US 3882547 A
A padding structure for use in helmets and other athletic equipment. The structure is characterized by a resilient padding arrangement which is adapted to be manufactured in different sizes whereby the equipment can be fit to the requirements of different wearers, and the padding structure is also characterized by the ability to absorb the force of impacts in a highly efficient manner irrespective of the particular fitting requirements. The structure consists of a housing of substantially air-impervious material containing a sandwich comprising a first layer of slow-recovery resilient material and a second layer of a softer resilient material. The softer material is adapted to be included in various thicknesses to accommodate different fitting requirements whereby the padding structure can be utilized for wearers having substantially different needs. The fitting material is of a density such that it will be normally slightly compressed without affecting the slow-recovery material so that the impact attenuating ability of the latter is not affected. The housing for the sandwich preferably defines at least one small opening whereby air is adapted to be discharged from the housing in response to an impact for thereby assisting, e.g. to the extent of about 10 percent, in absorbing the force of the impact.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [1 1 Morgan  3,882,547 [451 May 13,1975
1 1 PADDING STRUCTURE  Inventor: Gerard E. Morgan, Lake Forest, 111.
 Assignee: Riddell, Inc., Chicago, 111.
 Filed: Oct. 9, 1973  Appl. No.: 404,254
 U.S. Cl. 2/3 R; 267/117  Int. Cl A42b 3/02  Field of Search 2/3 R, 3 A, 3 B, 3 C, 4,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,562,121 7/1951 Poux 2/7 X 2,816,290 12/1957 Boyer 2/3 R 3,127,615 4/1964 Aileo 2/3 R 3,156,921 11/1964 Dye 2/3 R 3,248,738 5/1966 Morgan 2/3 R 3,600,713 8/1971 Holt 2/3 R 3,609,764 3/1974 Morgan 2/3 R 3,628,190 12/1971 Molitoris... 2/3 A 3,761,959 10/1973 Dunning 2/3 R  ABSTRACT A padding structure for use in helmets and other athletic equipment. The structure is characterized by a resilient padding arrangement which is adapted to be manufactured in different sizes whereby the equipment can be fit to the requirements of different wearers, and the padding structure is also characterized by the ability to absorb the force of impacts in a highly efficient manner irrespective of the particular fitting requirements. The structure consists of a housing of substantially air-impervious material containing a sandwich comprising a first layer of slow-recovery resilient material and a second layer of a softer resilient material. The softer material is adapted to be included in various thicknesses to accommodate different fitting requirements whereby the padding structure can be utilized for wearers having substantially different needs. The fitting material is of a density such that it will be normally slightly compressed without affecting the slow-recovery material so that the impact attenuating ability of the latter is not affected. The housing for the sandwich preferably defines at least one small opening whereby air is adapted to be discharged from the housing in response to an impact for thereby assisting, e.g. to the extent of about 10 percent, in absorbing the force of the impact.
14 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures PATENTED MAY 1 31975 3. 882 547 SHEET 2 or 4 swear u or 4 PATENTED MAY] 3 I975 PADDING STRUCTURE This invention relates to a padding structure particularly suited for use in articles designed to provide protcction, such as in athletic equipment, hard hats, crach helmets and the like. The invention is primarily concerned with a padding structure which is adapted to be manufactured in different sizes whereby the size requirements of different wearers can be accommodated. The mechanism of the structure which provides for absorbing the force of an impact is such that the structure will operate efficiently irrespective of the particular size requirements.
The padding structure of this invention is particularly suited for, and will be specifically described with respect to, athletic helmets. It will be apparent that the features ofthe invention are adapted for use in connection with other articles, including other types of athletic equipment, where the articles must be lit to the wearer, and must be capable of absorbing the force of impacts.
In the development of padding or other protective means for headgear, a variety of factors must be taken into consideration. Safety is a primary concern, and numerous attempts have been made to design means which will absorb the force of impacts received in athletic contests. The use of a web suspension system as described in Riddell U.S. Pat. No. 2,359,387 has met with considerable success. More recently, energy absorbing mechanisms which do not require the use of webbing have been developed, for example as described in Morgan U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,609,764 and 3,7 I 3,640.
A second primary consideration involves the fitting of the headgear on the head of the wearer. A proper fit is required so that the equipment will be comfortable and so that the safety features of the equipment are properly utilized. In the case of headgear using web suspensions, means are often employed for adjusting the webs to fit particular wearers needs. In the aforementioned Morgan patents, sizing is accomplished by utilizing inflatable compartments.
The foregoing considerations must be viewed in light of the cost ofthe construction. Thus, even where a particular design provides ideal safety considerations as well as a proper lit, a practical disadvantage develops if the construction is unduly complicated or utilizes types of materials which make the construction too expensive for general use.
It is a general object of this invention to provide an improved padding structure which is particularly suitable for use in athletic equipment.
It is a more specific object of this invention to provide a padding structure which is characterized by safety and fitting features whereby the structure can be efficiently employed in athletic helmets.
It is a still further object of this invention to provide a padding structure which can be efficiently manufactured at relatively low cost without sacrificing safety and fitting features whereby the structure is ideally suited for use on a wide spread basis.
These and other objects of this invention will appear hereinafter and for purposes of illustration but not of limitation, specific embodiments of the invention are shown in the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. I is a vertical, cross-sectional view illustrating a helmet construction utilizing the novel padding structure of this invention;
FIG. la is a plan view of a backing element utilized for supporting padding structures within a helmet;
FIG. 2 is a vertical, sectional view taken about the line 2-2 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a horizontal, sectional view taken about the line 3-3 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view illustrating an assembly of a plurality of padding structures along with a portion of a backing element employed for securing the padding structures in a helmet;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view ofa padding structure assembly having a backing clement attached thereto;
FIG. 6 is a plan view ofa backing element of the type shown in FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a padding structure taken about the line 7-7 of FIG. 5;
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view taken about the line 8-8 of FIG. 5; and,
FIG. 9 is a plan view of an assembly of padding structurcs.
This invention generally relates to a padding structure for use in athletic equipment whereby the structure can be lit to the wearer and will then operate to absorb the force of impacts to which the wearer is subjected. The structure comprises a housing formed of a flexible, substantially air-impervious material. A sandwich of resilient padding is positioned in the housing with the sandwich comprising a first layer of a slowreeovery material and a second layer of a softer padding material.
The housing and sandwich combination are disposed on a backing which serves to support the combination adjacent the wearer's body. In the case of a helmet, the backing is adapted to be attached to the interior surface of a helmet shell with the housing of the padding structure engaging the head of the wearer. The sandwich substantially fills the housing so that the softer layer of padding is slightly compressed for a snug fit of the helmet against the wearer's head. The slowrecovery material functions primarily as an energy absorbing means. and the dimensions of this material are not significantly affected when the helmet is in place on the wearer's head.
In response to the force of an impact, the softer fitting material is compressed, and the slow-recovery material is also compressed with the degree of compression of the latter depending upon the force of the impact.
By utilizing a combination of the type described, fitting of a helmet to a wearer can be accomplished by varying the thickness of the sandwich portion of the padding structure. More specifically, the softer fitting material can be utilized in different thicknesses, and by providing a supply of padding structures, the same helmet shell can be used for different wearers depending upon the particular padding structures mounted in the shell. The slow-recovery sandwich portion is preferably of constant dimension so that the energy absorbing capabilities of the padding structures are not significantly changed irrespective of the size of the softer fitting material. In this way, the safety requirements for a helmet are accomplished while at the same time, an extremely efficient means is provided for fitting the heads of different wearers. As in the case of the preferred embodiment of the invention to be described, the individual padding structures are provided in a plurality of different assemblies whereby a wide selection of assemblies is made available for incorporation in different sizes of helmet shells. The selection of a particular combination of assemblies will then determine the particular size of the helmet.
The substantially air-impervious character of the housings for the sandwiches of resilient material enables the utilization of an additional feature for absorbing purposes. Specifically, the individual housings preferably define at least one opening whereby air is expelled from within the housings in response to an impact to thereby assist in absorbing the force of the impact. The structure of this invention thus adopts the features described and claimed in Morgan U.S. Pat. No. 3,248,738 in addition to the improved features described herein.
The drawings illustrate a helmet shell of the type designed for use by a football player. The helmet shell may be formed of any material normally used for such shells, the most common material being a relatively stiff plastic material. In the manufacture of the helmets, provision is made for the attachment of a chin strap for assisting in holding the helmet on the wearer's head, and other attachments such as face and neck guards may be utilized in accordance with conventional practice. Pads 12 comprising cheek guards are adapted to be snapped into position in accordance with conventional practice.
The helmet illustrated is provided with a plurality of padding structures which combine to provide energy attenuating and sizing capabilities for the helmet. In the embodiment illustrated, the padding structures comprise a plurality of individual assemblies comprising an assembly 16 which is attached on the interior wall of the helmet for engagement with the forehead of the wearer, second assemblies 18 for engagement with the top of the wearers head, and two rear assemblies 20 and 22 for engagement with the back of the wearers head. The front and rear assemblies all include portions extending along the sides of the wearers head to provide protection for this area.
Each of the assemblies includes a backing element. For the assemblies 16, 20 and 22, this backing element comprises a strip 24 of relatively stiff plastic material as illustrated in FlG. 6. For the assemblies 18, a U- shaped strip 26 as illustrated in FIG. la is employed. The strip material may be a polyethylene material or any other comparable material which has the necessary structural strength and the durability to withstand use in the environment of athletics.
As best shown in FIG. 4, the backing element 26 is provided with a plurality of holes 28 and rivets 30 are adapted to be received within these holes for securing an assembly 18 to the strip 26. The assembly 18 as well as the other assemblies referred to is formed from a heat sealable plastic material or in any other comparable manner to provide the desired air-impervious housings. In a preferred form of the invention, an assembly includes a first plastic sheet 32 which, as shown in FlGS. 7 and 8, provides a common bottom wall for the assembly. A second plastic sheet 34 is associated with the sheet 32, and these sheets are heat sealed together. The sheet 34 is initially formed to provide a plurality of blisters whereby the assembly of the sheets results in the formation of a plurality of housings in the assembly. Vinyl material having a maximum thickness of about 0.050 inches may be employed for the sheets 32 and 34.
The individual housings of the padding structure assemblies receive a sandwich comprising a first layer of padding material 36 and a second layer of padding material 38. It will be noted that these sandwich portions substantially completely fill the individual housings so that the over-all thickness of padding structure assembly is determined by the thickness of the sandwich portions included in the assembly.
The sandwich portions 36 are formed from a relatively soft plastic material whereby these portions are rather readily compressible. The sandwich portions 38 are formed from a relatively stiff material and are, therefore, substantially less compressible than the portions 36. Both the sandwich portions 36 and 38 are preferably formed from a plastic foam with the portions 38 being selected from a slow-recovery category of foam.
With the sandwich portions in place and the plastic sheets 32 and 34 heat sealed together, the rivets 30 are utilized for securing the assembly to a backing sheet 24 or 26. These rivets are ideally applied in the spaces formed between the individual blisters of the sheet 34.
The backing elements each define a plurality of keyhole slots 40 and studs 42 are attached to the helmet shell. These studs define a head portion which is adapted to be received within the enlarged end portion 44 of a slot 40. A reduced diameter shank for the studs is dimensioned for receipt within the narrow portion 46 of slots 40, and this enables easy attachment and removal of a backing element and associated padding structure.
With respect to the fitting capabilities of the construction illustrated, it will be appreciated that the area within a helmet shell which is adapted to receive the head of a wearer can be varied by increasing or decreasing the thickness of the padding structures. In accordance with the concepts of this invention, padding structures are produced having sandwich portions 36 of varying thicknesses. In order to adjust the size of a helmet, one can, therefore, substitute one assembly for another by releasing the backing carrying the assembly and substituting a new assembly. By providing a supply of assemblies of different sizes, a person utilizing a helmet can make adjustments by replacing one or more of the padding structures, and various combinations can be tried until the wearer is satisfied that a comfortable fit has been obtained.
In a typical example of the use of the invention, pads 38 formed of slow-recovery material were produced from /2 inch thick stock with a length of 1 /8 inches and a width of 1% inches. Three sizes of pads of a softer fitting material were obtained, all of these pads having a length of 1% inches and a width of 1 inch. The pad thicknesses, however, comprised inch, k inch and inch.
With a combination of pads as described, many different options in terms of the helmet size are available. For example, the largest size is achieved by utilizing the inch fitting material pieces throughout the entire helmet. Similar sizes are obtained by substituting one or more assemblies having thicker fitting material. The smallest size helmet would then be achieved by employing pads all of which have a inch thick fitting material.
A single helmet shell can assume several sizes in the manner described, and a greater selectivity can be obtained by providing one or more additional helmet shells of different sizes. It will be appreciated that the structures described, in view of the fact that the assemblies are located in a variety of positions, can be utilized for accommodating unusual head conditions, for example, a knob where a thinner pad structure would provide a more comfortable situation for the wearer, in only one position.
As indicated, the invention preferably provides sandwich portions 38 of constant thickness so that substantially' the same capability for absorbing the affects of impact will be provided irrespective of the size of the padding structure which is best suited in a particular case. The invention also contemplates a variation in the types of material employed at different helmet locations so that the resistance to impact will be most efficient. Specifically, it is contemplated that fitting material at the back of the helmet be somewhat softer than the fitting material at the front of the helmet. In all instances, when a helmet is put into place, the head should snugly engage the individual padding structures to provide a slight compression of the fitting material. Since the assemblies and 22 provide a greater surface area than the assembly 16, a softer fitting material is employed in these assemblies at the rear of the helmet, and the tendency will be to equalize the amount of compression under normal wearing conditions thereby providing better fitting. It has also been found that this combination is the most comfortable for the wearer since there is no sensation of greater pressure at any given location.
As best shown in FIG. 9, the padding structures preferably provide an unheat-sealed portion 48 adjacent each housing. These unheat-sealed portions thus provide an opening between the sheets 32 and 34 communicating with the interior of the housing. In practice, air will be expelled from within the housings upon the application of force due to an impact whereby a build-up of air pressure will be controlled thereby providing a means for controlling the resistance offered by the construction. The size of the opening 48 will, thus, be a determining factor in the amount of resistance to impact which is encountered. This concept is more fully explained in the aforementioned Morgan US Pat. No. 3,248,738. A 1/16 inch diameter opening is typical of the type of opening suited for the purpose of the invention.
Many different materials are available for use in the practice of the invention. In order to take the best advantage of the teachings of the last mentioned Morgan patent, at least one of the foam materials utilized for forming the sandwich portions 36 and 38 should be an open cell material whereby air can enter and will be expelled from the cells during use of the construction. Polyurethane foam having a density of 5.5 pounds per cubic foot, Rubatex R 371 V foam and Volara E foam having a density of 4 pounds per cubic foot may be utilized to form the fitting portion 36 in the front assembly 16 where a somewhat stiffer fitting material is located in this assembly.
So-called slow-recovery foam, for example DeCello foam manufactued by the Bearfoot Company of Wadsworth, Ohio is suitably employed for the sandwich portions 38. The DeCello B 4018 variety is cited as a specific example, however, other relatively stiff foam materials having corresponding characteristics may be utilized.
To distinguish the fitting foam from the principal energy absorbing or slow recovery foams, static loading tests are performed. Suitable fitting foams will deflect a minimum of about 0.03 inches and up to about 0.10 inches when subjected to a static load of about one pound per square Energy foams of a satisfactory character will deflect less than about 0.01 inch when subjected to the same load and also when subjected to loads of about two pounds per square inch.
The essential characteristics of the energy foams are that they will protect the user against high level impacts which may be encountered in athletic contests and the like. These foams must compress to absorb the high level impact, but at a slow rate so that contact between the wearers head and a helmet shell, or other body to hard object contact, will be avoided. Since the foam recovers slowly, a temporary deflection of the material may occur, but due to the fact that the high level impact is not frequent, this is not of practical consequence. The fitting foam will recover virtually immediately, and a helmet fit is not seriously affected after a high level impact since the amount of temporary set is not great.
As noted, the fitting material is normally slightly compressed when a helmet is in place, and this material can therefore compensate for any temporary deflection of the energy foams.
It will be understood that various changes and modifications may be made in the above described construction which provide the characteristics of the invention without departing from the spirit thereof particularly as described in the following claims.
That which is claimed is:
l. A padding structure for use in protective equipment whereby the structure can be fit to the wearer and will provide for energy attenuation 'upon receipt of an impact to which the wearer is subjected, said structure comprising a housing of flexible, substantially airimpervious material, a sandwich of resilient padding positioned within the housing, said sandwich comprising a first layer of slow-recovery material and a second layer of softer fitting material, and a backing for supporting the sandwich and housing whereby the housing and sandwich are disposed between the backing and the wearers body when the protective equipment is in use, said first layer being positioned adjacent said backing and said second layer being disposed on said first layer with the wearers body being immediately adjacent said fitting material, said fitting material being normally partially compressed and said slow recovery material being uncompressed when the padding structure is in use whereby the padding structure snugly engages the body, and wherein said fitting material and said slow-recovery material are adapted to be substantially compressed when absorbing the force of an impact.
2. A structure in accordance with claim 1 including a helmet shell, and means associated with said backing securing said padding structure to the interior surface of the helmet shell.
3. A structure in accordance with claim 2 wherein said backing comprises a stiff plastic band, a plurality of housing and sandwich combinations mounted on the band, and wherein a plurality of bands are located in different positions on the helmet shell interior.
4. A structure in accordance with claim 3 wherein an assembly of one of said bands with a plurality of housing and sandwich combinations extends over the interior front surface of the shell for engagement of the combinations with the wearer's forehead, at least one additional such assembly extending over the interior top surface of the shell for engagement with the top of the wearers head. and at least one additional such assembly extending over the back interior surface of the shell for engagement with the back of the wearer's head.
5. A structure in accordance with claim 4 wherein the fitting material of the housing and'sandwich combinations in the assembly, at the back of the shell is relatively softer than the fitting material of the housing and sandwich combinations in the assembly at the front of the shell.
6. A structure in accordance with claim 1 wherein said housing defines at least one small opening for the passage of air into and out of the housing.
7. A structure in accordance with claim 6 wherein said housing is formed of a heat scalable plastic material, and wherein a plurality of housings are formed in an integral assembly, and means for securing the integral assembly as a unit to said backing.
8. A structure in accordance with claim 7 wherein the housings in an assembly are formed from a first plastic sheet forming a bottom wall portion for the housings, and a second plastic sheet defining a plurality of blisters receiving said sandwiches, said sheets being heat sealed together to form said assembly of housings, and wherein said means securing said assembly to said backing comprises fasteners positioned between said assembly of housings and extending through said first and second sheets.
9. A structure in accordance with claim 1 wherein said backing comprises a stiff plastic band, a support for the band, and means for removably attaching the band to said support whereby padding structures including sandwiches of different sizes can be mounted on the support.
10. A structure in accordance with claim 9 wherein said support comprises a helmet shell with said padding structures mounted on the interior wall of the shell, said backing defining openings. and studs carried by the shell for receipt in said openings to secure the structures to the shell, said studs being removably received in the openings of the bands whereby the same helmet shell can be adapted to wearers with different head sizes by interchanging structures having sandwiches of different sizes.
11. A structure in accordance with claim 10 wherein the slow-recovery material of each sandwich is of constant thickness.
12. A structure in accordance with claim 1 wherein said slow recovery material will deflect less than about 0.01 inches when subjected to a static load of about 1 pound per square inch, and said softer fitting material will deflect at least about 0.03 inches when subjected to a static load of about I pound per square inch.
13. A padding structure for use in protective equipment whereby the structure can be fit to the wearer and will provide for energy attenuation upon receipt of an impact to which the wearer is subjected, said structure comprising a sandwich of resilient padding, said sandwich comprising a first layer of slow-recovery material and a second layer of softer fitting material, said slowrecovery material deflecting less than about 0.01 inches when subjected to a static load of about 1 pound per square inch, and said softer fitting material deflecting at least about 0.03 inches when subjected to a static load of about 1 pound per square inch, and a backing for supporting the sandwich whereby the sandwich is disposed between the backing and the wearers body when the protective equipment is in use, said first layer being positioned adjacent said backing and said second layer being disposed on said first layer with the wearer's body being immediately adjacent said fitting material, said fitting material being normally partially compressed and said slow recovery material being uncompressed when the padding structure is in use whereby the padding structure snugly engages the body, and wherein said fitting material and said slow-recovery material are adapted to be substantially compressed when absorbing the force of an impact.
14. A structure in accordance with claim 4 wherein two such assemblies extend over the back interior surface of the shell, these last mentioned assemblies comprising an upper assembly for engagement with the back of the wearers head and a lower assembly for engagement with the back of the wearers neck.