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Publication numberUS2981954 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 2, 1961
Filing dateApr 15, 1957
Priority dateApr 15, 1957
Publication numberUS 2981954 A, US 2981954A, US-A-2981954, US2981954 A, US2981954A
InventorsDavid W Garbellano
Original AssigneeDavid W Garbellano
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Diving apparel
US 2981954 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

y 1961 D. w. GARBELLANQ 2,981,954

DIVING APPAREL Filed April 15, 1'95? INVENTOR. Dav/'0 W Garba/kmo LAME. may,


2,981,954 DIVING APPAREL David W. Garbellan'o, Berkeley, Calif. (Rte. 2, Box 1565, Grass Valley, Calif.)

This invention relates to protective clothing for use in underwater activities such as skin-diving and the like- More particularly it relates to'for'm-fitting garments made from unicellular neoprene foam rubber.

' As has been thoroughly described in my Patent No. 2,749,551 issued June 12, 1956, unicellular foam rubber provides an almost ideal basic material for underwater diving suits. Such suits are classified according to construction and purpose. Dry.type suits are intended to exclude all water from contact with the body of the wearerwhereas wet type suits do not attempt this Moreover, shallow water suits are adapted for use at depths no greater than about thirty feet and are therefore not designed to solve the problem of increased water pressure which is of extreme importance in the manufacture of deep water suits. Of course,

shallow water suitsof thetype described herein as wellas of those set forth in the aforementioned patent can be used at depths greater than thirty feet at the option of the diver; For example, unicellular foam rubber suits were used by skin-divers at ocean depths during preliminary salvage operations of the ill fated S.S. Andrea Doria in the Atlantic. While some suits are intended for use by divers only, others are made for both swimmers and divers. The present invention contemplates. a suit for either swimmers or divers. Moreover it maybe either of the wet or dry type, as desired, and may be used in shallow water, or at substantial ocean depths. With the advent of skin-diving as a profession as well as a hobby, the provision of improved diving apparel constitutes a real contribution to this useful art.

( In order for underwater garments to be efiicient, certain requirements must be satisfied. An underwater suit should keep the wearer Warm and protect him against painfulrabrasions occasioned by corals, shells and other sharp objects such as rocks I and sunken debris. It

'should have structural characteristics affording resistance to punctures, tears and so forth normally encountered through rough usage. It should be comfortable, permitting effortless movement, and it should be durable and easy to care for. It should be easily donned and dotted and should comprise several components thereby providing for independent use thereof as desired by the "wearer. Such feature not only allows its user to apply whichever items found necessary and advantageous for I a particular operation but also permits ready replacement of individual items which may have become lost, worn or damaged. It is also desirable that the suit be constructed from a basic substance which increases the buoyancy of its vwearer without promoting excessive change in such buoyancy with change in immersion depth.

Other important features will be apparent from a further I f consideration of the invention asset forth herein.

Of the various substancessuggested for, use in fabrica'tingunderwater garments particularly intended for skin-diving, unicellular neoprene foam rubber is the most advantageous, as is evidenced from its widespread fuse and extensive advertising-in such magazines as'the Skin Diver and other similar publications. "Neoprene" is a trade name signifying the synthetic rubber niade by the controlled polymerization of chloroprene, a material produced by the addition of hydrochloric acid to vinylacetylene. The term neoprene is so widely used today that its meaning has become almost synonymous with synthetic rubber. Neoprene foam rubber is conventionally made in sheets of various thicknesses, having relatively smooth top and bottom surfaces resulting from their having been in direct contact with forms or platens during manufacture. While still viscous, the synthetic elastomer is poured over a first platen and then a second platen is situated in close relationship with said first platen, the distance therebetween usually being the same throughout the sheet and predetermined by the thickness, of product desired. The foamy, unicellular quality of the internal mass of the neoprene sheet is produced, at least in part, by including within the viscous synthetic elastomer a small amount of gas-generating chemical compound which causes an indeterminate number of minute bubbles or foamy particles to form throughout the internal mass, while leaving the smooth surface or skin undisturbed.

Unicellular foam rubber is relatively elastic, as distinguished from thin sheet rubber, and the tiny unconnected unicells increase the buoyancy of ts wearer be cause of the multitudinous pockets of gases entrapped therein. These entrapped gases, having low heat conductivity, also serve to insulate the wearersbody from cold temperatures. Moreover, this unicellular structure maintains body-warmth by preventing the circulation of ambient cold water therethrough from cell to cell, as

sharply distinguished from sponge rubber and the like wherein the. cells are interconnected.

However, conventional neoprene foam rubber unfortunately has certain disadvantages. The elasticity of the foamy interior mass is drastically reduced by the presence of a skin on'either one or. both surfaces which prevents full utilization of the desirable three-dimensional pliability of thefoamy mass. Each cell at the surface is more rigidly connected with contiguous cells because of the skin structure than is the case with the cells in the interior foamy portion. In other words, conventional foam rubbergarments do not possess the high degree of flexibility required in well designed underwater garments. Hence it is impossible to manufacture a formfitting underwater suit from conventional neoprene foam rubber, per se, without doing one of two things. Either undesirable slits and other openings must be provided,

along with suitable mechanical closures therefor, or,

the suit must be fabricated as set forth in Patent No. 2,749,551 referred to hereinbefore. Conventional neoprene foam rubber having skin on both sides simply does not afford sufiicient stretchability for the wearer to don or dofI a form fitting garment with ease, not to mention the wearers discomfort from undue tightness at functional body areas. Impaired circulation rapidly leads to serious difficulties and often results in irreparable physiological damage particularly when experienced at lowered temperatures.

Moreover, unicellular foam rubber in and of itself has the further disadvantage of providing a coefficient' of friction with the superficies of a wearers body in excess of that desirable for easy donning and doifingr While 07 the skinless variety offers more difficulty in easy passage over the wearers superficies than does the skin variety, both are relatively inconvenient in this respect.

While the skinless interior provides a vacuum bonding to the wearers body and thereby creates an, improved form-fit for attractive styling and cold temperature protection, such vacuum bonding will readily be seen to promote frictional disadvantages in easy donning'and dolfing of the suit. Furthermore, unicellular foam rubber in and of itself is readily adaptable for further improvement from the point of further insulation against cold as well as structural resistance to punctures, tears, rips and so forth.

It is therefore a principal object of the present invention to provide an improved unicellular foam rubber underwater garment having increased resistance to deformation and destruction.

Another object of the invention is to provide diving apparel affording increased resistance to cold temperatures.

A further object of the invention is the provision of underwater garments which may be donned and doffed with ease and which provide the wearer thereof with increased comfort during use.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide means whereby diving apparel originally fabricated of unicellular foam rubber may be revised to incorporate the improvements set forth herein.

A still further object of the invention is the provision of underwater garments having increased reinforcement, enhanced insulating properties and other improved functional characteristics, regardless of the presence of surface skin and/ or mechanical closures.

Another object of the invention is to provide a form fitting, body conforming garment having increased snugness at such necessary openings as, for example, the neck, wrists, legs, and so forth, in order to decrease water seepage therethrough.

Other objects and features of advantage will be apparent from the following description and claim along with a consideration of the drawing which shows certain of the preferred embodiments of the invention and wherein:

Figure 1 is a perspective view of an underwater suit, including jacket and trouser members, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 2 is an enlarged section in detail of a preferred embodiment of the specially prepared material of the suit shown in Figure 1;

Figure 3 is an additional enlarged section in detail of an alternate embodiment of said suit material; and

Figure 4 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the sleeve portion of the suit of Figure 1.

The invention relates generally to what is known in the art as form-fitting garments, as well as to those having as their basic substance, or body, unicellular foam 111bber, commonly termed neoprene foam rubber. It is concerned with diving apparel fabricated from unicellular foam rubber having at least one surface thereof bonded to a relatively thin layer of woven material such as, for example, synthetic fibers including Dacron (a condensation polymer of terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol), dynel (a polymer of vinyl chloride and acrylonitrile), nylon, viscose, acetate and the like as well as natural fibers including cotton, silk, wool and linen. Of paramount importance, however, is the fact that the fabric used must be resilient and possess considerable elasticity. For example, materials such as canvas, duck, gabardine, whipcord and the like would be entirely unsatisfactory in the present invention because of the type of weave used therein.

As a recent innovation in the art of weaving there has developed a technique which'produces woven material having a two-way stretch. This is a function of the technique of fabrication rather than the material used as raw fibers. Such two-way stretch material will eventually find manifold applications in various fields and in particular those related to the garment industry. Material having two-way stretchability has a pliability not unlike that of foam rubber sheets and can be bonded thereto with great advantage. Moreover, conventional woven fabric having but one-way stretch may also be bonded to foam rubber and can be used to greatly improve underwater garments fabricated therefrom. However, one-way stretch materialtcan successfully be used in. conjunction with suchtunderwater garments only if the bonding of the fabric to the foam rubber is accomplished in such a manner that the direction of the one-way stretch in the final garment is lateral as opposed to vertical. It will be readily appreciated that this is necessitated, for example, by the need for substantial lateral and circumferential expansion around the wearers chest rather than longitudinal and vertical extension from neck to waist. The same holds true in the manufacture of hood, trousers, gloves, socks, and so forth. The desired stretchability of the material is primarily in the circumferential or lateral direction around the various elements of the wearers body encased therein.

It has been found advantageous to bond woven fabric to both inner and outer surfaces of a foam rubber underwater garment. The outer covering provides structural reinforcement and increased insulation to the wearer. The inner lining provides each of the foregoing features and, in addition, affords greater ease in donning and doffing. Moreover, both the lining and the covering of foam rubber suits provide a wide choice of colors for those wearers so disposed and add to the general overall appearance and attractiveness of the finished garment. However, it will be appreciated that lining the inside in conjunction with covering the outside surface will decrease the overall stretchability of the garment. Hence, the extent to which woven fabric is to be bonded to the foam rubber is dependent in large measure on the final design of the garment. For example, if mechanical fasteners such as zippers are included throughout the structure of the suit design to aid in donning and dofiing, then both surfaces of the garment may be bonded to fabric. This is presently the case wherein conventional unicellular foam rubber having skin on both sides is used, as mechanical closure means are required even in the absence of any bonded fabric. On the other hand, if the original foam rubber has skin on one side only, whether exterior or interior, or if there is no skin on either side, then the advantages of bonding both a covering as well as a lining of woven fabric would be controlling, as mechanical closures would not then generally be required.

Moreover, it will be appreciated that certain woven fabrics have their own individual advantages or disadvantages over other such fabrics. For example, silk or certain synthetic materials may be preferred wherein less friction to the superficies of the wearer is desired. Furthermore, synthetic fibers such as nylon or dacron are extremely wear resistant and provide good insulating means. Since wool fabric possesses very good insulation properties, in certain instances it may be preferable for use at lower temperatures. It will also be recognized from the foregoing that numerous combinations in various proportions will provide satisfactory and often advantageous materials for bonding with the foam rubber. The selection thereof is dependent on a consideration of the particular problem at hand and the specific use to which the garment is to be adapted. General principles and characteristics of the various applicable fabrics should be carefully considered in conjunction with the determination of other important features, such as, for example,

the type of weave used therein. To those skilled in the art of fabrics and the like, it will be readily apparent that the elasticity or stretchability demanded of the particular material under consideration will depend for the most part on the aforesaid type of weave. There are, bf course, many styles and patterns for weaving wherein threads or yarns are interlaced and interlocked to form the final cloth material. While the ideal fabric for use in the invention is one wherein the extent and direction of elasticity most closely approximates that of the unicellular foam rubber base material, those known throughout the trade as jersey, knit, tricot, and the like may advantageously be used herein.

Thethickness of the bonded fabric may vary over wide ranges. depending againonthe: ultimate-use:contemplated for the particular item of -underwater apparel. likewise, the thickness of the unicellular foam'rubber base: material may also vary considerably although diving suits of about l a'f thickness are generallyconsidered to be a practical standard. It is suggested-that for 'conventional'usage, as,

for example, in water skiing or skin-diving activities, the

bonded fabric would comprise the minor portion of the overall thickness of the garment. However, for certain specialized purposes it will be appreciated that the thickness of the bonded fabric might contribute extensively to the overall thickness of the garment. For example, wool fiber might be used in extreme cold temperatures for the bonded fabric lining along with a tear-resistent synthetic fabric exteriorly bonded to the foam'rubber base material. Consequently, no limitation as to proportionof base material to bonded fabric is contemplated, such relationship depending entirely upon the characteristics of the fabric, the thickness of foam rubber, the function of the garment, and the personal requirements of the wearer.

Referring now in detail to Figure '1 of the drawing, there is shown an underwater diving suit fabricated in accordance with the present invention and'comprising hood 11, boots 12, trousers 13, and jacket 14 showing frontal section 16 broken away at 17 to more clearly exhibit the texture of said suit, in this instance comprising unicellular neoprene foam rubber 18 having skin 19 integral with its external surface and resilient fabric 21 bonded to inner surface 22 of said suit. Reinforcing means 23 are shown at points of increased wear and comprise additional strips of rubber material also bonded to the material from which the suit is fabricated. Figure 2 illustrates in enlarged detail a preferred embodiment of the construction material of the invention. Tiny, unconnected unicells 24 appear throughout the body of neoprene foam rubber 18 except that skin 19 constitutes the external surface of said construction material and is integral therewith. In Figure 2 the bonded'resilient fabric 21 closely adheres to inner surface 22 here shown as skinless for purpose of illustration but it will be understood that said inner surface 22 could be similar to the external surface represented as skin 19; this depending on the suit design, among other considerations, as fully explained herein. The enlarged detail showing of Figure 3 illustrates an alternate embodiment of the invention, in this instance, fabric 21 bonded to both surfaces of unicellular foam rubber 18.

Moreover, Figure 4 of the drawing, which shows an enlarged fragment of the sleeve portion 26 of suit jacket 14, illustrates in detail the unicellular foam rubber 18 having skin 19 as its exterior surface and fabric 21 forming the lining of the jacket. Reinforcing means 23 are shown at the wrist opening 27 at termination'points of seams 28. As a preferred embodiment of the invention, fabric 21 is beaded 29 to an extent of about A" at the extremities of a the suit for reasons and in a manner to be described hereinafter in further detail.

In accordance with the present invention neoprene foam rubber in the form of a sheet and in varying thickness, as, for example, about A; is cut in conformity with a pattern for jacket, trousers, hood, mittens, socks, gloves, or the like. The fabric to be bonded to the neoprene foam rubber is also cut to pattern, either simultaneously with the rubber-cutting operation or independent thereof. A water-proof cement is then brushed or sprayed evenly over the surface of the neoprene sheet and the fabric is attached thereto prior to the cement becoming dry. Several satisfactory cements or bonding materials will suggest themselves to those skilled in the art and the following are offered as examples of cements producing excellent results. after long continued usage of the suit over a wide range of operating conditions. Water-proof cement EC 870 and 1300, both products of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., are recommended for this purpose. A roller is then passed over the entire surface of the materials cut to pattern and now attached to each other by the cement. This rolling procedure insures close an iron'or platen heated to substantially elevated temperatures is. then applied under limited pressure thereby curing the cement and finally bonding the materials together. Of course, it will beappreciated that the materials couldbe bonded'together prior to the step of cutting to pattern or the. reverse process may be utilized as described hereinbefore.

The appropriate extremities are then securely fastened as by sealing, vulcanizing, bonding, cementing and so forth. Moreover, it hasbeen found desirableand advantageous to reinforce the seams as well as points or lines of stress by incorporating therewith additional strips of rubber or the like. Also, the areas of greatest wear, such as the external surfaces at the elbows of the jacket sleeves, knees of the trousers, soles of the socks, or palms of the mittens, may be reinforced by the bonding of thin, hard rubber pads thereto. Other materials will be found satisfactory for this purpose and such reinforcing means may be attached either before or after the bonding of the fabric to the neoprene rubber and such reinforcing means per se constitutes no portion of the invention.

To prevent excessive fraying of the fabric, the extremities of the fabric, after bonding to the neoprene foam rubber, may be beaded as by applying an external border of cement to the fabric to a suggested extent of A" inward from said extremities. Such additional application of cement provides increased cohesion between the fibers of the fabric and further resistance to any deterioration in the trade as nylon jersey was bonded to the skinless surface of Va sheet of unicellular neoprene foam rubber body material, having skin on the external surface only, by means of waterproof cement EC 870 in accordance with the foregoing general procedure. The resulting bonded material was cut to standard pattern for a wet type underwater suit as more fully shown and described in Patent No. 2,749,551. the fabric were beaded as described hereinbefore and the resulting suit was assembled through joinder of appropriate edges of the cut material, thereby forming seams throughout the length of the suit. These seams were then reinforced at points of wear, as already suggested, and the finished suit consequently subjected to strenuous testing during extensive usage. The advantages of the nylon jersey fabric lining in combination with the unicellular neoprene foam rubber body material exhibited a considerable advance over presently existing suits from the viewpoint of ease in donning and doffing, warmth, elasticity, comfort, durability, and so forth, thereby indicating a novel and useful contribution to the art. I

Although the present invention is particularly applicable to underwater suits of the wet type, nothing herein is intended to limit'the application of the novel material of fabrication to suits of other than said wet type. It is' contemplated that underwater suits could be designed and fabricated of the dry type while still retaining the generally form-fitting nature throughout many portions thereof.

While the salient features of this invention have been described in detail With respect to certain embodiments thereof, it will of course be apparent that certain modifications may be made within the spirit and scope of this invention, and it is not desired therefore to limit the invention to the exact details shown except insofar as they may be defined in the following claim.

What is claimed is:

In a wet-type skin-diving suit, a full-fashioned stretchable garment structure formed of split sheet unicellular neoprene foam rubber having a smooth outer surface and an open cell inner surface, a full-fashioned lining for said garment structure formed of a water-permeable The extremities of synthetic fabric soft to the touch and resiliently stretchable in a limb and torso encircling direction, and a resiliently stretchable bonding agent securing the outer sub face of said lining to the said open inner cellular surface of said garment structure so as to permit access of water to said open cells through said lining.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,290,166 Craig et a1. July 21, 1942 a: Graig et a1. Dec. 22, 1942 Fischer -2 Dec 28, 1948 Ostby "Aug, 2, 1949 Scholl Jan. 27, 1953 Garbellano June 12, 1956 FOREIGN PATENTS Australia May 20, 1955 OTHER REFERENCES in Division 50).

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U.S. Classification2/2.17, 264/DIG.140, 2/67, 2/81, 2/82
International ClassificationB63C11/04
Cooperative ClassificationB63C11/04, Y10S264/14
European ClassificationB63C11/04