Title:
BLUNT FORCE PROTECTION HEADGEAR TECHNOLOGY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Helmets and pad kits for use in helmet shells are provided. The pad kits, when inserted or attached to the inner surface of a helmet shell, provide a user or wearer with enhance blunt force protection relative to padding in prior helmet systems. Pad kits include pads having one or more layers of differing material, typically two or more layers of material; one layer including a rate sensitive, impact absorbing material, and another layer including a comfort or form-fitting material. The impact absorbing material provides enhanced protection to the user's head from impact to the helmet shell.



Inventors:
Divine, John (Martinez, CA, US)
Alford, Scott (Martinez, CA, US)
Dennis, David (St. Helens, OR, US)
Application Number:
13/301470
Publication Date:
08/02/2012
Filing Date:
11/21/2011
Assignee:
Guardian Protective Technologies Inc. (Walnut Creek, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A42B3/12
View Patent Images:
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20060143794Foldable capJuly, 2006Hou
20110131701Short camisole with lumbar and cervical cushionJune, 2011Pryne et al.
20090158489Removalble holder for displaying pictures and other materialsJune, 2009White et al.
20120286958WELDING HELMET CONFIGURATION PROVIDING REAL-TIME FUME EXPOSURE WARNING CAPABILITYNovember, 2012Dunbar
20080052803Method of MessagingMarch, 2008Kuharcik et al.
20130007943ARTICLE FOR THERMAL TRANSFERJanuary, 2013Thorsen
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Primary Examiner:
KINSAUL, ANNA KATHRYN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEYDIG, VOIT & MAYER (WALNUT CREEK) (WALNUT CREEK, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A helmet wearable by a user, the helmet comprising: a shell portion having an exterior surface and an interior surface configured to cover the head of a user; and one or more pads, each pad attached to the interior surface of the helmet, and arranged to receive the head of the user so that the head of the user does not make direct contact with the interior surface, wherein each pad includes a first layer of rate sensitive material and a second layer of a form-fitting material that molds to or adapts to the users head when worn, wherein the impact absorbing material provides enhanced protection to the head of the user from a blunt force impact to the exterior of the helmet.

2. The helmet of claim 1, wherein the rate sensitive material includes a material selected from the group consisting of Y-20 foam and a SHOCKtec™ foam.

3. The helmet of claim 1, wherein the form fitting material includes a non-memory foam material.

4. The helmet of claim 1, wherein the form fitting material is glued or bonded to the impact absorbing material.

5. The helmet of claim 1, wherein the one or more pads include one or more fabric materials covering the first and second layers.

6. The helmet of claim 5, wherein one of said fabric materials is a heat and moisture wicking material.

7. The helmet of claim 6, wherein the heat and moisture wicking material includes one of a DriFit™ fabric or a ProDri™ fabric.

8. The helmet of claim 5, wherein the fabric material has stitching.

9. The helmet of claim 8, wherein at least one pad has stitching that visually makes the pad appear as two or more individual pads coupled together.

10. The helmet of claim 5, wherein the pad is coated with a waterproof and air breathable coating material.

11. The helmet of claim 10, wherein the coating material includes a urethane-based coating material.

12. The helmet of claim 1, wherein the one or more pads are removably attached to the interior surface by Velcro. attachments.

13. A pad kit for use in attaching to an interior surface of a helmet shell such that when attached to the interior surface of the helmet the head of the user does not make direct contact with the interior surface, the kit comprising: one or more pads, each pad includes a first layer of a rate sensitive material and a second layer of a form-fitting material that molds to or adapts to the users head when in contact with a portion of the user's head, wherein the impact absorbing material provides enhanced protection to the head of the user from a blunt force impact to the exterior of the helmet.

14. The padkit of claim 13, wherein a first. one of said one or more pads is a single piece element having a shape that, when attached to the interior surface of a helmet, is positioned to contact multiple portions of the user's heads, including a top portion and a forehead portion of the users head.

15. The pad kit of claim 14, wherein the first pad has a shape that also includes a portion positioned to contact a back portion of the users head.

16. The pad kit of claim 13, further including a set of Velcro attachments for attaching the one or more pads to the interior surface of the helmet.

17. The pad kit of claim 13, wherein the rate sensitive material includes a material selected from the group consisting of Y-20 foam and a SHOCKtec™ foam.

18. The pad kit of claim 13, wherein the form fitting material includes a non-memory foam material.

19. The pad kit of claim 13, wherein the one or more pads include one or more fabric materials covering the first and second layers.

20. The pad kit of claim 19, wherein one of said fabric materials is a heat and moisture wicking material.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/093,704, filed Apr. 25, 2011 (Attorney Docket No. 92668-804775 (000220US)), which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/327,573, filed Apr. 23, 2010 (Attorney Docket No. 92668-780107(000200US)), the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. The present application also claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/415,624, filed Nov. 19, 2010 (Attorney Docket No. 92668-795284 (000210US)), the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates generally to headgear, and more particularly to headgear, such as helmets, with improved impact resistant properties.

Most caps and hats are made of a cloth or fabric or soft material that offers little in the way of protection from blunt force impact such as might occur when a baseball, golf ball or other projectile strikes the hat, or when the wearer's head impacts a solid object. Also, current sport helmets, such as football, baseball, lacrosse, etc. helmets, typically include a hard foam product or other liner product that lines the inner surface of the helmet shell, and which is intended to provide protection to the user's head. However, such materials typically provides little to no protection from transfer of momentum form a blunt force impact to the helmet shell.

It is therefore desirable to provide headgear such as sports helmets and other helmets with improved blunt force protection qualities.

BRIEF SUMMARY

Embodiments of the present invention include impact absorbing material incorporated into a cap or helmet, such as a baseball cap or a baseball (batter's) helmet, football helmet or other sports activity headgear.

In certain embodiments impact absorbing material is incorporated into a cap or hat, or that creates a cap within a cap. Such caps provide increased blunt force protection in the event the wearer falls or. is struck with an object, such as a baseball or golf ball. For baseball cap embodiments, the pie shaped pieces that typically makeup a baseball cap have an inner liner sewn into the cap, creating pie piece shaped pockets between the two layers of fabric. The inner liner could be the same type of fabric as the outer layer, or could include a different material, such as a moisture wicking layer, that will come in contact with the scalp. The caps and hats typically are lightweight so as to not detract from the wearability factor of conventional hats or caps; the added materials typically do not increase the weight or balance of the hat in a detractable manner.

For helmet embodiments, pad kits are provided, which when inserted or attached to the inner surface of a helmet shell provide a user or wearer with enhance blunt force protection relative to padding in prior helmet systems. Pad kits according to various embodiments include pads having one or more layers of differing material, typically two or more layers of material; one layer including a rate sensitive, impact absorbing material, and another layer including a comfort or form-fitting material. The comfort layer is typically positioned to contact the user's head and provides enhanced comfort to the user, and the rate sensitive layer is typically positioned to contact the helmet shell and provides enhanced energy dissipation from a blunt force impact to the exterior of the helmet. Intervening, intermediate and adjacent layers of material, such as a fabric shell layer to wrap around and enclose a pad, are provided in certain embodiments.

According to one embodiment headgear is provided that is typically wearable by a user. The headgear typically includes a cap portion configured to fit the head of a user and cover a top portion of the user's head, the cap portion including a layer of a fabric material, and at least one piece or layer of impact absorbing material attached to the layer of fabric material, wherein the impact absorbing material provides enhanced protection from impact to the user's head. The impact absorbing material in certain aspects includes Y-20 foam, Shocktec™ foam or other material that absorbs an impact event (and, e.g., distributes the momentum across a wider area), such as a foam, plastic, rubber, etc. In certain aspects, the at least one piece of impact absorbing material includes a plurality of triangular shaped pieces secured to the layer of fabric material. The impact absorbing layer may include multiple types of impact absorbing materials and/or other types of materials such as moisture-wicking materials. In certain aspects, the at least one piece of impact absorbing material is removably attached to the layer of fabric material.

According to another embodiment, a helmet wearable by a user is provided. The helmet typically includes a shell portion having an exterior surface and an interior surface configured to cover the head of a user, and one or more pads, each pad attached to the interior surface of the helmet, and arranged to receive the head of the user so that the head of the user does not make direct contact with the interior surface. In certain aspects, each pad includes a first layer of impact absorbing material (or rate sensitive material) and a second layer of a form-fitting material that molds to or adapts to the users head when worn, wherein the impact absorbing material provides enhanced protection to the head of the user from a blunt force impact to the exterior of the helmet. The form-fitting material is generally (but not necessarily) less rate sensitive than the rate sensitive layer, but may have some notable rate-sensitive properties itself. In certain aspects, the rate sensitive material is thermally stable over a wide range of operation temperatures typically experienced when using the helmet, e.g., freezing (32° F.) or sub-freezing to about 120° or greater. In certain aspects, useful materials include Y-20 foam and SHOCK™ Air2gel foam or foam materials with similar thermal stability and shock-mitigating characteristics. In certain aspects, the form-fitting material includes a memory foam material or other soft deformable material. In certain aspects, the form-fitting layer and the rate-sensitive layer are glued, bonded or otherwise secured together, e.g., bonded to form a two-layer laminated structure. A spray adhesive may be used for securing the two layers together. In certain aspects, the rate sensitive layer or the two-layer laminated structure is coated with a waterproof and air-breathable coating, such as a urethane-based coating. In certain aspects, the one or more pads includes a fabric material that covers or envelopes the two layers (e.g., envelopes the two-layered laminate structure). In certain aspects the fabric material includes a heat and moisture wicking material and/or a Velcro-compatible material. For example, in certain aspects, two fabric materials are used to cover the laminate structure: a heat and moisture wicking fabric material on the side form-fitting material side and a Velcro-compatible fabric on the rate-sensitive material side. The fabrics may be stitched or otherwise secured together as desired. Useful heat and moisture wicking materials include DriFit™ and ProDri™ materials.

According to yet another embodiment, a pad kit is provided for use in attaching to an interior surface of a helmet shell such that when attached to the interior surface of the helmet the head of the user does not make direct contact with the interior surface. The pad kit typically includes one or more pads, each pad includes a first layer of a rate sensitive material and a second layer of a form-fitting material that molds to or adapts to the users head when in contact with a portion of the user's head, wherein the impact absorbing material provides enhanced protection to the head of the user from a blunt force impact to the exterior of the helmet. In certain aspects, a first one of said one or more pads is a single piece element having a shape that, when attached to the interior surface of a helmet, is positioned to contact multiple portions of the user's heads, including a top portion and a forehead portion of the users head. The form-fitting material is generally (but not necessarily) less rate sensitive than the rate sensitive layer, but may have some notable rate-sensitive properties itself. In certain aspects, the rate sensitive material is thermally stable over a wide range of operation temperatures typically experience when using the helmet, e.g., freezing (32° F.) or sub-freezing to about 120° F. or greater. In certain aspects, useful materials include Y-20 foam and SHOCKtec™ Air2gel foam or foam materials with similar thermal stability and shock-mitigating characteristics. In certain aspects, the form-fitting material includes a memory foam material or other soft deformable material. In certain aspects, the form-fitting layer and the rate-sensitive layer are glued, bonded or otherwise secured together, e.g., bonded to form a two-layer laminated structure. A spray adhesive may be used fcir securing the two layers together. In certain aspects, the rate sensitive layer or the tow-layer laminated structure is coated with a waterproof and air-breathable coating, such as a urethane-based coating. In certain aspects, the one or more pads includes a fabric material that covers or envelopes the two layers (e.g., envelopes the two-layered laminate structure). In certain aspects the fabric material includes a heat and moisture wicking material and/or a Velcro-compatible material. For example, in certain aspects, two fabric materials are used to cover the laminate structure: a heat and moisture wicking fabric material on the side form-fitting material side and a Velcro-compatible fabric on the rate-sensitive material side. The fabrics may be stitched or otherwise secured together as desired. Useful heat and moisture wicking materials include DriFit™ and ProDri™ materials.

Reference to the remaining portions of the specification, including the drawings and claims, will realize other features and advantages of the present invention. Further features and advantages of the present invention, as well as the structure and operation of various embodiments of the present invention are described in detail below with respect to the accompanying drawings. In the drawings, like reference numbers indicate identical or functionally similar elements.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1-8 illustrate a baseball cap embodiment.

FIGS. 9-11 illustrates a shock mitigating pad kit or pad system, with pads including a layer of rate-sensitive, shock-mitigating material, for insertion or attachment within a helmet according to one embodiment.

FIG. 12 illustrates another embodiment of a pad kit or pad system for use with a helmet shell.

FIG. 13 shows a pad kit or pad system having three pads, according to one embodiment, installed in a helmet shell.

FIG. 14 shows a pad kit or pad system for a Lacrosse helmet according to one embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIGS. 1-8 illustrate an embodiment of the present invention. It will be appreciated that FIGS. 1-8 illustrate a baseball cap embodiment, however, one skilled in the art will appreciate that embodiments are equally applicable to other types of headgear, such as beanies, caps, or other headgear for use in various applications including military applications, sporting events, etc. As shown in FIG. 1, headgear 10 according to one embodiment includes a cap portion 20 that is configured to cover a wearer's head. Cap portion 20 is typically made of a fabric material, such as a stitched cotton fabric. Cap portion may include various mechanisms as are well known to adjust the size of the perimeter to allow better coupling/attachment with different size heads, such as an elastic portion, Velcro, a belt and clasp mechanism, etc. Visor portion 30 is coupled with the cap portion. Visor portion 30 is optional in certain embodiments, e.g., beanies and other caps.

In one embodiment, a layer of shock mitigating material is attached or otherwise coupled with the cap portion to provide additional impact protection to the wearer's head. For example, in the embodiment shown, one or multiple pieces 40 of shock mitigating material are inserted and enclosed within one or multiple pockets of the cap portion. These pieces 40 of “protective” layer can either be sewn securely into the cap, or they can be removable, for cleaning or replacement as needed. Forexample, to install or remove the pieces 40, a sweatband within the cap can be unrolled (unfolded), exposing each of the pocket openings as shown in FIGS. 5-7.

For baseball cap embodiments, the pie shaped pieces that typically make up a baseball cap have an inner liner sewn into the cap, creating pie piece shaped pockets between the two layers of fabric. The inner liner could be the same type of fabric as the outer layer, or could be a different material, such as a moisture wicking layer, that will come in contact with the scalp. According to one embodiment, a heat and moisture wicking fabric, called orthowick is used.

Rate sensitive materials, such as impact absorbing foam products are formed, e.g., cut, to the same shape and size as the pockets in the cap, whether pie shaped pockets or other shapes. In one embodiment, Kemmler's SHOCKtec material is used. Typically a baseball cap or a military cloth hat has 5 or 6 pie piece shaped triangles, which make up the overall shape of the cap. In the case of adjustable fitting caps, the rear two triangular pieces will have a portion of the back inner side of the triangle removed, to accommodate the opening at the back of the hat. The shock mitigating material slices will fit within the pocket openings, creating a “shock layer,” sandwiched between the two layers of fabric, which make up the hat.

Another material that can be used with embodiments disclosed herein is the foam Y-20, either in addition to the other materials described herein, or as a replacement thereof. Thermoforming the various pads and pad structures can be performed, for example instead of cutting pad portions. For example, in one embodiment, a single pad of rate sensitive material is thermoformed to match the cap portion, and the formed pad is attached to or coupled with the inside portion of the cap portion. In other embodiments, multiple pad pieces are formed by a thermoforming process and then attached to or coupled with the cap portion.

The finished product is a baseball cap, which provides some level of increased blunt force protection. Although the finished cap may not provide the same level of protection as a hard shelled helmet, the product provides additional levels of protection in the event the wearer falls or is struck with an object, such as a baseball or golf ball.

One skilled in the art will appreciate that other types of caps, hats or helmets can be modified similar to the baseball cap embodiment as described herein, such as scrum caps for rugby and ski helmets/caps/beanies, to incorporate rate sensitive material to provide enhanced blunt force protection to a wearer of the cap or hat.

FIGS. 9-11 illustrates a shock mitigating pad kit, with pads including a layer of rate-sensitive, shock-mitigating material, for insertion or attachment within a helmet according to one embodiment. As shown in FIG. 9, a pad kit for a helmet, according to one embodiment, includes one or more pads for contacting with a top portion of a head, ear pads (e.g., left and right ear pad), and a band pad (e.g., for contacting with the periphery of a head at the forehead level) and a set of adhesive Velcro pairs. For other types of helmets, fewer or additional pads may be included.

The pads may be secured within the helmet by way of Velcro®, adhesive or other coupling mechanisms or materials. Helmets may be pre-made with padding including the rate-sensitive, shock absorbing material, or a helmet can be re-tooled, e.g., by removing existing helmet padding and inserting pads from the pad kit which include the shock absorbing material. For example, as shown in FIG. 10, a pad can include more than one layer; a layer of rate-sensitive, shock absorbing material 10, e.g., SHOCKtec, and a second layer 20 of material such as a foam material or other material to provide bulk and form-fitting characteristics. Material 10 may be glued bonded or otherwise secured to layer 20 to form a dual layer structure. For example, in one embodiment, layer 10 is bonded with layer 20 to form a dual layer laminate structure. A glue or adhesive spray may be used. More than two layers of differing materials can be included. A cloth fabric layer 30 covers the pads in one embodiment. In certain aspects, the cloth layer is a Velcro compatible fabric to facilitate attachment to the inner portion of the helmet shell. In certain embodiments, a pad includes single layer of shock absorbing material with or without a wrapping (e.g., cloth) layer.

FIG. 11 shows the pad kit of FIG. 9 installed in a helmet shell. The helmet shell includes an exterior portion that is exposed to impact from foreign objects when worn by a user or wearer. The pad kit is attached to the interior portion of the helmet shell via a an attachment mechanism. In this particular example, the pad elements are attached to the interior portion of the helmet shell by the Velcro attachment elements included in the kit. One side of a Velcro attachment element include an adhesive to securely attach to the inner portion of the shell at desired locations, and the other side includes the Velcro medium.

FIG. 12 illustrates another embodiment of a pad kit for use with a helmet shell. As shown in FIG. 12a, a pad kit according to one embodiment includes at least one pad that when installed in a helmet shell contacts multiple portions of the user's heads, for example a top portion and a forehead portion of the users head, or atop portion and a back portion and a forehead portion of a user's. head. In one particular embodiment as shown in FIG. 12a, pad 40 is single piece element having a shape that, when attached to the interior surface of a helmet, is positioned to contact multiple portions of the user's heads, including a top portion, a back portion and a forehead portion of the user's head. In this embodiment, optional pads 42 are provided to protect the user's side jaws (Jaw pads), and an optional pad 44 is provided to cover the nape portion of the user's head below the back portion. In certain aspects, pad 40 can be configured to include more padding material extending froth the portion that would protect the back of the user's head (lower portion of pad 40 in FIG. 12a) to obviate the need for an additional pad 44. FIGS. 12b and 12c show front and top (as viewed looking down the helmet shell concave opening) views, respectively, of the pad kit of FIG. 12a installed in a helmet shell. One will recognize that pad 40 could be replaced by multiple pad elements, for example a single pad to protect the user's forehead portion and a single pad to cover the top portion and the back portion of the user's head, or a single pad to cover the top portion, a single pad to cover the back portion and a single pad to cover the forehead portion of the user's head. Similarly, pad 40 could be configured to include extensions that would cover the jaw portions so that separate pads 42 would not be included in the pad kit.

FIG. 13 shows a pad kit having three pads, according to one embodiment, installed in a helmet shell. As shown one pad, when installed mates with the top portion and forehead portion of the user's head, and two separate pads mate with the right and left side of the user's head and including openings (not shown) proximal the user's ears. In this Figure, the thickness of the pads are about ⅞″.

FIG. 14 shows a pad system for a Lacrosse helmet according to one embodiment. The pad system/kit may include one or multiple pads configured to attach to the inner shell of a Lacrosse helmet as shown.

In certain aspects, the thicknesses of the various layers of a pad may vary according to the desired application, helmet layout, helmet type, helmet size, etc. In various embodiments, the total thickness of a pad may range from about ¼″ to about 1⅛″ or greater, with the rate sensitive layer ranging from about ⅛″ thick to about ⅞″ thick or greater and the comfort layer ranging from about ¼″ thick to about ¾″ thick or 1″ thick or greater. For example, in particular embodiments, for a two-layer pad having a total thickness of about 1″, the rate sensitive layer may be about ¼″ thick and the form-fitting/comfort layer may be about ¾″ thick. Similarly, for a ⅞″ inch total thickness pad, the rate sensitive layer may be about ¼″ thick and the form-fitting/comfort layer may be about ⅝″ thick; for a ¾″ thick pad, the rate sensitive layer may be about ¼″ thick and the form-fitting/comfort layer may be about ½″ thick; for a ⅝″ pad, the rate sensitive layer may be about ½″ thick and the form-fitting/comfort layer may be about ⅜″ thick; for a ½″ thick pad the rate sensitive layer may be about ⅛″ thick and the form-fitting/comfort layer may be about ⅜″ thick; and for a 1⅛″ thick pad, the rate sensitive layer may be about ⅜″ thick and the form-fitting/comfort layer may be about ¾″ thick, or the rate sensitive layer may be about ½″ thick and the form-fitting/comfort layer may be about ⅝″ thick or the rate sensitive layer may be about ⅞″ thick and the form-fitting/comfort layer may be about ¼″ thick. Also, different pads in a pad kit for a single helmet may have different thicknesses, different layered materials, different numbers of layers of material, etc., as desired for the particular application.

In certain aspects, the a fabric material covering the layered pads includes stitching that makes a single pad appear as though that pad is several individual pads coupled together. Such stitching will also enhance ventilation of the pad.

Another rate-sensitive material that can be used with embodiments disclosed herein is Y-20 foam, either in addition to the other materials described herein, or as a replacement thereof. Thermoforming the various pads and pad structures can be performed, for example instead of cutting pad portions.

One skilled in the art will appreciate that other types of hats or helmets can be modified similar to the baseball cap and helmet embodiments as described herein, such as scrum caps for rugby, ski helmets/caps/beanies, baseball and football helmets, Lacrosse helmets, etc. to incorporate pads with rate sensitive material to provide enhanced blunt force protection to a wearer of the hat or helmet. Additionally, multiple pads of different shapes, numbers of layers, sizes and thicknesses can be incorporated into hats and helmets. In general, a pad kit according to certain embodiments includes one or multiple pads constructed as described herein, each configured to cover the entirety of a user's head or certain portions of a user's head. The pad geometry may be modified as desired to increase comfort and enhance fit range.

While the invention has been described by way of example and in terms of the specific embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments. To the contrary, it is intended to cover various modifications and similar arrangements as would be apparent to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the scope of the appended claims should be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and similar arrangements.