Title:
IMPACT DISPERSION SYSTEMS AND METHODS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An impact assembly for protecting a wearer comprises a plurality of impact parts. Each impact part defines a main portion, a first connecting portion, and a second connecting portion. The main portion defines a first surface and a second surface. The first and second connecting portions of a plurality of the impact parts are connected to define a plurality of strings of impact parts. The plurality of strings of impact parts are arranged such that the second surface of the main portion of the some of the impact parts partly overlay the first surface of the main portion of others of the impact parts.



Inventors:
Balolia, Shabir Shiraz (BELLINGHAM, WA, US)
Application Number:
12/436678
Publication Date:
11/12/2009
Filing Date:
05/06/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/267
International Classes:
A41D13/015; A41D27/26
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20070220654Writing hand guardSeptember, 2007Lit-woo
20080289078Articles of Apparel Including Zones Having Increased Thermally Insulative and Thermally Resistive PropertiesNovember, 2008Mather
20080004588Perspiration absorbent pads for female breastsJanuary, 2008Gavitt
20050114977Thigh heat guard for motorcycle ridersJune, 2005Bodnar
20090183290Protective Edge ElementJuly, 2009Palarino
20080083136Pants cuff supportsApril, 2008Mcneely
20050283881Break-free safety neckwearDecember, 2005Bryant
20040143889Integral swimming/diving gogglesJuly, 2004Chou



Primary Examiner:
MUROMOTO JR, ROBERT H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Schacht Law Office, Inc. (BELLINGHAM, WA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An impact assembly for protecting a wearer, comprising: first, second, and third impact parts each defining a main portion, a first connecting portion, and a second connecting portion; whereby the main portion defines a first surface and a second surface; the first connecting portion of the first impact part engages the second connecting portion of the second impact part; the second surface of the main portion of the first impact part partly overlays the first surface of the main portion of the third impact part; and the second surface of the main portion of the third impact part partly overlays the first surface of the main portion of the second impact part.

2. An impact assembly as recited in claim 1, further comprising a fourth impact part, wherein: the first connecting portion of the third part engages the second connecting portion of the fourth part; and the second surface of the main portion of the second impact part partly overlays the first surface of the main portion of the fourth impact part.

3. An impact assembly as recited in claim 1, in which: the first connecting portions define a connecting opening; and the second connecting portions define a tab; and the tab extend through the connecting opening and engages the first connecting portion.

4. An impact assembly as recited in claim 1, in which: at least one lateral projection extends from the second surface of the main portion of each impact part; and the at least one lateral projection extends through the connecting opening and engages the first connecting portion.

5. An impact assembly as recited in claim 4, in which: a latch portion extends from each lateral projection; and the latch portion engages the first connecting portion.

6. An impact assembly as recited in claim 1, further comprising a foam pad.

7. An impact dispersion system for protecting a wearer, comprising: an impact assembly comprising first, second, and third impact parts, wherein each impact part defines a main portion, a first connecting portion, and a second connecting portion, and the main portion defines a first surface and a second surface; and a support structure for supporting the impact assembly over a desired area on the wearer; wherein the first connecting portion of the first impact part engages the second connecting portion of the second impact part; the second surface of the main portion of the first impact part partly overlays the first surface of the main portion of the third impact part; and the second surface of the main portion of the third impact part partly overlays the first surface of the main portion of the second impact part.

8. An impact dispersion system as recited in claim 7, further comprising a fourth impact part, wherein: the first connecting portion of the third part engages the second connecting portion of the fourth part; and the second surface of the main portion of the second impact part partly overlays the first surface of the main portion of the fourth impact part.

9. An impact dispersion system as recited in claim 7, in which: the first connecting portions define a connecting opening; and the second connecting portions define a tab; and the tab extend through the connecting opening and engages the first connecting portion.

10. An impact dispersion system as recited in claim 7, in which: at least one lateral projection extends from the second surface of the main portion of each impact part; and the at least one lateral projection extends through the connecting opening and engages the first connecting portion.

11. An impact dispersion system as recited in claim 10, in which: a latch portion extends from each lateral projection; and the latch portion engages the first connecting portion.

12. An impact dispersion system as recited in claim 7, further comprising a foam pad, where the support system further supports the foam pad.

13. An impact assembly for protecting a wearer, comprising: a plurality of impact parts each defining a main portion, a first connecting portion, and a second connecting portion, where the main portion defines a first surface and a second surface; whereby the first and second connecting portions of a plurality of the impact parts are connected to define a plurality of strings of impact parts; the plurality of strings of impact parts are arranged such that the second surface of the main portion of the some of the impact parts partly overlay the first surface of the main portion of others of the impact parts.

14. An impact assembly as recited in claim 13, in which: the first connecting portions define a connecting opening; and the second connecting portions define a tab; and the tab extend through the connecting opening and engages the first connecting portion.

15. An impact assembly as recited in claim 13, in which: at least one lateral projection extends from the second surface of the main portion of each impact part; and the at least one lateral projection extends through the connecting opening and engages the first connecting portion.

16. An impact assembly as recited in claim 15, in which: a latch portion extends from each lateral projection; and the latch portion engages the first connecting portion.

17. An impact assembly as recited in claim 13, further comprising a foam pad.

18. An impact assembly for protecting a wearer, comprising: a plurality of impact parts each defining a main portion, a connecting opening, and a connecting tab, where each main portion defines a first surface and a second surface, and at least one lateral projection extends from the second surface of the each main portion; whereby the connecting openings engage the connecting tabs to define a plurality of strings of impact parts; the plurality of strings of impact parts are arranged such that the second surface of the main portion of the some of the impact parts partly overlay the first surface of the main portion of others of the impact parts; and at least one lateral projection extends through at least one connecting opening and engages the first connecting portion.

19. An impact assembly as recited in claim 19, in which: a latch portion extends from each lateral projection; and the latch portion engages the first connecting portion.

20. An impact assembly as recited in claim 19, further comprising a foam pad.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/126,753 filed May 5, 2008.

The subject matter of the foregoing related application is incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to systems and methods for dispersing impacts and, more specifically, to impact dispersion systems and methods that allow improved freedom of movement.

BACKGROUND

In many common activities, individuals are subjected to impacts from objects and/or other individuals. For example, in martial arts, participants strike each other with hands, feet, elbows, knees, weapons, and the like while sparring. As another example, soccer players are often kicked in the shins during normal play. As yet another example, workers performing many jobs may be struck by tools, workpieces, or the like.

To protect the human body from such impacts, devices have been developed to protect vulnerable parts of the body. Protective devices typically comprise a pad or pad assembly and a support structure. The pad or pad assembly absorbs impacts, while the support structure holds the pad or pad assembly in place over the vulnerable body part.

For less sensitive parts of the body or situations in which expected impacts are less severe, the protective device may use a simple foam pad that compresses to absorb the expected impacts. The amount of impact that can be absorbed by a pad alone is dependent upon the thickness of the pad. For severe impacts, a pad capable of absorbing such impacts may be too bulky for practical used.

Accordingly, for more sensitive parts of the body or situations in which the expected impacts are more severe, the protective device typically comprises a pad assembly comprising an inner, compressible foam pad and an outer, relative rigid shell member. As an example, a shin guard for use by a soccer player typically comprises a pad assembly comprising a foam pad and molded plastic shell. An impact on the pad assembly first encounters the plastic shell; the plastic shell distributes the force of the impact over a wider area to prevent the impact from being narrowly transmitted to the shin. Once the impact has been distributed over the wider area, a relatively thin foam pad is capable of absorbing the impact before the impact is transmitted to the shin.

Protective devices comprising a pad assembly employing a foam pad and molded plastic shell can restrict movement of the individual wearing the protective device. The plastic shell, being relatively rigid, does not easily accommodate parts of the body, such as knees, elbows, and the like, that require movement. Even relatively inflexible parts of the body, such as the shin or back, may move or be connected to moving parts of the body such that overall movement of the individual is restricted.

The need thus exists for protective devices for the human body capable of optimizing the absorption of impacts while minimizing the restriction of movement of the body.

SUMMARY

The present invention may be embodied as an impact assembly for protecting a wearer comprising first, second, and third impact parts. Each impact part defines a main portion, a first connecting portion, and a second connecting portion. The main portion defines a first surface and a second surface. The first connecting portion of the first impact part engages the second connecting portion of the second impact part. The second surface of the main portion of the first impact part partly overlays the first surface of the main portion of the third impact part. The second surface of the main portion of the third impact part partly overlays the first surface of the main portion of the second impact part.

The present invention may also be embodied as an impact dispersion system for protecting a wearer comprising an impact assembly and a support structure. The impact assembly comprises first, second, and third impact parts. Each impact part defines a main portion, a first connecting portion, and a second connecting portion. The main portion defines a first surface and a second surface. The support structure supports the impact assembly over a desired area on the wearer. The first connecting portion of the first impact part engages the second connecting portion of the second impact part. The second surface of the main portion of the first impact part partly overlays the first surface of the main portion of the third impact part. The second surface of the main portion of the third impact part partly overlays the first surface of the main portion of the second impact part.

The present invention may also be embodied as an impact assembly for protecting a wearer comprising a plurality of impact parts each defining a main portion, a first connecting portion, and a second connecting portion. The main portion defines a first surface and a second surface. The first and second connecting portions of a plurality of the impact parts are connected to define a plurality of strings of impact parts. The plurality of strings of impact parts are arranged such that the second surface of the main portion of the some of the impact parts partly overlay the first surface of the main portion of others of the impact parts.

The present invention may also be embodied as an impact assembly for protecting a wearer comprising a plurality of impact parts each defining a main portion, a connecting opening, and a connecting tab. Each main portion defines a first surface and a second surface, and at least one lateral projection extends from the second surface of the each main portion. The connecting openings engage the connecting tabs to define a plurality of strings of impact parts. The plurality of strings of impact parts are arranged such that the second surface of the main portion of the some of the impact parts partly overlay the first surface of the main portion of others of the impact parts. At least one lateral projection extends through at least one connecting opening and engages the first connecting portion.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a somewhat schematic, exploded, perspective view of an example impact dispersion system of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a somewhat schematic, exploded, perspective view of a first example impact assembly that may be used by an impact dispersion system of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is an exploded, front, perspective view illustrating the engagement of a plurality of first example impact parts that are combined to form a first example impact assembly that may be used by the an impact dispersion system of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a rear, perspective view illustrating the engagement of a plurality of first example impact parts as depicted in FIG. 3 to form at least a portion of the first example impact assembly;

FIG. 5 is a rear, perspective view illustrating the combination of the first example impact assembly of FIGS. 3 and 4 and an example backing layer;

FIG. 6 is perspective view illustrating the engagement of a plurality of second example impact parts that are combined to form a second example impact assembly that may be used by an impact dispersion system of the present invention;

FIGS. 7A-7D are perspective, top plan, end elevation, and side elevation views, respectively, illustrating one of the second example impact parts forming the second example impact assembly of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a somewhat schematic, perspective front view of a border portion of a third example impact assembly that may be used by an impact dispersion system of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a somewhat schematic, perspective rear view of the third example impact assembly depicted in FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a perspective rear view depicting the interconnection of a field impact part that may be used by the third example impact assembly of FIGS. 8 and 9;

FIGS. 11A and 11B are rear and front perspective views of the of field impact part depicted in FIG. 10;

FIG. 12A is a perspective view of a first border impact part of the third example impact assembly of FIGS. 8 and 9;

FIG. 12B is a top plan view of the first border impact part depicted in FIG. 12A;

FIG. 12C is a bottom plan view of the first border impact part depicted in FIG. 12A;

FIG. 12D is a side elevation view of the first border impact part depicted in FIG. 12A;

FIG. 13A is a perspective view of a second border impact part of the third example impact assembly of FIGS. 8 and 9;

FIG. 13B is a top plan view of the second border impact part depicted in FIG. 13A;

FIG. 13C is a bottom plan view of the second border impact part depicted in FIG. 13A;

FIG. 13D is a side elevation view of the second border impact part depicted in FIG. 13A;

FIG. 14A is a perspective view of a third border impact part of the third example impact assembly of FIGS. 8 and 9;

FIG. 14B is a top plan view of the third border impact part depicted in FIG. 14A;

FIG. 14C is a bottom plan view of the third border impact part depicted in FIG. 14A;

FIG. 14D is a side elevation view of the third border impact part depicted in FIG. 14A;

FIG. 15A is a perspective view of a fourth border impact part of the third example impact assembly of FIGS. 8 and 9;

FIG. 15B is a top plan view of the fourth border impact part depicted in FIG. 15A;

FIG. 15C is a bottom plan view of the fourth border impact part depicted in FIG. 15A;

FIG. 15D is a side elevation view of the fourth border impact part depicted in FIG. 15A;

FIG. 16A is a perspective view of a fifth border impact part of the third example impact assembly of FIGS. 8 and 9;

FIG. 16B is a top plan view of the fifth border impact part depicted in FIG. 16A;

FIG. 16C is a bottom plan view of the fifth border impact part depicted in FIG. 16A;

FIG. 16D is a side elevation view of the fifth border impact part depicted in FIG. 16A;

FIG. 17A is a perspective view of a sixth border impact part of the third example impact assembly of FIGS. 8 and 9;

FIG. 17B is a top plan view of the sixth border impact part depicted in FIG. 17A;

FIG. 17C is a bottom plan view of the sixth border impact part depicted in FIG. 17A;

FIG. 17D is a side elevation view of the sixth border impact part depicted in FIG. 17A;

FIG. 18A is a perspective view of a seventh border impact part of the seventh example impact assembly of FIGS. 8 and 9;

FIG. 18B is a top plan view of the seventh border impact part depicted in FIG. 18A;

FIG. 18C is a bottom plan view of the seventh border impact part depicted in FIG. 18A; and

FIG. 18D is a side elevation view of the seventh border impact part depicted in FIG. 18A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring initially to FIG. 1 of the drawing, depicted therein is a first example impact system 20 comprising an impact assembly 22 and a support assembly 24. The impact system 20 is adapted to protect a predetermined area of a wearer. The first example impact system 20 is a shin guard designed to be worn over and protect the wearer's shin, but the impact system 20 may take many different shapes and sized depending upon the particular predetermined area to be protected.

The example pad assembly 22 comprises an impact layer 30 and a resilient pad 32. The example support assembly 24 comprises a first panel 40 and a second panel 42. The first panel 40 is a substantially conical or cylindrical form that defines a passageway 44. The second panel 42 is secured to the first panel 40 to define a pocket 46. The pad assembly 22 defines a form factor adapted to overlay the predetermined area of the wearer, and the pocket 46 is sized and dimensioned to receive the pad assembly 22.

With the pad assembly 22 received by the pocket 46, the passageway 44 receives a portion of the wearer such that the pad assembly 22 is held in place over the predetermined area of the wearer. The first example impact system 20 is a shin guard, so the wearer's foot is passed through the passageway 44, and the support assembly 24 is pulled up so that first panel 40 surrounds the wearer's leg below the knee. The pocket 46 is arranged towards the front so that the pad assembly 22 overlays and protects the wearer's shinbone. At least the first panel 40 is made of a stretchable memory material or fabric that snugly holds the pad assembly 22 in place over the wearer's shinbone.

The impact layer 30 may be made in many different sizes and shapes and of many different materials. For example, the impact dispersion system 20 may be designed to cover different predetermined areas of the wearer, such as the knees, elbows, hips, back, head, legs, chest, and/or other extremities of the body. For each different protected area, the size and shape of the impact layer 30 will be different. The impact layer 30 may further be customized for different sizes of individuals. Depending upon the nature of the impact system 20, a single support system may comprise one or more impact assemblies, with or without a pad.

In addition, the impact layer may be made at least in part of plastic for contact sports such as soccer or hand-to-hand sparring. However, the impact layer may be made at least in part of more durable materials such as metals and composites if the impact layer is used to protect the wearer from weapons.

Several example impact assemblies that may be used as part of an impact dispersion system of the present invention will be described in further detail below.

Referring initially to FIGS. 2-5, a first example impact assembly 220 is depicted therein. The first example impact assembly 220 comprises an impact layer 222 and a backing layer 224 comprising a structural sheet 226 and a foam sheet 228. The example structural sheet 226 is made of a sheet of Kevlar, while the example foam sheet 228 is made of sheet of neoprene. The example sheets 226 and 228 are laminated or otherwise joined together to form the backing layer 224; these sheets 226 and 228 may further be processed as will be described in further detail below to facilitate connection of the impact layer 222 to the backing layer 224.

As shown in FIGS. 2-6, the impact layer 222 comprises a plurality of interconnected impact parts 230. The example impact parts 230 are identical and each comprises a main portion 232, a first connecting portion 234, and a second connecting portion 236. The main portion 232 defines a front surface 240, a rear surface 242, and a perimeter edge 244.

The first connecting portion 234 defines a connecting opening 250 defining a bridge portion 252. The second connecting portion 236 defines a connecting tab 254 and a neck portion 256. The connecting tab 254 is adapted to extend through the connecting opening 250. The example impact parts 230 further define first and second lateral projections 260 and 262 that extend from the rear surface 242. The lateral projections 260 and 262 each define an inward facing curved surface portion 264 and an outward facing flat surface portion 266.

When the impact parts 230 are connected as shown in FIG. 5, a proximal portion 256a of the neck portion 256 of a first impact part 230a lies under the bridge portion 252 and a distal portion 256b of the neck portion 256 lies within the connecting opening 250 of a second impact part 230b. Additionally, the lateral projections 260 of laterally adjacent impact parts 230c and 230d also extend into the connecting opening 250 of the second impact part 230b. The curved surface portions 264 of the laterally adjacent parts 230c and 230d engage the first connection portion 234 of the second part 230b. The flat surface portions 266 of the lateral adjacent parts 230a and 230d engage the distal portions 254a of the neck portion 256 of the first part 230a.

Accordingly, as shown in FIG. 5, the first and second connecting portions 234 and 236 of the impact parts 230a and 230b, the first lateral projection 260 of the first laterally adjacent impact part 230c, and the second lateral projection 262 of the second laterally adjacent impact part 230d form a connecting system 270. The connecting system 270 joins the impact parts 230a, 230b, 230c, and 230d together into a unit 272 as shown in FIG. 5. Additionally, it should be apparent that multiple additional impact parts 230 may be added to the unit 272 to form an even larger impact layer 222.

Additionally, the perimeter edges 244 of the first example impact parts 230 forming the impact layer 222 of the first example impact assembly 220 are formed such that the rear surface 242 of one part 230 overlaps the front surface 240 of at least one adjacent part 230. Accordingly, the force arising from an impact applied to the front surface 240 of a target impact part 230 is transmitted to adjacent impact parts 230 and from these adjacent impact parts 230 to impact parts that are not adjacent to the target impact part. This transfer of forces distributes the force of the impact over a relatively wide surface area. However, the edges 244 are contoured such that impact layer 222 has a significant greater degree of flexibility than a single piece of relatively rigid plastic.

Accordingly, both the size of the main portions 232 of the parts 230 and the number of the parts 230 may be adjusted to obtain an impact layer 222 having a desired size, shape, and degree of flexibility.

Additionally, as shown in FIG. 5 of the drawing, perforations 280 may be formed in the backing layer 224 at locations aligned with the locations of the connecting systems 270 defined by the impact layer 222. To assemble the impact layer 222 with the backing layer 224, each second connecting portion 236 is arranged such that the connecting openings 250 are aligned with one of the perforations 280 in the backing layer 224. The first connecting portion 234 is then arranged such that the connecting tabs 256 extend through both the connecting opening 250 and the perforation 280 aligned therewith. The lateral projections 260 and 262 are also inserted through the connecting opening 250 and the perforation 280 such that the connecting system 270 is formed.

The connecting system 270 thus not only holds the impact parts 230 together to form the impact layer 222, but also holds the impact layer and the backing layer 224 together. As an alternative or in addition, an adhesive may be used to secure the backing layer 224 to the impact layer 222.

Turning now to FIGS. 6 and 7 of the drawing, depicted therein is a second example impact layer 320 of the present invention. The impact layer 320 comprises a plurality of interconnected impact parts 330. The example impact parts 330 are identical and each comprises a main portion 332, a first connecting portion 334, and a second connecting portion 336. The main portion 332 defines a front surface 340, a rear surface 342, and a perimeter edge 344.

The first connecting portion 334 defines a connecting opening 350. The second connecting portion 336 defines a neck portion 352 and a connecting tab 354. The connecting tab 354 is adapted to extend through the connecting opening 350.

When the impact parts 330 are connected as shown in FIG. 6, the neck portion 352 of a first impact part 330a lies within the connecting opening 350 of a second impact part 330b. Accordingly, the first and second connecting portions 334 and 336 of the impact parts 330a and 330b form a connecting system 360. The connecting system 360 joins the impact parts 330 together into a unit 362 as shown in FIG. 6. Additionally, it should be apparent that multiple additional impact parts 330 may be added to the unit 362 to form an even larger impact layer 320.

FIG. 6 illustrates that the first and second connecting portions 334 and 336 form strings 370a-h of longitudinally connected impact parts 330. These strings 370a-h are combined such that the parts 330 in one string are offset from the parts of each adjacent string. The parts 330 thus engage each other like a woven fabric to create the larger impact layer 330. Again, a backing layer or boundary layer may be mused to maintain the strings 370 of parts together as part of the overall impact layer 320.

Additionally, the perimeter edges 344 of the first example impact parts 330 forming the impact layer 320 of the second example impact assembly 320 are formed such that the rear surface 342 of one part 330 overlaps the front surface 340 of at least one adjacent part 330. Accordingly, the force arising from an impact applied to the front surface 340 of a target impact part 330 is transmitted to adjacent impact parts 330 and from these adjacent impact parts 330 to impact parts that are not adjacent to the target impact part. This transfer of forces distributes the force of the impact over a relatively wide surface area. However, the edges 344 are contoured such that impact layer 320 has a significant greater degree of flexibility than a single piece of relatively rigid plastic.

One advantage arising from the use of the impact parts 330 is that the impact layer 320 facilitates transmission of heat away from the wearer through the impact layer 320. Initially, as perhaps best shown in FIGS. 7C and 7D, the impact parts 330 are cupped such that the rear surfaces 342 are slightly concave. When the impact layer 320 moves, such as to accommodate movement of the wearer or upon external impacts, the cup-shaped impact parts 330 slightly deflect or deform to form a slight suction that pulls heat and moist air away from the wearer. In addition, the shapes of the impact parts 330 (e.g., pointed oval with slight inward curves towards the pointed ends) creates spacing between each adjacent part 330. Once the air has been forced out by the deflection or deformation of the parts 330, the air travels through the spacings between the interconnected parts 330.

Additionally, the example impact layer 320 may be used with a backing sheet such as the backing sheet 224 described above. The perforations in such a backing sheet may be aligned with the impact layer 320 such that air can be drawn from the inside of the backing sheet to the exterior, which ventilates the protected portion of the wearer under the impact layer 320.

Again, both the size of the main portions 332 of the parts 330 and the number of the parts 330 may be adjusted to obtain an impact layer 320 having a desired size, shape, and degree of flexibility. The individual impact parts 330 can easily be injection molded of plastic; other manufacturing techniques and materials can be used, however, depending upon the expected use of the impact layer.

Referring now to FIGS. 8-18, depicted therein is a third example impact layer 420 constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention. The third example impact layer 420 comprises a field portion 422 (e.g., FIG. 10) and a border portion 424.

The field portion 422 of the third example impact layer 420 comprises a plurality of interconnected field impact parts 430. The example field impact parts 430 are identical and each comprises a main portion 432, a first connecting portion 434, and a second connecting portion 436. The main portion 432 defines a front surface 440, a rear surface 442, and a perimeter edge 444.

The first connecting portion 434 defines a connecting opening 450 defining a bridge portion 452. The second connecting portion 436 defines a neck portion 454 and a connecting tab 456. The connecting tab 456 is adapted to extend through the connecting opening 450. The example impact parts 430 further define first and second lateral projections 460 and 462 that extend from the rear surface 442. The lateral projections 460 and 462 each define an inward facing curved surface portion 464 and an outward facing flat surface portion 466. Additionally, first and second latch portions 470 and 472 extend from the first and second lateral projections 460 and 462, respectively.

When the impact parts 430 are connected as shown in FIG. 10, a proximal portion 454a of the neck portion 454 of a first impact part 430a lies under the bridge portion 452 and a distal portion 454b of the neck portion 454 lies within the connecting opening 450 of a second impact part 430b. Additionally, the lateral projections 460 of laterally adjacent impact parts 430c and 430d also extend into the connecting opening 450 of the second impact part 430b. The curved surface portions 464 of the laterally adjacent parts 430c and 430d engage the first connection portion 434 of the second part 430b. The flat surface portions 466 of the lateral adjacent parts 430c and 430d engage the distal portions 454a of the neck portion 454 of the first part 430a. The first and second latch portions 470 and 472 extend over the first connecting portions 434 to inhibit inadvertent removal of the first portion 434 from the second portion 436 associated therewith.

Accordingly, as shown in FIG. 10, the first and second connecting portions 434 and 436 of the impact parts 430a and 430b, the first lateral projection 460 of the first laterally adjacent impact part 430c, and the second lateral projection 462 of the second laterally adjacent impact part 430d form a connecting system 474. The connecting system 474 joins the impact parts 430a, 430b, 430c, and 430d together into a unit 476 as shown in FIG. 10. Additionally, it should be apparent that multiple additional impact parts 430 may be added to the unit 476 to form an even larger impact layer 420.

Additionally, the perimeter edges 444 of the first example impact parts 430 forming the impact layer 420 of the third example impact assembly 420 are formed such that the rear surface 442 of one part 430 overlaps the front surface 440 of at least one adjacent part 430. Additionally, when the impact parts 430 are assembled, the front surfaces 440 substantially cover the connection points formed where each of the connecting systems 474 are formed.

Accordingly, the force arising from an impact applied to the front surface 440 of a target impact part 430 is transmitted to adjacent impact parts 430 and from these adjacent impact parts 430 to impact parts that are not adjacent to the target impact part. This transfer of forces distributes the force of the impact over a relatively wide surface area. However, the edges 444 are contoured such that impact layer 420 has a significant greater degree of flexibility than a single piece of relatively rigid plastic.

Accordingly, both the size of the main portions 432 of the parts 430 and the number of the parts 430 may be adjusted to obtain an impact layer 420 having a desired size, shape, and degree of flexibility. Also, the individual field impact parts 430 can easily be injection molded of plastic; other manufacturing techniques and materials can be used, however, depending upon the expected use of the impact layer.

As shown in FIG. 8 of the drawing, the border portion 424 comprises a plurality of specialized border impact parts. The border impact parts can be used to form a more finished looking border than can be accomplished simply by using the field impact parts 430 alone.

In particular, the example border portion 424 comprises an upper end border part 480, a first upper side border part 482, a corner side border part 484, a first lower side border part 486, a lower end border part 490, a second lower side border part 492, and a second upper side border part 494.

As shown in FIGS. 12A-D, the upper end border part 480 comprises a main portion 520 and a connection portion 522. The main portion defines a front surface 520a, a rear surface 520b, and a perimeter edge 520c. Like the second connection portion 436, the connection portion 522 defines a neck portion 522a and a connecting tab 522b. A loop structure 524 defining a loop opening 524b extends from the rear surface 520b. The perimeter edge 520c is dimensioned to complement the perimeter edges of the first and second upper side border parts 482 and 494.

As shown in FIGS. 13A-D, the first upper side border part 482 comprises a main portion 530 and a connection portion 532. The main portion defines a front surface 530a, a rear surface 530b, and a perimeter edge 530c. Like the second connection portion 436, the connection portion 532 defines a neck portion 532a and a connecting tab 532b. Loop structures 534 defining loop openings 534b extend from the rear surface 530b. A lateral projection 536 that is substantially the same as the lateral projections 460 and 462 described above also extends from the rear surface 530b. The perimeter edge 530c is dimensioned to complement the perimeter edges of the upper end border part 480 and the corner side border part 484.

As shown in FIGS. 14A-D, the corner side border parts 484 comprises a main portion 540. The main portion defines a front surface 5 540a, a rear surface 540b, and a perimeter edge 540c. Loop structures 542 defining loop openings 542b extend from the rear surface 540b. A lateral projection 544 that is substantially the same as the lateral projections 460 and 462 described above also extends from the rear surface 540b. The perimeter edge 540c is dimensioned to complement the perimeter edges of the first upper side border part 482 and the first lower side border part 486.

As shown in FIGS. 15A-D, the first lower side border part 486 comprises a main portion 550 and a connection portion 552. The main portion defines a front surface 550a, a rear surface 550b, and a perimeter is edge 550c. Like the first connecting portion 434, the connecting portion 552 defines a connecting opening 552a defining a bridge portion 552b. Loop structures 554 defining loop openings 554b extend from the rear surface 550b. A lateral projection 556 that is substantially the same as the lateral projections 460 and 462 described above also extends from the rear surface 550b. The perimeter edge 550c is dimensioned to complement the perimeter edges of the corner side border parts 484 and the lower end border part 490.

As shown in FIGS. 16A-D, the lower end border part 490 comprises a main portion 560 and a connection portion 562. The main portion 25 defines a front surface 560a, a rear surface 560b, and a perimeter edge 560c. Like the first connecting portion 434, the connecting portion 562 defines a connecting opening 562a defining a bridge portion 562b. A loop structure 564 defining a loop opening 564b extends from the rear surface 560b. The perimeter edge 560c is dimensioned to complement the 30 perimeter edges of the first lower side border part 486 and the second lower side border part 492.

As shown in FIGS. 17A-D, the second lower side border part 492 comprises a main portion 570 and a connection portion 572. The main portion defines a front surface 570a, a rear surface 570b, and a perimeter edge 570c. Like the first connecting portion 434, the connecting portion 572 defines a connecting opening 572a defining a bridge portion 572b. Loop structures 574 defining loop openings 574b extend from the rear surface 570b. A lateral projection 576 that is substantially the same as the lateral projections 460 and 462 described above also extends from the rear surface 570b. The perimeter edge 570c is dimensioned to complement the perimeter edges of the lower end border part 490 and the corner side border parts 484.

As shown in FIGS. 18A-D, the second upper side border part 494 comprises a main portion 580 and a connection portion 582. The main portion defines a front surface 580a, a rear surface 580b, and a perimeter edge 580c. Like the second connection portion 436, the connection portion 582 defines a neck portion 582a and a connecting tab 582b. Loop structures 584 defining loop openings 584b extend from the rear surface 580b. A lateral projection 586 that is substantially the same as the lateral projections 460 and 462 described above also extends from the rear surface 580b. The perimeter edge 580c is dimensioned to complement the perimeter edges of the upper end border part 480 and the corner side border part 484.

Turning again to FIG. 9, it can be seen that the border portion 424 can be held in place by a cord 590 inserted in sequence through the various loop openings 524b, 534b, 542b, 554b, 564b, 574b, and 584b defined by the border parts 480, 482, 484, 486, 490, 492, and 494. The cord can be elastic to allow movement of adjacent border parts relative to each other but still maintain the integrity of the border portion 424.

Although not shown in FIGS. 8 and 9 for purposes of clarity, the border parts 480, 482, 484, 486, 490, 492, and 494 engage each other and the field parts 430 such that connection systems are formed that mechanically interlock the various parts 430, 480, 482, 484, 486, 490, 492, and 494 to form the impact layer 420. The example impact layer 420 is a diamond shape, but other shapes can be formed by altering the shapes of the perimeter edges of the various border parts.

Again, the individual impact parts 430, 480, 482, 484, 486, 490, 492, and 494 can easily be injection molded of plastic; other manufacturing techniques and materials can be used, however, depending upon the expected use of the impact layer.

As shown in FIG. 2, the present invention may be embodied as an example impact dispersion system comprising an impact layer comprising interlocking impact parts, a first fabric layer comprising Kevlar, and a second fabric layer comprising neoprene. A border is formed around the perimeter of the example impact dispersion system. The interlocking impact parts mechanically engage each other to define the impact layer. An impact applied to any one or more of the individual impact parts is distributed to adjacent impact parts to distribute the forces of the impact over a relatively large surface area of the impact dispersion system.

FIGS. 3, 4, and 5 illustrate that the example impact parts engage adjacent impact parts end to end and side to side to mechanically engage adjacent impact parts, with edges of the adjacent impact parts overlapping. FIG. 6 further illustrates that portions of the example impact parts extend through openings in one or both of the fabric layers to mechanically engage the impact parts with the fabric layers.

FIGS. 7A-7D illustrates that the impact parts can be easily and inexpensively manufactured using conventional injection molding techniques.

Like the impact parts 230 and 330 described above, the impact layer 420 formed by the impact parts 430 facilitates transmission of heat away from the wearer through the impact layer 420. The impact parts 430 are cupped, and the cup-shaped impact parts 430 slightly deflect or deform to form a slight suction that pulls heat and moist air away from the wearer. In addition, the shapes of the impact parts 430 (e.g., pointed oval with slight inward curves towards the pointed ends) creates spacing between each adjacent part 430. Once the air has been forced out by the deflection or deformation of the parts 430, the air travels through the spacings between the interconnected parts 430.

Again, like the example impact layers 222 and 320, the example impact layer 420 may be used with a backing sheet such as the backing sheet 224 described above. The perforations in such a backing sheet may be aligned with the impact layer 420 such that air can be drawn from the inside of the backing sheet to the exterior, which ventilates the protected portion of the wearer under the impact layer 420.





 
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