Title:
Sporting equipment manufactured from conductively doped resin-based materials
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sporting equipment device (10) includes an operator handle (15) and a striking surface (12) operatively coupled to the operator handle wherein the striking surface includes a conductively doped, resin-based material including micron conductive fiber in a base resin host. In addition, in one example, the operator handle (15) includes a conductively doped, resin-based material. In addition, in another example, a sporting equipment device (140) includes a structure (142) adapted to covering at least a part of a human body wherein the structure (142) includes conductively doped resin-based material. In addition, in another example, a sporting equipment device (180) includes a sheet (182) of conductively doped resin-based material having a top surface (185) and a bottom surface (187) wherein the top surface (185) is adapted to support an operator and wherein the bottom surface (187) is adapted for sliding.



Inventors:
Aisenbrey, Thomas (Littleton, CO, US)
Application Number:
11/496098
Publication Date:
12/21/2006
Filing Date:
07/29/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/425, 473/324, 473/349, 473/524
International Classes:
A63B53/12; A63B49/02; A63B53/00; A63B71/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20070232406Swing cageOctober, 2007Grant
20090312126Reinforced baseball batDecember, 2009Totino
20080269925Method and apparatus for managing billiard tournamentsOctober, 2008Lita
20100029417Sporting pipeFebruary, 2010Sugaya
20050288134SensiballDecember, 2005Smith
20080032809Gold stance laser alignment deviceFebruary, 2008Korejwa
20050043108Bowler's Positive Control System And MethodFebruary, 2005Addington et al.
20090093325COMBINATION PITCHING AID AND BATTING TEEApril, 2009Meltzer et al.
20080020867GOLFER'S IMPACT PROPERTIES DURING A GOLF SWINGJanuary, 2008Manwaring



Primary Examiner:
BLAU, STEPHEN LUTHER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DOUGLAS SCHNABELL MICHIGAN (316 HART STREET, ESSEXVILLE, MI, 48732, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A sporting equipment device comprising: an operator handle; and a striking surface operatively coupled to the operator handle wherein the striking surface comprises a conductively doped, resin-based material comprising micron conductive fiber in a base resin host.

2. The device according to claim 1 wherein the percent by weight of the micron conductive fiber is between about 20% and about 50% of the total weight of the conductively doped resin-based material.

3. The device according to claim 1 wherein the conductively doped, resin-based material further comprises conductive powder.

4. The device according to claim 1 wherein the micron conductive fiber is metal.

5. The device according to claim 1 wherein the micron conductive fiber is a non-metal material with metal plating.

6. The device according to claim 1 wherein the micron conductive fiber is metal plated carbon micron fiber, stainless steel micron fiber, copper micron fiber, silver micron fiber or combinations thereof.

7. The device according to claim 1 further comprising a metal layer overlying the conductively doped resin-based material.

8. The device according to claim 1 wherein the operator handle comprises the conductively doped resin-based material.

9. A sporting equipment device comprising: an operator handle wherein the operator handle comprises a conductively doped, resin-based material comprising micron conductive fiber in a base resin host; and a striking surface operatively coupled to the operator handle.

10. The device according to claim 9 wherein the percent by weight of the micron conductive fiber is between about 20% and about 50% of the total weight of the conductively doped resin-based material.

11. The device according to claim 9 wherein the conductively doped, resin-based material further comprises conductive powder.

12. The device according to claim 9 wherein the micron conductive fiber is metal.

13. The device according to claim 9 wherein the micron conductive fiber is a non-metal material with metal plating.

14. The device according to claim 9 further comprising a metal layer overlying the conductively doped resin-based material.

15. The device according to claim 9 wherein the conductive materials are metal plated carbon micron fiber, stainless steel micron fiber, copper micron fiber, silver micron fiber or combinations thereof.

16. A sporting equipment device comprising a structure adapted to covering at least a part of a human body wherein the structure comprises conductively doped resin-based material comprising micron conductive fiber in a base resin host.

17. The device according to claim 16 wherein the percent by weight of the micron conductive fiber is between about 20% and about 50% of the total weight of the conductively doped resin-based material.

18. The device according to claim 16 wherein the conductively doped, resin-based material further comprises conductive powder.

19. The device according to claim 16 wherein the micron conductive fiber is metal.

20. The device according to claim 16 wherein the micron conductive fiber is a non-metal material with metal plating.

21. The device according to claim 16 further comprising a metal layer overlying the conductively doped resin-based material.

22. The device according to claim 16 wherein the conductive materials are metal plated carbon micron fiber, stainless steel micron fiber, copper micron fiber, silver micron fiber or combinations thereof.

23. The device according to claim 16 wherein the part of the human body is the human head.

24. The device according to claim 16 further comprising an antenna comprising the conductively doped resin-based material and operatively coupled to the structure.

25. A sporting equipment device comprising a sheet of conductively doped resin-based material comprising micron conductive fiber in a base resin host and having a top surface and a bottom surface wherein the top surface is adapted to support an operator and wherein the bottom surface is adapted for sliding.

26. The device according to claim 25 wherein the percent by weight of the micron conductive fiber is between about 20% and about 50% of the total weight of the conductively doped resin-based material.

27. The device according to claim 25 wherein the micron conductive fiber is metal.

28. The device according to claim 25 wherein the micron conductive fiber is a non-metal material with metal plating.

29. The device according to claim 25 further comprising a metal layer overlying the conductively doped resin-based material.

30. The device according to claim 25 wherein the conductive materials are metal plated carbon micron fiber, stainless steel micron fiber, copper micron fiber, silver micron fiber or combinations thereof.

31. The device according to claim 25 further comprising at least one wheel operatively coupled to the sheet.

32. A sporting equipment device comprising: an operator handle wherein the operator handle comprises a plurality of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber molded into a resin-based material; and a striking surface operatively coupled to the operator handle.

33. The device according to claim 34 wherein the micron conductive fiber is metal.

34. The device according to claim 34 wherein the micron conductive fiber is a non-metal material with metal plating.

35. The device according to claim 34 wherein the plurality of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber are webbed or woven together.

36. The device according to claim 34 wherein the plurality of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber are oriented in the longitudinal direction of the operator handle.

37. The device according to claim 34 wherein the operator handle further comprises a core portion wherein the plurality of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber surround the core portion.

38. The device according to claim 34 wherein the operator handle further comprises a second plurality of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber surrounding the plurality of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber molded into a resin-based material.

Description:

RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS

This Patent Application claims priority to the U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/704,036, filed on Jul. 29, 2005, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

This Patent Application is a Continuation-in-Part of INT01-002CIPC, filed as U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/877,092, filed on Jun. 25, 2004, which is a Continuation of INT01-002CIP, filed as U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/309,429, filed on Dec. 4, 2002, now issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,870,516, also incorporated by reference in its entirety, which is a Continuation-in-Part application of docket number INT01-002, filed as U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/075,778, filed on Feb. 14, 2002, now issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,741,221, which claimed priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Applications Ser. No. 60/317,808, filed on Sep. 7, 2001, Ser. No. 60/269,414, filed on Feb. 16, 2001, and Ser. No. 60/268,822, filed on Feb. 15, 2001, all of which are incorporated by reference in their entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to articles for use in sporting and recreational activities and, more particularly, to sporting equipment articles molded of conductively doped resin-based materials comprising micron conductive powders, micron conductive fibers, or a combination thereof, substantially homogenized within a base resin when molded. This manufacturing process yields a conductive part or material usable within the EMF, thermal, acoustic, or electronic spectrum(s).

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

By way of example, modern golf clubs are carefully designed to provide maximum performance. For example, when a golf club head comes in contact with a golf ball, the face of the club is designed to flex inward and spring back in what is known as a “trampoline effect”. The trampoline effect helps to propel the ball great distances. The club face may be manufactured from an expensive and exotic material, such as titanium, that exhibits the desired reflex action. Likewise, golf club shafts are designed to flex such that the golfer's swing speed is increased via whipping action. Shaft materials and dimensions are carefully chosen to achieve a whipping action that is predictable and controlled. Similarly, other sports striking equipment, such as baseball bats, hockey sticks, and tennis racquets, use selected materials to reduce weight and to improve impact response. However, it is difficult to tune optimum frequency response with materials typically used.

Protection equipment, such as helmets, face masks, shields, and fencing lame, and is also carefully designed to provide player protection while minimizing weight. For example, typical protection equipment is manufactured from rigid plastics. While these plastic materials may provide protection, the materials typically do not provide a tunable response to impacts. As a result, the ability of the materials to protect against concussive injury may not be optimized. In addition, since most plastics exhibit high intrinsic resistivity, protection equipment is typically non-conductive. It is difficult, therefore, the integrated devices, such as antennas and sensors, in typical protection devices.

Sporting boards, such as snow boards, surf boards, skate boards, and skis, are also designed to meet stringent performance requirements. For example, typical boards are manufactured from fiberglass composites. While fiberglass composites may provide high strength, these materials typically do not provide a tunable flexing response. As a result, the ability of the materials to provide optimum performance is limited.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention and the corresponding advantages and features provided thereby will be best understood and appreciated upon review of the following detailed description of the invention, taken in conjunction with the following drawings, where like numerals represent like elements, in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a conductively doped resin-based material wherein the conductive materials comprise a micron conductive powder(s).

FIG. 3 illustrates a conductively doped resin-based material wherein the conductive materials comprise micron conductive fiber(s).

FIG. 4 illustrates a conductively doped resin-based material wherein the conductive materials comprise both micron conductive powder(s) and micron conductive fiber(s).

FIGS. 5a and 5b illustrate conductive fabric-like materials formed from the conductively doped resin-based material using woven and webbed construction, respectively.

FIGS. 6a and 6b illustrate, in simplified schematic form, an injection molding apparatus and an extrusion molding apparatus that may be used to mold circuit conductors of a conductively doped resin-based material.

FIG. 7 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 9 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 11 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 12 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 13 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 14 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 15 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 16 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 17 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 18 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 19 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 20 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 21 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 22-24 illustrate one example of a part of a sporting equipment device and method of manufacture depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 25 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 26 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Briefly, a sporting equipment device includes an operator handle and a striking surface operatively coupled to the operator handle wherein the striking surface includes a conductively doped, resin-based material including micron conductive fiber in a base resin host. In addition, in one example, the operator handle includes a conductively doped, resin-based material. In addition, in another example, a sporting equipment device includes a structure adapted to covering at least a part of a human body wherein the structure includes conductively doped resin-based material. In addition, in another example, a sporting equipment device includes a sheet of conductively doped resin-based material having a top surface and a bottom surface wherein the top surface is adapted to support an operator and wherein the bottom surface is adapted for sliding. In addition, in another example, a sporting equipment device includes an operator handle wherein the operator handle comprises continuous strands of micron conductive fiber molded into a resin-based material and a striking surface operatively coupled to the operator handle.

As such, a sporting equipment device is disclosed with excellent performance including tunable frequency response, low cost of manufacture, durability, and low weight. In addition, antenna devices or conductive sensing may be integrated into the device due to the conductivity of the conductively doped resin-based material. Other advantages will be recognized by one of ordinary skill in the art.

The conductively doped resin-based materials can be molded, extruded or the like to provide almost any desired shape or size. The molded conductively doped resin-based materials can also be cut, stamped, or vacuumed formed from an injection molded or extruded sheet or bar stock, over-molded, laminated, milled or the like to provide the desired shape and size. The thermal, electrical, and acoustical continuity and /or conductivity characteristics of articles or parts fabricated using conductively doped resin-based materials depend on the composition of the conductively doped resin-based materials. The type of base resin, the type of doping material, and the relative percentage of doping material incorporated into the base resin can be adjusted to achieve the desired structural, electrical, or other physical characteristics of the molded material. The selected materials used to fabricate the articles or devices are substantially homogenized together using molding techniques and or methods such as injection molding, over-molding, insert molding, compression molding, thermo-set, protrusion, extrusion, calendaring, or the like. Characteristics related to 2D, 3D, 4D, and 5D designs, molding and electrical characteristics, include the physical and electrical advantages that can be achieved during the molding process of the actual parts and the molecular polymer physics associated within the conductive networks within the molded part(s) or formed material(s).

In the conductively doped resin-based material, electrons travel from point to point, following the path of least resistance. Most resin-based materials are insulators and represent a high resistance to electron passage. The doping of the conductive loading into the resin-based material alters the inherent resistance of the polymers. At a threshold concentration of conductive loading, the resistance through the combined mass is lowered enough to allow electron movement. Speed of electron movement depends on conductive doping concentration and material makeup, that is, the separation between the conductive doping particles. Increasing conductive loading content reduces interparticle separation distance, and, at a critical distance known as the percolation point, resistance decreases dramatically and electrons move rapidly.

Resistivity is a material property that depends on the atomic bonding and on the microstructure of the material. The atomic microstructure material properties within the conductively doped resin-based material are altered when molded into a structure. A substantially homogenized conductive microstructure of delocalized valance electrons is created within the valance and conduction bands of the molecules. This microstructure provides sufficient charge carriers within the molded matrix structure. As a result, a low density, low resistivity, lightweight, durable, resin based polymer microstructure material is achieved. This material exhibits conductivity comparable to that of highly conductive metals such as silver, copper or aluminum, while maintaining the superior structural characteristics found in many plastics and rubbers or other structural resin based materials.

Conductively doped resin-based materials lower the cost of materials and of the design and manufacturing processes needed for fabrication of molded articles while maintaining close manufacturing tolerances. The molded articles can be manufactured into infinite shapes and sizes using conventional forming methods such as injection molding, over-molding, compression molding, thermoset molding, or extrusion, calendaring, or the like. The conductively doped resin-based materials, when molded, typically but not exclusively produce a desirable usable range of resistivity of less than about 5 to more than about 25 ohms per square, but other resistivity values can be achieved by varying the dopant(s), the doping parameters and/or the base resin selection(s).

The conductively doped resin-based materials comprise micron conductive powders, micron conductive fibers, or any combination thereof, which are substantially homogenized together within the base resin, during the molding process, yielding an easy to produce low cost, electrical, thermal, and acoustical performing, close tolerance manufactured part or circuit. The resulting molded article comprises a three dimensional, continuous capillary network of conductive doping particles contained and or bonding within the polymer matrix. Exemplary micron conductive powders include carbons, graphites, amines, eeonomers, or the like, and/or of metal powders such as nickel, copper, silver, aluminum, nichrome, or plated or the like. The use of carbons or other forms of powders such as graphite(s) etc. can create additional low level electron exchange and, when used in combination with micron conductive fibers, creates a micron filler element within the micron conductive network of fiber(s) producing further electrical conductivity as well as acting as a lubricant for the molding equipment. Carbon nano-tubes may be added to the conductively doped resin-based material. The addition of conductive powder to the micron conductive fiber doping may improve the electrical continuity on the surface of the molded part to offset any skinning effect that occurs during molding.

The micron conductive fibers may be metal fiber or metal plated fiber. Further, the metal plated fiber may be formed by plating metal onto a metal fiber or by plating metal onto a non-metal fiber. Exemplary metal fibers include, but are not limited to, stainless steel fiber, copper fiber, nickel fiber, silver fiber, aluminum fiber, nichrome fiber, or the like, or combinations thereof. Exemplary metal plating materials include, but are not limited to, copper, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, palladium, platinum, ruthenium, rhodium, and nichrome, and alloys of thereof. Any platable fiber may be used as the core for a non-metal fiber. Exemplary non-metal fibers include, but are not limited to, carbon, graphite, polyester, basalt, melamine, man-made and naturally-occurring materials, and the like. In addition, superconductor metals, such as titanium, nickel, niobium, and zirconium, and alloys of titanium, nickel, niobium, and zirconium may also be used as micron conductive fibers and/or as metal plating onto fibers in the present invention.

Where micron fiber is combined with base resin, the micron fiber may be pretreated to improve performance. According to one embodiment of the present invention, conductive or non-conductive powders are leached into the fibers prior to extrusion. In other embodiments, the fibers are subjected to any or several chemical modifications in order to improve the fibers interfacial properties. Fiber modification processes include, but are not limited to: chemically inert coupling agents; gas plasma treatment; anodizing; mercerization; peroxide treatment; benzoylation; or other chemical or polymer treatments.

Chemically inert coupling agents are materials that are molecularly bonded onto the surface of metal and or other fibers to provide surface coupling, mechanical interlocking, inter-diffusion and adsorption and surface reaction for later bonding and wetting within the resin-based material. This chemically inert coupling agent does not react with the resin-based material. An exemplary chemically inert coupling agent is silane. In a silane treatment, silicon-based molecules from the silane bond to the surface of metal fibers to form a silicon layer. The silicon layer bonds well with the subsequently extruded resin-based material yet does not react with the resin-based material. As an additional feature during a silane treatment, oxane bonds with any water molecules on the fiber surface to thereby eliminate water from the fiber strands. Silane, amino, and silane-amino are three exemplary pre-extrusion treatments for forming chemically inert coupling agents on the fiber.

In a gas plasma treatment, the surfaces of the metal fibers are etched at atomic depths to re-engineer the surface. Cold temperature gas plasma sources, such as oxygen and ammonia, are useful for performing a surface etch prior to extrusion. In one embodiment of the present invention, gas plasma treatment is first performed to etch the surfaces of the fiber strands. A silane bath coating is then performed to form a chemically inert silicon-based film onto the fiber strands. In another embodiment, metal fiber is anodized to form a metal oxide over the fiber. The fiber modification processes described herein are useful for improving interfacial adhesion, improving wetting during homogenization, and/or reducing oxide growth (when compared to non-treated fiber). Pretreatment fiber modification also reduces levels of particle dust, fines, and fiber release during subsequent capsule sectioning, cutting or vacuum line feeding.

The resin-based structural material may be any polymer resin or combination of compatible polymer resins. Non-conductive resins or inherently conductive resins may be used as the structural material. Conjugated polymer resins, one example being polythiophene, may be used as the structural material. Complex polymer resins, examples being polyimide and polyamide, may be used as the structural material. Inherently conductive resins may be used as the structural material. The dielectric properties of the resin-based material will have a direct effect upon the final electrical performance of the conductively doped resin-based material. Many different dielectric properties are possible depending on the chemical makeup and/or arrangement, such as linking, cross-linking or the like, of the polymer, co-polymer, monomer, ter-polymer, ionomer, or homo-polymer material. Structural material can be, here given as examples and not as an exhaustive list, polymer resins produced by GE PLASTICS, Pittsfield, Mass., a range of other plastics produced by GE PLASTICS, Pittsfield, Mass., a range of other plastics produced by other manufacturers, silicones produced by GE SILICONES, Waterford, N.Y., or other flexible resin-based rubber compounds produced by other manufacturers.

The resin-based structural material doped with micron conductive powders, micron conductive fibers, or in combination thereof can be molded, using conventional molding methods such as injection molding or over-molding, or extrusion to create desired shapes and sizes. The molded conductively doped resin-based materials can also be stamped, cut or milled as desired to form create the desired shapes and form factor(s). The doping composition and directionality associated with the micron conductors within the doped base resins can affect the electrical and structural characteristics of the articles and can be precisely controlled by mold designs, gating and or protrusion design(s) and or during the molding process itself. In addition, the resin base can be selected to obtain the desired thermal characteristics such as very high melting point or specific thermal conductivity.

A resin-based sandwich laminate could also be fabricated with random or continuous webbed micron stainless steel fibers or other conductive fibers, forming a cloth like material. The webbed conductive fiber can be laminated or the like to materials such as Teflon, Polyesters, or any resin-based flexible or solid material(s), which when discretely designed in fiber content(s), orientation(s) and shape(s), will produce a very highly conductive flexible cloth-like material. Such a cloth-like material could also be used in forming articles that could be embedded in a person's clothing as well as other resin materials such as rubber(s) or plastic(s). When using conductive fibers as a webbed conductor as part of a laminate or cloth-like material, the fibers may have diameters of between about 3 and 12 microns, typically between about 8 and 12 microns or in the range of about 10 microns, with length(s) that can be seamless or overlapping.

The conductively doped resin-based material may also be formed into a prepreg laminate, cloth, or webbing. A laminate, cloth, or webbing of the conductively doped resin-based material is first homogenized with a resin-based material. In various embodiments, the conductively doped resin-based material is dipped, coated, sprayed, and/or extruded with resin-based material to cause the laminate, cloth, or webbing to adhere together in a prepreg grouping that is easy to handle. This prepreg is placed, or laid up, onto a form and is then heated to form a permanent bond. In another embodiment, the prepreg is laid up onto the impregnating resin while the resin is still wet and is then cured by heating or other means. In another embodiment, the wet lay-Lip is performed by laminating the conductively doped resin-based prepreg over a honeycomb structure. In another embodiment, the honeycomb structure is made from conductively doped, resin-based material. In yet another embodiment, a wet prepreg is formed by spraying, dipping, or coating the conductively doped resin-based material laminate, cloth, or webbing in high temperature capable paint.

Prior art carbon fiber and resin-based composites are found to display unpredictable points of failure. In carbon fiber systems there is little if any elongation of the structure. By comparison, in the present invention, the conductively doped resin-based material, even if formed with carbon fiber or metal plated carbon fiber, displays greater strength of the mechanical structure due to the substantial homogenization of the fiber created by the moldable capsules. As a result a structure formed of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention will maintain structurally even if crushed while a comparable carbon fiber composite will break into pieces.

The conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention can be made resistant to corrosion and/or metal electrolysis by selecting micron conductive fiber and/or micron conductive powder dopants and base resins that are resistant to corrosion and/or metal electrolysis. For example, if a corrosion/electrolysis resistant base resin is combined with fibers/powders or in combination of such as stainless steel fiber, inert chemical treated coupling agent warding against corrosive fibers such as copper, silver and gold and or carbon fibers/powders, then corrosion and/or metal electrolysis resistant conductively doped resin-based material is achieved. Another additional and important feature of the present invention is that the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention may be made flame retardant. Selection of a flame-retardant (FR) base resin material allows the resulting product to exhibit flame retardant capability. This is especially important in applications as described herein.

The substantially homogeneous mixing of micron conductive fiber and/or micron conductive powder and base resin described in the present invention may also be described as doping. That is, the substantially homogeneous mixing transforms a typically non-conductive base resin material into a conductive material. This process is analogous to the doping process whereby a semiconductor material, such as silicon, can be converted into a conductive material through the introduction of donor/acceptor ions as is well known in the art of semiconductor devices. Therefore, the present invention uses the term doping to mean converting a typically non-conductive base resin material into a conductive material through the substantially homogeneous mixing of micron conductive fiber and/or micron conductive powder within a base resin.

As an additional and important feature of the present invention, the molded conductor doped resin-based material exhibits excellent thermal dissipation characteristics. Therefore, articles manufactured from the molded conductor doped resin-based material can provide added thermal dissipation capabilities to the application. For example, heat can be dissipated from electrical devices physically and/or electrically connected to an article of the present invention.

As a significant advantage of the present invention, articles constructed of the conductively doped resin-based material can be easily interfaced to an electrical circuit or grounded. In one embodiment, a wire can be attached to conductively doped resin-based articles via a screw that is fastened to the article. For example, a simple sheet-metal type, self tapping screw can, when fastened to the material, can achieve excellent electrical connectivity via the conductive matrix of the conductively doped resin-based material. To facilitate this approach a boss may be molded as part of the conductively doped resin-based material to accommodate such a screw. Alternatively, if a solderable screw material, such as copper, is used, then a wire can be soldered to the screw is embedded into the conductively doped resin-based material. In another embodiment, the conductively doped resin-based material is partly or completely plated with a metal layer. The metal layer forms excellent electrical conductivity with the conductive matrix. A connection of this metal layer to another circuit or to ground is then made. For example, if the metal layer is solderable, then a soldered connection may be made between the article and a grounding wire.

Where a metal layer is formed over the surface of the conductively doped resin-based material, any of several techniques may be used to form this metal layer. This metal layer may be used for visual enhancement of the molded conductively doped resin-based material article or to otherwise alter performance properties. Well-known techniques, such as electroless metal plating, electro plating, electrolytic metal plating, sputtering, metal vapor deposition, metallic painting, or the like, may be applied to the formation of this metal layer. If metal plating is used, then the resin-based structural material of the conductively doped, resin-based material is one that can be metal plated. There are many of the polymer resins that can be plated with metal layers. For example, GE Plastics, SUPEC, VALOX, ULTEM, CYCOLAC, UGIKRAL, STYRON, CYCOLOY are a few resin-based materials that can be metal plated. Electroless plating is typically a multiple-stage chemical process where, for example, a thin copper layer is first deposited to form a conductive layer. This conductive layer is then used as an electrode for the subsequent plating of a thicker metal layer.

A typical metal deposition process for forming a metal layer onto the conductively doped resin-based material is vacuum metallization. Vacuum metallization is the process where a metal layer, such as aluminum, is deposited on the conductively doped resin-based material inside a vacuum chamber. In a metallic painting process, metal particles, such as silver, copper, or nickel, or the like, are dispersed in an acrylic, vinyl, epoxy, or urethane binder. Most resin-based materials accept and hold paint well, and automatic spraying systems apply coating with consistency. In addition, the excellent conductivity of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention facilitates the use of extremely efficient, electrostatic painting techniques.

The conductively doped resin-based materials can be contacted in any of several ways. In one embodiment, a pin is embedded into the conductively doped resin-based material by insert molding, ultrasonic welding, pressing, or other means. A connection with a metal wire can easily be made to this pin and results in excellent contact to the conductively doped resin-based material conductive matrix. In another embodiment, a hole is formed in to the conductively doped resin-based material either during the molding process or by a subsequent process step such as drilling, punching, or the like. A pin is then placed into the hole and is then ultrasonically welded to form a permanent mechanical and electrical contact. In yet another embodiment, a pin or a wire is soldered to the conductively doped resin-based material. In this case, a hole is formed in the conductively doped resin-based material either during the molding operation or by drilling, stamping, punching, or the like. A solderable layer is then formed in the hole. The solderable layer is preferably formed by metal plating. A conductor is placed into the hole and then mechanically and electrically bonded by point, wave, or reflow soldered.

Another method to provide connectivity to the conductively doped resin-based material is through the application of a solderable ink film to the surface. One exemplary solderable ink is a combination of copper and solder particles in an epoxy resin binder. The resulting mixture is an active, screen-printable and dispensable material. During curing, the solder reflows to coat and to connect the copper particles and to thereby form a cured surface that is directly solderable without the need for additional plating or other processing steps. Any solderable material may then be mechanically and/or electrically attached, via soldering, to the conductively doped resin-based material at the location of the applied solderable ink. Many other types of solderable inks can be used to provide this solderable surface onto the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. Another exemplary embodiment of a solderable ink is a mixture of one or more metal powder systems with a reactive organic medium. This type of ink material is converted to solderable pure metal during a low temperature cure without any organic binders or alloying elements.

A ferromagnetic conductively doped resin-based material may be formed of the present invention to create a magnetic or magnetizable form of the material. Ferromagnetic micron conductive fibers and/or ferromagnetic conductive powders are substantially homogenized with the base resin. Ferrite materials and/or rare earth magnetic materials are added as a conductive doping to the base resin. With the substantially homogeneous mixing of the ferromagnetic micron conductive fibers and/or micron conductive powders, the ferromagnetic conductively doped resin-based material is able to produce an excellent low cost, low weight, high aspect ratio magnetize-able item. The magnets and magnetic devices of the present invention can be magnetized during or after the molding process. Adjusting the doping levels and or dopants of ferromagnetic micron conductive fibers and/or ferromagnetic micron conductive powders that are homogenized within the base resin can control the magnetic strength of the magnets and magnetic devices. By increasing the aspect ratio of the ferromagnetic doping, the strength of the magnet or magnetic devices can be substantially increased. The substantially homogenous mixing of the conductive fibers/powders or in combinations there of allows for a substantial amount of dopants to be added to the base resin without causing the structural integrity of the item to decline mechanically. The ferromagnetic conductively doped resin-based magnets display outstanding physical properties of the base resin, including flexibility, moldability, strength, and resistance to environmental corrosion, along with superior magnetic ability. In addition, the unique ferromagnetic conductively doped resin-based material facilitates formation of items that exhibit superior thermal and electrical conductivity as well as magnetism.

A high aspect ratio magnet is easily achieved through the use of ferromagnetic conductive micron fiber or through the combination of ferromagnetic micron powder with conductive micron fiber. The use of micron conductive fiber allows for molding articles with a high aspect ratio of conductive fibers/powders or combinations there of in a cross sectional area. If a ferromagnetic micron fiber is used, then this high aspect ratio translates into a high quality magnetic article. Alternatively, if a ferromagnetic micron powder is combined with micron conductive fiber, then the magnetic effect of the powder is effectively spread throughout the molded article via the network of conductive fiber such that an effective high aspect ratio molded magnetic article is achieved. The ferromagnetic conductively doped resin-based material may be magnetized, after molding, by exposing the molded article to a strong magnetic field. Alternatively, a strong magnetic field may be used to magnetize the ferromagnetic conductively doped resin-based material during the molding process.

The ferromagnetic conductively doped is in the form of fiber, powder, or a combination of fiber and powder. The micron conductive powder may be metal fiber or metal plated fiber or powders. If metal plated fiber is used, then the core fiber is a platable material and may be metal or non-metal. Exemplary ferromagnetic conductive fiber materials include ferrite, or ceramic, materials as nickel zinc, manganese zinc, and combinations of iron, boron, and strontium, and the like. In addition, rare earth elements, such as neodymium and samarium, typified by neodymium-iron-boron, samarium-cobalt, and the like, are useful ferromagnetic conductive fiber materials. Exemplary ferromagnetic micron powder leached onto the conductive fibers include ferrite, or ceramic, materials as nickel zinc, manganese zinc, and combinations of iron, boron, and strontium, and the like. In addition, rare earth elements, such as neodymium and samarium, typified by neodymium-iron-boron, samarium-cobalt, and the like, are useful ferromagnetic conductive powder materials. A ferromagnetic conductive doping may be combined with a non-ferromagnetic conductive doping to form a conductively doped resin-based material that combines excellent conductive qualities with magnetic capabilities.

FIG. 1 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. A golf club driver 5 is shown. The golf club driver 5 includes an operator handle 15 and a striking surface 10 attached to the operator handle 15. The striking surface 10, or club head, may include several parts including a face 12, a hosel 14, a sole 18, and a back 16. In one example, the back 16 and sole 18 support the face 12 while the hosel 14 connects to the operator handle 15, or shaft. In various embodiments, any, any combination, or all of the face 12, hosel 14, sole 18, and the back 16 of the golf club driver head 10 may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material. For example, the entire golf club head 10 may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material by, for example, injection molding.

Typical golf club driver head construction utilizes a face formed of titanium or other specialty metal attached to a two-piece body comprising the sole and back. The hosel is typically formed along with the sole and back sections and allows the head to attach to a shaft. When the face of the club comes in contact with the golf ball it flexes inward and springs back in what is known as “the trampoline effect”. This effect helps to propel the ball greater distances than traditional wooden clubs. The grooves on the face of the club help to give the ball the desired backspin for aerodynamic stability in flight. In the past few years there has been a trend of increasing the size of the club heads. The larger sized heads give the average golfer a bigger striking face that tends to be more forgiving with misaligned or improperly struck golf balls.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the face 12 is molded of the conductively doped resin-based material and inserted into interior grooves, not shown, formed in the back 16 and sole 18 that are formed of metal. The face 12 is attached to the grooves by gluing, ultrasonic welding, chemical solvent, or the like. In another embodiment, the face 12 may be metal plated and/or metal coated for appearance. The conductively doped resin-based face 12 is preferably formed with a percent conductive loading, by weight, such that the “trampoline effect” of the face 12 matches the compression and subsequent expansion of the ball upon impact. By matching the compression and expansion of the face 12 with the compression and expansion of the ball, a greater energy potential is realized and more distance is achieved. In another embodiment, the face 12 is not metal plated and/or metal coated.

The use of the conductively doped, resin-based material of the present invention allows the creation of a striking face 12 having an exceptionally large “sweet spot”. The resonant frequency response of the conductively doped, resin-based material can be easily tuned by adjusting the percentage doping of conductive material and/or type of base resin. For example, while the Rockwell hardness of a sheet grade type 316 stainless steel is in the range of about 95 HRB, micron conductive fiber grade stainless steel should exhibit a hardness of about 70 HRB or less. When combined with the resin-based host, the conductively doped, resin-based material is tuned to provide a resonant frequency “trampoline” response optimized to deliver maximum energy to the ball impact, excellent surface durability, and to minimize energy vibration in club shaft.

In another embodiment, the entire golf club driver head 10 is formed of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. In this embodiment, the back 16 and the sole 18 are molded to allow weighted inserts into the hollow perimeter of the club head 10. The weighted inserts are insertion molded or over-molded into the interior of the club head 10. The conductively doped resin-based face 12 is inserted into place and the sections are joined by gluing, ultrasonic welding, chemical solvent, or the like. The conductively doped resin-based club head 10 is then metal plated and/or metal coated. The inserts give the conductively doped resin-based club head 10 enough mass to effectively transfer the needed energy to the golf ball. In another embodiment, the conductively doped resin-based club head 10 is painted. The conductive characteristic of the conductively doped resin-based material is particularly useful for electrostatic painting. In yet another embodiment, the conductively doped resin-based club head 10 is formed with coloring agents or dyes in the resin matrix to allow for the desired appearance after manufacturing.

In another embodiment, the golf club shaft 15 comprises the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. Typical golf club shaft construction utilizes various metals or graphite. A mechanical advantage is gained by having a larger amount of flex in the shaft for a weaker player or a player with a slow swing due to the whipping action of the stick. When a player has a stronger faster swing however, the whipping action of the club is not as desirable due to the amount of precision and control that is lost.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the shaft 15 may be molded entirely of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. In another embodiment, the shaft 15 may be molded with a hollow center core to allow a rod of metal or some other material to be inserted for added weight and/or added rigidity. The shaft 15 may be formed to the desired shape with a percent conductive loading, by weight, such that the amount of flex in the handle corresponds to the intended players' strength and speed of swing. In one embodiment, the golf club shaft 15 may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention and then metal plated and/or metal coated. In another embodiment, the golf club shaft 15 may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention with a coloring or dye added to the resin matrix to achieve the desired appearance after the manufacturing process.

FIG. 7 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. A golf club iron head 100 is shown. In golf, “irons” are used for short to middle distance shots and are called irons because of the traditional material used in their manufacture. The iron head 20 comprises the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. In the embodiment, any component or several components, of the iron head 100 comprises the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. In various embodiments, the face, not shown, hosel 102, sole 104, and/or the back 103 of the golf club iron head 100 may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material.

Typical golf club iron head construction utilizes a forged or molded metal design that allows most of the weight of the club to be dispersed around the edge. The weight along the perimeter helps to keep the club from twisting or turning when striking the ball slightly off center. The grooves on the face of the club help to give the ball the desired backspin for aerodynamic stability in flight.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the golf club iron head 100 may be formed by over-molding the conductively doped resin-based material onto a metal weight, not shown, that is encased within the perimeter of the club head 100. The golf club iron head 20 may then be metal plated and/or metal coated. In another embodiment, the golf club iron head 100 may be formed in two sections where the back 103 and sole 104 are one piece and the face is the other. A metal weight may then be inserted before joining the sections together by gluing, ultrasonic welding, chemical solvent, or the like. The golf club iron head I 00 may then be metal plated and/or metal coated.

The use of the conductively doped, resin-based material of the present invention allows the creation of an iron 100 having an exceptionally large “sweet spot”. The resonant frequency response of the conductively doped, resin-based material can be easily tuned by adjusting the percentage doping of conductive material and/or type of base resin. When combined with the resin-based host, the conductively doped, resin-based material is tuned to provide a resonant frequency “trampoline” response optimized to deliver maximum energy to the ball impact, excellent surface durability, and to minimize energy vibration in the club shaft.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a putter head is formed of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. In one embodiment, the putter head is molded and then metal plated and/or metal coated for appearance. In another embodiment, the putter head is molded with a coloring or dye in the resin matrix to allow for the desired appearance after the manufacturing process.

FIG. 8 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. A baseball bat 105 is shown. The baseball bat 105 includes an operator handle 106 attached a striking surface 108, or barrel. Typically a baseball bat is formed of hardwood such as hickory or a metal such as aluminum. The typical aluminum baseball bat utilizes the “trampoline effect” much like the golf club drivers mentioned earlier. In one embodiment, a hollow bat structure 105, including both operator handle 106 and striking surface 108, is molded of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention in the desired length and diameter. The conductively doped resin-based baseball bat 105 is preferably formed to the desired thickness with a percent conductive loading, by weight, such that the “trampoline effect” of the baseball bat 105 matches the compression and subsequent expansion of the baseball upon impact. The use of the conductively doped, resin-based material of the present invention allows the creation of a bat 105 having an exceptionally large “sweet spot”. The resonant frequency response of the conductively doped, resin-based material can be easily tuned by adjusting the percentage doping of conductive material and/or type of base resin. When combined with the resin-based host, the conductively doped, resin-based material is tuned to provide a resonant frequency “trampoline” response optimized to deliver maximum energy to the ball impact, excellent surface durability, and to minimize energy vibration in bat handle.

The interior of a hollow bat 105 may be filled with filler such as metal in order to simulate the approximate weight and feel of a wooden baseball bat and plugged at the end. In one embodiment, the conductively doped resin-based baseball bat 105 may be metal plated and/or metal coated. In another embodiment, the conductively doped resin-based baseball bat 105 may be formed with a coloring or dye in the resin matrix in order to achieve the desired appearance after manufacturing.

FIG. 9 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. A hockey stick 110 is shown. The hockey stick 110 includes an operator handle 18 attached to a striking surface 114, or blade. Typical hockey stick construction utilizes a wood, such as aspen, graphite, or a layered composite of wood and fiberglass. The size and construction of the hockey stick determines the amount of flex that it is capable of. A mechanical advantage is gained by having a large amount of flex in the handle for a younger weaker player due to the whipping action of the stick. When a player matures and is able to swing the hockey stick at greater speeds the whipping action is desired less due to the amount of precision and control that is lost.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the hockey stick 110, including operator handle 118 and striking surface 114, is molded of the conductively doped resin-based material as a one-piece unit. In another embodiment, the operator handle 118 and striking surface 114 are molded separately of the conductively doped resin-based material to allow the striking surface 114 to be changed when it starts to show signs of wear. The conductively doped resin-based hockey stick 110 is preferably formed to the desired thickness with a percent conductive loading, by weight, such that the amount of flex in the operator handle 118 corresponds to the intended players' strength and speed of swing. In another embodiment, the operator handle 118 for the conductively doped resin-based hockey stick is designed with a hollow center channel to allow for different weights and/or materials to be inserted and control the feel and flex of the hockey stick 110. The use of the conductively doped, resin-based material of the present invention allows the creation of a hockey stick 110 having exceptional performance. The resonant frequency response of the conductively doped, resin-based material can be easily tuned by adjusting the percentage doping of conductive material and/or type of base resin. When combined with the resin-based host, the conductively doped, resin-based material is tuned to provide a resonant frequency “trampoline” response optimized to deliver maximum energy to the puck impact, excellent surface durability, and to minimize energy vibration in operator handle 118.

FIG. 10 illustrates one example of a sport equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. A tennis racquet 120 is shown. The tennis racquet 120 includes an operator handle 128 attached to a striking surface 124 and 126. The striking surface 124 and 126 may further include a head frame 124 attached to the operator handle 128 and a string grid 126 attached to the head frame 124. Traditional tennis racquets were formed of wood and have been gradually replaced with steel, fiberglass, titanium, aluminum, or graphite. The evolution of the tennis racquet has been driven by the desire to keep the head frame and handle as light weight and stiff as possible.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the operator handle 128 and head frame 124 of the tennis racquet 120 are molded of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. The molded racquet may then be metal plated and/or metal coated. In another embodiment, the tennis racquet 120 is molded of the conductively doped resin-based material with a coloring or dye in the resin matrix to allow the desired appearance after the manufacturing process. The conductively doped resin-based tennis racquet 120 is preferably formed to the desired shape with a percent conductive loading, by weight, such that the flex of the frame and handle is kept to a minimal amount. The choice of the base resin is selected from any number of resins capable of providing the tensile strength needed for the tennis racquet 120. In one embodiment, the string grid 126 may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material by, for example, extrusion of a continuous string that is strung into the head frame 124.

FIG. 11 illustrates one example of a sports equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. A racquetball racquet 130 is shown. The racquetball racquet 130 includes an operator handle 1 38 attached to a striking surface 134 and 136. The striking surface 134 and 136 may further include a head frame 134 attached to the operator handle 138 and a string grid 136 attached to the head frame 134. Traditional racquetball racquets were formed of wood and have been gradually replaced with steel, fiberglass, titanium, aluminum, or graphite. The evolution of the racquetball racquet has been driven by the desire to keep the head frame and handle as light weight and stiff as possible.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the operator handle 138 and head frame 134 of the racquetball racquet 130 are molded of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. The molded racquet may then be metal plated and/or metal coated. In another embodiment, the racquetball racquet 120 is molded of the conductively doped resin-based material with a coloring or dye in the resin matrix to allow the desired appearance after the manufacturing process. The conductively doped resin-based tennis racquet 130 is preferably formed to the desired shape with a percent conductive loading, by weight, such that the flex of the frame and handle is kept to a minimal amount. The choice of the base resin is selected from any number of resins capable of providing the tensile strength needed for the tennis racquet 130. In one embodiment, the string grid 136 may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material by, for example, extrusion of a continuous string that is strung into the head frame 134.

FIG. 12 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. An electronic fencing foil 140 includes an operator handle 147 attached to a striking surface 142 and 144. The electric fencing foil 140 may include a striking surface including a tip 142 and a blade 144 and an operator handle including a handle 147, a bell guard 148, and an electrical connector 146. In various embodiments, any, any combination, or all of these components may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention.

In fencing competitions an electronic scoring system is utilized. For the electronic scoring system to work each fencer wears a metallic vest or (lame) that covers the target area and a mask made of a metal wire mesh. The foil has a tip with an integrated electronic button at the end. A set of wires runs down the center of the blade and terminates at the connectors on the underside of the bell guard. A wire electronically connects the foil and the lamè to a reel that retracts and expands with each fencer as they move. The reel is connected electronically to a scoring machine with a set of lights for scoring.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the tip 142 for the electric fencing foil 140 is formed with electrical contact points molded of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. Typical tips used in electric foils are manufactured with electrical contact points made of metal. However, in one embodiment of the present invention, the tip 142 is formed of the conductively doped resin-based material. The tip 142 may then be metal plated and/or metal coated.

In one embodiment, the blade 144 may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. Typical electric fencing foil construction utilizes a blade that is forged from special alloy steel that incorporates iron, nickel, and titanium. However, in the embodiment of the present invention, the blade 144 formed of the conductively doped resin-based material may be formed to the desired shape with a percent conductive loading, by weight, such that the amount of flex is similar to the flex of a metal forged blade. In one embodiment, the blade 144 may be molded of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. The molded blade 144 may then be metal plated and/or metal coated. In another embodiment, the blade 144 may be molded of the conductively doped resin-based material with a coloring or dye in the resin matrix to give the desired appearance after the manufacturing process.

In one embodiment, the electrical connector 146 may be molded from the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. Typical electrical contact points for connectors are formed of metal. However, in one embodiment of the present invention, the connector 146 may be molded from the conductively doped resin-based material. The molded connector 146 may then be metal plated and/or metal coated. In another embodiment, the connector 146 may be molded of the conductively doped resin-based material and not metal plated and/or metal coated. The bell guard 148 and the handle 147 may be formed of a non-conductive resin-based material.

FIG. 13 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. A football helmet 140 is shown. The football helmet 150 includes a structure 152 adapted to covering at least a part of a human body wherein the structure 152 comprises conductively doped resin-based material comprising micron conductive fiber in a base resin host. The football helmet 150 may include the structure 152, or body, and a face mask 154. In various embodiments, the helmet body 152 or the face guard 154 or both may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention.

In one embodiment, the helmet body 152 may be molded from the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. The helmet body 152 may be formed to the desired shape with a percent conductive loading, by weight, to allow high strength rigid protection to the players head. In another embodiment, the conductively doped resin-based helmet body 152 further includes an antenna 156 for an integrated wireless transmitter/receiver unit, not shown. A wide variety of antenna structures are easily formed of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. Monopole, dipole, geometric shapes, 2D, 3D, 4D, 5D, isotropic structures, planar, inverted F, PIFA, and the like, are all within the scope of the present invention. The antenna 156 design can be molded by, for example, injection molding. The molded antenna shape determines the resonant frequency response of the antenna.

FIG. 14 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. A baseball batting helmet 160 is shown. The baseball helmet 150 includes a structure 160 adapted to covering at least a part of a human body wherein the structure 160 comprises conductively doped resin-based material comprising micron conductive fiber in a base resin host. The helmet 160 formed of the conductively doped resin-based material is preferably formed to the desired shape with a percent conductive loading, by weight, to allow high strength rigid protection to the players head.

FIG. 15 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. Shoulder pads 170 are shown. The shoulder pads 170 include a structure 160 adapted to covering at least a part of a human body wherein the structure 160 comprises conductively doped resin-based material comprising micron conductive fiber in a base resin host. The shoulder pads 170 are of a type useful for playing American football or hockey. In the embodiment, any component or several components of the shoulder pads 170 comprise the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. The shoulder pads 170 may further include a chest pad 172, a cloth pad 178, a lower pad 176, and/or a top pad 174. In various embodiments, the chest pad 172, cloth pad 178, lower pad 176, and/or the top pad 174 for the shoulder pads 170 may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material.

FIG. 16 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. An electronic fencing mask 180 is shown. The fencing mask 180 includes a structure 160 adapted to covering at least a part of a human body wherein the structure 160, or shroud, comprises conductively doped resin-based material comprising micron conductive fiber in a base resin host. The electronic fencing mask 180 may further include a mesh 182.

Typical electronic fencing mask construction utilizes stainless steel mesh capable of withstanding a 12 Kg punch test. The conductivity of the mesh is necessary as is the conductivity of the shroud that covers the front of the neck for electronic sabre fencing. When fencing with electronic foils, the shroud for the neck does not require it to be conductive since the only score-able hit is to the body area that is covered by the conductive lamè.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the mesh 182 is molded of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. The mesh 182 for the electronic fencing mask 230 formed of the conductively doped resin-based material is preferably formed to the desired shape with a percent conductive loading, by weight, such that the mesh 182 is rigid enough to withstand the 12 Kg punch test. In another embodiment, the mesh 182 is formed of the conductively doped resin-based material and then metal plated and/or metal coated. In another embodiment, the mesh 182 is formed of the conductively doped resin-based material with a coloring or dye in the resin matrix to allow for the desired appearance after the manufacturing process.

In one embodiment, the fencing mask 180 further includes an electrical connector 183 that may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material and then may be metal plated and/or metal coated. In another embodiment, the electrical connector 183 is formed of the conductively doped resin-based material and not metal plated and/or metal coated.

FIG. 17 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. An electronic fencing lamè 190 is shown. The electronic fencing lamè 190 includes a structure 190 adapted to covering at least a part of a human body wherein the structure 190 comprises conductively doped resin-based material comprising micron conductive fiber in a base resin host.

Typical electronic fencing lamè construction utilizes an outer conductive fabric layer that is woven from stainless steel fibers. The fencing lamè of this requires regular hand washing in order to clean the fabric of salt crystals left behind from dried sweat that can cause the break down of the metal fibers. However, in one embodiment of the present invention, the outer layer for the electronic fencing lamè 190 is formed from a fabric comprising the conductively doped resin-based material. In this embodiment the conductively doped resin-based material is extruded into a fine thread and then woven into a cloth like fabric. In one embodiment, the outer layer for the lamè 190 is formed of the conductively doped resin-based material and then may be metal plated and/or metal coated. In another embodiment, the outer layer for the lamè 190 is formed of the conductively doped resin-based material with a coloring or dye in the resin to allow for the desired appearance after the manufacturing process.

In one embodiment, the lamè further includes an electrical connector 192 that may be formed of the conductively doped resin-based material and then may be metal plated and/or metal coated. In another embodiment, the electrical connector 192 is formed of the conductively doped resin-based material and not metal plated and/or metal coated.

FIG. 18 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. A snowboard 200 is shown. The snowboard 200 includes a sheet 202 of conductively doped resin-based material comprising micron conductive fiber in a base resin host and having a top surface 205 and a bottom surface 207. The top surface 205 is adapted to support an operator. The bottom surface 207 is adapted for sliding. The top surface 205 may include bindings 204 adapted to couple to operator boots, not shown. In various embodiments, the sheet 202, or board platform, or the bindings 204, or both, for the snowboard 200 are formed of the conductively doped resin-based material. The snowboard 200 formed of the conductively doped resin-based material is preferably formed to the desired shape with a percent conductive loading, by weight, to allow the flexibility desired to maneuver down the hill. The choice of the base resin is selected from any number of resins capable of providing the tensile strength needed for the snowboard 200.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the board platform 202 is molded with an outer layer of a non-conductive resin-based material by for example co-extrusion. The outer layer resin-based material is chosen from any number of resins that will provide the bottom 207 of the snowboard 200 with an extremely non-porous slippery surface. In another embodiment, the board platform 202 is formed entirely of the conductively doped resin-based material without an additional outer layer.

FIG. 19 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. A skateboard 210 is shown. The skateboard 210 includes a sheet 212, or board platform, of conductively doped resin-based material comprising micron conductive fiber in a base resin host and having a top surface 215 and a bottom surface 217. The top surface 215 is adapted to support an operator. The bottom surface 217 includes wheels 218. In various embodiments, the board platform 212 or the wheels 218, or both, for the skateboard 210 are formed of the conductively doped resin-based material. The skateboard 210 formed of the conductively doped resin-based material is preferably formed to the desired shape with a percent conductive loading, by weight, to allow the flexibility desired to maneuver. The choice of the base resin is selected from any number of resins capable of providing the tensile strength needed for the skateboard 210.

FIG. 20 illustrates one example of sporting equipment devices depicting one embodiment of the invention. Snow skis 220 and ski poles 230 are shown. The snow skis 220 includes a sheet 222 of conductively doped resin-based material comprising micron conductive fiber in a base resin host and having a top surface 225 and a bottom surface 227. The top surface 22 is adapted to support an operator. The bottom surface 2207 is adapted for sliding. The top surface 225 may include bindings 224 adapted to couple to operator boots, not shown. In various embodiments, the sheet 222, or board platform, or the bindings 224, or both, for the snow skis 220 are formed of the conductively doped resin-based material. The snowboard 220 formed of the conductively doped resin-based material is preferably formed to the desired shape with a percent conductive loading, by weight, to allow the flexibility desired to maneuver down the hill. The choice of the base resin is selected from any number of resins capable of providing the tensile strength needed for the snow skis 220.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the board platform 222 is molded with an outer layer of a non-conductive resin-based material by for example co-extrusion. The outer layer resin-based material is chosen from any number of resins that will provide the bottom 207 of the snow skis 220 with an extremely non-porous slippery surface. In another embodiment, the board platform 222 is formed entirely of the conductively doped resin-based material without an additional outer layer.

The ski poles 230 includes an operator handle 233 attached to a striking surface 235. Typical ski pole construction utilizes light weight carbon fiber or aluminum shafts. However, in one embodiment of the present invention, the ski poles 230 are molded from the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention and then may be metal coated and/or metal plated. In another embodiment, the ski poles 230 are molded from the conductively doped resin-based material and are not metal plated and/or metal coated. The ski poles 230 formed of the conductively doped resin-based material are preferably formed to the desired shape with a percent conductive loading, by weight, to give it the desired rigidity needed by the skier.

FIG. 21 illustrates one example of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. A hockey puck 250 is shown. The hockey puck 250 includes a body 252 formed of the conductively doped resin-based material. In addition, the hockey puck may include an antenna 254 formed of the conductively doped resin-based material and coupled to a wireless transmitter/receiver, not shown, to be placed in the core of the puck 250. A wide variety of antenna structures are easily formed of the conductively doped resin-based material of the present invention. Monopole, dipole, geometric shapes, 2D, 3D, 4D, 5D, isotropic structures, planar, inverted F, PIFA, and the like, are all within the scope of the present invention. The antenna 254 design can be molded by, for example, injection molding. The molded antenna 254 shape determines the resonant frequency response of the antenna. The internal transmitting/receiving device in the puck 250 sends a signal to a positioning receiving sensor inside a television camera and focuses the camera on the puck 250 during play.

FIGS. 22-24 illustrate one example of a part of a sporting equipment device and method of manufacture depicting one embodiment of the invention. An operator handle for a sporting equipment device, and a method of manufacture, are illustrated. In particular, in FIG. 22 shows an operator handle 300 at a preliminary step in manufacture. A bundled 310 of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber is shown. The micron conductive fiber is further illustrated in FIG. 23 which shown a cross section of the bundle 310 of FIG. 22 taken along lines 23-23. The bundle 310 may have a relatively circular cross-sectional shape 320, for example. Alternatively, the bundle 310 cross-sectional shape 320 may be any shape, may have a hollow interior to the shape, or may be amorphous. Alternatively, the continuous strands of micron conductive fiber 310 may be woven or webbed together. The micron conductive fiber 310 may be metal, such as stainless steel micron fiber, copper micron fiber, silver micron fiber or combinations thereof. The micron conductive fiber 310 may be a non-metal fiber that is metal plated, such as metal plated carbon fiber. Referring now to FIG. 24, the continuous strands of micron conductive fiber is molded with a resin-based material 330 to complete the operator handle 300. Preferably, the resin-based material is molded under pressure 340 to force the resin-based material to thoroughly wet the strands of micron conductive fiber 310. Molding may be, for example, by injection molding resin-based material 330 on the bundle 310 of continuous micron conductive fiber 310 inserted into a mold. Alternatively, the resin-based material 330 may be extruded onto the continuous strands of micron conductive fiber 310. The resulting operator handle 300 may be used in any sporting equipment application including, but not limited to, golf clubs, racquets, hockey sticks, ski poles, and fishing poles.

FIG. 25 illustrates one example one example of a part of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. Another operator handle 350 for a sporting equipment device is shown. The operator handle 350 may included, for example, a core portion 352, a bundle 354 of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber surrounding the core portion 352, and a resin-based material 356 molded onto the bundle 354. The core portion 352 may have a relatively circular cross-sectional shape, for example. Alternatively, the core portion 352 cross-sectional shape may be any shape. The core portion 352 may be a resin-based material. The bundle 354 of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber may be woven or webbed together. The micron conductive fiber may be metal, such as stainless steel micron fiber, copper micron fiber, silver micron fiber or combinations thereof. The micron conductive fiber may be a non-metal fiber that is metal plated, such as metal plated carbon fiber. The bundle 354 of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber may be wrapped onto the core 352 and further be twisted or radially turned about the core 352. The resin-based material 356 may be molded under pressure to force the resin-based material 356 to thoroughly wet the strands of the bundle 354 of continuous micron conductive fiber. Molding may be, for example, by injection molding resin-based material 356 on a sub-assembly of the core portion 352 and bundle 354 inserted into a mold. Alternatively, the resin-based material 356 may be extruded onto the sub-assembly of the core portion 352 and bundle 354. The resulting operator handle 350 may be used in any sporting equipment application including, but not limited to, golf clubs, racquets, hockey sticks, ski poles, and fishing poles.

FIG. 26 illustrates one example one example of a part of a sporting equipment device depicting one embodiment of the invention. Another operator handle 360 for a sporting equipment device is shown. The operator handle 360 may included, for example, a core portion including a first bundle 366 of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber molded with a resin-based material 362. The core portion 362 and 366 may have a relatively circular cross-sectional shape, for example. Alternatively, the core portion 362 and 366 cross-sectional shape may be any shape. The bundle 366 of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber may be woven or webbed together. The micron conductive fiber may be metal, such as stainless steel micron fiber, copper micron fiber, silver micron fiber or combinations thereof. The micron conductive fiber may be a non-metal fiber that is metal plated, such as metal plated carbon fiber. A second bundle 364 of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber may be wrapped onto the core portion 362 and 366 and further be twisted or radially turned about the core portion 362 and 366. The second bundle 364 of continuous strands of micron conductive fiber may be woven or webbed together. The micron conductive fiber may be metal, such as stainless steel micron fiber, copper micron fiber, silver micron fiber or combinations thereof The micron conductive fiber may be a non-metal fiber that is metal plated, such as metal plated carbon fiber. A second resin-based material 368 may be molded under pressure to force the resin-based material 368 to thoroughly wet the strands of the second bundle 364 of continuous micron conductive fiber. Molding may be, for example, by injection molding resin-based material 368 onto the second bundle 364 inserted into a mold. Alternatively, the resin-based material 368 may be extruded onto the second bundle 364. The resulting operator handle 360 may be used in any sporting equipment application including, but not limited to, golf clubs, racquets, hockey sticks, ski poles, and fishing poles.

The conductively doped resin-based material typically comprises a micron powder(s) of conductor particles and/or in combination of micron fiber(s) substantially homogenized within a base resin host. FIG. 2 shows a cross section view of an example of conductively doped resin-based material 32 having powder of conductor particles 34 in a base resin host 30. In this example the diameter D of the conductor particles 34 in the powder is between about 3 and 12 microns.

FIG. 3 shows a cross section view of an example of conductively doped resin-based material 36 having conductor fibers 38 in a base resin host 30. The conductor fibers 38 have a diameter of between about 3 and 12 microns, typically in the range of 10 microns or between about 8 and 12 microns, and a length of between about 2 and 14 millimeters. The micron conductive fibers 38 may be metal fiber or metal plated fiber. Further, the metal plated fiber may be formed by plating metal onto a metal fiber or by plating metal onto a non-metal fiber. Exemplary metal fibers include, but are not limited to, stainless steel fiber, copper fiber, nickel fiber, silver fiber, aluminum fiber, nichrome fiber, or the like, or combinations thereof. Exemplary metal plating materials include, but are not limited to, copper, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, palladium, platinum, ruthenium, rhodium, and nichrome, and alloys of thereof. Any platable fiber may be used as the core for a non-metal fiber. Exemplary non-metal fibers include, but are not limited to, carbon, graphite, polyester, basalt, man-made and naturally-occurring materials, and the like. In addition, superconductor metals, such as titanium, nickel, niobium, and zirconium, and alloys of titanium, nickel, niobium, and zirconium may also be used as micron conductive fibers and/or as metal plating onto fibers in the present invention.

These conductor particles and/or fibers are substantially homogenized within a base resin. As previously mentioned, the conductively doped resin-based materials have a sheet resistance of less than about 5 to more than about 25 ohms per square, though other values can be achieved by varying the doping parameters and/or resin selection. To realize this sheet resistance the weight of the conductor material comprises between about 20% and about 50% of the total weight of the conductively doped resin-based material. More preferably, the weight of the conductive material comprises between about 20% and about 40% of the total weight of the conductively doped resin-based material. More preferably yet, the weight of the conductive material comprises between about 25% and about 35% of the total weight of the conductively doped resin-based material. Still more preferably yet, the weight of the conductive material comprises about 30% of the total weight of the conductively doped resin-based material. Stainless Steel Fiber of 6-12 micron in diameter and lengths of 4-6 mm and comprising, by weight, about 30% of the total weight of the conductively doped resin-based material will produce a very highly conductive parameter, efficient within any EMF, thermal, acoustic, or electronic spectrum.

In yet another preferred embodiment of the present invention, the conductive doping is determined using a volume percentage. In a most preferred embodiment, the conductive doping comprises a volume of between about 4% and about 10% of the total volume of the conductively doped resin-based material. In a less preferred embodiment, the conductive doping comprises a volume of between about 1% and about 50% of the total volume of the conductively doped resin-based material though the properties of the base resin may be impacted by high percent volume doping.

Referring now to FIG. 4, another preferred embodiment of the present invention is illustrated where the conductive materials comprise a combination of both conductive powders 34 and micron conductive fibers 38 substantially homogenized together within the resin base 30 during a molding process.

Referring now to FIGS. 5a and 5b , a preferred composition of the conductively doped, resin-based material is illustrated. The conductively doped resin-based material can be formed into fibers or textiles that are then woven or webbed into a conductive fabric. The conductively doped resin-based material is formed in strands that can be woven as shown. FIG. 5a shows a conductive fabric 42 where the fibers are woven together in a two-dimensional weave 46 and 50 of fibers or textiles. FIG. 5b shows a conductive fabric 42′ where the fibers are formed in a webbed arrangement. In the webbed arrangement, one or more continuous strands of the conductive fiber are nested in a random fashion. The resulting conductive fabrics or textiles 42, see FIG. 5a, and 42′, see FIG. 5b, can be made very thin, thick, rigid, flexible or in solid form(s).

Similarly, a conductive, but cloth-like, material can be formed using woven or webbed micron stainless steel fibers, or other micron conductive fibers. These woven or webbed conductive cloths could also be sandwich laminated to one or more layers of materials such as Polyester(s), Teflon(s), Kevlar(s) or any other desired resin-based material(s). This conductive fabric may then be cut into desired shapes and sizes.

Articles formed from conductively doped resin-based materials can be formed or molded in a number of different ways including injection molding, extrusion, calendaring, compression molding, thermoset molding, or chemically induced molding or forming. FIG. 6a shows a simplified schematic diagram of an injection mold showing a lower portion 54 and upper portion 58 of the mold 50. Conductively doped resin-based material is injected into the mold cavity 64 through an injection opening 60 and then the substantially homogenized conductive material cures by thermal reaction. The upper portion 58 and lower portion 54 of the mold are then separated or parted and the articles are removed.

FIG. 6b shows a simplified schematic diagram of an extruder 70 for forming articles using extrusion. Conductively doped resin-based material(s) is placed in the hopper 80 of the extrusion unit 74. A piston, screw, press or other means 78 is then used to force thermally molten, chemically-induced compression, or thermoset curing conductively doped resin-based material through an extrusion opening 82 which shapes the thermally molten curing or chemically induced cured conductively doped resin-based material to the desired shape. The conductively doped resin-based material is then fully cured by chemical reaction or thermal reaction to a hardened or pliable state and is ready for use. Thermoplastic or thermosetting resin-based materials and associated processes may be used in molding the conductively doped resin-based articles of the present invention.

Accordingly, many advantages of the above illustrated described structure will be recognized by those ordinary skilled in the art. As such, a sporting equipment device is disclosed with excellent performance including tunable frequency, trampoline response, low cost of manufacture, durability, and low weight. In addition, antenna devices or conductive sensing may be integrated into the device due to the conductivity of the conductively doped resin-based material.

The above detailed description of the invention, and the examples described therein, has been presented for the purposes of illustration and description. While the principles of the invention have been described above in connection with a specific device, it is to be clearly understood that this description is made only by way of example and not as a limitation on the scope of the invention.