Title:
Reversible cleat with shock absorption
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention relates to a system for securing a reversible cleat having a securing mechanism, an anchoring mechanism adapted to be attached to a sole of a shoe, and a cleat having a first side and a second side and placed between the securing mechanism and the anchoring mechanism. The cleat is further supported by a spring proximately placed to the cleat for absorbing shock. The second side faces toward the anchoring mechanism when the securing mechanism is removably secured to the anchoring mechanism. The second side is repositioned to face away from the anchoring mechanism by removing the securing mechanism from the anchoring mechanism, removing and repositioning the cleat with the second side facing away from the anchoring mechanism, and removably securing the securing mechanism to the anchoring mechanism.



Inventors:
Santos, Kenneth Daniel (Taunton, MA, US)
Savoie, Armand (Gardner, MA, US)
Issler, James E. (Greenwich, CT, US)
Application Number:
11/414472
Publication Date:
12/14/2006
Filing Date:
04/28/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43B5/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20060000120Proprioceptive orthopedic sole comprising modular correction meansJanuary, 2006Chenut et al.
20070130801Combination outsole and friction sheetJune, 2007Wu
20060277800Reversible cleat with shock absorptionDecember, 2006Santos et al.
20080216356Roof Shoe PadSeptember, 2008Croucher
20030009919Process for making a shoe outsoleJanuary, 2003Stein
20010025440Studs for sports footwear and method of manufactureOctober, 2001Annovi
20040114353Footwear having vessel containing light-scattering reflective devicesJune, 2004Romeo
20060236562Shoe sole insertOctober, 2006Wang
20040159016Method for manufacturing a part of a sports bootAugust, 2004Perotto
20080201993Shoe Sole Composed of Polyamide Resin Composition and Shoe Using SameAugust, 2008Fukawa et al.



Primary Examiner:
KAVANAUGH, JOHN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ST. ONGE STEWARD JOHNSTON & REENS LLC (STAMFORD, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for securing a reversible cleat, comprising: a securing mechanism; an anchoring mechanism adapted to be attached to a sole of a shoe; a cleat having a first side and a second side and placed between said securing mechanism and said anchoring mechanism; a spring proximate to said cleat for absorbing shock; wherein said second side faces toward said anchoring mechanism when said securing mechanism is removably secured to said anchoring mechanism; and wherein said second side is repositioned to face away from said anchoring mechanism by removing said securing mechanism from said anchoring mechanism, removing and repositioning said cleat with said second side facing away from said anchoring mechanism, and removably securing said securing mechanism to said anchoring mechanism.

2. The system according to claim 1, further comprising a moisture absorbing material proximate to said cleat for reducing moisture.

3. The system according to claim 2, further comprising a second moisture absorbing material proximate to said cleat for absorbing moisture.

4. The system according to claim 3, wherein said second moisture absorbing material is interchangeable with said moisture absorbing material.

5. The system according to claim 1, further comprising a moisture absorbing material attached to said spring for reducing moisture.

6. The system according to claim 1, wherein said first side and said second side each have at least one extension.

7. The system according to claim 1, further comprising a second spring proximate to said cleat for absorbing shock.

8. The system according to claim 7, wherein said second spring is interchangeable with said spring.

9. The system according to claim 1, further comprising a plurality of cleats, each cleat of said plurality of cleats being removably interchangeable with said cleat.

10. A system for securing a reversible cleat, comprising: a securing mechanism; an anchoring mechanism adapted to be attached to a sole of a shoe; said securing mechanism having a sole side with at least one extension extending from said sole side; said anchoring mechanism having at least one pocket; a cleat having a first side and a second side and placed between said securing mechanism and said anchoring mechanism; a moisture absorbing material proximate to said cleat for reducing moisture; wherein said second side faces toward said anchoring mechanism when said at least one extension of said securing mechanism is removably placed in said at least one pocket of said anchoring mechanism; and wherein said second side is repositioned to face away from said anchoring mechanism by removing said at least one extension of said securing mechanism from said at least one pocket of said anchoring mechanism, removing and repositioning said cleat with said second side facing away from said anchoring mechanism, and removably placing said at least one extension of said securing mechanism in said at least one pocket of said anchoring mechanism.

11. The system according to claim 10, wherein said cleat is placed between said securing mechanism and said anchoring mechanism.

12. The system according to claim 10, wherein said first side and said second side each have at least one extension.

13. The system according to claim 10, further comprising a spring proximate to said cleat for absorbing shock.

14. The system according to claim 10, wherein said anchoring mechanism has 3 pockets and said securing mechanism has 3 extensions.

15. The system according to claim 10, wherein securing mechanism has at least one tool receptacle, each one adapted to receive a tool for securing and unsecuring said securing mechanism.

16. A system for securing a reversible cleat, comprising: a securing mechanism; an anchoring mechanism adapted to be attached to a sole of a shoe; a cleat having a placed between said securing mechanism and said anchoring mechanism; a spring proximate to said cleat for absorbing shock; a moisture absorbing material proximate to said cleat for absorbing moisture; wherein said cleat is removably secured to said anchoring mechanism by said securing mechanism.

17. The system according to claim 16, further comprising a plurality of springs, each spring being interchangeable with a next spring and each spring having a physical characteristic different than a next spring.

18. The system according to claim 16, further comprising a plurality of moisture absorbing materials, each moisture absorbing material being interchangeable with a next moisture absorbing material and each moisture absorbing material having a physical characteristic different than a next moisture absorbing material.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/759,672 filed Jan. 16, 2004, which application is currently pending. The present application also claims the benefits under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/675,667 filed Apr. 28, 2005, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a shoe having a removable, interchangeable, and reversible cleat with shock absorption.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In instances where improved traction may be desired, cleated shoes may have been provided because cleats may dig into a surface more easily than a flat sole. However, there may be situations where a user may wish to take off the cleated shoe, such as when the user may be leaving an athletic field and immediately entering an indoor area. In these scenarios, and in the event the user does not wish to be shoeless, the user may need to bring along another pair of shoes that do not have cleats.

Therefore, to alleviate the need for some users to carry multiple pairs of shoes, some shoes may have removable cleats where the cleats may be fastened and unfastened to a sole. U.S. Pat. No. 5,768,809 to Savoie, U.S. Pat. No. 6,154,984 to Adam, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,926,980 to Adam may provide an example of a shoe with a cleat that may be removed from the sole. Removable cleats are typically desired when a user walks to and from surfaces where cleats are and are not needed, such as indoor and outdoor surfaces. Golfers typically must remove their shoes that have cleats, which may result in some golfers being shoeless, prior to entering a club house. Therefore, a shoe with removable cleats would enable golfers to enter a club house without removing the entire shoe.

A possible disadvantage of a shoe with removable cleats is that the user may need to carry the removed cleats. A further disadvantage of the shoe with removable cleats is the user may, because the removed cleats are not fastened to the shoe, misplace one or more of the removed cleats.

Additionally, although removable cleats may allow a user to switch between a cleated sole and a flat sole, a limitation may be that the shoe does not permit cleats to be interchanged with different kinds of cleats having different limitations. A shoe with the ability to have varying types of cleats may be useful when a user encounters varying surfaces upon which traction is needed, such as when the user encounters grass, mud, and/or gravel surfaces. Rather than changing shoes or between a cleated and uncleated shoe, it may be more convenient or cost effective to simply interchange cleats. Moreover, many types of cleats may be used with a single pair of shoes that permits the cleats to be interchanged, which may permit improved versatility, convenience, and cost effectiveness.

U.S. patent application Publication No. US2003/0172551 to Lee appears to show a cleat that is rotatable. However, the rotatable cleat does not appear to be interchangeable or removable. Therefore, the shoe may be limited to two types of cleats. Moreover, Lee may be limited to a cleated shoe where the cleats are typically employed on a continuous basis.

Another disadvantage of a cleated shoe is that the shoe may lack sufficient cushioning in the localized areas of the cleats. This may be due to the distribution of the wearer's weight being limited to the surface areas of the cleats instead of the entire bottom of the shoe, where the total surface areas of the cleats usually represent a fraction of the surface area of the entire bottom of the shoe. As a result, each cleat often transfers forces from the ground due to the impact of walking or running to localized areas of the foot, which may be painful, particularly over long periods of time. In order to alleviate these localized areas of pain where the cleats are located, increased cushioning may be needed. However, most shoes have a uniformly applied layer of cushioning across the entire inside surface of the shoe and do not normally account for the improper distribution of weight caused by the cleats. This problem may be exacerbated if, due to a lack of space or to reduce costs, the layer of cushioning is reduced in thickness.

What is desired, therefore, is a shoe with a cleat that may be removed and interchanged with another type of cleat. What is also desired is a shoe that permits multiple types of cleats to be interchanged with one another to improve versatility, convenience, and cost effectiveness. A further desire is a shoe that permits cleats to be interchanged while reducing the likelihood of misplacing or losing cleats that are not being used. Yet another desire is a shoe with enhanced cushioning in the areas where the cleats are located.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, it is an object of the invention to provide a cleat that is removable and interchangeable with another cleat.

It is also an object of the invention to provide a shoe that permits cleats to be interchangeable with other cleats having different limitations.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a shoe that utilizes a plurality of cleats, where each cleat has a first end that has different limitations from a second end and where a user may select either end to be used on a walking surface.

It is yet another object of the invention to provide a shoe that may be worn with or without cleats.

Still another object of the invention is to provide a shoe that utilizes a plurality of removable and interchangeable cleats, where each cleat has a first end having different limitations from a second end and where all cleats have different limitations from one another.

These and other objects of the invention are achieved by a system for securing a reversible cleat having a securing mechanism, an anchoring mechanism adapted to be attached to a sole of a shoe, and a cleat having a first side and a second side and placed between the securing mechanism and the anchoring mechanism. The cleat is further supported by a spring proximately placed to the cleat for absorbing shock. The second side faces toward the anchoring mechanism when the securing mechanism is removably secured to the anchoring mechanism. The second side is repositioned to face away from the anchoring mechanism by removing the securing mechanism from the anchoring mechanism, removing and repositioning the cleat with the second side facing away from the anchoring mechanism, and removably securing the securing mechanism to the anchoring mechanism.

In further embodiments, the system includes a moisture absorbing material proximate to the cleat for reducing moisture. The moisture absorbing material may be in addition to or instead of the spring. In some embodiments, the moisture absorbing material is attached to the spring. In an optional embodiment, a second moisture absorbing material is placed proximate to the cleat for absorbing moisture. The second moisture absorbing material is also interchangeable with the first moisture absorbing material.

Optionally, the system includes a second spring proximate to the cleat for absorbing shock. The second spring is also interchangeable with the first spring.

In some embodiments, the first and second sides each have at least one extension. More specifically, the anchoring mechanism has 3 pockets and the securing mechanism has 3 extensions. In other embodiments, a plurality of cleats are provided, each cleat of the plurality of cleats being removably interchangeable with each the cleat.

In further embodiments, the securing mechanism has at least one tool receptacle, each one adapted to receive a tool for securing and unsecuring the securing mechanism.

In another aspect of the invention, a system for securing a reversible cleat includes a securing mechanism, an anchoring mechanism adapted to be attached to a sole of a shoe, a cleat having a placed between the securing mechanism and the anchoring mechanism, a spring proximate to the cleat for absorbing shock, and a moisture absorbing material proximate to the cleat for absorbing moisture, wherein the cleat is removably secured to the anchoring mechanism by the securing mechanism.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1a is an isometric view of the reversible cleat with shock absorption in accordance with the invention where the first side of the cleat is facing upwards.

FIG. 1b is an isometric view of the reversible cleat with shock absorption shown in FIG. 1a where the second side of the cleat is facing upwards.

FIG. 2 is an assembly view of the reversible cleat with shock absorption shown in FIG. 1a.

FIG. 3a depicts a cross sectional view of the reversible cleat with shock absorption shown in FIG. 1a.

FIG. 3b depicts a cross sectional view of the reversible cleat with shock absorption shown in FIG. 1b.

FIG. 4 depicts another embodiment of the reversible cleat with shock absorption shown in FIG. 1a.

FIG. 5 depicts another embodiment of the reversible cleat with shock absorption shown in FIG. 1a.

FIG. 6 depicts another embodiment of the reversible cleat with shock absorption shown in FIG. 1a.

FIG. 7 depicts another embodiment of the reversible cleat with shock absorption shown in FIG. 1a.

FIGS. 8-11 depict another embodiment of the reversible cleat with shock absorption shown in FIGS. 1a-1b.

FIG. 12 is a side view of a cleat according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 13 is a top view of the cleat of FIG. 12, showing the shape of the lobes to be inserted into a mated receptacle in the bottom of athletic footwear.

FIG. 14 is another side view of the cleat of FIG. 12.

FIG. 15 is a bottom view of the cleat of FIG. 12.

FIG. 16 is a bottom view of a receptacle that may receive the FIG. 12 cleat.

FIG. 17 is a top section view of the FIG. 16 receptacle wherein the top layer of the receptacle has been removed.

FIG. 18 is a side vertical section of the receptacle of FIG. 17.

FIG. 19 is a top view of the FIG. 17 receptacle wherein the top layer has not been removed.

FIG. 20A is a perspective right side view of a cleat according to a preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 20B is a perspective top view of the FIG. 20A cleat.

FIG. 20C is a perspective front view of the FIG. 20A cleat.

FIG. 20D is a perspective left view of the FIG. 20A cleat.

FIG. 21 is a top view of the cleat of FIG. 20A, showing the shape of the lobes to be inserted into a mated receptacle in the bottom of athletic footwear.

FIG. 22 is another side view of the cleat of FIG. 20A.

FIG. 23A is a top section view of the receptacle for receiving the cleat of FIG. 20A, wherein the top layer of the receptacle has been removed.

FIG. 23B is a perspective bottom view of the receptacle shown in FIG. 23A.

FIG. 24 is a side vertical section of the receptacle of FIG. 23A.

FIG. 25 is a bottom view of a cover for the FIG. 23A receptacle.

FIG. 26 is a side view of the cover shown in FIG. 25.

FIG. 27 is a partial view of a FIG. 20A cleat inserted into a FIG. 23A receptacle.

FIG. 28 is a bottom view of the FIG. 20A cleat.

FIG. 29 is a top view of an unassembled receptacle for receiving the FIG. 20A cleat.

FIG. 30 is a bottom view of the FIG. 29 receptacle.

FIG. 31 is a section view of the FIG. 29 receptacle.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1a and 1b depict the system 10 for securing a reversible cleat 20 with shock absorption and moisture absorption in accordance with the invention. As shown, cleat 20 may be positioned with either first side, FIG. 1a, or second side, FIG. 1b, being exposed and extending away from sole 14 of a shoe. Although cleat 20 is shown to extend in an upward direction, it is understood that sole 14 represents a bottom of a shoe and, when being worn by a user, cleat 20 extends in a downward direction toward a walking surface. Cleat 20 is shown to extend in an upward direction for the purpose of facilitating the depiction of all the components of system 10.

System 10 further includes securing mechanism 30, which removably secures cleat 20 to anchoring mechanism 40 (shown in FIGS. 2-3b). Securing mechanism 30 is removably attached or secured to anchoring mechanism 40 by any known or novel manners for securement. In some embodiments, threads are used to engage securing mechanism 30 to anchoring mechanism 40. In further embodiments, fasteners are used. In still other embodiments, adhesives are used. The manner securing mechanism 30 is removably secured to anchoring mechanism 40 should not be a limitation on system 10. All that is required is that securing mechanism 30 be removably secured to anchoring mechanism 40.

As shown, FIGS. 2-3b depict spring 124 for absorbing shock, due to compressive forces upon cleat 20, and returning cleat 20 to its approximate original position prior to the application of the compressive forces. Spring 124 is positioned on outer shoulder 304 located in sole 14 when cleat is unsecured from anchoring mechanism. When cleat 20 is secured to anchoring mechanism 40, spring 124 is located between extension 332 of cleat 20 and outer shoulder 304 in a vertical direction and between outer diameter 308 of sole 14 and body 21 cleat 20 in a horizontal direction. In this embodiment, spring 124 provides shock absorption in the vertical and/or horizontal direction.

In addition, FIGS. 2-3b depict moisture absorption material 312 for reducing moisture from entering anchoring mechanism 40, securing mechanism 30, or both. As shown, moisture absorption material 312 is placed along bottom surface 144 of notch 326 between inner diameter 15 of sole 14 and anchoring mechanism 40.

Although spring 124 is shown to be an O-ring, any shock absorbing material may be used, such as a helical spring, leaf spring, coiled spring, rubber, plastic, and the like. In some embodiments, moisture absorption material 312 is used as spring 124 for absorbing shock and for absorbing moisture. In these embodiments, the material for moisture absorbing material 312 should be durable, whereas in the embodiments where spring 124 is an O-ring moisture absorbing material 312 need not have such durability.

The material for moisture absorbing material 312 is any woven or unwoven cloth that absorbs moisture, such as cotton, polyesther and the like. The material for moisture absorbing material 312 is described in greater detail below.

As shown in FIG. 3a, cleat 20 is reversed 180 degrees from the embodiment shown in FIG. 3b. Cleat 20 and its reversible features are more particularly described below.

FIG. 4 depicts another embodiment of the invention where moisture absorption material 312 is deleted from bottom surface 144 of notch 326. Instead, moisture absorption material 312 may be wrapped about spring 124.

In another embodiment, FIG. 5 shows spring 124 placed between rigid material 32 and anchoring mechanism 40 in a vertical direction and between body of cleat 20 and securing mechanism 30 in a horizontal direction. In the vertical direction, spring 124 supports rigid material 32 regardless of which side of cleat 20 is placed downwardly into notch 326. In this embodiment, for the advantages stated below, rigid material 32 being cushioned by spring 124 enhances the overall structural integrity.

In another embodiment shown in FIG. 6, multiple springs 124 may be used or placed in multiple locations for enhancing shock absorption. In environments where enhanced shock absoprotion is desired or where excessive compressive forces are encountered, this embodiment would be preferable. Moreover, because cleat 20 is removable, the shock absorption may be adjusted by removing or adding springs 124 or replacing a single spring with another spring that is stronger or more flexible.

In a further embodiment, a plurality of springs is provided where each spring being interchangeable with a next spring and each spring has a physical characteristic different than a next spring. For example, where spring 124 is an O-ring, a thicker or thinner diameter of the O-ring would affect the overall shock absorption of cleat 20.

Similarly, in other embodiments, a plurality of moisture absorbing materials is provided, each being interchangeable with a next moisture absorbing material and each has a physical characteristic different than a next moisture absorbing material. For example, a thicker/heavier or thinner/lighter moisture absorbing material 312 would affect the overall reduction of moisture from entering cleat 20 the areas proximate to cleat 20.

FIG. 7 depicts another embodiment of the invention where spring 124 is changed from an O-ring to a leaf spring. In addition to the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, this is a further variation of strengthening or reducing the overall shock absorption capability of cleat 20, particularly when multiple O-rings provide insufficient resistance to the compressive forces encountered by cleat 20, whereas leaf spring 124′ provides enhanced resistance over multiple O-rings.

Material for cleat 20 may be rigid and hard for digging into soft surfaces, such as sand, gravel, grass, and the like. In other embodiments, material for cleat 20 may be soft and flexible for minimizing damage to a surface, such as the green of a golf course.

As shown in FIG. 7, spring 124 may be placed on any surface that comes in contact or comes near contact with any part of cleat 20. As shown, spring 124 is a curved spring. Spring 124 may be secured to bottom surface 144 or top surface 128 of anchoring mechanism 40. Spring 124 may be secured by fasteners 126, which may be rivets, stapes, adhesive, screws, and the like. Because of the curve to spring 124, it acts like a leaf spring and absorbs compressive forces when cleat 20 is pressed, due to walking or running by the user, against bottom surface 144 or top surface 128.

It is understood that any type of known or novel spring may be used to absorb shock due to the compressive forces of cleat 20 during use of the shoe. Spring 124 is not to be a limitation of the invention. Springs include helical, coiled, and the like. All that is required is for a spring be placed between cleat 20 and anchoring mechanism 40.

In some embodiments, securing mechanism 30 includes tool receptacle 31 for placement of a tool to operate securing mechanism 30. As shown in FIGS. 1a and 1b, tool receptacle 31 is a slot for a flat headed screw drive. Also as shown, multiple slots may be used so that in the event one slot is damaged, a user may still operate securing mechanism 30 by utilizing remaining slots.

As shown in FIGS. 8-11, a further embodiment of the invention includes layer 320 of rust inhibitor may be placed between cleat 20 and anchoring mechanism 40 to reduce corrosion or oxidation to spring 124. Layer 320 works by inhibiting water or moisture from passing from the atmosphere or elements to spring 124.

Although layer is shown to be in contact with a lower shoulder of cleat 20, this is not required. Layer 320 may also not be a ring but may be a disc (without a central portion removed) and placed in chamber 322, which is where spring 124 may also be located. Moreover, layer 320 may also be placed against upper shoulder 324 of anchoring mechanism 40. All that is required is for layer 320 to be placed in a position between spring 124, or spring, and moisture from outside of system 10. Layer 320 may be a vapor-permeable and waterproof material. In some embodiments, it may comprise a lower flat element made of shaped rubber-like material, which has a hollow upper region delimited by a border with air passage openings which extend laterally with respect to the ground resting plane; an upper element; a membrane made of waterproof and vapor-permeable material, which is interposed between said lower and upper elements at said hollow region; said lower and upper elements and said membrane being joined hermetically in the perimetric regions of mutual contact.

As shown, securing mechanism 30 is removably secured to anchoring mechanism 40 so that cleat 20 may be removed, interchanged, and/or reversed. In reference to FIGS. 3a and 3b, which represents cross sectional views of system 10 shown in corresponding FIGS. 1a and 1b, respectively, cleat 20 has a first side with at least one extension 22 of a first type and cleat 20 has a second side with at least one extension 24 of a second type. Both the first and second types of extensions have different limitations for the purposes of engaging with different types of walking surfaces. Different limitations include being made of different materials, such as the first type would be of metal and the second type would be of plastic or rubber. In addition, different limitations also include being of different geometric shapes, such as the first type being pointed protrusions for digging into the ground and the second type being flattened protrusions for minimizing damage to the ground. In this fashion, a user need not carry or purchase two different types of cleats or two different types of shoes. To reverse cleat 20 from the first side to the second side, the user merely needs to remove securing mechanism 30 from anchoring mechanism 40, which would enable the user to then remove and reverse cleat 20 from the position shown in FIG. 1a to the position shown in FIG. 1b, and then reattach securing mechanism 30 to anchoring mechanism 40.

Cleat 20 has the benefit of being two cleats in one because the at least one extension 22 of the first type has different limitations than the at least one extension 24 of the second type. A variation of this embodiment may entail having both the at least one extension 22 of the first type have the same limitations as the at least one extension 24 of the second type. Hence, when a first side becomes worn, broken, or otherwise unusable, the second side may be used.

In another embodiment, a plurality of cleats may be provided, each cleat of the plurality of cleats being a different type, or having varying limitations, from other cleats of the plurality of cleats. Each cleat of the plurality of cleats is also interchangeable from cleat 20. This embodiment permits the user to be able to remove cleat 20 from anchoring mechanism 40, select a cleat from the plurality of cleats, and interchange cleat 20 with the selected cleat. Moreover, both cleat and the selected cleat may be reversible in addition to being interchangeable and removable. This embodiment enhances the versatility of the shoe because a single shoe may utilize multiple types of cleats when the user encounters multiple types of walking surfaces.

A more particular description of the material for moisture absorbing material 312 includes a two-layered form of the composite material generally in the form of an insole for a shoe having a cover layer and a foam layer that is hydrophilic with respect to the cover layer, which is operatively joined or connected or bonded or otherwise laminated in any suitable way to the cover layer as by needle punching, so that the composite material acts to draw or transfer moisture or bodily fluids from and through the cover layer into the foam layer which acts as a reservoir, to absorb, gel or store and dissipate such moisture or bodily fluid as by evaporation from or by washing of the composite material. After the moisture or bodily fluid is dissipated, from time to time, the composite material can be reused. However, those skilled in the art will recognize that the composite materials formed in accordance with the present invention can also be made of materials so that the composite material can also be disposable rather than reusable.

The foam layer may be first formed by polymerizing an aqueous mixture, having as its principal component one or more sorbents with or without various additives, with a predetermined quantity of a hydrophilic urethane prepolymer binder so that the polymerization of the polyurethane foam forms a matrix binder for the one or more sorbents. While the sorbents have been referred to as the principal component, it will be readily understood by those skilled in the art that the aqueous mixture may consist of various combinations of other components without departing from the scope of the present invention including absorptive fillers, fibrous materials, including non-woven fiber materials, surfactants, thermoformable acrylic latex emulsions, odor absorbents and bactericides. Further and additional components may include citric acid, rubber particles and thermal phase change particles depending on certain advantageous and desirable characteristics or functions to be achieved by the composite material.

The characteristics of the sorbent component may be selected so that the volume, rate of absorption and the retention or gelling of the moisture absorbed under varying ambient conditions of temperature and pressure may be optimized for a given composite material being formed. Preferred sorbents adapted for use in the aqueous mixture are primarily super absorbent polymers available in the commercial marketplace as SAB 800 from STOCKHAUSEN, Greensboro, N.C. 27406; as SANWET IM 1000 from Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Portsmouth Va. 23703; as ARIDAL 1460 from Chendal Corporation, Palatine, Ill. 60067; and as ARASORB 800F from Arakawa Chemical Industries, Limited, Osaka 541, Japan.

These sodium polyacrylate/polyalcohol polymer and co-polymer sorbents are manufactured and sold in free-flowing, discrete solid particles, in powder or granular form, and are characterized by the fact that they have a propensity for absorbing increasing quantities of aqueous fluid. This would normally lead to the complete solution of the polymers into the aqueous mixture. However, due to the chemical characteristics of the polymers and co-polymers, the formation of a gel takes place precluding the solution of the polymer or co-polymers. Other sorbents including polyethylene oxide, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, and like polymers, desiccants such as silica gel, clays such as bentonite, and the like may be used as well.

Thus, when an aqueous mixture is metered and mixed with a hydrophilic urethane prepolymer, as more fully described below, the urethane prepolymer reacts with the water in the aqueous mixture to form a hydrophilic polyurethane foam, and at the same time when a sodium polyacrylate sorbent is present, the urethane prepolymer reacts with the sorbent to form a hydrophilic acrylic urethane interpolymer.

The combination of the sorbent with the hydrophilic foam thus formed acts in composite materials of either two larger or multiple layers to absorb, adsorb and gel the moisture drawn through the cover layer and to contain and store it so as not to rewet the cover top layer of the layered composite material. The sorbents thus add hydrophilicity to the foam layer of the composite materials.

The additives which may be combined in the aqueous mixture with the sorbents are also available in the commercial marketplace.

Thermoformable acrylic latex emulsions are available from Union Carbide Corporation of New York, N.Y., Rohm & Haas, B. F. Goodrich and others. One preferred form of acrylic emulsion is available from Union Carbide under the trademark “UCAR 154”. As is well known to those or ordinary skill in the art, latex emulsions are surfactant-stabilized polymer emulsions, and are commonly used as binders for non-woven materials. The thermoformable latexes form thermoplastic polymer films that are capable of being formed or molded when the film is heated above the glass transition temperature of the polymer.

Use of acrylic latex emulsions in the foam layer of the present invention thus serves as an alternative to the three-layer composite materials of the present invention wherein the third layer is a thermoformable non-woven material bonded to the side of the foam layer remote from the cover layer. The thermoformable acrylic latex emulsions are incorporated into the foam layer by including the emulsion as part of the aqueous mixture reacted with the hydrophilic urethane prepolymer. The water content of the emulsion reacts with the hydrophilic urethane prepolymer to form the polyurethane foam when the aqueous mixture and the urethane prepolymer are reacted together. Thus, the water content of the emulsion should be included as part of the water content of the aqueous mixture when calculating the ratio of the aqueous mixture to be reacted with the urethane prepolymer. Those of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the acrylate component contributed by the thermoformable acrylic latex emulsion is discrete and separate from the acrylate component contributed by the sodium polyacrylic sorbent, when present.

When the foam polymerization is complete, residual water is driven off by drying the foam at a temperature of about 200 degree Fahrenheit. After bonding of the foam layer to cover layer, the thermoformable acrylic latex, when present, permits the forming or molding of the composite by heating the composite in a mold or other form at a temperature above the glass transition temperature of the acrylic latex, typically a temperature of about 270 degree Fahrenheit, after which the composite is cooled and removed from the mold or form.

Surfactants useful in the combinations in accordance with the present invention are prepared from nonionic polyethylene and polypropylene oxides such as the BASF surfactant available under the trademark “PLURONIC”.

Odor absorption materials are also well known to those skilled in the art and include, activated carbon, green tea, “ABSENT” (UOP); zinc oxide and the like materials.

Bactericides are provided in the commercial marketplace by a myriad of suppliers for controlling bacterial and germ growth. One preferred material is supplied by Lauricidin Co. of Galena, Ill. 61036, under the trademark “LAURICIDIN”.

Phase change materials are capable of absorbing approximately 100 BTU/lb.

Other components may be added to the aqueous mixtures, such as citric acid as a buffer for reducing the pH of the water component to increase loading of the sorbent and the fluid characteristic of the aqueous mixture to facilitate pumping of the aqueous mixture; and ground rubber particles from tires available from Composite Particles of Allentown, Pa. increase the resiliency and thermal protection of the composite material. These will be illustrated in the examples of the aqueous mixture more fully set forth below.

The hydrophilic urethane prepolymer component is also available in the commercial marketplace. Suitable prepolymers will be readily recognized by those of ordinary skill in the art and general procedures for the preparation and formation of such prepolymers can be found in Polyurethane's, Chemistry and Technology by J. H. Saunders and K. C. Frisch published by John Wiley & Sons, New York, N.Y., at Vol. XVI Part 2, High Polymer Series, “Foam Systems”, pages 7-26, and “Procedures for the Preparation of Polymers”, pages 26 et seq.

One preferred form of such prepolymer adapted for use in the present invention because of its strong hydrophilic characteristics and its reasonable price is marketed by Matrix R & D of Dover, N. H. as TDI/PEG Urethane Prepolymer under the trademark “BIPOL”. These products are polyether urethane polymers of toluene diisocyanate terminated polyethylene glycol with less than six percent (6%) available unreacted NCO groups and a component functionality of two (2) or less.

Another urethane prepolymer is available from W. R. Grace Company of New York, N.Y. sold under the trademark “HYPOL 3000”. This “HYPOL” urethane prepolymer is a polyisocyanate capped polyoxylene polyol prepolymer having a component functionality greater than two (2). However, this prepolymer is formulated with a triol which reduces its hydrophilic capability. Therefor this “HYPOL” urethane prepolymer is less acceptable for the formation of the base layer of the composite material.

When the hydrophilic urethane prepolymer is added in precise amounts to the aqueous mixture, in addition to controlling the absorption characteristics of the final composite material, it has been found that it enhances the composite material so it can be sized and thermoformed into three-dimensional shapes such as the insole for shoes.

Thus, in the formation of the foam layer, a given aqueous mixture will be blended in ratios of 2 to 10 parts by weight of the aqueous mixture to 1 part by weight of the hydrophilic urethane prepolymer. Controlling in precise amounts the relative ratio of the aqueous mixture to the hydrophilic acrylic urethane prepolymer within these limits does not impair the capabilities of the super-absorbent polymer for absorbing and gelling moisture and body fluids with which the composite material comes into contact.

Another form of the composite material in accordance with the present invention in which the cover layer, foam layer hydrophilic with respect to the cover layer and a bottom or third layer in the form of a non-woven fiber web or felted non-woven fiber web material. In this form of the composite material, the non-woven fibers selected are preferably those having stiffening or thermoforming capabilities.

Non-woven webs of fibrous materials for this purpose are available in the commercial marketplace as polyester non-woven fibers coated with acrylic resin from Union Wadding of Pawtucket, R.I.; Carr Lee of Rockleigh, N.J.; Stearns Kem Wove of Charlotte, N.C.; and Loren Products of Lawrence, Mass. Such polyester non-woven webs of fibrous material are used in the present invention because of their durability, adhesion to the components of the respective aqueous mixtures, because they act to reduce shrinkage during the secondary drying steps in the formation of the foam layer for the composite material being formed as is hereinafter described and because of the increase tensile strength they impart to thin films of the composite material, in accordance with the present invention, as those used in apparel and other products. Union Wadding supplies such preferred non-woven fibrous webs at 11/2 to 3 ounces per yard (¼″ to ½″ thickness). These are polyester 3 and 6 denier fiber acrylic spray bonded thermoformable materials. These products are formulated to enhance thermoformability of the multi-layered composite material.

Similarly felted non-woven webs of fibrous material are also available in the commercial marketplace from Non Wovens Inc. of North Chelmsford, Mass., who supply their products 8 oz. per square yard, 0.080 thickness, 65% low melt polyester and 35% high melt polyester. These felted non-woven webs of fiber material provide the same improved characteristics to the foam layer of the composite material in accordance with the present invention as has been above described.

It should be noted that non-woven materials may also be introduced as a component of the polyurethane foam layer, rather than being bonded to the foam layer as a discrete third layer. The addition of the non-woven material within the foam layer adds strength, minimizes shrinkage in drying and acts as a wick for moisture transpiration into the foam layer. Such foam layers are formed by depositing the polymerizing foam onto a non-woven fiber web and compressing the foam-coated web to 10% of its thickness, thus coating the fibers of the web with the polymerized foam containing interstitial voids.

As shown in FIGS. 3a-3b, rigid material 32 is permanently attached to cleat 20 and has a higher hardness than cleat 20 to provide structurally integrity to cleat 20 so that cleat 20 may be secured to anchoring mechanism 40 by securing mechanism 30. Without rigid material 32, and if rigid material 32 were replaced with the same material used to provide cleat 20, cleat 20 may flex around, due to walking, head 38 of securing mechanism 30 and accidentally separate from system 10. As shown, rigid material 32 is integrally formed with cleat 20, where rigid material 32 may have an orifice through which vertical member 26 of cleat material passes during fabrication of cleat 20 and rigid material 32.

Rigid material 32 includes a first shoulder 34 and a second shoulder 36 where securing mechanism 30, when removably secured to anchoring mechanism 40 to secure cleat 20 in a position where the first side faces away from sole 14, compresses against first shoulder 34 and anchoring mechanism 40 compresses against second shoulder 36 (see FIG. 3a). When the second side faces away from sole 14, securing mechanism 30 compresses against second shoulder 36 and anchoring mechanism 40 compresses against first shoulder 34 (see FIG. 3b). As shown, head 38 of securing mechanism 30 makes contact with and compresses against either first or second shoulder, 34 and 36, and shoulder 42 of anchoring mechanism 40 makes contact with and compresses against either first or second shoulder, 34 and 36.

In addition to providing structural integrity to cleat 20, rigid material 32 also provides proper placement, in an axial direction, of the at least one extension for both the first and second sides of cleat 20. It is envisioned that first and second shoulders 34 and 36 are, in an axial direction, equidistant from the furthest points of both the at least one extension of the first and second sides of cleat 20. Being equidistant, or centrally located in the axial direction, between the outermost points of both the at least one extension of the first and second sides of cleat 20, both the at least one extension of the first and second sides extend away from sole 14 the same distance as one another. Therefore, when switching between the first and second sides, the fit of the shoe is consistent.

If, for example, the first and second shoulders, 34 and 36, are located more toward the first side, and when the user switches from the first to the second side, the user may experience that the cleats extend farther on the second side than the first side. This may be desirable in some embodiments, such as when a user encounters a muddy terrain and longer cleats are beneficial.

It is not necessary that first and second shoulders, 34 and 36, have a particular surface area or geometry. The design of first and second shoulders 34 and 36 are shown in the figures for exemplary purposes. All that is required of first and second shoulders 34 and 36 is that they have a location against which it may be compressed by either securing mechanism 30 or anchoring mechanism 40. The location may be a single contact point, line contact, or surface.

In other embodiments, rigid material 32 is removable from cleat 20 so that cleat 20 may be replaced when worn and rigid material 32 would not need to be discarded, which is often the result when rigid material 32 is permanently or integrally formed with cleat 20.

Also, FIGS. 3a and 3b show anchoring mechanism 40 permanently attached to sole 14. In some embodiments, anchoring mechanism 40 may be integrally formed with sole 14, where anchoring mechanism 40 may have an orifice through which vertical member 16 of sole material passes during fabrication of sole 14 and anchoring mechanism 40.

Optionally, a quick release mechanism may be used to removably secure securing mechanism 30 with anchoring mechanism 40. The quick release mechanism that may optionally be employed is shown in FIGS. 12-31.

FIG. 12 shows bottom side 117 and top side 116 of the plastic skirt 115, the ground-engaging head portion 110 of the cleat, a base 113 to which the plastic skirt and ground-engaging portion are attached and a retaining member 120, which in this case is a base 113 with three rounded extensions 122, all of which are positioned around a central axis 128. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the top 116 of the skirt 115 is slightly concave, and the bottom 117 of the skirt 115 is somewhat convex.

FIG. 13 shows the topside 116 of the cleat skirt 115 and the retaining member 120, which has a roughly triangular shape with indentations 126. The extensions 122 of the retaining member 120 are used in conjunction with components inside the receptacle, shown as item 130 in FIG. 16, for locking in place a properly inserted retaining member 120. Locking in place occurs after inserting the retaining member 120 into a mated receptacle opening 140 as shown in FIG. 16 and FIG. 17, and torquing the retaining member. The extensions 122 are attached to the base 113 (shown in FIG. 12), and together the extensions and the base form the retaining member 120. In a preferred embodiment of the quick release mechanism, a completed cleat, comprising the retaining member 120 and traction gear, is made out of plastic with a metal core used to reinforce the structure. Although the quick release mechanism could be made entirely out of metal, it is preferable that the cleat be made partially of plastic and partially of metal. When the retaining member is plastic, the retaining member may be integrally formed with a plastic skirt of a golf cleat with a core, preferably metal, extending through the retaining member and the traction gear to form the ground-engaging head portion 110 shown in FIG. 12.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, upon insertion of the retaining member 120 into a receptacle, the angled surface 124 (shown in FIG. 12) of the extensions 122 allows for a tighter fit of the retaining member 120 into the receptacle 140 (shown in FIG. 16). The tight connection not only serves to give a stable connection between the shoe and traction gear, but also serves to keep moisture and debris out of the attachment system.

FIG. 14 is another view showing the structure and proportion of the retaining member 120 as attached to traction gear 121. FIGS. 13 and 14 show that in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the extensions 122 form a broad retaining member 120, and the base 113 is cylindrical and concentrically disposed around the center axis 128; the base 113 is attached to the extensions 122 and the traction gear 121.

FIG. 15, a bottom view of the FIG. 12 cleat, shows that, in a preferred embodiment of the quick release mechanism, cleats do not have to be redesigned beyond modifying the retaining member 120 (shown in FIG. 12), and that conventional cleat designs are intended to be used in conjunction with the new retaining member; once a cleat is installed, the change in the retaining system is not apparent. A standard golf-cleat wrench may be used to engage the traction gear through use of the wrench holes 118.

FIG. 14 is a bottom view of a receptacle 130 that may receive the FIG. 12 cleat, showing the receptacle opening 140, with indentations 144 along its perimeter for accepting the retaining member extensions 122 (shown in FIG. 12). FIG. 16 also shows the ledges 46 that while serving to form the shape of the opening 140, also serve to hold the extensions 122 within the receptacle. Although preferred embodiments of the invention include a single receptacle opening 140, alternate embodiments of the system could have a receptacle with separate openings for receiving extensions.

FIG. 17 is a section view of FIG. 16 where the top layer of the receptacle has been removed to show the inner-cavity structure for receiving the retaining member 120 (shown in FIG. 12). Within the cavity, formed by wall portion 150, there are several cantilevered fingers 151, or spring arms, that are designed to grip and hold an installed retaining member. When a retaining member is inserted into the indentations 144 and twisted, the twisting action causes a protruding edge of an extension 122 (shown in FIG. 12) to push into and bend the finger 151 to allow the extension to be turned past the location of the finger. Once the protruding edge of an extension passes the location of the finger, the finger springs back to nearly its original shape, so that surface 153 rests against the perimeter of the extension 122. This allows the cleat to be removed, but only by exerting sufficient force to bend the finger 151 away from the surface of the extension 122, an arrangement requiring much greater torque than that required during installation of the retraining member. In one embodiment, the fingers are elongated in shape, with surface 153 forming a curved tip to the finger. FIG. 17 also shows bumps 155 which serve as a means for preventing a retaining member from being turned too far. In a preferred embodiment, the cleat should not be turned more than about 60°. Coincident with the fingers 151 locking into place, the protruding edge of an extension is blocked from further movement by the bumps 155, and the entire retaining system is prevented from falling out of the receptacle by ledges 146. FIG. 14 also shows one method of attaching the receptacle to the underside of footwear by the use of mounting holes 157.

Spacing within the receptacle may be designed such that during installation of a cleat, the receptacle opening 140 in which the extension is turned gradually narrows to compress and securely hold the cleat in place. Preferably the spacing is consistent or more gradual than the angled surface, so that the angled surfaces 124 (shown in FIG. 12) of the extension 122 being pressed against the ledges 146 cause the fit to be tight. In addition, having three extensions parallel to the cleat skirt makes for a more secure base for a cleat.

FIG. 18 is a vertical section of a portion of the embodiment of the receptacle of FIG. 17. This view shows the ledge 146 formed by the bottom layer 145 of the receptacle and the wall portion 150 that defines the cavity within the receptacle. This view also shows the slight rise 148 which forms a lip at the receptacle opening so that the edge of an installed cleat's skirt may overlay the lip. The lip helps hold the cleat in place and makes it more resistant to lateral forces while the cleat is in use.

FIG. 19, which is the FIG. 9 receptacle where the top layer has not been removed, is a view from the top of the receptacle 130 in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention. This view shows the top side 167 of the mounting holes for attaching the receptacle.

FIGS. 20A-20D, 21 and 22 show a preferred embodiment of a cleat having the same basic characteristics and structural concerns of the FIGS. 12, 13, and 14 embodiments discussed hereinabove. Evident in FIG. 20A are the bottom side 117b and top side 116b of the plastic skirt 115b, the ground-engaging head portion 110b of the cleat, a base 113b to which the plastic skirt and ground-engaging portion are attached and a retaining member 120b, which in this case is a base 113b with three rounded extensions 122b, the extensions having an angled surface 124b and being positioned around a central axis 128b. FIGS. 20B-20D are respectively the perspective top, front, and left view of the FIG. 20A cleat.

Evident in FIG. 21 are the corresponding topside 116b of the cleat skirt 115b and the retaining member 120b, with indentations 126b. The extensions 122b of the retaining member 120b are used in conjunction with components inside the receptacle 184 of FIG. 23A, for locking in place a properly inserted retaining member 120b. Locking in place occurs after inserting the retaining member 120b into a mated receptacle opening 140b shown in FIG. 23A, and torquing the retaining member. As with the FIG. 12 embodiment, upon inserting the retaining member 120b into a receptacle 184, the angled surface 124h (shown in FIG. 20A) of the extensions 122b forces a gradual compression of the retaining member 120b as it is inserted into the receptacle opening 140b, resulting in a tight connection giving stability while also serving to keep moisture and debris out of the attachment system.

Also evident in the FIG. 21 embodiment is a modification to the FIG. 13 embodiment, where the extensions 122 of FIG. 13 are modified to include an indentation 170 that further enhances the invention's resistivity to unlocking and its unintentional removal through normal use. Increased resistivity is effected by an interlocking of a cantilevered finger 174 (shown in FIG. 27) with the indentation 170. The cantilevered finger 174 corresponds to the cantilevered finger 151 of the FIG. 17 embodiment, in which the cantilevered finger 151 has been thickened to afford a greater resistivity to unintentional unlocking. Further, upon complete insertion of the retaining member 120b into an appropriate receptacle 184 (shown in FIG. 23A), the end portion 190 of the cantilevered finger 174 rests within the indentation 170. Consequently, removal of the cleat requires greater torque than that required to install the cleat.

FIG. 22 is another view showing the structure and proportion of the retaining member 120b as attached to traction gear 121b, indicating the location of indentation 170, as well as showing that the placement of the retaining member 120b and base 113b is concentrically disposed around the center axis 128b.

FIG. 23A is a section view of a preferred embodiment of a receptacle for receiving the cleat of FIGS. 20A-20D, 21 and 22, where the top layer of the receptacle 184 has been removed to show the inner-cavity structure for receiving the retaining member 120b (shown in FIG. 20A). FIG. 23B shows a perspective view of the FIG. 23A receptacle. As with the FIG. 17 embodiments, included within the cavity, formed by wall portion 178, are several cantilevered fingers 174 designed to grip and hold an installed retaining member 120b. When a retaining member is inserted and twisted, the twisting action causes a protruding edge of an extension 122b to push into and bend the finger 174 to allow the extension to be turned past the location of the finger. Once the protruding edge of an extension passes the location of the finger 174, the finger springs back to nearly its original shape, so that end portion 190 contacts the perimeter of the extension 122b. As described hereinabove, when the end portion 190 contacts extension 122b, there is an interlocking of cantilevered finger 174 with the indentation 170 (shown in FIG. 21). This allows the cleat to he removed, hut only by exerting sufficient force to disengage and bend finger 174 away from indentation 170 and the surface of the extension 122b, an arrangement requiring much greater torque than that required during installation of the retaining member. As with the FIG. 17 embodiment, the fingers are preferably elongated in shape, end portion 190 forms a curved tip to the finger, and bumps 155b serve as a means for preventing a retaining member from being turned too far during insertion.

Also evident in the FIG. 23A receptacle is another preferred embodiment for attaching the receptacle 184 to the underside of footwear by the use of a mounting slot 180. In this embodiment, the perimeter 101 of the receptacle 184 comprises three flanges disposed around the receptacle opening 140b. In preferred embodiments, within each flange 182 of the perimeter are two slots 180 for mounting the receptacle 184 to footwear. Mounting of the receptacle is by methods known in the prior art, and may include forming sole material around the slots, or inserting a pin or other object through the slot to effectively nail the receptacle to an inner-sole of a shoe, and then forming the outer-sole material around the receptacle so affixed. The slots 180 are separated by a pre-determined distance and are preferably curved to conform to the curvature of the flange 182 in which the slot 180 is set. Also shown are three openings 188 to allow for attaching a receptacle cover 196 (shown in FIG. 25) to the receptacle 184.

FIG. 24 is a vertical section of a portion of the embodiment of the receptacle of FIG. 23A. The FIG. 24 embodiment has a ridge 176 has been added in the bottom layer 186 of the wall portion 178 of the receptacle. In this preferred embodiment, the ridge 176 is located upon the downward side of the receptacle and helps assure mold seal-off. Sealing off the mold helps prevent sole material from the outsole molding process from accidentally spilling in over the bottom-end of the receptacle during production. (The receptacle and outsole are preferably molded ground-side up.) In addition, by adding ridge 176 to the basic design of FIG. 17, the structure of the FIG. 17 receptacle is strengthened, making it less susceptible to torques, distortions, or other forces. This results in better retention of the receptacle within the sole of athletic footwear.

FIG. 25 shows a receptacle cover 196 having three holes 192 corresponding to the three openings 188 shown in FIG. 23. In preferred embodiments, the receptacle cover is designed to attach to and seal the top end of the receptacle 184 of FIG. 23A, so that during molding of a shoe sole around the receptacle, the sole material does not seep under the top edge of the receptacle and fill its cavity. In addition, at the center of the cover 196 is a dome 194. This dome hangs downward from the top of the receptacle, into the receptacle cavity for receiving a retaining member 120b (shown in FIG. 20A).

FIG. 26 shows a side view of the FIG. 25 cover, indicating the extent of the dome 194 with respect to the rest of the cover's 196 proportions. The dome forms a cavity 198 between a sole of a shoe and the top of the receptacle 184 (shown in FIG. 23A). In preferred embodiments, during manufacture of a shoe sole, in addition to sole material being molded around the receptacles, sole material is also allowed to fill in the cavity 198. Consequently, as a retaining member 120b (shown in FIG. 20A) is inserted into a proper receptacle, the insertion forces a compression of the dome which in turn compresses the sole material filling the dome. The dome 194 serves two purposes. First, when the retaining member 120b of traction gear is fully installed within a receptacle 184 (shown in FIG. 23A), the compression of the dome results in a downward pressure upon the extensions 122b from the dome trying to re-expand into its original shape. Second, when one tries to remove the traction gear from the receptacle 184, the re-expansion of the sole material helps push the retaining member away from the sole, thus aiding in the removal of attached gear.

In preferred embodiments, the extensions for the attachment system are molded using conventional molding processes. Preferably, the molding process uses mold components having expandable cavities, these cavities allowing for undercuts to be molded without the use of side actions or slides. The receptacle may be molded using conventional molding processes, where the receptacles are preferably produced on a horizontal or vertical press and, with the aid of precision mold design and building, are formed in a manner well-known in the art.

In preferred embodiments of the invention, during manufacture, the receptacle portion with the top cover attached is placed in an outsole mold, and the ground surface part of a shoe is then molded. The molding process is preferably one of injection or compression molding. The particular location of each receptacle within the mold depends on the intended use of the shoe and the design of the shoe's shape. During manufacture of the outsole of one embodiment of the invention, mold support-braces may be used to help ensure no deformation of the receptacles during the molding of the sole. Preferably, the support-braces are negatives of the receptacle's shape such that when a brace is inserted into a receptacle, the receptacle 184 and pin holes 188 (shown in FIG. 23A) are temporarily sealed off to prevent sole material from filling in the receptacle opening 140b and pin holes 188. These pins may also be used to help orient and position the receptacle so that sole material flows up to and not beyond the ridge 176 (shown in FIG. 24) that is visible on the ground side of the receptacle. Once the outsole is molded, a second material may be molded or cemented to the outsole, and also cemented to the upper portion of the shoe. In this embodiment, the outsole and second material combination form a completed sole having the embedded receptacles.

In some embodiments, the shoe sole may be formed of light-weight materials such is EVA or foam. In such embodiments, the sole material may be insufficiently strong to hold a receptacle firmly in place. Consequently, in preferred embodiments, a support plate may be added to the sole structure, wherein the receptacles are attached to the plate at the desired locations, and the sole is formed around the attached receptacles. Such plates may also be used for heel support for footwear having light-weight heels; similarly, for heel-plates, support-pins may also be used to help prevent heel receptacle deformation.

FIG. 27 is a partial view of a FIG. 20A cleat inserted into a FIG. 23A receptacle. Shown is a magnified view of the end portion 190 of a cantilevered finger 174 at rest in indentation 170 of retaining member 120b. As described hereinabove, after installation of a cleat into a receptacle, the torque required to dislodge the cantilevered finger 174 from the indentation 170 is much greater than that required during installation.

FIG. 18, a bottom view of the FIG. 20A cleat, shows that in this embodiment of the invention, a three-pronged wrench is inserted into the three wrench holes 210 used to remove the cleat. Use of a three-wrench-hole design gives greater stability during insertion and removal of a cleat, and allows greater torque to be applied, without slipping out of the holes, during such insertion and removal.

FIG. 29 is a top view of an alternate embodiment where a modified FIG. 25 cover is attached to the FIG. 23A receptacle through a flexible attachment region 220. In this embodiment, the receptacle 184 and cover 196 may be integrally formed of a single portion of production material, and simultaneously formed from a single mold. Before insertion of this embodiment of the receptacle into a shoe sole, the cover is flipped closed to cover the top of the receptacle. The FIG. 23 cover is modified to include two cover flanges 222 which, when the cover is closed, rest in-between two of the receptacle flanges 182. The cover flanges 222 also have slots 224, which in addition to the receptacle slots 180 described hereinabove, are used for mounting the FIG. 29 combined receptacle and cover to the underside of footwear.

FIG. 30 is a bottom view of the FIG. 29 embodiment, showing the ridge 176 (see FIG. 24 hereinabove) which helps prevent sole material from the outsole molding process from accidentally spilling in over the bottom-end of the receptacle opening 140b with attached FIG. 23 cover having the features as disclosed hereinabove for FIG. 23A and FIG. 25.

FIG. 31 is a top section view of FIG. 29, showing the relationship between the extent of the dome 194 and the receptacle 184. Also shown is the region defined by portions 226, 228 for receiving the cover flange 222 when the cover is closed over the receptacle 184.

The above description of the drawings provides details of several embodiments of the present invention. It is of course apparent that the present invention is not limited to the detailed description set forth above. Various changes and modifications of this invention as described will be apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention as defined in the following claims.





 
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