Title:
STRUCTURES HAVING ENHANCED SLIP-RESISTANT SURFACES AND ASSOCIATED METHODS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A structure and associated methods are provided having enhanced slip-resistant surfaces formed on the projections, recesses or other surfaces of the structure to promote safe and stable movement of people and/or objects on the structure. These structures can include, for example, those materials commonly installed on vehicles such as emergency vehicles. The methods associated with the structure include roughening at least one smooth surface of the structure to provide an enhanced slip-resistant surface. In separate aspects of the method, for example, mechanical roughening processes are disclosed which employ a set of two rollers, a single roller or a punch die arrangement to roughen a smooth surface of a structure. The enhanced slip-resistant structure can then be installed on a vehicle or employed in a variety of other applications where safe and stable movement of people and/or objects is desirable.



Inventors:
Smith, Troy G. (Bettendorf, IA, US)
Thom, Terrence N. (Bettendorf, IA, US)
Verdick, Nancy J. (Geneseo, IL, US)
Maloney, Michael J. (Bettendorf, IA, US)
Application Number:
09/443831
Publication Date:
02/14/2002
Filing Date:
11/19/1999
Assignee:
SMITH TROY G.
THOM TERRENCE N.
VERDICK NANCY J.
MALONEY MICHAEL J.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
428/687, 52/177
International Classes:
B21B1/22; B21D13/04; B21H8/00; B60N3/04; E01C11/24; E04F11/112; E04F11/16; E04F11/17; E04F15/02; B21H7/00; (IPC1-7): E04F11/16; E04F11/112
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Primary Examiner:
ZIMMERMAN, JOHN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Charles Q. Buckwalter Esq (Alcoa Center, PA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A structure having a frictional surface or surfaces thereon comprising, at least one smooth surface provided with increased slip resistance by a means for creating a frictional surface on said smooth surface; and, said smooth surface selected from the group consisting of a surface having at least one projection means extending therefrom, a substantially continuous surface, a surface having at least one recess means formed therein, a surface having a combination of at least one projection means extending therefrom and at least one recess means formed therein, and reasonable combinations thereof.

2. The structure of claim 1, wherein said means for creating a frictional surface is selected from the group consisting of mechanical means, chemical means, electrical means, and reasonable combinations thereof.

3. The structure of claim 2, wherein said electrical means includes means selected from the group consisting of laser, electro-discharge texturing, and reasonable combinations thereof.

4. The structure of claim 1, wherein said structure is composed of a material selected from the group consisting of aluminum, aluminum alloy, steel, stainless steel, and reasonable combinations thereof.

5. The structure of claim 4, wherein said aluminum alloy is an alloy series selected from the group consisting of 2000, 3000, 5000, 6000, 7000 and reasonable combinations thereof.

6. The structure of claim 5, wherein said aluminum alloy is an alloy series selected from the group consisting of 3003, 5086, 5052, 6061, 6013 and reasonable combinations thereof.

7. The structure of claim 1, wherein said structure is a fire truck quality tread sheet composed of 3003 aluminum alloy having a temper of H2X, wherein “X” is an integer.

8. The structure of claim 1, wherein said structure is selected from the group consisting of extruded material, rolled material, tread plate material and reasonable combinations thereof.

9. The structure of claim 1, wherein the height of said projection means is about 0.025 to 0.100 inches.

10. The structure of claim 1, wherein the width of said projection means is about 0.25 to 0.375 inches.

11. The structure of claim 1, wherein the length of said projection means is about 0.85 to 1.3 inches.

12. The structure of claim 1, wherein the height of said projection means is at least about 10% of the width of said projection means.

13. The structure of claim 1, wherein the height of said projection means is at least about 20% of the thickness of said structure.

14. The structure of claim 1, wherein a center-to-center spacing between any two individual projection means is about 1 to 1.5 inches.

15. The structure of claim 1, wherein at least about 20% to 50% of the exterior surface of said structure has said projection means formed thereon.

16. A method of forming a frictional surface on a structure to provide said structure with enhanced slip-resistance, comprising: a. providing a structure having at least one smooth surface thereon, said smooth surface selected from the group consisting of a surface having at least one projection means extending therefrom, a substantially continuous surface, a surface having at least one recess means formed therein, and a surface having a combination of at least one projection means extending therefrom and at least one recess means formed therein, and reasonable combinations thereof; and, b. roughening said smooth surface to provide said structure with a frictional surface having enhanced slip-resistance.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein said roughening step includes passing said structure through a set of rollers having an embossing roller for roughening said smooth surface of said structure with said embossing roller.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein said roughening step includes tensioning said structure against an embossing roller for roughening said smooth surface of said structure.

19. The method of claim 16, wherein said roughening step includes pressing a punch die having an embossing surface against said smooth surface of said structure.

20. The method of claim 16, wherein said roughening step includes employing chemicals to roughen said smooth surface of said structure.

21. The method of claim 16, wherein said roughening step includes cladding said smooth surface of said structure.

22. The method of claim 16, wherein said roughening step includes using laser means for roughening said smooth surface of said structure.

23. The method of claim 16, wherein said roughening step includes using electro-discharge texturing to roughen said smooth surface of said structure.

24. The method of claim 16, further including the step of installing structure plate on a vehicle after performing said roughening step.

25. The method of claim 24, wherein said vehicle is an emergency vehicle.

26. A structure roughened in accordance with the method of claim 16.

27. A structure, comprising: first and second sides; and, at least one button formed on said first side of said structure having a friction bearing surface produced thereon by roughening means to provide enhanced slip resistance to said structure.

28. The structure of claim 27, wherein said structure is substantially flat.

29. The structure of claim 27, wherein said second side of said structure is a substantially continuous smooth surface.

30. The structure of claim 27, wherein said button is a recess extending below the exterior surface of said first side of said structure.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention generally relates to forming enhanced slip-resistant surfaces on structures. The present invention more particularly relates to methods for producing enhanced slip-resistant surfaces on structures to provide increased friction for a user who is walking, running or otherwise moving a body or an object across the slip-resistant surface.

[0003] 2. Background Information

[0004] It has been known in the art to provide various kinds of materials having projections or recesses formed thereon in a regular pattern or an irregular configuration to avoid slips, falls and other accidents normally caused by walking, running or otherwise moving on a smooth surface.

[0005] Extruded and rolled materials can be provided with buttons to provide friction-bearing surfaces for movement such as walking. Examples of such materials can be readily seen in numerous applications. A walkway bridging the space between the deck of a boat and a dock area is one example where a buttoned surface can be employed on tread plate material to improve stability and provide friction for movement by individuals entering and exiting the boat. Another example can be seen on the bumper portion of a conventional pick-up truck: a buttoned surface on the bumper provides a frictional surface for an individual climbing on the bumper, for example, to access the rear portion of the truck. Still another example is a set of stairs used for accessing airplanes: these metal stairs are the type usually mounted on wheels and positioned in front of the airplane passenger door. Such metal stairs have steps with buttoned surfaces thereon for providing frictional force to those entering and leaving the airplane.

[0006] Another example of the use of buttoned or friction-bearing surfaces can be seen in scaffolding for performing maintenance such as cleaning the windows on relatively large buildings. The horizontal portion of the scaffolding can have a buttoned surface to resist accidental slips and falls of workers performing maintenance on the building. Conventional bleachers, such as those used by fans at sporting events, can possess buttoned surfaces to promote stability while fans travel to and from seats in the bleachers. In the manufacturing or industrial setting, friction bearing surfaces can be advantageous for applications where fluid, for example, is employed in production processes and is spilled onto a walking surface thereby creating a potential slip-and-fall hazard. Friction bearing surfaces can also be utilized on loading ramps for moving equipment, boxes, livestock and the like to and from vehicles such as trucks or cargo containers.

[0007] It can therefore be understood from these examples that there are numerous and varied applications in which a buttoned and/or friction bearing surface is advantageous for walking or other movement. However, structures having only buttons formed thereon, while used to permit movement of individuals and objects on these materials, lack an enhanced slip-resistant surface that would further promote safety and stability of movement on the structures.

[0008] With regard to vehicles, tread plate material with a buttoned surface installed on a fire truck can resist “slip and fall” injuries experienced by fire fighters. Such injuries can be caused by the fire fighter falling or slipping on the tread plate while working on the truck, such as while accessing water valves and hoses during a fire fight. Bright aluminum tread plate is particularly popular with fire truck and emergency vehicle manufacturers due to its aesthetic appearance among other qualities. It has been known to provide tread plate with a Fire Truck Quality (FTQ) tread which has been developed for its bright and reflective surface, uniform appearance and consistent button pattern. Consistent patterns are important for matching newly installed tread plate to the patterns installed on existing vehicles.

[0009] The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has established slip resistance requirements for horizontal walking surfaces used by fire trucks as provided in its NFPA Standards for Automotive Fire Apparatus (1999 ed.). Concern for accidents involving fire fighters on fire truck apparatus, in particular, resulted in a study of the slip-resistance characteristics of various tread plate and walking surface materials.

[0010] The NFPA studied conventional aluminum alloy tread plate materials as well as other materials proposed for use on fire trucks. The test surfaces of these materials included several varieties of solid and perforated surfaces. The materials also included aluminum, wood and steel materials. In the study, a polished diamond plate material with punched circles was stated to seem very abrasive; however, several fire fighters commented that this material could cause tripping and expressed concern that a fall on this type of surface could cause serious injury. Other surfaces judged in the study included a material described as a pebble-textured rubber that was deemed unsafe when wet. In addition, the study concluded that a material which included paint with a sand-based abrasive applied to wood was also unsafe when wet.

[0011] Conventional aluminum tread plate usually does not meet the aforementioned NFPA slip resistance requirements, particularly under wet conditions. The traditional aesthetic qualities of tread plate, including its pattern uniformity, relatively low button height, smooth base surface and smooth button tops can contribute to a slip-resistance level that may not meet the NFPA slip resistance requirements.

[0012] There is a need, therefore, for an improved surface for individuals moving and working around vehicles, work areas, recreational places and numerous other applications in which a friction-bearing surface is advantageous. Such an improved surface is especially needed on wet or slippery surfaces. The prior art has not sufficiently addressed the need for a structure and associated methods for enhancing the slip-resistant qualities of existing materials, particularly aluminum tread plate, employed on vehicles, work areas and in a multitude of other applications.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0013] The present invention has met and/or exceeded the above-described needs. The present invention provides a structure and associated methods including means for forming a friction bearing surface on the smooth surface or surfaces of a structure to improve its slip resistance characteristics under both wet and dry conditions.

[0014] The means of forming a roughened surface on a smooth surface of the structure of the present invention can include mechanical, chemical, and electrical apparatus and methods and reasonable combinations thereof. One mechanical method embodiment includes the step of providing a piece of material having at least one button formed thereon. This mechanical method also includes the step of roughening a smooth surface or surfaces of the structure. Mechanical roughening can also be performed by mechanical apparatus such as by embossing the smooth surfaces of the structure with a set of rollers, a single roller or a punch die arrangement. It can be understood by those skilled in the art that employing a suitable apparatus or method that involves mechanical and chemical methods as well as clad, laser and electro-discharge texturing (EDT) can provide a friction bearing surface having enhanced slip-resistant qualities.

[0015] The structure employed in the present invention is composed of aluminum, aluminum alloy, steel, stainless steel and reasonable combinations thereof or any other material on which a projection means such as a button can be formed and/or in which a recess can be formed. A suitable material can also be selected based on the particular roughening process or apparatus that is desired. It is also understood that any material which is suitable for processing in a roller or punch die setting, for example, or by the other roughening methods disclosed herein is suitable for application to the present invention. The preferred aluminum alloys for use in the structure of the present invention are alloys included in the 2000, 3000, 5000, 6000 and 7000 series and reasonable combinations thereof. In addition, a material can have any temper that is consistent with practice of the present invention by one skilled in the art.

[0016] The shape of the projection means formed on a structure can be generally diamond, oval, circular or rectangular shaped or a combination thereof and configured in either a regular, ordered pattern or an irregular configuration or reasonable combinations thereof. It can be appreciated that any suitable pattern that presents a smooth surface that can be roughened by the means discussed herein can be employed in the present invention.

[0017] In one embodiment of the present invention, a structure is produced that is a piece of material including first and second sides, wherein at least one button is formed on the material that has a roughened surface formed thereon to provide a friction bearing surface, such as for walking. The first side of the roughened structure is substantially flat and the second side of the piece of metal is provided as a substantially continuous smooth surface.

[0018] It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a tread plate with a surface that meets and/or exceeds National Fire Protection Agency slip-resistance requirements.

[0019] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a roughened structure that has sufficient impact resistance for use as a walking or running surface.

[0020] It is a still further object of the present invention to provide a pattern on a roughened structure that is aesthetically pleasing.

[0021] It is a still further object of the present invention to provide a roughened tread plate button pattern that suitably matches existing tread plate patterns.

[0022] It is a still further object of the present invention to provide a roughened structure that remains mechanically formable in subsequent manufacturing processes.

[0023] It is a still further object of the present invention not to substantially adversely impact the pre-roughening corrosion resistance characteristics of the structure.

[0024] These and other objects of the present invention will be more fully understood from the following description of the invention and by reference to the figures and claims appended hereto.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0025] FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a structure;

[0026] FIG. 2 is an enlarged isometric view of a section of FIG. 1;

[0027] FIG. 3 is an isometric view of a set of rollers mechanically roughening a structure in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0028] FIG. 4 is an isometric view of a single roller roughening a structure in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0029] FIG. 5 is an isometric view of a punch die for roughening a structure in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0030] FIG. 6 is an isometric view similar to FIG. 5, except showing the embossing surface on the punch die;

[0031] FIG. 7 is an isometric view of an embodiment of a roughened structure of the present invention;

[0032] FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view of a portion of FIG. 7;

[0033] FIG. 9 is an isometric view of an embodiment of a roughened structure of the present invention;

[0034] FIG. 10 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view of a portion of FIG. 9;

[0035] FIG. 11 is an isometric view of an embodiment of a roughened structure of the present invention;

[0036] FIG. 12 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view of a portion of FIG. 11;

[0037] FIG. 13 is an isometric view of an embodiment of a roughened structure of the present invention; and,

[0038] FIG. 14 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view of a portion of FIG. 11.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

[0039] As used herein, the term “structure” includes any object or material which is capable of having a friction bearing surface formed thereon and includes, for example, rolled materials, extruded materials and tread plate materials.

[0040] As used herein, “slip resistance” is generally defined as the ability of one surface to engage another surface in surface-to-surface contact thereby limiting motion between the surfaces so engaged. A slip resistance measurement, expressed as a numerical value, is an indication of the frictional forces generated by such surface-to-surface contact. The slip resistance measurement approaches zero as the generated frictional forces become practically non-existent and approaches unity as the generated frictional forces become relatively high.

[0041] Slip resistance can therefore be expressed as a measured quantity, obtained through use of various measurement devices. Examples of such devices include the tester sold under the “English XL” trade designation, as referred to in ASTM F1679, Standard Test Method for Using a Variable Incidence Tribometer; or, the tester sold under the “Brungraber Mark II” trade designation, referred to in ASTM F 1677, Standard Test Method for Using a Portable Inclinable Articulated Strut Slip Tester (PLAST).

[0042] Slip resistance can also be referred to as a perceived quality, documented in various studies on walking surfaces, as reported by the NFPA Committee on Fire Apparatus: Firefighter Tread Plate Slip Resistance Study (Marletta, William, Ph.D., CSP).

[0043] The term “smooth” as applied herein is a surface characteristic wherein the “smooth” surface has slip resistance qualities that are relatively less desirable than a surface having enhanced slip resistance qualities.

[0044] As used herein, the term “roughening” includes alteration of a smooth or substantially smooth surface to provide raised portions or projections and/or recessed areas on that surface, such as on a smooth surface of a button formed on a tread plate, for example.

[0045] As used herein, the term “button” includes any projection or nodule reading above, or any recessed area extending below, or any reasonable combination thereof, the exterior of a structure.

[0046] As used herein, the term “pattern” can refer to an ordered, regular pattern or an irregular configuration or reasonable combinations thereof, such as in the context of a particular “pattern” of buttons formed on a structure.

[0047] As used herein, an “extruded” product is one that has been formed by direct or indirect pressure applied to a material to force the material through a die to provide a product that substantially matches the shape of the die. A “rolled” product is one which has been formed by passing material through a set of rollers that results in a reduction of thickness of the product and which has a thickness in the range from about 0.05 to 0.75 inches, which range includes values defined by the following set: {0.050, 0.051, 0.052, 0.053, . . . , 0.748, 0.749, 0.75}.

[0048] As used herein, the term “plate” includes a solid material having a thickness of about 0.250 to 0.750 inches, including the thickness values defined by the data set: {0.250, 0.251, 0,252, 0.253, . . . , 0.748, 0.749, 0.750}. The term “sheet” as used herein includes thicknesses of solid materials in the range of about 0.03 to less than 0.250 inches, which range includes the values in the data set: {0.031, 0.032, 0.033, . . . , 0.247, 0.248, 0.249} and values less than 0.250.

[0049] The term “tread” as used herein in conjunction with another term such as “plate” or “sheet” includes a material having a textured, imprinted or other raised surface portion thereon and also optionally having a friction bearing surface formed thereon, such as by a roughening method.

[0050] As used herein, the term “vehicle” can include any suitable transportation apparatus including an automobile, truck, airplane, train, or any other apparatus on which, or in association with which, it is desirable to have walking surfaces installed. As used herein, the term “emergency vehicle” includes fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks, wreckers, and other similar vehicles.

[0051] Referring now to FIG. 1, in the form shown, the present invention provides a structure that can be provided as a piece of tread plate 2 having a thickness T. The tread plate 2 is provided with a plurality of projections or buttons 4 positioned thereon. The buttons 4 are preferably formed integrally with the exterior surface 6 of the tread plate 2 such as by a separate conventional forming process. The buttons 4 are formed into a patterned arrangement which, it will be understood, can be a regular or irregular configuration including one or more identically or differently configured shapes or reasonable combinations thereof. These shapes can include, for example, generally diamond (as shown), generally oval, generally circular, or generally rectangular and reasonable combinations thereof among other possible, suitable shapes. The structure is preferably composed of a material selected from the group consisting of aluminum, aluminum alloy, steel and stainless steel. The preferred alloys for use in the present invention are aluminum alloys including the 2000, 3000, 5000, 6000 and 7000 series as registered with the Aluminum Association. Aluminum alloys more preferably employed in the present invention include 3003, 5086, 5052, 6061 and 6013. In addition, for Fire Truck Quality (FTQ) material, an aluminum alloy of 3003 having a temper of H22 is most preferred for use on emergency vehicles such as fire trucks. The FTQ material can also be provided with a temper of H2X, wherein the “X” portion of “H2X” is an integer.

[0052] Referring now to FIG. 2, each of the buttons 4 has a body 8 having at least one smooth surface 10. The buttons 4 have a typical height H of about 0.025 to 0.100 inches. The buttons have a typical length L of about 0.85 to 1.30 inches and a typical width W of about 0.25 to 0.375 inches. The height H of the buttons is preferably at least about 10% to 25% of the width W of the buttons. The height H of the buttons is preferably at least about 20% to 40% of the thickness T of the tread plate 2. The center-to-center spacing CC between the buttons 4 is about 1 to 1.5 inches. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, at least about 20% to 50% of the exterior surface 6 of the tread plate 2 has buttons 4 formed thereon.

[0053] Referring again to FIGS. 1 and 2, the preferred method of the present invention includes providing a structure such as tread plate 2 having a plurality of buttons 4 formed thereon. As discussed herein, this method includes roughening at least the exterior surface 6 or the smooth surfaces 10 of the buttons 4 to provide the tread plate 2 with an enhanced, slip-resistant surface. In certain embodiments of the present invention, the roughening step can be performed by embossing at least one of the surfaces 10 of the buttons 4. It can be understood that other means for roughening a surface of a structure could also be employed. These other means include utilizing suitable mechanical and chemical methods as well as clad, laser and electro-discharge texturing methods known to those skilled in the art. Those skilled in the art can readily appreciate the numerous and varied methods and apparatus that can be used to roughen a structure consistent with the teachings of the present invention.

[0054] In one embodiment of the method of the present invention shown more particularly in FIG. 3, the roughening step is performed on a set of rollers 20. A roller 22 is positioned adjacent to a bottom roller 24 to form a bite region 26 between the rollers 22,24. The top roller 22 is provided with a surface having a plurality of projections forming a pattern 28 thereon to provide the top roller 22 as an embossing roller. The bottom roller 24 is preferably provided as a smooth roller as shown.

[0055] In operation, a structure such as piece of material 30 having projections such as buttons 32 formed thereon is introduced by a conventional apparatus or method to the bite region 26 of the set of rollers 20. As the material 30 passes through the set of rollers 20 the pattern 28 of the top or embossing roller 22 embosses or engraves the material 30 providing roughened buttons 34 for facilitating enhanced slip-resistant surfaces on the material 30. The set of rollers 20 is operated by a conventional apparatus suitable for exerting force on the material 30 sufficient to form projections on the roughened buttons 34. It will be understood that one roller 22 rotates in a counterclockwise direction while the other roller 24 rotates in a clockwise direction to enable the set of rollers 20 to move the material 30 through the bite region of the set of rollers 20. It can also be understood that the particular direction of rotation of the rollers 22,24 is not critical to the method of the present invention except that such rotation should be effective in passing the material 30 through the set of rollers 20.

[0056] In another embodiment of the method of the present invention shown more particularly in FIG. 4, the roughening step is performed on a single roller 40 having an embossing surface 42 thereon. The embossing surface 42 includes a plurality of projections arranged in either an ordered or an irregular pattern on the surface 42. A structure such as material 44 having a pattern 46 of a plurality of projections such as buttons 48 formed thereon is pressed against the embossing surface 42 of the roller 40. It can be understood that sufficient force to roughen surfaces on the buttons 48 can be generated between the pattern 46 and the embossing surface 42 by a suitable apparatus or method (not shown). It can also be appreciated by one skilled in the art that the embossing surface 42 can be configured such that the surfaces on the material 44 between the buttons 48 are roughened and the buttons 48 themselves are not roughened.

[0057] In operation, referring again to FIG. 4, the roller 40 rotates in a clockwise direction to impinge at least a portion of the plurality of buttons 48 on the material 44 against the embossing surface 42 of the roller 40. Because of the tensioned relationship between the roller 40 and the material 44, the buttons 48 are roughened by their impingement against the embossing surface 42 of the roller 40. The roughening of smooth surfaces of the buttons 48 yields a pattern of roughened buttons 50 on the processed portion of the material 44. It can be understood that the single roller alternatively can be positioned on top of the material, provided that sufficient pressure exists to roughen the buttons when the material and the roller are positioned in contact and moved relative to each other.

[0058] In another embodiment of the method of the present invention shown more particularly in FIGS. 5 and 6, the roughening step includes pressing a punch die 60 having an embossing surface 62 against the projections such as buttons 64 formed on a structure such as material 66. In operation, the material 66 is sandwiched between the punch die 60 and a stationary or fixed backing plate 68. The punch die 60 is preferably moveable by a suitable means to permit removal and insertion of the material 66 between the punch die 60 and the backing plate 68. The punch die 60 is applied with sufficient force against the buttons 64 on the material 66 to provide smooth surfaces on the buttons 64 with a roughened, friction bearing surface that imparts enhanced slip-resistance to the material 66. The force applied against the punch die 60 coupled with the reaction force generated by the backing plate 68 provides the necessary pressure to effect roughening for the smooth surfaces of the buttons 64.

[0059] In any of the previous embodiments, once the roughening or embossing step is completed, preferably at least about 25% to 100%, more preferably about 50% to 100%, and most preferably about 90% to 100%, of the exterior surface of the structure has roughened buttons or another enhanced slip-resistant surface formed thereon. In addition, certain embodiments of the present invention also encompass installing the enhanced slip-resistant structure on a vehicle after the roughening step is performed. This installation preferably involves installing the structure on an emergency vehicle such as a fire truck. It can be appreciated that the enhanced slip-resistant structure is preferably installed on a portion of the vehicle where workers walk or perform other functions or where objects are moved.

[0060] Referring now to FIGS. 7 and 8, a structure such as material 80 processed by the method of the present invention is provided with projections such as roughened buttons 82 formed thereon. The structural integrity of the material 80 remains substantially the same before and after the roughening step is performed. As shown in FIG. 8, projections 84 are formed on the buttons 82 to provide friction-bearing surfaces that possess enhanced slip-resistant qualities. The characteristics of these projections 84 are a function of the particular embossing surface pattern selected for roughening and/or the roughening method or apparatus used to form the projections 84. It can be appreciated that these factors affect the resulting slip-resistance measurement that the roughened surface possesses.

[0061] Referring again to FIGS. 7 and 8, a structure having an enhanced slip-resistant surface formed by any of the previously discussed embodiments includes a piece of material 80 having projections such as buttons 82 having roughened surfaces formed thereon. The piece of material 80 has a first side 86 and a second side 88. The buttons 82 have enhanced slip-resistant surfaces 90 that are formed on the first side 86 of the piece of material 80. The roughened, slip-resistant surfaces 90 on the roughened buttons 82 can also form patterns on the buttons 82. The roughened material 80 has a substantially flat surface on its second side 88 that is preferably a substantially continuous smooth surface. It can be understood that the material 80 can have all (as shown) or only a portion of its buttons 82 with enhanced slip-resistant surfaces 90 formed thereon.

[0062] Referring now to FIGS. 9 and 10, a structure such as piece of material 96 can have recesses 92 formed below the exterior surface 94 of the piece of material 96. It can be appreciated that such recesses 92 can be formed into the piece of material 96 by any suitable means. The exterior surface area 94 which surrounds the recesses 92 can be roughened by an apparatus and/or associated method previously discussed herein to provide the exterior surface 94 of the piece of material 96 with a friction bearing surface or surfaces as shown.

[0063] Referring now to FIGS. 11 and 12, a structure such as piece of material 100 (without projections) can be roughened by the methods and apparatus of the present invention. As shown, this results in a friction bearing surface 102, possessing enhanced slip-resistant properties, formed across a substantial portion of the exterior surface of the piece of material 100.

[0064] Referring now to FIGS. 13 and 14, a structure such as piece of material 116 can have buttons 112 formed above the exterior surface 114 of the piece of material 116. The exterior surface area 114 which surrounds the recesses 112 is roughened by an apparatus and/or associated method previously discussed herein. It can be appreciated, for the form of the invention as shown, that the roughening apparatus and/or method is configured so that the buttons 112 remain substantially unroughened, while the exterior surfaces 114 are substantially roughened. This roughening provides the exterior surface 114 of the piece of material 116 with a friction bearing surface or surfaces as shown in FIGS. 13 and 14.

[0065] It can be understood in the present invention that the pattern formed on the buttons of the tread plate product can be selected from among a variety of different patterns, and that the pattern need not be formed in a regular, ordered array. It can also be appreciated that metal flow caused by the mechanical pressure exerted between an embossing surface and the button pattern can result in projections formed around the depressions formed in the material, on the buttons formed in the material, in the surface areas therebetween or reasonable combinations thereof. These projections are formed by metal material flowing up and around the periphery of a depression formed in a roughened surface.

EXAMPLES

[0066] The following examples are presented for illustration purposes only and are intended to assist in disclosing the present invention to those skilled in the art and not to limit the scope of the present invention:

[0067] Tread sheet material was supplied in cut-to-length sheets, ranging typically from 96″ to 240″ in length and from 48″ to 84″ in width. The thickness of the tread sheet material was from 0.058″ to 0.188″, although emergency vehicles typically use from 0.100″ to 0.188″ thickness material. Table I (below) summarizes dimensions and average slip values for a variety of tread sheet products used in this example. The slip resistance values for these materials were obtained by testing the tread plate in 4 directions with an ENGLISH brand XL-slip tester. Slip resistance was tested with an XL Slip Resistance Tester (See, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 5,259,236) in accordance with ASTM F1679, Standard Test Method for Using a Variable Incidence Tribometer. 1

TABLE I
ButtonAverage SlipAverage Slip
Tread PlateButton HeightLengthResistanceResistance
Description(Typical)(Typical)(Dry)(Wet)
5 Bar tread0.036″1.140″0.5170.549
Alcoa FTQ0.066″1.193″0.6010.563
Alcoa C3000.088″1.267″0.6470.563
1 Bar tread0.060″1.175″0.6140.510
Competitor0.047″1.169 0.6770.571
Alcoa C300a0.076″0.907″0.6890.593

[0068] In application of this method embodiment of the present invention, a manual roughening method for roughening buttons formed on tread plate was performed on existing Alcoa FTQ tread plate and Alcoa C300 tread plate. The button pattern on these tread plates was manually roughened with the head of a framing hammer to create a roughened surface on the top surfaces of the buttons. As shown more particularly in Table II, the effect of roughening the buttons is demonstrated with respect to relative changes in slip resistance values: 2

TABLE II
Average Slip
Tread Plate andResistanceAverage Slip Resistance
Roughening Method(Dry)(Wet)
Alcoa FTQ0.7130.684
Manual Medium Pattern
Alcoa FTQ0.8900.834
Manual Heavy Pattern
Alcoa C300 bright0.9950.944
Manual Heavy Pattern

[0069] As can be readily seen from Table II, the roughening method of the present invention provides substantial improvements in slip resistance over existing or non-roughened tread plate materials and patterns. The original Alcoa FTQ tread plate material, for example, improved from slip resistance values of 0.601 (dry) and 0.563 (wet) to values of 0.890 (dry) and 0.834 (wet), after application of the “Manual Heavy Pattern” roughening method.

[0070] In another example of the present invention, different pattern configurations of a tread plate material were machined by the rolls of a standard and conventional jeweler's mill to simulate normal production. Each of these rolls was approximately 4.5″ wide with a diameter of about 2.5″. The data included in Table III (below) includes a sampling of average slip resistance measurements obtained from variously patterned tread plate materials processed through the jeweler's mill roughening method. These tread plate materials included a variety of different patterns, thicknesses, material composition and reasonable combinations thereof. 3

TABLE III
Average Slip Resistance
Pattern(Wet)
Pattern 10.625
Pattern 20.673
Pattern 30.835
Pattern 40.913
Pattern 4a0.925
Pattern 70.705
Pattern 80.678
Pattern 88380.820
Pattern 89360.813
Pattern 94030.755

[0071] Referring to Table III, the measurements for this example were obtained using an ENGLISH XL brand slip resistance tester as previously discussed. As shown, the pattern designated “4a” provides an average wet slip resistance reading of 0.925, which is better than conventional, unroughened tread plate materials.

[0072] Therefore, the present invention provides a structure and associated methods for resisting slip and fall type accidents by providing an enhanced slip-resistant surface on the structure when used as a walking surface or for other similar movement including movement of objects thereon.

[0073] Whereas particular embodiments of this invention have been described above for purposes of illustration, it will be evident to those skilled in the art that numerous variations of the details of the present invention may be made without departing from the invention as defined in the appended claims.