Title:
WEIGHTED BALL AND METHOD OF MANUFACTURE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A heavy simulated sports action object such as a ball is formed from a hollow shell having cut stone applied at spaced locations on its outer surface with the cut stone having an exposed pattern such as a logo on its outer surface to create a first partial layer. The remainder of the first partial layer is completed by a filler material which may also have at least one decal and simulated seams applied to its outer surface. The hollow shell is filled with a heavy material. A transparent overcoat encapsulates the first layer and is polished to give the ball its finished appearance.



Inventors:
Barrar, Keith E. (Newtown Square, PA, US)
Barrar, Kevin J. (Aston, PA, US)
Byrnes, Mary Kelly (Wilmington, DE, US)
Fitzpatrick, Edward J. (East Fallowfield, PA, US)
Peroni, Peter (Pottstown, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/468051
Publication Date:
03/06/2008
Filing Date:
08/29/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G35/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz, LLP (Wilmington, DE, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of making a heavy simulated sports action object comprising forming a hollow shell of a shape to correspond to the sports action object, applying at least one rigid member on a portion of the outer surface of the shell in surface to surface contact with the shell to create a partial first layer on the shell, providing the rigid member with an exposed pattern on its outer surface corresponding to the sport for which the simulated action object would be used or to a sponsoring organization, applying a filler material around the shell and against the rigid member to complete the first layer and form a continuous first layer, filling the hollow shell with a heavy material, and applying a transparent overcoat to the first layer to create a second protective layer around the shell through which the exposed pattern is visible.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the hollow shell is made in the shape of a ball.

3. The method of claim 2 wherein the ball is a simulated sports action object in the form of a baseball, applying simulated chevron shaped stitching to the outer surface of the shell as part of the first layer, and applying simulated seams to the filler material as part of the first layer.

4. The method of claim 2 wherein the ball is a simulated sports action object in the form of a football, and applying seams and simulated lacing as part of the first layer.

5. The method of claim 1 wherein the shell is blow molded.

6. The method of claim 1 including mounting the shell on a shaft so that the shell may rotate to facilitate the application of at least a portion of the first layer, and using at least one hole in the shell which accommodates the shaft as a fill hole for the heavy material.

7. The method of claim 6 including applying a plurality of cut stones as the at least one rigid member.

8. The method of claim 7 including polishing the first layer.

9. The method of claim 8 including polishing the overcoat.

10. The method of claim 9 including applying a decal on the at least one rigid member.

11. The method of claim 9 including applying at least one decal and simulated seams on the outer surface of the filler material.

12. The method of claim 9 including using as the exposed pattern an organization logo/name.

13. The method of claim 9 including applying a pearlescent as the filler material, and filling the shell with sand/wood dust mixture and cement binder as the heavy material.

14. The method of claim 1 including applying a plurality of cut stones as the at least one rigid member.

15. The method of claim 1 including polishing the first layer.

16. The method of claim 1 including polishing the overcoat.

17. The method of claim 1 including applying at least one decal to at least one of the rigid member and the outer surface of the filler material, and applying simulated seams to the outer surface of the filler material.

18. A simulated sports action object made by the method of claim 1.

19. A simulated sports ball comprising a sub-ball made of a heavy material, a decorative first layer formed around and encasing the outer surface of said sub-ball, said first layer comprising at least one rigid member having an exposed pattern on its outer surface and a filler material disposed around said at least one rigid member to complete said first layer, and a transparent overcoat comprising a second layer disposed around and encapsulating said first layer.

20. The ball of claim 19 wherein said sub-ball comprises a hollow shell filled with a heavy material.

21. The ball of claim 20 wherein said simulated ball is selected from the group consisting of a base-ball and a football and a basketball, wherein said first layer further includes simulation selected from the group consisting of stitching and seams for a baseball, and laces and seams for a football and seams for a basketball, and wherein said seams and at least one decal are mounted over said filler material as part of said first layer.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Spherical items, such as balls, globes, etc. have long been known. In one existing process for making globes of the world, pieces corresponding to countries and continents, for example, are attached to the outer surface of the globe. Such pieces might be rough inexact cut stones which would be applied at appropriate locations and then opaque fillers would be applied between the stones to represent the oceans.

There is a strong interest for sports collectibles, gifts and memorabilia. One form of sports collectibles would be an item which simulates something used in a particular sports game such as a baseball, football, etc. Other forms include not only simulating the sports items, but also applying some form of identification representative of a particular team or organization.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of this invention is to provide a sports collectible item such as a simulated ball which is of heavy weight and which can be manufactured in such a manner as to optimize its aesthetic appeal.

The invention may be considered as broadly applying to simulated sports action objects in the sense that the simulated sports item is one which could, for example, be thrown, hit or kicked.

In accordance with this invention the simulated sports action object is formed by providing a hollow shell of a shape which would correspond to the sports action object. Rigid members, preferably, curved stones are applied to the outer surface of the shell at spaced locations. The rigid members may have some form of indicia or pattern applied initially or later by decals which would correspond to the sport in some manner such as by identifying a team or the sport or even a corporation as an advertising logo. The spaced rigid members thereby create a partial first layer on the shell. A filler material is applied to the shell between these spaced locations to thereby form a continuous decorative first layer in combination with the rigid members. After the filler material is ground and polished decals/logos and simulated seams or stripes could be applied to and become part of the decorative first layer. The hollow shell is filled with some form of heavy material, such as sand/wood dust mixture and cement binder. A transparent overcoat or second layer is applied to completely cover the first layer and thereby protects the first layer.

The hollow shell could be formed by being blow molded and could be mounted on a mandrel or shaft so that it can be rotated to facilitate the application of the various materials. The holes formed for accommodating the mandrel could also later function as fill holes for injecting the heavy material.

The filler material might be one which enhances the appearance of the simulated action object by being of, for example, pearlescent having a textured white color or of some other color. The appearance might also be enhanced by polishing the completed first layer before the overcoat is applied. The overcoat is also polished in the preferred practice of this invention.

THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a hollow shell or subball mounted on a mandrel in an early stage in the manufacture of a simulated sport action object in accordance with this invention,

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the hollow shell shown in FIG. 1 with a partial layer applied thereto in the making of a baseball;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view showing the completed baseball of FIGS. 1-2;

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view showing the completed baseball of FIG. 3; and

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view showing an alternative sport missile in the form of a football.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention is directed to the making of sports collectibles, gifts and memorabilia. In particular, the invention is directed to making simulated items of a particular sport, and more specifically items which might be hit or thrown or kicked. In that sense, the items could be considered as sports action objects. Examples of such sports action objects are various forms of balls. This includes baseballs, footballs, basketballs, volleyballs, soccer balls, tennis balls, golf balls, racquet balls and various forms of spherical or elliptical items. Sports action objects could also include items which are hit or thrown or kicked in other sports such as hockey pucks or birdies.

A feature in common with all of the simulated sports action objects is that the simulated sports action objects is made by starting with heavy material, preferably a hollow shell which is later filled with some heavy material. The added weight creates a higher perceived value of the simulated action object.

As shown in FIG. 1, the process begins with a hollow shell or sub-ball 10 which could be made in any suitable manner of any suitable material. In the preferred practice of this invention hollow shell 10 is blow molded plastic. The hollow shell could be made in other manners and from other materials. If desired, in order to facilitate the later steps sub-ball or shell 10 could be mounted on a mandrel. FIG. 1, for example, shows shell 10 mounted on shafts 12,12 so that shell 10 could be rotated when various materials are applied to its outer surface. As later described, shafts 12,12 may be hollow to form as fill tubes.

FIG. 2 illustrates a step in the forming of a baseball as the simulated sports action object. In order to form the baseball rigid members 14 are applied at spaced locations in surface to surface contact with the outer surface of shell 10. Rigid members 14 are preferably cut stones which would function to visually indicate something corresponding with the sport or baseball. The stones have inner and outer surfaces corresponding to the shape of the sub-ball or shell 10 and could be secured in any suitable manner such as being cemented to the plastic shell 10. Decals could be applied to the outer surface of the cut stone or the cut stone itself could physically have some form of information or pattern which corresponds with the sport. Examples of such information or pattern could be team or corporate logos.

The use of cut stones as the rigid members is the preferred practice of this invention since it enhances the quality of the simulated sports action object. The invention, however, may be broadly practiced with the use of other forms of rigid members or members which would provide a manner of displaying the pattern, i.e., logo, etc.

The spaced rigid members create a partial first layer on and around the shell 10. If the sports action object has other physical characteristics those characteristics could be simulated and created as part of this first partial layer. Thus, for example, FIGS. 2-3 illustrate simulated stitching 16 in a chevron or herringbone pattern formed as part of the first layer to correspond to a base-ball. The stitching is preferably also made of rigid material.

The next step is the completion of the partial first layer. This is done by applying a filler material 22 around the outer surface of the shell 10 between the spaced locations of the rigid members (i.e., stones 14 and stitching 16) to thereby complete the first layer and create a continuous first layer in combination with the rigid members.

In a preferred practice of this invention the filler member is pearlescent which has a textured white color. Alternatively, some other color could be applied to the open areas not occupied by the curved stones or stitches or seams. The next step is to grind and polish the filler 22. Decals or logos 24 could then be applied to the polished filter material 22 to become part of the decorative first layer. Similarly, simulated seams 17 could be created in the decorative first layer by applying thin stripes, such as gold stripes, to the polished filler material 22. The decals 24 could be attached to the filler material 22 to provide a further location showing some form of logo or feature characteristic of the ball and/or sport. At this time, decals would also be attached to the outer surface of the rigid members 14.

FIG. 5 shows an alternative sports action object in the form of a football 18 which would in addition to the rigid members have seams 17 and simulated lacing 20 which would be applied to the filler 22. If the lacing 20 is made of a rigid material such as the baseball stitching 16, the lacing 20 could be applied directly to the shell. For other forms of sports action objects or balls having characteristic lines or seams such as found in basketballs, soccer balls, tennis balls, etc. those simulated lines or seams would also be formed as part of the decorative first layer.

After the filler material 22 and decals 24 have been applied, the hollow shell 10 is filled with a heavy material 26. This could be done by using the hollow shafts 12,12 as fill tubes to inject or insert the heavy material. Any suitable heavy material could be used such as sand/wood dust mixture and cement binder. Alternatively, a gel could be injected into the shell 10 to function as the heavy material. The shafts 12,12 are then removed and the fill holes 28 are closed with, any suitable such as, for example, additional filling material 22 so that the decorative first layer completely encapsules the outer surface of shell 10.

Where a hollow shell 10 is used, the hollow shell may initially be mounted for rotation by having a solid shaft extend completely diametrically through the hollow shell. When the shaft is later removed one or both of the exposed holes could be used as fill holes for the heavy material. Alternatively, a single shaft could extend completely through the shell with the shaft being hollow and having one or more openings located in the interior of the shell for later use to supply the heavy material. A further alternative would be to form the shaft as two separate shaft members 12,12 each extending to or partially into the shell with one or both shaft members hollow to function as fill tubes.

It is to be understood that the application of the heavy material could be done at any suitable stage in the process such as immediately upon forming the hollow shell 10 and before any parts of the first layer are created. A disadvantage with filling the shell too early in the manufacturing process is that the shell becomes heavy and may be more difficult to manipulate particularly when applying the various members of the first layer.

In the broad practice of this invention instead of having a hollow shell 10 the sub-ball may initially be made of a solid heavy material, such as stone or metal. This is a less preferred practice.

Once the first layer is completed it may be polished to enhance its appearance.

The next step in the manufacture is the application of an overcoat 30 completely around and over the first layer. Any suitable material can be used for the overcoat such as epoxy, acrylic, polycarbonate, urethane. The overcoat is preferably a transparent, clear coating thereby readily permitting the decals or other patterns on the first layer to be clearly visible. The overcoat is also preferably polished to give the simulated ball its finished appearance.

The simulated sports action object could be made of any suitable size and dimensions such as one which is an accurate reproduction of the dimensions in the actual ball or sports action object or one which could be proportionately larger or smaller. Examples of suitable dimensions are having a baseball which is 75-80 mm in diameter. A football could be in two sizes such as approximately 250 mm and 150 mm format. A basketball could be in approximately 125 mm format. Where used on a spherical shell 10 the rigid members or stones could have a thickness of 0.09 inches. The decals 24 could be 0.002 inches thick. The various members forming the layers could be applied and attached in any suitable manner such as by cementing or adhesive.

In the manufacture of the simulated sports action object or ball a subassembly of rigid member/stone and decal could be placed against the outer surface of the shell 10. Preferably, the stone is polished either before or after placement with or without a decal. Once the first layer is completed it could be polished by grinding and polishing the stone and by grinding and polishing the filler material if desired. Then, the decals 24 and seams 17 could be applied where appropriate.

The stones 14 should have an inner face conforming to the shape of shell 10. The outer face of stones 14, however, need not initially be curved because the curve or final shape of the outer face can be obtained when grinding the outer face. The grinding can provide the entire first layer to be of the same level or thickness. The polishing, particularly of the pearlescent filler 22 causes the first layer to glisten. Where decals 24 are used, the decals can be mounted by applying a quick setting adhesive spray.

An advantage in the preferred practice of this invention is that it permits the use of inlaid cut stones 14 and team or corporate logos or other identification. A further advantage is the ability to use decals inlaid over the cut stones which allows for exactness and thereby preserves the integrity of the logo detail and logo color. Adding the weighted material enhances the perceived value of the cut-stone ball. Such balls or sports action objects would readily become desired memorabilia, collectible editions, gifts and souvenirs in the professional sports team market and in the collegiant market for both students and alumni, and as specialty promotion items and gifts in corporate markets.

The balls or simulated sports action objects could be displayed alone or also in various different ways including (1) holders which might be zinc die-cast, brushed black nickle plated finish holders that include cast home plates and cast bats; (2) spinners such as zinc die-cast, brushed black nickle plated finish spinners that include cast home plates and cast bats; or a second spinner having a simple pedestal without bats or homeplate; (3) mechanical hand-wind music boxes, for example, for baseball providing such options as a two bat version or a four bat version that play appropriate tunes such as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”; and (4) motorized music boxes for baseball, football (particularly the small version ball), basketball, etc. or which are battery operated to rotate and play an appropriate song or speech based upon the particular simulated sports action object.