Title:
Web micropattern grip surface
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A web micropattern grip surface for use on a grip, and particularly a grip for a golf club, wherein the pattern is defined by upstanding ridges. The ridges have components of extension that extend both longitudinally on the grip and circumferentially around the grip. In one embodiment, neighboring ridges may be parallel. Ridges are oriented to intersect forming a web pattern. The density of ridge elements and the width and height of the ridge elements is selected to provide drag on the hand or object gripping the grip, preferably in both the longitudinal and circumferential directions, and to give the grip a velvety feel. Various shape web pattern are defined by intersecting webs that surround and define geometric shape areas including parallelogram, polygon, honeycomb and rounded shapes.



Inventors:
Rose, Timothy (Brea, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/542435
Publication Date:
04/12/2007
Filing Date:
10/03/2006
Assignee:
Grip Surface Technologies, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B53/14
View Patent Images:
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20040166957Golf club putter, and the alternativeAugust, 2004Reyes
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20060189418Deviation measuring apparatusAugust, 2006Kawai
20090181787GOLF PUTTING TRAINING SYSTEMJuly, 2009Lane
20030119594Method for marking a practice rangeJune, 2003Hopkins



Primary Examiner:
BLAU, STEPHEN LUTHER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OSTROLENK FABER LLP (845 THIRD AVENUE 8TH FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY, 10022, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A micropattern grip surface for use on a grip, comprising: the grip having a longitudinal axis; a plurality of ridges arrayed on the grip surface, wherein the ridges of the plurality each have a generally longitudinal direction component of extension along the grip and generally along the direction of the axis and also each have a generally circumferential direction component of extension around the grip and around the axis of the grip; the ridges being oriented such that each ridge intersects a plurality of others of the ridges forming a web of the ridges over the grip surface; the ridges each being so shaped, of such height off the surface of the grip and of such width that the ridges cooperate with a hand or object gripping the grip to resist both torque around the axis of the grip and longitudinal movement of the grip with reference to the hand or gripping object.

2. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein the ridges include a first group of adjacent ridges which are so shaped and oriented as to extend generally parallel and a second group of adjacent ridges which are also so shaped and oriented as to extend generally parallel, and the ridges extend in directions such that some of the ridges of the first group intersect some of the ridges of the second group.

3. The micropattern grip surface of claim 2, wherein intersecting first and second group ridges surround and define geometric shape areas of the grip surface.

4. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein intersecting ridges cooperate to define geometric shape areas of the grip surface.

5. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein the ridges have a height in the range of about 0.005 inch to about 0.040 inch, a width in the range of about 0.003 to about 0.040 inch.

6. The micropattern grip surface of claim 5, wherein at an area of their nearest spacing apart, there is a distance of at most about 0.080 inch between a ridge and the neighboring ones of the ridges.

7. The micropattern grip surface of claim 5, wherein the density of repeats of the intersecting of the ridges is about 5,000 details per square inch or fewer details per square inch.

8. The micropattern grip surface of claim 7, wherein at an area of their nearest spacing apart, there is a distance of at most about 0.080 inch between a ridge and the neighboring ones of the ridges.

9. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein the density of repeats of the intersecting of the ridges is about 5,000 details per square inch or fewer details per square inch.

10. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein at an area of their nearest spacing apart, there is a distance of at most about 0.080 inch between a ridge and the neighboring ones of the ridges.

11. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein each of the ridges has a height and a width and a spacing apart of neighboring ridges which are dimensions selected for providing drag against a hand or other gripping object and a velvety feel to the hand or the gripping object.

12. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein the ridges extend continuously in the longitudinal direction over the longitudinal length of the micropattern grip pattern, being interrupted in areas where the micropattern grip pattern is not present.

13. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein the ridge pattern is upraised or is engraved in the surface.

14. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein the ridges are comprised of a slightly elastic, yieldable material.

15. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein the ridges are comprised of rubber or an elastomer.

16. The micropattern grip surface of claim 3, wherein the ridges are straight lines.

17. The micropattern grip surface of claim 3, wherein the ridges are shaped to define a honeycomb design of the geometric shape areas.

18. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein the ridges are not of uniform width along their length.

19. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein the ridges are of uniform width along their length.

20. The micropattern grip surface of claim 1, wherein the ridges surround and define rounded shape areas.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is based upon and claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/726,074, filed Oct. 12, 2005, to which a claim of priority is hereby made, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/810,505, filed Jun. 1, 2006, to which a claim of priority is hereby made.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention herein is to produce a microsurface grip pattern with similar functional characteristics to the grip pattern in U.S. application Ser. No. 11/332,993, which is incorporated herein by reference.

Hand grips on golf clubs and other objects have a circumference which is grasped in a user's hand. Typically, the circumferential surface is at least in part rounded or curved, and may also include flat areas.

Gripping the grip tightly enough should prevent movement of the grip longitudinally along a long axis and/or circumferentially around the axis. The grip surface should be comfortable for the person holding the grip. Further, it would be beneficial for the grip surface to enable removal of moisture, oil, perspiration, etc. from the person's hand when holding the grip, and have a surface which allows the grip to be held with the least amount of hand pressure.

There are various designs of hand grips, of which golf grips are an example, which are designed to accomplish at least some of these functions. Some grips have a smooth surface, which is difficult to hold when force is applied to the grip or to the object including the grip, including force applied either around the axis of the grip, that is torsional force, or force applied longitudinally along the axis. A smooth grip must be held more tightly than a roughened grip, thus compromising the performance of a golf club or like products. The surface of the grip may be roughened, for example due to the inherent roughness of a particular material used or due to some treatment of the grip surface.

In most golf grips, the surface is engraved with a pattern that is of a format much larger than the pattern embodiments of the present invention. Such surfaces create a bite or an ability for a golfer's hand to grip against the grip surface with some degree of success. Yet, the engraving patterns do not provide a “drag”, “friction”, or “resistance” against the skin when lightly grasped and the grip is rotated, or pulled from the user's hand as when the golf club is swung.

As another example, ribs or grooves may be formed at spaced intervals on the grip and may be oriented either circumferentially, longitudinally, obliquely or spirally on the grip; and parallel, oblique to each other or intersecting; or in combinations of all of these.

In another example, there may be molded or otherwise formed protrusions as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,800,234 and U.S. Application Publication No. 2003/0088946A1.

Arranging elements on the grip to resist slippage in the longitudinal direction may provide good feel and drag circumferentially, but not longitudinally. Arranging the elements circumferentially may provide good feel and drag longitudinally, but not circumferentially.

The micropattern invention concerns surface pattern characteristics that provide multidirectional feel and drag against the hand gripping the grip due to the web style patterns. Such patterns provide a desirable feel because of the connected webbing mesh. The gaps or depressions in the pattern allow the pattern ridges to somewhat flex back and forth against the skin to create the drag. Patterns as shown in FIG. 5 hereof, wherein the thickness of the ridges are not consistent, but rather vary and have wider areas, minimize the flexing of the ridges, as that web is more structural and strong. This type of pattern still provides a similar feel and drag to other micropatterns, which is caused by the skin of the user's hand dipping slightly in and out of the fine depressions of the pattern as the hand moves across the surface of the grip. This more structural type of web pattern allows surface moisture on the grip or on the user's hand, like perspiration to be trapped in the depressions which keeps the grip surface moisture minimized and the grip from becoming too slick during play.

An objective of the designer of a golf grip surface, and other grips, is to have the grip create a “drag” on the gripping hand, so that when the grip is securely gripped, and torsion is thereafter applied to the grip by use of the object to which the grip is attached, as occurs when a golf club is swung and a golf ball is hit for example, the drag resists the torsion and also prevents the grip from slipping from the hand along the axis direction. With light gripping hand pressure (which is made possible by the invention), a golfer will yield the best performance of the golf club and improve his game. As taught by golf professionals, the habit of gripping a golf club grip with light, yet secure hand pressure, largely contributes to the consistency, and accuracy of a golfer's swing, thus allowing the golfer to maximize the performance of his game. In contrast, if a grip surface does not create resistance or drag against the skin like the present invention, a golfer would naturally squeeze the grip harder, thus preventing his swing from being fluid, or natural, which would negatively impact his swing, and ultimately his game. Golfers also like a “velvety” feel on the grip, which provides a comfortable feel, not too slick and not too coarse or rough, which restricts how a grip surface is to be formed for achieving desirable drag.

The majority of golf grips currently being sold are buffed grips. This means that they have a surface that has been sanded. This buffed grip provides a velvety feel or “drag” similar to the effect of the invention to the user. However, particularly when a rubber material grip is sanded, the sealed surface skin of the rubber of the grip is removed and the pores of the rubber are exposed to air, sweat, moisture, and oil from the hands. The grip actually absorbs elements from the environment and from the hand, eventually making the originally velvety feel grip later feel hard or slick, and the velvety feel is lost. In most cases, by the time a golf club is purchased from a retailer and a golfer has begun playing with it, the grip has lost most of its velvety feel before it first goes into play. If a purchaser wants a velvety feel of the grip at least when he purchases the clubs, the loss of the velvety feel of the grip of one club can negatively impact the sale of the golf club and even of a set of golf clubs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention concerns a surface pattern on a grip, particularly a golf grip, that is quite fine and which is called a micropattern. A general definition of micropattern follows the description below of elements and features of such a pattern.

The microsurface gripping pattern or micropattern may be defined as an array of upstanding ridges in the grip material, and in the versions here, the ribs may be comprised of multi-directional lines, arches, enclosing geometric shapes, like polygons, circles, ovals or the like, and the ridges form a web-like pattern of intersecting ribs. No matter what are the shapes of the ridges in the micropattern, the ridges include ridge sections or elements that extend at least somewhat longitudinally, that is, these ridge element components extend longitudinally, and other sections that extend at least somewhat circumferentially, that is, these ridge element components extend circumferentially.

The grip is preferably of rubber, TPE (thermo plastic elastomer), or another elastomeric material.

In one preferred embodiment, the micropattern is a continuous pattern of sets of intersecting ridge elements, which define a series of closed polygons. The polygons are of almost any shape, which is determined by the orientations of the ridges. The polygons may be square, rectangular, parallelepiped, more than four sided, like hexagonal, rounded, or circular or oval, etc. The ridge patterns and the polygons they define may be uniform or non-uniform in shape, so long as they satisfy the above stated characteristics and dimensions. Ridge elements may extend longitudinally along the length direction of the grip, or circumferentially around the grip, or in an oblique direction between longitudinal and circumferential, and wrap spirally around the grip, including combinations of some of these, and the elements may have the directional components noted above.

The pattern of ridges features individual upraised or protruding ridge elements of a height of about 0.005-0.040 inch and for linear ridges, a line width of the ridge sections of about 0.003 to 0.040 inch. For non-linear or non-uniformly thick ridges, the widths vary, but they are preferably not thinner than about 0.003 to 0.040 inch, and are thicker than that along some elements of the ridge.

The web micropattern includes ridge elements that are spaced apart to define gaps between neighboring, but spaced apart ridge elements. The distance from a ridge to the nearest neighboring ridge would not be greater than about 0.080 inch. A gap width of greater size might cause the preferred feel of the grip to be lost.

Dimensions and shapes of a fine micropattern of ridges are described above. The above stated numerical values are examples and provide a sense of the fineness of the micropattern. Any of the dimensions can be varied within the concept of the invention to affect the performance criteria.

Although there is no single required shape or orientation of the ridge elements, their shapes and orientations are selected so that the web micropattern produces drag both in the circumferential and longitudinal directions. To achieve this, the micropattern has ridges extending with a component along the longitudinal direction of the grip and ridges extending with a component along circumferential direction thereof. Preferably, at least some or even all of ridges run obliquely to both those directions. In addition, one set of the ridges intersects another set of the ridges.

The number of ridge elements and pattern repeats over a particular area of the grip surface is not as significant as the fineness and density of the pattern and the height of the ridge elements and/or the depths of the polygons or other geometric shapes between the ridge elements. The micropattern may extend over and cover all of the grip or only a part, depending on the grip designer's preference.

In a preferred embodiment, the micropattern is preferably formed in a mold cavity tool which forms the grip product. This micro pattern may be formed in the mold cavity tool using a laser engraving process. The inventor has discovered the ability to produce those surface patterns in microdetail by laser engraving. He has found that the micropattern is not so easily produced by other currently available tool manufacturing, engraving or chemical texturing methods.

The pattern can be comprised of upstanding ridges having continuous length or can be made up of sections or ridge elements, whereby the pattern would be segmented, but preferably providing a density of details of up to about 5,000 details per square inch for example or fewer details, but preferably not less than 100 details per square inch to maintain the desired grip and feel.

A common characteristic of all micropatterns disclosed herein and others within the invention is that the ridges thereof are long enough and are so shaped and oriented that each ridge intersects others of the ridges and the ridges and their intersections surround and define geometric shape areas on the grip surface.

The gripping surface micropattern may be made of rubber or another elastomeric material like TPE. The elastomeric ridge elements yield slightly when gripped, which causes a velvety feel for the grip. The intersections of the ridge elements of the web micropattern support the ridge elements upright at the ridge intersections and avoid the ridges flopping over. Forming the ridge elements of a too rigid material would cause the grip to lose its velvety feel, because the ridge elements would not flex when squeezed by the user's hand.

The ridge elements provide a multidirectional feel in a golfer's hand under torque and under longitudinal force and movement. The web pattern also wipes away perspiration from the user's hand.

Considering all of the elements and features of the micropattern in this disclosure, a general definition thereof, which of necessity does not recite every element and feature, is a pattern on the grippable surface of a grip that is formed of outwardly projecting, elastomeric ridges, that are shaped and positioned to define neighboring grooves or depressions in the surface. Each groove and depression has ridges along its sides and the depressions may be open areas surrounded by the ridges. The ridges have a preferred height, above the bottom of the neighboring grooves or depressions of about 0.005 to about 0.040 inch and a width, at their thinnest part or a uniform width of about 0.003 to about 0.040 inch. There is a distance of about at most 0.080 inch between each ridge and each of the neighboring ridges no matter how the geometric areas are shaped. There is a density of details in the pattern of up to about 5,000 details per square inch or fewer up to at least 100 details per square inch. The foregoing numerical values are not intended to be precise limits and if other similar numerical ranges satisfy the grip and feel characteristics herein, they may be micropatterns as well.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an edge view of a surface, that may be the surface of a golf grip or any other object, provided with one of the preferred embodiments of the invention, viewed in the direction of arrows 1 in FIG. 2;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the surface of a grip provided with a first preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is an enlargement in cross-section of the grip surface along line 3-3 in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the surface of the grip provided with a second preferred embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 5 is a plan view of the surface of the grip provided with a third preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 shows a portion of a golf club grip with the micropattern of the invention and an enlargement of part of the surface.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

One preferred embodiment illustrating the present invention concerns a grip surface 10, which carries a micropattern 12 that is seen in plan in FIG. 2 and in section in FIGS. 1 and 3. The grip 8 in FIG. 6 is shown as a golf grip, which is a preferred use. The invention may be used on or for any grip or grippable surface for which a user needs or would benefit from the performance characteristics of the invention, as were described above.

The micropattern 12 is shown considerably enlarged in FIGS. 1-3 and 6 to show its features. Being a micropattern with the dimensions described above, the unmagnified pattern is visible to the eye, but its details may not be discerned, and it appears mostly as a texturing of the surface of the grip.

The micropattern 12 shown enlarged in FIG. 2 comprises continuous lines of first parallel ridges or ribs 14, 15, et al. extending with a component extending longitudinally, arrow 16, along the length or along an axis of the grip 8, and with a component extending circumferentially around, arrow 18, the longitudinal axis or axes of the grip. U.S. Pat. No. 6,800,234 shows a golf club grip adaptable to receive a micropattern of the present invention, and the disclosure of the patent is incorporated by reference to show such a club grip. This is one application or use for the invention.

In FIG. 2, the micropattern also includes continuous lines of second parallel ridges or ribs 17, 19, et al. also extending with components extending in the longitudinal and circumferential directions, but extending in a different direction than the first group of ridges 14, 15, et al. The first ridges 14, 15, et al. and the second ridges 16, 17, et al. intersect at numerous intersections 21 across the surface and thereby define a fine web pattern on the grip surface. Neighboring first ridges 14, 15, et al. are so spaced apart and neighboring second ridges 16, 17, et al. are also so spaced apart that the ridges and their intersections surround and define a large number of geometric shape areas 20, which, in this embodiment of straight line ridges intersecting at right angles, are square in shape. The ridges include ridge elements, each of which here is at and defines a side of a geometric shape area.

The spacing between the neighboring ridges 14, 15, et al., on one hand, and the neighboring ridges 16, 17, et al., on the other hand, need not be identical as shown, but may be differently spaced. The orientations of the ridges 14, 15, et al. with respect to ridges 16, 17, et al. are illustrated as right angle intersections. But other respective oblique orientations may be provided producing other parallelogram shape area 20 besides the squares. Both groups of ridges are shown as oblique to the longitudinal and circumferential directions 16, 18, which gives rise to the components of directions noted. Exemplary height, width, separation spacing, and density of ridges and density of pattern details are disclosed above.

Adjacent non-intersecting ridges are preferably parallel. Yet, the adjacent ridges may not be precisely parallel, may be oblique to each other or even intersecting.

The polygonal or other geometric shape areas 20 defined by ridges are recessed below the ridges. They trap moisture like perspiration to allow skin contact against the usually dry upper surfaces of the ridges. Further, the numerous ridges and ridge elements on the gripping surface press into the skin and produce drag and resist torque and longitudinal motion.

Other ridge arrangements are contemplated by the invention. In FIG. 4, the micropattern 30 on the grip surface comprises a honeycomb, wherein the geometric shapes 32 defined by the ridges 34 in the pattern are hexagonal cells separated by and defined by the ridge elements. In this case the ridges are not straight lines. Rather, there is a honeycomb forming shape of the ridges 34. There are intersections 36 at the corners between adjacent honeycomb cells 32. With the ridges 34 extending over the surface of the grip micropattern and the honeycomb shape inherently defining a ridge component of extension extending longitudinally and a ridge component of extension extending circumferentially, a complete web micropattern is defined on the grip surface, which achieves the benefits and objectives disclosed herein. In addition, adjacent ridge elements extending in the same direction are parallel, with their paths zigging and zagging in parallel. This illustrates that the web pattern invention need not include straight line ridges. The dimensions, spacing and density of details of the ridges discussed above may apply to this embodiment as well.

FIG. 5 illustrates a micropattern 40 according to the invention but with several characteristics that are different than those in the embodiments in FIGS. 2 and 4, which show constant width ridges. In FIG. 5, the microsurface pattern includes a plurality of enclosed geometric shape areas 42 which are shown as circular in shape. More broadly, the shape of an area 42 is not a parallelogram, and it does not have sharp angled comers. Rather, the shape of the areas is rounded, at least somewhat, ranging from oval, egg shape, partial rounding to a circle illustrated. Those regions are defined by a ridge array 44 that has the height dimension noted above, but that does not have the width characteristic, due to the width variation that is needed to produce rounded and circular areas 42. Here the ridges are of non-uniform width along any direction ranging from 0.003 to 0.040 at the thinnest region of the ridge elements at a rounded area to a thickest region where adjacent ridge elements meet. The ridges illustrated have direction components longitudinally in the direction 16 and direction components circumferentially in direction 18. In fact, the ridge array shown in FIG. 5 includes ridges that extend perpendicular to each other and obliquely to the circumferential direction 18, from both the left and the right in FIG. 5. There may be no discrete ridges illustrated in FIG. 5, but rather a complete ridge web or matrix micropattern is shown with intersections of ridge elements at 46 where three circular regions 42 approach each other, and the ridge elements or matrix of ridges therefore define the enclosed areas 42. This micropattern structure provides a different feel to the user's hand than the micropattern structures in FIGS. 2 and 4, because the circular shaped areas 42 cause the ridge material to be more resistant to hand pressure where the ridge elements become wider between circular areas.

Other geometric designs with upraised ridges in the micropattern on the grip surface are contemplated.

Designs with upstanding protrusions on a golf grip surface are known in the art e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 6,800,234 and U.S. publication No. 2003/0088946A1. The micropattern structure of the present invention does not have protrusions, but has ridges that define and enclose geometric areas.

The material of the ridges in the micropattern and usually of the entire grip is rubber or another elastomer like TPE. It is not a rigid material, but has slight elasticity and will therefore yield or bend slightly as user's hand pressure is applied, for providing a soft, velvety feel, rather than a hard, slick surface feel.

As has been noted, the micropattern grip may be used on any grip surface. The micropattern may be formed in a layer of material, as shown in FIG. 1, that is laminated on a circumferential base or in the outer surface of the base itself, e.g., by laser engraving or molding it into the layer. Alternatively, the micropattern may be formed in the surface of the circumferential base or grip itself using a molding process, where the mold contains the micropattern, which pattern was formed in the mold, e.g. in a laser engraving process. Other techniques may be used for forming the ridges.

For appearance purposes or certain functional purposes, only a part or parts of the entire circumferential surface of the grip may be provided with the micropattern, such as the part likely to be grasped. The placement of the micropattern on the surface is a matter of choice of a designer.

Although the present invention has been described in relation to particular embodiments thereof, many other variations and modifications and other uses will become apparent to those skilled in the art. It is preferred, therefore, that the present invention be limited not by the specific disclosure herein, but only by the appended claims.