces distributed to a user, with springs in close proximity to one another functioning to create increased absorption and dissipation of impact forces, and springs located further from one another functioning to create decreased absorption and dissipation of impact forces.
2. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein the assembly is incorporated within a previously-determined area of an athletic shoe.
3. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 2, wherein longer springs are located at a heel portion of the athletic shoe, and gradually shorter springs are located towards a mid-section of the athletic shoe.
4. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 3, wherein springs are located along the length of the entire athletic shoe, including to a toe portion thereof.
5. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein springs are located along the width of the entire athletic shoe, including left and right sides thereof.
6. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein the spring assembly is used in connection with items selected from the group consisting of helmets, chest protectors, shin guards, shoulder pads, knee pads, elbow pads, crash mats, boards, floors, walls, and other flat surfaces.
7. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein the assembly is used for an activity selected from the group consisting of diving, swimming, ice hockey, roller hockey, roller skating, skateboarding, field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, football, arena football, boxing, wrestling, gymnastics, baseball, auto racing, motorcycle racing, cycling, and track and field events.
8. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein the presence of springs within the assembly reduces a quantity of padding needed, thus reducing weight and manufacturing costs.
9. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein the assembly is used in conjunction with boards of indoor sporting arenas.
10. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein each spring is tailored to absorb and dissipate foreseeable forces of ground surfaces, humans and objects coming in contact with the spring assembly.
11. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein the springs are manufactured of polymeric materials.
12. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein the springs are manufactured of metal materials, including steel and titanium.
13. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein the spring is of a width of a range of one-sixteenth inch to three inches.
14. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein the spring assembly is manufactured in a variety of previously determined sizes, functioning to render the spring assembly effective for multiple previously determined sporting events and hazardous activities.
15. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein conical spring members upright in orientation, and conical spring members upside-down in orientation are utilized in alternating format.
16. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein padding is located within an interior of at least one conical spring, functioning to allow for increased absorption and dissipation of impact forces.
17. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein the springs are coated with a polymeric material, functioning to reduce friction of the spring against the encapsulating polymeric material.
18. The impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing multiple springs as described in claim 1, wherein the springs are located within a thin, pliable polymeric containment means, functioning to reduce friction of the spring against the encapsulating polymeric material.
19. An impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing a conical spring, comprising: padding comprising an outermost layer and innermost layer, and further comprising a conical aperture of a previously-determined size, located in a previously-determined area; a conical spring member of a previously-determined length, inserted within the conical aperture of the padding, and encapsulated by the padding; the outermost panel covering the spring of the assembly, the outermost panel functioning to receive primary forces coming in contact therewith, with the spring receiving secondary forces, the padding encapsulating same receiving additional forces, and only remaining dissipated forces distributed to a user.
20. An impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing springs selected from the group consisting of ribbon-shaped springs and bell-shaped springs, comprising: padding comprising an outermost layer and innermost layer, and further comprising a plurality of apertures, each of a previously-determined size, and each located in a previously-determined area; a plurality of spring members, each of a previously-determined varying length, inserted within the apertures of the padding, and encapsulated by the padding; the outermost panel covering the plurality of springs of the assembly, the outermost panel functioning to receive primary forces coming in contact therewith, with the plurality of springs receiving secondary forces, the padding encapsulating same receiving additional forces, and only remaining dissipated forces distributed to a user.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The purpose of the present invention is to create a complete energy absorbing system for a variety of items, including athletic shoes. To accomplish the foregoing, the invention utilizes a series of encapsulated springs that are always in a state of suspension. Such is a result of the unique stiffening of the conical spring during compression thereof. In the preferred mode, the encapsulated springs are conical in nature, and alternate between standard and upside-down orientation, providing the utmost in strength and support while preventing the springs from bottoming out upon impact. Importantly, as distinguished from the prior art, an encapsulating material placed at least around a plurality of conical springs prevents the springs from being continually placed in a stressed situation, thus maintaining their structural integrity. Such encapsulating material may be made of a polymeric or thermoplastic material, which conforms to the conical shape of the springs and their respective apertures, functioning to aid in the dissipation of impact forces. In enhanced modes, the polymeric or thermoplastic material may also be placed within the interior of a conical spring, to provide additional stability and absorption and dissipation of forces. The uniqueness of the encapsulation of the springs is that such a configuration allows for specific designs, lengths, and widths, as well as ease of placement in pre-formed openings in the padding or encapsulating material for the manufacture of the final product. Because the springs work in conjunction with one another, and because the springs work in conjunction with the encapsulating material, the present invention provides a durable, long-lasting system that allows for previously-unattained stability and comfort.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] Numerous innovations for improved energy absorbing designs have been provided in the prior art that are described as follows. Even though these innovations may be suitable for the specific individual purposes to which they address, they differ from the present invention as hereinafter contrasted. The following is a summary of those prior art patents most relevant to the invention at hand, as well a description outlining the differences between the features of the present invention and those of the prior art.

[0005] 1. U.S. Pat. No. 5,993,585, invented by Goodwin et al., entitled “Resilient Bladder For Use In Footwear And Method Of Making The Bladder”

[0006] The Goodwin et al. invention includes a method for forming a resilient bladder structure for use in the sole of footwear. The method comprises the steps of forming a shell from a flexible material to have a floor and a perimeter sidewall extending from the floor; placing a core, having spaced apart outer surfaces connected together by a plurality of connecting members, into the shell within the area bounded by the sidewalls; enclosing the shell and core with a covering sheet; bonding the floor of the shell to one outer surface of the core and the covering sheet to the other outer surface of the core by applying pressure and heat to the shell-core-covering sheet assembly to compress the core during the bonding step; preventing bonding of the sidewall to the covering sheet during the compression of the core; and bonding the covering sheet to an outer edge of the perimeter sidewall of the shell to form a sealed bladder structure; and placing fluid into the interior of the bladder so that the plurality of connecting members are placed under tension.

[0007] 2. U.S. Pat. No. 5,592,706, invented by Pearce, entitled “Cushioning Device Formed From Separate Reshapable Cells”

[0008] In the patent to Pearce, a cushion that includes a base and numerous bladders locatable on the base is disclosed and claimed. Each bladder contains a quantity of filler insufficient to completely fill the bladder, and each bladder has a loose or elastomeric skin to accommodate its conforming to the shape of an object to be supported by the cushion. The top surface of each bladder acts as a hammock when supporting a cushioned object, and the bladders interact with each other to accommodate protuberance and crevices of the cushioned object. Other embodiments of the invention include a cushion that is pre-shaped in a form complementary to the shape of the object to be cushioned, and a cushion that re-shapes itself to maintain supporting forces that are generally equal across the contact surface of the supported object.

[0009] 3. U.S. Pat. No. 6,282,814, invented by Krafsur et al., entitled “Spring Cushioned Shoe”

[0010] In the patent to Krafsur, et al. a spring cushioned shoe is disclosed. The shoe includes a sole assembly that has a first spring disposed within a vacuity in the heel portion of the assembly, and a second spring disposed within a vacuity in the ball portion of the assembly. The springs are, e.g., wave springs that extend vertically from the upper to the lower internal boundaries of the vacuities.

[0011] 4. U.S. Pat. No. 5,671,552, invented by Pettibone et al., entitled “Athletic Shoe”

[0012] The patent to Pettibone et al. describes an athletic shoe of the type having a bottom portion for aiding the user in jumping activities. The athletic shoe comprises: an upper portion for engaging the top of a foot on which the athletic shoe is worn; a bottom portion connected to the upper portion for engaging a sole of the foot; the bottom portion having at least an upper and a lower strata generally conforming to the outline of the sole of the foot and spaced from one another to define a cavity therebetween; a plurality of spring members mounted in the cavity and adapted for providing a spring action perpendicular to the sole; an air bladder disposed within the cavity; a rigid tube member forming an air passageway therein in connection between a first end opening and a second end having an intake aperture therethrough; the first end opening is in fluid connection with the air bladder and the intake aperture is exposed to the atmosphere; and a blocking mechanism functionally connected to the rigid tube member in a manner to block the passage of air through the intake aperture when the blocking mechanism is in a closed position and to allow the passage of air through the intake aperture when the blocking mechanism is in an open position.

[0013] 5. U.S. Pat. No. 6,055,747, invented by Lombardino, entitled “Shock-Absorption And Energy Return Assembly For Shoes”

[0014] The patent to Lombardino describes a shock absorption and energy return assembly for increasing the overall performance of a shoe by increasing the stability and shock absorption of the heel. The inventive device includes a lower guide member having a plurality of lower apertures and lower spring retainers, an upper guide member having a plurality of upper apertures and upper spring retainers, a plurality of compression springs positioned within the lower spring retainers and the upper spring retainers, a sealed encasement having a lower portion and an upper portion surrounding the lower guide member and the upper guide member, and a plurality of lower extrusions and upper extrusions. The lower guide member and the upper guide member are preferably U-shaped. The plurality of compression springs are aligned within the perimeter of the lower guide member and the upper guide member for providing maximum stability and response for the user. The encasement is preferably filled with a pressurized gas for adding stability and dampening of the compression springs. The inventive device is designed to be inserted or molded within the heel portion of the mid-sole of a shoe. The encasement is preferably constructed of a transparent or semi-transparent material utilized in combination with a cutout within the mid-sole thereby allowing individuals to view the inventive device in operation.

[0015] 6. U.S. Pat. No. 6,006,449, invented by Orlowski et al., entitled “Footwear Having Spring Assemblies In The Soles Thereof”

[0016] In the patent to Orlowski et al., a shoe having a preassembled spring assembly incorporated into the sole thereof is provided. The spring assembly includes a pair of plates having a plurality of apertures formed therein. The pair of plates define an upper plate and a lower plate in which the apertures formed in the upper and lower plates are axially aligned when the upper plate is disposed directly above the lower plate. A plurality of spring members are disposed between the upper and lower plates. The spring members are axially aligned with the plurality of apertures. A mechanism for retaining the spring members between the upper and lower plates is also provided. The mechanism for retaining is designed for retaining the upper and lower plates at a predetermined distance.

[0017] 7. U.S. Pat. No. 5,782,014, invented by Peterson, entitled “Athletic Shoe Having Spring Cushioned Midsole”

[0018] The patent to Peterson describes an athletic shoe having a spring cushioned midsole assembly which is advantageous from a combined stability and impact absorption/energy dissipation standpoint. A preferred form of the invention includes a spring foam midsole unit having plural spaced projections in forefoot and heel regions, with an additional spring foam heel unit having projections facing the projections of the heel portion of the midsole unit. In addition, the central region of the midsole unit is substantially flat to provide sufficient support and stability, while also providing advantageous impact/force absorption and energy dissipation in the front and heel regions of the shoe. By providing spaced projections, in combination with a modulator or base portion having a substantial thickness, the projections can act independently with respect to one another and can interact with the modulator portion to provide an advantageous stable cushioning effect. In an optional aspect of the invention, a mock window is disposed in the exterior of the shoe, and includes a mock representation of the cushioned midsole assembly.

[0019] 8. U.S. Pat. No. 5,678,327, invented by Halberstadt, entitled “Shoe With Gait-Adapting Cushioning Mechanism”

[0020] The patent to Halberstadt describes an athletic shoe incorporating a cushioning and gait-adapting device which provides resilient cushioning while adapting to the gait of the user during running and other athletic activities. The shoe comprises an upper and a sole with the sole having a heel with medial and lateral ground-engaging elements. A cushioning and energy return and gait-adapting device is provided and comprises a support structure and one or more spring devices. Each spring device has a generally U-shaped pivot or swivel section and lateral and medial resiliently flexible pods. The pivot section has a midportion which is supported by the pivot cradle of the support structure. Resilient flexing of the lateral pod responsive to weight-bearing forces causes reaction forces to be applied across to the medial pod which is then caused to flex so that the medial pod is brought into an orientation for contact with the ground.

[0021] 9. U.S. Pat. No. 5,544,431, invented by Dixon, entitled “Shock Absorbing Shoe With Adjustable Insert”

[0022] The Dixon invention is an improved sport shoe having a spring biased heel with operator insertable foam inserts for varying the biasing ability of the heel. The foam inserts are colored allowing instant determination of the type of activity the shoe is suitable for. The inserts allowing the wearer of the shoe to customize the shoe for a particular activity. High deceit foam inserts provide support for basketball or the like jumping sports. Medium deceit foam inserts provide support for aerobic or the like activities. Low deceit foam inserts provide support for low impact activities such as jogging and no foam inserts provide unlimited spring range suitable for cushioned walking.

[0023] 10. U.S. Pat. No. 5,502,901, invented by Brown, entitled “Shock Reducing Footwear And Method Of Manufacture”

[0024] The Brown invention is an article of footwear which has an outsole with a cavity in the heel region in which a cushioning insert is installed to cushion impacts and provide added lift to the wearer. The heel region of the outsole projects outwardly beyond the periphery of the heel region of the shoe upper to form a projecting peripheral rim. The cavity has an upper wall and a lower wall and a plurality of springs extend between the upper and lower walls at spaced intervals around the peripheral rim. Opposing magnets are mounted in the walls in a central region of the cavity with their like poles facing one another to provide a magnetic biasing force which augments the spring load.

[0025] The aforementioned prior art patents illustrate various spring designs, including: a method for forming a resilient bladder structure, including fluid therein, for use in the sole of footwear; various cushions in particular pre-shaped forms; spring-cushioned shoes utilizing a very small quantity of springs; cushioned shoes utilizing air bladders; shock absorption assemblies for increasing stability and shock absorption of the heel in particular; spring assemblies utilizing solid plates; and sport shoes having a spring biased heel with operator insertable foam inserts for varying the biasing ability of the heel.

[0026] In contrast to the above, the present invention creates a complete energy absorbing system for a variety of items, including shoes, by utilizing a series of encapsulated conical springs that are always in a state of suspension. The top and bottom part of each spring are flat, allowing the encapsulating material therearound to maintain its structural integrity. The springs are conveniently placed within conical pre-formed openings in the padding and the height of the springs varies from a heel of a shoe to the arch and to the sole, with the tallest springs located in the heel area. Usage of the conical springs, teamed with polymeric material in appropriate places, allows for greater absorption and dissipation per unit height and represents a departure from the “trampoline” effect found with non-conical springs utilized in the prior art.

[0027] Importantly, the comical springs alternate between straight up and upside-down configuration, to enhance the degree to which the system can absorb and dissipate forces. The springs are placed between the inner and outer sole in the same manner to the heel area, to provide increased absorption of forces in a widespread area. Moreover, the polymeric material may be located within the conical spring, functioning to allow for greater stability than is realized through usage of the prior art.

[0028] Thus, the “floating” mechanism of the present invention can reduce the force experienced by the body to a level better than 50%, due to the complete control of the design of the spring, that does not change its resilience characteristics during its usage and application.

[0029] In alternate embodiments, the floating system is applied to protective helmets and equipment including, but not limited to crash mats and gymnastic mats, which typically lose their resilience over a protracted period of time. Regarding helmets, the encapsulated conical spring system may be placed in a series of pre-formed openings in the padding under the shell. The height of the spring varies with the location, with the neck area comprising the shortest, and the crown of the head comprising the longest springs. Therefore, in total, the springs of the present invention can be designed to absorb and dissipate higher energy forces than any preexisting system used in any sport.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0030] As noted, the purpose of the present invention is to create a complete energy absorbing system for a variety of items, including athletic shoes. To accomplish the foregoing, the invention utilizes a series of encapsulated springs that are always in a state of suspension. In the preferred mode, the encapsulated springs are conical in nature, providing the utmost in strength and support while preventing the springs from bottoming out upon impact. Such is a result of the unique stiffening of the conical spring during compression thereof. The springs alternate between standard and upside-down orientation, as desired, according to the item in which they are incorporated. Furthermore, additional non-cylindrical springs, such as ribbon-shaped, bell-shaped, and other styles of spring may also be utilized according to the principles noted above.

[0031] Importantly, as distinguished from the prior art, an encapsulating material placed around a plurality of conical springs prevents the springs from being continually placed in a stressed situation, thus maintaining their structural integrity. Such encapsulating material may be made of a polymeric or thermoplastic material, which conforms to the conical shape of the springs and their respective apertures, functioning to aid in the dissipation of impact forces. As will be shown in greater detail herein, the same material may also appear within the conical spring, so as to entirely encapsulate the spring to maximize its effectiveness.

[0032] As noted, the uniqueness of the encapsulation of the springs is that such a configuration allows for specific designs, lengths, and widths, as well as ease of placement in pre-formed openings in the padding or encapsulating material for the manufacture of the final product. Because the springs work in conjunction with one another, and because the springs work in conjunction with the encapsulating material, the present invention provides a durable, long-lasting system that allows for previously-unattained stability and comfort.

[0033] In general, placement of springs in prior art fixtures impedes production of the final product, impedes stabilization of the spring in place, allows for only a limited number of springs to be utilized, and results in a lack of “float” sensation for the user.

[0034] Thus, the configuration of the present invention solves a well-known problem in the prior art, where repetitive injuries are common. A runner's feet, for example, collide with the ground 800 to 2000 times per mile, or 50 to 70 times per minute for each foot, at a force of three to eight times body weight (depending on the terrain and the runner's weight). The impact at the foot surface interface is absorbed by the running shoe or transmitted directly to the athlete's leg and back. While a person is running, minor anatomic and bio-mechanical abnormalities that are of no significance in walking can produce injury.

[0035] In the present invention, then, it is important to note that the height of the conical springs may vary, such as a variance from a heel of a shoe to the arch and to the sole, with the tallest springs located in the heel area. This provides increased absorption of forces in a widespread area, much to the benefit of the user. The encapsulated springs are further placed in a series of conically-shaped pre-formed openings in the heel, arch and sole areas and placed between the inner and outer sole area in the same manner to the heel area, to alleviate the above problem.

[0036] Thus, the “floating” mechanism of the present invention can reduce the force experienced by the body to a level better than 50%. Such is due to the complete control of the design of the spring, that does not change its spring or resilience characteristics during its usage and application. The present assembly is designed so that the user feels in suspension, or “floating,” at all times.

[0037] The floating system will also benefit older or more fragile athletes, as pre-existing athletic shoes particularly fail to absorb sufficient forces when used on hard surfaces, such as all-weather tennis courts. Many athletes' knees injure easily, and the present invention will eliminate or minimize those injuries significantly.

[0038] It should also be noted that the “floating” mechanism is especially important for runners in that the heel of the runner strikes the ground first. The floating design aids in the absorption and dissipation of forces for runners and pronate and/or suppinate. To render the assembly appropriate for all athletes, minimal or no “floating” mechanism may be required in just the sole area.

[0039] The floating system can also be applied to protective helmets and all types of protective equipment used in sports including, but not limited to crash mats and gymnastic mats. It is a known fact that mats of all types lose their resilience over a protracted period of time. The benefits of the floating design as applied to a mat system is that the same would not lose resiliency, and the spring assembly can be designed to absorb and dissipate more forces than the pre-existing mats, such as absorbing forces within specific pre-determined ranges.

[0040] With reference to items such as helmets, the encapsulated conical spring system may be placed in a series of pre-formed openings in the padding under the shell. The height of the spring in such an embodiment varies with the location on the head, with the neck area comprising the shortest, and the top of the head comprising the longest springs. Therefore, in total, the springs of the present invention can be designed to absorb and dissipate higher energy forces than any preexisting system used in any sport or activity.

[0041] Depending upon the exact environment in which the same are to be used, the conical springs may be constructed of polymers or metals including titanium and steel—lightweight, yet durable materials to accomplish the purposes of the invention.

[0042] Importantly, the springs are spread throughout the area to be protected and work in conjunction with one another, providing a completely controlled protected area to effectively absorb and dissipate forces upon impact.

[0043] In any such embodiment, the stiffness of the springs of the invention may be tailored to an appropriate degree according to the type of activity in which the invention is utilized. As previously noted, such stiffness is inherently enhanced by the conical shape of the springs utilized in the preferred mode.

[0044] Thus, in total, the present invention lessens the incidence and severity of injury in a great variety of sporting activities, at low costs and with ease of manufacture and installation.

[0045] Therefore, it is the object of the present invention to provide a unique spring assembly for usage on footwear, protective equipment, floors, boards, walls, and other surfaces, for the purpose of enhancing absorption and dissipation of impact forces.

[0046] It is specifically the object of the present invention to provide an assembly utilizing a plurality of springs encapsulated within padding material, such that impact forces are spread out and distributed widely for the benefit of the user.

[0047] It is a further object of the invention to provide a conical spring assembly that is manufactured in a variety of previously determined sizes, so as to render the same effective for a host of sporting activities and additional applications where such protection is desired.

[0048] It is also an object of the present invention to provide an impact and energy absorbing assembly that requires less padding material to be used, thus reducing the weight of the item in question.

[0049] It is generally an object of the present invention to provide an impact and energy absorbing assembly that is relatively inexpensive to manufacture.

[0050] It is also an object of the present invention to provide an impact and energy absorbing assembly that utilizes springs in both right-side up and upside-down orientation, to provide the highest level of absorption and dissipation available.

[0051] It is further an object of the present invention to provide an impact and energy absorbing assembly utilizing conical springs that provide strength and durability for longer periods than the springs utilized by the prior art.

[0052] The novel features which are considered characteristic for the invention are set forth in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, both as to its construction and its method of operation, together with additional objects and advantages thereof, will be best understood from the following description of the embodiments when read and understood in connection with accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0053]FIG. 1 is a side perspective, partial cut-away view of a full athletic shoe incorporating the enhanced floating system therein.

[0054]FIG. 2 is a rear partial cut-away view of the heel portion of the athletic shoe shown in FIG. 1.

[0055]FIG. 3 is a three-quarter, partial cut-away view of a helmet incorporating the present invention.

[0056]FIG. 4 is a top cut-away view of the enhanced floating system, illustrating conical springs encapsulated within conical apertures therefor.

[0057]FIG. 5 is a side cut-away view of the enhanced floating system, illustrating a single conical spring encapsulated within a conical aperture therefor, and entirely surrounded by polymeric material, including polymeric material within the interior of the conical spring.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0058] This description relates to the general comments herein, as well as the five figures referred to above. As noted, FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of a full athletic shoe incorporating the enhanced floating system therein. Included in the figure are the primary components of the assembly: upper layer (12), lower layer (14), padding (16), conical apertures within the padding (18), conical springs (20) within the conical apertures. In FIG. 1, the assembly is incorporated into an athletic shoe or sneaker (22), which includes a heel portion (24), mid-portion (26), and toe portion (28).

[0059] In the preferred mode, a plurality of conical spring members (20) are uniquely encapsulated in conical apertures (18) within the padding (16) in a previously-determined area of the sneaker (22). Unlike the prior art, a large quantity of springs may be utilized and the length of the springs varies, with the longer springs (20) appearing at the heel portion of the shoe (24) and gradually shorter springs (20) appearing towards the mid-section (26) of the shoe. Importantly, the springs (20) alternate between upright and upside-down in orientation, in an effort to make the most efficient use possible of all available space. In addition, FIG. 1 illustrates that the springs may be of varying distances from one another, according to the level of absorption and dissipation utilized. For the purposes of example, springs in close proximity will provide increased levels of absorption and dissipation, while springs further form one another will result in decreased levels of absorption and dissipation.

[0060] The number of springs utilized creates a system for great distribution and spreading of forces, thereby reducing the adverse effects of impact in a manner previously unattained. The particular quantity and location of the conical springs in FIG. 1 are shown for example purposes only, and the springs may be located along the entire athletic shoe, including to the toe portion thereof (28), if desired by the manufacturer.

[0061] Importantly, the presence of padding surrounding the conical springs and working in conjunction with them prevents the springs from bottoming out, or reaching their full capacity of energy absorption. Furthermore, the assembly provides for complete memory, which is instantaneous upon release of the force exerted. In addition, the configuration functions to allow the outer portion of the assembly to receive primary forces, with the conical springs receiving secondary forces, the padding receiving additional forces, and only remaining dissipated forces distributed to the user. As such, the assembly compresses in a unique manner to absorb the impact of humans coming in contact therewith.

[0062] Specifically, the configuration allows for the entire series of conical springs of varying sizes to work in unison, as opposed to a single spring or limited number of springs attempting to absorb all forces received. This simply allows for a far greater amount of energy absorbed by the assembly of the present invention. Thus, regarding the present invention embodied within an athletic shoe, the floating system will mitigate the incidence metatarsal pain and a host of particular injuries.

[0063] Consistent with the foregoing, FIG. 2 is a rear view of the heel portion of the athletic shoe (24) shown in FIG. 1, illustrating that multiple conical springs (20) may be utilized along the width of the heel, also unlike the prior art. As noted, this configuration provides the utmost in impact and energy absorption, and the length of the springs across the heel width may also vary to compensate for the varying angles at which users land thereon. Such is especially the case, given the stiffness resulting in the conical springs upon compression thereof.

[0064] The incorporation of the present invention into the heel of the athletic shoe is especially important, given the degree of force placed upon the user's heel repetitively during activities such as running and tennis.

[0065] Next, FIG. 3 is a three-quarter, partial cut-away view of a helmet (30) incorporating the present invention, illustrating a plurality of conical springs (20) encapsulated in conical apertures (18) within the padding (16) to provide enhanced impact and energy absorption. The drawing represents the configuration by which the springs are incorporated, and such springs may be located anywhere within the helmet, such as the crown area, forward surface, rear surface, and both sides. Consistent with the description of FIG. 1, the length of the springs varies, with longer springs appearing at particularly sensitive portions and gradually shorter springs appearing outwardly therefrom.

[0066] The depiction of the invention within a football style helmet is for example purposes only, as the encapsulated springs may also be utilized on items such as chest protectors, shin guards, shoulder pads, knee pads, elbow pads, and a host of crash mats, boards, floors, walls, and other flat surfaces.

[0067] It should be noted that when two separate devices, each incorporating the assembly of the present invention, collide with one another, the level of energy absorbed and dissipated by the present invention is even greater than the already beneficial result received through usage of just a single such device.

[0068] Thus, to use the example depicted in FIG. 3 herein, helmet-to-helmet type collisions are common in many contact sports such as football and hockey, and usage of the aforementioned helmets by all players within a game will only reduce the incidence of severe injury by that much more.

[0069] Next, consistent with all of the foregoing, FIG. 4 is a top cut-away view of the present invention, illustrating a plurality of conical springs (20) encapsulated within corresponding conical apertures (18) within the padding (16) to provide enhanced impact and energy absorption. As depicted, the apertures are pre-formed within the padding or polymeric material, and each bear a unique conical shape in order to effectively receive and contain the conical springs in a secure manner.

[0070] Finally, regarding FIG. 5, which is a side cut-away view of the enhanced floating system, illustrated a single conical spring (20) encapsulated within a conical aperture therefore, and entirely surrounded by polymeric material, including polymeric material within the interior of the conical spring. This embodiment is especially important, as the usage of polymeric material literally within the interior of the spring adds significant stability to the system, and even enables a single large conical spring to be utilized. As such, the particular embodiment typified by FIG. 5 is particularly suitable for usage in a heel area of an athletic shoe, which receives significant levels of force on a constant basis. For the purposes of example, a large conical spring may be utilized from the center plane of the heel to the extremity thereof, with such spring wrapped around additional polymeric material.

[0071] In regards to all FIGURES, the spring assembly comprises a previously-determined quantity of springs, such quantity selected according to the needs of any of a host of particular applications. For example, differing numbers of springs may be utilized according to particular needs and styles of footwear, such as whether the same is intended for running, walking, or sporting activities such as tennis or racquetball.

[0072] Regarding such applications of usage, it is important to distinguish the present invention from prior art assemblies wherein “spring-assisted” sneakers and the like are taught to enhance jumping or other athletic performance. Rather than producing a trampoline-type effect, it is the purpose of the present invention to absorb and dissipate forces for the purpose of injury prevention and user safety. As such, unlike certain assemblies disclosed in the prior art, the present system meets all rules and regulations of all major sports, rendering the same available for any physical activity.

[0073] In preferred modes of manufacture, conical spring members are produced in a thickness of a range of one-sixteenth inch to three-quarter inch. However, other thicknesses of springs may be utilized if desirable. Furthermore, it should be noted that non-cylindrical springs, such as ribbon-shaped springs or bell-shaped springs, may also be encapsulated within polymeric materials to provide additional embodiments for the absorption and dissipation of impact forces.

[0074] In all such cases, the springs are manufactured in a variety of previously-determined sizes, functioning to render the springs effective for multiple previously-determined sporting events and hazardous activities. Thus, the assembly may be utilized for protective devices in activities such as diving, swimming, ice hockey, roller hockey, roller skating, skateboarding, field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, football, arena football, gymnastics, baseball, auto racing, motorcycle racing, cycling, and track and field events.

[0075] It is imperative to note that the springs of the present invention may be tailored to absorb and dissipate foreseeable forces of humans and objects coming in contact with the assembly. As such, the coiled springs allow for far greater adaptability to particular needs than traditional pads constructed of foam and the like.

[0076] Regarding the precise construction of the present invention, the springs may manufactured of polymeric materials, such as a durable plastic to provide strength for the assembly at inexpensive cost of manufacture.

[0077] Alternatively, the springs may be manufactured of metal materials, such as steel, if desired by the manufacturer. Importantly, the spring could even be manufactured of titanium, providing durability at sharply reduced weight and costs.

[0078] It is intended that the spring width also be variable according to particular needs, such as of a width of a range of one-sixteenth inch to one half inch. In all instances, the conical apertures will vary in size in accordance to the respective spring size, constantly allowing for a secure fit for each conical spring.

[0079] Moreover, the spring assembly may be manufactured in a variety of previously-determined sizes, functioning to render the spring assembly effective for multiple previously determined sporting events and hazardous activities. In any such instance, the presence of the springs within the padding or wall will significantly reduce the quantity of padding material needed, thus reducing weight and manufacturing costs.

[0080] With regards to all descriptions and graphics, while the present invention has been illustrated and described as embodied, it is not intended to be limited to the details shown herein, since it will be understood that various omissions, modifications, substitutions and changes in the forms and details of the device illustrated, and in its operation, can be made by those skilled in the art without departing in any way from the spirit of the invention.

[0081] Without further analysis, the foregoing will so reveal the gist of the present invention that others can readily adapt it for various applications without omitting features that from the standpoint of prior art, constitute characteristics of the generic or specific aspects of this invention. What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent is set forth in the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7441347 *Jul 1, 2005Oct 28, 2008Levert Francis EShock resistant shoe
US7793431 *Feb 7, 2007Sep 14, 2010Yue's Hong Kong Invention LimitedEnergy recycling footwear
US8112905 *May 18, 2009Feb 14, 2012Athletic Propulsion Labs LLCForefoot catapult for athletic shoes
US8347526Apr 5, 2010Jan 8, 2013Athletic Propulsion Labs LLCShoes, devices for shoes, and methods of using shoes
US8495825Dec 30, 2011Jul 30, 2013Athletic Propulsion Labs LLCForefoot catapult for athletic shoes
US8621766Dec 7, 2012Jan 7, 2014Athletic Propulsion Labs LLCShoes, devices for shoes, and methods of using shoes
US8726424 *Jun 3, 2010May 20, 2014Intellectual Property Holdings, LlcEnergy management structure
US8732983Dec 3, 2013May 27, 2014Athletic Propulsion Labs LLCShoes, devices for shoes, and methods of using shoes
US8752306Oct 10, 2011Jun 17, 2014Athletic Propulsion Labs LLCShoes, devices for shoes, and methods of using shoes
US20110107618 *Sep 16, 2009May 12, 2011Jong Ha KimShoe with elastic means
US20110296594 *Jun 3, 2010Dec 8, 2011Ip Holdings, LlcEnergy management structure
US20130086733 *Oct 10, 2012Apr 11, 2013Intellectual Property Holdings, LlcHelmet impact liner system
DE20320091U1 *Dec 23, 2003May 12, 2005Puma Aktiengesellschaft Rudolf Dassler SportSchuh
WO2013134063A1 *Mar 1, 2013Sep 12, 2013Suddaby Loubert SHelmet with multiple protective zones
Classifications
U.S. Classification36/28, 36/27, 36/37, 36/38
International ClassificationA43B13/18, A43B21/30
Cooperative ClassificationA43B21/30, A43B13/187, A43B13/182
European ClassificationA43B13/18F, A43B21/30, A43B13/18A1