Title:
Foam camouflage apparatus and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A foam camouflage material intended to blend in with natural outdoor environments. The foam cam material comprises randomly oriented shapes to break up rigid outlines associated with people and objects to provide a camouflaged natural depth pattern. The foam material includes a three-dimensional surface of a contiguous surface material. The relief provided by the three-dimensional surface creates shadows of varying light intensities to break up outlines and cause the material to blend into surrounding environments. The shapes may resemble recognizable shapes such as rocks, sticks, twigs, leaves, tree bark, or other naturally occurring, non-geometric shapes. The foam camouflage material may further comprise irregular, arbitrary shapes. The foam element may be used for clothing articles, hunting blinds and stands, cameras, backpacks, and other outdoor and hunting equipment.



Inventors:
Tilby, John V. (Sandy, UT, US)
Application Number:
10/657991
Publication Date:
03/10/2005
Filing Date:
09/09/2003
Assignee:
Primos, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41G1/00; (IPC1-7): A41G1/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
XU, LING X
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOLLAND & HART (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Claims:
1. A camouflage apparatus, comprising: a thermoformed foam element comprising a plurality of randomly oriented three-dimensional shapes protruding from and depressed within the element, the plurality of three-dimensional shapes blending in with natural outdoor surroundings.

2. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the shapes resemble tree bark.

3. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the shapes resemble twigs.

4. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the shapes resemble leaves.

5. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the shapes resemble rocks.

6. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the shapes resemble a combination of two or more of: a stick, a leaf, a rock, and tree bark.

7. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the shapes resemble a combination of two or more of: a stick, a leaf, a rock, and tree bark, wherein the shapes are irregular.

8. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising a fabric overlaying the thermoformed foam.

9. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 8 wherein the fabric is laminated to the thermoformed foam.

10. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 8 wherein the fabric comprises a camouflage pattern.

11. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the foam comprises polyolefin.

12. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the thermoformed foam is associated with an outdoor product.

13. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 12 wherein the outdoor product comprises a camera, an article of clothing, a hunting stand, a hunting blind, or a backpack.

14. A camouflage apparatus, comprising: a thermoformed foam comprising a random pattern of depressions and protrusions.

15. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 14 wherein the depressions and protrusions create shadows and an actual depth resembling a natural outdoor environment.

16. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 14 wherein the random pattern is non-geometric.

17. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 14 wherein the random pattern comprises repeating random sub-patterns.

18. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 14 wherein the thermoformed foam comprises polyolefin.

19. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 14, further comprising a camouflage fabric laminated to the thermoformed foam.

20. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 19 wherein the thermoformed foam comprises a camera cover, an article of clothing, a backpack, a rail or bar cover, or a hunting blind.

21. A camouflage apparatus according to claim 14 wherein the random pattern resembles tree bark, rocks, leaves, sticks, or a combination thereof.

22. A camouflage material, comprising: a central plane; a first plurality of irregular peaks protruding from the central plane in a first direction.

23. A camouflage material according to claim 22, further comprising as second plurality of irregular peaks protruding from the central plane opposite of the first direction.

24. A camouflage material according to claim 22, further comprising a layer of fabric over the first plurality of irregular peaks.

25. A camouflage material according to claim 24 wherein the layer of fabric comprises a camouflage pattern.

26. A camouflage material according to claim 22, wherein the foam element comprises polyolefin.

27. A camouflage material comprising: a layer of foam comprising a plurality of irregular shaped protrusions and depressions; a layer of fabric adhered to the layer of foam.

28. A camouflage material according to claim 27 wherein the plurality of irregular shaped protrusions and depressions comprises stick, rock, leaf, or tree bark shapes.

29. A camouflage material according to claim 27 wherein the foam comprises polyolefin and the fabric comprises a camouflage pattern.

30. A camouflage article, comprising: a foam pad, the foam pad comprising: a base surface; a theoretical surface spaced from the base surface, the second theoretical surface corresponding to a uniform distance from the base surface; an actual surface opposite of the base surface comprising a plurality of irregular peaks above and valley below the theoretical surface.

31. A camouflage article according to claim 30 wherein the plurality of irregular peaks and valleys conform to a mold patterned to resemble a natural outdoor environment.

32. A camouflage article according to claim 31 wherein the mold is patterned to resemble one or more of: tree bark, rocks, leaves, and sticks.

33. A camouflage material, comprising: a three-dimensional surface comprising raised areas and depressed areas, the surface being free of any loose material, the surface creating shadows of differing light intensities to create a camouflage effect.

34. A camouflage material according to claim 33 wherein the three-dimensional surface is contiguous.

35. A camouflage material according to claim 33, further comprising a fabric of camouflage colors disposed on the top surface of the three-dimensional surface to enhance the camouflage effect.

36. A method of making a camouflage material comprising: providing a piece of foam; forming a random pattern of three-dimensional shapes in the piece of foam to resemble a natural outdoor environment.

37. A method of making a camouflage material according to claim 36, further comprising adhering a fabric to the piece of foam and forming the random pattern of three-dimensional irregular shapes in the piece of foam and the fabric.

38. A method of making a camouflage material according to claim 36 wherein the fabric comprises a camouflage pattern.

39. A method of making a camouflage material according to claim 36, further comprising shaping the piece of foam into an article of clothing, a camera cover, a rail or bar cover, hunting blind, or a portion of a backpack.

40. A method of making a camouflage material according to claim 36 wherein forming a random pattern comprises creating a resemblance to one or more of: tree bark, leaves, rocks, and sticks.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to camouflage for hunting and outdoor products, and more particularly to three-dimensional foam camouflage for hunting and outdoor products.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Camouflage has existed in various forms for many years. Camouflage has traditionally been incorporated into clothing so that persons wearing the camouflage clothing are less likely to be detected. Specifically, camouflage clothing has been worn by military personnel, hunters, photographers, bird watchers, and others. In addition to clothing, camouflage has also been incorporated into many other different items, including netting to cover objects, paint patterns, and many other items.

Early camouflage products were a single color, often a shade of green or brown. More recent camouflage arrangements include repetitive patterns of shapes and designs, often designed to replicate a particular wilderness scene. Such camouflage patterns typically include two or three colors, often a combination of green, brown, and black. Some camouflage patterns are primarily green and designed for concealing people and objects in a forested environment. Other camouflage patterns are light brown with relatively darker borders around abstract shapes to match sandy, desert backgrounds. The multi-colored camouflage patterns are intended to produce a three-dimensional appearance in a two-dimensional fabric. Such two-dimensional fabrics, even when they include a camouflage pattern, usually leave readily detectible outlines and silhouettes.

In view of the deficiencies of two-dimensional camouflage material, camouflage clothing manufacturers have begun to create three-dimensional cuts of fabric to create a true three-dimensional camouflage effect. Some of these three-dimensional patterns include leaf-like cutouts that are attached to the base fabric by a minimal amount of their periphery. While such three-dimensional camouflage fabrics often blend quite well into natural environments, such fabrics give rise to a number of problems. For example, such camouflage is often noisy, cumbersome, and prone to snags. Bow hunters in particular must contend with the potential of a bow string or other moving part of a bow becoming entangled with exposed elements, loops, or tongues of the three-dimensional cuts. Such three-dimensional camouflage also catches on leaves, branches, and other parts of plants in the field which causes noise and additional movement.

There is a need, therefore, for a new camouflage material and pattern that will solve the aforementioned problems relative to traditional two-dimensional and three-dimensional camouflage materials and patterns.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention comprises a camouflage material and pattern formed from foam. The inventive camouflage material is designed to blend in with natural outdoor environments. The foam camouflage material comprises a three-dimensional pattern of relief in the form of irregular three-dimensional shapes that break up rigid outlines associated with people and objects and provides a natural depth pattern. The three-dimensional configuration produces a variety of different shadows when light is cast upon it to create a highly unique depth perception. In one embodiment the entire surface of the camouflage material comprises a three-dimensional surface that is contiguous in all directions. The irregular three-dimensional shapes may resemble rocks, sticks, twigs, leaves, tree bark, or other naturally occurring shapes. Such shapes may be geometric or non-geometric shapes, but in one embodiment are randomly formed in the foam and not a repeated pattern. The foam camouflage material may be used for clothing articles, hunting blinds and stands, cameras, backpacks, and as a cover material for virtually any type of outdoor products and equipment.

Other objects, features, and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Preferred embodiments of the invention are described below with reference to the accompanying drawings:

FIG. 1A is a perspective view of a portion of a foam camouflage material with a pattern of irregular shapes according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 1B is a cross-sectional side view of the foam camouflage material shown in FIG. 1A;

FIG. 2A is a perspective view of a portion of a foam camouflage material with a pattern of irregular shapes covered by a camouflage-patterned fabric according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2B is a cross-sectional side view of the foam camouflage material shown in FIG. 2A;

FIG. 3 is an assembly-type perspective view of a foam camouflage material covered with a fabric in proximity to a thermoforming mold apparatus according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a foam camouflage material patterned to resemble a tree bark shape according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a foam camouflage material patterned to resemble stick or twig shapes according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is foam camouflage material patterned to resemble leaf, rock, and stick shapes according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a vest employing a foam camouflage material with a pattern of irregular shapes and covered by a camouflage-patterned fabric according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a hunting blind employing a foam camouflage material with a pattern of irregular shapes and covered by a camouflage-patterned fabric according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a backpack employing a foam camouflage material with a pattern of irregular shapes and covered by a camouflage-patterned fabric according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a camera employing a foam camouflage material with a pattern of irregular shapes according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a hunting stand employing a foam camouflage material with a pattern of irregular shapes and covered by a camouflage-patterned fabric according to one embodiment of the present invention.

Throughout the drawings, identical reference numbers and descriptions indicate similar, but not necessarily identical elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention comprises a foam camouflage material that blends in with natural outdoor environments. The present invention also comprises a method of making such foam camouflage material. The foam camouflage material described herein reduces the chance that others will visually detect people and objects bearing or covered by the foam camouflage material. The foam camouflage material is shaped three-dimensionally, which provides depth and often shadows that break up rigid outlines and surfaces associated with conventional camouflage fabrics. The principles described herein may be used with any products to conceal such products or objects and people in natural environments.

As used throughout the specification and claims, the term “camouflage” is used as both an adjective and a noun. When used as an adjective, camouflage refers to any camouflage effect, including without limitation the effect created by all combinations of color, such as without limitation brown, green, tan, and/or black patterns, and depictions of various scenes, including wilderness scenes. Camouflage also means any ability of a material to create a camouflage effect, by varying light intensities, shadows, relief, or depth variations. When used as a noun, it refers to an item or covering tending to blend in with natural surroundings. In addition, “uniform” means always the same or predictable.

Turning now to the figures, and in particular to FIG. 1A, a portion of a foam camouflage material in the form of an element or pad 100 is shown according to one embodiment of the present invention. The foam camouflage material 100 may be made of polyolefin or other materials available in foam configurations. The foam camouflage material 100 is shaped, in one embodiment, by a thermoform process. Those skilled in the art will understand that other molding and shaping processes may be used to form the foam camouflage material 100 as shown. The foam camouflage material 100 comprises a plurality of randomly oriented three-dimensional shapes, both regular and irregular shapes, comprising numerous depressions 102 and protrusions 104. The depressions 102 and protrusions provide an actual three-dimensional pattern that tends to blend in with natural outdoor surroundings, as opposed to a three-dimensional perception associated with many current two-dimensional camouflage fabrics. Further, the foam camouflage material 100 does not have any loosely hanging cuts or pieces of material, thereby reducing the occurrence of snags or other interference. The foam camouflage material 100 more specifically comprises three-dimensional relief in the form of a three-dimensional surface that is contiguous with all surrounding surface areas. “Contiguous” as used herein means touching or in contact with. Therefore, the foam camouflage material 100 has a top surface that resembles the top surface of a three-dimensional relief map.

The depressions 102 and protrusions 104 are, in one embodiment, randomly oriented. Such depressions and protrusions may resemble regular shapes including, but not limited to: leaves, twigs, sticks, rocks, and tree bark. In addition, the depressions and protrusions may resemble arbitrary or irregular shapes such as the depressions 102 and protrusions 104 shown in FIG. 1A. Such depressions and protrusions may further include shapes that recur in a random pattern. Therefore, the term “random” does not exclude repeating shapes.

Random irregular depressions 102 and protrusions 104 are shown in cross-section in FIG. 1B, which illustrates a central plane or reference plane 106 substantially centered within the foam element 100. The central or reference plane 106, however, is not necessarily a geometric plane as shown. The reference plane 106 may itself undergo any number of curves, corners, or other changes in direction, depending on the shape of an object the foam element 100 is intended to cover. The embodiment of FIG. 1B illustrates a first set of irregular peaks 108 protruding from or extending above the reference plane 106 in a first direction that correspond with the protrusions 104 shown in FIG. 1A, and a second set of irregular peaks 110 extending from the plane 106 opposite of the first direction. The first and second sets of irregular peaks 108, 110 may be the same or different from one another. In addition, according to some embodiments there is only the first set of irregular peaks 108, and a generally flat or smooth opposing surface or base surface 113 (see FIG. 2B). However, the base surface 113 of FIG. 1B comprises a pattern of irregular shapes. The foam camouflage material 100 also includes a theoretical surface 112 corresponding to a generally flat, smooth, or predictable surface. The theoretical surface 112 is a uniform distance from the reference plane 106 of the foam camouflage material 100 and may correspond with a first or top surface 315 (see FIG. 3) of the foam camouflage material 100 prior to being formed with the pattern of irregular shapes. Accordingly, many or all of the depressions 102 fall below the theoretical surface 112 (i.e., toward the central plane 106) and many or all of the protrusions 104 extend beyond the theoretical surface 112. According to some embodiments, some of the depressions 102 may even fall below the central plane 106. After the random pattern of shapes has been made in the element 100, an actual surface 115 is created opposite base surface 113. The random pattern of three-dimensional shapes creates shadows with a variety of different light intensities to create camouflage, even when the top surface is made of only a single color. Thus, as light strikes the foam camouflage material 100, the resulting variation in light intensities allows the material to break up the outline of the object and to blend in with natural environments. Therefore, as shown in FIG. 1A, a camouflage item or covering may be made with the foam camouflage material 100 without the use of multiple colors. Further, this variation in light intensities from the relief provided by the three-dimensional contiguous surface creates a camouflage effect without the need of traditional camouflage color patterns. By adding camouflage colors, the effect of the novel relief provided by the camouflage material 100 is enhanced.

The foam camouflage material 100 may further comprise a fabric overlay 114 as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 2A-B. The fabric overlay 114 is adhered or laminated to the foam camouflage material 100 and follows the pattern of depressions 102 and protrusions 104. The fabric overlay 114 may be a single color, or it may have a standard or nonstandard camouflage pattern as shown. The fabric overlay 114 may comprise polyester or any other suitable fabric. As mentioned above, the base surface 113 may be generally flat or smooth as shown in FIG. 2B.

One method of forming the foam camouflage material 100, with or without the fabric overlay 114, is shown with reference to FIG. 3. According to the embodiment of FIG. 3, the foam camouflage material 100 (FIG. 1A) is thermoformed by inserting a generally flat or otherwise unformed virgin foam camouflage material 300 into a mold 320. The virgin foam element 300 includes a base surface 313 and an actual surface 315 opposite of the base surface 313. The actual surface 315 coincides with the theoretical surface 112 of FIG. 1B prior to thermoforming.

The mold 320 includes one or more heated plates made of metal, plastic, composite, or ceramic, which according to FIG. 3, include a top plate 322 and a bottom plate 324. One or both of the plates 322, 324 include a pattern of irregular shapes according to the patterns discussed above with reference to FIGS. 1A-B. The mold 320, however, is not limited to the generally flat top and bottom plates 322, 324 shown, the mold 320 may comprise any shape for any product. According to FIG. 3, the virgin foam element 300 is inserted into the mold 320 and the top and bottom plates 322, 324 are compressed to sandwich and thermoform a pattern of randomly oriented three-dimensional shapes in the foam element 300, such as the pattern shown in FIG. 1A, to resemble a natural outdoor environment.

A fabric layer 314 may be added to the foam element 300 prior to thermoforming as shown in FIG. 3. If used, the fabric layer 314 forms and adheres to the foam element 300 in the same irregular pattern as the foam element 300. As mentioned above, the fabric layer 314 may include a monochrome color, or a standard or nonstandard camouflage pattern.

The shapes used to form three-dimensional depressions and protrusions in the foam element 300 may vary widely. For example, with reference to FIG. 4, tree bark 317 is used as a random model pattern to form a foam element 400 that resembles a tree. In addition, various stick and twig shapes 526 are thermoformed into a foam element 500 to create the three-dimensional pattern shown in FIG. 5. Further, the use of irregular shapes to form patterns that blend in with natural outdoor surroundings may be used. To be sure, any combination of many irregular shapes may be used. For example, a three-dimensional pattern resembling the forms of sticks 626, leafs 628, and rocks 630 is used to form a foam element 600 in FIG. 6.

Moreover, irregularly formed foam elements such as those shown and described above may be used with a wide variety of products to provide camouflage to people and objects. For example, referring to FIG. 7 an article of clothing such as a vest 740 may comprise the novel foam camouflage material 100 (FIG. 1A). A hunting blind 800 illustrated by FIG. 8 comprises the three-dimensional foam camouflage material 100 (FIG. 2A) covered in a camouflage fabric similar or identical to the patterns shown in FIG. 2A. Likewise, a backpack 938 shown in FIG. 9 includes the patterned foam camouflage material 100 shown in FIG. 1A. Other products, including hunting and nature-observing products such as cameras 940 (FIG. 10), tree stands 950 (FIG. 11), and all-terrain vehicles components and accessories may comprise the novel foam camouflage material 100 (FIG. 1)—with and without patterned fabric overlays—sized and shaped to fit over or cover various components of the products, such as rails or bars 952 of the tree stand 950. However, it will be understood by those of skill in the art having the benefit of this disclosure that the examples shown in FIGS. 7-11 are merely exemplary in nature, and that the foam camouflage material 100 (FIG. 1A) may be sized and shaped to accommodate virtually anything used in outdoor or hunting environment.

While this invention has been described with reference to certain specific embodiments and examples, it will be recognized by those skilled in the art that many variations are possible without departing from the scope and spirit of this invention. The invention, as described by the claims, is intended to cover all changes and modifications of the invention which do not depart from the scope of the invention. The words “including” and “having,” as used in the specification, including the claims, shall have the same meaning as the word “comprising.”