United States Patent 3696456

A custom shoe-last is cut from a block of wood by a tape-controlled automatic milling machine. The tape is produced by a computer which combines empirically derived shoe style model data with foot model data. The latter is derived from foot contour measurements taken by a plurality of simultaneously operated probes connected to the movable elements of variable capacitors that are connected in circuits which produce electrical outputs in accordance with probe position. These electrical outputs are recorded and stored on magnetic tape which is transported to the computer site located at a point remote from the site where foot contour measurements were taken.

Dunham, Tom David (San Antonio, TX)
Yeakley, Lester Marvin (San Antonio, TX)
Nagy, Andrew (San Antonio, TX)
Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
International Nominees Bahamas Limited (Nassau, BA)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41H1/02; A43D1/02; A43D3/02; A43D119/00; A61B5/107; B23Q33/00; B44B1/00; B44B1/02; G05B19/42; (IPC1-7): A43D1/02; A43D119/00; A43D1/00; A43D3/00; A43D3/02; A41H1/02; A41H1/00; A61B5/107; B44B1/02; B44B1/00; B23Q33/00; G05B19/42; A43d000/00
Field of Search:
12/146L,146R 144
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3315290Method for the manufacture of shoe pattern1967-04-25Ishii
2514518Diagonal grading of shoes and lasts1950-07-11Ryan
2224196Method of making forms1940-12-10Peterson

Primary Examiner:
Lawson, Patrick D.
1. A process for producing a custom form to be used for apparel manufacturing, comprising the steps of

2. A process as set forth in claim 1, in which the body model data and style model data are combined at a data processing site located remote from a fitting site at which the contour measurements are taken.

3. A process as set forth in claim 2, in which the body model data is stored on a magnetic recording member which is transported from the fitting site to the data processing site.

4. A process as set forth in claim 3, in which the automatic machine tool is tape controlled and the form information signals are recorded on said tape.

5. A process as set forth in claim 1, in which a plurality of body engaging simultaneously operated independently movable probes are utilized for taking the contour measurements.

6. A process as set forth in claim 5, in which said probes are fluid pressure operated.

7. A process as set forth in claim 6, in which some of said contour measurements are taken with a first pressure applied to said probes and others of said contour measurements are taken with a second pressure, different than said first pressure, applied to said probes.

8. A process as set forth in claim 5, in which said contour measurements are in the form of electrical signals derived from circuits having variable impedance elements controlled by the positions of the probes.

9. A process as set forth in claim 8, in which said variable impedance elements are capacitors having movable elements mechanically connected to the probes to move therewith.

10. A process as set forth in claim 5, in which the probes are parallel to one another and move in the same direction to engage the body.

This invention relates to custom apparel forms or lasts in general, and more particularly relates to a novel process which includes the utilization of multiple probes to take body contour measurements and the control of an automatic machine tool to cut a custom form or mold cavity from a blank.

For the most part, in the prior art apparel forms or lasts were manufactured by producing a model patterned after a molded reproduction of the area of the body on which the apparel in question was to be worn. For custom-made shoes in particular, a craftsman usually fabricated a shoe over the last from a molded reproduction of the foot. However, as well known to the art, the last should not be and was not a duplicate of the foot. Thus, the craftsman who produced the last was required to exercise a good deal of judgement and sometimes guesswork, to make sure that the last differed only in proper respects from the foot mold to compensate for foot abnormalities. Accordingly, in the prior art, the production of a custom shoe-last was a time-consuming job that could be performed properly only by a skilled craftsman.

The instant invention sets forth a novel method and apparatus for producing a custom apparel form or last by utilizing the services of relatively unskilled people and by eliminating the necessity of producing a mold of the body portion being fitted.

In accordance with the instant invention, to produce a custom shoe last, foot contour measurements are taken by a relatively unskilled person, utilizing a measuring block carrying a plurality of parallel air-pressure operated probes that are extended simultaneously into engagement with the foot. The degree to which each probe must be extended to contact the foot produces an electrical signal that is recorded on a magnetic tape by apparatus located in the general area where the foot measurements are taken. The tape bearing the foot model data is shipped to a processing center where a computer combines the foot model data with empirically derived style model data to produce a punch-tape containing last-information signals. This punch-tape is used to control operation of an automatic milling machine which cuts the custom shoe-last from a wood blank or block.

Accordingly, a primary object of the instant invention is to provide a novel process and apparatus for taking body contour measurements and producing a custom apparel form or last.

Another object is to provide a novel process whereby a custom apparel form is produced by relatively unskilled workers.

Still another object is to provide a novel process for the rapid, accurate production of a custom shoe-last.

A further object is to provide a novel construction for a foot contour measuring device.

These objects as well as other objects of this invention will become readily apparent after reading the following description of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram type flow chart, illustrating the novel process of the instant invention when used for a custom shoe-last.

FIG. 2 is a perspective of a custom shoe-last.

FIG. 3 is a perspective showing the probes of a measuring block engaging one side of a foot.

FIG. 4 is a longitudinal cross-section through an air-pressure operated piston-cylinder type capacitor having one of the measuring probes extending axially from the piston.

FIG. 5 is a side elevation showing a foot positioning platform, with measuring blocks mounted thereto for measuring the rear contour and front upper contour of the foot.

FIG. 6 is a plan view of the foot positioning platform.

In accordance with the instant invention, the customer, with the advice and guidance of an operator of a custom shoe store, selects an appropriate style of shoe. The style number, together with the customer's name and address, are entered by the store operator in his records, and the style number is also entered in the material which will be forwarded to a computer center.

The customer's foot 11 is placed on support platform 12 (FIG. 5) and a foot or body contour measuring device 15 (FIG. 1), including measuring blocks 15A, 15B, 15C is operated, in a manner to be hereinafter explained, to produce electrical analog signals related to foot or body contour measurements. Converter 16 transforms these foot contour measurements to digital foot model data which is recorded and stored on magnetic tape 17. The latter is mailed or otherwise delivered to a computer center, where foot or body model data on tape 17 is provided as an input to shoe-last information computer 18. Magnetic tape 21, containing empirically derived style model data, is taken from repository 22, and provides another input for computer 18. Magnetic tape 21a, containing foot contour measurements used previously to produce lasts for the style in question, is taken from repository 22a and provides another input for computer 18.

The foot contour data stored on tape 17 is first compared with the data stored on tape 21a. If the last or form for making a desired shoe style for a similar foot has already been constructed, the information to retrieve that last is produced by computer 18. The shoe is made over the previously constructed last and thus saves the time and expense of producing an identical last.

If the information on tape 17 does not match up with information on tape 21a, computer 18 combines the foot model data stored on magnetic tape 17 and style model data stored on magnetic tape 21 in accordance with a selected computer program to produce shoe-last information which is recorded on the punch-tape output 22 of computer 18. Punch-tape 22 is then used to control the operation of automatic machine tool 20, having bit 23 which mills or cuts rectangular wood-block 24, constituting a blank, to produce custom shoe-last 25. The shape of shoe-last 25 is generally in the shape of foot 11, but modified in accordance with the dictates of the empirically derived style model data for the selected shoe style.

The basic element of the measuring instrument 15 is the variable capacitor 33 shown in FIG. 4. A stationary part of this capacitor is a glass tube 29 with two metal deposit areas 27 and 28 on the outside of the tube. Metal piston 30, closely fitted to the inside diameter of the glass tube 29, constitutes the moving element. A number of capacitors 33 are arranged in columns and rows supported by the front and back insulating plates 36 and 37, respectively. Needle-like probes 31, one of which is concentrically attached to each piston 30 by an insulating sleeve 34, project from the block 15 through both front and back face plates 61 and 62 thereof. Face plates 61 and 62 contain respective seal-bushings 39a, 39b, which serve as pneumatic seals for the cylinder 29 and also as stops for limiting the travel of piston 30. The front end of each probe 31 is provided with rounded plastic tip 32 to lessen the discomfort upon its contact with foot 11. Pneumatic pressure is applied to the interior of cylinder 29 through ports 41a, 41b in the respective front and back face plates 61 and 62, forcing piston 30 to move in the direction of lower pressure.

To produce an electrical signal proportional to the location of tip 32 on probe 31 with respect to the fixed portions of measuring block 15, metalized areas 27 and 28 are connected to electrical oscillator 99 and the output signal from piston 30 is transmitted through shielded cable 43 to converter 16. The center conductor of cable 43 is threaded through probe 31, and the outer conductor of cable 43 is attached to probe 31 and grounded, thereby providing an electrical shield for the signal carrying conductor.

While air under pressure is fed simultaneously to all of the capacitors 33 of measuring block 15, the electrical outputs controlled by the individual capacitors 33 are measured individually in a predetermined sequence under the control of a multiplex selector (not shown) for ease in recording foot model data on magnetic tape 17. In addition, for each position of measuring block 15, two different position readings are taken for each of the probes 31. One of the readings is taken when a first magnitude of air pressure urges piston 34 to the left with respect to FIG. 4, and a second reading for probe 31 is taken when a second different pressure urges piston 34 to the left.

In FIG. 5 foot 11 is shown supported by interchangeable plate 51 which is mounted generally at the central portion of positioning platform 12. The contour of the upper surface of plate 51 is predetermined in accordance with the style of shoe for which the customer is being measured. In general, heel height is controlling for the contour of plate 51.

Bracket means 52, adjustably positionable on the upper surface of platform 12, supports and positions measuring block 15A confronting the side of foot 11 at the rear thereof. Another bracket means 53 supports and positions measuring block 15B, so that the probes thereof engage the upper surface of foot 11 forward of the leg. Bracket means 53 is provided with elongated slots 54 through which clamping screws 55 extend, so that bracket means 53 may be adjustably positioned on platform 12 by movement toward or away from stationary bracket means 52. Elongated protrusion 56, extending upward from platform 12 and parallel to slots 54, engages a complementary cutout (not shown) in the bottom of bracket means 53 to guide the adjusting movement of the latter. Tapped holes 57 and elongated guide embossments 58 are provided for adjustable mounting of the bracket means (not shown), which support measuring blocks whose probes will engage the sides of foot 11.

Appropriate indicia (not shown) are marked on the upper surface of platform 12 to indicate the positions of the movable bracket means and foot locating posts 92, 93, 94. Information describing the positions of the movable bracket means and foot locating posts is recorded on magnetic tape 17 so as to be fed to computer 18, together with the number of plate 51 which is also recorded on tape 17. Still another measuring block 15C is mounted to plate 95 at the rear of foot 11. It is noted that all of the measuring blocks are essentially of the same construction as measuring block 15 and that the position of 15A is changed to take measurements at other locations of the foot.

Even though the instant invention has hereinbefore been described in connection with cutting by machine tool 20 of a positive form or last, it should now be apparent to those skilled in the art that the last or form information signals may be used to have tool 20 cut a negative form or cavity of a mold. This mold is then used to cast the apparel form.

Although this invention has been described with respect to particular embodiments, it should be understood that many variations and modifications will now be obvious to those skilled in the art and, therefore, the scope of this invention is limited not by the specific disclosure herein but only by the appended claims.