Title:
Footwear insert and method of producing same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A footwear insert. The footwear insert includes a base portion and a second portion adhered to the base portion. The second portion comprises a material for providing comfort to a user of the footwear insert, and a sublimation ink positioned within the material.



Inventors:
Scales, Cheryl D. (Atlanta, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/387368
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
03/22/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43B13/38
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KAVANAUGH, JOHN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
K&L GATES LLP-Pittsburgh (PITTSBURGH, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A footwear insert, comprising: a base portion; and a second portion adhered to the base portion, wherein the second portion comprises: a material for providing comfort to a user of the footwear insert; and a sublimation ink positioned within the material.

2. The footwear insert of claim 1, wherein the base portion comprises a material for providing at least one of the following to the user: support; cushioning; and comfort.

3. The footwear insert of claim 2, wherein the material comprises open-cell rubber.

4. The footwear insert of claim 2, wherein the base portion further comprises a humidity absorbing material.

5. The footwear insert of claim 2, wherein the base portion further comprises an odor absorbing material.

6. The footwear insert of claim 1, wherein the base portion includes a slip resistant surface.

7. The footwear insert of claim 1, wherein the sublimation ink is positioned proximate a surface of the second portion.

8. The footwear insert of claim 1, wherein the sublimation ink is visible through a surface of the second portion.

9. The footwear insert of claim 1, wherein the second portion further comprises sublimation inks of different colors.

10. The footwear insert of claim 10, wherein the material of the second portion comprises a fabric.

11. The footwear insert of claim 11, wherein the fabric comprises a polyester.

12. A method of producing a footwear insert, the method comprising: forming a first composite by transferring a sublimation ink to a first material; forming a second composite by adhering the first composite to a second material; and removing the footwear insert from the second composite.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein transferring the sublimation ink includes placing a sublimation transfer on a surface of the first material.

14. The method of claim 13, further comprising applying heat to the sublimation ink.

15. The method of claim 14, further comprising applying pressure to the sublimation ink.

16. The method of claim 12, wherein removing the footwear insert from the second composite includes cutting the second composite.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein cutting the second composite includes die-cutting the second composite.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein cutting the second composite includes laser cutting the second composite.

19. The method of claim 12, wherein removing the footwear insert from the second composite includes stamping the second composite.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/664,349, filed on Mar. 23, 2005.

BACKGROUND

This application discloses, generally and in various embodiments, a footwear insert and a method of producing the footwear insert.

SUMMARY

In one general respect, this application discloses a footwear insert. According to various embodiments, the footwear insert includes a base portion and a second portion adhered to the base portion. The second portion comprises a material for providing comfort to a user of the footwear insert, and a sublimation ink positioned within the material.

In another general respect, this application discloses a method for producing a footwear insert. According to various embodiments, the method includes forming a first composite by transferring a sublimation ink to a first material, forming a second composite by adhering the first composite to a second material, and removing the footwear insert from the second composite.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Various embodiments of the disclosed invention are described herein by way of example in conjunction with the following figures.

FIG. 1 illustrates various embodiments of a footwear insert;

FIG. 2 illustrates various embodiments of a footwear insert; and

FIG. 3 illustrates various embodiments of a method of producing the footwear insert of FIGS. 1 and 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate various embodiments of a footwear insert 10. The footwear insert 10 may be used with any type of footwear, and is especially suitable for use with women's and men's dress shoes. Accordingly, the footwear insert 10 may be embodied in a variety of shapes, sizes and thicknesses. For example, although the size and shape of the footwear insert 10 shown in FIG. 1 approximates a portion of a human foot, according to other embodiments, the size and shape of the footwear insert 10 approximates an entire human foot.

As shown in FIG. 2, the footwear insert 10 includes a first portion 12 and a second portion 14. The first portion 12 of the footwear insert 10 may be referred to as a base portion 12. The first portion 12 includes a first surface 16, and a second surface 18 opposite the first surface 16. The first surface 16 may be a slip resistant surface. The first portion 12 comprises a first material 12a. According to various embodiments, the first material 12a may comprise any material suitable for providing support, cushioning and/or comfort to a user of the footwear insert 10. For example, according to various embodiments, the first material 12a may comprise a heavy duty natural open-cell rubber material. According to various embodiments, the first portion 12 may further comprise a humidity absorbing material 12b and/or an odor absorbing material 12c such as, for example, carbon particles. Although the humidity absorbing materials 12b are shown in FIG. 2 as being proximate the second surface 18 and the odor absorbing materials 12c are shown as being proximate the first surface 16, it is understood that the humidity absorbing materials 12b and odor absorbing materials 12c may be positioned anywhere within the first material 12a.

The second portion 14 of the footwear insert 10 includes a first surface 20, and a second surface 22 opposite the first surface 20. The first surface 20 of the second portion 14 is adhered to the second surface 18 of the first portion 12. The second portion 14 of the footwear insert 10 comprises a second material 14a and a sublimation ink 14b positioned within the second material 14a. Thus, the second portion 14 is a composite comprising the second material 14a and the sublimation ink 14b.

12 According to various embodiments, the second material 14a may comprise any material suitable for providing comfort to a user of the footwear insert 10. For example, according to various embodiments, the second material 14a may comprise a soft brush polyester fabric.

The sublimation ink 14b is generally positioned within the second material 14a proximate a surface of the second material 14a. As shown in FIG. 1, the sublimation ink 14b is visible through the second surface 22 of the second portion 14 of the footwear insert 10. According to various embodiments, the second portion 14 may comprise any number of sublimation inks 14b, and sublimation inks 14b of different colors may be positioned within the second material 14a to form any number of patterns visible through the second surface 22. The process utilized to transfer the sublimation ink 14b to the material 14a, explained in more detail hereinbelow, results in the second surface 22 of the second portion 14 being extremely soft to the touch, thereby adding to the comfort experienced by a user of the footwear insert 10.

According to various embodiments, the combined thickness of the first and second portions 12, 14 is approximately one-eighth of an inch. However, it is understood that the combined thickness may be less than or greater than one-eighth of an inch. In general, the thickness of the first portion 12 is significantly greater than the thickness of the second portion 14. For example, according to various embodiments, the thickness of the first portion 12 may be approximately fifteen times greater than the thickness of the second portion 14. However, it is understood that, according to other embodiments, the thickness of the first portion 12 may not necessarily be significantly greater than the thickness of the second portion 14.

FIG. 3 illustrates various embodiments of a method 30 of producing the footwear insert 10 of FIG. 1. The process begins at block 32, where a first composite comprising the second material 14a and the sublimation ink 14b is formed. The first composite has the same structure as the second portion 14, but may be formed to be of a size that is much larger than an individual second portion 14.

According to various embodiments, the first composite is formed by transferring sublimation ink 14b to the second material 14a. According to various embodiments, a sublimation transfer formed with sublimation ink 14b may be placed on a surface of the second material 14a and be subjected to heat and pressure. The sublimation transfer may be formed with any number of sublimation inks 14b, and each of the respective sublimation inks 14b may be of any color. Therefore, any number of patterns and colors may be represented by the sublimation transfer. The application of heat activates the sublimation inks 14b in the sublimation transfer, thereby initiating a change in state of the sublimation inks 14b from a solid substance directly into a gas or vapor. The application of heat also serves to form openings in the surface of the second material 14a. The application of pressure serves to force the vapor into the openings. When the heat is removed, the surface of the second material 14a generally regains its original form and the sublimation gases that were forced into the second material 14a revert back to a solid state and remain trapped within the second material 14 proximate the surface of the second material 14a, thereby forming the first composite. The one or more sublimation inks 14b in the first composite are visible through a surface of the first composite.

From block 32, the process advances to block 34, where a second composite is formed by adhering the first composite to a piece, sheet, roll, etc. of the first material 12a. The first composite may be adhered to the first material using any suitable adhesive, inorganic or organic, natural or synthetic, capable of bonding the first composite and the first material 12a together by surface attachment. The second composite has the same structure as the footwear insert 10, but may be formed to be of a size that is much larger than an individual footwear insert 10.

From block 34, the process advances to block 36, where any number of individual footwear inserts 10 are removed from the second composite formed at block 34. The individual footwear inserts 10 may be removed from the second composite in any suitable manner. For example, according to various embodiments, the individual footwear inserts 10 may be cut (e.g., die-cut or laser cut) or stamped from the second composite formed at block 34, and may be of any size and shape.

While several embodiments of the invention have been described, it should be apparent, however, that various modifications, alterations and adaptations to those embodiments may occur to persons skilled in the art with the attainment of some or all of the advantages of the disclosed invention. For example, in lieu of producing the footwear insert 10 by the process described with respect to FIG. 3, a plurality of individual second portions 14 may be cut from the first composite, then each respective second portion 14 may be adhered to a different first portion 12. It is therefore intended to cover all such modifications, alterations and adaptations without departing from the scope and spirit of the disclosed invention as defined by the appended claims.