Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS3771521 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 13, 1973
Filing dateJun 19, 1969
Priority dateJun 19, 1969
Publication numberUS 3771521 A, US 3771521A, US-A-3771521, US3771521 A, US3771521A
InventorsKittredge P
Original AssigneeKittredge P
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Ear plugs
US 3771521 A
Abstract
An ear plug wherein an elongated slug of nonslumping silicone putty is enclosed in a thin cocoon of synthetic organic polmeric film drawn over the tip end of the ear plug and gathered at the base end of the ear plug. The gathering of the film forms longitudinally extending folds or grooves on the exterior of the ear plug. The gather at the base end of the ear plug is tied, and the excess polmeric film is fused down to form an integral knob adjacent to or fused with the tie off member by which the ear plug is grasped for insertion and removal.
Images(1)
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

[ Nov. 13, 1973 EAR PLUGS [76] Inventor: Peter H. Kittredge, 6449 Longridge Ave., Van Nuys, Calif.

[22] Filed: June 19, 1969 [21] Appl. No.: 834,853

FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 446,567 7/1927 Germany 128/152 Primary Examiner-Lawrence Charles Attorney-Beehler & Arant [5 7] ABSTRACT An ear plug wherein an elongated slug of nonslumping silicone putty is enclosed in a thin cocoon of synthetic organic polmeric film drawn over the tip end of the ear plug and gathered at the base end of the ear plug. The gathering of the film forms longitudinally extending folds or grooves on the exterior of the ear plug. The gather at the base end of the ear plug is tied, and the excess polmeric film is fused down to form an integral knob adjacent to or fused with the tie off member by which the ear plug is grasped for insertion and removal.

7 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures WWW 13 1915 3771.521 I FlG.-3

FIGn-G INVENTOR. PETER H. KITTREDGE ATTORNEYS I EAR PLUGS This invention relates to an acoustically absorbent ear plug which is very effective, comfortable, and convenient to use.

Previously, considerable difficulty had been experienced in providing a satisfactory ear-plug. Previous ear plugs have generally been unsuitable for their intended use because they were ineffective in absorbing noise, or they were uncomfortable or dangerous to wear for extended periods of time.

These and other disadvantages of the prior art have been overcome according to the present invention.

According to the present invention, a predetermined quantity of nonslumping silicone putty is encased in a very thin film of thermoplastic polmeric material. The film is initially in the configuration of a flat sheet so that when itis gathered together around the silicone putty, it will be stretched or drawn over one end of a generally elongated body of putty, folded along longitudinal lines on the exterior of the putty, and gathered together at the opposite end of the putty body. The gather at the opposite end of the body is conveniently tied off with a thread or strip of thermoplastic polmeric material, and the fringe of the plastic film extending beyond the tie is preferably heat-shrunken into a knob which may be partialy fused with the tie member. This seals the putty in the film cocoon and also provides a convenient handle for removing and inserting the ear plug.

The entire ear plug, with the exception of the fused knob, is very malleable over an extended range of temperatures. There are no sharp ridges in the ear to cause discomfort to the wearer. The nonslumping silicone putty has substantially the same degree of plasticity over the entire'range of temperatures normally encountered under conditions where ear plugs are worn. The nonslumping silicone putty will not flow within the ear during use. Once inserted in the ear canal, ear plugs of this invention retain their shape and do not flow or creep down against the ear drum.

In the drawings there is illustrated:

FIG. 1, an ear plug of this invention;

FIG. 2, a silicone putty body;

FIG. 3 a synthetic organic polmeric film in sheet form;

, FIG. 3 a synthetic organic polmeric film in sheet form;

FIG. 4, a synthetic organic polmeric tie off element;

FIG. 5, a partially assembled ear plug; and

FIG. 6, a cross-sectional view taken along line 66 in FIG. 1.

Referring particularly to FIG. 1, there is illustrated an ear plug, indicated generally at 14. Ear plug 14 is generally elongated in configuration and is provided with a tip end 16, which is adapted to be inserted foremost into an ear canal, and a base end 18, which is adapted to be grasped by the user for purposes of insertion and removal from an ear canal. Typical longitudinal folds 20 extend longitudinally of ear plug 14 and define shallow channels or discontinuities in the exterior surface of ear plug 14. Ear plug 14 is composed of a body 10, film l2, and tie member 22. Body is composed of an acoustically absorbent, readily malleable, nontoxic, substantially nonslumping material having a substantially constant viscosity or degree of malleability over a wide range of temperatures of from at least about 10 centigrade to 75 centigrade. Nonslump silicone polymers are generally preferred for use as body 10.

Ear plug 14 is conveniently formed by molding body 10 to the desired configuration, placing it in the approximate center of a sheet of supple film 12 and gathering the film around one end of the body 10. The film is tied at the gathered end, as shown in FIG. 5, by means of tie mmber 22, leaving fringe 23 extending beyond the tied gather. Tie member 22 is conveniently a thermoplastic thread or strip of material. The fringe 23 is subjected to heat so as to shrink it and fuse it into a knob 24, which serves as a handle by which ear plug 14 may be grasped for insertion and removal from an ear canal.

The body 10 is generally sufficiently tacky so that film 12 adheres to the exterior surface of body 10, except where the film l2 folds together so that the inner surface of film 12, is not in contact with body 10. This insures that film 12 will not balloon away from the surface of body 10. Film 12 is preferably capable of being stretched so that it will not rupture if body 10 is deformed in use to such a configuration that it requires film 12 to stretch. The cocoon like covering formed by film 12 is continuous and completely encapsulates body 10 once it has been tied and fused to produce knob 24. In order to avoid discomfort and injury to the wearer of the ear plug, film 12 is preferably a very supple, water impervious, nontoxic, thermoplastic material having a thickness of less than about one mil. Suitable films include, for example, polyethylene film having a thickness of about one-half mil or less.

Preferably both film l2 and tie member 22 are organic polmeric thermoplastic materials. This greatly facilitates the sealing of the film 12 around body-10 and also the formation of knob 24 because only heat is required to fuse fringe 23 to form knob 24 and seal the ear plug 14.

In use the ear plugs of this invention are preferably wetted with water prior to being inserted into the ear canal. This should be done to insure obtaining a good seal between the ear plug and the wall of the ear canal. As the ear plug is inserted, pressure is built up within the canal between the ear drum and the tip end 16 of ear plug 14. This pressure is relieved by the expulsion of air along longitudinal folds 20. Likewise, when the ear plug is to be withdrawn, the production of a vacuum within the ear canal is prevented by drawing air through longitudinal folds 20 into the ear canal. During insertion the ear plug is conformed to the shape of the ear canal. This shape is maintained while the ear plug is being used because the body 10 does not slump or flow along the ear canal. Since the thin film 12 is water proof, washable, and sanitary, it may be reused several times. The preferred, readily deformable silicone putty, from which body 10 is prepared, is nontoxic so that the ear canal is not injured even if the film 12 is ruptured in use. v

In forming the heat-sealed flange, it is generally preferable to fuse a portion of the tie member into the flange. This minimizes the chance of tearing film 12 during formation and use.

Preferably, where the polmeric silicone used as body 10 is an inherently nonslumping material, it is used without diluent or filler. Where the body 10 is composed of a material which tends to slump or flow with time, it is preferable to include a filler, such as, for example, cotton flock, to stabalize body 10 against flowing. The unfilled, nonslumping silicone putty is preferred because it tends to be more malleable and produces a better seal with the ear canal than does the filled putty.

Ear plugs of this invention find particular use in industrial plants and shooting ranges. They are also suited for use by students and light sleepers. In general, these ear plugs are useful wherever it is necessary or desirable to block out unwanted sound.

As will be understood by those skilled in the art, what has been described are preferred embodiments in which modifications and changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the accompanying claims.

What is claimed is:

1. An ear plug comprising:

an elongated, acoustically absorbent, substantially nonslumping, readily malleable body confined in a relatively thin, supple, water impervious film, said film being substantially adhered to the exterior surface of said body and having a plurality of folds extending longitudinally of said body to define a plurality of longitudinally extending channels on the exterior surface of said ear plug, said film being drawn over one end of said body and gathered at the opposite end of said body, and a handle means at said opposite end for inserting and removing said ear plug.

2. An ear plug of claim 1 wherein the handle means is an integral flange.

3. An ear plug of claim 1 wherein said body comprises silicone putty.

4. An ear plug of claim 1 wherein the plasticity of the body remains substantially constant over a temperature range of from at least about 10C. to about C.

5. An ear plug of claim 1 wherein the gather at the opposite end of the body is wrapped with a tie member.

6. An ear plug of claim 1 wherein the supple film is comprised of polyehtylene and has a thickness of less than about one mil.

7. An ear plug of claim 1 wherein the film is comprised of polyethylene, the gather at the opposite end of the body is tied off with a thermoplastic tie member; the body is comprised of silicone polymer; and the handle means is an integral fused flange including at least a portion of said thermoplastic tie member.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2587035 *Mar 23, 1950Feb 26, 1952Marta FornetEarplug
US2803247 *Dec 2, 1954Aug 20, 1957Josef J ZwislockiEarplug
US2850012 *Jun 20, 1957Sep 2, 1958Mine Safety Appliances CoEar plug
DE446567C *Sep 10, 1926Jul 2, 1927Gotthard ErnstOhrschuetzer gegen Geraeusch o. dgl.
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3881570 *Aug 6, 1973May 6, 1975Marion Health And Safety IncSelf-fitting hearing protector
US4160449 *Sep 28, 1977Jul 10, 1979Wade Kenneth LEarplug
US4215683 *Mar 16, 1977Aug 5, 1980Gullfiber AbEar-plug
US4338929 *Jul 29, 1980Jul 13, 1982Gullfiber AbEar-plug
US4498469 *Sep 30, 1981Feb 12, 1985Gullfiber AbEar plug as well as a method and apparatus for the production thereof
US4552137 *Aug 16, 1983Nov 12, 1985Strauss Richard HEarplugs
US4608217 *Oct 2, 1984Aug 26, 1986Gullfiber AbMethod for the production of an ear plug
US4614487 *Oct 2, 1984Sep 30, 1986Gullfiber AbEar plug as well as a method and apparatus for the production thereof
US5058606 *Oct 31, 1989Oct 22, 1991Jack MalkoffMethod for sealing external auditory ear canal
US5904143 *Oct 21, 1996May 18, 1999Magidson; MarkFoam earplug with non-permeable elastomeric coating
US6427800Nov 3, 2000Aug 6, 2002Dalloz Safety AbEar plug and method of manufacturing an ear plug
US7506720 *Jul 21, 2006Mar 24, 2009Hicks Tammera DAnimal ear protection apparatus
US7984716Jun 22, 2007Jul 26, 2011Kimberly-Clark Worldwide Inc.Self-conforming sound attenuation earplug
US8113207Aug 22, 2008Feb 14, 2012Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc.Self-conforming sound attenuation earplug
US8307942 *May 18, 2009Nov 13, 2012Mckeon Products, Inc.Flat earplug and package
US20050211254 *Mar 23, 2004Sep 29, 2005Olson Mark AMethod and apparatus for forming ear and nose plugs
US20060169291 *Feb 3, 2005Aug 3, 2006Yuichiro ShiraiEarplug
US20080314393 *Jun 22, 2007Dec 25, 2008Ricky Wayne PurcellSelf-conforming sound attenuation earplug
US20090277462 *May 9, 2008Nov 12, 20093M Innovative Properties CompanyFoam earplug in deformable sheath
US20090320860 *Sep 10, 2009Dec 31, 2009Yuichiro ShiraiEarplug
US20100043806 *Aug 22, 2008Feb 25, 2010Steven Craig GehlingSelf-conforming sound attenuation earplug
US20110094822 *May 18, 2009Apr 28, 2011Mckeon Products, Inc.Flat earplug and package
EP0836840A2Sep 5, 1997Apr 22, 1998Moldex-Metric, Inc.Foam earplug with non-permeable elastomeric coating
EP2352433A1 *Nov 5, 2009Aug 10, 2011McKeon Products, Inc.Apparatus and method of anchoring an ear piece
WO1982001312A1 *Sep 30, 1981Apr 29, 1982Sciki KalmanEar plug as well as a method and apparatus for the production thereof
WO2010054090A1 *Nov 5, 2009May 14, 2010Mckeon Products, Inc.Apparatus and method of anchoring an ear piece
Classifications
U.S. Classification128/864, D24/106
International ClassificationA61F11/08, A61F11/00
Cooperative ClassificationA61F11/08
European ClassificationA61F11/08