Title:
Shoe with an upper made of a flat composite and method of making the shoe
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An upper is made of a flat composite which includes a substantially flat plastic layer molded directly over a fabric layer. The plastic layer has at least one ventilation hole, an inner peripheral end defining an opening, an outer peripheral end extending around the inner peripheral end, and two opposite marginal ends each extending from the inner peripheral end to the outer peripheral end. The flat composite is looped and formed into the upper when the marginal ends are connected to each other. The plastic layer further has at least one molded ventilation hole. The fabric layer has an integral extension flap that extends beyond the outer peripheral end.



Inventors:
Chen, Eddie (Taichung City, TW)
Hsu, Phoenix (Taichung City, TW)
Application Number:
11/410418
Publication Date:
10/25/2007
Filing Date:
04/25/2006
Assignee:
Chen, Eddie
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/47, 36/3A
International Classes:
A43B7/06; A43B23/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BAYS, MARIE D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAUG PARTNERS LLP (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A shoe comprising an upper made of a flat composite which includes a substantially flat molded plastic layer and a fabric layer bonded to one side of said molded plastic layer, said plastic layer having an inner peripheral end defining an opening, an outer peripheral end extending around said inner peripheral end, and two opposite marginal ends each extending from said inner peripheral end to said outer peripheral end, both of said inner and outer peripheral ends being terminated at said marginal ends, said flat composite being looped and formed into said upper when said marginal ends are connected to each other, said fabric layer further having an extension flap that extends beyond said outer peripheral end and that is formed as one piece with said fabric layer.

2. The shoe as claimed in claim 1, wherein said plastic layer is molded directly over said fabric layer.

3. The shoe as claimed in claim 1, wherein said plastic layer further has at least one molded ventilation hole, said fabric layer covering said ventilation hole.

4. The shoe as claimed in claim 1, wherein said marginal ends are interconnected by sewing.

5. The shoe as claimed in claim 1, wherein said upper is composed of an upper portion and a lower portion, said lower portion having a toe region, two shank regions extending rearwardly from said toe region, and a heel region connected to said shank regions, said upper portion being connected to a top end of said lower portion, said marginal ends are interconnected in said heel region.

6. The shoe as claimed in claim 1, wherein said plastic layer includes a material selected from a group consisting of thermoplastic polyurethane, thermoplastic rubber and polyvinylchloride.

7. The shoe as claimed in claim 1, wherein said flat composite further includes a reinforcing stitch line which extends along said outer peripheral end of said plastic layer to secure said fabric layer to said plastic layer.

8. The shoe as claimed in claim 1, wherein said plastic layer includes a plurality of said ventilation holes in the form of mesh openings, said fabric layer covering said mesh openings.

9. The shoe as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a breathable waterproof layer disposed inside said upper and attached to said flat composite.

10. A shoe comprising an upper made of a flat composite which includes a substantially flat molded plastic layer and a fabric layer adhered to one side of said molded plastic layer, said plastic layer having an inner peripheral end defining an opening, an outer peripheral end extending around said inner peripheral end, and two opposite marginal ends each interconnecting said inner and outer peripheral ends, said marginal ends being connected to each other so that said flat composite is looped and formed into said upper, said plastic layer further having at least one molded ventilation hole, said fabric layer covering said ventilation hole, wherein no cementing material is provided between said plastic layer and said fabric layer at least in a region where said ventilation hole is formed.

11. The shoe of claim 10, wherein no cementing material is provided in all regions between said plastic and said fabric layers.

12. A method of making a shoe comprising: molding a substantially flat plastic layer directly over a fabric layer to form a flat composite, said plastic layer being formed with at least one ventilation hole, two opposite marginal ends, and inner and outer peripheral ends interconnecting said marginal ends, said inner peripheral end defining an opening, said outer peripheral end extending around said inner peripheral end, providing said fabric layer with an extension flap that extends beyond said outer peripheral end and between said two marginal ends and that is formed as one piece with said fabric layer; and interconnecting said marginal ends so that said flat composite is looped and formed into at least a portion of an upper.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein said portion of said upper includes a toe region, two shank regions extending rearwardly from said toe region, and a heel region connected to said shank regions, said marginal ends being interconnected in said heel region.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein said upper is composed of upper and lower portions, said lower portion having said toe, shank and heel regions, and a top end connected to said upper portion, said lower portion being made of said flat composite.

15. The method of claim 12, further comprising trimming said fabric layer relative to said inner and outer peripheral ends and said marginal ends, said extension flap being provided during the trimming of said fabric layer.

16. The method of claim 12, further comprising sewing said fabric layer to said plastic layer along said outer peripheral end.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to a shoe, more particularly to a shoe having an upper made of a flat composite and a method of making the shoe.

2. Description of the Related Art

Referring to FIG. 1, a conventional shoe includes a sole unit 3, an upper with a three-dimensional molded lower portion 2, and an upper portion 1. A lower end of the upper portion 1 is stitched to an upper end of the lower portion 2. A lower end of the lower portion 2 is adhered to the sole unit 3. The lower portion 2 is integrally molded, and is generally formed from rubber, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), thermoplastic rubber (TPR), etc. Therefore, the lower portion 2 can afford good supportability, protection, and water-resistance, and is adaptable for use in hunting boots, security shoes, hiking shoes, pac boots. However, in actual manufacture and application, the lower portion 2 suffers from the following drawbacks:

1. The fabrication of the lower portion 2 requires use of a three-dimensional mold in order to match the shape of the foot. Such three-dimensional molds are not easy to manufacture, and the costs thereof are very expensive, thereby resulting in increased fabrication costs.

2. Since the lower portion 2 is molded, the shape and dimensions thereof are substantially fixed and cannot be adjusted. Therefore, manufacturers have to fabricate lower portions 2 of different dimensions using different molds so as to adapt to lasts of different specifications. This results in increased fabrication costs.

3. Likewise, the lower portion 2 is applicable only to a particular shoe-making process, and is not suitable for other processes, such as hand-sewing, lasting, etc.

4. It is difficult to secure a fabric layer to the inner side of the three-dimensional lower portion 2 during the molding process. Thus, the fabric layer is adhered to the inner side of the lower portion 2 after the lower portion 2 is formed.

5. As the lower portion 2 is integrally molded and is formed from air-impermeable rubber or plastic material, the lower portion 2 is not breathable, thereby resulting in discomfort to the wearer.

6. In order to provide the lower portion 2 with a predetermined degree of strength, the lower portion 2 is configured to have a large thickness, which not only increases the weight of the shoe but also affects the bendability of the shoe, especially at the toe region when the wearer squats.

In addition, while it is known in the art to use laminate material in the manufacture of shoe parts, the prior art does not emphasize that the forming of air vents in a thermoplastic material during the molding process, nor the forming of air vents in the thermoplastic material prior to formation of the laminates.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, the object of the present invention is to provide a shoe having a lower portion of an upper which is made from a flat composite and which can be produced easily at low costs.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the shoe of this invention includes an upper made of a flat composite which includes a substantially flat molded plastic layer and a fabric layer adhered to an inner side of the molded plastic layer. The plastic layer has an inner peripheral end defining an opening, an outer peripheral end extending around the inner peripheral end, and two opposite marginal ends each extending from the inner peripheral end to the outer peripheral end. Both of the inner and outer peripheral ends are terminated at the marginal ends. The flat composite is looped and formed into the upper when the marginal ends are connected to each other. The fabric layer further has an extension flap that extends beyond the outer peripheral end and between the marginal ends and that is formed as one piece with the fabric layer.

Advantageously, the plastic layer may be further provided with at least one molded ventilation hole, wherein the fabric layer covers the ventilation hole.

According to another aspect of the present invention, a method of making a shoe comprises molding a substantially flat plastic layer directly over a fabric layer to form a flat composite, the plastic layer being formed with at least one ventilation hole, two opposite marginal ends, and inner and outer peripheral ends interconnecting the marginal ends, the inner peripheral end defining an opening, the outer peripheral end extending around the inner peripheral end. The method further includes: providing the fabric layer with an extension flap that extends beyond the outer peripheral end and between the two marginal ends and that is formed as one piece with the fabric layer; and interconnecting the marginal ends so that the flat composite is looped and formed into at least a portion of an upper.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent in the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawings, of which:

FIG. 1 is a side view of a conventional shoe having an upper with a molded lower portion;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the first preferred embodiment of a shoe according to the invention;

FIG. 3 is a schematic sectional view of the first preferred embodiment;

FIG. 4 is a schematic rear sectional view of the first preferred embodiment;

FIG. 5 is a schematic plan view of a flat composite used to form a lower portion of an upper in the first preferred embodiment;

FIG. 5A shows how the flat composite is made;

FIG. 6 is similar to FIG. 5, but showing the flat composite in a trimmed state; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the flat composite of FIG. 6 which is looped to form the lower portion of the upper.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to FIGS. 2, 3 and 4, a preferred embodiment of a shoe according to the present invention is shown to include an upper (A) and a sole unit 30.

The upper (A) includes a lower portion 20 and an upper portion 10. The lower portion 20 has an open bottom end 24 connected to the sole unit 30, and an open top end 23 connected to an open bottom end 12 of the upper portion 10. The lower portion 20 has a toe region 26, two shank regions 28 extending rearwardly from the toe region 26, and a heel region 27 connected to the shank regions 28.

Referring further to FIGS. 5 and 6, the lower portion 20 is made of a flat composite 100 which includes a substantially flat molded plastic layer 120, and a fabric layer 110 bonded to an inner side of the plastic layer 120. A breathable waterproof layer 130 is attached to an inner side of the flat composite 100. The flat composite 100 is looped and formed into a three dimensional shape to provide the lower portion 20. In addition, the plastic layer 120 has an inner peripheral end 121 defining an opening 122, an outer peripheral end 123 extending around the inner peripheral end 121, two opposite marginal ends 25 each extending from the inner peripheral end 121 to the outer peripheral end 123. Thus, the inner and outer peripheral ends 121, 123 extend between the marginal ends 25, and both of the inner and outer peripheral ends 121, 123 are terminated at the marginal ends 25. The flat composite 100 is looped and formed into the lower portion 20, as shown in FIG. 7, when the marginal ends 25 are connected to each other in the heel region 27. Preferably, the marginal ends 25 are interconnected by sewing. A connection plate 40 is secured to the flat composite 100 in the heel region 27 by sewing to cover the marginal ends 25.

While the marginal ends 25 are interconnected in the heel region 27 in this embodiment, the marginal ends 25 may also be interconnected in the toe region 26 or one or two of the shank regions 28 according to the present invention.

The plastic layer 120 may be made of any suitable plastic material. Preferably, the plastic layer 120 includes a thermoplastic material selected from a group consisting of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), thermoplastic rubber (TPR) and polyvinylchloride (PVC). The plastic layer 120 may be molded in a mold (not shown) to form the inner and outer peripheral ends 121, 123 and the marginal ends 25. An outer patterned surface and a plurality of ventilation holes 211 are also formed in the plastic layer 120 during the molding of the plastic layer 120.

The fabric layer 110 is bonded to the plastic layer 120, and may be made from a fabric subjected to an anti-splash treatment. The anti-splash treatment may be conducted after being bonded to the plastic layer 120. Preferably, the plastic layer 120 is bonded to the fabric layer 110 by molding it directly over the fabric layer 110 in a mold (see FIG. 5A). The direct molding of the plastic layer 120 may be done by placing the fabric layer 110 in a mold followed by the introduction of a thermoplastic material into the mold. After the fabric layer 110 is bonded to the plastic layer 120, the fabric layer 110 is trimmed relative to the inner and outer peripheral ends 121, 123, and the marginal ends 25 of the plastic layer 120. The fabric layer 110, therefore, has a profile substantially corresponding to that of the inner peripheral end 121 and the marginal ends 25. However, the fabric layer 110 is provided with an extension flap 111 that extends beyond the outer peripheral end 123 and between the two marginal ends 25 of the plastic layer 120. Particularly, the extension flap 111 is formed as one piece with the fabric layer 110. To enhance the bonding between the plastic layer 120 and the fabric layer 110, a reinforcing stitch line 29 may be provided along the outer peripheral end 123 of the plastic layer 120 to sew the fabric layer 110 to the plastic layer 120, as best shown in FIG. 6.

The breathable waterproof layer 130 is attached to the fabric layer 110 opposite to the plastic layer 120. The breathable waterproof layer 130 may be sewn to the bottom end 12 of the upper portion 10 and the open top end 23 of the lower portion 20, and a waterproof strip 293 may be bonded to an inner side of the lower portion 20 and the breathable waterproof layer 130 along the open top end 23. Alternatively, the breathable waterproof layer 130 may be bonded to the fabric layer 110 before the latter is bonded to the plastic layer 120. Certainly, the breathable waterproof layer 130 may also be bonded directly to the fabric layer 110 after the latter is bonded to the plastic layer 120.

The sole unit 30 in this embodiment includes the insole 31 and an outsole 32 with a tread plate 321. The open bottom end 24 of the lower portion 20 is lasted to a bottom side of the insole 31. The outsole 32 is attached to the bottom end 24 of the lower portion 20.

The extension flap 111 which extends beyond the outer peripheral end 123 of the plastic layer 120 provides flexibility to facilitate folding of the bottom end 24 of the lower portion 20 and a greater bonding area for a bonding connection between the bottom end 24 and the bottom side of the insole 31. In addition, when the lower portion 20 is mounted on a last (not shown) for lasting the lower portion 20 over the insole 31, a pulling force may be applied conveniently to the extension flap 111 to pull the bottom end 24 of the lower portion 20. The lasting operation can therefore be facilitated. While the flat composite 100 is illustrated as being used in a lasted shoe, the flat composite 100 may also be used in other shoe constructions, such as, hand stitched shoes.

A preferred embodiment of a process for making the shoe of this preferred embodiment will be described in the following paragraphs:

Referring to FIGS. 5 and 5A, the flat composite 100 is prepared by placing the fabric layer 110 between upper and lower mold parts 41 and 42 and by molding the plastic layer 120 directly over the fabric layer 110. The plastic layer 120 is therefore adhered to the fabric layer 110 by an adhesion of the plastic layer 120 per se. The ventilation holes 211 are formed during molding and are covered by the fabric layer 110 which is ventilative. No cementing material, such as an adhesive which can block the ventilation holes 211, is provided between the plastic layer 120 and the fabric layer 110 in this embodiment. However, if a cementing material between the plastic layer 120 and the fabric layer 110 is desired, the cementing material should not be provided in a region where the ventilation holes 211 are formed.

Referring once again to FIGS. 5 and 6, the fabric layer 110 is trimmed relative to the inner and outer peripheral ends 121, 123 and the marginal ends 25 of the plastic layer 120 after molding so as to have a profile substantially corresponding to that of the plastic layer 120.

Referring once again to FIGS. 3 and 7, two opposite marginal ends 25 of the plastic layer 120 are sewn together such that the flat composite 100 is looped and formed into the lower portion 20. The connection plate 40 is then secured to the flat composite 100 such as by sewing.

Referring once again to FIG. 3, the bottom end 12 of the upper portion 10 is sewn to the top end 23 of the lower portion 20, thereby forming the upper (A).

Referring further to FIG. 3, the bottom end 24 of the lower portion 20 is connected to an insole 31, and the outsole 32 is connected to the bottom end 24 of the lower portion 20. The connection between the insole 31 and the lower portion 20 is accomplished by a conventional lasting process. A filler 33 is disposed between the insole 31 and the outsole 32.

Alternatively, a hemming fabric strip may be provided along the outer peripheral end 123 to enclose the outer peripheral end 123 and an end of the fabric layer 110 bonded to the outer peripheral end. This arrangement prevents peeling of the fabric layer 110 from the plastic layer 120 during the lasting operation.

The shoe of the present invention thus formed has the following advantages:

1. Since the lower portion 20 is formed to have an rudimentary three-dimensional shape by sewing the marginal ends 25 of the plastic layer 120 to loop the flat composite 100, the need to use a conventional complicated and expensive three-dimensional mold may be eliminated.

2. Since the lower portion 20 is made from the flat composite 100, the lower portion 20 is more flexible to adjust or change its dimensions compared to the molded lower portion of the conventional upper. Thus, the cost of mold-making for the process can be reduced.

3. The lower portion 20 is suitable for various shoe-making processes, such as lasting, hand stitching.

4. The fabric layer 110 bonded to the plastic layer 120 can serve as a lining for the lower portion 20. Such a lining can be prepared more easily compared to a conventional lining which is attached to an inner surface of the conventional molded lower shell of an upper.

5. The fabric layer 110 bonded to the plastic layer 120 is breathable and can serve as a protection screen to block entry of particles into the shoe through the ventilation holes 211. Thus, the present invention eliminates the need to provide an additional screen member which is required in a conventional ventilated shoe. On the other hand, although the lower portion 20 is provided with ventilation holes 211, due to the presence of the breathable waterproof layer 130 at the inner side of the lower portion 20, the lower portion 20 which is made of the flat composite 100 is not only breathable but also waterproof.

7. The fabric layer 110 reinforces the plastic layer 120 so that the thickness and weight of the plastic layer 120 may be reduced.

In sum, the shoe of this invention provides the advantages, such as, reduced mold cost, light weight, good bendability and good breathability, and can accommodate different sizes of lasts and different shoe constructions.

While the present invention has been described in connection with what is considered the most practical and preferred embodiments, it is understood that this invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments but is intended to cover various arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and equivalent arrangements.