Title:
Inflatable sports ball
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An inflatable sports ball which comprises an inflatable bladder which is provided with a bladder valve; a bladder pocket which encloses the bladder; an outer carcass which encloses the bladder pocket and is provided with an outer carcass valve hole; and a valve stem which extends from the bladder valve hole through the bladder pocket to the outer carcass valve hole. The bladder pocket is in form of a hosohedron with a plurality of identical lune faces, and each of the lune faces is formed by a panel which is made of a material cheaper in costs in comparison with materials which form the bladder or the outer carcass.



Inventors:
Sing, Tam Hin (KOWLOON, HK)
Application Number:
13/195026
Publication Date:
02/07/2013
Filing Date:
08/01/2011
Assignee:
NOBLE STAR HOLDINGS LIMITED (Hong Kong, HK)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B41/10
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Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MENDIRATTA, VISHU K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NOBLE STAR HOLDINGS LIMITED (CHAI WAN, HK)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An inflatable sports ball which comprises an inflatable bladder which is provided with a bladder valve; a bladder pocket which encloses the bladder; an outer carcass which encloses the bladder pocket and is provided with an outer carcass valve hole; a valve stem which extends from the bladder valve hole through the bladder pocket to the outer carcass valve hole; characterized in that the bladder pocket is in form of a hosohedron with a plurality of identical lune faces, and each of the lune faces is formed by a panel which is made of a material cheaper in costs in comparison with materials which form the bladder or the outer carcass.

2. The inflatable sports ball as in claim 1, wherein the bladder pocket is formed by a plurality of lune-shaped panels joined edge to edge to form a sphere.

3. The inflatable sports ball as in claim 2, wherein the lune-shaped panels are joined together by machine stitching, high-frequency welding or other similar processes.

4. The inflatable sports ball as in claim 1, wherein the bladder pocket is formed by a plurality of rectangular panels; the rectangular panels are each folded in half along a fold line and the folded rectangular panels are aligned with each other with their respective fold lines aligned at same side; adjacent rectangular panels are joined together along a seam line at a side opposite to the fold lines and the seam line is in shape of an edge of the lune face which is curved outward from the fold lines and at the same time the rectangular panels are trimmed and only minimum seam allowance is left; the trimmed rectangular panels are then in lune shape; the seam allowance may remain exterior to the bladder pocket or they may be turned inside out to be positioned inside the bladder pocket.

5. The inflatable sports ball as in claim 4, wherein the rectangular panels are joined along the seam line by machine stitching, high-frequency welding or other similar processes.

6. The inflatable sports ball as in claim 1, wherein one or more additional layers of lining may be provided underneath the outer carcass.

7. The inflatable sports ball as in claim 1, wherein the panel forming the lune faces of the bladder pocket comprises an additional layer of fabric.

8. The inflatable sports ball as in claim 1, wherein the bladder pocket is made of a material selected from the group consisting of PVC, EVA, TPU, PE, PS and PP.

9. The inflatable sports ball as in claim 1, wherein the bladder is made of a material selected from the group consisting of rubber, synthetic rubber and latex rubber.

10. The inflatable sports ball as in claim 6, wherein the layers of lining are made of a material selected from the group consisting of polyester or cotton.

11. The inflatable sports ball as in claim 6, wherein foam is added between the outer carcass and the layers of lining to increase the cushioning effect and softness of the ball.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an inflatable sports ball and more particularly pertains to an inflatable sports ball which is low in material costs, simple to manufacture, yet maintaining the performance of the sports ball at a reasonable level.

In general, a sports ball, such as a soccer ball, comprises an inflatable bladder, one or more layers of lining, and an outer carcass. The bladder is made of rubber, synthetic rubber or latex rubber. The layers of lining are made of polyester or cotton. Sometimes an extra layer of foam is added between the outer carcass and the lining. The outer carcass is made of synthetic leather or leather. The layers of linings may be attached to the interior of the outer carcass for imparting tensile strength and shape retention property to the sports ball. In some sports balls, there is also provided with a layer of yarn wound around the inflatable bladder so as to provide further protection to the bladder and to improve roundness of the ball.

For sports ball played in tournaments and leagues, they must comply with specific standards in terms of their size, shape, weight and other qualities. For example, a size five soccer ball should weigh 420-445 grams, and in this case the latex bladder may weigh from 100 grams up to 260 grams to provide sufficient strength of the bladder and also to provide sufficient weight to the ball. The weight of the ball could also be adjusted by adjusting the number of layers of linings, the thickness of the outer carcass, the weight of the material forming the outer carcass and so forth. However, the materials constituting the bladder and the layers of lining are not inexpensive. It has always been a challenge to provide a sports ball which could be made from materials having a lower cost yet without downgrading the performance of the ball.

To control roundness of the ball, it is also common to provide an adhesive coated winding over the bladder. During the manufacturing process, the adhesive coated winding is vulcanized in a mold to form a web over the bladder. However, such manufacturing process is complex and therefore increases the manufacturing costs of the sports ball.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the aforesaid disadvantages now present in the prior art, the present invention provides an inflatable sports ball and more particularly pertains to an inflatable sports ball which is low in material costs, simple to manufacture, yet maintaining the performance of the sports ball at a reasonable level.

To attain this, the present invention generally comprises an inflatable bladder provided with a bladder valve hole, a bladder pocket, an outer carcass and a valve stem. The bladder pocket encloses the bladder. The outer carcass encloses the bladder pocket and is provided with an outer carcass valve hole. The valve stem extends from the bladder valve hole through the bladder pocket to the outer carcass valve hole. The bladder pocket is in form of a hosohedron with a plurality of identical lune faces, and each of the lune faces is formed by a panel which is made of a material cheaper in costs in comparison with materials which form the bladder or the outer carcass.

In one embodiment, the panel forming the lune faces of the bladder pocket may comprise an additional layer of fabric.

In one embodiment, the bladder pocket is formed by a plurality of lune-shaped panels joined edge to edge to form a sphere. The lune-shaped panels may be joined together by machine stitching, high-frequency welding or other similar processes, depending on the material(s) forming the panels. For example, if the panel is made of PVC, high-frequency welding may be used; but if the panel is made of PE, high-frequency welding is not possible and machine stitching has to be used. Further, if the panel is formed by adhering a layer of fabric to a layer of PVC so as to increase the strength of the bladder pocket, the panels may be first machine stitched and thereafter joined edge to edge again by high-frequency welding.

In one embodiment, the bladder pocket is formed by a plurality of rectangular panels. The rectangular panels are each folded in half along a fold line and the folded rectangular panels are aligned with each other with their respective fold lines aligned at same side. Adjacent rectangular panels are joined together along a seam line at a side opposite to the fold lines and the seam line is in shape of an edge of the lune face which is curved outward from the fold lines. The rectangular panels are joined along the seam line by machine stitching, high-frequency welding or other similar processes, and during such process the rectangular panels are trimmed and only minimum seam allowance is left. The trimmed rectangular panels are then in lune shape. The seam allowance may remain exterior to the bladder pocket or they may be turned inside out to be positioned inside the bladder pocket.

As the seam lines all have the same shape, computer programmed stitching machines may be used for the machine stitching so as to improve stitching precision and thereby ensuring roundness of the resulting bladder pocket.

In a preferred embodiment, the bladder pocket is in form of a hosohedron with four identical lune faces.

In another embodiment, one or more additional layers of lining may be provided underneath the outer carcass.

The bladder pocket is made of a material selected from the group consisting of PVC, EVA, TPU, PE, PS and PP. The bladder is made of a material selected from the group consisting of rubber, synthetic rubber and latex rubber. The layers of lining are made of a material selected from the group consisting of polyester or cotton. Foam may also be added between the outer carcass and the layers of lining to increase the cushioning effect and softness of the ball.

The manufacturing method of the inflatable sports ball of the present invention is as follows:

Firstly, the panels of the bladder pocket are joined together, with a small portion left unjoined to form an opening. Secondly, insert the bladder into the bladder pocket through the opening and the bladder valve hole is aligned with the opening of the bladder pocket; the opening of the bladder pocket is then closed by manual sewing, leaving only a small opening on top for the valve stem and on bottom. Then, insert the bladder pocket which encloses the bladder into the outer carcass formed by joining a predetermined number of panels edge to edge, with the bladder valve hole and the outer carcass valve hole aligned with each other. The outer carcass has a small portion left unjoined to form an opening so that the bladder pocket and the bladder can be inserted through the opening. The valve stem is then glued to the valve holes. The opening of the outer carcass is closed by manual sewing and then the bladder is inflated to form the sports ball.

With the above construction, the bladder pocket may attain a true round shape by simply joining the edges of the panels together by machine stitching, high-frequency welding or other similar processes. As each of the lune-shaped panels or the rectangular panels are identical, mass production of the panels are possible. No mold is required to be formed and no vulcanization is required, so the manufacturing process is simple, and the manufacturing costs are low. Besides, as the present construction of the bladder pocket is in form of a hosohedron with a plurality of identical lune faces, it would not require a high precision manufacturing process for the bladder pocket to form a true round shape. By adjusting the thickness of the panels of the bladder pocket or the number of layers of materials forming the bladder pocket, the overall weight of the sports ball may be adjusted. In other words, the weight of the bladder and the outer carcass may be reduced, but yet the overall weight of the sports ball could be maintained by increasing the weight of the bladder pocket. As the material costs of the bladder pocket are lower than the material costs of the bladder and the outer carcass, the overall material costs could be reduced by using a larger amount of cheaper materials and a smaller amount of more expensive materials. For example, the material costs of latex rubber which forms the bladder are more than double of the material costs of PVC. If PVC is used for forming the bladder pocket, text missing or illegible when filed

Apart from costs reduction, the durability of the sports ball of the present invention could also be improved. When sport balls are inflated to standard air pressure (e.g. 8 to 11 psi for soccer ball), there is a high pressure exerted by the bladder to the ball. Every single impact also causes compression to the ball which eventually will cause it to deform. Originally, linings are used to prevent the stitches from breaking as well as keep the ball from deforming. The provision of the bladder pocket in the present invention helps prevent the stitches from breaking as well as keep the ball from deforming because the bladder cover absorbs most part of the force exerted from the bladder to the stitches.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a schematic view of the sports ball of the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows a partial cross sectional view of the sports ball of the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows a rectangular panel of the sports ball of the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 shows a schematic view of a partially joined bladder pocket of the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 shows a partial cross sectional view of the sports ball of the second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 shows a partial cross sectional view of the sports ball of the third embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 4, the inflatable sports ball of the present embodiment comprises an inflatable bladder 1 provided with a bladder valve hole 11, a bladder pocket 2, an outer carcass 3 and a valve stem 4. The bladder pocket 2 encloses the bladder 1. The outer carcass 3 encloses the bladder pocket 2 and is provided with an outer carcass valve hole 31. The valve stem 4 extends from the bladder valve hole 11 through the bladder pocket 2 to the outer carcass valve hole 31. The bladder pocket 2 is in form of a hosohedron with four identical lune faces, and each of the lune faces is formed by a panel 21 which is made of a material cheaper in costs in comparison with materials which form the bladder 1 or the outer carcass 3. In other embodiments, the number of lune faces may vary, for example, there could be six identical lune faces instead of four. In the present embodiment, the bladder pocket 2 is made of PVC. The bladder 1 is made of latex rubber. A layer of foam lining 5 is provided underneath the outer carcass 3.

The bladder pocket 2 is formed by a plurality of rectangular panels 21. The rectangular panels 21 are each folded in half along a fold line 22 and the folded rectangular panels 21 are aligned with each other with their respective fold lines 22 aligned at same side. Adjacent rectangular panels 21 are joined together at one side along a seam line 23 at a side opposite to the fold lines 22 and the seam line 23 is in shape of an edge of the lune face which is curved outward from the fold lines 22. The rectangular panels 21 are joined along the seam line 23 by high-frequency welding, and during such process the rectangular panels 21 are trimmed and only minimum seam allowance is left. In the present embodiment as the bladder pocket 2 is in form of a hosohedron with a four identical lune faces, for each bladder pocket 2 four folded rectangular panels 21 are aligned with each other with their respective fold lines 22 aligned at same side. A first side of the first rectangular and a first side of the second rectangular panels 21 are joined together along the seam line 23; a second side of the second rectangular panel 21 and a first side of the third rectangular panel 21 are joined together along the seam line 23; a second side of the third rectangular panel 21 and a first side of the fourth rectangular panel 21 are joined together along the seam line 23; and a second side of the fourth and a second side of the first rectangular panel 21 are joined together along a seam line 23. The trimmed rectangular panels 21 are then in lune shape. The seam allowance may remain exterior to the bladder pocket 2 or they may be turned inside out to be positioned inside the bladder pocket 2.

To manufacture the sports ball, firstly, the panels 21 of the bladder pocket 2 are joined together, with a small portion left unjoined to form an opening 24. Secondly, insert the bladder 1 into the bladder pocket 2 through the opening 24 and the bladder valve hole 11 is aligned with the opening 24 of the bladder pocket 2; the opening of the bladder pocket 2 is then closed by manual sewing, leaving only a small opening on top for the valve stem 4 and on bottom. Then, insert the bladder pocket 2 which encloses the bladder 1 into the outer carcass 3 formed by joining a predetermined number of panels 32 edge to edge, with the bladder valve hole 11 and the outer carcass valve hole 31 aligned and adhered with each other. The outer carcass 3 has a small portion left unjoined to form an opening so that the bladder pocket 2 and the bladder 1 can be inserted through the opening. The valve stem 4 is then glued to the valve holes 11, 31. In some embodiments where the bladder is integrally formed with the valve stem, the gluing step may be skipped. The opening of the outer carcass 3 is closed by manual sewing and then the bladder 1 is inflated to form the sports ball.

FIG. 5 illustrates a second embodiment of the present invention. In comparison with the first embodiment, an additional layer of cotton lining 6 is provided underneath the outer carcass 3 in this embodiment. Others structures are similar to those in the first embodiment and are therefore not detailed herein.

FIG. 6 illustrates a third embodiment of the present invention. In comparison to the second embodiment, the bladder pocket 2 comprises an additional layer of fabric 25 in this embodiment. The layer of fabric 25 is first glued to the PVC panels 21 forming the bladder pocket 2 before the panels are folded and trimmed and joined with each other. Others structures are similar to those in the first embodiment and are therefore not detailed herein.

The above embodiments are preferred embodiments of the present invention. The present invention is capable of other embodiments and is not limited by the above embodiments. Any other variation, decoration, substitution, combination or simplification, whether in substance or in principle, not deviated from the spirit of the present invention, is replacement or substitution of equivalent effect and falls within the scope of protection of the present invention.