Title:
Non-stitch structure and method of manufacture for one-sided laminated wetsuits
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A wetsuit comprised of one-side laminated or the so-called skin panels of rubber sponges, sealed with a new sealant instead of normal stitching. The sealant can be solid or liquid depending on the material that will be sealed such as two cut panels sealed completely and without stitching. The new sealant structure, on opposing faces, enhances seam strength of the one-sided laminated wetsuit and can obviate blind-stitch and flat-stitch (or cover-stitch) on all seams assembled whether it's a one-sided or two-sided stitch. The normal blind-stitch or flat-stitch generates the needle holes that make the wetsuit end-users cold when the wetsuit is wet. The sewing thread also reduces both the flexibility and stretch of the wetsuit. The removal of stitches and the new sealant application make the wetsuit more watertight and flexible and improve aesthetics. The new sealant can be used on laminated rubber sponge wetsuit materials as well.



Inventors:
Shiue, Min-chen (I-Lan Hsien, TW)
Application Number:
11/174690
Publication Date:
01/04/2007
Filing Date:
07/05/2005
Assignee:
Shei Chung Hsin Ind. Co., Ltd.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63C11/04
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Primary Examiner:
MUROMOTO JR, ROBERT H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Leonard Tachner (Irvine, CA, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A wetsuit comprising a plurality of abutting skin panels, sealingly joined edge-to-edge with a sealant instead of stitching.

2. The wetsuit recited in claim 1 wherein the sealant is solid or liquid depending on the panel material.

3. The wetsuit recited in claim 1 wherein the sealant is applied on both sides of the panels where they abut.

4. The wetsuit recited in claim 1 wherein the sealant is made of the base materials polyurethane or chloroprene, and bind with the skin panel to form the necessary strength of connection.

5. The wetsuit recited in claim 1 wherein the sealant obviates punctures caused by stitching.

6. The wetsuit recited in claim 1 wherein the sealant seals the wetsuit seams completely without stitching.

7. The wetsuit recited in claim 1 wherein the sealant is applied as a bead having a width of 5˜15 mm, and a thickness of 0.4˜1.5 mm.

8. A method of sealing abutting wetsuit panels together without applying stitching which would otherwise reduce the water-tight integrity and flexibility of the wetsuit; the method comprising the steps of: adjoining a plurality of wetsuit panels at least one of which is a skin panel so that the panels lay in a common plane and in abutting relation along a common seam; gluing the abutting panels to one another along said common seam; and applying a bead of sealant to said abutting panels on opposing surfaces along said common seam and allowing said sealant to cure.

9. The method of sealing recited in claim 8 wherein said bead of sealant is applied to have a width in the range of about 5 to 15 mm and a depth in the range of about 0.4 to 1.5 mm.

10. The method of sealing recited in claim 8 wherein said bead of sealant is applied as a liquid by an applicator connected by a hose to a source of liquid sealant.

11. The method of sealing recited in claim 8 wherein said bead of sealant is applied as a solid configured on a roll of tape and which is heated upon application to the common seam of said panels.

Description:

CROSS-RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/691,463 filed Jun. 17, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the field of wetsuits used for diving, surfing and the like and more specifically to an improved wetsuit comprised of one-sided laminated or the so-called skin panels or rubber sponges, sealed with a sealant instead of the normal stitching. The sealant can be solid or liquid depending on the material that will be sealed, such as two cut panels sealed completely and without stitching.

2. Background Art

The conventional methods are at least one-sided stitches on the one-sided laminated or the so-called skin panels of the rubber sponges or they are non-stitch but it's limited to both-side laminated cut panels. Wetsuit end-users are not satisfied with the conventional wetsuits since penetrated needle holes bring in cold water or limited stretchability caused by the sewing threads. The wetsuit market uses a lot of stretchy fabric on the cut panels. Due to non-applicable or not strong sealant on the skin face, all wetsuits have to blind-stitch or flat-stitch on the laminated face. Though conventional wetsuits can be non-stitched, they are all double-sided lamination. The laminated fabric made of nylon or polyester always absorbs the water and makes the wearer cold and the wetsuit dries slowly when it's wet. The skin panels or non-laminated face does not absorb the water like the laminated face.

The new sealant and non-stitched wetsuits or the present invention can satisfy the professional end-users' demands for overcoming these deficiencies.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The base materials used in the invention are polyurethane and chloroprene, which are known as the materials with highest elasticity and bind with the skin panel to form the necessary strength of connection.

Watertight

The new sealant obviates the defects caused by stitching methods, namely penetrating sponge or fabric which causes leaks. When the new sealant is applied on both sides, one side is non-laminated and the other side is laminated or both sides are laminated, the watertight characteristics of the wetsuit are preserved.

High Elasticity

The normal used stitching method typically reduces the elasticity of the stitched sponges, even if the sponges are high elasticity or laminated with high elasticity fabric. The elasticity decrease is caused by the threads used in stitching and made of polyester or nylon and the stitching structure is blind-stitch or flat-lock. The present invention seals the wetsuits seams completely without stitching and allows the finished products to maintain the original elasticity of sponge and fabric without any reduction.

Aesthetic Design

For the additional aesthetic purposes, the width 5˜15 mm, and thickness 0.4˜1.5 mm, and the color of the sealant can be adjusted depending upon the objects to be sealed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The aforementioned objects and advantages of the present invention, as well as additional objects and advantages thereof; will be more fully understood herein after as a result of a detailed description of a preferred embodiment when taken in conjunction with the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates the placement of two adjacent rubber sponge wetsuit panels, one with fabric lamination and one without, about to be joined.

FIG. 2 illustrates the application of a glue between the panel edges;

FIG. 3 illustrates the actual joining of the glued panels;

FIG. 4 illustrates conventional stitching of the glued panels;

FIG. 5 illustrates the use of the novel sealant hereof instead of conventional stitching;

FIG. 6 illustrates the use of the inventive sealant where both panels are of a non-laminated material;

FIG. 7 illustrates a first embodiment of a process for applying the sealant of the present invention to seal wetsuit panels to one another;

FIG. 8 illustrates a second embodiment of a process for applying the sealant hereof;

FIG. 9, including (a) and (b), illustrate the typical dimensions of the sealant hereof upon application to a seam of adjoining wetsuit panels; and

FIG. 10 illustrates an example of a complete wetsuit fabricated using the non-stitch sealant process of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to the accompanying drawings including FIGS. 1 through 10, it will be seen that in FIG. 1 two wetsuit panels including one panel (1) made of a fabric laminated rubber sponge (5) and one panel (2) made of a non-laminated rubber sponge (5), are shown being aligned in adjacent relation. In FIG. 2 a process of gluing (4) is employed along the adjacent adjoining panel edges by applying a layer of glue (3). In FIG. 3, the two panels (1) and (2) are joined. FIG. 4 shows conventional stitching usually applied to the glued seam at the joinder of the two panels as is typical in the prior art.

FIG. 5 shows the applied new sealant (7, 8) instead of the conventional stitching to panels (1) and (2) along their adjoined seam. FIG. 6 shows the same use of the new sealant where identical non-laminated panels are joined.

FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate two alternate processes for applying the inventive sealant to joined panels. In FIG. 7, a tank of liquid sealant feeds an applicator through a hose. In FIG. 8, the sealant is applied as a curable solid provided as a roll of sealant tape which is applied to the panel seam through rollers while it is cured using heat fans.

FIG. 9 illustrates typical applied sealant dimensions which as can be seen in FIG. 9(a) has a width of about 5 mm to 15 mm and in FIG. 9(b) has a thickness of about 0.4 mm to 1.5 mm.

The components of the new sealant are polyurethane 50%, softener (ester) 15% and solvent (dimethylacetamide) 30%; or chloroprene based 50% and solvent (toluene) 50%.

FIG. 10 illustrates a finished product wetsuit (9) using the new sealant and method hereof for fabrication thereof.

Those having skill in the art of wetsuit manufacture will now, as a result of the above disclosure, perceive various additions and modifications which may be made to the invention while preserving the innovative features thereof. Accordingly, the scope hereof is to be limited only by the appended claims and their equivalents.