Title:
Ground covering and flooring material
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An exemplary system and method for providing ground-covering pavers is disclosed as comprising a substrate, a layer of binding resin, a layer of aggregate material, and a layer of sealing resin to substantially encapsulate the paver. Disclosed features and specifications may be optionally controlled, adapted or otherwise modified to provide improved ground covering and flooring materials.



Inventors:
Hakim, Kambiz (Flushing, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/303052
Publication Date:
07/20/2006
Filing Date:
12/15/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01F9/04
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Primary Examiner:
CHAU, LINDA N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Noblitt & Gilmore, LLC (Suite 6000 4800 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ, 85251-7630, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A paver produced by a method comprising the steps of: providing a substrate; depositing a first layer of polymer resin over said substrate; depositing a first layer of finely divided at least one of quartz and sand over said first layer of polymer resin; allowing said first layer of polymer resin to at least partially at least one of cure and dry; optionally depositing a second layer of polymer resin over said first layer of polymer resin; optionally depositing a second layer of finely divided at least one of quartz and sand over said second layer of polymer resin; optionally allowing said second layer of polymer resin to at least partially at least one of cure and dry; and depositing a third layer of polymer resin to substantially seal said paver.

2. The paver of claim 1, wherein said substrate comprises a substantially flexible material.

3. The paver of claim 2, wherein said substrate comprises a rubber base that is at least one of pre-fabricated and produced substantially concurrent with the manufacture of said paver.

4. The paver of claim 1, wherein said at least one of quartz and sand is provided in at least one of loose and dry form.

5. The paver of claim 4, wherein said deposition of said at least one of quartz and sand comprises substantially uniform dispersal with a spray gun.

6. The paver of claim 1, wherein said at least one of quartz and sand is deposited substantially pre-mixed with polymer resin.

7. The paver of claim 1, wherein said at least one of quartz and sand is deposited substantially pre-mixed with shredded rubber and polymer resin in a mold to cure over time with the optional application of heat.

8. The paver of claim 1, wherein said substrate comprises a substantially inflexible material.

9. The paver of claim 8, wherein said inflexible material comprises at least one of medium density fiberboard, wood, wood composite, plastic, plastic composite, ceramic, ceramic composite, metal and metal alloy.

10. The paver of claim 1, wherein said polymer resin comprises at least one of urethane and aliphatic urethane.

11. A paver produced by a method comprising the steps of: providing a substrate; depositing a first layer of polymer resin over said substrate; depositing a first layer of at least one of stone, rock and pebbles over said first layer of polymer resin; allowing said first layer of polymer resin to at least partially at least one of cure and dry; optionally depositing a second layer of polymer resin over said first layer of polymer resin; optionally depositing a second layer of at least one of stone, rock and pebbles over said second layer of polymer resin; optionally allowing said second layer of polymer resin to at least partially at least one of cure and dry; and depositing a third layer of polymer resin to substantially seal said paver.

12. The paver of claim 11, wherein said substrate comprises a substantially flexible material.

13. The paver of claim 12, wherein said substrate comprises a rubber base that is at least one of pre-fabricated and produced substantially concurrent with the manufacture of said paver.

14. The paver of claim 11, wherein said at least one of stone, rock and pebbles is provided in at least one of loose and dry form.

15. The paver of claim 14, wherein said deposition of said at least one of stone, rock and pebbles comprises substantially uniform dispersal with a trowel.

16. The paver of claim 11, wherein said at least one of stone, rock and pebbles is deposited substantially pre-mixed with polymer resin.

17. The paver of claim 11, wherein said at least one of stone, rock and pebbles is deposited substantially pre-mixed with shredded rubber and polymer resin in a mold to cure over time with the optional application of heat.

18. The paver of claim 11, wherein said substrate comprises a substantially inflexible material.

19. The paver of claim 18, wherein said inflexible material comprises at least one of medium density fiberboard, wood, wood composite, plastic, plastic composite, ceramic, ceramic composite, metal and metal alloy.

20. The paver of claim 11, wherein said polymer resin comprises at least one of urethane and aliphatic urethane.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/636,209 filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Dec. 15, 2004 by Kambiz Hakim.

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to ground-covering systems, devices and methods; and more particularly, representative and exemplary embodiments of the present invention generally concern the use of rubber and polymeric materials in conjunction with stone, sand or other aggregate materials to produce flooring compositions that may be used in homes, work places, outdoor areas, and/or the like.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

There are many circumstances in which hard, inflexible ground covering materials are not beneficial to the human body. For example, in high-traffic areas, hard flooring may cause ailments such as knee problems and the like. In workplace environments, such as factory floors, and other areas in which people generally must stand, hard flooring may cause back and other problems. In health and fitness environments, hospitals and physical therapy facilities, the use of hard flooring may be minimized to prevent injury. Playgrounds are an example of where injuries may be caused by abrupt or unintended contact with hard surfaces.

For most people, the possibility of injury caused by abrupt, unintended or persistent jarring contact with hard flooring or other ground covering surfaces will exist. In order to minimize risk of injury, protective covering materials have been previously introduced in areas such as playgrounds, weight rooms, jogging tracks, exercise rooms, factory floors, etc. Conventional protective floorings may be configured in various sizes with softening or impact absorbing materials. Unconsolidated loose fill materials (e.g., such as sawdust and wood chips) are in widespread conventional use.

Rubber flooring is another alternative to minimize impact shock and has been used in many of the environments described vide supra. Examples of this type of flooring have been sold or otherwise marketed under the tradenames PLAYBOUND, PLAYGUARD and FX tile. Examples of these types of flooring compositions for exercise facilities and the like include EVEROLL, EVERLAST and ECO tiles and generally constitute a top layer (e.g., wear surface) and a backing layer that provides cushioning and shock absorption characteristics for particular applications.

While these types of rubber floorings are effective for providing cushioning and protecting against injury from abrupt or jarring impact, conventional products offered in the market have substantial limitations. For example, the material and the manufacturing processes used limits the applicability of rubber flooring in various functional and aesthetic environments. For example, in environments where liquids may be spilled (e.g., restaurants, cafeterias, swimming pools, and the like), the use of porous surfaces generally allows the penetration of the liquid into the material, which may result in damage to the material. Therefore, it would be beneficial to provide a flexible paver and manufacturing process capable of producing a tile having a top layer that may be generally less porous.

Additionally, conventional products and materials used for protective flooring applications have been limited in their aesthetic appeal by the restriction of available materials and textures. Due to the materials used and the processes of manufacture, options relating to aesthetic appearance have been limited, thereby rendering the use of flexible flooring materials less attractive to potential customers. It would, therefore, be advantageous to provide ground covering compositions in which the aesthetic appeal of the product is enhanced.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In representative aspects, the present invention provides systems, devices and methods for providing protective flooring or ground-covering compositions capable of demonstrating enhanced durability as well as aesthetic appeal. Advantages of the present invention will be set forth in the Detailed Description which follows and may be apparent from the Detailed Description or may be learned by practice of exemplary embodiments of the invention. Still other advantages of the invention may be realized by means of any of the instrumentalities, methods or combinations particularly disclosed in the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Representative elements, operational features, applications and/or advantages of the present invention reside inter alia in the details of construction and operation as more fully hereafter depicted, described and disclosed—reference being made to the accompanying drawings forming a part hereof, wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout. Other elements, operational features, applications and/or advantages will become apparent in light of certain exemplary embodiments recited in the Detailed Description, wherein:

FIG. 1 representatively illustrates a three-quarter perspective view of a tile in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 representatively illustrates a three-quarter perspective view of another tile in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 representatively illustrates a three-quarter perspective view of yet another tile in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 representatively illustrates a three-quarter perspective view of still another tile in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 representatively illustrates a three-quarter perspective view of a flooring composition in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 6 representatively illustrates a three-quarter perspective view of another flooring composition in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

Elements in the Figures are illustrated for simplicity and clarity and have not necessarily been depicted to scale. For example, the dimensions of some of the elements in the Figures may be exaggerated relative to other elements to help improve understanding of various embodiments of the present invention. Furthermore, the terms “first”, “second”, “another” and the like herein, if any, are used inter alia for distinguishing between similar elements and not necessarily for describing a sequential or chronological order. Moreover, the terms “front”, “back”, “top”, “bottom”, “over”, “under”, and the like as used herein, if any, are generally employed for descriptive purposes and not necessarily for comprehensively describing exclusive relative position. Any of the preceding terms so used may be interchanged under appropriate circumstances such that various embodiments of the invention described herein may be capable of operation in other configurations and/or orientations than those explicitly illustrated or otherwise described.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

The following representative descriptions of the present invention generally relate to exemplary embodiments and the inventor's conception of the best mode, and are not intended to limit the applicability or configuration of the invention in any way. Rather, the following description is intended to provide convenient illustrations for implementing various embodiments of the invention. As will become apparent, changes may be made in the function and/or arrangement of any of the elements described in the disclosed exemplary embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Various representative implementations of the present invention may be applied to any system for providing ground covering and flooring materials. As used herein, the terms “ground covering”, “flooring”, “tile(s)”, or any variation or combination thereof, are generally intended to include anything that may be regarded as at least being susceptible to characterization as, or generally referring to conditioning or disposition of a substantially planar surface with a material to provide a suitably adapted surface for human pedestrian activity.

A detailed description of an exemplary application, namely a system, device and method for producing a durable and aesthetically pleasing composite tile, is provided as a specific enabling disclosure that may be generalized to any application of the disclosed system, device and method for providing ground covering and flooring materials in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention.

As generally depicted in the Figures, for example, various ground covering compositions may be realized in accordance with representative embodiments of the present invention. For example, an at least partially flexible paver may be produced in accordance with the following manufacturing method:

1. Deposit a prefabricated rubber tile;

2. Deposit a layer of urethane;

3. Spray a layer of finely divided quartz/sand over the urethane;

4. Allow the composite to at least partially dry;

5. Optionally deposit another layer of urethane;

6. Optionally spray another layer of finely divided quartz/sand over the urethane;

7. Allow the composite to at least partially dry; and

8. Deposit a final layer of urethane to substantially seal the composite.

A flexible paver generally produced in accordance with the above-described method is generally depicted in FIG. 2. In general, urethane-quartz/sand layer 210 may be configured to overlay a rubber base 220. Rubber base 220 may comprise a prefabricated tile or may alternatively, conjunctively or sequentially be produced substantially concurrent with the production of the paver.

Finely divided quartz/sand may be provided in loose, dry form suitably adapted for application with, for example, a spray gun in order to achieve a substantially uniform dispersal of the material. It will be appreciated, however, that any method for disposing the quartz or sand, whether now known or hereafter described, may be alternatively, conjunctively or sequentially employed to achieve a substantially similar result.

In another exemplary embodiment in accordance with the present invention, a pre-mix of quartz/sand (or any other finely divided aggregate material) with urethane may be deposited on top of a tile substrate to achieve a substantially similar result. Alternatively, quartz/sand may be mixed with, for example, shredded rubber and urethane for subsequent disposition in molds to cure over time with the optional application of heat to produce a material 610 such as that generally depicted in FIG. 6.

In yet a further exemplary embodiment in accordance with the present invention, a combination of quartz/sand and urethane may be configured to overlay or encapsulate, for example, a substantially inflexible substrate, such as, for example, MDF (medium density fiberboard). A paver produced in accordance with this method is generally depicted in FIG. 4. The urethane and quartz/sand covering material 410 may generally at least partially overlay a substantially rigid substrate material 420. As generally depicted in FIG. 4, substrate material 420 may comprise MDF board cut into appropriate sizes and shapes. It will be appreciated, however, that substrate material 420 may alternatively, conjunctively or sequentially comprise any other type of material, such as, but not limited to: wood; wood composite, plastic; plastic composite; ceramic; ceramic composite; metal; metal alloy; and/or the like. It will also be appreciated that multiple layers of urethane and quartz/sand may be employed to provide a paver having a desired configuration and durability.

As further depicted in the Figures, various other ground covering compositions may be realized in accordance with other representative embodiments of the present invention. For example, an at least partially flexible paver may be produced in accordance with the following manufacturing method:

1. Deposit a prefabricated rubber tile;

2. Deposit a layer of urethane;

3. Deposit a layer of stone/rock/pebbles over the urethane;

4. Allow the composite to at least partially dry;

5. Optionally deposit another layer of urethane;

6. Optionally deposit another layer of stone/rock/pebbles over the urethane;

7. Allow the composite to at least partially dry; and

8. Deposit a final layer of urethane to substantially seal the composite.

A flexible paver generally produced in accordance with the above-described method is generally depicted in FIG. 1. In general, the urethane-quartz/sand layer 110 may be configured to overlay a rubber base 120. Rubber base 120 may comprise a prefabricated tile or may alternatively, conjunctively or sequentially be produced substantially concurrent with the production of the flexible paver.

Stones, rocks or pebbles may be provided in a substantially uniform size distribution. It will be appreciated, however, that any method for disposing the stone/rock/pebble material, whether now known or hereafter described, may be alternatively, conjunctively or sequentially employed to achieve a substantially similar result.

In another exemplary embodiment in accordance with the present invention, a pre-mix of stone/rock/pebbles (or any other aggregate material) with urethane may be deposited on top of a tile substrate to achieve a substantially similar result. Alternatively, stone/rock/pebbles may be mixed with, for example, shredded rubber and urethane for subsequent disposition in molds to cure over time with the optional application of heat to produce a material 510 such as that generally depicted in FIG. 5.

In yet a further exemplary embodiment in accordance with the present invention, a combination of stone/rock/pebbles and urethane may be configured to overlay or encapsulate, for example, a substantially inflexible substrate, such as, for example, MDF board. A paver produced in accordance with this method is generally depicted in FIG. 3. The urethane and stone/rock/pebbles covering material 310 may at least partially overlay a substantially rigid substrate material 320. As generally depicted in FIG. 3, substrate material 320 may comprise MDF board cut into appropriate sizes and shapes. It will be appreciated, however, that substrate material 320 may alternatively, conjunctively or sequentially comprise any other type of material, such as, but not limited to: wood; wood composite, plastic; plastic composite; ceramic; ceramic composite; metal; metal alloy; and/or the like. It will also be appreciated that multiple layers of urethane and quartz/sand may be employed to provide a paver having a desired configuration and durability.

In yet another embodiment, in accordance with the present invention, a substantially flexible paver may be produced by mixing quartz and stone with polyurethane. This mixture may then be poured over a rubber tile disposed within a mold. The top surface of the composition may then be troweled to produce a substantially flat surface.

In still another embodiment, a mixture of quartz and stone/rock with polyurethane may be poured over/under/around/sandwiching a substantially rigid substrate material (e.g., MDF board) disposed within a mold. The top surface of this composition may also then be troweled to produce a substantially flat surface.

Preferred urethanes for use in accordance with the present invention include aliphatic urethanes. It will be appreciated, however, that any polymer or resin material now known or hereafter described in the art may be alternatively, conjunctively or sequentially employed to achieve a substantially similar result. It will also be appreciated that rubber substrate materials or rubber constituent elements may comprise a substantially prefabricated form factor or may comprise a shredded, granulized or other divided material. In certain exemplary embodiments, the rubber material may comprise at least partially recycled material.

Composite materials in accordance with the present invention may find application as a paver for indoor or outdoor use, a tile, rooftop tiles, ground coverings, walkways, driveways, swimming pools, and/or the like. By placing the sand/stone-polymer covering over the substrate material, the surface of the composite is cooler, more durable and more aesthetically pleasing.

In certain preferred exemplary embodiments of the present invention, flexible and/or rigid pavers may be configured to provide paver thicknesses up to about 1 inch to about more than 1.25 inches. Urethane and sand/rock overlying layers may be configured to provide material thicknesses up to about 0.5 inches to about more than 3 inches. Accordingly, the present invention discloses systems, devices and methods for providing lightweight flexible and lightweight solid pavers that retain an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Various representative and exemplary embodiments of the present invention are generally concerned with methods of manufacturing protective flooring tiles. The method may be suitably adapted to employ a mold press comprising at least one mold cavity. The mold cavity may be optionally pre-heated or heated as material is disposed therein. Backing material may be optionally mixed and poured into the mold cavity. The backing material may be generally mixed at room temperature. A prefabricated rubber substrate material may be positioned in the mold cavity on top of, for example, the backing material. The prefabricated rubber substrate may be dimensioned to have generally larger dimensions than the inside dimensions of the mold cavity, thereby allowing the rubber substrate to be optionally compression molded in order to facilitate the positioning of the rubber mat on the backing material and to help insure that the rubber substrate will lay substantially flat on the backing material to avoid air pockets forming therein.

Pressure may be applied to the rubber substrate and the backing material, causing a pre-polymer material of the backing mixture to flow into void regions provided on the rubber substrate. The heat and pressure may be applied for a predetermined time to allow the pre-polymer material to vulcanize or cure, thereby insuring that the rubber substrate will adhere to the backing material when the protective flooring tile is removed from the mold cavity. The rubber substrate may expand to conform to the inside dimensions of the mold cavity when the rubber substrate is exposed to the heat of the mold cavity.

The tiles and/or flooring materials disclosed herein are generally useful in high traffic or impact areas to significantly reduce the likelihood of injuries while also maintain an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

In the foregoing specification, the invention has been described with reference to specific exemplary embodiments; however, it will be appreciated that various modifications and changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention as set forth herein. The specification and Figures are to be regarded in an illustrative manner, rather than a restrictive one and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined by the claims and their legal equivalents rather than by merely the examples described above.

For example, the steps recited in any method or process embodiment may be executed in any order and are not limited to the specific order presented in the claims. Additionally, the components and/or elements recited in any apparatus embodiment may be assembled or otherwise operationally configured in a variety of permutations to produce substantially the same result as the present invention and are accordingly not limited to the specific configuration recited in the claims.

Benefits, other advantages and solutions to problems have been described above with regard to particular embodiments; however, any benefit, advantage, solution to problem or any element that may cause any particular benefit, advantage or solution to occur or to become more pronounced are not to be construed as critical, required or essential features or components of the invention.

As used herein, the terms “comprising”, “having”, “including” or any variation thereof, are intended to reference a non-exclusive inclusion, such that a process, method, article, composition or apparatus that comprises a list of elements does not include only those elements recited, but may also include other elements not expressly listed or inherent to such process, method, article, composition or apparatus. Other combinations and/or modifications of the above-described structures, arrangements, applications, proportions, elements, materials or components used in the practice of the present invention, in addition to those not specifically recited, may be varied or otherwise particularly adapted to specific environments, manufacturing specifications, design parameters or other operating requirements without departing from the general principles of the same.