Title:
FOLDED ARTICLES OF FOOTWEAR AND METHODS FOR MANUFACTURING THE SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of manufacturing an article of footwear includes providing a first portion of the article of footwear and providing a vamp; the first portion includes an ethylene vinyl acetate layer; folding the first portion to define walls of an upper of the article of footwear and an insole of the article of footwear; and coupling the vamp to the walls of the upper to define a foot-receiving opening of the article of footwear.



Inventors:
Faggin, Luca (Padova, IT)
Ferniani, Stefano (Padova, IT)
Application Number:
14/338121
Publication Date:
01/22/2015
Filing Date:
07/22/2014
Assignee:
CROCS, INC.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
12/142R
International Classes:
A43B23/02; A43B1/14
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20080110059FOLDABLE ACTIVE SHOEMay, 2008Kuramoto et al.
20020129519Shoe with collapsible upperSeptember, 2002Cahan
20060174515ShoeAugust, 2006Wilkinson
20170099906PIVOTABLE FOOTWEAR DEVICEApril, 2017Figueroa
20110072683Suction SoleMarch, 2011Karr
20140173932Woven Footwear Upper With LockoutJune, 2014Bell
20140033579HIGH HEEL SHOE PROTECTOR AND FOOTSTEP SILENCERFebruary, 2014Greener
20050268496Interchangeable footwear systemDecember, 2005Bruce et al.
20130067770SHOE WITH INTERCHANGEABLE HEELSMarch, 2013Sherwood et al.
20100205719Clip designed to prevent pant hems from dragging on the ground.August, 2010Shires



Primary Examiner:
PIERORAZIO, JILLIAN KUTCH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WILMERHALE/BOSTON (BOSTON, MA, US)
Claims:
The following is claimed:

1. A method of manufacturing an article of footwear, comprising: providing a first portion of the article of footwear, the first portion comprising an ethylene vinyl acetate layer; providing a vamp; folding the first portion to define walls of an upper of the article of footwear and an insole of the article of footwear; and coupling the vamp to the walls of the upper to define a foot-receiving opening of the article of footwear.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the first portion further comprises a microfiber layer coupled to the ethylene vinyl acetate layer.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein providing the first portion comprises cutting the first portion from a flexible sheet.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein the vamp comprises an ethylene vinyl acetate layer, and providing the vamp comprises cutting the vamp from the flexible sheet.

5. The method of claim 3, wherein the flexible sheet has a thickness of 2.1 mm to 2.3 mm.

6. The method of claim 3, wherein the flexible sheet is a first flexible sheet, and further comprising: forming an original flexible sheet in an injection molding process; splitting the original flexible sheet to form the first flexible sheet and a second flexible sheet.

7. The method of claim 3, wherein the first portion further comprises a microfiber layer coupled to the ethylene vinyl acetate layer, and providing the first portion comprises adhering the microfiber layer to the ethylene vinyl acetate layer before cutting the first portion from the flexible sheet.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the flexible sheet has a thickness of 2.1 mm to 2.3 mm.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein coupling the vamp to the walls of the upper includes stitching the vamp to the walls of the upper.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein the first portion includes a first heel edge and a second heel edge, and further comprising coupling the first heel edge to the second heel edge to define a heel of the walls of the upper.

11. The method of claim 1, wherein the article of footwear lacks stitching below a foot of a wearer.

12. The method of claim 1, wherein the insole is adapted to engage a foot of a wearer.

13. The method of claim 1, further comprising coupling an outsole to a lower surface of the insole.

14. An article of footwear, comprising: a first portion comprising an ethylene vinyl acetate layer and formed as a unitary component, the first portion further comprising: walls of an upper; an insole integrally coupled to the walls of the upper at a fold; a vamp coupled to the walls of the upper, the vamp and the walls of the upper defining a foot-receiving opening of the article of footwear.

15. The article of footwear of claim 14, wherein the vamp is stitched to the walls of the upper.

16. The article of footwear of claim 14, wherein the insole is adapted to engage a foot of a wearer.

17. The article of footwear of claim 14, wherein the article of footwear lacks stitching below a foot of a wearer.

18. The article of footwear of claim 14, wherein the first portion is formed from a flexible sheet that comprises: the ethylene vinyl acetate layer; and a microfiber layer coupled to the ethylene vinyl acetate layer.

19. The article of footwear of claim 18, wherein the ethylene vinyl acetate layer defines an internal surface of the article of footwear, and the microfiber layer defines an external surface of the article of footwear.

20. The article of footwear of claim 18, wherein the flexible sheet has a thickness of 2.1 mm to 2.3 mm.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/857,123, filed on Jul. 22, 2013, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety for all purposes.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to articles of footwear and methods of manufacturing the same. More specifically, the present invention relates to folded articles of footwear and methods of manufacturing the same.

BACKGROUND

Some types of articles of footwear, such as loafers and the like, include one or more leather components due to the material's relatively high durability and relatively low weight, and/or for aesthetic purposes. However, many types of leather can be relatively expensive, and a relatively high number of manufacturing processes are typically needed to couple leather components to adjacent components (for example, coupling a leather upper to adjacent sole components).

SUMMARY

A method of manufacturing an article of footwear according to an embodiment of the present invention includes providing a first portion of the article of footwear and providing a vamp; the first portion includes an ethylene vinyl acetate layer; folding the first portion to define walls of an upper of the article of footwear and an insole of the article of footwear; and coupling the vamp to the walls of the upper to define a foot-receiving opening of the article of footwear.

An article of footwear according to an embodiment of the present invention includes a first portion that includes an ethylene vinyl acetate layer and is formed as a unitary component. The first portion includes walls of an upper and an insole integrally coupled to the walls of the upper at a fold. A vamp is coupled to the walls of the upper. The vamp and the walls of the upper define a foot-receiving opening of the article of footwear.

While multiple embodiments are disclosed, still other embodiments of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, which shows and describes illustrative embodiments of the invention. Accordingly, the drawings and detailed description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature and not restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a folded article of footwear according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of an upper of the folded article of footwear of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of an outsole of the folded article of footwear of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a side view of a folded article of footwear according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a side view of a folded article of footwear according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a side view of a folded article of footwear according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a top view of the folded article of footwear of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a side view of a folded article of footwear according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a top view of the folded article of footwear of FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is an exemplary method for manufacturing a folded article of footwear according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 11-16 illustrate various actions of the method of manufacturing of FIG. 10.

FIG. 17 is a top view of a partially-folded article of footwear according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 18 is an exemplary method for manufacturing a sheet of flexible material for forming a folded article of footwear according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of a sheet of material for forming a folded article of footwear according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 20 is another perspective view of the sheet of material of FIG. 19.

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of a sheet of material for forming a folded article of footwear according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIGS. 1-3 illustrate a folded article of footwear 100 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The article of footwear 100 is a “loafer”-style shoe. As described in further detail below, however, articles of footwear according to embodiments of the present invention may be of various other styles.

The article of footwear 100 includes an upper 102 (see FIGS. 1 and 2) and an outsole 104 (see FIGS. 1 and 3). In some embodiments, the outsole 104 is coupled to a lower surface of the upper 102 via one or more adhesives. The upper 102 includes a folded, unitarily-formed, or integrally-formed, first portion 106.

The first portion 106 includes walls 108 of the upper 102. The first portion 106 also includes an insole 110 that is integrally coupled to the upper walls 108. Stated another way, the first portion 106 is folded at the interface between the upper walls 108 and the insole 110. As such, in some embodiments, the article of footwear 100 lacks stitching for coupling the insole 110 to the upper walls 108. Stated another way, in some embodiments, the article of footwear 100 lacks stitching below the foot of the wearer. In some embodiments, the insole 110 is adapted to engage the foot of the wearer. That is, in some embodiments, the article of footwear 100 lacks a footbed. In some embodiments, the first portion 106 further includes a heel flap 112 that is integrally coupled to the insole 110. The heel flap 112 may be coupled to the upper walls 108, for example, via stitching.

The first portion 106 may include various materials. For example and as described in further detail below, the first portion 106 may include a relatively durable and relatively soft structure. Such a structure may include a copolymer resin foam layer, particularly an ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) layer, that is coupled to a textile layer, particularly a microfiber layer. In some embodiments, the copolymer resin foam layer defines interior surfaces of the first portion 106, and the textile layer defines external surfaces of the first portion 106.

The upper 102 also includes a second portion 114, for example, a vamp. The vamp 114 may include various materials. For example and as described in further detail below, the vamp 114 may include a relatively durable and relatively soft structure. Such a structure may include a copolymer resin foam layer, particularly an EVA layer, that is coupled to a textile layer, particularly a microfiber layer. The vamp 114 is coupled to the first portion 106 by stitching 116. The vamp 114 may support various decorative features, such tassels 118.

Together, the first portion 106 and the second portion 114 of the upper 102 define a foot-receiving opening 120 of the article of footwear 100. In some embodiments, the upper walls 108 support an opening edge 122 adjacent the foot-receiving opening 120.

FIG. 4 illustrates a folded article of footwear 400 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The article of footwear 400 is a “loafer”-style shoe. The article of footwear 400 is generally similar to the article of footwear 100 described above. That is, the article of footwear 400 includes an upper 402 and an outsole 404. The upper 402 includes a first portion 406 and a second portion 414 or vamp. The first portion 406 is a folded, integrally-formed component that includes upper walls 408 and an insole (not shown). The first portion 406 and the vamp 414 may include a relatively durable and relatively soft structure. Such a structure may include a copolymer resin foam layer, particularly an EVA layer, that is coupled to a textile layer, particularly a microfiber layer. The vamp 414, the upper walls 408, and an opening edge 422 carry laces 424.

FIG. 5 illustrates a folded article of footwear 500 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The article of footwear 500 is a “flat”-style shoe. The article of footwear 500 is generally similar to the articles of footwear described above. That is, the article of footwear 500 includes an upper 502 and an outsole 504. The upper 502 includes a first portion 506 and a second portion 514 or vamp. The first portion 506 is a folded, integrally-formed component that includes upper walls 508 and an insole (not shown). The first portion 506 and the vamp 514 may include a relatively durable and relatively soft structure. Such a structure may include a copolymer resin foam layer, particularly an EVA layer, that is coupled to a textile layer, particularly a microfiber layer.

FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate a folded article of footwear 600 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The article of footwear 600 is a “loafer”-style shoe. The article of footwear 600 is generally similar to the articles of footwear described above. That is, the article of footwear 600 includes an upper 602 and an outsole 604. The upper 602 includes a first portion 606 and a second portion 614 or vamp. The first portion 606 is a folded, integrally-formed component that includes upper walls 608 and an insole (not shown). The first portion 606 and the vamp 614 may include a relatively durable and relatively soft structure. Such a structure may include a copolymer resin foam layer, particularly an EVA layer, that is coupled to a textile layer, particularly a microfiber layer.

FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate a folded article of footwear 800 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The article of footwear 800 is a “clog” or “mule”-style shoe. The article of footwear 800 is generally similar to the articles of footwear described above. That is, the article of footwear 800 includes an upper 802 and an outsole 804. The upper 802 includes a first portion 806 and a second portion 814 or vamp. The first portion 806 is a folded, integrally-formed component that includes upper walls 808 and an insole (not shown). The first portion 806 and the vamp 814 may include a relatively durable and relatively soft structure. Such a structure may include a copolymer resin foam layer, particularly an EVA layer, that is coupled to a textile layer, particularly a microfiber layer.

Articles of footwear according to embodiments of the present invention may take various other forms. For example, in some embodiments according to the present invention a folded article of footwear is a slipper or the like.

FIG. 10 illustrates a method of manufacturing a folded article of footwear, such as any of the articles described herein, according to an embodiment of the present invention. At block 1002, a first portion 1106 and a second portion 1114 of the article of footwear (see FIG. 11) are cut from a sheet of flexible material (for example, EVA, “split” EVA, or split Croslite™ as described in further detail below). In some embodiments, the first portion 1106 and the second portion 1114 are cut from a common sheet of material. In some embodiments, the first portion 1106 and the second portion 1114 are cut from different sheets of material. In some embodiments, the first portion 1106 is shaped to facilitate subsequent formation of walls of an upper of the article of footwear and an insole of the article of footwear. In some embodiments, the first portion 1106 is shaped to include a first heel edge 1126, a second heel edge 1128, and a heel flap 1112 to facilitate subsequent formation of the heel of the article of footwear. In some embodiments, the second portion 1114 is shaped to form a vamp of the article of footwear. In some embodiments, the first portion 1106 and the second portion 1114 may be provided with holes, for example, to stitch the components to each other or for carrying other components, such as tassels, laces, and the like.

At block 1004, the first portion 1106 is folded to define walls 1208 of the upper and an insole 1210 (see FIG. 12). At block 1006, the first heel edge 1126 is coupled to the second heel edge 1128 to define a heel of the upper (see FIG. 12). In some embodiments, the first heel edge 1126 is stitched to the second heel edge 1128. At block 1008, the heel flap 1112 is coupled to the upper walls. In some embodiments, the heel flap 1112 is stitched to the upper walls.

At block 1010, the vamp 1114 is coupled to the upper walls 1208 to define a foot-receiving opening 1320 and a toe of the article of footwear (see FIG. 13). In some embodiments, the vamp 1114 is stitched to the upper walls 1208.

At block 1012, the first portion 1106 of the article of footwear and the vamp 1114 are shaped to a last 1430 (see FIG. 14).

At block 1014, in some embodiments, additional components are coupled to the first portion 1106 of the article of footwear and the vamp 1114. Such components may include, for example, an opening edge 1522 (see FIG. 15), tassels 1618 (see FIG. 16), and the like.

In some embodiments, the method described above may include additional actions, fewer actions, and/or include different temporal orders than those described above. For example and referring to FIG. 17, a first portion 1706 of an article of footwear may be coupled to a vamp 1714 (for example, via stitching) before completely folding the first portion 1706 and coupling a first heel edge 1726 to a second heel edge 1728 (for example, via stitching).

FIG. 18 illustrates a method of manufacturing a sheet or “plaque” of material to be used, for example, in the above method of manufacturing a folded article of footwear, according to an embodiment of the present invention. At block 1802, copolymer resin foam material, for example EVA material, is injected into a mold to form a sheet or plaque 1900, 2100 (see FIGS. 19-21). The dimensions of the sheet may depend on the injection tools. At block 1804 and when the sheet has cooled, the sheet may be split (that is, divided into layers) at a thickness of, for example, 2.4 mm (+/−0.1 mm) with a splitting machine. At block 1806, the skins may be removed from both sides of the sheet. At block 1808, the sheet may undergo a pre-shrinking process using a tunnel oven. In some embodiments, the settings for the pre-shrinking process are as follows: 20 minutes at 80 degrees Celsius; 20 minutes at 60 degrees Celsius and; 20 minutes at 40 degrees Celsius. At block 1810, one side of the sheet may then laminated with a textile layer, such as microfiber (for example, LJ 2891 super fine flannelette/54′ microfiber available from LIN XIN). An adhesive (for example, a TPU hot-melt adhesive film) may be used to couple the microfiber to the sheet. The resulting thickness of the sheet may be, for example, 2.2 mm (+/−0.1 mm).

Shrinkage has been compared between a split EVA sheet having a 2.5 mm thickness and a standard EVA sheet having a 4 mm thickness. 3.5 mm is the normal thickness of an upper of a typical article of footwear. As a result, the shrinkage for split EVA is lower than that of standard EVA uppers.

Various modifications and additions can be made to the exemplary embodiments discussed without departing from the scope of the present invention. For example, while the embodiments described above refer to particular features, the scope of this invention also includes embodiments having different combinations of features and embodiments that do not include all of the above described features.