Title:
Amusement Device Including a Fabric Formed of a Plastic Strand
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An amusement device is provided. One embodiment of the amusement device includes a plastic strand wound upon itself to form a fabric that encloses a void. The plastic strand is plastically welded to itself at a plurality of locations throughout the fabric. Such a construction may yield a fabric that is resiliently deformable, and may be formed into a variety of shapes, such as a ball. In some cases, a plurality of nested fabrics may be employed in the amusement device.



Inventors:
Silvergate, David E. (Santa Cruz, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/347302
Publication Date:
07/02/2009
Filing Date:
12/31/2008
Assignee:
Rhino Toys, Inc. (Santa Cruz, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B39/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ALLEMAN HALL MCCOY RUSSELL & TUTTLE LLP (806 SW BROADWAY, SUITE 600, PORTLAND, OR, 97205-3335, US)
Claims:
1. An amusement device, comprising: at least one plastic strand wound upon itself to form a fabric enclosing a void; wherein the at least one plastic strand is plastically welded to itself at a plurality of locations throughout the fabric.

2. The amusement device of claim 1, wherein the fabric forms a closed surface.

3. The amusement device of claim 1, wherein the amusement device substantially covers the area of a three dimensional surface of revolution.

4. The amusement device of claim 2, wherein the fabric is in the shape of a sphere.

5. The amusement device of claim 1, wherein the plastic strand is plastically welded to itself at a plurality of asymmetric locations on the fabric.

6. The amusement device of claim 5, wherein the plastic strand forms multiple loops intersecting at varying angles.

7. The amusement device of claim 7, wherein the plastic strand defines a plurality of gaps in the fabric.

8. The amusement device of claim 7, wherein the gaps have substantially straight sides, as viewed in plan view.

9. The amusement device of claim 1, wherein the plastic strand has a durometer hardness between 70 A and 90 A.

10. The amusement device of claim 1, wherein the plastic strand has a diameter of between about 1 and 4 millimeters.

11. The amusement device of claim 1, wherein the plastic strand substantially maintains its cross sectional shape throughout the location of each weld.

12. The amusement device of claim 11, wherein the cross sectional shape is substantially round or oval.

13. The amusement device of claim 1, wherein the fabric is resiliently deformable.

14. The amusement device of claim 1, wherein the fabric is a first fabric and the plastic strand is a first plastic strand, the amusement device further comprising: at least one second plastic strand wound upon itself to form a second fabric enclosing a void; wherein second fabric is nested within the first fabric.

15. The amusement device of claim 14, wherein the first fabric and second fabric are plastically welded to each other.

16. The amusement device of claim 14, wherein the first plastic strand and second plastic strand have a different cross sectional shape, a different diameter, and/or a different color.

17. The amusement device of claim 1, wherein the fabric is formed in the shape a ball.

18. The amusement device of claim 17, wherein the amusement device in the shape of the ball includes surface ornamentation formed from an additional plastic strand adorned on the ball.

19. An amusement device, comprising: at least one plastic strand wound upon itself to form a fabric enclosing a void; wherein the plastic strand is plastically welded to itself at a plurality of asymmetric locations throughout the fabric; wherein the plastic strand forms multiple loops around the void intersecting at varying angles to define a plurality of gaps in the fabric; wherein the plastic strand substantially maintains its cross sectional shape throughout the location of each weld; and wherein the fabric is resiliently deformable.

20. An amusement device, comprising: at least one plastic strand laid upon itself to form a fabric; wherein the plastic strand is plastically welded to itself at a plurality of asymmetric locations and varying angles throughout the fabric; wherein the plastic strand defines a plurality of gaps in the fabric; and wherein the plastic strand substantially maintains its cross sectional shape throughout the location of each weld.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. ยง119 to U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/018,593, entitled AMUSEMENT DEVICE INCLUDING A FABRIC FORMED OF A PLASTIC STRAND, filed on Jan. 2, 2008, the entire disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

Balls are one of the oldest forms of toys and sports equipment. Many popular games today still involve rolling, passing, kicking, tossing, catching, bouncing, or hitting balls. One problem with conventional balls is that they are often boring or unexciting, for example, they may lack sufficiently interesting color, texture or design to excite ever demanding consumers. Another problem is that conventional balls often do not offer a surface configuration that promotes quick and sure gripping and conventional balls that are bouncy may be relatively rigid and nonpliable, making them difficult or even uncomfortable to catch or hold, particularly for children. Further, many bouncy balls have to be periodically inflated, for example by blowing or pumping up the ball with a pump, which can be burdensome and can result in a hard outer surface.

SUMMARY

An amusement device is provided. One embodiment of the amusement device includes a plastic strand wound upon itself to form a fabric that encloses a void. The plastic strand is plastically welded to itself at a plurality of locations throughout the fabric. Such a construction may yield a fabric that is resiliently deformable, and may be formed into a variety of shapes, such as a ball. In some cases, a plurality of nested fabrics may be employed in the amusement device.

This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter. Furthermore, the claimed subject matter is not limited to implementations that solve any or all disadvantages noted in any part of this disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of an amusement device formed in the shape of a sphere, and including a first fabric that is nested within and enclosed by a second fabric, each fabric being formed of a plastic strand.

FIG. 2 is a detail view of a section of the fabric of the amusement device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a schematic cross sectional view illustrating of the amusement device of FIG. 1, illustrating the nested first fabric and second fabric.

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of a second embodiment of an amusement device formed in the shape of a football.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the amusement device of FIG. 1, shown temporarily crushed by the hand of a user.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of an amusement device 100. The amusement device may include at least a first plastic strand 102 wound or laid upon itself to form a first fabric 104 enclosing a void 105, shown in FIG. 3. The plastic strand 102 is plastically welded to itself at a plurality of asymmetric weld locations 106 throughout the fabric 104, as shown in FIG. 2. The plastic strand 102 forms multiple loops around the void 105, intersecting itself at varying angles on the fabric 104 to form plastic welds at the weld locations.

As shown in detail in FIG. 2, the strand may substantially maintain its cross sectional shape throughout the location of each weld, thereby maintaining its integrity as a strand. This cross sectional shape may be substantially round or oval, for example. The resulting fabric 104 formed by strand 102 provides structural rigidity to hold its shape during play, while being resiliently deformable to provide springback during bouncing, kicking, batting, crushing, etc.

The strand 102 may be looped and joined via the plastic welds at the weld locations 106 to define a plurality of gaps 108 in the fabric 104, which have substantially straight sides, as viewed in plan view, i.e. from above. The gaps 108 in the fabric 104 enable a user to see through the amusement device, and reduce wind resistance on the device when thrown. The gaps 108 also enable the amusement device 100 to sink during water play, unlike inflatable toys, which can be advantageous. The gaps 108 further provide texture for the small hands of a child to grasp at during play. The strand 102 and gap 108 construction can result in a pleasing and unique look and feel.

The amusement device 100 may further include a second plastic strand 112 wound upon itself to form a second fabric 114 enclosing the void 105. As illustrated in FIG. 3, the second fabric 114 may be nested within the first fabric 104. In the illustrated embodiment, the second fabric 114 is slightly smaller in diameter than the first fabric 104. To provide structural support, the first fabric 104 and second fabric 114 may be plastically welded to each other at locations intermediate the two fabrics. Alternatively, the second fabric 114 may be significantly smaller than the first fabric 104, and/or the fabrics may not be interconnected.

For visual contrast, the first fabric 104 and second fabric 114 may be different colors. A wide variety of color combinations may be used. For example, black and white, blue and green, red and orange, purple and red, etc. Further, the first plastic strand 102 and second plastic strand 112 may have a different cross sectional shape and/or a different diameter, to further provide visual contrast and/or variations in structural properties.

Each of the fabrics may form a closed surface, and may substantially cover the area of a three dimensional surface of revolution such as a sphere, as illustrated in FIG. 1. Thus, the fabric may be formed in the shape of a ball, such as the spherical ball depicted in FIG. 1 or the oblong shaped football 100A depicted in FIG. 4. Alternatively, the ball may be formed in the shape of a basketball, soccer ball, tennis ball, baseball, etc. The amusement device 100 may be formed in a variety of other shapes, such as a dog chew toy in the shape of a bone, an ornament or accessory in the shape of a snowman, etc., in addition to the aforementioned ball shapes.

In some embodiments, the ball may include surface ornamentation formed from another plastic strand 118 adorned on the ball. For example, the football 100A depicted in FIG. 4 includes such surface ornamentation 120 to form stripes and stitching on the ball.

In one specific example, the amusement device 100 of FIG. 1 may be formed in the shape of a spherical ball that is about four inches in diameter, and can be deformed with under three pounds of force. Such a construction enables the ball to spring back when kicked, bounced and crushed under the force of a user's hand, for example, as shown in FIG. 5. To achieve such deformable resiliency, the plastic strand 102 and plastic strand 112 may have a diameter of between about 1 and 4 millimeters.

In some embodiments, the plastic strand 102 and the plastic strand 112 may be made of soft or pliable materials, for example the plastic strands may have a durometer hardness between 70 A and 90 A. In one particular example, the plastic strands may have a durometer hardness of about 85 A.

As discussed above, the fabric 104 and fabric 114 formed from the plastic strand 102 and plastic strand 112 may be pliable, for example resiliently deformable by the hand of a user. Thus, the amusement device 100 may be deformed by being crushed and then may return substantially or even completely to its original shape.

Having the amusement device being constructed of at least one plastic strand wound upon itself to form a fabric that encloses a void, a textured surface configuration is provided for easy and sure gripping, furthermore a bouncy, yet pliable body is provided for easy and comfortable catching and/or holding. In addition, such an amusement device may have the advantage of being less expensive to make to make, for example when compared to a ball having a mesh surface made of loop structures.

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of another embodiment of an amusement device 100A, in the form of a football. In this embodiment, the amusement device 100A includes a first plastic strand 102 wound upon itself to form a first fabric 104 in the shape of the football. The first fabric 104 is shown to enclose the void 105. The present embodiment amusement device 100 is shown to also include additional plastic strands 118 wound upon themselves to form surface ornamentations 120, including two ring shaped surface ornamentations placed at the two ends of the football surface and a plate shaped ornament placed at the center of the football surface, to appear as finger stitching on the football.

FIG. 5 illustrates amusement device 100 temporarily crushed or deformed by the hand of the user. Since the amusement device 100 may be resiliently deformable, the amusement device may return substantially or completely to its original shape after being crushed in this manner.

In some embodiments, the amusement device 100 may include accessories attached to the amusement device 100, for example, by welding, sewing, and/or crimping some or all of the accessories to the amusement device 100. The accessories may include for example objects of interest to children, such as rattles and body parts of animal, such as eye, nose/snout, ear, hand, arm, feet, leg, whisker, heart, and tail, etc.

It should be understood that the embodiments herein are illustrative and not restrictive, since the scope of the invention is defined by the appended claims rather than by the description preceding them, and all changes that fall within metes and bounds of the claims, or equivalence of such metes and bounds thereof are therefore intended to be embraced by the claims.