Title:
QUICK DISCONNECT FASTENER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A quick disconnect fastener is disclosed. The quick disconnect fastener includes a male member for joining to a first end of a first loop structure including a male body section, a probe section coupled to the body section, the probe section further including a probe head support structure coupled to a forward head section. The quick disconnect fastener also includes a cavity defined rearwardly in the male body section for receiving the first end of the loop structure. The quick disconnect fastener further includes a female member for joining to a second end of a second loop structure including, a female body section having an opening including, a flexible material in the opening configured to compressibly form around the probe section when the male member is coupled to the female member. The quick disconnect fastener also includes a cavity section defined rearwardly in the female body section for joining to the second end of the second loop structure.



Inventors:
Slautterback, Frederick A. (Sand City, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/669566
Publication Date:
11/29/2007
Filing Date:
01/31/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A44B99/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BRITTAIN, JAMES R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Law Offices of Thomas Schneck (SAN JOSE, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A quick disconnect fastener comprising: a male member for joining to a first end of a first loop structure including, a male body section, a probe section coupled to said body section, said probe section further including a probe head support structure coupled to a forward head section; a cavity defined rearwardly in said male body section for receiving said first end of said loop structure; a female member for joining to a second end of a second loop structure including, a female body section having an opening including, a flexible material in said opening configured to compressibly form around said probe section when said male member is coupled to said female member; a cavity section defined rearwardly in said female body section for joining to said second end of said second loop structure.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said flexible material is an elastomer.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein at least one of said cavity section in the male body section and said cavity section in the female body section is scored.

4. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein at least one of said male cavity section and said female cavity section includes an adhesive.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said first loop structure and said second loop structure are the same material.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said first loop structure and the second loop structure are diverse materials.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said first loop structure is one of a woven cord, a rope, a wire, a chain, a wire cable, a leather cable, and a plastic cable.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein said second loop structure is one of a woven cord, a rope, a wire, a chain, a wire cable, a leather cable, and a plastic cable.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein said male body section is axially symmetric.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein said female body section is axially symmetric.

11. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein said head section has a bullet shape.

12. A quick disconnect fastener comprising: an elongate male member having an axially symmetric probe section extending from a shoulder of an axially symmetric male body section with a diameter, the probe section with a forwardly projecting head that is wider than the probe section, the male body section having a rearwardly opening cavity in the main body section having an axial dimension for admitting a first end of a loop structure, and an elongate female member having an axially symmetric female body section defining a forward axial opening with an outward entrance receiving the probe section of the male member with the shoulder of the male member abutting the female member at the outward entrance, the forward axial opening containing an elastomer with a formed opening therein of a dimension smaller than the width of the probe section whereby the probe section frictionally engages the elastomer causing the male member to b frictionally retained in the female member, the female body section having a rearwardly opening cavity having an axial dimension admitting a second end of a loop structure.

13. The fastener of claim 12 wherein the female body section has the same diameter as the male body section.

14. A quick disconnect fastener comprising: a male member for joining to a first end of a loop structure, including, a male body section, a bullet-shaped probe section coupled to said body section, said probe section further including a probe head support structure coupled to a head section; a male cavity section defined in said male body section for receiving said first end of said loop structure. a female member for joining to a second end of said loop structure including, a female body section having an opening including, an elastomer material disposed in the opening configured to compressibly form around said bullet-shaped probe section when said male member is coupled to said female member; a female cavity section defined in said female body section for joining to a second end of said loop structure.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 517 119(e) of the co-pending U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/808,053 filed on May 24, 2006 and entitled “JEWELRY NECK CORD OR RING CLASP, CORD/ROPE CLASP, GENERAL PURPOSE CLASP, GENERAL PURPOSE CONNECTION, COUPLING OR FASTENER.”

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention generally relates to fasteners for joining loop structures, such as cords, ropes, wires, chains, etc. and more particularly relates to quick-disconnect fasteners for such materials.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Fasteners are commonly used in joining loop structures. For example, as commonly used in jewelry, examples of such structures include necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and chains. Typically, a jewelry fastener is called a clasp or catch.

In general, clasps are comprised of two elements that may be joined or mated by mechanical means, such has a hook and eye clasp, a twist and pull bayonet clasp, a magnet clasp, and a friction clasp.

However, in the case of jewelry, these clasps tend to be small in size relative to a user's fingers, as well as difficult to align, fasten and unfasten. In addition, the location of the claps may be out of eyesight when positioned on a person's clothing (e.g., neck, etc.) and hence the wearer must feel for the jewelry clasp in order to operate it, or require the use a second person.

A physical limitation such as arthritis may also be an issue, which makes operating the clasp difficult. Such operation often requires the assistance of a third party when the jewelry is a bracelet and it becomes difficult to use both hands.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,471,438 B2 (hereafter '438) discloses a set of flexible loop assemblies for use variously as key chains, paper ring binders, or as jewelry and a connector for use in such loop assemblies. However, '438 does not teach a flexible material configured to compressibly form around and secure a probe.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,270,280 B1 (hereafter '280) discloses a unitary spine binder for securing a stack of sheets, which comprises a dorsal part from which spaced fingers extend to form loops. However, '280 does not teach a flexible material configured to compressibly form around and secure a probe.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,146,049 (hereafter '049) discloses a flexible loop assemblies for use variously as key chains, paper ring binders, or as jewelry and a connector for use in such loop assemblies. However, '049 does not teach a flexible material configured to compressibly form around and secure a probe.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,895,166 (hereafter '166) discloses an adjustable jointer of an elastic ring for wheel shroud has a diameter which is able to be changed by adjusting the length of the jointer. However, '049 does not teach a flexible material configured to compressibly form around and secure a probe.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,794,993 (hereafter '993) discloses a tamper-evident ring is made from a split ring made of a strong resilient material and terminated by male and female fittings. However, '993 does not teach a flexible material configured to compressibly form around and secure a probe.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,138,855 (hereafter '855) discloses a loop comprising a flexible length of small-diameter cable, nylon or like tough, flexible material, which has on its respective ends a socket with a constricted area, and a plug with a reduced neck groove so that the plug is forcibly inserted into the socket to form a releasable but positive engagement between the two ends of the loop. However, '855 does not teach a flexible material configured to compressibly form around and secure a probe.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,246,679 (hereafter '679) discloses a releasable clasp for a necklace or the like wherein a rigid housing having an open end houses a tubular holder of flexible material with a transverse web having a hole therethrough adjacent the open housing end. However '679 does not teach a flexible material configured to compressibly form around and secure a probe.

In view of the foregoing, there is desired an improved quick-disconnect fastener for joining loop structures.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, a quick disconnect fastener is advantageously employed in order to facilitate the temporarily mechanical joining of a first loop structure to a second loop structure (e.g., woven cord, rope, wire, chain, wire cable, leather cable, plastic cable, etc.), or the attachment of a first end of a single loop structure to a second end of the same loop structure (e.g., necklace, keychain, etc.).

The fastener of the present invention is configured to be substantially secure when mated, yet allowing a user to easily insert and/or remove the male (pin) member from the socket (female) member with minimal force. Briefly, the fastener employs a flexible or elastomeric material in an opening of a female member to compressibly form around and frictionally secure a probe of a male member. In addition, the coupling/uncoupling force need only be applied along an axis parallel to the longitudinal axis of the pin/socket structures when the pin structure is mated to the socket structure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a plan view of a male member coupled to a female fastener member for joining ends of loop material in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2A shows a side sectional view of a male member of FIG. 1;

FIG. 2B shows a side sectional view of a female fastener member of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 shows a detailed sectional view of a male member secured to a female member of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an expanded detail view of scoring illustrated in FIGS. 2A and 2B;

FIG. 5A is a simplified top view of a block for making fasteners of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5B is a side view of the block of FIG. 5A;

FIG. 5C is a side view of a female cavity tool that may be inserted into the female member in order to form the female rearward cavity when the flexible material is applied; and

FIG. 6 shows a block used for manufacturing the quick disconnect fastener of the present invention.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a male fastener member 100 is coupled to a female fastener member 200, in order to facilitate the temporarily mechanical joining of a first end of loop material 103 (e.g., woven cord, rope, wire, chain, wire cable, leather cable, plastic cable, etc.), to a second end of the same loop structure.

Referring to FIG. 2A, the male member 100 may be comprised of a male body section 104, a male rearward cavity 102, and a probe section 106. A lateral direction 152 as shown is parallel to the width or diameter of male member 100, whereas a longitudinal direction 150 is perpendicular to the lateral direction 152.

Male member 100 may be configured as a cylinder having a longitudinal axially symmetric body section, and may be further manufactured from any suitably machinable, tooled, or molded material, such as metal (e.g., aluminum, copper, steel, etc.) plastic, ceramic, etc. Male body section 104 may further have a substantially uniform width W1, i.e. diameter.

Longitudinally adjacent to center section 104 is axially symmetric probe section 106, including a probe head support structure 110 extending forwardly from shoulder 109 that is coupled to a head section 108. The width W3 of probe head support structure 110 is generally substantially less than width W1. Head section 108 may be further manufactured with different shapes, such as a bullet-shape, a cone shape, etc. In addition, probe section 106 may have a set of flat surfaces, such as a 3-dimensional triangle or trapezoid, or may be non-symmetrical in shape. The base width W4 of head section 108 is generally larger than width W3, and extends from the probe head support structure.

Also longitudinally adjacent to male body section 104 is a male rearward cavity 102 defined in the body section. Cavity 102 may be tapered, such that male cavity entrance width W2 is less than width W1. Male rearward cavity 102 is provided for receiving a first end of a linear material, e.g., woven cord, rope, wire, chain, wire cable, leather cable, plastic cable, etc. using any suitable method such as a glue or other adhesive.

In addition, male rearward cavity 102 may b scored or rifled with ridges 113. That is, helix shaped grooves are formed into the walls of male rearward cavity 102 in order to increase the adhesive surface area inside male rearward cavity 102, and hence increase its adhesive strength. Male cavity entrance width W2 of male rearward cavity 102 may be substantially the same as male rearward cavity inner width W5, such that the cavity walls are substantially parallel to the longitudinal direction. Likewise, male rearward cavity entrance width W2 may be substantially different from male rearward cavity inner width W5, such that a funnel is formed.

Referring to FIG. 2B, the female member 200 may be comprised of a female center body section 204, and a female rearward cavity 202.

Lateral direction 152 as shown is parallel to the width or diameter of female member 200, whereas longitudinal direction 150 is perpendicular to lateral direction 152.

As with the male member 100, female member 200 may be manufactured from any suitably machinable, tooled, or molded material, such as metal (e.g., aluminum, copper, steel, etc.) plastic, ceramic, etc. Body section 204 is cylindrical with an axially symmetric body section of width X1.

Longitudinally defined in body section 204 is female rearward cavity 202. Female rearward cavity 202 is provided for receiving a second end of a linear material, e.g., woven cord, rope, wire, chain, wire cable, leather cable, plastic cable, etc., or the attachment of a first end of a single attachment structure to a second end of the same attachment structure (e.g., necklace, keychain, etc.).

Female rearward cavity 202 may be tapered, such that female rearward cavity entrance width X2 is less than width X1. As before, the second end of a linear material may be attached using any suitable method such as a glue or other adhesive. In addition, female rearward cavity 202 may be scored or rifled. That is, helix shaped grooves are formed into the walls of female rearward cavity 202 in order to increase the adhesive surface area inside female rearward cavity 202, and hence increase its adhesive strength.

Female rearward cavity entrance width X2 of female rearward cavity 202 may be substantially the same as female rearward cavity inner width X5, such that the female rearward cavity walls are substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis. Likewise, female rearward cavity entrance width X2 may be substantially different from female reservoir cavity inner width X5, such that a funnel is formed.

Female body section 204 further includes an opening 206 of a width X4 configured to accept male probe 108 of FIG. 2A. In addition, an elastomer or other flexible material 208 may be inserted in opening 206, such that a smaller axial formed opening 212 of width X6 substantially the same as width W3 of probe section 106, and width X7 substantially the same as width W4 of head section 108, is created.

Elastomers may include those materials with polymerized links of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and/or silicon. Non-limiting examples may include: natural rubber, polyisoprene, butyl rubber, halogenated butyl rubbers, polybutadiene, styrene-butadiene rubber, nitrile rubber, hydrated nitrile rubbers, chloroprene rubber, neoprene, baypren, EPM and EPDM rubber, epichlorohydrin rubber, polyacrylic rubber, silicone rubber, fluorosilicone rubber, fluoroelastomers, Tecnoflon®, Fluorel® and Dai-El®, perfluoroelastomers, tetrafluoro ethylene/propylene rubbers, chlorosulfonated polyethylene, ethylene-vinyl acetate, thermoplastic elastomers, polyurethane rubber, resilin, and elastin polysulfide rubber.

Elastomer 208 is further configured to secure male member 100 to female member 200. As probe section 106 is inserted in axial formed opening 212, with a predetermined joining force, width X6 of cavity 202 formed by elastomer 208 is compressed, such that head section 108 may slide through formed opening 212 until it reaches region 214, clearing lateral opening faces 210. Thereupon, probe section 106 is firmly secured both from the lateral compression of elastomer 208 on probe section 110, the longitudinal friction of elastomer 208 on probe section 110, and longitudinal force created by the resistance of probe section lateral base surfaces 116 against lateral cavity faces 210.

In addition, the amount of force necessary to engage and disengage male member 100 and female member 200 may be determined by the modulus of elasticity and coefficient of friction of elastomer 208, as well as the lateral length of probe section lateral base surfaces 116. That is, in general, the greater the lateral length of probe section lateral base surfaces 116, the greater the amount of force required.

Referring to FIG. 3, elastomer 208 compressibly forms around probe head support structure 110 and head section 108, when the female member is coupled to the male member. Consequently, probe section 106 is firmly secured both from the lateral compression of elastomer 208 on probe section 110, the longitudinal friction of elastomer 208 on probe section 110, and longitudinal force created by the resistance of probe section lateral base surfaces 116 against lateral opening faces 210.

Referring to FIG. 4, helix shaped grooves 402 are formed into the walls in order to increase the adhesive surface area and hence adhesive strength. For example, in one method of creating the rifling, spiral grooves are created by removing wall material using some form of cutter that is rotated at a predetermined rate while pulled through the male and/or female attachment cavity as coolant oil is added. Rifling may give the cavity wall a “mechanical tooth,” to which the attachment structure adhesive can adhere.

In addition, various adhesives may be used. Examples include, natural adhesives, synthetic adhesives (e.g., elastomers, thermoplastic, and thermosetting adhesives, etc.), drying adhesives (typically polymers dissolved in a solvent), contact adhesives, hot adhesives (e.g., thermoplastic adhesive, etc.) reactive adhesives, pressure sensitive adhesives, removable adhesives.

Referring to FIG. 5A, the block configuration would position the male members and female members for manufacturing. In this example, a set of cavities 502 is shown. In this configuration, two columns of twelve block cavities are shown, although other configurations may be used. A release coating (not shown) may be substantially applied to all surfaces of the male members and the female members, other than that portion to which the flexible material is applied.

In addition, a female cavity tool (e.g., dowel, etc.) may be inserted into the female members in order to form the female rearward cavity to allow flexible material to be inserted.

Referring to FIG. 5B, set of cavities 502 may extend completely through block 500. In addition the block may be machined of constructed to form various appropriate materials, such as wood, aluminum, plastic, stainless steel, etc.

Referring to FIG. 5C, the female cavity tool 501 includes a dowel portion 512 that may be used to form the female rearward cavity in the female member. In one configuration, female cavity tool 501 includes a female cavity tool shoulder 514, such that dowel portion 512 is inserted into female member 200, up to shoulder 514. As the flexible material is added to the female member, it is prevented from entering the female rearward cavity corresponding to dowel portion 512. Once the flexible material has set, removing dowel portion 512 leaves the cavity. Further coupled to dowel portion 512 may be handle 510 that is used to position and remove the cavity tool from the female member.

In one method of manufacturing, block 500 is placed on a hard surface with the holes in vertical position. A female cavity tool 501 may then be inserted in a block cavity of said set of cavities 502, with dowel in a block cavity of said set of cavities 502, with dowel portion 512 positioned upward. Next, female member 200, positioned with the female rearward cavity 202 downward, is then placed onto female cavity tool 501, such that as a flexible material is added to the female member, it is prevented from entering the female rearward cavity.

Next, a flexible material is injected into the block cavity, such that the flexible material is filled to the near top of the block cavity opening. Male member 100 may then be inserted into the block cavity with the male probe positioned downward. Generally, male member 100 is pushed toward and substantially seated against female member 200, such that probe section 106 enters opening 206 of female probe 200, and creating an intermediate manufactured clamp assembly. Generally, excess flexible material may exit from the top of the block cavity.

In addition, block 500 may be further configured such that a portion of male body section 104 extends beyond block 500, such that excess flexible material may not flow into a male rearward cavity 102. In one configuration, male body section 105 may extend upward about a ¼′ from the top of block 500.

Next, the flexible material in block 400 is left to cure for about 16 hours. The intermediate manufactured clasp assembly may then be pushed out of the block cavity, and any excess cured flexible material may be removed. Finally, female cavity tool 501 is removed, creating a finished quick disconnect fastener.

Advantages of the invention include a fastener for joining loop structures, such as cords, ropes, wires, chains, etc. Additional advantages include a pin and socket design configured to be substantially secure when mated, yet allowing a user to easily insert or remove the male pin structure from the female socket structure with minimal force. In addition, the coupling and uncoupling force need only be applied along an axis parallel to the longitudinal axis of the pin and socket structures when the pin structure is mated to the socket structure.