Title:
Customizable insole
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An insert for a shoe includes an insole for fitting into a shoe and a molded support structure fitted within the insole and a plurality of arch carriers, each of which is shaped to fit in a matting relationship with the molded support structure, where a user selects one of the plurality of arch carriers and inserts the arch carrier into the molded support structure.



Inventors:
Kantro, Scott (Pound Ridge, NY, US)
Fox, Robert (Mashpee, MA, US)
Sipes Jr., Charles G. (Harrisville, RI, US)
Application Number:
12/283286
Publication Date:
07/02/2009
Filing Date:
09/10/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
12/146B, 36/43, 36/145
International Classes:
A43B7/22; A43B7/14; A43B13/38; A43D8/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100018076Removable attachment for footwearJanuary, 2010Buck
20060053656Footwear with removable insertMarch, 2006Kumle
20030029059Biomechanical sole unitFebruary, 2003Favreau et al.
20060059725Foot sole stimulation device for balance enhancementMarch, 2006Lien et al.
20070011917False heel training shoe componentJanuary, 2007Hayes
20080000107Footwear having interchangeable decorative straps and stripsJanuary, 2008Styles
20080110061Novelty footwear item with flaskMay, 2008Ritter
20050274039Slipper vamp embedded with ornamentsDecember, 2005Lee
20090293314OUTSOLE HAVING GROOVES FORMING DISCRETE LUGSDecember, 2009Dekovic et al.
20100005687Shoe sole with forced ventilationJanuary, 2010Ramadoro (AN)
20030172552Back leaning shoe shapeSeptember, 2003Wu



Primary Examiner:
LALLI, MELISSA LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SOFER & HAROUN LLP. (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An insert for a shoe, said insert comprising: an insole for fitting into a shoe; a support structure, said support structure fitted within said insole; and a plurality of arch units, each of which is shaped to fit in a mating relationship with said support structure, said support structure configured to receive one of said plurality of arch units.

2. The insert as claimed in claim 1, wherein said insole is made of a composition selected from the group consisting of: PU (Polyurethane); EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate Copolymer); and open-cell PU.

3. The insert as claimed in claim 1, wherein said support structure is injection molded and made from semi rigid TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane).

4. The insert as claimed in claim 1, wherein said arch unit is a rigid or semi-rigid injection molded plastic made from a composition selected from the group consisting of TPU and TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer).

5. The insert as claimed in claim 1, wherein said support structure is fitted into an opening in the underside of insole and held in place with adhesive.

6. The insert as claimed in claim 1, wherein said support structure has notches for accepting said arch unit.

7. The insert as claimed in claim 6, wherein said arch units have ridge for slide locking within said notches of said support structure.

8. The insert as claimed in claim 7, wherein said arch units are removable from said support structure.

9. The insert as claimed in claim 1, wherein said arch units, when inserted into said support structure, form a smooth bottom surface with said insole so as not to adversely affect fitting into a shoe.

10. A method for fabricating an insert for a shoe, said method comprising the steps of: forming an insole for fitting into a shoe; forming a support structure; inserting said molded support structure into an cavity on the underside of said insole; and forming a plurality of arch units, each of which is shaped to fit in a mating relationship with said support structure.

11. The method as claimed in claim 10, wherein said support structure and said arch units are injection molded.

12. The method as claimed in claim 10, wherein said support structure is coupled to insole using adhesive.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of priority from Provisional Patent Application No. 60/993,204, filed on Sep. 10, 2007, the entirety of which is incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a shoe insert. More particularly, the present invention relates to a two piece injection molded customizable shoe insert.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

It can be appreciated that arch support insoles have been in use for years. However, only recently have they given the consumer the ability to modify the type of support based on foot type. One brand, Dr Scholl's™ introduced a ¾ arch support insole that has a removable arch component that allows the consumer to chose the stiffness that best provides the type of Arch support and feel he/she desires. The method, used to secure the Arch component to the insole, is difficult to use and its small size does not seem to provide the functionality that was intended.

The main problems with such customizable arch support insoles are: size availability, and the method used to insert and extract from the insole. These arch support pieces snap into a fixed plate that is part of the insole. They are small and difficult to snap in and out of place.

One of the problems with current customizable arch support is that they are usually only available in two sizes, a men's and a women's, and the precise positioning of the arch supports can not be accurately accomplished to be truly functional. Another problem with these forms of prefabricated “customizable” arch support structures is that they are only available in a ¾ length insole, not as a full length insole. Therefore there is no fore-foot cushioning.

In another prior art arrangement, a support device has been applied to an insole offered by New Balance™. One drawback for such a device is the way it is secured to the insole. It is a two part structure that allows for the arch component to be moved either forward or back based more on individual feel, providing little or no support.

While these devices may be suitable for the particular purpose to which they address, they are not as suitable for a consumer to easily personalize or customize his/her insole based on an individuals unique foot type as defined by his or her arch type, low, medium or high, and be truly functional. There are three main problems with current customizable arch support structures. These small arch support pieces snap into a fixed plate that is part of the insole. They are small and difficult to snap in and out. There are only two sizes available, men's and a women's, and the precise positioning of the supports can not be accurately accomplished. Another problem is that the product is not available as a full sole product, providing no forefoot cushioning and is only available in two sizes.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY

The present invention looks to overcome the drawbacks associated with the prior art and to provide an injection molded two-piece arch support insert. An injection molded component may be post-applied to a complete foot insole that has been designed such that it allows the consumer the option to easily personalize or customize his/her insole based on the individual's unique foot type as defined by his or her arch type, i.e., low, medium, or high.

In one arrangement, the device of the present invention includes a rigid or semi rigid TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) composite insert or arch carrier that is applied to an PU (Polyurethane), EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate Copolymer), or open-cell PU insole having a rigid TPU composite structure therein, forming a completed insert which then can be fitted into the shoe. The stiffness of the pre-molded arch supports determines the level of support the completed insert provides and is selected based on the customer's foot type; low, medium, or high arch.

Such an arrangement provides a rigid or semi rigid TPU composite structure that is post applied to an PU, EVA, or open-cell PU pre-molded insole, and becomes part of that insole which then can be fitted with pre-molded arch carrier that has been designed to fit into the rigid TPU composite structure.

This configuration allows a consumer to easily personalize or customize his/her insole based on an individuals unique foot type as defined by his or her arch type, low, medium, or high, by the addition of a separate injection molded insert, and gives the user the ability to customize/personalize the level of arch support based on the individual's foot type.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a structural two-piece injection molded insert that the footwear manufacturer can incorporate into the insole that comes with the shoe as original equipment, giving the consumer the opportunity to easily personalize/customize if he or she so chooses, but functions as a comfort insole without the addition of the proper arch support based on foot type.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a structural two-piece injection molded insert that, by including the customizable arch support structure, gives the footwear brand an added revenue stream after the shoe sale if the consumer chooses to up grade to the customized insole.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a structural two-piece injection molded insert that allows for easy insertion and removal of the proper arch carrier, yet will stay in place and not become dislodged while wearing.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a structural two-piece injection molded insert that can be applied to an insole as original equipment to the shoe, allowing for future customization, or as an over the counter insole that can be customized if the consumer so chooses.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become obvious to the reader and it is intended that these objects and advantages are within the scope of the present invention. It is understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of the description and should not be regarded as limiting.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

To the accomplishment of the above and related objects, this invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying drawings, attention being called to the fact, however, that the drawings are illustrative only, and that changes may be made in the specific construction illustrated.

FIGS. 1A-1D show an insert with an open arch support insert structure, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows—an exemplary arch carrier for fitting into the support structure of FIG. 1A, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a flow chart showing a method for preparing the insert, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 4A-4D shows a completed insert having a two-piece insole and structure of FIGS. 1A-1D having an arch carrier of FIG. 2, the arch carrier being for soft support, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 5A-5D shows a completed insert having a two-piece insole and structure of FIGS. 1A-1D having an arch carrier of FIG. 2, the arch carrier being for medium support, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 6A-6D shows a completed insert having a two-piece insole and structure of FIGS. 1A-1D having an arch carrier of FIG. 2, the arch carrier being for firm support, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIGS. 7A-7D shows a completed insert having a two-piece insole and structure of FIGS. 1A-1D having an arch carrier of FIG. 2, the arch carrier being for extra firm support, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In a first embodiment of the present invention, FIGS. 1A-1D illustrates an insert 2 having an injection molded TPU structure 10 that is bonded to a premolded insole 12. Injection molded rigid or semi-rigid structure 10 is designed to precisely fit into premolded insole 12. In one arrangement, structure 10 is cemented or mechanically secured to insole 12.

Although the insole 12 and structure 10 is described throughout as a two-piece insert component, where the structure is added to the insole, such as by adhesive, it is under stood that the single molded insole/structure 12/10 is also within the contemplation of the present invention.

Arch unit structure 10 can be a rigid or semi rigid three dimensional injection molded structure that is designed in such a way as to allow for easily sliding in and out of the arch unit 20, with locking features that prevent movement during the down forces of the foot when in use. In one example slide locking notches 14 in structure 10 are used to support the arch unit as described in more detail below. It is understood that structure 10 may be fabricated using other methods, apart from injection molding and may be formed from other compositions than polymers if desired.

In one arrangement of the present invention, as illustrated in FIG. 2, an arch unit 20 is fabricated using an injection molded component, using any plastic that may be inserted into structure 10 of insert 2. Injection molded arch unit 20 is designed to fit precisely into the arch support unit structure 10. Arch unit 20 provides the means by which the proper arch support is provided to the foot of the customer. A foot type analysis is advantageously used to select the correct arch unit 20 from a plurality of arch unit 20 types, as discussed below.

Arch unit 20 is designed in such a way as to allow the arch supports to be slipped in with relative ease and lock securely using the down pressure of the foot on the insole to keep it in place and secure. In one arrangement, arch unit 20 maintains a slide locking ridge 22 which is configured to be placed in a mating relationship with slide lock notches 14 of structure 10.

In another arrangement of the present invention, arch unit 20 is formed using rigid or semi-rigid injection molded plastics such as, TPU, TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer), Nylon, etc. . . . . Arch unit 20 may be designed using different materials and thickness' to vary the stiffness necessary based on an individuals foot type, size and weight to achieve the proper support and to fit precisely into the arch support structure 10 of insole 12. For example, more pliable polymers may be used for softer arch units 20 whereas more rigid polymers may be used to achieve higher firmness. Likewise, thicker arch units 20, having structure components (support ridges molded into the polymer etc. . . . ) may be used to provide extra firmness.

As noted above, the “slide/lock system” implemented with notches 14 and ridge 22, is configured to allow for quick an easy method to customize/personalize an aftermarket or original equipment insert 2, once an individual's foot type has been determined. It is understood that other similar elements that achieve a slide-lock mating relationship are within the contemplation of the present invention, including but not limited to.

In one embodiment of the present invention, as illustrated in flow chart FIG. 3, once a customer has decided to purchase insert 2, at step 100, the customer has their arch reviewed to determine the necessary form of arch unit 20 that is required. For example, low arches may require more sturdy support whereas medium arches may require less rigid support.

At step 102, the customer obtains insole 12 with an open structure 10 as shown in FIG. 1. Next at step 104, based on the arch measurement, an appropriate arch unit 20 is selected with the desired degree of support.

At step 106, the ridges 22 of arch unit 20 are slid into relationship with the notches of structure 10 of insole 12. Finally, the completed two-piece insert is inserted into the desired footwear.

It is understood that insert 2 may be used without the foot type analysis by giving the consumer the ability to self determine which level of arch support (arch unit 20) provides the best level of comfort and support.

FIGS. 4A-4D, 5A-5D, 6A-6D and 7A-7D show various views of insert 10, including insole/structure 12/10 with the arch unit 20 locked into structure 10. FIGS. 4A-4D, show a soft arch unit 20 in place within structure 10. FIGS. 5A-5D, show a medium arch unit 20 in place within structure 10. FIGS. 6A-6D, show a firm arch unit 20 in place within structure 10. FIGS. 7A-7D, show a extra-firm arch unit 20 in place within structure 10.

Such an arrangement provides a convenient manner for using a customizable insert 2 that combines the flexibility to meet the support needs of different arches while simultaneously using pre-fabricated and stable insert components. Furthermore the present invention, is able to provide a customizable insert 2, where the addition of the second piece (arch unit 20) to the first piece (structure 10) does not increase its volume which such that it does not affect the fit of the shoe. Thus, such an arrangement advantageously further meets the limited space that most footwear provides.

Another advantage of such an arrangement is that it allows manufactures to generate one mold (per size) for an insole/structure 12/10, while allowing for such an insert 2 to be customizable at the point of sale by simply inserting different pre-molded arch units 20. Moreover, this allows a customer to buy only one insert 2 and multiple arch units 20 so that they may interchange different units 20 for different levels of comfort/support during different activities, such as walking, work, running, climbing.

In one embodiment of the present invention, insole 12 may be designed as a generic insole that has been designed specifically to fit the broad range of footwear that exists in the market or it may be designed to fitting into specific styles of shoes. For example, running shoes may be narrow and utilize different insoles 12 and arch units 20 for insert 2 as opposed to a wider work type shoe/boot.

With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention.