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This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/592,278 filed Jul. 29, 2004.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to a protective face mask design.
2. Description of Related Art
The prior art related to face mask protective includes a variety of cage designs and configurations. Such as U.S. Pat. No. 5,737,770 to Chen which relates to a face mask for face protection. The Chen design includes a one piece framework that attempts to provide maximum protection and sun shading. The Chen framework uses molded pads that contact the user face and provides some comfort during use. U.S. Pat. No. 5,699,556 to Chen (Chen II) discusses a face mask with sun shade to shield a catcher's eyes from the sun. The Chen II mask also includes upper and lower padding surrounding the inner portions of the face mask. U.S. Pat. No. 5,267,353 to Milligan shows another protective face guard design for baseball or other sports. Milligan also includes impact cushioning for the forehead, mouth and chin areas. The prior art includes mask configurations that are attached to or include a helmet, see U.S. Pat. No. 5,694,649 to Hefling et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 5,661,849 to Hicks. The face mask configurations of Hefling and Hicks include some facial padding but rely on the helmet used to provide further padding in the forehead area.
The prior art lacks any protective mask that includes padding that molds and adjusts for each user's face and head structure. The facial padding used on the prior art masks must mold to a particular user's face over time. The prior art padding lacks any contemporaneous adjustability in regard to the facial padding itself.
The present invention provides highly adaptable impact absorptive mask. The present invention uses a unique padding configuration around the perimeter and any appropriate cross bars of the mask. The padding configuration of the present invention includes a plurality of inner springs that allow for the padding to adapt to any user's facial features. The use the inner springs along with the over lying padding provides superior impact resistance and adaptability as opposed to the prior art. The inner spring/padding assembly includes two overall designs one to be used in conjunction a metal or hardened plastic frame specifically designed to be used with the inner spring/padding assembly; another where the inner spring/padding assembly replaces an existing padding assembly. The inner spring/padding assembly may be placed at key contact points at the perimeter and inner cross bars of the mask.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an impact absorption padding assembly that includes: a plurality of inner springs along the perimeter and/or cross bars of a protective mask; a plurality of shields supported by said plurality of inner springs; and interchangeable padding surrounding the shields.
In accordance with these and other objects which will become apparent hereinafter, the instant invention will now be described with particular reference to the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 shows a cut away view of a spring action padding assembly according to the present invention.
FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of spring supported shields according to the present invention.
FIG. 1 shows a cut away view of the present invention where spring supported shields 10a, 10b, 10c are placed at anticipated contact points of a protective mask 100. The protective mask 100 as shown includes two cross bars along with an outer perimeter 40. The shield 10a provides padding for a user's forehead, shield 10b provides padding for the user's lower forehead at or just above the eyebrow and shield 10c pads the user's lower jaw/chin area. A limited number of springs 20a, 20b and 20c are shown, it is contemplated that a plurality of springs of various sizes and buoyancy may be use to support the shields. Additional shields may also be used for this mask 100 or other shield configurations may also be used. The springs 20a, 20b and 20c provide support for the shields 10a, 10b and 10c. The shields are advantageously placed at the contact points along the outer perimeter and cross bars. The other shields may be positioned at other anticipated contact points. The present invention is not limited the present mask configuration, it may also be used in other configurations and appropriately sized to fit the mask and targeted contact points. As shown padding 30a, 30b, 30c surrounds each shield and spring configuration and therefore completes the protective padding assembly according to the present invention. Furthermore, padding may surround the shields exclusively and the springs may either remain exposed or covered in another conventional manner.
FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the shields 10a, 10b and 10c on a protective mask 100a. The protective mask 100a has a different configuration as opposed to mask 100. As shown in FIG. 2, the shields 10a, 10b and 10c are readily configured to accommodate the mask 100a. Appropriate padding may inserted over the shields of FIG. 2 in order to provide the user with adequate comfort during use. It further contemplated that the spring/shield assembly be removable for attachment onto other existing face masks or insertion into padding provided on other existing protective masks.
The instant invention has been shown and described herein in what is considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiment. It is recognized, however, that departures may be made therefrom within the scope of the invention and that obvious modifications will occur to a person skilled in the art.