US 20040049950 A1
A custom moldable footwear is disclosed having a base and an upper portion. The upper portion contains within it two bladders located on the medial and lateral side of the foot. The two bladders are placed approximately between the base and malleoli, and between the middle of the heel and the proximal metatarsals. The bladders have within them a dry composite. The dry composite is impregnated by a fast setting resin/hardener liquid that is dispensed via a double barrel syringe and spiral cap through a small opening located on the posterior heel. The present invention is manifested in numerous types of footwear
1. A custom moldable footwear for receiving and supporting a user's foot comprising: a base, said base comprises the entire sole of the footwear; an upper portion composed of a liner material and an exterior material, said upper contains within said liner material and said exterior material a bladder; said bladder is located on both the medial and lateral side of the foot, said bladder having a vertical placement extending from said base proximally to the malleoli, said bladder having a horizontal placement extending from the middle of the heel to the proximal metatarsals, said bladder contains within it dry composite; said upper having a small juncture, said juncture is located on the posterior heel of said footwear superior to the calcaneus, said juncture is a portal for injection of fast setting resin/hardener liquid into said bladder, said resin/hardener liquid is contained within a double barrel syringe, said resin/hardener liquid is dispensed into said bladder through a spiral cap attached to the end of said syringe.
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 This invention pertains to footwear such as in-line skates, ice skates, hockey skates, figure skate, cross-country ski boots, and the like. More particularly, this invention pertains to such footwear which can be custom molded, to any foot, after the boot has been manufactured.
 The sport of in-line and ice speed skating, hockey, figure skating, cross-country skiing, and the like are all very competitive sports, at the elite level. For optimal performance these sports demand comfort and stability. A lack of comfort can result in decreased training time. A lack of stability can result in: a loss of power through excessive joint bending and increased fatigue through excessive lower leg muscle stimulation, these factors will cause a decrease in performance.
 Standard mass produced footwear used for the aforementioned sports are manufactured with a set shape and support, provided by molded plastic. The shape and support of the footwear cannot be modified; therefore, the athlete has to suffer the lack of support and comfort that comes with skate boots that are not exactly formed to their feet. A significant problem exists as to how to accommodate individual differences within mass produced articles of footwear.
 Many high-end models are made with a thermoplastic structure throughout the upper. Thermoplastic can be heated and then molded to the athlete's foot. The downfall of thermoplastic uppers is that they are typically bulky, heavy, and have limited rigidity. The mold-ability of the previous art is limited to the upper portion of the boot. This leaves an already formed arch, or no arch support at all. With the myriad of different shaped arches existing in the general population a pre-formed arch can be a serious problem for any athlete with a non-normal arch. Individuals with higher than normal arches will lose power during the push phase when their arches collapse. Individuals with flat arches will have to put up with excessive pain.
 Some other attempts to solve the problem of how to custom form a mass produced article of footwear have been to place a self contained bladder within the footwear, strategically placed in areas of greater inter-individual anatomical variance, within the bladder a large variation of materials are contained which all have a common function of becoming more rigid through different mechanisms: chemical reactions, heat, or ultraviolet light. A major limitation of the above inventions is that the bladder is not integrated into the main structure of the footwear through mutual composite linkage or even mechanical attachment. The bladder system in these inventions is too thick and heavy, in some due to excess gel material, in others due to thick foam pieces contained within the bladder. Most bladder systems contained no medium within them for the stiffening or forming agent to impregnate, and create a long lasting rigid matrix. All self-contained bladder systems can only achieve one set stiffness, after molding, which leaves no customization of the amount of desired support. Some systems do not maintain their shape after usage, therefore if an individual has to put the footwear on just prior to a race or competition the footwear will not be customized to their feet.
 Some inventions have a bladder system that-can be injected externally with a stiffening agent, but were only located in the insole of the footwear, and were not mechanically attached. These inventions were also limited by the fact that there was no medium within them for the stiffening or forming agent to impregnate, and create a long lasting rigid matrix, as was mentioned above. Also, the methods of mixing the stiffening agent (usually a resin and hardener composition), before injection, was not user friendly, and in many cases was too time consuming and expensive.
 The aim of the present invention is to solve the above-mentioned problems and provide footwear that is more supportive, more comfortable and more moldable than the previous art.
 According to the preferred embodiments of the invention, a custom moldable footwear is provided having a base and an upper portion. The upper portion is composed of a liner material and an exterior material. The liner and exterior material have within them a pocket or bladder on both the medial and lateral side of the foot. The bladders have a vertical placement extending from the base to the malleoli, and a horizontal placement extending from the middle of the heel to the proximal metatarsals. The bladders have a dry composite within them. The upper has a small portal on the posterior heel of the skate boot, superior to the calcaneus. Through the portal a fast setting resin/hardener liquid is injected. The fast setting resin/hardener liquid is contained within a double barrel syringe that is dispensed into the bladder through a spiral cap.
 An objective of the invention is to provide footwear that can be almost entirely shaped to a foot. Only a thin base plate is pre-shaped the rest of the boot starts out soft and can be stiffened while on an individual's foot, providing an exact mold of the individual's foot, within 5-10 minutes.
 Another important objective of the invention is to provide footwear with support composed of a fast setting resin/hardener-composite matrix. Resin/hardener molding provides a far more precise mold of the foot than does thermoplastic.
 Another important objective is to provide footwear that can have customized support, ranging from very stiff to soft. This range of stiffness can be acquired by limiting the amount of resin-hardener injected, and by adjusting the size of the bladder.
 Another important objective is to provide footwear wherein the resin-hardener can be easily injected into the bladder through a spiral cap, that fits on to the end of a double barrel syringe, that contains the resin and hardener liquids in separate barrels. During transit through the spiral cap the resin and hardener is properly mixed before they reach the tip.
 Another important objective is to provide footwear that can be effectively molded to any shape of arch. The medial bladder extends to the lateral side of the transverse arch; therefore this entire area can be molded to any shape of arch.
 Another objective is to provide footwear that can be easily manufactured through mass production. The initially manufactured product is supplied to distributors as a stock footwear made in an adequate range of traditional sizes. The wearer tries on the footwear and the size that provides the best fit is chosen, and then molded to the individual's foot.
 A final objective is to provide footwear that can be molded into it a range of motion. The present invention allows for an approximate three-minute window during which, the individual investing in the new footwear, can go through a range of motion. By taking the foot through a range of motion that mimics that of the actual sport or recreation that the footwear will be used for provides an even better shaped custom molded footwear than if the footwear was made from a plastic mold. Those of ordinary skill in the art would be privy to the fact that most custom molded footwear are built around a plaster or plastic replica of the foot and lower leg of the individual buying the footwear. Due to the extremely high costs of custom manufacturing each individual pair of footwear, an alternative method such as the present invention, that allows mass production and provides a comparable or even superior product, is the ultimate choice.
 The present invention provides a custom moldable footwear, which in a preferred embodiment is an in-line skate 1 such as illustrated in FIG. 1. The preferred embodiment is also configured as an ice-speed skate 2 such as that illustrated in FIG. 2, and as a hockey skate 3 such as that illustrated in FIG. 3. For the purpose of this patent the preferred embodiment within the inline skate will be described in detail. These embodiments can be used in the aforementioned footwear, and the sole right will be held for such footwear. The inline skate 7 includes an upper shoe portion 4, which receives the user's foot and ankle. The upper shoe portion 4 is secured to a rigid base 5, outlined in the drawing by a thick dashed line. Contained within the upper shoe 4 is a bladder 6, seen throughout the figures with a thin dashed line. The bladder 6 has contained within it a dry composite 8, as will be described subsequently.
 Although the preferred embodiments of the athletic shoe illustrated in FIG. 1 is an in-line skate, it should be understood that the present invention is well suited for the construction of other athletic shoes, such as ice-speed skates seen in FIG. 2, hockey skates seen in FIG. 3, figure skates, cross-country ski boots and the like. The present invention is especially useful is footwear that extend proximally to support the ankle joint. In-line boots require this type of construction, and are a suitable model for the present invention.
 The rigid base 5 has attached below it an inline track 7 that carries a plurality of wheels. In the present invention the preferred embodiments are contained within and above the rigid base 5, and therefore what is attached below the rigid base 5 will not be discussed any further.
 The in-line skate 7 of FIG. 1 includes an upper shoe portion 4, which initially after manufacture is very soft and flexible, the only initial support being derived from memory foam and the upper material. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 4 the upper shoe portion 4 includes and exterior fabric material 9, which may be constructed from leather, woven nylon and the like. The exterior fabric material 9 must be made from an impervious material, so that it is possible to create an airtight bladder between it and the interior fabric material 10 (seen in FIG. 4). The interior fabric material 10 may be constructed from leather and the like.
 Attention is now directed to FIG. 4 to better understand the internal construction of the upper shoe portion 4. Adhered within and extending from the base 5 is the dry composite 8, which may be composed of Kevlar, carbon fiber, fiber glass, and the like. The interior material 10 is adhered to the base 5 on the inside of the dry composite 8. The exterior material 9 is adhered to the base 5 on the outside of the dry composite 8 and to the outer surface of the interior material 10, where the dry composite 8 is not present, forming a seal between the interior material 10 and the exterior material 9 with the dry composite 8 contained within, forming the bladder 6.
 Construction of the upper 4 and base 5 may be further understood with reference to the cross-sectional view in FIG. 5. It can be seen that base 5 is composed of a core made of high density, extremely rigid, lightweight foam. The foam core 11 is sandwiched between two layers of rigid composite 12, which may be composed of Kevlar, carbon fiber, fiberglass, and the like. It can be clearly seen that the dry composite 8 extends out of the base S proximally to above the location of the malleoli. Adhered to the inside of the interior material 9 is a thin layer of elastomeric foam padding, or memory foam 13. Adhered to the inside of the memory foam 13 is an inner liner 14, which may be composed of softer absorptive materials, such as leather and the like. The inner liner 14 is attached at the top of the upper 4 to the exterior material 9 by machine stitching.
 Attention is now directed to FIG. 6 where a small round hole can be seen. This hole is a portal 15 where the resin/hardener liquid 17 enters the bladder 6. It should also be noted in FIG. 6 that the bladder 6completely wraps around the heel cup, mechanically attached to the base 5 where adjacent. The portal 15 can be seen blown-up in both FIG. 4 and FIG. 7. FIG. 4 shows within the blown-up circle a portal cap 16 that fits perfectly within the portal 15, and is placed into the portal 15 after the resin/hardener liquid 17 is fully dispensed within the bladder 6. Lining the bladder is a plastic flange 18, this provides the shape and support for the portal 15. On the inner tip of the portal 15 is a plastic seal 19 that maintains a negative pressure within the bladder 6. As can be seen in FIG. 7 the plastic seal 19 is only broken when the spiral tip 20, armed with the sharp pointed tip 21, is pressed through, which then creates a new seal.
 The double barrel syringe 22, seen in FIG. 7, contains within a resin in one barrel and a hardener in the other, which can be composed of epoxy, polyeurethane, and the like. Once the plunger 23 is depressed the resin/hardener liquid 17 enters the spiral cap 20 where it begins to mix. The length of the spiral cap 20 is engineered so that the resin/hardener liquid 17 is perfectly mixed when it leaves the tip.
 As stated before, once the resin/hardener liquid 17 is fully dispensed the portal cap 16 will be immediately inserted into the portal 15 to prevent any back flow. Then the fully mixed resin/hardener liquid 17 within the bladder 6 will be manually massaged forward until it is evenly distributed throughout the bladder 6. The resin/hardener liquid 17 will be engineered so that it sets in approximately five minutes, allowing for enough time to inject, cap, put on, massage, and mold. During the setting time the new owner of the footwear will be taken through a range of motion, which mimics that of the natural movement of the sport.
 The custom fit provided by the fast-setting resin/hardener-composite matrix within the bladder 6 provides a precise mold of the foot, with a high degree of support, comfort, and stability to the ankle joint, arch, and the heel cup.
 The aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood by reference to the following “detailed description of the invention”, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein: FIG. 1 provides a sagittal view of an in-line skate constructed in accordance with the present invention; FIG. 2 provides a sagittal view of an ice-speed skate constructed in accordance with the present invention; FIG. 3 provides a sagittal view of a hockey skate constructed in accordance with the present invention; FIG. 4 provides an exploded view of the internal components of the upper shoe portion of the in line skate of FIG. 1, with the upper portion being sectioned down the heel, and the inner liner along with the elastomeric foam padding being removed. Eyelets and lace covers are not shown. Also, provided is a magnification of the portal opening, and the corresponding portal cap, both contained within the middle heel of the upper; FIG. 5 provides a frontal cross-sectional view of the in-line skate of FIG. 1, sectioned through the ankle region of the skate, looking forward there from; FIG. 6 provides a rear frontal plane view of the in-line skate of FIG. 1; FIG. 7 provides a sagittal view of the in-line skate of FIG. 1, a magnification similar to that of FIG. 4, and a view of the double barrel syringe, both inserted in the portal and enlarged on its own.