US 3362032 A
Abstract available in
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Jan. 9, 1968 I v J. SUMMERS 3,362,032
ENERGY ABSORBING PADDING Filed Nov. 23, 1965 '/2 FIG. 2
INVENTOR- c/o asp/1 5. SUMMERS BY M ya 46V ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,362,032 ENERGY ABSORBING PADDING Joseph S. Summers, Central Missouri Medical Services, Inc., Medical Arts Bldg., Jefferson City, Mo. 65101 Filed Nov. 23, 1965, Ser. No. 509,363 2 Claims. (Cl. 5-348) ABSTRACT OF THE DISQLOSURE An energy absorbing module usable individually and in conjunction with similar modules for padding hard surfaces, such as floors, walls, etc., comprising an outer hollow inflatable member having a gas permeable resilient material therein and a check valve in the outer surface for introducing air to increase the resistance to impacting objects without increasing the hardness. The check valve is positioned so that it is easily accessible without presenting a danger to the impacting objects.
This invention pertains to energy absorbing padding and more specifically to padding containing a resilient solid material and a gas to produce a formable member having a desired degree of consistency.
Energy absorbing padding, in general, is utilized in a variety of places wherein people or objects are prone to strike hard surfaces with considerable force. Examples of such places are automobile interiors, airplane interiors, padding for sports equipment such as football, hockey, etc., and padding floors, walls, shanp corners, etc. for children or ill and aged persons in homes and the like. This padding must be soft enough to prevent injury to the person or object striking it while being firm enough to absorb the forward motion of the person or object and prevent the person or object from striking the hard surface being padded. In prior art devices the padding generally consists of an outer member containing a relatively soft material, such as sponge rubber or the like. After these prior art devices become aged and are subject to a ,considerable amount of use, the resiliency of the inner material decreases or becomes non-existent and the padding is substantially useless.
In some prior art devices the padding consists of an inflatable member filled with a gas such as air or the like. This also is very unsatisfactory since the gas is easily compressible and the forward motion of the person or object striking the padding will cause the gas to move outwardly and compress along the edges while the person or object carries through 'and' strikes the hard surface immediately behind the padding. To prevent this the gas Within the padding may be under a high pressure but again this is unsatisfactory since -the padding is extremely vulnerable to sharp objects, leaks, and the like. In the present invention all of these undesirable characteristics have been eliminated and several desirable features have been added to provide an energy absorbing padding which is extremely reliable and useful and will substantially maintain its original effectiveness after considerable use and age. The present invention consists of an inflatable outer member having a valve therein for introducing a gas under pressure into the member. The outer member is substantially filled with a gas permeable, resilient means, such as sponge rubber, plastic, or the like. Because of the resilient means within the outer member the gas is partially entrapped and cannot be forced or compressed at the outer edges by a body striking the padding. Thus, the gas within the outer member will absorb a large amount of the forward motion or energy of a body striking the padding. Also, the gas will operate in a manner somewhat similar to a spring and will aid the resilient means in returning to its original position. In effect that gas contained within the outer member adds resiliency to the resilient means, thereby greatly reducing the strain on the resilient means and increasing the life thereof. Also, because the gas moves outwardly in all directions from an object striking the padding the pressure on the padding produced by the object is distributed over a wider area whereby more of the energy is absorbed and less strain is produced on any single area within the padding. Because the pressure produced by an object striking the padding is distributed over a Wider area and the resiliency of the padding is greatly increased by a combination of resilient means and gas, there will be less damage to objects striking the padding and the outer surface of the padding can be made initially softer.
It is an object of the present invention to provide new and improved energy absorbing padding.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide energy absorbing padding with an increased life and usefulness.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide energy absorbing padding which provides a greater degree of energy absorption to objects striking the padding.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide energy absorbing padding having a softer outer surface to decrease the shock of contact by an object striking the padding.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide energy absorbing padding which may be constructed to any shape needed and will hold that shape until changed by exterior forces.
These and other objects of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon consideration of the accompanying specification, claims, and drawings.
Referring to the drawings, wherein like characters indicate like parts throughout the figures:
FIG. 1 is a view in perspective of one embodiment of the present device;
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view as seen from the line 2-2 in FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is an end view of a slightly modified embodiment, parts thereof broken away and shown in section.
'In the figures the numeral 10 generally designates a section or module'of energy absorbing padding. The section 10 has an inflatable outer member 11 which has a generally rectangular shaped cross-section in this embodiment. The inflatable outer member 11 is constructed of a pliable, gas-tight material, such as rubber, plastic, or the like. Also, the outer member 11 has a relatively soft outer surface so that objects striking the surface will have the like in the resilient means 12. The resilient means 12 is some material which offers a substantial resistance to any object attempting to deform or compress it while being sufiiciently resilient to resume its normal shape after such compression or deformation and soft enough to prevent damage to any object striking the surface of the padding 10. Examples of such material are sponge rulbber (which may be preformed in a solid mass or chopped), plastics, various fibrous materials, and the like. In addition, the resilient means 12 has a sufiicient number of voids and pockets therein to allow a gas, such as air or the like to permeate throughout the material. In some instances it is desirable for the outer member 11 to be fixedly attached to the outer edges of the resilient means 12. This will prevent the outer member 11 from being inflated to a point where it is not in contact with the resilient means 12 and, therefore, the gas and the resilient means will cooperate as previously described.
Valve means, which in the present embodiment is a single check valve 14, is operatively attached in the outer member 11 to allow a gas, such as air or the like, to be introduced under pressure into the outer member 11. The valve 14, illustrated in this embodiment for convenience of explanation, is the type which a hollow needle is inserted into and air under pressure applied thereto. The valve 14 allows the flow of air into the outer member 11 but prevents air from escaping therethrough. For convenience the outer member 11 is formed with the valve 14 fixedly positioned therein. However, it should be understood that the valve 14 could assume many different shapes and types while still remaining within the scope of this invention.
In FIG. 3 a slightly modified embodiment of the present device is illustrated wherein a slightly larger amount of resilient material 12' is contained within an outer member 11' near the center of the outer member 11 while a slightly smaller amount of resilient material 12 is contained within the outer member 11 near the edges thereof. Thus, a cross-section of this modified embodiment appears as a somewhat elliptical shape. This shape provides additional padding at the center of the section while utilizing substantially the same amount of material throughout.
In energy absorbing padding it is generally desirable to produce a variety of shapes and sizes for various devices which are to be padded. In the present device different shapes and sizes of padding can be obtained in at least two ways. The outer member 11 can be produced from relatively thick material and can be preformed to the desired shape and size after which the resilient means 12 can be placed therein. If the resilient means 12 is a solid mass of sponge rubber, for example, it may also be preformed to the desired shape and size and placed within the outer member 11. If the resilient means 12 is chopped sponge rubber or some fibrous material the outer memlber 11 may simply be filled therewith. A second method of forming the desired shape or size of padding is to preform the inner resilient means 12 to the desired shape and size and then cover the resilient means 12 with a thin outer member 11. In this case the outer member 11 may be simply a membrane of rubber, plastic, or the like. In the second method described the resilient means 12 may also be coated with a liquid plastic, rubber, or the like after which the material is allowed to set or solidify to provide an outer member 11 which is gas tight. When this method is utilized the valve means 14 is attached to the outer surface of the preformed resilient means 12 and filled with an easily removable material to prevent the liquid from flowing therein.
Thus, I have described energy absorbing padding and various methods for producing the same which is a great improvement over any padding previously utilized. The present device is extremely soft to prevent damage to any objects striking the surface thereof while simultaneously being sufficiently firm to prevent the object from striking the surface on the opposite side which is being padded. In addition, because the gas contained within the device operates with the resilient means contained therein to provide a highly resilient overall device and because the gas distributes pressure produced by an object striking the surface of the device over a wider area, the present device has a greatly increased efficiency and usefulness. Also, for the reasons cited above, the resilient means within the present device does not lose its resiliency as rapidly.
While I have shown and described specific embodiments of this invention, further modifications and improvements will occur to those skilled in the art. I desire it to be understood, therefore, that this invention is not limited to the particular form shown and I intend in the appended claims to cover all modifications which do not depart from the spirit and scope of this invention.
What is claimed is:
1. An enengy absorbing module usable individually and in conjunction with similar modules for padding hard surfaces and the like comprising:
(a) a hollow inflatable member having a desired shape with at least an inner and an outer extended surface, said inner surface adapted to lie adjacent a hard surface and said outer surface adapted to be spaced from said hard surface;
(b) a check valve fixedly positioned in said outer surface of said hollow inflatable member for introducing a gas under pressure therein, said check valve being embedded in said outer sunface of said hollow inflatable member so as to be easily accessible without presenting sharp projections; and
(0) gas permeable resilient means formed into a desired shape and positioned within said inflatable member, said resilient means forming said inflatable member into the desired shape, said resilient means being fixedly attached to the inflatable member at least along portions of the junction thereof.
2. An energy absorbing module as set forth in claim 1 wherein the desired shape includes at least a portion having the inner and outer surfaces spaced farther apart for additional padding with said inner and outer surfaces tapering toward each other as they approach the edges of said module and the check valve is positioned in the tapering portion of the outer surface so as to further remove it (from possible contact with an object striking said module.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,234,506 3/1941 Sistig 5338 2,997,100 8/1961 Morris 5348 3,271,797 9/1966 Boyce 5348 3,309,714 3/1967 Porten 5348 X BOBBY R. GAY, Primary Examiner.
A. M. CALVERT, Assistant Examiner.