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Publication numberUS20060243291 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/117,880
Publication dateNov 2, 2006
Filing dateApr 29, 2005
Priority dateApr 29, 2005
Publication number11117880, 117880, US 2006/0243291 A1, US 2006/243291 A1, US 20060243291 A1, US 20060243291A1, US 2006243291 A1, US 2006243291A1, US-A1-20060243291, US-A1-2006243291, US2006/0243291A1, US2006/243291A1, US20060243291 A1, US20060243291A1, US2006243291 A1, US2006243291A1
InventorsScott Daley
Original AssigneeDaley Scott G
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Toe spacers and methods for making them
US 20060243291 A1
Abstract
A toe spacer is provided that includes an elongate base and a plurality of spacer elements extending transversely from the base. One or more of the spacer elements has a shape corresponding to an aesthetic object, and a decorative pattern is applied to the spacer elements that depicts the aesthetic object. The decorative pattern may be printed directly on the spacer elements and/or may be provided on a film attached to the spacer elements. In addition or alternatively, the decorative pattern may include fabric, flocking, and the like attached to the spacer elements. The aesthetic objects may include flowers, a head of a character or other anatomical feature, and the like.
Images(7)
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Claims(20)
1. A toe spacer, comprising:
an elongate base;
a plurality of spacer elements extending transversely from the base, thereby defining spaces between the spacer elements for receiving objects therein, one or more of the spacer elements having a shape corresponding to an aesthetic object; and
a decorative pattern on the one or more spacer elements that depicts the aesthetic object.
2. The toe spacer of claim 1, wherein the decorative pattern is printed directly on the one or more spacer elements.
3. The toe spacer of claim 1, wherein the decorative pattern is printed on a film attached to the one or more spacer elements.
4. The toe spacer of claim 1, wherein the base and spacer elements comprise a generally planar body, the spacer elements lying substantially within a plane defined by the planar body.
5. The toe spacer of claim 4, wherein the planar body comprises upper and lower surfaces substantially parallel to the plane, the decorative pattern on at least one of the upper and lower surfaces.
6. The toe spacer of claim 4, wherein the planar body comprises foam.
7. The toe spacer of claim 4, wherein the decorative pattern comprises fabric attached to at least one of the upper and lower surfaces.
8. The toe spacer of claim 1, the aesthetic object comprising a head of a character, the decorative pattern comprising one or more facial features of the character.
9. The toe spacer of claim 8, the decorative pattern further comprising one or more facial features extending outwardly from a surface of the spacer elements.
10. The toe spacer of claim 8, wherein the one or more facial features comprise a pair of eyes.
11. The toe spacer of claim 8, the decorative pattern further comprising hair extending from the one or more spacer elements.
12. The toe spacer of claim 1, the decorative pattern comprising flocking.
13. The toe spacer of claim 1, the decorative pattern comprising a three-dimensional pattern of inks or dyes.
14. A method for making a toe spacer, comprising:
providing a body comprising a base and a plurality of spacer elements extending transversely from the base, thereby defining spaces between the spacer elements for receiving digits therein, one or more of the spacer elements having a shape corresponding to an aesthetic object;
applying a decorative pattern to the one or more spacer elements that at least partially depicts the aesthetic object.
15. The method of claim 14, wherein the body is provided by cutting a sheet of material to define the base and spacer elements, the base and spacer elements lying substantially within a plane defined by the sheet.
16. The method of claim 15, wherein the decorative pattern is applied to a surface of the sheet before the sheet is cut.
17. The method of claim 15, wherein the decorative pattern is applied to at least an upper surface of the one or more spacer elements.
18. The method of claim 14, wherein the decorative pattern is applied by printing one or more colors on the one or more spacer elements.
19. The method of claim 14, wherein the decorative pattern is applied by attaching a film or sheet to the one or more spacer elements, the film or sheet including the decorative pattern thereon.
20. The method of claim 14, wherein the aesthetic object comprises a head of a character, and wherein the decorative pattern is at least partially applied by attaching one or facial features to the one or more spacer elements.
Description
FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to foam and/or plastic articles, and, more particularly, to toe spacers and other articles, e.g., for use during pedicures or other personal grooming activities, and/or for podiatric or other medical treatment.

BACKGROUND

Devices have been suggested to assist with pedicures or painting a person's toenails. For example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,506,308 and 4,207,880 disclose toe separating devices that include a panel, similar to a sole of a sandal, and a plurality of spaced-apart posts for receiving toes therebetween.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,429,309 discloses a toe aeration appliance made from foam rubber or latex foam. U.S. Design Pat. Des. 393,931 and Des. 415,858 disclose toe spacer and toe stretcher devices.

Accordingly, toe spacers for cosmetic and/or medical use would be useful.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed generally to foam and/or plastic articles, and more particularly to toe spacers and other articles, and to methods for making them. The articles may be used for cosmetic and/or medical purposes, for example, during pedicures or painting a person's toenails and/or for podiatric or other medical treatment involving toes of a foot.

In accordance with one embodiment, a toe spacer is provided that includes an elongate base and a plurality of spacer elements extending transversely from the base. One or more of the spacer elements may have a shape corresponding to an aesthetic object. Optionally, a decorative pattern may be provided on the spacer element(s) that depicts the aesthetic object.

For example, the decorative pattern may be printed directly on the spacer element(s). Alternatively, the decorative pattern may be printed on a film attached to the spacer element(s). In addition or alternatively, the decorative pattern may include fabric, flocking, and the like attached to at least one surface of the toe spacer, e.g., the spacer element(s).

In an exemplary embodiment, the base and spacer elements may be a generally planar body, the spacer elements lying substantially within a plane defined by the planar body. The planar body may include upper and lower surfaces substantially parallel to the plane, and the decorative pattern may be provided on at least one of the upper and lower surfaces.

In another embodiment, the aesthetic object may include a head of a character or other anatomical feature, and the decorative pattern may include one or more facial features of the character. Optionally, one or more facial features, e.g., hair, eyes, and the like, may extend outwardly from a surface of the spacer elements.

In another embodiment, a method is provided for making a toe spacer that includes providing a body including a base and a plurality of spacer elements extending transversely from the base. One or more of the spacer elements may have a shape corresponding to an aesthetic object, e.g., a flower, a head of a character, and the like. A decorative pattern may be applied to the spacer element(s) that at least partially depicts the aesthetic object.

In one embodiment, the body may be formed by cutting a sheet of material to define the base and spacer elements, the base and spacer elements lying substantially within a plane defined by the sheet. The decorative pattern may be applied to a surface of the sheet before the sheet is cut and/or after the toe spacer is cut from the sheet. In exemplary embodiments, the decorative pattern may be applied by printing one or more colors on the one or more spacer elements, by attaching a film or sheet to the one or more spacer elements, the film or sheet including the decorative pattern thereon, and/or by attaching one or more objects to the spacer elements.

In still another embodiment, a method is provided for making a toe spacer that includes extruding material into a serpentine shape, and cutting the material into desired lengths including one or more curved spacer elements defining spaces therebetween for receiving a toe or other object between adjacent spacer elements.

Other aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent from consideration of the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of a toe spacer including spacer elements having a decorative floral pattern.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a toe spacer including spacer elements shaped and decorated to appear like a head of a character.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of an alternative embodiment of the toe spacer of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a flowchart of an exemplary method for making toe spacers.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of another exemplary method for making toe spacers.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of extruded material that may be cut into individual toe spacers.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a toe spacer.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of yet another embodiment of a toe spacer.

FIGS. 9A 9B are cross-sectional views of a method for making a toe spacer including a foam layer between fabric layers that are bonded together to provide rounded edges.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of still another embodiment of a toe spacer.

FIG. 11 shows an exemplary method for making the toe spacer of FIG. 10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Turning to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a first embodiment of a toe spacer 10 that generally includes an elongate base 12 and a plurality of spacer elements 14 extending transversely from the base 12, thereby defining spaces 16 between adjacent spacer elements 14. In the embodiment shown, the toe spacer 10 has four spacer elements, although in alternative embodiments the toe spacer may include two, three, five, or six spacer elements (not shown). The base 12 may be substantially straight, as shown, or may be curved in a desired shape, e.g., a substantially continuous curve and the like (not shown).

The spacer elements 14 may be curved, e.g., such that the spaces 16 have at least partially concave and/or rounded shapes for receiving toes or other objects (not shown) in the spaces 16 between adjacent spacer elements 14. For example, as shown in FIG. 1, the spacer elements 14 may include relatively narrow portions 14 a that extend from the base 12 and end in relatively large tip portions 14 b. Thus, the spaces 16 may generally define a curve, e.g., a portion of a circle or ellipse, that may correspond substantially to a shape and/or size of a toe to be received in the respective spaces 16. As shown in FIG. 1, the spacer elements 14 may enclose the spaces 16 by an arc of at least ninety degrees (90°), and, optionally, as shown in FIG. 2, by an arc greater than ninety degrees (90°).

Optionally, the outer spacer element(s) 14, e.g., on one or both ends of the base 12, may have a concave or otherwise curved surface 17, e.g., to receive a toe (not shown) against the curved surface 17. In addition or alternatively, the base 12 may include an extension 13 that extends beyond one or more spacer elements 14 on the ends of the base 12, e.g., to further stabilize or otherwise receive a toe against the extension 13.

One or more of the spacer elements 14 may have a shape corresponding to an aesthetic object. For example, as shown in FIG. 1, the enlarged tips 14 b of the spacer elements 14 may be formed in the shape of a flower, e.g., similar to a daisy. In alternative embodiments, the spacer elements 14 may have a shape similar to other flowers, such as a rose, carnation, and the like (not shown)

Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 2, a toe spacer 10′ may be provided that includes spacer elements 14′ formed in the shape of a head of a character, e.g., a troll, as shown. Alternatively, the character may be a cartoon character, a historical or fictional person, and the like (not shown). The spacer elements 14′ may include one or more facial features of the character(s), e.g., hair 30,′ eyes 32,′ ears 34,′ mouth and or lips (not shown), and the like, as described further below. Optionally, the spacer elements may include other anatomical features, e.g., shoulders and/or arms (not shown) below the heads of the characters. In other alternatives, the spacer element may include other anatomical features, e.g., hands and/or feet, lips, and the like (also not shown), instead of the heads shown in FIG. 2.

In still other alternatives, the aesthetic objects may include other two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and/or organic shapes, such as sea shells; flowers, leaves, or other plants; butterflies, ladybugs, or other animals; cinnamon rolls or other food items; icons or alphanumeric symbols; and the like. Each of the spacer elements 14 may include the same object, as shown in FIG. 1, or different objects (not shown) may be provided on one or more of the spacer elements 14.

Returning to FIG. 1, in the embodiment shown, the base 12 and spacer elements 14 of the toe spacer 10 define a generally planar body with the spacer elements 14 lying substantially within a plane 20. The toe spacer 10 may include substantially flat upper and lower surfaces 22, 24 that extend substantially parallel to the plane 20, and one or more side surfaces 26 that extend transversely between the upper and lower surfaces 22, 24. Optionally, as described further below, the overlying edges of the upper and lower surfaces 22, 24 may be bonded together to provide rounded edges without the side surfaces 26.

A decorative pattern 18 may be provided on the spacer elements 14 that corresponds to or otherwise further depicts the aesthetic object. For example, as shown in FIG. 1, a monochromatic or multiple color pattern of a daisy may be provided on each of the spacer elements 14, e.g., that substantially matches the daisy shape of the respective spacer elements 14. The decorative pattern 18 may be provided on one or both of the upper and lower surfaces 22, 24, and optionally on one or more of the sides surfaces 26 (not shown).

The decorative pattern 18 may include one or more dyes or inks printed directly onto the surface(s) of the spacer elements 14, e.g., at least the upper surface 22, as described further below. Alternatively, the decorative pattern 18 may be provided on a film or sheet, e.g., made of paper, plastic, fabric, and the like, that may be bonded or otherwise attached to the surface(s) of the spacer elements 14, also as described further below. In addition or alternatively, the decorative pattern 18 may include one or more objects attached to and/or extending from the spacer elements 14, such as the hair 30′ and/or eyes 32′ shown in FIG. 2. In a further alternative, the decorative pattern may include other colored and/or textured materials, such as fabric, flocking, and the like, as described further below.

The toe spacer 10 may be integrally formed from a single piece as shown in FIG. 1, e.g., by cutting or otherwise forming the base 12 and spacer elements 14 together from a sheet of foam, plastic, and the like. Alternatively, the toe spacer 10 may be formed as multiple pieces that are bonded or otherwise attached to one another (not shown). In an exemplary embodiment, the toe spacer 10 may be formed from a single piece of polyethylene, polyurethane, or other open-cell foam, thereby providing a relatively inexpensive but aesthetically attractive product.

Optionally, as shown in FIG. 3, the toe spacer 10 may include multiple layers of material 28 that extend substantially parallel to the plane 20. The layers of material 28 may be bonded or otherwise attached together to provide a desired aesthetic design and/or functionality. For example, two or more of the layers of material 28 may be formed from a different color foam or other material, e.g., to provide a rainbow or other desired color effect. In addition or alternatively, two or more of the layers of material 28 may be formed from material having different rigidity and/or resiliency.

For example, an inner layer 28 a may be formed from a relatively rigid and/or strong material, e.g., paper, wood, plastic, and the like, to provide a structural core for the toe spacer 10. One or more layers 28 b, 28 c may be provided on each side of the inner layer 28 a, e.g., from a relatively thick and/or resilient material, e.g., foam, fabric, and the like. The resulting composite sheet may be substantially self-supporting yet sufficiently flexible such that the spacer elements 14 may be deflected slightly relative to the base 12 and/or one another, e.g., to accommodate receiving and/or removing a toe from between the spacer elements 14.

Turning to FIG. 4, an exemplary method is shown for making one or more toe spacers, such as the toe spacer 10 shown in FIG. 1. Although the steps are described in sequence steps 50-54, it will be appreciated that the sequence described is merely exemplary, and the steps may be completed in a different sequence than described.

First, in step 50, a sheet of material may be provided from which one or more toe spacers may be formed. As explained above, the sheet may include a single layer or multiple layers, e.g., of foam, fabric, plastic, paper, wood, or other material. For example, the sheet may be a relatively large rectangular or other shaped sheet from which a plurality of identical or different toe spacers may be formed.

If the sheet includes multiple layers, the layers may be attached to one another, e.g., using adhesives, such as liquid glue or a transfer film, between the layers. The adhesive may be pressure sensitive, e.g., curing when subjected to heat and/or pressure. Epoxy, PVC acetate, acrylic, and polyurethane are exemplary adhesives that may be used. In addition or alternatively, the layers may be bonded together by heating the layers sufficiently to cause the layers to flow and/or melt together.

Turning to step 52, a decorative pattern may be applied to the sheet. For example, a decorative pattern may be applied to an upper or first side of the sheet. Optionally, a decorative pattern may also be applied to a lower or second side of the sheet, e.g., simultaneously with or after applying the decorative pattern to the first side. For example, after applying the decorative pattern to the first side, the sheet may be turned over and a mirror image decorative pattern may be applied to the second side. Alternatively, the decorative pattern may be applied substantially continuously to the first and/or second sides of the sheet, e.g., as the sheet is fed from an extrusion, laminator, and/or other apparatus (not shown).

In one embodiment, the decorative pattern may include a colored pattern of inks or dyes. The colored pattern may be applied directly to the surface(s) of the sheet, e.g., by rolling, spraying, brushing, heat transfer, silk-screening, and the like. For example, an ink jet printer may be used to apply one or more colors (e.g., as many as four color printing or more) to the sheet simultaneously or sequentially. Alternatively, sublimation or other procedures may be used to transfer the decorative pattern from a base sheet, e.g., as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,145,512, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein.

Optionally, the surface of the sheet to receive the decorative pattern may be prepared, e.g., to enhance bonding and/or penetration of the inks or dyes. For example, an initial base or primer coat, e.g., of white or other ink or dye, may be applied to the surface of the sheet before applying the decorative pattern. In addition or alternatively, if the material of the sheet does not easily receive dyes or inks, the surface may be prepared and printed upon, e.g., by applying a bonding enhancement layer before the decorative pattern, as disclosed in co-pending application Ser. No. 10/938,694, filed Sep. 10, 2004, the entire disclosure of which is expressly incorporated by reference herein.

In another option, the dyes or inks may create a three-dimensional decorative pattern on the surface(s) of the sheet. For example, the dyes or inks applied to one or more regions of the sheet may include a puffing or blowing agent, such as azodicarbonamide. The blowing agent(s) may be mixed with the dyes or inks in predetermined ratios and applied to regions of the sheet, e.g., by spraying, brushing, rolling, and the like. Thus, the sheet may include different regions with and without blowing agent(s) in the dyes or inks.

The dyes or inks may be heated or otherwise cured, e.g., to activate the blowing agent(s) and cause the regions with blowing agent(s) to expand outwardly from the surface(s). Thus, one or more regions of the decorative pattern may be thicker than other regions, e.g., to enhance an appearance and/or other effect of the decorative pattern. Additional information on blowing agents and methods for using them are disclosed in application Ser. No. 10/938,694, incorporated by reference above.

Alternatively, the decorative pattern may be applied to the sheet by attaching a film with a decorative pattern thereon to the surface(s) of the sheet. The decorative pattern may be previously applied to the film, e.g., using materials and/or procedures similar to those described above. For example, the film may be a relatively thin sheet, e.g., a polyester, vinyl, styrene, PET, PETE, PETG, nylon, or other plastic film, having a thickness of between about 0.002-0.025 inch (0.05-0.625 mm). The film may be attached to the surface(s), e.g., using an adhesive, heat bonding, and the like.

Optionally, the decorative pattern may include other components, such as one or more layers of fabric, that may be attached to the surface(s) of the sheet. In addition or alternatively, flocking may be provided on one or more regions on the surface(s) of the sheet. For example, an adhesive may be applied to one or more regions on a surface of the sheet, and relatively short hairs, fuzz, or other flocking materials, e.g., made from plastic, yarn, hair, and the like, may be attracted to the surface(s) using an electrostatic charge. The charge may cause the flocking materials to stand transversely on the surface(s), e.g., substantially perpendicularly to the surface(s).

The adhesive may then be cured, e.g., by heating the sheet for a predetermined time, thereby securing the flocking materials to the regions covered with adhesive, e.g., in the transverse orientation. Any loose flocking materials may then be removed, e.g., after removing the electrostatic charge. Optionally, the process may be repeated, e.g., by applying adhesive to one or more additional regions, and attaching flocking materials to the one or more additional regions. The flocking materials may include one or more colors, thereby providing a desired colored and/or textured effect on the surface(s) of the sheet.

Returning to FIG. 4, in step 54, the sheet may then be cut into one or more toe spacers, e.g., by die-cutting, sawing, machining, and the like. The toe spacers may be cut in a predetermined shape based upon the decorative pattern applied to the sheet, e.g., by cutting around one or more objects printed or other provided on the sheet.

Optionally, as shown in FIGS. 9A and 9B, a toe spacer 210 may be provided that includes rounded edges 226. Generally, the toe spacer 210 may include fabric layers 228 a, 228 c, e.g., terrycloth, flocking, and the like, bonded to an underlying foam layer 228 b, i.e., providing a sandwich of fabric-foam-fabric. In an exemplary embodiment, the edges 232 a, 232 c of the fabric layers 228 a, 228 c may be bonded together when the toe spacer 210 is cut from a larger sheet 227.

As shown in FIG. 9A, the sheet 227 may be provided that includes the fabric layers 228 a, 228 c bonded or otherwise attached to the foam layer 228 b. Optionally, the foam layer 228 b may include one or more layers of material, similar to the embodiments described above. A die 202 may be pressed against the sheet 227 to compress and/or cut through the layers 228 a-228 c of the sheet 227. As the die 202 pinches the sheet 227, the pressure causes the foam layer 228 b to partially melt and/or otherwise fuse the edges 232 a, 232 c of the fabric layers 228 a, 228 c together. When the die 202 is removed, the edges 232 a, 232 c may remain substantially permanently fused to create the rounded edge 226. Optionally, additional components of a decorative pattern (not shown) may be applied to the toe spacer 210, similar to the previous embodiments.

Alternatively, the sheet may be cut before the decorative pattern is applied, or after part of the decorative pattern is applied to the sheet. For example, with reference to FIG. 2, after a base 12′ and spacer elements 14′ have been cut from the sheet, at least a portion of the decorative pattern 18′ may be applied to the spacer elements 14.′ In the embodiment shown, the decorative pattern 18′ may include one or more locks of hair 30′ that extend from the spacer elements 14.′ The locks of hair 30′ may be formed from synthetic or natural strands or other materials, such as polyester strands, and may be bonded to the spacer elements 14,′ e.g., using adhesives, heat bonding, and the like. In addition or alternatively, the locks of hair 30′ may be at least partially embedded into the spacer elements 14,′ e.g., into the side surfaces 26.′ In addition or alternatively, a staple or other fasteners may be used to attach the hairs, e.g., at their midpoints, to the spacer elements 14.′

In addition, the decorative pattern 18′ may include one or more facial features, e.g., a pair of eyes 32′ attached to the spacer elements 14,′ a nose, mouth, ears, and the like (not shown). The features may be bonded or otherwise attached to the upper surface 22′ of the spacer elements 14′ at one or more locations corresponding to a desired facial appearance. In an exemplary embodiment, the eyes 32′ may include clear plastic domes with black or otherwise colored disks movable therein, e.g., to provide “googly eyes” that move when the toe spacer 10′ is moved.

Thus, the decorative pattern 18′ may include one or more two or three dimensional objects attached to the spacer elements 14′ that further depict the aesthetic objects. These objects may be provided over a colored pattern of dyes or inks and/or over flocking or other textured materials applied to the toe spacer 10′ that may be applied before or after the toe spacer 10′ is cut from the sheet.

Turning to FIGS. 5 and 6, another exemplary method is shown for making toe spacers 110. First, in step 152, the base material for the toe spacers 110 may be prepared and extruded. For example, an extrusion apparatus (not shown) may be provided that includes a set of dyes, a hopper, a heating element, and/or a screw or other drive apparatus that may used to direct material from the hopper through the set of dyes. In an exemplary embodiment, the set of dyes may include one or more dyes having passages therethrough corresponding to the desired cross-sectional shape of the toe spacers 110 being made, as shown in FIG. 6. In particular, the dyes may create a shape for the spacer elements 114 that correspond to a desired aesthetic object, such as those described previously.

The material for the toe spacers 110 may include plastic materials having foaming agents therein that may be activated upon being heated. These materials may be heated before or while being directed through the dyes of the extrusion apparatus, thereby causing the material to expand and/or foam into the desired shape for the toe spacers 110. In addition or alternatively, the material may include thermoplastic materials, e.g., polyvinyl chloride (PVC), that may be melted and directed through the dyes. The material may sufficiently cool upon exiting the dyes to retain the desired shape thereafter. Thus, the material may be extruded substantially continuously through the dyes, if desired to provide sufficient stock for making a plurality of toe spacers 110.

Next, in step 154, the extruded material may be cut into individual toe spacers 110, as shown in FIG. 6, e.g., using a cutting apparatus (not shown) that periodically cuts transversely through the extruded material. In exemplary embodiments, the extruded material may be cut using a heated wire, a saw, and the like (not shown).

Finally, in step 156, once the individual toe spacers 110 have been cut from the extruded material, a decorative pattern may be applied to one or more surfaces of the toe spacers 110. The decorative pattern may include any of the decorative patterns described above, e.g., colored patterns of dyes or inks, decorative films, fabric, or flocking, two or three dimensional objects, and the like. Alternatively, the decorative pattern may be applied to the exposed end surface of the extruded material before the individual toe spacers are cut from the extruded material.

Turning to FIG. 7, another embodiment of a toe spacer 10″ is shown that includes a base 12″ and a plurality of spacer elements 14″ extending from the base 12,″ similar to the previous embodiments. Unlike previous embodiments, the spacer elements 14″ include a decorative pattern 18″ applied to a side surface 26″ of the spacer elements 14,″ e.g., to a side surface 26″ opposite the base 12.″ Thus, when the toe spacer 10″ is looked down upon from above the spacer elements 14,″ the decorative pattern 18″ may be easily seen.

As shown in FIG. 7, the decorative pattern 18″ may include a colored pattern printed or otherwise applied on the side surface 26.″ Alternatively, the decorative pattern 18″ may be included on a film, fabric, decal, or other material attached to the side surface 26,″ similar to the previous embodiments. In yet another alternative, shown in FIG. 8, the decorative pattern 18′″ may include two or three dimensional objects attached to the spacer elements 14,″′ e.g., to the side surfaces 26′″ such that decorative pattern 18′″ is readily visible from above the spacer elements 14.″′ These alternatives may also include one or more elements of the decorative patterns described above with respect to other embodiments.

In further alternatives, a toe spacer, such as any of the embodiments described elsewhere herein, may be molded into a shape defining a base and a plurality of spacer elements. The toe spacer may be formed from plastic, e.g., jelly plastic, or other materials having sufficient rigidity to maintain the shape of the toe spacer yet sufficiently resiliently flexible to allow the spacer elements to be deflected to accommodate receiving or removing toes therebetween, similar to the previous embodiments.

Optionally, the toe spacer may be formed from translucent or transparent material, which may also include a dye, ink, or other pigment. One or more objects may be embedded or otherwise suspended within the toe spacer to provide a desired effect or design. For example, a flower, an animal, or other aesthetic object may be suspended within each of the spacer elements, e.g., similar to the aesthetic objects described elsewhere herein. In a further option, a decorative pattern may be provided on one or more surfaces of the toe spacer, similar to the other embodiments described herein.

The toe spacer may be injection molded, rotational molding, and the like. For example, a lower portion of the toe spacer may be molded, one or more objects may be added to the lower portion, and then an upper portion may be molded above and/or around the object(s) to provide a toe spacer. Optionally, the spacer elements may be shaped in a desired decorative manner, e.g., in the shape of one or more aesthetic objects, and/or a decorative pattern may be applied, e.g., using methods similar to those described with respect to other embodiments herein.

Turning to FIG. 10, yet another embodiment of a toe spacer 310 is shown that includes an elongated serpentine body defining a plurality of spacer elements 314. Unlike the previous embodiments, the spacer elements 314 may be connected or otherwise extend sequentially from one another, thereby defining spaces 316 between adjacent spacer elements 314. Optionally, ends 317 of the toe spacer 310 may be curved to receive a toe against the ends 317.

The spacer elements 314 may be curved, e.g., such that the spaces 316 have at least partially concave and/or rounded shapes for receiving toes or other objects (not shown) in the spaces 316 between adjacent spacer elements 314. Optionally, the spacer elements 314 may include relatively enlarged tip portions (not shown) to facilitate securing a toe in the spaces 316.

The toe spacer 310 may have a substantially uniform cross-section along its length, e.g., from one end 317 along the spacer elements 314 to the other end 317. Alternatively, the toe spacer 310 may have relatively thicker or thinner regions (not shown), e.g., to provide a desired flexibility and/or aesthetic design.

Optionally, the toe spacer 310 may be formed from substantially translucent or transparent material and one or more objects (not shown) may be embedded within the toe spacer 310, similar to the previous embodiment. In addition or alternatively, the spacer elements 314 may be molded or otherwise formed into desired shapes, e.g., into aesthetic objects, and/or a decorative pattern (not shown) may be applied to one or more regions of the toe spacer 310, similar to the previous embodiments.

Turning to FIG. 11, an exemplary method is shown for making the toe spacer 310 shown in FIG. 10 that involves continuously or intermittently extruding toe spacers from extruded material, similar to the materials described elsewhere herein. Initially, the extrusion material may be prepared, and then heated or otherwise extruded through one or more dies (not shown). As shown in FIG. 11, while the extruded material is still soft, the extruded material may be directed through a set of rollers with pins that cause the extruded material to deflect into a sinusoidal or other serpentine pattern.

Once sufficient length of the extruded material has been formed into the serpentine pattern, the length may be cut or otherwise separated to provide an individual toe spacer. The toe spacer may then be further cured, if necessary, and/or decorated, similar to the embodiments described below. Alternatively, a nozzle, die, or other apparatus (not shown) may be configured for delivering extruded material continuously onto a belt or other device that allows the extruded material to be formed into a serpentine shape before the extruded material hardens and/or is otherwise cured.

While the invention is susceptible to various modifications, and alternative forms, specific examples thereof have been shown in the drawings and are herein described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not to be limited to the particular forms or methods disclosed, but to the contrary, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents and alternatives falling the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8002675Oct 31, 2007Aug 23, 2011Fenf, LlcFoot-therapy and toe-aligning device
US8584683 *Feb 16, 2011Nov 19, 2013Sheila ShammamiApparatus and method for removing fingernail polish
US8584686Jun 6, 2012Nov 19, 2013Advanced Enterprises Inc.Foam applicators to apply cosmetics or nail polish
US20110168198 *May 3, 2010Jul 14, 2011Eugene PolanishFoam applicators to apply cosmetics or nail polish
US20120204892 *Feb 16, 2011Aug 16, 2012Sheila ShammamiApparatus and method for removing fingernail polish
Classifications
U.S. Classification132/73
International ClassificationA45D29/00
Cooperative ClassificationA45D29/22
European ClassificationA45D29/22