Title:
Means and method for producing improved strength in objects that may have extremely durable, water repellent, sure-grip gripping surfaces, and the objects so improved
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Affordable, metallicized objects having increased strength where metallicizing imparts superior strength to a wooden bat (or other objects) reducing or eliminating breakage and/or splintering of an object when impacted by a ball if a bat and/or by general use if the object is other than a bat. Metallicized wooden bats reduce or eliminate potential lethal hazards often imparted to a ball when hit by aluminum bats. Additionally, the gripping area of the bat, or other object, is provided with an extremely durable, water repellent, sure-grip gripping surface that is achieved by ultra-violet radiation curing of an ultraviolet-curable coating applied over polymeric fibers placed on the gripping surface. All handles or gripping surfaces, including handles on sports, work, household, and medical equipment, and the like, ladder rungs, bar bells gripping surfaces, and even aluminum bats, for example, would benefit from such an innovative gripping surface.



Inventors:
Aaron, Ben (Forestville, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/067238
Publication Date:
08/31/2006
Filing Date:
02/26/2005
Assignee:
Ben Aaron Lumber Co. (Forestville, NY, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/568
International Classes:
A63B59/00; A63B59/06; A63B59/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Patricia M. Costanzo (East Aurora, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A metallized object, said object made stronger by metallicizing, comprising: a) an object to be made stronger, and b) a metal powder paint for coating said object, wherein coating said metal powder paint on said object to be made stronger imparts superior strength to said object providing for reduced breakage and splintering of said metallicized strengthened object.

2. The metallicized object, as recited in claim 1, further comprising wherein said metal powder paint comprises stainless steel powder paint.

3. The metallicized object, as recited in claim 1, further comprising wherein said object is made of wood.

4. The metallicized object, as recited in claim 3, further comprising wherein said wooden object is a bat.

5. The metallicized object, as recited in claim 1, further comprising wherein said object is made of plastic.

6. The metallicized object, as recited in claim 1, further comprising: a gripping area having an extremely durable, water repellent, and high-friction sure-grip gripping surface.

7. The metallicized object, as recited in claim 6, wherein said sure-grip gripping surface further comprises a coating of ultra-violet radiation curable substance over polymeric fibers placed about said gripping area, wherein curing said ultra-violet radiation curable substance over said polymeric fibers provides for an extremely durable, water repellent, and high-friction sure-grip gripping surface.

8. The metallicized object, as recited in claim 6, further comprising wherein said object is provided with a UV-clear coat over the entire bat to seal, harden, and encase any desired decals, colors, engraved surfaces and/or composite materials.

9. A method for metallicizing an object made stronger by metallicizing, said method comprising the steps of: a) providing an object to be made stronger, and b) providing a metal powder paint for coating said object, wherein coating said metal powder paint on said object to be made stronger imparts superior strength to said object providing for reduced breakage and splintering of said metallicized strengthened object.

10. The method for metallicizing an object, as recited in claim 8, wherein said metal powder paint further comprises stainless steel powder paint.

11. The method for metallicizing an object, as recited in claim 8, further comprising wherein said object is made of wood.

12. The method for metallicizing an object, as recited in claim 10, further comprising wherein said wooden object is a bat.

13. The method for metallicizing an object, as recited in claim 8, further comprising wherein said object is made of plastic.

14. The method for metallicizing an object, as recited in claim 8, wherein said metallicized object further comprises a gripping area having an extremely durable, water repellent, and high-friction sure-grip gripping surface. a coating of ultra-violet radiation curable substance over polymeric fibers placed about said gripping area, wherein curing said ultra-violet radiation curable substance over said polymeric fibers provides for an extremely durable, water repellent, and high-friction sure-grip gripping surface.

15. The method for metallicizing an object, as recited in claim 13, wherein said sure-grip gripping surface further comprises: coating ultra-violet radiation curable substance over polymeric fibers placed over the gripping area, wherein curing said ultra-violet radiation curable substance over said polymeric fibers provides for an extremely durable, water repellent, and high-friction sure-grip gripping surface.

16. A method of providing for a sure-grip gripping surface on a gripping area of an object, said method comprising the steps of: a) providing an object having a gripping area, b) coating ultra-violet radiation curable substance over polymeric fibers placed over the gripping area, wherein curing said ultra-violet radiation curable substance over said polymeric fibers provides for an extremely durable, water repellent, and high-friction sure-grip gripping surface.

17. The method of providing for a sure-grip gripping surface on a gripping area of an object, as recited in claim 15, wherein said object further comprises an object made of wood.

18. The method of providing for a sure-grip gripping surface on a gripping area of an object, as recited in claim 16, wherein said object made of wood is a bat.

19. The method of providing for a sure-grip gripping surface on a gripping area of an object, as recited in claim 15, wherein said object is made of plastic.

20. The object provided with a sure-grip gripping surface on a gripping area according to the method of claim 15.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISK APPENDIX

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates generally to objects requiring strengthening and a gripping surface, and more particularly to objects such as wooden baseball bats. Such objects may also require extremely durable, water repellent, non-slip gripping surfaces, where the means and method for strengthening and for providing for improved gripping surfaces are functionally valuable for use with any object, benefiting from increased strength and/or a sure-grip gripping surface area, such as walkers, canes, ladder rungs, hammers, shovels, barbells, other sports equipment including aluminum baseball and softball bats, and the like.

The background information discussed below is presented to better illustrate the novelty and usefulness of the present invention. Wooden bats for playing baseball and softball along with other items are used throughout the document as examples to facilitate the full, clear, and concise description of the invention so as to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use the invention. Thus, this background information is not admitted prior art and it is to be understood that the teachings are not confined to the examples used.

Baseball and softball have been traditionally played with a wood bat; however, for reasons discussed below there has been an increased use of aluminum bats by many players. Although major baseball teams still only use wooden bats, professional and amateur softball leagues, baseball and softball college leagues, high school baseball and softball leagues, and little league baseball and softball teams mostly use aluminum bats. Concern regarding the hazards of using aluminum bats in the game of baseball, however, is growing.

Baseball bat manufacturers, through advances in technology, are making aluminum bats that meet the required measurement and size standards of typical wooden baseball bats, but are much stronger and lighter in weight than their wooden counterparts. Lighter bats allow for faster bat speeds during swings that result in hit-ball velocities that can present lethal hazards to players due to the high velocities imparted from the bat to a ball as the bat strikes the ball. This is prompting some athletic committees and baseball leagues to ban the use of these bats. In fact, in 2003 the baseball committee of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Committee voted 9-6 to ban aluminum bats and recommended that only wooden bats be used at all levels of play beginning in 2004.

Although potential risks of injury, including fatal injuries, to both players and spectators are the most important concern, there are other reasons for using wooden bats. Studies show that when using an aluminum bat, a hitter can make contact between the ball and the: bat at almost any point on the bat and achieve the same result as if he or she had hit the ball with the very restricted “sweet spot” area of a wooden bat. In fact, over the last few years, it has been reported that batting averages, scoring, and home runs have all increased in NCAA baseball, and that aluminum bats are being credited with distorting the development of college pitchers who have to use drastically different strategies when: pitching against players using aluminum bats than they would if they were pitching against players using wooden bats. Thus, the transition from college-level pitching to professional-level pitching, where only wooden bats are allowed, becomes extremely difficult. It is felt by many that banning aluminum bats in the NCAA at the Division I level would help college baseball players become better prepared for a future in professional baseball

While many ball players welcome a ban on the use of aluminum bats, others do not want to ban the use of aluminum bats because of the lack of strength of wooden bats. Wooden bats are known to have a weak area located just above the gripping area. It is here that wooden bats tend to break as the bat hits a ball when the bat's swinging speed reaches about 72-75 mph. When a wooden bat breaks, perhaps precipitated by an unseen flaw or weakness in the wood grain, the section that breaks away becomes a projectile that may hit and injure a player or spectator. Moreover, many splinters can form from the break, and these, too, may also result in injuries. It is believed that when bats break upon impact, it is because wood does not have the strength exhibited by an aluminum bat when a ball impacts the bat.

Some of those involved in the game argue that even though aluminum bats pose serious risks to players and spectators, it is just too costly to use wooden bats. Aluminum bats generally last from three to five seasons, while wooden bats often do not last even one season. It is not unusual for professional players to go through several dozen wooden bats each season. Similarly, college teams that use wooden bats often break more than two dozen bats during a season. Wooden bats, partly due to the amount of breakage and replacement required because of the breakage, and to the increasing shortages of quality wood, generally cost considerably more per season than aluminum bats. It is estimated that, on average, a college team might use twelve aluminum bats per season, compared to more than five dozen wooden bats. The cost of wooden bats added to the fact that wooden bats need frequent replacement because of their relatively lower strength as compared to an aluminum bat, makes the use of risk-posing aluminum bats instead of safer to use wooden bats somewhat understandable.

Regardless of the type of bat used, aluminum or wood, a related problem that is faced by ball players is the too frequent loss of the batter's grip on the bat during a game. A sure grip on the bat increases the accuracy of the play. A surer grip allows the player to hold the bat less tightly, thus, increasing the player's efficiency of movement making it less likely that the player will strain his muscles. In addition, a sure-grip decreases the danger of having the bat slip out of the player's hands. And, of course, smooth metal bats are extremely slippery, as are wooden bats that have a highly polished surface.

A sure grip is important, not only for baseball and softball bats, but is important for any gripping surface. Gripping surfaces are found on a multitude of objects, such as on the handles of hand tools, such as hammers, screw drivers, hatchets, as well as on ladder rungs, on sports equipment, such as golf clubs, baseball bats and tennis, and on medical devices, such as walkers and canes. It is easy then to appreciate how desirable it is to provide for a sure-grip surface on such handles.

It is known that one's grip can be improved by adding a layer of a malleable material to a hard handle, for example by wrapping the handle with fabric or leather tape or by encasing the handle in a molded rubber or plastic grip. Alternatively, it is known to improve ones grip by wearing a glove made of relatively soft material, such as a glove made of fabric, leather, rubber or plastic. Ball players often use batting gloves to increase their gripping control. Further attempts to improve grip have coated the contact surface of a handle, grip and/or a glove with a soft, elastomeric polymer. Aluminum bat gripping surfaces can be found made of leather or a synthetic, wrapping grip that tends to become slippery, especially from the sweaty hands of batters or from rain. When players use wooden bats, a gripping additive, such as pine tar is often used in conjunction with batting gloves in order to achieve a better grip on the wooden bat. The use of tar however often results in the player's hand's being left with tar residue. Alternatively, ball players often use tape as a bat grip, but the tape quickly becomes worn out and requires frequent replacement.

Therefore, it is clear that there is a critical need for a means and a method to strengthen objects that would benefit from such strengthening as well as for providing a means and method to make it easier to form a sure-grip about such strengthened objects. For example, wooden bats improved by such means and methods are less likely to present lethal hazards to players due to the high velocities imparted from the bat to a ball as occurs when an aluminum bat strikes the ball. Moreover, such an improved bat would possess greater strength in the area that is generally affected upon impact by a ball, so that the bat is less likely to break or splinter when struck. Thus, such an improved bat would reduce the lethal hazards presently posed to players and spectators by the high velocities imparted from the striking bat to the hit ball, while providing the strength and durability required for a bat not to break upon impact with the ball, and would additionally offer a non-slip, extremely durable gripping surface for the gripping part of the handle. Moreover, such means and methods should offer all of these improvements in a cost effective manner. What is more, the means and method of providing for increased strength to an object that would benefit from an increase in strength and a sure-grip gripping surface should be applicable for a multiple of devices that are different from bats, but also require improved body strength and improved grip-ability on their gripping surfaces. Such devices include any hand-held tools, such as a hammer or the rungs of a ladder, for example; other sport equipment, such as tennis rackets, bar bell-type lifting weights, and golf clubs, health and safety devices, such as walkers and canes, and medical devices that require a sure grip, to name just a few.

SUMMARY

Accordingly, the present invention overcomes all of the above described disadvantages and more by providing for a means and a method of strengthening objects that require strengthening and a means and a method of providing for a sure-grip gripping surface on objects that require such a sure-grip gripping surface. Examples of objects that require strengthening and an extremely durable sure-grip gripping surface as provided by the invention herein are bats that are used for playing baseball or softball. Wooden bats, strengthened by the means and method provided by the present invention may now be used to avoid the high risk of serious injury that currently plagues both players and spectators due to the high velocities imparted from an aluminum bat to a ball as the bat strikes the ball. Moreover, the strengthened wood bats break and splinter far less frequently, if at all, compared to un-strengthened bats when hit with a high speed ball. The strengthened bat made according to the principles of the present invention additionally may offer a sure-grip, water repellent, gripping surface on the gripping part of the bat handle, which gripping surface is made extremely durable by the application and curing of a UV-curable coating-applied over the sure-grip gripping surface of the gripping part of the bat handle, and offers these improvements while being cost effective.

What is more, the means and method of providing for increased strength to an object according to the principles of the present invention described herein is available for use with any object that would benefit from an increase in strength. Additionally, a means and a method of providing for a sure-grip gripping surface for any object that would benefit from such a surface is described herein. Such surfaces are now available for devices that are different from bats, but also require improved gripability on their gripping surfaces. Such devices include any hand-held tools, such as hammers or the rungs of a ladder; other sport equipment, such as tennis rackets, bar bell-type lifting weights, and golf clubs, health and safety devices, such as walkers and canes, and medical devices that require a sure grip, to name just a few.

A first preferred form of the present invention provides for a way to strengthen objects that will benefit from an addition of increased strength and the objects so strengthened. The way to strengthen objects involves metallicizing such objects by applying a metal powder containing paint to such objects as, for example, a wooden baseball bat, where the coating that metallicizes the bat imparts strength to the bat, reducing breakage and splintering upon impact by a ball. If the object that is strengthened is an object other than a bat, the method of the present invention provides for a reduction in breakage and/or splintering in that object, as well. In addition to increasing the strength of a wooden bat, metallicizing a wooden bat according to the principles of the present: invention, reduces or eliminates the potentially lethal hazards suffered by ball players from the high velocities imparted to a ball from a metal bat when the aluminum bat produces a high-velocity ball. The present invention offers the added benefit of producing objects that are stronger and safer while maintaining general affordability.

A second preferred form of the present invention as taught herein provides for means and methods of providing a sure-grip gripping surface over the gripping area of such a strengthened object. For example, a metallicized bat may be provided with an extremely durable, sure-grip, water repellent, gripping surface on the gripping part of the bat handle, which gripping surface is made extremely durable by the application and curing of a UV-curable coating applied over the sure-grip gripping surface of the gripping part of the bat handle. The water repellent surface is not affected by moisture such as the perspiration on a user's hands. A wooden bat made according to the principles of the present invention provides ball players with a strengthened bat having a sure-grip gripping surface.

A third preferred form of the present invention is any object to which the extremely durable, water repellent, sure-grip gripping surface is applied to such object's gripping surface area, which gripping surface is made extremely durable by the application and curing of a UV-curable coating applied over the sure-grip gripping surface of the gripping part of the bat handle, where such an object is customarily a hand-held object, and, moreover, wherein the sure-grip gripping surface is easy, fast, and economical to apply. Such surfaces would be found on any type of handle including handles on sports equipment, work equipment, household equipment, medical equipment, or the like, ladder rungs, bar bell gripping surfaces, and even on aluminum bats, for example.

These and other benefits of the present invention are made available by providing for a metallized object, the object made stronger by the metallicizing, comprising:

a) an object to be made stronger,

b) a metal powder paint for coating the object, and

c) a coating of the metal powder paint on the object to be made stronger, thus imparting superior strength to the object thereby providing for reduced breakage and splintering of the metallicized strengthened object.

The metal powder paint further comprises stainless steel powder paint. The object to be strengthened is any object that will benefit from being strengthened, including those objects made of wood. An exemplary object made of wood may further comprise a bat for hitting balls. Moreover, the object that benefits from being strengthened according to the principles of the present invention may be made of other materials, such as plastic.

Additionally, objects that benefit from being strengthened are provided with a gripping area having an extremely durable and high-friction sure-grip gripping surface that is water repellent, wherein the sure-grip gripping surface is achieved by ultra-violet radiation curing of a coating of ultraviolet-cured material that was applied over polymeric fibers placed on the gripping area, therein providing for an extremely durable and high-friction sure-grip gripping water repellent surface. Moreover, the object benefiting from being provided with an extremely durable, sure-grip gripping surface may be an object made of any material, strengthened or un-strengthened, and also may be made of a metal.

The invention also provides for a method for metallicizing an object made stronger by metallicizing, the method comprising the steps of:

a) providing an object to be made stronger,

b) providing a metal powder paint for coating the object, and

c) coating the metal powder paint on the object to be made stronger imparting superior strength to the object providing for reduced breakage and splintering of the metallicized strengthened object. An object that is strengthened by the method for metallicizing an object is also provided with the sure-grip gripping surface that comprises ultra-violet radiation curing a coating of ultraviolet-cured coating applied over polymeric fibers placed on the gripping area providing for an extremely durable and high-friction sure-grip gripping surface that is water repellent.

The invention also provides for a method of providing for a sure-grip gripping surface on a gripping area of an object, the method comprising the steps of:

a) providing an object having a gripping area, and

b) placing polymeric fibers on the gripping area,

c) coating said polymeric fibers with ultraviolet-cured coating, and

d) curing said ultraviolet-cured coating said polymeric fibers using ultra-violet radiation providing for an extremely durable and high-friction sure-grip gripping surface that is water repellent.

Still other benefits and advantages of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading and understanding the following detailed specification and related drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order that these and other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention may be more fully comprehended and appreciated, the invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to specific embodiments thereof which are illustrated in appended drawings wherein like reference characters indicate like parts throughout the several figures. It should be understood that these drawings only depict preferred embodiments of the present invention, such as depicting a wooden baseball bat as an example of an object that would benefit from being strengthened by metallicizing and by using a wooden and a metal baseball bat as examples to illustrate an object improved by provided by being provided with a sure-grip, extremely durable gripping surface that is water repellent. Thus, accepting that these examples are not to be considered as limiting the scope of the invention the invention now will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail relating to baseball bats through the use of the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a partial perspective view of a Prior Art wooden bat.

FIG. 2 is a partial perspective view of a Prior Art metal bat.

FIG. 3 is a partial perspective view of a metallicized wooden bat.

FIG. 4 is a partial perspective view of a metallicized wooden bat with a sure-grip gripping surface on its handle part.

FIG. 5 is a partial perspective view of a wooden bat with a sure-grip gripper surface on its handle part.

FIG. 6 is a partial perspective view of a metal bat with a sure-grip gripper surface on its handle part.

FIG. 7 is a cross-section view of a metallicized wooden bat.

FIG. 8 is a cross-section view of a bat handle with a sure-grip gripper surface.

FIG. 9 is a cross-section view of a metallicized bat having a sure-grip gripper surface handle.

DEFINITIONS

  • Metal powder paint, as used herein, refers to known paints containing metal particles of varying sizes, densities, and shapes. One such metal powder paint comprises platy-shaped particles to provide for the overlap of the particles at the surface of the paint layer thereby creating a smooth and full-coverage metallic surface.
  • Metallicized, as used herein, refers to an object that has been painted, i.e., coated with metal powder paint.
  • Polymeric fibers, as used herein, refer to natural and synthetic fibers, including but not limited to cotton, silk, wool, rayon, acetate, nylon, spandex, polyethylene terephthalate, acrylics, polyurethanes, and polypropylene, for example. The fibers may be applied to a gripping area of an object in any functional manner, including but not limited to: applying the polymeric fibers in the form of fabric, such as a mesh, spinning fibers about the object, spray coating, and the like.
  • Stainless steel powder paint, as used herein, refers to any metal powder paint made with stainless steel powders, where the powdered grains of various stainless steels are of varying sizes, densities, and shapes.
  • Strength, as used herein, refers to the quality or state of being strong in that there is a significant capacity for exertion or endurance and the power to resist force. Therefore, an object that exhibits increased strength exhibits increased solidity and toughness. Strength also includes the meaning given when used as an industrial quality that is, a quality of having more than usual power or durability.
  • Ultraviolet-cured coatings as used herein, refers to acrylated formulations of silicones, ultraviolet-cured urethanes, and methacrylates, as well as to combined ultraviolet-heat-curing formulations and other chemical systems that are “set” or “cured” using UV-radiation.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, as used herein, refers to the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that extends from the violet, or short-wavelength, end of the visible light range to the X-ray region. UV radiation is undetectable by the human eye. UV radiation lies between wavelengths of about 400 nanometres (1 nanometre [nm] is 10−9 metre, or 10 angstrom units) on the visible-light side and about 100 nm on the X-ray side, though some authorities extend the short-wavelength limit to 4 nm. In physics, ultraviolet radiation is traditionally divided into four regions: near (400-300 nm), middle (300-200 nm), far (200-100 nm), and extreme (below 100 nm).

REFERENCE NUMERALS AND THE PARTS OF THE INVENTION TO WHICH THEY REFER

  • 10 A metallicized wooden bat made according to the principles of the invention as described herein.
  • 12 A metallicized surface on a wooden bat.
  • 14 A gripping surface of metallicized wooden bat 10.
  • 16 A sure-grip surface on gripping surface 14.
  • 16b UV-curable coating securing sure-grip surface.
  • 22 Body of a wooden bat.
  • 30 Body of a metal bat.

It should be understood that the drawings are not necessarily to scale. In certain instances,.details which are not necessary for an understanding of the present invention or which render other details difficult to perceive may have been omitted.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now, with more particularity, to the drawings, it should be noted that the disclosed invention is disposed to embodiments in various sizes, shapes, and forms, and especially of many objects that are related by their need for increased strength and/or their need for a sure-grip gripping surface. Therefore, it is to be understood that the baseball bat embodiments described herein are provided to be illustrative and thus, their use is not intended to limit the invention to these embodiments.

For many objects, wood is the manufacturing material of choice. One such wooden object is illustrated in FIG. 1, a partial perspective view of a Prior Art wooden bat. Problems may arise however when the strength of the object is a consideration. For example, because of the frequent breakage or splintering of conventional wooden baseball bats when hit by a high speed ball, many baseball players have chosen to use bats made of aluminum. FIG. 2, a partial perspective view of a Prior Art metal bat, illustrates a conventional aluminum bat. Aluminum bats, however, are not only expensive, they, more importantly, introduce a serious risk of injury, and in some instances a lethal risk, to both players and spectators of ball games. This risk is created by the extremely high velocities that are imparted to a ball as the ball is struck by an aluminum: bat.

To alleviate such problems, the present invention is directed towards the making of a metallicized object, such as a metallicized wooden baseball bat that exhibits increased superior strength compared to the strength of the object before it was metallicized, yet maintains its other desirable properties. In addition to exhibiting superior strength, metallicized objects made according to the principles of this invention are provided with a gripping area having an extremely durable and high-friction sure-grip gripping surface that is water repellent.

Still other benefits and advantages of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading and understanding the, following detailed specification and related drawings.

FIG. 3, a partial perspective view of a bat made according to the principles of the invention as described herein, illustrates metallicized wooden bat 10 (where the hatches in the figures indicate a metallicized surface). Metallicized surface 12 may be applied to the entire surface of any object that benefits from the increased strength acquired when metallicized, such as metallicized bat including gripping area 14. Alternatively, metallicization may be limited to only those surface areas that require strengthening. Combining the aesthetic benefits of a cool metallic sheen of the metallicized part of the surface with the warm and natural look of un-metallicized wood is yet another option.

An object is made stronger by metallicizing, that is when a metal powder paint for coating the object is applied to the surface of that object. The superior strength imparted to the object by a coating of the metal powder paint provides for reduced breakage and splintering of the metallicized strengthened object. The metal powder paint may be applied by any known, or yet to be known, method, including, but not restricted to spray painting, vapor deposition, or a brush-type application. An exceptional increase in strength is achieved by a single application of the metal powder paint to the surface of the object to be strengthened, although, if desired, additional applications may be applied for additional strength imparting benefits.

The metal powder paint may comprise, but is not limited to, a stainless steel metal powder paint. Other metal powders may also be used. Many other metals have strengthening properties superior to stainless steel, but cost may be an important factor in deciding which metal powder will provide the most benefit. The stainless steel, or other metal, powder may be of any desired functional composition. The metal particles may be platy (i.e., have a flake-like morphology where the surface area of the particle is large but the thickness of the particle is only a very small fraction of the surface area of the particle) to achieve maximum coverage or of any other desired functional shape and may also have any desired functional size and density.

The object to be strengthened is any object that benefits from being strengthened, and includes objects made of wood. Herein, while a bat is used as an exemplary object made of wood, other objects that benefit from being strengthened according to the principles of the present invention may be made of materials, such as plastic, fiberglass, plaster, or glass.

An object that is strengthened by the method for metallicizing an object according to the teaching of the present invention is also provided with a sure-grip gripping surface to provide for a safe and sure grip. For example, surface 16, as illustrated in FIG. 4, is a sure-grip gripping surface. Basically, sure-grip gripping surface 16 is prepared by first placing polymeric fibers over a gripping area, applying an ultraviolet-cured coating over said polymeric fibers, and using ultra-violet radiation to cure the ultraviolet-cured coating over the polymeric fibers providing for an extremely durable and high-friction sure-grip gripping surface that is water repellent. This simple, rapid, and inexpensive three step process results in providing for an extremely durable and high-friction sure-grip gripping surface that is water repellent. The moisture of most concern in the case of hand-held objects such as baseball bats, golf clubs, hammers, ladder rungs, and the like, is often perspiration.

Various coatings have been used for baseball bas, lacquers, epoxy systems, and urethanes, e.g., one-part air-dry systems, two-part urethane, two-part epoxy, and baking systems. Many of the presently available grip devices that are made using these known systems are negatively affected by moisture, including perspiration, and thus, must be replaced frequently.

The sure-grip gripping surface provided herein is extremely durable. When coating a bat with a composite material (e.g., polyester, nylon, fiberglass) using a UV-cured coating, as is taught in the present invention, the coating is effectively cured in place directly on the underlying substrate providing for a durable, sure-grip gripping surface that also acts as a reinforcing surface. UV-curing offers advantages of low or zero solvent emissions, high speed curing, and has low-energy requirements—all which provide for a cost-effective and “green” technology.

In general, there are two main types of UV curing systems. The first is by using ethylenically (refers to a double bond between carbons as opposed to a single bond) functional oligomers and monomers which are cross-linked via a photo-initiator that is added to the oligomers and/or monomers and reacts when exposed to UV radiation. When the correct UV frequency shines on the photo-initiator, free radicals are formed that in turn cause the ethylene groups to rapidly polymerize. These types of polymers may be engineered to have high elongation, toughness, hardness, and chemical resistance, as desired.

The second type of UV curing utilizes cationic curing. Here, the curing agent is formed of aliphatic epoxides (single bonds), various polyols, and a photo-initiator. A superacid is formed once the photo-initiator is exposed to UV radiation which begins the polymerization process.

Moreover, the objects benefiting from being provided with an extremely durable, sure-grip gripping surface may be any objects made of any material, strengthened or un-strengthened, and may be made of a metal. FIG. 4, as mentioned above, illustrates a baseball bat strengthened by metallicization benefiting from a sure-grip gripping surface 16 where UV-curable coating 16b secures sure-grip surface 16 onto gripping surface area 14 (see FIG. 3). Another example, illustrated in FIG. 5 a plan view of a conventional wooden bat, depicts wooden bat 22 with the benefit of sure-grip gripping surface coating 16 where UV-curable coating 16b secures sure-grip surface coating 16 onto gripping surface area. FIG. 5, a partial perspective view of a conventional metal bat, depicts aluminum bat 30 benefiting from sure-grip gripping surface coating 16 where UV-curable coating 16b secures sure-grip surface coating 16 onto gripping surface area 14.

FIG. 7, a cross-section view of a metallicized wooden bat, is used to illustrate the thinness of the metallicizing layer of metal powder paint that has been applied to an otherwise conventional wooden bat. FIG. 8 illustrates a cross-sectional view of an untreated wooden bat handle with a sure-grip gripper surface where UV-curable coating 16b secures sure-grip surface coating 16 onto gripping surface area, whereas FIG. 9 illustrates a cross-sectional view of a metallicized bat with a sure-grip gripper surface applied over the metallicized layer, where UV-curable coating 16b secures sure-grip surface coating 16 onto gripping surface area.

A favored embodiment of an object to be made stronger, which here is a wooden bat strengthened by metallicizing using a metal powder paint and having a water-repellent sure-grip gripping surface may be prepared according to the following process. The first step comprises coating the wood using a primer/sealer of aqueous polyurethane dispersion resin to fill in any large voids in the wood. When thoroughly dried, the coated wood may be sanded until smooth to provide for a more uniform surface. In this embodiment, a rapidly drying primer/sealer is used, so that the bat is ready for sanding soon after the primer/sealer is applied. This minimizes rising of the grain and prevents gumming of an otherwise wet finish, where gumming is caused by fine-sized wood particles, produced during the sanding process, adhering to not completely dried finish. A preferred method of application of the primer/sealer is by spraying, but, of course, any known, or yet to be known, application method may be used. The next step is the application of the metallicized finish. For this example, small particle-sized stainless steel flakes are thoroughly mixed in with a coating material, such as paint and applied by again utilizing a spraying technique. The use of small-sized flake-shaped particles provides for a harder surface for the barrel of the bat. Any desired color may be used so that bats may be prepared to match the colors of the team using the bat. At the completion of this step, the wooden bat looks like a metal bat and is now much stronger than an untreated wooden bat. The next step is to provide the now metallicized bat with a sure-grip gripping surface. This is done by placing polymeric material around the gripping area of the bat's handle part. The polymeric material may be nylon, polyester, fiberglass, or other mesh, synthetic or natural material. A UV-curable substance is then applied over the composite material. In this embodiment a foam brush may be used to apply the UV-curable substance over the composite-material covered part of the bat handle. The polymeric material coated with the UV-curable substance is then exposed to UV radiation for curing. For this embodiment, a high intensity medium pressure mercury lamp (200-300 watts/inch) is used. The sure-grip gripping surface and handle reinforcement so made, provides for a comfortable gripping surface as well as strengthening the handle. The final step in this example is to apply a UV-clear coat over the entire bat to seal, harden, and encase any desired decals, colors, and/or composite materials, and to cover any engraved surfaces.

Any object that is strengthened according to the teachings herein is used in the same manner in which the object would be used before it was strengthened. The important difference is that the use is a safer use after strengthening. Similarly, any object that is benefiting from an application of a sure-grip gripping area is used in the same manner in which the object would be used before the sure-grip gripping surface was applied. And, similarly, the important difference is that the use is a safer use when the grip is a sure-grip. The objects that benefit from being strengthened and/or having a sure-grip surface applied are limited only by one's imagination and include, but are not limited to: sports handles—baseball and softball bats, boat oars, tennis rackets, racquetball rackets, hockey sticks, lacrosse, polo, badminton, table tennis, golf, mini golf, racing flags, tools, such as hammers, screwdrivers, rakes, hoes, shovels, sockets sets, ladder rungs and the like, canes, walkers, walking sticks, umbrellas, pointers. Other surfaces that may benefit from the extremely durable, sure-grip surface of the present invention include standing surfaces of snowboards, surf boards, etc., physical fitness equipment, such as weights, including free weights and weight bars, handles on weight machines, ski machine poles, and treadmill grips, etc.

The foregoing description, for purposes of explanation, uses specific and defined nomenclature to provide a thorough understanding of the invention. However, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the specific details are not required in order to practice the invention. Thus, the foregoing descriptions of specific embodiments of the present invention were presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Those skilled in the art will recognize that many changes may be made to the features, embodiments, and methods of making the embodiments of the invention described herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Furthermore, the present invention is not:limited to the described methods, embodiments, features or combinations of features but include all the variation, methods, modifications, and combinations of features within the scope of the appended claims. The invention is limited only by the claims.