US 3636576 A
A floor mat for gymnastic and athletic purposes composed of a succession of abutting rectangular mat sections, each section consisting of a lightweight shock absorbing filler enclosed by flexible sheet covers. The especial feature of the mats, which are disclosed in several alternate forms, is that they permit a long expanse of virtually unbroken mat top surface, yet may be "roll-folded" up into a single, compact stack for ready transport and storage without the need first to separate individual sections or groups of sections. The foregoing is accomplished by making the lengths of successive mat sections a function of their thickness and by joining the abutting section by their top covers only.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Nissen 51 Jan. 25, 1972  Inventor: George P. Nissen, Cedar Rapids, Iowa  Assignee: Ninen Corporation, Cedar Rapids, Iowa  Filed: Sept. 24, 1970  Appl. No.: 75,241
Related 0.8. Application Data  Continuation of Ser. No. 754,255, Aug. 21, 1968,
3/1952 Slayen ..5/357 Primary Examiner- Bobby R. Gay Assistant ExaminerAndrew M. Calvert AttorneyHaven E. Simmons S 7] ABSTRACT A floor mat for gymnastic and athletic purposes composed of a succession of abutting rectangular mat sections, each section consisting of a lightweight shock absorbing filler enclosed by flexible sheet coversv The especial feature of the mats, which are disclosed in several alternate forms, is that they permit a long expanse of virtually unbroken mat top surface, yet may be roll-folded up into a single, compact stack for ready transport and storage without the need first to separate individual sections or groups of sections. The foregoing is accomplished by making the lengths of successive mat sections a function of their thickness and by joining the abutting section by their top covers only.
i 10 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures abandoned.
 US. Cl ..5/344, 5/352  Int. Cl A471 9/00  Field of Search ..5/357, 344, 285, 345, 352; 206/4511; 273/1, 57
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,061906 9J1... .FQ!E -;-:--;-;;::;:-:;--:;::--20 H5- l s 4T '14 M-l PATENTED JAN25|972 3:636; 576
sum 1 or 3 2 3 fm 5 s 7 e P9 10 IN VISN'I'OR.
GEORGE E NISSEN AT TORNE Y PATENTEU mas x972 SHEET 3 OF 3 ROLL-FOLD FLOOR MAT FOR GYMNASTIC AND ATHLETIC PURPOSES CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 754,255, filed Aug. 21 1968, and now abandoned.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Modern lightweight gymnastic and athletic mats are typically constructed of blocks of shock absorbing foam filler material, such as a polyethylene foam, and encased in covers of nylon or similar material. Even as such these mats are a great improvement over the older and much heavier hair felt or goat's hair filled mats. However, in order to provide a mat which can be readily transported and stored, since the foam blocks cannot be individually rolled or folded as can some of the older, heavier mats, the practice has been to break the mat up into relatively short lengths of several sections each which are removably fastened to each other in various ways, such as that disclosed in US. Pat. No. 3,242,509 employing Velcro tape. But the Velcro, or other fastening means as the case may be, usually connect only the bottom covers of the individual mat lengths so that necessarily a crevice is left between their abutting top covers. Even in the few instances where removable fastening means, such as zippers, connect only the abutting top covers, flaps are used to hide the juncture which necessarily leave openings therebetween. An accordion fold, as shown in US. Pat. No. 3,284,819, is not wholly satisfactory either because there alternate folds leave crevices between every other pair of abutting top covers. The presence of openings or crevices in the top mat surface between individual mat sections or lengths is undesirable in many instances because such, no matter how apparently unobtrusive they appear, may interfere with or even injure a performer, as, for instance, should his fingers or toes be caught therein. In short, so far as is known, it has not been possible to provide an extended length of lightweight mat which has an unbroken mat top surface and yet which at the same time may be readily convertible into a form suitable for easy transport and storage.
Consequently, the chief object of the present invention is the provision of a long expanse of lightweight mat which has a substantially unbroken mat top surface and yet which may be readily converted for easy transport and storage.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The foregoing object and others are achieved by a mat composed of individual mat sections which are secured to each other by their top covers only but which need not be disconnected in order easily to transport or store the mat. To accomplish this the lengths of the individual sections are adjusted so that, beginning at one or both ends of the mat, it may be successively roll-folded" about the junctures between the individual sections into a neatly arranged stack of sections upon the floor which can then be readily carried away and stored. For this purpose, the mats of the present invention are constructed of essentially two types of individual mat sections, main sections and connecting" sections, the latter being disposed between certain main sections. The sections are permanently connected to each other by their top covers only so that a smooth mat top surface is provided. The lengths of the main and connecting sections depend both upon the length of the overall mat and hence the number of sections, as well as upon the thickness of each. The mat is literally rolled up and at the same time folded about the junctures between the main and connecting sections such that all the main sections lie one upon the other parallel to the floor while the connecting sections are disposed generally perpendicular to the floor at the ends of the main sections; hence the aptness of the tenn roll-folded" or roll-fold. In this manner a mat of almost any overall length can be provided with a virtually unbroken mat top surface and yet readily be transported or stored.
Two particular embodiments are disclosed. First, a long mat in which successive main sections beginning with the third are progressively lengthened, the connecting sections being disposed between adjacent main sections beginning with the third and fourth, so that the mat can be roll-folded from one end. Second, a combination in which two mats of the first type are disposed with the outer ends of their longest main sections connected by their top covers only to the opposite ends of the top cover of an auxiliary connecting section therebetween. Thus each mat may be roll-folded toward the other and then one lifted up and stacked upon the other. The first type can be made to almost any length desired without the need of breaking it into disconnectable lengths; for instance, a mat of approximately 20 feet in length has been found convenient for many gymnastic needs. The second type provides a very long mat and also reduces the number of sections of differing individual lengths which would otherwise be necessary were the same length of mat of the first type to be used. Furthermore, the second type decreases the effort and time required to roll or unto]! the mat since both halves can be rolled or unrolled simultaneously toward or from the auxiliary connecting section. When connected together is this fashion, two 20 foot mats of the first type will give a total mat length of over 40 feet. As will be even more clearly apparent from the more detailed description which follows, in which certain additional features of the mats are brought out, the present invention therefore makes possible the manufacture of lightweight gymnastic and athletic floor mats of any length, each with a smooth mat top surface regardless of its length and each readily convertible into a convenient package for storage and transport, all without the need to disconnect the mats into shorter lengths.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is atop plan view of a mat according to the present invention employing 10 individual mat sections of such lengths and connection between each other that the entire mat may be roll-folded beginning at the left-hand end.
FIG. 2 is an enlarged, truncated vertical section taken along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1 illustrating the construction of each individual mat section.
FIG. 3 is a partial isometric view showing the manner: of connection between the individual sections of the mat of FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged, truncated vertical section taken along the line 4-4 of FIG. 1 illustrating the manner in which adjacent mat sections abut each other when the mat is unrolled.
FIG. 5 is a side elevation showing the mat of FIG. I after it has been roll-folded.
FIG. 6 is a top plan view showing two mats of FIG. 1 connected so as to form one mat which may be roll-folded inwardly from each outer end.
FIGS. 7 and 8 are side elevational views illustrating successive steps in the roll-folding of the mat of FIG. 6.
FIG. 9 is a truncated, isometric view of an assembly of mats of FIG. I joined side-by-side.
FIG. 10 is a truncated, isometric view of an assembly of mats of FIG. 6 joined side-by-side.
With respect to all of the drawings generally, it should be pointed out that the proportions are somewhat distorted; that is, the mat thickness illustrated is greater proportionally to the mat section lengths than is actually the case in order to render the drawings clearer than they would otherwise be.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Each mat M is made up of a number of discrete, rectangular mat sections S all constructed in identical fashion essentially as follows: Several blocks or lengths of shock absorbing foam, preferably a polyethylene foam such as that sold under the trademark ETI-IAFOAM, are placed in abutting side-by-side relation to form a rectangular mat filler 10 of the dimensions of the particular mat section involved. The filler 10 is then enclosed in an envelope formed from a bottom cover 11 and a top cover 12, both preferably of nylon cloth impregnated with a suitable resin (see FIG. 2). The top cover 12 is'carried out over the upper four edges of the filler 10, reversed upon itself and stitched at 13 to form a short extension or bight l4, and finally carried down to the bottom cover 1 1 to form sidewalls 12a, being stitched to the bottom cover 11 at 15 to form lap joints 16. The blocks of foam constituting the filler 10 may be secured to each other or to one or both of the covers 11 and 12 in any suitable manner, the important thing being that the mat top surface be smooth and unbroken. To this extent, the construction of each mat section S is quite conventional.
To make up a length of mat M according to the present invention, a number of sections S of equal width W are joined together in abutting end-to-end relation in the manner illustrated in FIG. 3. For this purpose, the first section S is positioned with its top cover 12 uppermost. The adjoining section S is inverted thereon with its top cover 12 in face-to-face contact with that of S and their respective ends to be joined disposed one above the other. The two bights 14 at each such end are then stitched together at 17 as close to the sidewalls 12a as feasible. The section S is next swung about the stitching 17 as indicated in FIG. 3, whence the two bights 14 are sandwiched between the abutting sidewalls 12a as shown in FIG. 4, the respective lap joints l6 assuming the same relation, as shown in the latter Figure, or merely abutting or overlapping each other, it making no difference which. The adjoining top covers 12 of sections S and S thus present a substantially smooth top mat surface with essentially no gap or crevice therebetween.
A roll-fold mat is formed of successive mat sections, each of whose construction is like that of a section S just described, joined together in the manner just related/As an example, FIG. 1 illustrates a roll-fold mat M-l employing l mat sections 8 -8 8,, S 8,, S S; and S being relatively long and denoted as main sections," while 5,, S S and S, are relatively short and denoted as connecting sections. The mat sections S,'--S are arranged as shown in FIG. 1, the lengths of main sections S, and S being each equal to the length of main section 8,, denoted by L. The lengths of main sections S S and S however, progressively increase, depending upon the thickness, T, of the individual sections which of course is uniform. The lengths of the connecting sections S S S and S, depend also upon the thickness T. In the case of the mat M-l, a comparison of FIGS. 1 and 5 will disclose that while the lengths of main sections 8: and S are each equal to that of S,, or L, the lengths of main sections 8,, S and S are respectively L+T, L+2T, and L+3T, and the lengths of connecting sections 8;, S S and S, are respectively T, 2T, 3T and 4T. Hence, beginning with section 8,, the mat M-l may be readily roll-folded into the stacked form shown in FIG. 5 wherein all the main sections overlie each other parallel to the floor with the connecting sections all disposed at the respective ends of the main sections but generally perpendicular to the floor.
A total of 10 mat sections 8 -8 can easily provide a mat 20 feet in overall length and yet result when roll-folded into a convenient stack only about 3% feet in length and 4 feet to 6 feet wide depending upon the width selected. For instance, if main sections 8,, S and S are each 3 feet in length and main sections 8,, S, and S are respectively 3 feet lk feet, 3 feet 3 inches and 3 feet 4% feet, the thickness of each section being 1% feet, and if accordingly connecting sections S S S and S, are respectively 1% inches, 3 inches, 4% inches and 6 inches, the result is a total overall mat length of 20 feet. This relationship provides the tightest" or most compact possible stack when roll-folded, but it will be readily recognized that the mat could still be roll-folded if 8,, S 8., S and S were each greater than respectively L, L+T, L+2T, and L+3T, though a looser," less compact stack would result and rollfolding would be more difficult. Also, of course, S could be less than L+3T in either case without affecting the roll-fold feature of the mat.
The foregoing relationships of the lengths of the main and connecting mat sections can be generalized and expressed in a form from which the lengths of the various sections can be determined for a mat of any number of sections greater than three, that is, a mat having sections S ...S,, where S, is always a main section. First, it will be noted that 8,, S S-,...S,, are always connecting sections and n is an even integer greater than 3. Next, it will be noted that the length of the last connecting section is always (n-l )/2T or (n-2 )/2T, that the length of the next to last main section S,, is always L+( n-3)/2T or L+(n- 6)/2T. Hence the lengths of the individual successive sections of a mat having a total of 8,, sections is L, L, T, L, 2T, L+T, 3T, L+2T, 4 T, L+3T, 5T, L+4T...L+(n6)/2T, (n-2)/2T, L+(n-a4 )/2T.
A combination of mats M-l is embodied in the mat M-2 illustrated in FIGS. 6-8. There the outer ends of the main sections S of a pair of mats M-l are disposed at the ends of an auxiliary" connecting section 8,, and joined thereto in the above-described manner. The length of S, is l0T, or l5 inches in the case of the specific dimensions given above for M-l where T is 1% inches. Of course the two mats M-l need not have the same number of sections or equal overall lengths because the arrangement of M-2 will work equally well with mats of unequal numbers of sections and/or in which the lengths of the respective sections S, are unequal. In the case of the foregoing generalized expressions where each mat- M] has S,...S, sections and L is the length of both main section 8,, it will be noted that the length of S, must be twice the total number of main sections, less 2, times the thickness T. Or, stated another way, S, must span the combined thickness of the number of main sections, less 1, of each mat M-l. The number of main sections of each mat M-l is equal to n/2+l; hence, in both mats, the number of main sections to be spanned is [(n/2+l )l ]+[(n/2+l )1] or n. Thus the length of S, is nT. If the two mats have unequal numbers of sections, n and n as mentioned above, the length of S, will readily be seen to be (n,+n )/2T. Each mat M-l is roll-folded toward the auxiliary section 8 providing two stacks of mat sections connected by 8;, one of which is then lifted up, inverted and placed upon the other as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. Using the dimensions given above for each mat M-l, the combination will give an overall mat length of almost 42 feet, yet when rollfolded will provide an easily handled stack approximately 3 feet 7% inches long and 4 feet to 6 feet wide depending upon the width employed. I
Other advantages also accrue from the foregoing constructions. For instance, two or more identical mats M-l may be placed side-by-side, instead of end to end, with their respective identical sections abutting each other, and joined together by their bottom covers with Velcro tape, in the manner shown in US. Pat. No. 3,242,509, or by straps, ties or the like, in order to provide a broad mat which can then be roll-folded in the manner described toward one end, whereupon the resulting stack of sections will lie off to one side of the floor. An example is the mat M-3 shown in FIG. 9 using individual lengths of Velcro tape, indicated at 20, to join the individual bottom covers 11 of the abutting sections of the mats M-l. The same is possible in the case of two or more identical mats M-2 which will thus provide a very large overall mat which can then be roll-folded inwardly, beginning with the two rows of sections 8,, toward the row of auxiliary sections 8,, resulting in a very wide but short stack of mat sections in the middle of the floor. An example is the mat M-4 shown in FIG. 10, also using individual lengths of Velcro tape, indicated at 20, to join the individual bottom covers 11 of the abutting sections of the mats M-Z. In either case, the resulting stack can be quite readily transported and stored.
The mats M-3 and M-4 are feasible in those situations in which the crevices between adjacent mats M-l or M-Z, as the case may be, are not so objectionable. This is true in some gymnastic and athletic instances. Even in those cases in which no crevices in the mat top surface can be tolerated, such as in wrestling, an overall cover can be secured to the mat which can then be roll-folded therewith, something which has hitherto not been possible where large mat areas have been made up from a number of smaller, interconnected lightweight mat sec tions or groups of sections; in those cases it has been necessary first to remove the cover before the mat can be dismantled for transport or storage. The fact that in each case the bottom covers 1! of the mat sections S,--S, are successively uppermost during roll-folding or unfolding provides ready access to whatever fastening means are employed between adjacent mats M-] or M-2, as the case may be.
in whatever form used, therefore, the present invention pro vides a selection of gymnastic and athletic mats of widely varying lengths and utility, each with a substantially smooth and unbroken mat top surface and each readily roll-foldable into a convenient package for transport, all without the need to break the mats up into separate, shorter lengths, as has heretofore been necessary. While the present invention has been described in three particular forms, being the best modes known of carrying out the invention, and detailed descriptive language and specific dimensions have been used, the invention is not so limited. Instead, the following claims are to be read as encompassing all adaptations and modifications of the invention falling within the spirit and scope thereof.
1. In a foldable floor mat for gymnastic and athletic purposes, said mat in its unfolded condition on the floor comprising successive lengths of discrete mat sections connected to each other at their top surfaces to provide a substantially continuous mat top surface, said connections forming substantially parallel axes for pivoting movement of said sections thereabout relative to one another, the improvement wherein said mat sections include three or more main sections and one or more connecting sections, the first one of said main sections forming one end of said mat and connected as aforesaid to the second one of said main sections, the second, third and remaining ones of said main sections each having one of said connecting sections connected as aforesaid therebetween, the respective lengths of said main and connecting sections permitting folding of said mat sections relative to one another beginning at said end main section by pivoting movement thereof in the same direction of rotation about successive ones of said axes in order to convert said mat into a folded condition on the floor in which said main sections are stacked upon each other with the planes of their top surfaces substantially parallel to the plane of the floor and said connecting sections are disposed adjacent at least some of the ends of said main sections with the planes of their top surfaces transversely of the plane of the floor.
2. In a floor mat for gymnastic and athletic purposes having a longitudinally extending succession of discrete mat sections of substantially equal thickness abutting each other end to end, successive ones of said sections being joined to each other at their top surface to provide both a substantially continuous top mat surface and for pivoting movement relative to each other about parallel axes to fold said sections relative to one another, the improvements in combination therewith and wherein said mat comprises n mat sections S,...S,, in which S S S-,...S,, are connecting sections and the remainder 8,, S S S S S mS, are main sections, the lengths of said connecting sections being respectively substantially T, 2T, 3T...(n)/2T, and the lengths of said main sections 8;, S S S S ...S,, being respectively substantially at least L, L, (L+T), (L+2T), (L+3T)...[L+(n6)/2T], where n is an even integer greater than 3, L is the length of 8,, and T is substantially the thickness of each of said mat sections.
3. The floor mat of claim 2 wherein the length of main sections S2, S S5, S3, S|0...S" L, L, (L+3T)...LBz(n4/2) T.
4. The floor mat of claim 3 wherein a plurality of said mats, each being of uniform width and all having an equal number of sections S ...S,,, the thickness of each of said sections being substantially equal to T and the lengths L of all the respective sections S being substantially equal, are disposed in side-byside relation with corresponding sections of each abutting each other and corresponding pairs of abutting sections removably secured to each other.
5. The floor mat of claim 3 wherein an auxiliary connecting mat section is disposed between the outer ends of respective main sections S and S of a pair of said mats l and 2 having respectively nIand n niat sections, the ends of said auxiliary section being joined to the respective outer ends of said main sections S n and S in the manner aforesaid, the length of said auxiliary sectioflbeiug substantially (rid-n 2T, each of said mats defining a mat group.
6. The floor mat of claim 5 wherein n equals n 7. The floor mat of claim 6 wherein a plurality of said mat groups, each being of substantially uniform width and all having an equal number of sections S s 3l'ld 1 .S r6Sp6C- tively, the thickness of each of saidectiFris being substantially equal to T, the lengths of all the sections S being substantially equal and the lengths of all the sections S 'being substantially equal, are disposed in side-by-side relation with corresponding sections of each abutting each other and corresponding pairs of abutting sections removably secured to each other.
8. The floor mat of claim 2 wherein said mat comprises a total of 10 mat sections including main mat sections 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 and connecting mat sections 3, 5, 7 and 9, the lengths of said main sections 2, 4, 6 and 8 being respectively substantially L, L, (L+T) and (L+2T), and the lengths of said connecting sections 3, 5, 7 and 9 being respectively substantially T, 2T, 3T and 4T, where L is the length of main section I and T is the thickness of said sections.
9. The floor mat of claim 8 wherein the length of said main section 10 is not less than substantially (L+3T).
10. The floor mat of claim 9 wherein an auxiliary connecting mat section is disposed between the outer ends of respective main sections 10 of a pair of said mats, the ends of said auxiliary section being joined to the respective outer ends of said main sections 10 in the manner aforesaid, the length of said auxiliary section being substantially l0T.
UNETED STATES PATENT OFFEQE CERTIFICATE OF (IQRREQ'HGN Patent No. 3, 636, 576 Dated January 25, 1972 lnven fls) George P. Nissen It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:
Column 4: line 9, "(n-l)/2T"' should read -(n/2l)T-;
line 10, "L (n-3)/2T" should read -(n/2-3)T--;
1m 14, "L (na4)/2T" should'read --L (n4)/2T-.
Column 6: line 6, "(n)/2T" should read n2 2T-- line 13, "LBz(n4/2 )T" should read L (n4')/2T--;
line 28, "(n
1 n )2T" should read "(n n )/2T..
Signed and sealed this 22nd day of August 1972.
' EDWARD M.FLETCHER,JR. ROBERT GOTTSCHALK Attesting Officer Commissioner of Pateni FORM PO-IOSO (\O-69\ USCOMNPDC 6o576 p6 ".5. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 1969 O--J56-33