US20140109440A1 - Shoe With Interchangeable Sole Portion - Google Patents

Shoe With Interchangeable Sole Portion Download PDF

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Publication number
US20140109440A1
US20140109440A1 US13/656,986 US201213656986A US2014109440A1 US 20140109440 A1 US20140109440 A1 US 20140109440A1 US 201213656986 A US201213656986 A US 201213656986A US 2014109440 A1 US2014109440 A1 US 2014109440A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
shoe
midsole
sole
laser
sintered
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Abandoned
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US13/656,986
Inventor
Sean M. McDowell
Bryan Paul Cioffi
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Converse Inc
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Converse Inc
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Priority to US13/656,986 priority Critical patent/US20140109440A1/en
Assigned to CONVERSE INC. reassignment CONVERSE INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: CIOFFI, BRYAN PAUL
Assigned to NIKE, INC. reassignment NIKE, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: MCDOWELL, SEAN M.
Assigned to CONVERSE INC. reassignment CONVERSE INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: NIKE, INC.
Publication of US20140109440A1 publication Critical patent/US20140109440A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B13/00Soles; Sole and heel units
    • A43B13/14Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B13/16Pieced soles
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B1/00Footwear characterised by the material
    • A43B1/0072Footwear made at least partially of transparent or translucent materials
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B13/00Soles; Sole and heel units
    • A43B13/14Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the constructive form
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B13/00Soles; Sole and heel units
    • A43B13/14Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B13/18Resilient soles
    • A43B13/181Resiliency achieved by the structure of the sole
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B3/00Footwear characterised by the shape or the use
    • A43B3/24Collapsible or convertible footwear
    • A43B3/246Collapsible or convertible footwear characterised by the sole
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B9/00Footwear characterised by the assembling of the individual parts

Abstract

A shoe may include sole portions that are interchangeable with one another. That is, one of the sole portions may be removed from the shoe and replaced by another one of the sole portions. The interchangeable sole portions may include a common set of features (e.g., structure, design, color, etc.). Alternatively, each of the interchangeable sole portions may include a unique features, such that features of the shoe may be modified by exchanging sole portions.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • A shoe sole often includes various structural and aesthetic components. For example, a shoe sole may include multiple pieces (e.g., midsole and outsole) that are assembled in various configurations and are constructed of different materials. In addition, a variety of different manufacturing techniques might be employed to construct the various sole pieces. For example, various molding techniques may be employed to make shoe-sole portions. Moreover, rapid-manufacturing techniques may enable construction and customization of sole portions that might otherwise be challenging to create.
  • SUMMARY
  • Embodiments of the present invention are directed to a shoe having sole portions that are interchangeable with one another and a method of making the shoe. That is, one of the sole portions may be removed from the shoe and replaced by another one of the sole portions. The interchangeable sole portions may include a common set of features (e.g., structure, design, color, etc.). Alternatively, each of the interchangeable sole portions may include a respective unique set of features, such that features of the shoe may be modified by exchanging sole portions.
  • A high-level overview is presented in this summary to provide an overview of the disclosure, and to introduce a selection of concepts that are further described below in the detailed-description section below. This summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used as an aid in isolation to determine the scope of the claimed subject matter.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Illustrative embodiments of the present invention are described in detail below with reference to the attached drawing figures, which are incorporated herein by reference, wherein:
  • FIGS. 1 and 2 depict exemplary shoes in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 3A and 3B each depicts a partially exploded view of a respective shoe in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 4A-4F, 5A, and 5B depict exemplary soles in accordance with embodiments of the present invention; and
  • FIGS. 6-9 depict flow diagrams, each of which outlines a respective exemplary method in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The subject matter of embodiments of the present invention is described with specificity herein to meet statutory requirements. But the description itself is not intended to necessarily limit the scope of claims. Rather, the claimed subject matter might be embodied in other ways to include different steps or combinations of steps similar to the ones described in this document, in conjunction with other present or future technologies. Terms should not be interpreted as implying any particular order among or between various steps herein disclosed unless and except when the order of individual steps is explicitly stated.
  • Articles of footwear include different types of shoes, sandals, boots, heels, or the like. For the sake of clarity, articles of footwear will be discussed herein as shoes; however, embodiments are not limited solely to shoes. The technology disclosed herein may equally be used to create footwear other than shoes. To alleviate confusion and to provide a more readable disclosure, embodiments simply reference shoes. To that end and to provide a robust disclosure, different component portions of shoes are discussed herein, including uppers, midsoles, and outsoles. One skilled in the art will understand that shoes may include an upper and a sole structure, with the latter comprising an outsole, a midsole, and perhaps an insole.
  • Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, an exemplary shoe 10 is depicted that includes a shoe sole 12 and a shoe upper 14. Shoe sole 12 may include a combination of an outsole and a midsole. In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, shoe 10 includes a sole portion 16 that is removable. That is, sole portion 16 is positioned within shoe 10 in such a way that sole portion 16 may be taken out of shoe 10 and replaced by another sole portion.
  • Sole portion 16 may be positioned within shoe 10 in various manners that would allow the selective removal and replacement of sole portion 16. For example, a cavity may be constructed in various portions of shoe 10 and sole portion 16 may be inserted into the cavity. The cavity may be accessible from various parts of the shoe 10 to place and to remove sole portion 16. Sole portion 16 may be inserted into a cavity or other recess, and sole portion 16 is also referred to herein as a “cartridge.” In addition, because sole portion 16 is often positioned in a middle region of sole 12, sole portion 16 may also be referred to herein as a “midsole portion” or “midsole cartridge”.
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, the cavity may be positioned underneath an insole of the shoe, such that the insole covers an opening to the cavity. In such an arrangement, the insole may be temporarily removed or adjusted within the shoe to allow access to the opening. The midsole portion 16 may be placed or removed by accessing the cavity in this manner. The insole may be repositioned over the opening to cover the cavity and help retain midsole portion 16 in place. In addition, to provide access to the cavity, at least part of a stroble sock might be removed from the shoe 10.
  • In another embodiment of the present invention, shoe sole 12 may include a cup outsole having walls (e.g., ground-striking wall coupled to perimeter side walls) surrounding a substantially hollow central portion. As such, when the cup outsole is coupled to shoe upper 14, a cavity is formed in the substantially hollow central portion of the cup outsole. Midsole portion 16 may be positioned into the cavity, which functions as a housing for the midsole portion 16.
  • In another embodiment of the present invention, the cavity may be accessible through a side wall of sole 12. That is, an opening may be constructed into a side of sole 12, such that midsole portion 16 may be slid into the cavity through the opening. Likewise, midsole portion 16 may be slid out of the cavity through the side-wall opening when replacing midsole portion 16.
  • In a further embodiment of the present invention, midsole portion 16 may attach onto an outside of sole 12. That is, midsole portion 16 may be shaped to clip onto a heel portion of sole 12 or may have some other configuration that allows midsole portion 16 to removably attach to sole 12.
  • For exemplary purposes, midsole portion 16 is depicted in a heel region 18 of shoe 10. However, in other embodiments, a removable midsole portion may be positioned in other portions of the shoe. For example, a single midsole portion may extend through both a heal region 18 of the shoe 10, as well as a toe region 20 of the shoe 10. In addition, multiple midsole portions might be simultaneously positioned in different regions of the shoe 10. For example, one midsole portion might be positioned in the heel region 18, while a different midsole portion may be positioned inside a different cavity in the toe region 20. Moreover, multiple midsole portions may be positioned within the same cavity or within cavities that are arranged side-by-side. In this respect, one midsole portion may be positioned on one side of the shoe (e.g., left side, medial side, or instep side), whereas another midsole portion may be positioned on the other opposing side (e.g., right side, lateral side, etc.).
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, midsole portion 16 may be viewable when inserted into the cavity. For example, as depicted by FIG. 1, midsole portion 16 may be viewable from a side 22 of the shoe 10 or from a bottom 24 of the shoe 10. Various features of the shoe sole 12 may enable the midsole portion 16 to be viewable. For example, shoe sole 12 (e.g., cup outsole) may be constructed of a clear or transparent material through which midsole portion 16 may be viewed. In addition, shoe sole 12 may be constructed such that selected side-wall portions or bottom-wall portions include an aperture or viewing window, thereby allowing midsole portion 16 to be viewed. As indicated in previous portions of this description, shoe sole 12 may include an opening in a side wall through which midsole portion 16 is inserted, and midsole portion 16 may be viewable through the side-wall opening.
  • Midsole portion 16 may be constructed using various techniques that allow for creation of desired features, such as firmness, density, impact attenuation, shape, configuration, size, contour, color, etc. As such, midsole portion 16 may be constructed using more conventional techniques, such as molding (e.g., injection molding, blow molding, compression molding, vacuum molding, and the like), or may be constructed using less conventional techniques.
  • In an embodiment of the present invention, midsole portion 16 is constructed using a rapid-manufacturing technique. Typical rapid-manufacturing techniques build layers of the sole portion 16 in an additive manner, and exemplary techniques include a laser-sintering process, 3-D printing, stereolithography, solid deposition modeling, and the like. Rapid-manufacturing techniques, such as laser sintering, allow for customization of desired features of midsole portions, such that a set of midsole portions may be built to be interchangeably inserted into a same shoe, thereby allowing the shoe to have a different appearance or functionality depending on which midsole portion is inserted. In addition, the embodiments mentioned herein can handle nearly any type of complex sole-portion design capable of being made from cured or solidified resin material or other dispersible particulate.
  • Laser sintering is an additive manufacturing technique that uses a laser (e.g., a carbon dioxide laser) to solidify small particles (e.g., powder) of plastic, metal, ceramic, or glass into a desired 3D shape. In one embodiment, the laser selectively fuses resin material determined from cross sections generated of a 3D digital description of the part—like a computer-aided design (“CAD”) file, image file, or scan data file. For successive layers, the laser is then directed to cure resin according to the 3D digital description until the desired component (e.g., a midsole portion) is created. That is, a laser selectively fuses resin material by scanning cross sections generated from a data file or scan of a shoe on the surface of a resin bed. After each cross section is scanned, resin is dispersed, the laser cures the resin according to a cross section, and a new layer of resin is dispersed on top of the cured cross section. This iterative process is then repeated for all cross sections until the entire shoe or shoe part has been created. File data may be read and segmented into cross sections by a computer, server, or other computing device.
  • As for resin material, various types may be used, thereby making possible creation of sole portions 16 having a wide variety of functionality and design features. For example, a rubber- or plastic-like material may be used that is rugged and can withstand contact with different surfaces. In addition, less-rugged type of rubber with blown-in air or hollowed-out portions may be used to build a lighter sole portion 16. Further, more malleable plastics may be used that are capable of forming around and holding onto other shoe parts, thereby holding a sole portion 16 in place within the cavity.
  • Laser sintering can produce shoe parts from a relatively wide range of commercially available resins materials. Examples include, without limitation, polymers, such as nylon (neat, glass-filled, or with other fillers) or polystyrene; metals, including steel, titanium, alloy mixtures, and composites; silica; elastomers and rubbers; latexes; or the like.
  • Referring now to FIG. 3A, an exploded view of a shoe 10 is depicted. Shoe 10 includes an outsole 26, a sole portion 16, a midsole body 28, an insole 30, and an upper 14. When constructing shoe 10, the various components depicted may be attached to one another in various manners, such as adhesives, stitching, vulcanization, ultra-sonic welding, and the like.
  • The components depicted in FIG. 3A are exemplary and more or fewer elements may be included in a shoe. For example, additional sole layers may be integrated into shoe 10. In addition, two or more components depicted in FIG. 3A may be combined in to a single component. For example, sole portion 16 may be affixed to a surface 31 of insole 30, such that the insole 30 and the midsole portion 16 are integrated into a single component. In addition, each of the components depicted may be constructed of multiple pieces. For example, upper 14 may include multiple layers of textile that are affixed to one another. As another example, outsole 26 may include a bottom wall 27 a and a side wall 27 b that are attached to one another. Moreover, shoe 10 may include at least part of a stroble sock (not shown) attached to the upper 14.
  • In an embodiment of the present invention, outsole 26 includes a shoe-interior-facing portion (not seen in the angle presented by FIG. 3A) and midsole body 28 fits into the shoe-interior-facing portion. Midsole body 28 and outsole 26 may be affixed to one another, or midsole body 28 may fit onto the shoe-interior-facing portion but not be affixed to outsole 26. In addition, upper 14 may be affixed to midsole body 28, to outsole 26, or to both midsole body 28 and outsole 26. Insole 30 may be affixed to midsole body 28, or may be positioned against midsole body 28 without any affixing mechanism (e.g., adhesive).
  • As depicted in FIG. 3A, midsole body 28 includes an aperture 32 in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. Aperture 32 may be created in various ways. For example, aperture 32 may be included in a design of midsole body 28, such that aperture 32 is created when midsole body is constructed (e.g., molded or made using rapid-manufacturing technology). In addition, aperture 32 may be cutout, punched out, or otherwise removed as a post-processing step after midsole body 28 is constructed. When midsole body 28 is positioned onto outsole 26, a cavity is formed into which midsole portion 16 may be inserted. This cavity may also be referred to as a “cartridge housing.”
  • Aperture 32 may include a variety of different shapes, and FIG. 3A depicts an aperture having a horseshoe shape. As such, a perimeter portion 36 of midsole body 28 functions as a perimeter of aperture 32. However, perimeter portion 36 is shorter than other portions of midsole body 28, such as portion 29. As such, when midsole portion 28 is positioned onto outsole portion 26, perimeter portion 36 does not extend all the way to a bottom 27 a of outsole 26. Thus a space exists between perimeter portion 36 and a bottom wall 27 a of outsole 26, and side wall 27 b of outsole 26 also functions as a perimeter wall of cavity 34. As previously indicated, side wall 27 b and/or bottom wall 27 a may be constructed of a material that can be seen through, such that midsole portion 16 is visible when positioned in a cavity. Although the midsole body 28 illustrated in FIG. 3A includes perimeter portion 36 and portion 29, in another embodiment midsole body 28 may not include either perimeter portion 36 or portion 29.
  • Referring now to FIG. 3B, an exploded view of a shoe 10 is depicted in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 3B depicts an exemplary cup sole 26 b that attaches to shoe upper 14. Cup sole 26 b includes a side wall 27 b that connects to a bottom wall 27 a. As such, an open space is created that is circumscribed by side wall 27 b. In one embodiment, when side wall 27 b is coupled to upper 14, the open space is accessible through an ankle opening of upper 14.
  • In a further embodiment, side wall 27 b of cup sole 26 b partially overlaps with shoe upper 14, and the overlapping regions form a connection juncture. Various connection techniques may be applied along the connection juncture either alone or in combination, such as adhesion, stitching, vulcanization, ultra-sonic welding, and the like. In one embodiment, an opaque coating is applied to an inside surface of side wall 27 b along the connection juncture. For example, the opaque coating may be applied to a strip along the inside surface that is positioned along a terminating edge of the cup outsole and that at least partially circumscribes an interior space of the cup outsole. The opaque coating might serve various functions, such as to mask the connection mechanism used to attach the side wall 27 b to the shoe supper 14. For example, the opaque coating on the inside surface might cover up adhesive and/or stitches. In addition, the opaque coating might improve adhesion between the side wall and the shoe upper 14. The opaque coating might also cover up portions of the stroble sock that are attached to the shoe upper 14. In one embodiment, the opaque coating includes a color that substantially matches a color of shoe upper, such that a visual transition is controllable between the shoe upper and the cup outsole.
  • FIG. 3B also depicts a midsole body 28 b and an insole 30 that are illustrated separate from one another. However, in another embodiment, insole 30 is coupled directly to midsole body 28 b. In a further embodiment, insole 30 and midsole body 28 b are constructed as a single integrated component. When side wall 27 b is coupled to upper 14, midsole body 28 b and insole are insertable through the upper ankle opening and fit into the open space circumscribed by side wall 27 b. In one embodiment, cup sole 26 b is constructed of a transparent material, such that midsole body 28 b is viewable through side wall 27 b and/or bottom wall 27 a when midsole body 28 b is positioned in the open space.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 4A-4F, various soles 12 a-f are depicted in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. For illustrative purposes, a shoe upper and a shoe insole have been omitted from FIGS. 4A-4F. However, it is to be understood that soles 12 e-f may be integrated into a shoe that has an upper and that has an insole, which fits on top of the soles. In addition, each sole 12 e-f includes a sole body 40 a-f including one or more cavities 42 a-g (i.e., cartridge housing). In one embodiment, each sole body 40 a-f may include a one-piece construction. However, in other embodiments, each sole body 40 a-f may be comprised of a multi-piece construction. For example, as depicted by FIG. 3, each sole body 40 a-f may include a midsole body 28 that is positioned onto an outsole 26, and cavities 42 a-g may be similar to the cavity formed in part by aperture 32.
  • Sole cartridges 16 a-g may include a variety of features. For example, sole cartridges 16 a-g may include various shapes, densities, impact-absorption characteristics, 3-D configurations, colors, height, width, and the like. In addition, multiple cartridges may be interchangeably inserted within cavities 42 a-g in order to change features of soles 12 e-f.
  • In an embodiment of the present invention, sole cartridges 16 a-g are a constructed using a rapid-manufacturing technology, such as laser sintering described in other portions of this description. Thus, each of sole cartridges 16 a-g may be referred to as a laser-sintered sole cartridge in an embodiment of the present invention. By employing laser sintering, various characteristics of sole cartridges 16 a-g are highly customizable. As such, a plurality of sole cartridges having different characteristics may be made for a same shoe and may be interchanged to modify the shoe traits. For example, multiple versions of sole cartridge 16 a may be constructed, and each version might include a different color, a different 3D design, a different cushion level, a different density, a different impact-attenuation element, and the like.
  • FIG. 4A depicts an embodiment of the present invention in which a shape of a perimeter of cavity 42 a is similar to a shape of a perimeter of sole cartridge 16 a. By constructing the perimeter shapes to be similar, sole cartridge 16 a may fit more securely inside cavity 42 a. That is, inward finger 43 may create friction between sole cartridge 16 a and sole body 40 a that might not otherwise be created to the same extent by a relatively flat circular or ovular shape. The shape depicted in FIG. 4A is merely exemplary and a variety of other shapes may also be implemented. For example, the shape may include one or more points or other fingers, such as a star.
  • FIGS. 4A and 4B depict sole cartridges that have different shapes and that may be employed with different sole bodies to achieve different desired traits. In FIG. 4A, sole cartridge 16 a has a middle region 46 that extends from one side of the cartridge 16 a to the other. When inserted into a shoe, middle region 46 may function to provide various things, such as cushion, impact absorption, support, etc. As such, the structural makeup of sole cartridge 16 a may be customized to provide desired amounts of each of these qualities. Thus, in the embodiment depicted by FIG. 4A, cartridge 16 a may be interchanged with one or more other cartridges to change the cushion level, impact absorption, and amount of support provided by sole 12 a.
  • Depicting an alternative embodiment, in FIG. 4B sole cartridge 16 b includes a strip-style cartridge that is shapeable to fit into cavity 42 b. In FIG. 4B, the cushion, impact absorption, and support of sole 12 b may be more dependent on sole body 40 b, and less dependent on sole cartridge 16 b. In this respect, these traits of sole 12 b may be relatively fixed (as compared with the sole depicted in FIG. 4A). Other features of sole 12 b may be changeable and customizable by replacing sole cartridge 16 b with a different sole cartridge. For example, various changeable sole traits may include aesthetic-design features, color, etc.
  • FIGS. 4C and 4D depict alternative illustrative embodiments in which a sole cartridge is insertable into various regions of a sole. For example, FIG. 4C depicts that multiple cavities 42 c and 42 d may be constructed into a shoe. Thus, cartridges 16 c and 16 d having the same or different traits to one another may be simultaneously inserted into the sole. Such an embodiment allows for a heel region of sole 12 c to have one set of traits and a toe region of sole 12 c to have another set of traits.
  • In another example depicted by FIG. 4D, a cavity 42 e may extend along both the heel region and the toe region of sole 12 d, similar to the example illustrated in FIG. 3 b. As such, a sole cartridge 16 e may likewise be constructed that fits cavity 42 e. In the embodiment illustrated by FIG. 4D, the sole may consist of an outsole and a laser-sintered midsole. That is, instead of creating both a midsole body with a cavity and a sole cartridge, the entire midsole may be a laser-sintered midsole that is interchangeable with other laser-sintered midsoles. In the example depicted by FIG. 4D, sole 12 d may include a cup outsole, such that the partially enclosed inner portion of the cup outsole provides cavity 42 e. In addition, all or part of the cup outsole may be constructed using a transparent material, which allows cartridge 16 e to be viewed when positioned in cavity 42 e.
  • FIG. 4E depicts one type exemplary of laser-sintered sole cartridge 16 f. Laser-sintered sole cartridge 16 f includes a plurality of interlocking links or rings, which are freely moveable with respect to one another. In this respect, the structure of sole cartridge 16 f is similar to a chainmail mesh. The structure of sole cartridge 16 f may also be described as a three-dimensional (3D) lattice of interlocking, but freely movable, elements. The pattern of the chainmail mesh (or 3D lattice) of interlocking, but freely movable elements, depicted in FIG. 4E is exemplary, and various other patterns may also be included in a laser-sintered sole cartridge 16 f.
  • The chainmail-mesh and/or 3D-lattice structure of a laser-sintered sole cartridge contribute to unique sole traits, such as cushion, impact absorption, support, and design. In an embodiment of the present invention, chainmail-mesh and/or 3D-lattice structure of a sole cartridge is customizable using a laser-sintering manufacturing process.
  • In another embodiment of the present invention, a laser-sintered sole cartridge may include interlocked elements that are not freely movable. For example, a laser-sintered sole cartridge may include a 3D scaffold or 3D grid of tubes. Again, these types of laser-sintered sole cartridges are customizable using a laser-sintering manufacturing technology. For example, traits may be modified by using different resins or laser sintering different grid structures with different grid elements (e.g., bigger tubes/apertures/voids, smaller tubes/apertures/voids, etc.).
  • Similar to the embodiment illustrated by FIG. 4D, in FIG. 4E sole 12 e may include a cup outsole, such that the partially enclosed inner portion of the cup outsole provides cavity 42 f. In addition, all or part of the cup outsole may be constructed using a transparent material, which allows cartridge 16 f to be viewed when positioned in cavity 42 f.
  • FIG. 4F depicts another embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 4F, sole body 40 f is constructed to include flaps 41 a and 41 b that at least partially cover the cartridge-receiving cavity 42 g. As depicted by arrows 60 a and 60 b, the flaps 41 a and 41 b fold or bend away from the cavity to provide access into the cavity, thereby allowing the sole cartridge to be inserted or removed. In addition, flaps 41 a and 41 b may assist with retention of the cartridge 16 g within the cavity.
  • Referring to FIGS. 5A and 5B, another embodiment of the present invention is depicted. In FIGS. 5A and 5B, a sole 12 g and 12 h includes a window formed in a side wall. In FIG. 5A, window 50 a functions as a cartridge-receiving slot. As such, sole cartridge 16 h is inserted through window 50 a in order to position sole cartridge 16 h into a cavity. Using the cartridge-receiving slot 50 a, sole cartridge 16 g may be replaced without accessing the interior portion of a shoe. That is, sole cartridge 16 h could be replaced while a shoe is still being worn. In addition, window 50 a allows sole cartridge 16 h to be viewable once inserted into the cavity. In another embodiment depicted by FIG. 5B, sole cartridge 16 i is inserted into cavity 42 g, and window 50 b allows sole cartridge 16 i to be viewed.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 6-9, flow diagrams are depicted. Each flow diagram illustrates steps included in a respective method in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Methods 610, 710, 810, and 910 are directed to methods of manufacturing a shoe with a midsole housing that receives an interchangeable midsole portion. When describing FIGS. 6-9, reference might also be made to other figures for exemplary purposes.
  • In FIG. 6, method 610 includes attaching 612 a stroble sock to a shoe upper, which includes an ankle opening. For example, the stroble sock may be attached to the shoe upper by stitching, by applying an adhesive, or by a variety of other methods. An exemplary shoe upper 14 is depicted in FIG. 3. Step 614 includes positioning the stroble sock and the shoe upper onto a last.
  • Method 610 includes attaching 616 a cup outsole to the shoe upper, the cup outsole at least partially enclosing the midsole housing positioned between the stroble sock and the cup outsole. As described in other parts of this description, a cup outsole includes walls (e.g., bottom wall coupled to side perimeter wall) that at least partially enclose a central portion or cavity that is hollow. As such, when the cup outsole is attached to the shoe upper, the midsole housing is created in the hollow central portion between the stroble sock and the cup outsole. A cup outsole may be attached to a shoe upper using various techniques, which might include, but are not limited to, adhesion, stitching, and ultra-sonic welding.
  • Step 618 includes removing at least a portion of the stroble sock to create an aperture, which provides access to the midsole housing through the ankle opening. For example, the shoe upper, the stroble sock, and the cup outsole might be removed from the last in order to remove the at least the portion of the stroble sock. The portion of the stroble sock may have a size and/or shape that correlates with dimensions of the midsole housing.
  • The at least the portion of the stroble sock may be removed by applying various techniques. For example, the portion of the stroble sock may be cut or torn away from the shoe upper. In one embodiment perforations in the stroble sock may facilitate tearing in a desired pattern. In addition, if the stroble sock is attached to the shoe upper by stitches, the stitches may be removed in order to remove the portion of the stroble sock. For example, the stitches may include a tear-away design that allows the stitches to be removed by pulling a single stitch. Further, if the stroble sock is attached to the shoe upper by an adhesive, the stroble sock may be removed by applying enough force to disengage the adhesion.
  • Once the aperture has been created by removing the portion of the stroble sock, a midsole may be inserted through the ankle opening and the aperture and positioned into the midsole housing. The midsole may be constructed in various manners, such as by coupling an insole portion directly to a midsole portion. Based on the context of method 610, because the portion of the strobe sock has been removed, no stroble sock is positioned between the insole portion and the midsole portion, which are coupled to one another.
  • Referring now to FIG. 7, steps of another method 710 are depicted for manufacturing a shoe with a midsole housing that receives an interchangeable midsole portion. Method 710 includes steps 712, 714, and 716 that are similar to steps of method 610. For example, method 710 includes attaching 712 a stroble sock to a shoe upper; positioning 714 the stroble sock and the shoe upper onto a last; attaching 716 a cup outsole to the shoe upper; and removing 718 at least a portion of the stroble sock to create an aperture, which provides access to the midsole housing through the ankle opening.
  • Method 710 also includes coupling 720 a midsole portion directly to an insole portion to create the interchangeable midsole portion. For example, referring to FIG. 3 b, insole 30 may be coupled directly to midsole portion 28 b by adhesion, ultra-sonic welding, vulcanization, single or multi-step molding, and the like. Step 722 includes moving the interchangeable midsole portion through the aperture to position the interchangeable midsole portion in the midsole housing, wherein the stroble sock is not positioned between the insole portion and the midsole portion. In a further embodiment, the insole portion is constructed to fit a set of shoe-wearer foot dimensions, and the midsole portion is constructed according to a customized impact-attenuation parameter specified by the wearer.
  • Referring now to FIG. 8, steps of another method 810 are depicted for manufacturing a shoe with a midsole housing that receives an interchangeable midsole portion. Method 810 includes positioning 812 a shoe upper that is attached to a stroble sock onto a last. Step 814 includes applying an opaque coating to an inside surface of a cup outsole, which includes a transparent portion. For example, referring to FIG. 3B, an opaque coating might be applied to an inside surface of side wall 27 b. Examples of an opaque coating include paint, ink, lacquer, epoxy coating, and the like. At step 816, an adhesive is applied to the shoe upper, the cup outsole, or both the shoe upper and the shoe outsole to attach the cup outsole to the shoe upper. The cup outsole at least partially encloses the midsole housing positioned between the stroble sock and the cup outsole, and the transparent portion provides visibility to the midsole housing positioned between the stroble sock and the cup outsole. In addition, the opaque coating blocks visibility to an overlap between the cup outsole and the shoe upper.
  • Referring now to FIG. 9, another embodiment of the present invention is directed to a method 900 of constructing a shoe. When describing method 900 reference may also be made to FIGS. 1-5 for exemplary purposes. Pursuant to method 900, at step 910 a shoe sole (e.g., 12 a-h) is provided that is coupled to a shoe upper (e.g., 14). The shoe upper includes a foot-receiving cavity that provides access to a cartridge housing (e.g., 42 a-h). Step 912 includes laser sintering a shoe sole cartridge (e.g., 16 a-i). The shoe-sole cartridge that was laser sintered is inserted 914 into the cartridge housing.
  • In another embodiment of the present invention a customer-specific parameter is received. For example, a customer-specific parameter may be received through a website portal or at an in-store kiosk. Examples of customer-specific parameters include a cartridge color, density, cushion level, impact absorbability, 3D design, and the like. In a further aspect, the method includes laser sintering a customer-specific shoe-sole cartridge that is interchangeably insertable with the shoe-sole cartridge into the cartridge housing. This embodiment of the present invention allows a shoe wearer to customize his or her shoes in many different ways. That is, by making customizable laser-sintered cartridges available, a customer can request a cartridge having a particular color, cushion amount, density, comfort level, impact-attenuation system or element, 3D design, and the like. In addition, because laser sintering is employed, cartridge designs and configurations are constructible that would otherwise be difficult to create.
  • A customer-specific parameter may be received using various technologies, and in one embodiment the customer-specific parameter is received using a computing device. As such, the computing device may include a computer-storage media storing computer-executable instructions that, when executed, enable the computing device to receive the customer-specific parameter. Such a computing device may also include a processor, and various other known computing components, including a bus that directly or indirectly couples the processor with memory, one or more presentation components, input/output ports, input/output components, and a power supply.
  • A computing device typically includes a variety of computer-readable media. By way of example, and not limitation, computer-readable media may comprises Random Access Memory (RAM); Read Only Memory (ROM); Electronically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory (EEPROM); flash memory or other memory technologies; CDROM, digital versatile disks (DVD) or other optical or holographic media; magnetic cassettes, magnetic tape, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other medium that can be used to encode desired information and be accessed by computing device.
  • Memory typically includes computer-storage media in the form of volatile and/or nonvolatile memory. The memory may be removable, nonremovable, or a combination thereof. Exemplary hardware devices include solid-state memory, hard drives, optical-disc drives, etc. Computing devices often include one or more processors that read data from various entities such as memory or I/O components. Presentation component(s) typically present data indications to a user or other device. Exemplary presentation components include a display device, speaker, printing component, vibrating component, etc. I/O ports allow a computing device to be logically coupled to other devices including I/O components, some of which may be built in. Illustrative components include a microphone, joystick, game pad, satellite dish, scanner, printer, wireless device, etc.
  • This description has explained a shoe with an interchangeable sole portion. Using this technology, different removable sole portions could be inserted into a shoe, such that a wearer of the shoe could alter the color, the geometry, the functionality, and the like of the midsole by merely taking out one sole portion (that was formed with a laser sintering process) and inserting a different laser-sintered sole portion.
  • Many different arrangements of the various components depicted, as well as components not shown, are possible without departing from the scope of the claims below. Embodiments of our technology have been described with the intent to be illustrative rather than restrictive. Alternative embodiments will become apparent to readers of this disclosure after and because of reading it. Alternative means of implementing the aforementioned can be completed without departing from the scope of the claims below. Certain features and subcombinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and subcombinations and are contemplated within the scope of the claims.
  • Claimed are:

Claims (20)

1. A shoe comprising,
a cup outsole having an at least partially transparent side wall, which circumscribes a midsole housing formed in a central portion of the cup outsole;
a shoe upper attached to the cup outsole; and
a laser-sintered midsole that is removably insertable into the midsole housing of the cup outsole and that is viewable through the at least partially transparent side wall.
2. The shoe of claim 1 further comprising, a plurality of laser-sintered midsoles, each of which is interchangeably insertable into the midsole housing.
3. The shoe of claim 2, wherein a first laser-sintered midsole of the plurality of laser-sintered midsoles includes a first characteristic that is distinguishing from a second characteristic of a second laser-sintered midsole.
4. The shoe of claim 3, wherein the first laser-sintered midsole and the second laser-sintered midsole comprises laser-sintered powder.
5. The shoe of claim 1, wherein the laser-sintered midsole comprises elements that are interlocked with one another and are freely movable.
6. The shoe of claim 1, wherein the laser-sintered midsole comprises a three-dimensional (3D) grid of interconnected elements.
7. A shoe comprising:
a cup outsole having a wall that is at least partially transparent and that at least partially encloses a midsole housing;
a shoe upper attached to the cup outsole, the shoe upper comprising a foot-receiving cavity, which provides access to the midsole housing; and
a midsole coupled directly to an insole, wherein a combination of the midsole and the insole is positioned through the foot-receiving cavity and in the midsole housing and wherein the midsole is viewable through the wall that is at least partially transparent.
8. The shoe of claim 7 wherein the wall that is at least partially transparent is a side wall of the cup outsole that circumscribes the midsole housing.
9. The shoe of claim 7, wherein the midsole and the insole are integrated as a single, integrated component.
10. The shoe of claim 7, wherein the cup outsole comprises a bottom wall that is at least partially transparent and a side wall and wherein at least part of the side wall includes a transparent portion.
11. The shoe of claim 7 further comprising an opaque coating positioned between the at least partially transparent wall of the cup outsole and the shoe upper, the opaque coating masking a connection component coupling the cup outsole to the shoe upper.
12. The shoe of claim 7, wherein the midsole comprises laser-sintered powder.
13. The shoe of claim 7 further comprising, a plurality of midsoles, each of which is interchangeably insertable into the midsole housing.
14. The shoe of claim 13, wherein each midsole of the plurality of midsoles includes a respective characteristic that is distinguishing from other midsoles of the plurality of midsoles.
15. The shoe of claim 7, wherein the midsole comprises elements that are interlocked with one another to form a chainmail pattern, and wherein each element of the elements is freely movable while being integrated in the chainmail pattern.
16. A shoe comprising:
a cup outsole having a wall that is at least partially transparent and that at least partially encloses a midsole housing;
a shoe upper attached to the cup outsole, the shoe upper comprising a foot-receiving cavity, wherein at least a portion of a stroble sock is detached from the shoe upper to provide access to the midsole housing; and
a midsole positioned through the foot-receiving cavity and in the midsole housing, wherein the midsole is viewable through the wall that is at least partially transparent.
17. The shoe of claim 16, wherein midsole is constructed of a laser-sintered, three-dimensional (3D) grid of interconnected elements.
18. The shoe of claim 16 further comprising, a plurality of midsoles, each of which is interchangeably insertable into the midsole housing.
19. The shoe of claim 16 further comprising, an opaque coating positioned between the at least partially transparent wall of the cup outsole and the shoe upper, the opaque coating masking a connection component coupling the cup outsole to the shoe upper.
20. The shoe of claim 16, wherein the wall that is at least partially transparent is a side wall of the cup outsole that circumscribes the midsole housing.
US13/656,986 2012-10-22 2012-10-22 Shoe With Interchangeable Sole Portion Abandoned US20140109440A1 (en)

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EP13848180.9A EP2908682A4 (en) 2012-10-22 2013-10-18 Shoe with interchangeable sole portion
CN201380054891.2A CN104754973A (en) 2012-10-22 2013-10-18 Shoe with interchangeable sole portion
PCT/US2013/065690 WO2014066173A1 (en) 2012-10-22 2013-10-18 Shoe with interchangeable sole portion

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EP2908682A1 (en) 2015-08-26

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