Title:
Novel Vamp, and Injection Moulding Process for Forming a Vamp
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A composite vamp includes a first, relatively softer layer shaped and dimensioned to define a periphery of the vamp and the profile of an upper surface of the vamp, and a second, relatively harder layer bonded to the first layer, which second layer is adapted to overlie the instep region of a foot and shaped to match the instep region of the foot.



Inventors:
Gerrand, Alan (Beaumaris, AU)
Fechter, Norbert (Haigerloch-Stetten, DE)
Application Number:
11/579836
Publication Date:
10/25/2007
Filing Date:
08/09/2005
Assignee:
Norbert Fechter (Haigerioch-Stetten, DE)
IMAGINE SPORTS PTY LTD (South Melbourne, AU)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
12/52.5
International Classes:
A43B23/02; A43B5/02; A43B7/32; A43B23/08; B29D35/14
View Patent Images:
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20090278707WEAR MONITOR FOR RECREATIONAL FOOTGEARNovember, 2009Biggins et al.



Primary Examiner:
PRANGE, SHARON M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MERCHANT & GOULD P.C. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
1. 1.-29. (canceled)

30. A composite vamp including: a first, relatively softer layer shaped and dimensioned to define a periphery of the vamp and the profile of an upper surface of the vamp; and a second, relatively harder layer bonded to the first layer, which second layer is adapted to overlie the instep region of a foot and shaped to match the instep region of the foot; wherein the second, relatively harder layer is injection moulded about the first, relatively softer layer.

31. A composite vamp according to claim 30, further including an intermediate reinforcement element disposed between said layers and of a rigidity to facilitate maintenance of said profile.

32. A composite vamp according to claim 31, wherein said intermediate reinforcement element is a carbon composite element.

33. A composite vamp according to claim 31, wherein said intermediate reinforcement element is a pre-shaped reinforced textile.

34. A composite vamp according to claim 31, wherein said intermediate reinforcement element is a reinforced plastic.

35. A composite vamp according to claim 31, wherein said intermediate reinforcement element is a steel insert.

36. A composite vamp according to claim 30, comprising a one piece component to be incorporated into a shoe or boot.

37. A composite vamp according to claim 30, wherein said first layer is a plastics material.

38. A composite vamp according to claim 30, wherein said first layer is a leather or synthetic leather.

39. A composite vamp according to claim 30, wherein said profile includes surface features selected from one or more of concavity, ridges and peaks.

40. A composite vamp according to claim 30, wherein said second layer is chemically bonded or welded to the first layer.

41. A composite vamp according to claim 30, including at least one front surface that is concave and has a radius of curvature substantially the same as or slightly greater than the radius of curvature of a selected ball.

42. A composite vamp according to claim 30, formed integral with a shoe or boot.

43. A composite vamp according to claim 30, approximately M-shaped in cross-section.

44. A composite vamp according to claim 30, having one or more longitudinal ridges or ribs.

45. A method of forming a composite vamp including: shaping a piece of relatively soft material in a mould; injecting a plastic into said mould or into a second mould on at least one side of the soft material; bonding the injected material to the soft material; and curing the injected plastic while shaping it by means of the mould to provide a bonded, relatively harder layer of material adjacent the soft material that is adapted to overlie the instep region of a foot and shaped to match the instep region of the foot, while the relatively softer material forms a layer that is shaped and dimensioned to define a periphery of the vamp and the profile of an upper surface of the vamp.

46. A method according to claim 45, wherein said relatively softer material is a plastics material.

47. A method according to claim 45, wherein said relatively softer material is a leather or synthetic leather.

48. A method according to claim 45, further including forming said piece of relatively soft material so that said profile includes surface features selected from one or more of concavity, ridges and peaks.

49. A method according to claim 45, wherein said bonding is by chemical bonding or welding.

50. A method according to claim 45, further including providing an intermediate reinforcement element between said layers.

51. A method according to claim 50, wherein said intermediate reinforcement element is a carbon composite element.

52. A method according to claim 50, wherein said intermediate reinforcement element is a pre-shaped reinforced textile.

53. A method according to claim 50, wherein said intermediate reinforcement element is a reinforced plastic.

54. A method according to claim 50, wherein said intermediate reinforcement element is a steel insert.

55. A method according to claim 45, wherein said vamp is formed integral with a shoe or boot.

56. A method according to claim 45, including forming said vamp to be approximately M-shaped in cross-section.

57. A method according to claim 45, including providing the vamp with one or more longitudinal ridges or ribs.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to footwear and more particularly to a composite vamp for footwear and to an injection moulding process for the manufacture of a vamp. The invention has application to footwear for sporting use, especially to footwear used in the kicking of a ball or the like, and to protective footwear.

Throughout this specification, the “instep” is the top of the foot between the ankle and toes, or the corresponding part of footwear, and the “arch” is used in its conventional sense of the arched underneath part of the foot. The term “vamp” is used to describe the front part of the upper of a shoe or boot.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In sports where a ball is kicked by a player, it is normal to use a shoe or a boot to protect the foot of the person kicking the ball. With different sports, the nature of the shoe or boot varies to allow for the way in which the ball is kicked, and the nature of the ball being kicked. However in all instances the shoe or boot attempts to follow the inherent shape of a human foot.

When playing a ball game such as soccer the player will tend to use different parts of the boot to perform different kicking actions. For example, the side of the ball of the foot, the toe, and the outside of the ball of the foot are usually employed for “passing” and other small kicks not requiring much power but requiring greater control. At these parts of the foot, there is a relatively greater sense of feel and therefore the player will have greater control. When a powerful kick is required it is normally the instep of the foot that is used as this allows for great power when kicking, particularly in view of the solid nature of this part of the foot and of the general bony structure beneath the skin. This structure provides a relatively hard surface underneath the laces of the boot so that a solid kicking surface is provided to thus impart maximum kicking energy to the ball to thus project it the furthest possible distance. Nevertheless, instep kicking is only used for a small proportion of overall kicks because players find it less predictable, i.e. control and accuracy are diminished relative to, e.g. medial or inside kicking.

Since the shape of the portion of the human foot that does the kicking generally does not match the shape of the ball, it is known to introduce a shoe or boot insert, or to manufacture the vamp of the shoe or boot adjacent the instep of the user's foot, in order to modify the ball contacting surface of the shoe or boot.

The concept of modifying the vamp of a shoe to improve kicking is disclosed in EP 359081, which describes a vamp with side ridges to enable a ball to be better guided by the foot and to thereby enhance kicking precision.

International patent publication no. WO99/00970 by A. Gerrand describes an insert that assists in obtaining a concave vamp. This insert, which may be attached to or formed integrally with the shoe, serves to provide a surface that complements the shape of the ball being kicked, effectively “cupping” the ball as it contacts the instep. A cupping effect imparts far more of the kicking energy to the ball, and provides great guidance to the ball.

Reference herein to any specific prior art document or other information is not to be taken as an admission that the document or information is common general knowledge, either in Australia or elsewhere.

It is an object of the invention to provide an improved vamp that can be applied to produce footwear with a modified upper surface, and a method for constructing a vamp.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect, the present invention provides a composite vamp including:

a first, relatively softer layer shaped and dimensioned to define a periphery of the vamp and a profile of an upper surface of the vamp; and

a second relatively harder layer bonded to the first layer, which second layer is adapted to overlie the instep region of a foot and shaped to match the instep region of the foot.

In a further aspect, the present invention provides a method of forming a composite vamp including:

shaping a piece of relatively soft material in a mould;

injecting a plastic into said mould or into a second mould on at least one side of the soft material;

bonding the injected material to the soft material; and

curing the injected plastic while shaping it by means of the mould to provide a bonded, relatively harder layer of material adjacent the soft material that is adapted to overlie the instep region of a foot and shaped to match the instep region of the foot, while the relatively softer material forms a layer that is shaped and dimensioned to define a periphery of the vamp and the profile of an upper surface of the vamp.

An intermediate reinforcement element of a rigidity to facilitate maintenance of the profile may be disposed between the layers.

In preferred embodiments, the composite vamp can comprise additional layers of material depending on the purpose that the vamp has been designed for. For a vamp of a boot to be used in the construction industry, the reinforcement element may be a steel insert for strength and increased protection.

Advantageously, the composite vamp is manufactured as a one-piece component to be incorporated into a shoe or boot.

In one embodiment, the first relatively softer layer is formed of soft plastic. Alternatively, this layer may be formed of leather or synthetic leather or any other fabric, mesh textile, or full grain leather, provided in a flat sheet.

Said profile preferably includes surface features selected from one or more of concavity, ridges and peaks. This may be preformed in the first layer using chemical and mechanical treatment.

The second or relatively harder layer is preferably formed of a harder plastic. This layer is advantageously formed by injection moulding. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the second or relatively harder layer has regions of differing density, hardness, and/or colour, chosen according to different design parameters for various footwear applications, for example, an industrial boot may have different characteristics to a football shoe.

Advantageously, the second layer is chemically bonded or welded to the first layer, eg. utilising aspects of plastic welding technology.

The intermediate reinforcement element is a preferably a carbon composite or alternately a reinforced plastic, pre-shaped reinforced textile, and the like.

Preferably, the composite vamp has at least one front surface substantially triangular in shape. More preferably, the front surface is concave, the front surface having a radius of curvature substantially the same as or slightly greater than the radius of curvature of the ball. More preferably, the front surface has an upper peak or peaks, and/or a rear peak or peaks.

Furthermore, the composite vamp may have a side surface which is also concave or flat, the radius of curvature of the side surface preferably being the same as or slightly greater than the radius of curvature of the ball.

In one embodiment, the composite vamp is integral with the footwear. Alternatively, the composite vamp may be formed separately and releasably or securably attachable to the footwear. In one embodiment, the composite vamp is approximately M-shaped. In an alternate embodiment, for example when the vamp is constructed for use in heavy duty footwear, the composite vamp may be approximately W-shaped, or may include a series of longitudinal ridges or ribs designed to absorb shock.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is an end perspective view of a composite vamp constructed in accordance with an embodiment of the invention and designed for incorporation in a football shoe or boot;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view separately showing the components of the composite vamp of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is a longitudinal cut-away view of an insert for a safety boot formed in accordance with a further embodiment of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The composite vamp 10 of FIGS. 1 and 2 comprises a first, upper layer 12 formed of a relatively soft material, a second, lower layer 14 formed of a relatively harder material, and a reinforcement layer 16 provided intermediate the first and second layers. These three layers are shown separated in the exploded view of FIG. 2.

The upper layer 12 is shaped and dimensioned in a mould to provide a valley 18 of generally concave profile transversely, preferably having a radius of curvature substantially the same as, or slightly greater than, the radius of curvature of a selected ball, eg. a soccer ball. The valley 18 is flanked by two ridges 20, 22 extending for the full length of the vamp 10. A peak 24 is provided on each side towards the front edge 34 of the vamp and the ridges 20, 22 taper forwardly downwardly in two directions from the peak 24. The first of these tapered ridge sections is generally designated as 26 and tapers outwardly to meet with the lower edge 28 of that side of the vamp 10. The other tapering section ridge section is generally designated as 30 and tapers downwardly but towards the centre of the valley 18. This therefore creates a triangular area 32 which is somewhat forwardly and somewhat sidewardly facing. This is of great advantage when a ball is desired to be kicked in a manner to provide a high level of spin but without the necessity for a great deal of power. In this way, the ball can be made to curve. The triangular surface 32 is generally concave in configuration, with the radius of curvature preferably being substantially the same as, or slightly greater than, the radius of curvature of the ball. Naturally, this is repeated on both sides of the vamp 10.

The “floor” of the valley 18—that portion between the two ridges 20, 22—is preferably of relatively low thickness such that the front edge 34 is of minimal thickness. The second layer 14 and reinforcement layer 16 are shaped to help achieve this as will be discussed further below.

The relatively soft upper layer 12 is preferably formed of a soft polyurethane, synthetic leather or any other fabric, mesh textile, or full grain leather, provided in a flat sheet. To construct the upper layer, the fabric sheet is located in a mould (not shown) and is pressed to form a three dimensional shape using chemical and mechanical treatment. This shaping process enables the formation of concave shapes, ridges, peaks and ribs as already described. Advantageously, the three-dimensional shaping is achieved without any vamp stitching or gluing.

It will therefore be appreciated from FIGS. 1 and 2 that upper layer 12 is shaped and dimensioned to define a periphery of the vamp and the profile of an upper surface of the vamp.

The second, relatively harder layer 14 is formed in a second stage of the manufacturing process. This stage of the process involves synchronised injection moulding which includes simultaneously injection moulding the top and bottom of the preformed fabric piece 12, either in the mould also used to shape piece 12, or in a separate mould. The fabric 12 advantageously overhangs the mould thereby providing a flexible trim by which the composite vamp 10 may be attached to the rest of a shoe.

During the course of the injection moulding, layers 12, 14 are bonded together by conventional chemical bonding or welding techniques.

The injection moulding process advantageously permits the formation of regions of different density, hardness, and/or colour, chosen according to different design parameters for various footwear applications. This multi-density injection enables the selection of various soft and hard polyurethane combinations for the injection moulded layer, or alternate colour combinations as desired. Density and hardness variations can be selected to hold the concave designed shapes and curves as required.

As illustrated in FIG. 2, the relatively harder injection moulded layer 14 is formed as a substantially U-shaped piece, which of itself gives enhanced stiffness. The upper surface of layer 14 is shaped and dimensioned to maintain the surface features of the vamp. The underneath side 15 of layer 14 is advantageously formed as a convex shape to overlie and more closely match the instep region of the wearer's foot. In one embodiment, the underneath side of layer 14 is provided with a pre-moulded temperature responsive backing clay.

In the embodiment illustrated, layer 14 is shaped so as to underlie and support the ridges 20, 22 of the vamp 10. The central region of layer 14 has been left open at 17 to assist with maintaining a concave upper surface of the vamp, and to reduce the thickness of the floor of the valley 18 of the vamp.

It will be appreciated that this process allows for the inclusion of other materials including but not limited to foams, elastomeric plastics, reinforced and low density plastics, and rebound, cushioning and shock absorbing plastics.

A reinforcement layer 16 is preferably integrated into the vamp 10 during the injection moulding stage. In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the reinforcement layer 10 comprises a single component part, although more than one component may be provided in some embodiments. The reinforcement layer 16 serves to provide additional strength to the composite vamp 10, and assists in maintaining the concave shape of the vamp 10 and other shaped surface features. The reinforcement 16 is preferably in the form of a carbon composite, or alternatively, reinforced plastic, pre-shaped reinforced textile, or the like. The reinforcement layer 16 can also be shaped and dimensioned such that it contributes to the ball control characteristics of the vamp.

As illustrated, the reinforcement layer 16 is also formed in a substantially U-shape, to overlie the injection moulded layer 14 and reduce the thickness of the floor of the valley 18.

It will be appreciated that the moulding process of this invention has application to the construction of footwear generally, and in particular is useful in the construction of safety shoes or boots that are typically formed with a steel insert over the instep and toe region.

In one embodiment of the invention, an insert for a safety shoe or boot is constructed using the injection moulding process of the invention. An example of a safety boot insert 40 is illustrated in FIG. 3. The insert 40 shown comprises a soft fabric upper layer 42 that is moulded in accordance with the invention, a relatively harder plastic layer 44, and a carbon composite reinforcement 46 provided between the two layers 42, 44 and incorporated during the injection moulding stage. It can be seen that this component 40 is shaped to extend generally forwardly and downwardly over the toe region of a shoe or boot, so that in this case the vamp includes a reinforced toe section 46.

In a further embodiment of the invention (not illustrated), the vamp 10 may be constructed with an integrated lacing system. For example, the injection moulding process may include the addition of eyelets, shoelaces, or buckles.

One or more of the ball contact surfaces of the vamp may have surface treatments such as shallow ridged patterns to improve ball contact, especially in more adverse playing conditions.

It will be appreciated that the invention enables the construction of a one-piece composite vamp, without the use of any vamp stitching or gluing. The composite vamp includes features of concavity, ridges, and peaks, which are known to be advantageous in sporting footwear in particular, while taking advantage of current materials technology to provide a vamp having selected density and hardness characteristics.