Title:
Protective Vest, Particularly for Practicing Activities in the Field of Equestrian Sports
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A vest for protecting areas of the chest or torso of the body of a wearer, in particular, vertically from the next to the waist, includes a number of protective panels, characterized in that at least some of these protective panels are joined to one another by a stitching (C) serving as a seam, made by hand or with the aid of a sewing matching whereby forming an articulated connection between two stitched panels for forming at least one set (32) of protective panels.



Inventors:
Desnoyers, Stephane (Paris, FR)
Application Number:
12/092581
Publication Date:
09/11/2008
Filing Date:
11/02/2006
Assignee:
S.T.E. (VINEUIL SAINT FIRMIN, FR)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/2.5, 2/92, 2/467
International Classes:
A41D13/00; A41D1/04; F41H1/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PATEL, TAJASH D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON & VANDERHYE, PC (ARLINGTON, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A protective vest (10) for protecting the areas of the trunk or torso of the body of a user, especially vertically from the neck to the waist, of the type that comprises: a plurality of protective panels (P) whose three-dimensional configuration is suitable for at least a part of said areas to be protected; an envelope (26) formed by assembling a first or inner layer (28) next to the user's body and, generally parallel to the first layer, a second or outer layer (30), with said plurality of panels (P) being placed inside said envelope (26); said vest being characterized in that at least some of said protective panels (2) are connected together by stitches (C) forming a seam made by hand or on a sewing machine, in such a way as to create an articulated connection between two stitched panels to create at least one group (32) of protective panels (P).

2. The protective vest as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that at least some of said protective panels (P) are connected together by stitches (C) forming a seam in such a way as to define, between two stitched panels, a separation (j) for air circulation, and in that both layers of the envelope are made of an air-permeable material.

3. The protective vest as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that both layers (28, 30) of the envelope (26) are made of a net of regular meshes.

4. The vest as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that all of the protective panels (P) are connected together by stitches (C) forming seams in order to create an articulated structure (32) of panels (P) that is permeable to air.

5. The protective vest as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that each panel (P) is thermoformed from a sheet of expanded polyethylene foam.

6. The protective vest as claimed in claim 5, characterized in that the foam sheet in which the panels are thermoformed is made up of two superimposed sublayers (SCe, SCi) having differing structures, and in particular different densities, in such a way that each protective panel (P) has differing structural characteristics on its outer face, consisting of a plate (Pe), and on its inner face consisting of at least one inner protective block (Pp).

7. The protective vest as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that one panel comprises at least two adjacent protective blocks (Pp) articulated to each other.

8. The protective vest as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that the back (14) of the vest (10) comprises a neck opening (25) extending vertically below the shoulder line.

9. The protective vest as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that the bottom edge of the vest has two cutouts for the hips.

10. The protective vest as claimed in claim 2, characterized in that both layers (28, 30) of the envelope (26) are made of a net of regular meshes.

11. The vest as claimed in claim 2, characterized in that all of the protective panels (P) are connected together by stitches (C) forming seams in order to create an articulated structure (32) of panels (P) that is permeable to air.

12. The protective vest as claimed in claim 2, characterized in that each panel (P) is thermoformed from a sheet of expanded polyethylene foam.

13. The protective vest as claimed in claim 2, characterized in that one panel comprises at least two adjacent protective blocks (Pp) articulated to each other.

14. The protective vest as claimed in claim 2, characterized in that the back (14) of the vest (10) comprises a neck opening (25) extending vertically below the shoulder line.

15. The protective vest as claimed in claim 2, characterized in that the bottom edge of the vest has two cutouts for the hips.

Description:

The present invention relates to a vest for providing protection against impacts.

The invention relates in particular to a protective vest designed to be used in various kinds of high-risk activities, such as equestrian activities, and is intended both for riders and all personnel who are in contact with horses and are at risk of impacts such as kicks from horses.

The requirements and test methods for protective clothing, protective jackets, protective vests and shoulder gloves for riders are defined in standard NF EN 13.158, May 2000.

This standard covers protective jackets and vests and shoulder guards worn by riders, children, adolescents and adults of both sexes, to protect them against impacts in the event of falling from a horse, as well as from kicks from horses' hooves.

The protection must also protect them against trampling or crushing.

The standard also provides that these products may be suitable for persons who work with horses and may be exposed for example to kicks.

The standard defines a protective vest as a sleeveless garment covering the defined areas of the torso and the lower area of the back, the vest being made up of one or more layers of material and being designed to reduce injuries due to impact, sudden falls and kicks from feet or hooves.

Besides requirements dealing with impacts, the standard also defines ergonomic requirements by which protective jackets or vests can be designed in such a way as to reduce the discomfort which they cause.

This invention relates to the construction of a protective vest, the object of which is in particular to meet the abovementioned requirement, though its use is not limited to this type of activity.

One known example of a protective vest for a jockey is sold under the reference Model 1005 (racer jockey vest) by Phoenix Performance Products Inc., Ontario, Canada.

That vest model consists of an assembly of foam panels which adapt to the shape of the parts of the torso to be protected.

All of the foam panels of this protective structure are enclosed in a two-layer fabric envelope, with the panels between them.

The two layers are sewn around the perimeter of the vest.

In addition, there is a connection between the two layers of fabric between the panels and around each panel in such a way as to locate the panels relative to each other and form an articulated structure.

Such a vest is not completely satisfactory, particularly in terms of ergonomics and comfort, and more particularly as relates to its overall flexibility as perceived by its user, and as relates to the general ventilation or aeration which is a determining factor of comfort, especially when a vest of this type is being worn for many hours a day by its user.

Furthermore, the proposed construction cannot be produced industrially in any satisfactory and convenient way, particularly when it comes to making different sizes or dimensions for adults of both sexes.

The invention provides a protective vest for protecting the areas of the trunk or torso of the body of a user, especially vertically from the neck to the waist, of the type that comprises:

a plurality of protective panels whose three-dimensional configuration is suitable for at least a part of said areas to be protected,

an envelope formed by assembling a first or inner layer next to the user's body and, generally parallel to the first layer, a second or outer layer, with said plurality of panels being placed inside said envelope; said vest being characterized in that at least some of said protective panels are connected together by stitches forming a seam made by hand or on a sewing machine, in such a way as to create an articulated connection between two stitched panels to create at least one group of protective panels.

Other features of the invention are as follows.

at least some of said protective panels are connected together by stitches forming a seam in such a way as to define, between two stitched panels, a separation or gap for air circulation, and both layers of the envelope are made of an air-permeable material,

both layers of the envelope are made of a net of regular meshes;

the protective panels are connected together by stitches forming seams in order to create an articulated structure of panels that is permeable to air;

in that each panel is thermoformed from a sheet of expanded polyethylene foam;

the foam sheet in which the panels are thermoformed is made up of two superimposed sublayers having differing structures, and in particular different densities, in such a way that each protective panel has differing structural characteristics on its outer face, consisting of a plate, and on its inner face consisting of at least one inner protective block;

one panel comprises at least two adjacent protective blocks articulated to each other;

the back of the vest comprises a neck opening extending vertically below the shoulder line;

the bottom edge of the vest has two cutouts for the hips.

Other features of the invention will become apparent on reading the following detailed description, for an understanding of which the reader should refer to the attached drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic perspective view of an illustrative embodiment of a woman's protective vest according to the invention illustrated in the use position, closed by means of its front zipper;

FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic detail view showing the assembled protective structure of the protective vest seen in FIG. 1, shown flat before insertion into the envelope and from the inside or interior which is next to the body of the user of the vest, with the connecting stitches made on the panels of the left-hand half;

FIG. 3 is a partial view similar to that of FIG. 2 showing the vest after insertion of the protective structure into the netlike outer envelope and after the closing stitches have been made;

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic detail view in section showing the arrangement of a protective panel of the structure between the two net-like layers of the outer envelope;

FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic perspective view, partially in cross section, of an illustrative embodiment of a protective panel belonging to the articulated protective structure of the vest according to the invention;

FIG. 6 is a detailed view from FIG. 2 showing how different adjacent protective panels are assembled together; and

FIG. 7 is a detail view similar to FIG. 6 showing the other face or outward-facing side of the assembled protective structure.

In the following description, identical, analogous or similar parts will be denoted by the same reference numbers.

The protective vest 10 shown in the figures has a general symmetry of design about a central vertical axis AVM passing down the middle of the back and identical parts are denoted by the same references followed by a “G” (left) or “D” (right). The protective net 10 shown in the figures has a general symmetry of design about a central vertical axis AVM passing down the middle of the back and identical parts are denoted by the same references followed by a “G” (left) or “D” (right).

The protective vest 10 shown in the figures takes the general form of a one-piece vest which is put on in the traditional way through two opposite arm holes 12G and 12D and which consists essentially of a back 14 and two front halves, a left front half 16G and a right front half 16D.

The vest 10 closes at the front, in this case by means of a two-part 18G, 18D “Eclaire” (registered trademark) zipper.

On each side, the shoulder consists of two opposite shoulder pieces 20G, 20D at the front and 22G, 22D at the back. These meet at the line connecting the user's neck to his shoulder, and are connected and fastened to each other by an adjustable attachment comprising a shoulder band 24G, 24D which extends from the free end of the rear shoulder piece 22G, 22D and is placed on top of the front shoulder piece 20G, 20D. The band 24G, 24D is fastened by a fastener 21G, 21D of the type consisting of numerous hooks and loops, also known as “Velcro” (registered trademark) fastener.

The vest 10 consists essentially of an air-permeable outer envelope and is the actual articulated internal protective structure.

The outer envelope 26 is made out of two layers of “fabric”, namely an inner layer 28 and an outer layer 30, which are of approximately the same shape and dimensions and are connected to each other all the way around their matching perimeters, for example by stitching.

The fabric used in this case for each of the two layers 28, 30 of the envelope takes the form of a net of regular meshes.

The mesh fabric used is such that the opening of each mesh is sufficient to allow virtually free circulation of air through the fabric.

To facilitate the illustration, the meshes are shown larger than their real size in the figures.

The fabric can be produced in a variety of ways, that is by weaving, knitting, knotting, molding, etc.

The fabric or textile used is preferably made from a synthetic material that is resistant in particular to wear and tear yet easy to maintain.

The strongest meshes are those obtained by straight weaving.

The envelope 26 is made by stitching all the way round its peripheral edge, along the two complementary parts 18G, 18D of the zip of the two front pieces 16G, 16D, around the neck 17G, 17D, the two armholes and the rear cutout 15 at the neck in such a way as to form an envelope 26 which is initially open at the bottom.

This opening at the bottom all the way along the length of the vest 10 allows the pre-assembled protective structure 32 to be inserted vertically, from the bottom upwards, after which the envelope 26 can be closed by stitching a final hem along the approximately straight lower edge 34.

An additional seam 36 is also made near the stitched lower hem 34, which is a shaping seam following the lower outline of the assembled protective structure 32 in order to position the latter correctly in the envelope 26 and prevent any vertical movement of the assembled structure 32 inside the envelope 26.

Making the envelope 26 before the articulated structure 32 is inserted is very easy and means that the envelope 26 can be provided with all its accessories, particularly its zipper and its bands 24G, 24D and “Velcro” fasteners 21G, 21D.

To improve the strength of the assembly, it is also possible to stitch the envelope 26, when using additional final stitches, on some of the panels of the articulated protective structure, especially vertically alongside each part 18G, 18D of the zipper.

The articulated protective structure consists of an assembly of a multiplicity or plurality of protective panels Pi of varying shapes and sizes which are assembled together in such a way as to form articulations between adjacent panels, generally about vertical and/or horizontal axes.

The number of panels Pi, their sizes and shapes, and their points or lines of articulation are specifically selected to give the assembly 32 maximum flexibility and maximum adaptability to the curves of the torso or trunk of the user, such as the chest of a female user, in the case of a woman's vest.

In accordance with the invention, the type of connection between the adjacent panels P is such that a gap “j” is left between two approximately parallel adjacent edges B of two interconnected adjacent panels. Each separation or gap “j” thus formed provides a passage for air to circulate through the articulated protective structure 32, and therefore through the vest 10.

In order to make an articulation between two adjacent panels P, yet ensure the presence of a controlled separation or gap “j”, the assembly is created by means of seams Ci between the various panels P. The seams C may for example preferably be made on a sewing machine.

For a given size and design of vest 10, the protective structure 32 is assembled together progressively by stitching the various panels P corresponding to the design to be created, in the desired size.

The stitches or seams C are generally formed in parallel horizontal and/or parallel vertical directions, in other words generally at right angles to the edges B of the adjacent panels Pi connected by the stitches.

Each protective panel P has one or more protective blocks Pp having in particular a shock-absorbing function.

Each block Pp has the overall shape of a rectangular parallelepiped, tapering somewhat because of the molding production technique, for example by thermoforming blocks Pp, and each is approximately in the shape of a frustum of a pyramid with a rectangular base.

Some panels P and blocks Pp are of such slightly different shapes depending on where they are located.

The shapes and dimensions of the blocks Pp of each panel P are suitable for the shapes and dimensions of the corresponding panel P.

More precisely, each panel P consists of an outer plate Pe from which the various blocks Pp of the panel extend transversely inward.

The planar face Pi which is the free extremity of each block Pp is parallel to the general plane of the free face of the outer plate Pe and is toward the body of the user of the vest 10.

Each panel P with its protective blocks Pp is preferably made in one piece by thermoforming a sheet of expanded polyethylene foam.

Preferably, and in one particular aspect of the invention, the foam sheet from which the panels P are thermoformed is made up of two superimposed layers having different structures, and in particular different densities.

The sheet to be molded thus comprises a denser and thinner outer sublayer SCe and a less dense, thicker inner sublayer SCi.

After thermoforming, the outer sublayer SCe becomes the outer plate Pe of the panel P, while the blocks Pp are at least partly formed in the thicker inner sublayer SCi.

One option is to use a mold for the simultaneous thermoforming of all the panels P required to produce one vest 10 of a given style and size.

Each protective panel P, and therefore the assembled articulated structure 32, thus has different structural characteristics in its outer face consisting of the plate Pe, and in its inner face consisting of the adjacent inner protective blocks Pp.

The result of this is in particular very high impact resistance in the harder outer face of the assembled structure, combined with high impact absorption ability in the protective blocks Pp which, when in use, are interposed between the outer plate Pe and the surfaces to be protected of the trunk or torso of the user.

Adjacent blocks Pp of a given panel are connected to each other by the outer plate Pe, and the result is flexibility by articulation between two adjacent blocks Pp of a given panel, by the elastic deformation of the outer plate in the general region of the connection between two adjacent blocks.

The vest 10 has an outer perimeter which, in the embodiment illustrated here, is more specifically suitable for horse riding.

To this end, the bottom edge of the back 14 is approximately horizontal and is situated at the same vertical height as the horizontal bottom edges of the two front pieces 16G, 16D, so as to facilitate mounting and not interfere with the saddle.

Similarly, the top edge of the back includes a large neck opening 15 so that it easily fits the mounted position of the rider without interfering with his neck or with his riding helmet or cap.

The articulated protective structure 32 exhibits a general symmetry of design about the central vertical axis AVM passing down the middle of the back.

More specifically, in the embodiment illustrated, each front piece 14G, 14D in this case consists of a first area Z1 consisting of a first panel adjacent to the part connected to the zipper, which is vertical, runs the full height of the vest, and comprises two parallel vertical series of blocks.

The structure 32 next comprises a second area Z2 of generally vertical orientation comprising visually two vertical series of blocks.

In this immediately adjacent second area, two adjacent horizontal blocks belong to one and the same horizontal panel, so that this area consists at the bottom of an assembly of six vertically superimposed horizontal panels, each comprising two blocks. At the top is a single panel comprising one vertical column of six blocks.

Next comes a third area Z3, vertically beneath the arm hole, consisting of two parallel vertical panels, each having a vertical series or column of blocks.

The back consists of a fourth area Z4 consisting of two vertical panels each comprising one vertical column of six adjacent blocks.

The fifth area Z5 is the main central area of the back 14 and comprises a V-shaped lower panel with four blocks of complementary specific shapes, including a lower block which comes to a V point.

Above the lower V-shaped panel, this central area 25 comprises two panels continuing on from the arms of the V, each having two adjacent vertical columns of eight blocks, and ending in a central V-shaped panel which is not as high and comprises two specially shaped blocks. The back of the vest thus has a neck hole cutout extending vertically below the shoulder line, with its lowest point corresponding to the top edge of said lower V-shaped central panel.

Since the assembled structure 32 is of generally symmetrical design, the other half will not be described in more detail.

In the case of a woman's vest which has been described above, the panels and their arrangement are such that on each side, at the bottom of the vest, there is a recess or cutout for each hip, corresponding to the indication of reference Z3 in FIG. 2.

In the case of a manes protective vest, there is no hip cutout, and also, at the top of each front piece Z1-Z2, the panels and their arrangement are also different from the forms illustrated in the figures Thus, the two extensions or shoulder pieces or columns at the top each composed of a column of individual blocks are connected together and constructed by stitching together a number of horizontally superimposed panels each comprising two horizontally adjacent blocks.