US 20070155548 A1
A hockey stick with a shaft having a rectangular cross-section, in which an additional layer (or layers) of impact resistant material is added to one or more corners at one or more locations on the shaft to provide protection from damaging blows and to provide “proud” corners on the shaft to improve the handling and “feel” of the shaft for the player.
1. A hockey stick shaft having an inner core which has four faces including a blade face, wherein the four faces define four corner lines on the edge of the four faces, the hockey stick shaft comprising:
a first section having a joint connected to a hockey stick blade;
a second section immediately adjacent to the first section at the opposite end of the joint;
a third section immediately adjacent to the second section; and
a fourth section immediately adjacent to the third section, wherein the fourth section is the very upper end of the shaft;
wherein the hockey stick shaft further comprises four reinforced corner pieces applied to each of the four corner lines within the first section and the second section and that form recessed areas on each of the four faces within the first section and the second section.
2. A hockey stick shaft of
3. A hockey stick shaft of
4. A hockey stick shaft of
5. A hockey stick shaft of
6. A hockey stick shaft of
7. A hockey stick shaft of
8. A hockey stick shaft of
9. A hockey stick shaft of
10. A hockey stick shaft of
11. A hockey stick shaft comprising:
an inner core having four faces that define four corner lines;
a plurality of reinforced corner pieces applied to the corner lines that form recessed areas on each of the four faces; and
an outer layer wraps around the entire shaft to hold the inner core and the corner pieces.
12. A hockey stick shaft of
13. A hockey stick shaft of
14. A hockey stick shaft of
15. A hockey stick shaft of
16. A hockey stick shaft of
17. A hockey stick shaft of
18. A tubular composite hockey stick shaft having a generally rectangular cross-section defined by a first, second, third and fourth corners spaced apart from another and being comprised of multiple plies of fibers disposed within a hardened resin matrix including:
(a) a first group of plies extending around the full circumference of the shaft and
(b) a second group of plies extending only partially around the shaft;
wherein a said second group of plies forms at least in part a first corner of said rectangular shaft.
19. The tubular composite hockey stick shaft of
20. The tubular composite hockey stick shaft of
21. The tubular composite hockey stick shaft of
22. The tubular composite hockey stick shaft of
23. The tubular composite hockey stick shaft of
24. The tubular composite hockey stick shaft of
25. The tubular composite hockey stick shaft of
26. The tubular composite hockey stick shaft of
27. The tubular composite hockey stick shaft of
The present application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/737,724 filed Nov. 16, 2005 which is hereby incorporated by reference.
The field of the present invention generally relates to hockey sticks including hockey stick configurations, manufacture and component structures and combinations thereof. In particular, this application pertains to a hockey stick construction in which one or more of the corners of the hockey stick shaft are reinforced or “built-up” to provide additional strength at the corners and to present a desirable “feel” to the user of the stick.
Hockey sticks have, since the advent of the game, had a blade and a shaft. Also, since the advent of the game, the hockey stick has been the hockey player's primary means of communicating with the puck, and sometimes, other players and their sticks. Hockey sticks must therefore be sufficiently strong and durable to withstand tremendous abuse, and at the same time be sufficiently lightweight to not become a burden that adversely affects the player's play. The stick must also be easily and comfortably held by the glove-wearing player, and the stick must have the “feel” desired by the player, both in the way the stick feels when held and how it performs during the game.
The abuse which hockey sticks must withstand comes in several forms. For example, the force generated by top flight hockey players when they hit a slap shot puts tremendous stress and strain on the stick. But that is only a small part of the abuse a hockey stick must endure. During the rough and tumble play that is hockey, the sticks are used to block other shots and other players, and as a result the stick will regularly strike, and be struck by, the puck, other sticks, skates and skate blades, the boards, the goal, as well as numerous parts of the uniform, pads and body of the opponent. And it is not just the blade of the stick that is hit, the shaft portion also gets its fair share of abuse as well. Accordingly, the stick must be able to absorb all of this abuse, and still not fail at a critical time during the game (for example, when the player is hitting a powerful slap shot trying to score).
The earliest hockey sticks were constructed of wood, and carved from a single piece of solid wood. Later, wood laminates replaced solid wood, and a two-piece construction, in which the blade and the shaft were separately manufactured then attached together at a permanent or replaceable joint, replaced the single piece stick.
Traditional wood hockey stick constructions, however, are expensive to manufacture due to the cost of suitable wood and the manufacturing processes employed. In addition, due to the wood construction, the weight may be considerable. Moreover, wood sticks lacked durability, often due to fractures in the blade, in the blade-shaft junction, and even in the shaft area, thus requiring frequent replacement. Accordingly, today, composite sticks are more often used.
Most hockey stick shafts are rectangular in cross-section, thus having four corners that are susceptible to the most damage (because any impact is focused on the small edge of the corner rather than being borne by the large side area). It is not unusual for the corners of the shaft to become nicked and even gouged during play, particularly at the lower end of the shaft, near the blade and the playing surface.
Perhaps due to the deficiencies relating to traditional wood hockey stick constructions, contemporary hockey stick design veered away from the traditional permanently attached blade configuration toward a replaceable blade and shaft configuration, wherein the blade portion was configured to include a connection member, often referred to as a “tennon”, “shank” or “hosel”, which was generally comprised of an upward extension of the blade from the heel. The shafts of these contemporary designs generally were configured to include a four-sided tubular member having a connection portion comprising a socket (e.g., the hollow at the end of the tubular shaft) appropriately configured or otherwise dimensioned so that it may slidably and snugly receive the connection member of the blade. This configuration has been used with wood, and non-wood materials.
Although over the years, metallic materials such as aluminum were employed to form tubular shafts adapted to being joined to replaceable blades in the manner described above; in more recent years the hockey stick industry has tended to make more and more hockey stick shafts from composite materials, usually from fiber reinforced resin or plastic based product. Such shafts, for example, have been manufactured via pull-trusion or by wrapping layers of composite fibers over a mandrel and then curing so that the fibers reside in a hardened resin matrix, or by wrapping layers of composite material around an air bladder, and then putting it in a female mold, and inflating the air bladder to force the shaft to take the shape of the mold as it cures.
Therefore, today, contemporary shafts of the type discussed above are constructed of various materials including wood, wood laminates, wood laminate overlain with fiberglass, and what is often referred to in the industry as “composite” constructions. Such composite shaft constructions employ plies of fibers oriented in one or more defined directions and disposed within a hardened resin material. Fiber selection or type, fiber orientation and the type of resin employed are factors by which the desired stiffness characteristics of the shaft may be achieved. Woven, braided, multi-directional or unidirectional fiber plies may employed in which the fibers are comprised of carbon, glass, graphite, or Kevlar™ (aramid). The plies may be pre-impregnated with resin or the resin may be added after a pre-form of the shaft is made or during the curing process. In contemporary composite shafts the walls of the shaft typically have a uniform thickness at given cross-section. In other words, if a cross-section was taken perpendicular to the walls of the shaft at defined longitudinal position along the shaft, each of the walls that constituted the hollow shaft have the same thickness.
Contemporary composite blades are typically manufactured by employment of a resin transfer molding (RTM) process, which generally involves the following steps. First, a plurality of inner core elements composed of compressed foam, such as those made of polyurethane, are individually and together inserted into one or more woven-fiber sleeves to form an uncured blade assembly. The uncured blade assembly, including the hosel or connection member, is then inserted into a mold having the desired exterior shape of the blade. After the mold is sealed, a suitable matrix material or resin is injected into the mold to impregnate the woven-fiber sleeves. The blade assembly is then cured for a requisite time and temperature, removed from the mold, and finished. The curing of the resin serves to encapsulate the fibers within a rigid surface layer and hence facilitates the transfer of load among the fibers, thereby improving the strength of the surface layer. In addition, the curing process serves to attach the rigid foam core to the opposing faces of the blade to create—at least initially—the rigid structural sandwich construction.
Composite shafts and blades are thought to have certain advantages over wood shafts and blades. For example, composite blades and shafts may be more readily manufactured to consistent tolerances and are generally more durable than their wood counterparts. In addition, such composite constructs are capable of providing improved strength and hence may be made lighter that their wood-based brethren.
Notwithstanding improvements in strength and durability, such composite constructions have still been found not to have the “feel” of wood-based products. Also, the composite sticks are typically constructed having a rectangular cross-section in the shaft, and are therefore also susceptible to damaging blows on their corners. Indeed, it is the corners of the shaft that sustain the most damages during play. Moreover, unlike wood shafts, composite shafts are typically hollow tubular structures.
In an on going effort to improve the state of the technology, herein disclosed are unique composite hockey stick configurations and constructions that may overcome one or more of these deficiencies.
In the hockey stick of this invention, the shaft of the stick is preferably manufactured by layering fabric (generally composed of carbon, glass, or aramid fibers such as Kevlar® material). The fabric can be woven, braided, multi-directional or unidirectional, and is typically pre-impregnated with a resin matrix. The plies are typically pre-cut, oriented, and stacked one on-top of the other and then laid over mold or mandrel or placed in an external mold to create a shaft pre-form. The shaft is cured at the appropriate temperature, pressure and duration to form the shaft. Prior to curing one or more additional plies is added to the outer corners of the shaft thereby building-up those corners. The additional corner-positioned plies may be added selectively anywhere along the entire length of the shaft, from the very bottom of the shaft at the blade-shaft joint, up to and including the very top of the shaft. Alternatively, the corner ply or plies may be positioned only a few strategic areas, such as in the areas of the shaft where it is held by the player during play, at the blade/shaft junction region, and/or at any place there-between.
As many or few additional layers of the material can be added as desired at, for example, all of the corners, or less than all of the corners, or on all corners at some locations along the shaft, and only on one or two or three of the corners at other locations. The variations are quite numerous, and can be varied to suit the preferences of the players. For example, one player may want the reinforcing corner layers on all four corners only in the lower end of the shaft near the blade, and will want the opposite corners reinforced at the top and near the middle of the shaft to better mold to their left and right hands as they are situated during play. Another player may prefer just the opposite configuration. A third player may prefer that the corner reinforcements be applied to all four corners of the shaft, extending all along the entire length of the shaft. A fourth player may prefer a slightly different arrangement, and so on. Thus, it is contemplated that one, two, three of all four corners of the shaft may be reinforced or radially built-up and that such reinforcement may extend along the lower portion of the shaft, a mid portion of the shaft, the upper portion of the shaft, the full length of the shaft or any combination of the foregoing without limitation.
In addition to providing added protection, the add-on layers in a corner cause that corner to become a “proud” corner, which a player may feel in his hands, even through the gloves. Better lateral stability of the stick in the player's hands and better control over the natural twisting that occurs when the stick blade strikes the puck during a shot may thus be achieved.
In a preferred embodiment of this invention, all four corners of the stick are reinforced. This provides a resultant “dog-bone” cross-sectional shape of the stick shaft that provides for the greatest lateral stability, strength, protection from impact on the corners, and feel. As noted above, however, the corner reinforcement can be a single layer on each corner, multiple layers at each corner, or a mix of different layers on different corners, and at different areas of the shaft.
In a preferred embodiment, the corner reinforcing material is selected to have greater impact resistance than the core wall structures of the shaft. Hence, if the core wall structures are comprised of directionally oriented carbon fibers disposed in a hardened resin matrix material, the additional layers at the corner may be comprised of materials such as DuPont Surlyn®, or Sanoprene™ rubber, or high density polyethylene, or nylon, or epoxy resin, or a mix of such materials or any of these materials mixed with fibers such as carbon, glass, graphite, or Kevlar™. It should be understood that traditional and contemporary wood hockey stick shafts may also benefit from the teachings herein. For example it is contemplated that additional layers of materials, such as those discussed above, may be added at the corners of wood shafts to build up the corners of those shafts to provide the benefits discussed above. It also contemplated that a thin external layer of material (e.g., a 100 g/meter T-Glass ply made by Newport) may be wrapped around the entire circumference of the shaft prior to curing to serve as a means of holding the layers in place during curing process as well as provide a smooth external finish to the cured shaft.
It is, therefore, one object of this invention to provide an improved hockey stick. Other objects and improvements will be apparent to those skilled in the art.
The preferred embodiments will now be described with reference to the drawings. To facilitate description, any reference numeral designating an element in one figure will designate the same element if used in any other figure. The following description of the preferred embodiments is only exemplary. The present invention(s) is not limited to these embodiments, but may be realized by other implementations. Furthermore, in describing preferred embodiments, specific terminology is resorted to for the sake of clarity. However, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific terms so selected, and it is to be understood that each specific term includes all equivalents.
A contemporary two-piece hockey stick 10 is shown in
The blade 12 in both
Contemporary composite blade manufacturing processes can employ a resin transfer molding (RTM) process, which generally involves the following steps. First, a plurality of inner core elements composed of compressed foam, such as those made of polyurethane, are individually and together inserted into one or more woven-fiber sleeves to form an uncured blade assembly. The uncured blade assembly, including the hosel or connection member, is then inserted into a mold having the desired exterior shape of the blade. After the mold is sealed, a suitable matrix material or resin is injected into the mold to impregnate the woven-fiber sleeves. The blade assembly is then cured for a requisite time and temperature, removed from the mold, and finished. The curing of the resin serves to encapsulate the fibers within a rigid surface layer and hence facilitates the transfer of load among the fibers, thereby improving the strength of the surface layer. In addition, the curing process serves to attach the rigid foam core to the opposing faces of the blade 12 to create the rigid structural sandwich construction. Although a synthetic composite blade is described it should be understood that the blade 12 may be in part or in whole constructed of wood or any suitable material.
The shaft 14 has a generally rectangular or 4-sided cross-sectional configuration as seen in
The shaft 14 has generally four key sections along its length which are designated S1, S2, S3 and S4 in
A traditional, contemporary composite shaft 12 is shown in cross section in
The typical composite shaft manufacturing process can involve the layering of fiber, either woven, braided, or unidirectional (carbon, glass and/or Kevlar® material), that have been impregnated with a resin matrix (such as the epoxy resin commercially available from Hexcel, Newport, and others) together in “sandwiches” of material with the layers of the fiber disposed in one or more defined directions in order to create the desired stiffness of the final product. These sandwiches are then wrapped around a suitably sized and shaped mandrel one sandwich or stack of plies at a time. This forms the wall core 16 of the shaft as shown in
It should be noted, however, that the invention herein is not limited to any particular method for construction of either the blade 12 or the shaft wall core 16. While the invention finds particular utility with composite shafts, it could be used with other blade and shaft constructs as well.
For example, a wood or wood laminate shaft may be made using a variety of techniques well known in the art. Once formed the wood or laminate shaft becomes the core of the shaft as shown in
A preferred embodiment of the invention herein disclosed is shown in
Similarly, as shown in the embodiment depicted in
Although not shown on
Another preferred embodiment is shown in
Similarly, as shown in the embodiment of
The materials that can be used for the corner pieces 20, 24 and 26 can be almost any material that can be suitably positioned and made to stay in place during use. The list of such materials is too varied and long to be included here, but examples are Surlyn®, Sanoprene™, nylon, high-density polypropylene or any other mix of fiber and resin. Because a purpose of the corner pieces 20, 24 and 26 is to provide impact protection for the Corners C1, C2, C3 and C4 of the shaft 14, any material with high impact resistance characteristics may be preferred.
What will be appreciated is that this invention in which the corner pieces 20, 24 and 26 are separately added allows for them to be selectively added. Whereas prior art shaft constructs have included wrapped layers that have fully encircled the shaft, the invention here uses individual pieces that can be selectively applied. Accordingly, if some players prefer a perfectly flat shaft surface against the palm of their hand, but prefer the “proud” corners for the portion of the shaft around which their fingers wrap, that can be accommodated. For example, as shown in
Because the corner pieces 20, 24 and 26 are in lieu of overall layers of material in the typical stick, the weight differential may actually be less weight in the embodiment shown in
Moreover, with respect to embodiments depicted in Figures, 5 and 7-8, a traditional wood hockey stick shaft feel may be achieved with the commensurate attributes of strength and configuration described above.