Title:
Recreation board with high-definition graphics
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A recreational board having high-definition graphics is disclosed. The recreational board includes a 3-dimensional lenticular graphical film attached to the recreational board for displaying an image having a significant perceived depth.



Inventors:
Parten, Keith (Fort Worth, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/020976
Publication Date:
09/22/2005
Filing Date:
12/22/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63C5/00; A63C5/056; B32B27/06; B63B35/79; B63B35/81; (IPC1-7): A63C5/056
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
OLSZEWSKI, JOHN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LAW OFFICES OF JAMES E. WALTON, PLLC (BURLESON, TX, US)
Claims:
1. A recreational board, comprising: a semi-flexible board structure; and a graphical film having a high-definition graphical image and a lens structure operably associated with the board structure.

2. The recreational board according to claim 1, wherein the board structure is formed from laminated materials.

3. The recreational board according to claim 2, wherein the board structure is a skateboard.

4. The recreational board according to claim 2, wherein the board structure is a ski.

5. The recreational board according to claim 2, wherein the board structure is a skim board.

6. The recreational board according to claim 1, wherein the board structure is a shell formed by molding.

7. The recreational board according to claim 6, further comprising: a foam core disposed within the shell.

8. The recreational board according to claim 6, wherein the board structure is a body board.

9. The recreational board according to claim 6, wherein the board structure is a knee board.

10. The recreational board according to claim 6, wherein the board structure is a skim board.

11. The recreational board according to claim 1, wherein the board structure is substantially flat surfaces.

12. The recreational board according to claim 1, wherein the board structure includes substantially curved surfaces.

13. The recreational board according to claim 1, wherein the lens structure includes lenticules.

14. The recreational board according to claim 1, wherein the high-definition graphical image is a 3-dimensional graphical image.

15. The recreational board according to claim 1, wherein the high-definition graphical image is a phase flip graphical image.

16. A skateboard, comprising: a deck member; and a graphical film carried by the deck member, the graphical film having a high-definition graphical image and a lenticular lens for producing selected visual effects related to the high-definition graphical image.

17. The skateboard according to claim 16, wherein the selected visual effect is a 3-dimensional effect.

18. The skateboard according to claim 16, wherein the selected visual effect is a phase-flip effect.

19. The skateboard according to claim 16, wherein the selected visual effect is a morph effect.

20. A thin lenticular lens film, comprising: a substrate portion; a lens surface formed in the substrate portion, the lens surface having a plurality of selectively arranged lenticules for producing selected visual characteristics; wherein the substrate portion is configured to withstand a temperature capable of molding a thermoplastic material without affecting the selected visual characteristics.

21. The thin lenticular lens film according to claim 20, wherein the substrate portion is further configured to withstand a pressure capable of molding a thermoplastic material without affecting the selected visual characteristics.

22. The thin lenticular lens film according to claim 20, further comprising: a high-definition graphical image operably associated with the lens surface, such that the high-definition graphical image is visible through the lens surface and subject to the visual characteristics of the selectively arranged lenticules.

23. A method of constructing a recreational board with high-definition graphics, the method comprising the steps of: providing a recreational board; providing a lenticular film; printing a high-definition graphical image on the lenticular film; adhering the lenticular film to the recreational board such that a selected visual effect related to the high-definition graphical image is generated.

24. The method according to claim 23, further comprising the step of: applying an opaque coating to the lenticular film after the high-definition graphical image has been printed onto the lenticular film to enhance the reflective qualities of the lenticular film.

25. The method according to claim 23, further comprising the step of: applying a protective coating to the lenticular film after the high-definition graphical image has been printed onto the lenticular film to protect the ink from damage.

26. A method of constructing a recreational board with high-definition graphics, the method comprising the steps of: providing a lenticular film; operably associating a graphical image with the lenticular film; providing a mold; disposing the lenticular film and the graphical image within the mold; disposing a thermoplastic material within the mold; forming the recreational board with the mold, such that the lenticular film and the graphical image are integral with the recreational board.

27. The method according to claim 26, wherein the step of forming the recreational board with the mold is an injection molding process.

28. The method according to claim 26, wherein the step of forming the recreational board with the mold is a compression molding process.

29. The method according to claim 26, wherein the step of forming the recreational board with the mold is a centrifugal force molding process.

30. The method according to claim 26, wherein the step of forming the recreational board with the mold is an elevated temperature process.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/553,435 filed 16 Mar. 2004, titled “Skateboard with High-Definition Graphics.”

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to recreational boards and methods of manufacturing recreational boards.

2. Description of Related Art

Recreational boards have been around for many years. Recreational boards include skateboards, water skis, bodyboards, float boards, kickboards, skim boards, surfboards, and the like. Recreational boards have been able to maintain their popularity through improvements in design and technology. The implementation of new shapes, materials, colors, and decorative graphical designs have helped the recreational board industry stay competitive. Modern recreational boards must not only be configured for high performance, but must look the part, as well. Recreational boards must be as visually appealing as they are functionally advanced. Recreational boards can be separated into two major categories of construction: (1) substantially flat, semi-flexible boards; and (2) contoured boards. Often, the method of decorating the boards depends upon the method in which the board is constructed.

Flat boards include skateboards, training water skis, and skim boards. Currently, flat boards typically comprise a substantially flat wooden substrate with various protective coatings applied thereto. Flat boards may alternatively be constructed of fiberglass substrates or other suitable materials. Often, these flat boards are formed from laminated sheets of material. One method of decorating a flat board is to paint, print, or adhere a graphic or other aesthetic coating directly to the flat board itself. Similarly, if the flat board has a protective coating already applied, the graphic may be applied to that protective coating. Further, it is not uncommon to apply a final protective coating over the applied graphic. These methods result in a decorative flat board having graphics that may optionally be protected by an exterior protective coating.

Contoured boards often include bodyboards, kickboards, non-training water skis, and the like. Contoured boards include substantially undulating or irregular surfaces such as substantially concave or convex surface features. Contoured boards are most often constructed through the use of injection molding, compression molding, and centrifugal force molding processes. With injection molding processes, a hard shell is formed in a mold and then injected with an expanding foam to add stiffness. Decorative elements are typically either applied to the molded shell or form features in the molded shell itself. Boards created through compression molding processes are formed through a process of simply squeezing a material, often polyurethane, into a desired shape by application of heat and pressure to the material in a mold. Decorative elements are usually added to compression molded boards during the application of heat and pressure. For example, a decorative graphic printed on a thin sheet of material is disposed between the mold and the material in the mold. The heat and pressure typically causes the thin sheet carrying the decorative graphic to both take the shape of the mold and adhere to the material in the mold. The thin sheet is often made of Formica or other types of high-density plastic laminates, including melamine. Further, instead of having a graphic printed on to the thin plastic sheet, the graphic may be embedded onto or otherwise integral to the thin sheet. In centrifugal force molding processes, a pelletized or powdered thermoplastic material is placed in a mold and heated. As the thermoplastic material melts, the mold is spun in various different directions. The centrifugal force generated by the spinning mold causes the thermoplastic material to evenly flow into the shape of the mold. When the thermoplastic material is cooled, the mold is removed, leaving a hollow shell. The hollow shell is then filled with expanding foam. Then, decorative elements are applied to the molded shell.

Many recreational board manufacturers incorporate various stylish designs and insignia to enhance the visual appeal of their boards. The designs either partially or fully cover the board. However, the designs are limited to low definition and conventional two dimensional single image views. Further, the means by which the designs are currently applied to the boards leaves the designs susceptible to damage during normal use of the board.

For example, a typical skateboard comprises a laminated wooden deck curved upward on each end with a nonskid surface on the top of the deck and a printed graphic on the bottom of the deck. One problem is that when the bottom of the skateboard deck is scratched, gouged, or otherwise damaged, the printed graphic on the bottom of the deck is aesthetically degraded or completed scraped off. Also, when the bottom of the skateboard deck is scratched, gouged, or otherwise damaged, actual structural material of the deck may be removed such that the deck is weakened, resulting in the risk of breakage and subsequent injury to the user. Damage to the underside of the deck may interfere significantly with a popular use of the skateboard popularly referred to as a “railslide,” a trick in which the skater slides the underside of the deck along an object, such as a curb, handrail, or grind rail. If a large gouge exists on the bottom of the skateboard deck, the irregular surface of the damaged deck may cause the skateboard to hang and possibly throw the user.

Similarly, scratches, gouges, or other surface irregularities can negatively impact the performance of a recreational board used in water sports. For example, if a water ski has a significant gouge or other surface irregularity on the bottom of the ski, the gouge may cause undesired interaction with the water resulting in increased friction and perhaps resulting in an undesired lift up from the water, pull down into the water, or veering to the left or right.

Although there have been significant developments over the years in the area of designing and manufacturing recreational boards, considerable shortcomings remain.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

There is a need for improved recreational boards having high-definition graphics and improved durability.

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide recreational boards with high-definition graphics and improved durability.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a graphical film with lenticules that will withstand elevated temperatures and pressures, such as those experienced during molding and curing processes, so as to allow the production of contoured, molded recreational boards with integral high-definition graphics.

These objects are achieved by incorporating a high-definition, high-resolution graphical film to recreational boards. In the preferred embodiment, the graphical film is a high-definition 3-dimensional graphical film having a very durable surface finish. In an alternate embodiment, the graphical film is a high-definition perspective-dependent visual graphical film in which images change as the orientation of the film with respect to the viewer is changed.

The present invention provides significant advantages, including: (1) the high-definition graphics are very attractive, particularly to younger audiences; (2) the graphical film is very durable, so that it can be affixed to the surface of the recreational board with no additional coatings or treatments with a resulting improved durable surface; and (3) graphical films with high-definition lenticules can be molded and cured integrally with the recreational board.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of the present invention, including its features and advantages, reference is now made to the detailed description of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like numerals identify like parts, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a top view of the preferred embodiment of a recreational board with high-definition graphics according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top view of an alternate embodiment of the recreational board of FIG. 1 with high-definition graphics according to the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a top view of another alternate embodiment of the recreational board of FIG. 1 with high-definition graphics according to the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional schematic of an alternate embodiment of the graphical film of the recreational board of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional schematic of another alternate embodiment of the graphical film of the recreational board of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention represents the discovery that adhering high-definition graphical films to recreational boards may be used to improve the aesthetics, performance, and durability of the recreational boards. For example, advances in digital imaging now allow for the creation of spectacular images by combining high-definition graphical film lenses and specially formatted images. More specifically, high-definition graphical films incorporating lenticular lens technology combined with corresponding specially formatted images result in particularly eye-catching and striking images. It should be appreciated that other high-definition graphical films may alternatively incorporate polarized lens technology, lenses which selectively magnify images, or no lens technology at all. As previously stated, the term “recreational board” is intended to include skateboards, water skis, body boards, float boards, kick boards, skim boards, surfboards, and the like. The term “recreational board” is intended to include boards with similar structure to the recreational boards listed above even if the boards are used for non-recreational purposes.

Referring to FIG. 1 in the drawings, a top view of the preferred embodiment of a recreational board with high-definition graphics according to the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, the recreational board is a skateboard 10 comprising a deck member 12, at least one truck assembly 14, and wheels 16. Deck member 12 is preferably formed by laminating a plurality of layers of wooden veneer together to form a strong, semi-flexible board. Truck assemblies 14 are preferably rigidly connected to a bottom surface 18 of deck member 12. Wheels 16 are preferably rotatably attached to truck assemblies 14. A high-definition graphical film 20 is applied to bottom surface 18.

In the preferred embodiment, high-definition film 20 incorporates lenticular lens technology. The preferred lenticular technology comprises a lenticular sheet that contains a precise parallel array of lenticules or lenses. Each lens is capable of magnifying corresponding image data. The lens sheet is optically clear with a smooth reverse side. Although the lenticular sheet may be laid over an image printed on other media to achieve the desired image effects, in the present invention, it is preferred that the desired image be printed directly onto the smooth reverse side of the lens sheet. The preferred method of printing the lenticular image is directed to lens lithographic printing, more specifically, offset printing. From high-resolution films, image impression plates can be exposed and positioned in precise register on a four-color process press. However, the more preferred presses are six-color process presses that allow a blanket background white to be printed in the same production pass. The blanket background white reflects more light than the inked image alone, thereby increasing the perceived brightness of the resultant image. A more opaque white may be added after the inks are dry. The opaque white layer may be added by ultraviolet ink, silk screen, laminated cover stock, or thermal laminated polypropylene. Then, a protective coating is preferably applied to prevent the printed image from being scraped off or otherwise damaged during handling.

Lenticular lenses can be combined with images printed in and on paper, plastic, and other media to achieve the desired image presentation. Lenticular lens technology can produce a variety of special image effects popularly referred to as “3-dimensional,” “phase flip,” “morph,” “zoom/scroll,” and “full motion.” Three-dimensional effects add a perceived depth, dimensionalization, or layering of art, photos and type. Phase flip effects cause the viewer to see different images such that the images flip from one image to the other and can be viewed individually. Morph effects illustrate an image as is transformed into another image. Zoom/Scroll effects illustrate an image as it changes in size while remaining in focus. Full motion effects enable the viewer to see short portions of a movie, video, or animated clip. It should be appreciated that while lenticular lens technology may be used to create any one of the above effects, the effects above may also be combined to render a variety of effect combinations. Further, lenticular lens technology is not limited to producing the above imaging effects. Instead, lenticular lens technology is a medium within which a designer may create new image effects. With the materials and methods of the present invention, any of the above described effects may be incorporated into a graphical film and applied to any recreational board.

In the preferred embodiment, graphical film 20 depicts a 3-dimensional image, such as a cartoon or other “cool” scene. The 3-dimensional image is a high-definition, high-resolution image that appears to have significant depth or thickness. Although it may not be fully visible in FIG. 1, the high-definition, high-resolution image is similar to a full-color hologram, but is viewable without any special equipment. Graphical film 20 is a plastic film preferably having a thickness of about 0.0135 inches. Due to this thickness, graphical film 20 is best suited for use on flat, non-contoured and non-concave skateboard decks. However, it will be appreciated that graphical film 20 is curved upward at each end to conform to the upturned ends of deck member 12. Although the flexibility of graphical film 20 may be increased by reducing the thickness of graphical film 20, the perceived depth of the resultant image may be correspondingly decreased.

Referring now to FIG. 2 in the drawings, a top view of an alternate embodiment of a recreational board with high-definition graphics according to the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, the recreation board is a skateboard 22 comprising a deck member 24, at least one truck assembly 26, and wheels 28. Deck member 24 is preferably formed by laminating a plurality of layers of wooden veneer together to form a strong, semi-flexible board. Truck assemblies 26 are preferably rigidly connected to a bottom surface 30 of deck member 24. Wheels 28 are preferably rotatably attached to truck assemblies 26. A high-definition graphical film 32 is laminated onto bottom surface 30. Graphical film 32 is a phase flip type lenticular film as described above. Graphical film 32 produces a visual effect of motion when skateboard 22 is moved with respect to the user's visual point of view, similar to polarized graphics. Graphical film 32 is a plastic film having a thickness of about 0.0055 inches. Due to this thickness, graphical film 32 is sufficiently flexible for use on either substantially flat or contoured recreational boards. As is shown, the underlying image may be a collage of multiple images, each independently producing a visual effect of motion when skateboard 22 is moved.

Referring now to FIG. 3 in the drawings, a top view of another alternate embodiment of a recreational board with high-definition graphics according to the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, the recreational board is a training water ski set 34. While the embodiments of FIGS. 1 and 2 have referred to affixing graphical films 20, 22 to skateboards 10, 22 it should be appreciated that high-definition graphical films may alternatively be affixed to other substantially flat recreational boards, such as training water ski set 34. Training water ski set 34 preferably comprises two skis 36, a front crossbar 38, and a rear tether rope 40. Each ski 36 preferably comprises a boot 42 for releasably receiving a skier's foot. Front crossbar 38 and rear tether rope 40 are both connected to each of skis 36 and serve to limit how far skis 36 may spread from each other. A graphical film 44 is affixed to the top side of skis 36. Graphical film 44 is substantially similar to graphical film 20 in that graphical film 44 is a 3-dimensional image effect that appears to have significant depth or thickness.

In accordance with the present invention, it is not necessary that the high-definition graphical image completely cover any surface of the recreational board. The high-definition graphical image may only be applied to a portion of the desired surface, and may be used in conjunction with other graphical or visual effects. It will be appreciated that the size, shape, and configuration of the graphical film may be easily modified to reduce manufacturing costs and to facilitate installation.

There are two primary methods that may be used to apply graphical films 20, 32, 44 to deck members 12, 24 and skis 36. Each embodiment of substantially flat boards can be assembled using either method. In the first method, deck members 12, 24 and skis 36 are pre-assembled by adhering together a plurality of veneers, and curing the assembly as necessary. Then, graphical films 20, 32, 44 are glued or otherwise adhered to the pre-assembled deck members 12, 24 and skis 36. In the second method, graphical films 20, 32, 44 are attached to bottom surfaces 18, 30 of deck members 12, 24 and the top side of skis 36 during the same process of gluing together the veneers that form deck members 12, 24 and skis 36.

Because graphical films 20, 32, 44 are made of durable plastic, no protective cover layers are required. However, in some applications, it may be desirable to add certain protective coatings or layers, provided such protective layers do not adversely affect the intended enhanced graphical decoration of skateboards 10, 22 and skis 36 and/or optical functionality of graphical films 20, 32, 44. The durability of skateboards 10, 22 is improved by having graphical films 20, 32 attached to bottom surfaces 18, 30 of deck members 12, 24. Damage to the underside of deck members 12, 24 during the performance of a “railslide” is reduced significantly because graphical films 20, 32 are not as easily damaged as unprotected stickers and decals placed on bottom surfaces 18, 30. In addition, graphical films 20, 32, 44, serve to hold boards together even as graphical films 20, 32, 44 are damaged.

It should be appreciated that although graphical films 20, 32, 44 are only shown in the figures being applied to bottom surfaces 18, 30 of deck members 12, 24 and to the top side of skis 36, graphical films 20, 32, 44 may alternatively be applied to any surface of skateboards 10, 22 and skis 36. For example, if graphical films are applied to the bottoms side of skis 36, skis 36 may interact differently with water during use than skis 36 without graphical films. Specifically, if a graphical film having lenticules incorporated is affixed to the bottom side of skis 36 with the lenticules of the graphical film oriented parallel to the length of skis 36, water will travel between the lenticules and result in improved resistance to undesired side to side travel of skis 36. In addition, if placed on the top surface of deck members 12, 24, graphical films 20, 32 may be used as a non-skid surface to provide traction for the user.

Referring now to FIG. 4 in the drawings, a cross-sectional schematic of an alternate embodiment of a recreational board with high-definition graphics according to the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, additional protective steps and materials are utilized to apply the high-definition graphics to the skateboard deck. A recreational board 46 comprises a board substrate 48, a layer of adhesive 50, a protective coating 52, a reflective white layer 54, a layer of ink 56, and a graphical film 58. Recreational board 46 may be viewed as having several distinct layers. Board substrate 48 itself may be considered the innermost layer with layer of adhesive 50, protective coating 52, reflective white layer 54, layer of ink 56, and graphical film 58 disposed upon board substrate 48 in that order. During production, graphical film 58 is typically first coated with layer of ink 56. Next, layer of ink 56 is typically coated with reflective white layer 54, thereby increasing the perceived brightness of the resultant image. Next, reflective white layer 54 is preferably coated with a protective coating 52. Protective coating 52 serves to prevent unintentional damage to layer of ink 56 and reflective white layer 54 during the handling of graphical film 58. Then, graphical film 58 is adhered to board substrate 48 by disposing layer of adhesive 50 between protective coating 52 and board substrate 48 and allowing layer of adhesive 50 to cure or dry.

Referring now to FIG. 5 in the drawings, a schematic of another alternate embodiment of a recreational board according to the present invention is illustrated. In this embodiment, different protective steps and materials are utilized to apply the high-definition graphics to the skateboard deck. Recreational board 60 comprises a board substrate 62, a layer of protective adhesive 64, a reflective white layer 66, a layer of ink 68, and a graphical film 70. Recreational board 60 may be viewed as having several distinct layers. Board substrate 62 itself may be considered the innermost layer with layer of special glue 64, reflective white layer 66, layer of ink 68, and graphical film 70 disposed upon board substrate 48 in that order. During production, graphical film 70 is typically first coated with layer of ink 68. Next, layer of ink 56 is typically coated with reflective white layer 66. Then, graphical film 70 is adhered to board substrate 62 by disposing protective adhesive 64 between reflective white layer 66 and board substrate 62 and allowing protective adhesive 64 to cure or dry. Protective adhesive 64 has physical and chemical properties that allow protective adhesive 64 to adhere graphical film 70 to board substrate 62 without damaging reflective white layer 66 or layer of ink 68, thereby preserving the integrity of the intended image formed by layer of ink 68 and reflective white layer 66.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the graphical films with lenticules are applied to the recreational boards with little or no heat in a process referred to as “cold curing.” Cold curing is particularly well suited for adhering such graphical films with lenticules, because cold curing does not require elevated temperatures or pressures, which might damage the lenticules. Because contoured recreational boards and substantially flat recreational boards with substrates other than wood are typically produced through the application of heat and pressure, conventional lenticules cannot be used.

However, in accordance with the present invention, a new graphical film with lenticules that is heat and pressure resistant for use in conjunction with various high-temperature and high-pressure molding processes is disclosed. This new graphical film has physical, chemical, and thermal properties that allow the graphical film to withstand the elevated temperatures and/or pressures of the various molding processes. This allows the graphical film to be integrally molded into the recreational board during the molding process.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the graphical films with lenticules are applied to flat, semi-flexible recreational boards having only simple curves. These flat boards are well suited for adhering such graphical films with lenticules, because the graphical films have limited ability to stretch or be folded into complex shapes and contours. Because contoured recreational boards typically include complex shapes, curves, and contours, conventional lenticules cannot be used.

However, in accordance with the present invention, a new graphical film with lenticules that is capable of installation onto a complex shape is disclosed. This new graphical film has physical, chemical, and thermal properties that allow the graphical film to be formed into complex shapes while maintaining the desired visual effects. In one embodiment of this graphical film, selected printing and imaging techniques may be used to appropriately shape or form the necessary printed images specially for use on a convex or concave surface without negatively impacting the visual effect of the graphical film. It will be appreciated that this embodiment allows the application of high-definition graphical films to both substantially flat recreational boards and complex contoured recreational boards.

While the present invention has been described with reference to illustrative embodiments, this description is not intended to be construed in a limiting sense. Various modifications and combinations of the illustrative embodiments, as well as other embodiments of the invention, will be apparent to persons skilled in the art upon reference to the description.