US20140202034A1 - Anti-Stretch Treatment Of Leather For Articles Of Footwear - Google Patents

Anti-Stretch Treatment Of Leather For Articles Of Footwear Download PDF

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US20140202034A1
US20140202034A1 US13747536 US201313747536A US2014202034A1 US 20140202034 A1 US20140202034 A1 US 20140202034A1 US 13747536 US13747536 US 13747536 US 201313747536 A US201313747536 A US 201313747536A US 2014202034 A1 US2014202034 A1 US 2014202034A1
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Prior art keywords
upper
welds
article
anti
disposed
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Abandoned
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US13747536
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Dylan S. VanAtta
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Nike Inc
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Nike Inc
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43DMACHINES, TOOLS, EQUIPMENT OR METHODS FOR MANUFACTURING OR REPAIRING FOOTWEAR
    • A43D63/00Machines for carrying-out other finishing operations
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • A43B23/0205Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the material
    • A43B23/0215Plastics or artificial leather
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • A43B23/0245Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the constructive form
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • A43B23/0245Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B23/0255Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the constructive form assembled by gluing or thermo bonding
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • A43B23/0245Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B23/0265Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the constructive form having different properties in different directions
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • A43B23/04Uppers made of one piece; Uppers with inserted gussets

Abstract

An anti-stretch treatment of natural leather or suede materials for articles of footwear is provided. The anti-stretch treatment is used to prevent or reduce the degree or amount of variation in stretch property of an upper or vamp of articles of footwear. The anti-stretch treatment includes a plurality of welds in the material of the upper that provide resistance to stretching along a longitudinal direction, a lateral direction, or both, that assists with preventing or reducing stretching out of the upper of an article of footwear or otherwise losing shape or form.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • The present invention relates generally to articles of footwear, and more specifically to anti-stretch treatment of natural leather or suede material for articles of footwear.
  • Articles of footwear made of natural leather or suede materials are known in the art. Over time, articles of footwear made of natural leather or suede materials can undergo stretching or other loss of shape or form from their original configuration.
  • Therefore, there exists a need in the art for an anti-stretch treatment of natural leather or suede materials for articles of footwear that can assist with preventing or reducing stretching or other undesirable changes in the shape or form of the article of footwear.
  • SUMMARY
  • In one aspect, the invention provides an article of footwear comprising an upper, the upper being made of a natural leather or suede material; the upper including a vamp portion disposed across a midfoot region of the article; and an anti-stretch treatment disposed across at least a portion of the vamp portion; wherein the anti-stretch treatment comprises a plurality of welds in the material of the upper.
  • In another aspect, the invention provides an article of footwear comprising an upper made of a natural leather or suede material; the upper including a vamp portion disposed across a midfoot region of the article; and an anti-stretch treatment comprising a plurality of welds in the upper disposed across at least a portion of the vamp portion; wherein the upper is associated with a first width across the vamp portion between a midfoot lateral edge and a midfoot medial edge when the article is in an unstretched configuration; wherein the upper is associated with a second width across the vamp portion between the midfoot lateral edge and the midfoot medial edge when the article is in a stretched configuration; and the first width being approximately equal to the second width.
  • In another aspect, the invention provides a method of providing a resistance to stretching to an article of footwear having an upper made of natural leather or suede materials, the method comprising welding a portion of the material of the upper across a vamp portion of the upper to form a plurality of welds in the material; wherein the plurality of welds in the material form an anti-stretch treatment that is disposed across a generally lateral direction of the upper; and wherein the anti-stretch treatment provides resistance to stretching in the lateral direction to the upper.
  • Other systems, methods, features and advantages of the invention will be, or will become, apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features and advantages be included within this description and this summary, be within the scope of the invention, and be protected by the following claims.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings and description. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. Moreover, in the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.
  • FIG. 1 is a representational view of a conventional article of footwear;
  • FIG. 2 is a representational view of a natural leather material used for manufacturing articles of footwear;
  • FIG. 3 is an isometric side view of an exemplary embodiment of an article of footwear with an anti-stretch treatment applied to the upper;
  • FIG. 4 is an isometric side view of an exemplary embodiment of an article of footwear with an anti-stretch treatment applied to the upper;
  • FIG. 5 is an isometric front view of an exemplary embodiment of an article of footwear with an anti-stretch treatment applied to the upper;
  • FIG. 6 is an enlarged view of the upper of an exemplary embodiment of an article of footwear with an anti-stretch treatment;
  • FIG. 7 is a schematic view of the upper of an exemplary embodiment of an article of footwear with an anti-stretch treatment; and
  • FIG. 8 is a schematic view of the upper of an exemplary embodiment of an article of footwear with an anti-stretch treatment undergoing a transverse force across the upper.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The articles of footwear described herein may be configured for use in a wide range of athletic footwear styles, including skateboarding shoes, running shoes, basketball shoes, cross-training shoes, football shoes, golf shoes, hiking shoes and boots, ski and snowboarding boots, soccer shoes, tennis shoes, and walking shoes, for example. The anti-stretch treatment of natural leather or suede materials may also be applied to footwear styles that are generally considered to be primarily non-athletic, including dress shoes, loafers, sandals, casual shoes, clogs, flats, heels, pumps, wedges, and work boots.
  • In addition to articles of footwear, the anti-stretch treatment for natural leather or suede materials may be incorporated into other types of apparel and athletic equipment, including helmets, gloves, and protective padding for sports, such as football and hockey. Similar material may also be incorporated into cushions and other compressible structures utilized in household goods and industrial products. Additionally, anti-stretch treatment of natural leather or suede materials may be applied to a variety of other products or for a variety of other purposes.
  • FIG. 1 is a representational view of a conventional article of footwear 100. In this case, conventional article of footwear 100 is configured as a skateboarding shoe. Conventional article of footwear 100 includes an upper 102 and a sole structure. Upper 102 of conventional article 100 has a vamp 104 covering the instep of a foot of a wearer. In this case, vamp 104 is associated with a first width W1 when conventional article 100 is new or in an original configuration.
  • During normal use, conventional article 100 is worn on a foot 106 of a wearer. In the case where conventional article 100 is a skateboarding shoe, conventional article 100 is used with a skateboard 108. Typically, a wearer can perform a variety of moves or tricks with skateboard 108 that interact with or otherwise involve wear and friction to conventional article 100. As a result, often a skateboarding shoe can lose shape or form after being repeatedly worn over time, causing portions of the upper, including the vamp, to become stretched or “bagged out”. As shown in FIG. 1, conventional article 100 can have a stretched-out upper 102 from repeated use with skateboard 108, resulting in vamp 104 being associated with a second width W2 in a worn configuration that is larger than first width W1 of vamp 104 when conventional article 100 is in its new or original configuration. In addition, other portions of upper 102 and/or vamp 104 in the worn configuration can be stretched out or otherwise have lost shape or form from when conventional article 100 was in its new or original configuration.
  • In addition to the wear and stretching that can occur when using conventional article 100 as a skateboarding shoe, more generally, articles of footwear made from natural leather or suede materials can exhibit variations in the amount of stretching that occurs on different portions of the article. Referring now to FIG. 2, a representational view of a natural leather material used for manufacturing articles of footwear is shown. In this view, the natural leather material is a cowhide 200. Cowhide 200 can be divided into a plurality of different regions that correspond to the various parts of the animal from which the hide was obtained.
  • For example, in FIG. 2, cowhide 200 can include a head region 202, a shoulder region 204, a hind region 206, a belly region 208, and/or a shank region 210. Each region of cowhide 200 may exhibit varying degrees or amounts of stretch that is an inherent property of the natural leather from that region of cowhide 200. In one case, material from belly region 208 can exhibit a greater degree of natural stretch property or stretchiness than material from shoulder region 204 or hind region 206. A single piece of natural leather material, such as cowhide 200, is typically used to manufacture a plurality of articles of footwear by cutting out a plurality of upper pattern 212 from across the different region of cowhide 200. Accordingly, depending on the region of cowhide 200 that each upper pattern 212 is obtained from to manufacture an article of footwear, the upper and/or vamp of different articles of footwear can undergo varying degrees or amounts of stretch from one another.
  • For example, as shown in FIG. 2, a first upper pattern 220 can be obtained from shoulder region 204 of cowhide 200 and a second upper pattern 224 can be obtained from a portion of hind region 206 and a portion of belly region 208. In this example, because substantially all of first upper pattern 220 is obtained from the same region (e.g., shoulder portion 204), first upper pattern 220 exhibits an overall stretch property that is essentially uniform throughout first upper pattern 220. Accordingly, when force is applied to first upper pattern 220 to stretch or pull the material into a stretched configuration 222, the material of first upper pattern 220 stretches essentially the same amount in every direction in stretched configuration 222.
  • In contrast, second upper pattern 224 is obtained from a portion of hind region 206 and a portion of belly region 208. As a result, different portions of second upper pattern 224 associated with the different regions of cowhide 200 may exhibit varying amounts of stretch property so that second upper pattern 224 does not exhibit a uniform overall stretch property through the material. Accordingly, when force is applied to second upper pattern 224 to stretch or pull the material into a stretched configuration, the material of second upper pattern 224 at a first end 226 stretches by a lesser degree or amount than the material of second upper pattern 224 at a second end 228 that was obtained from a different region of cowhide 200.
  • In addition, due to the natural variations and imperfections in natural leather or suede materials, even different upper patterns obtained from the same region of cowhide 200 may exhibit varying degrees or amounts of stretch property from one upper pattern to another and/or across each individual upper pattern itself.
  • In some embodiments, anti-stretch treatment of natural leather or suede materials may be used to prevent or reduce the degree or amount of variation in stretch property of an upper and/or vamp of articles of footwear and/or to otherwise provide resistance to stretching to portions of the article. FIGS. 3 through 8 illustrate an exemplary embodiment of an anti-stretch treatment in the form of a series of welds applied to an upper of an article of footwear.
  • Referring to FIGS. 3 through 8, for purposes of reference, article of footwear 300, also referred to as simply article 300, may be divided into forefoot region 10, midfoot region 12 and heel region 14. Forefoot region 10 may be generally associated with the toes and joints connecting the metatarsals with the phalanges. Midfoot region 12 may be generally associated with the arch of a foot. Likewise, heel region 14 may be generally associated with the heel of a foot, including the calcaneus bone. In addition, article 300 may include medial side 16 and lateral side 18. In particular, medial side 16 and lateral side 18 may be opposing sides of article 300. Furthermore, both medial side 16 and lateral side 18 may extend through forefoot region 10, midfoot region 12 and heel region 14.
  • It will be understood that forefoot region 10, midfoot region 12 and heel region 14 are only intended for purposes of description and are not intended to demarcate precise regions of article 300. Likewise, medial side 16 and lateral side 18 are intended to represent generally two sides of an article, rather than precisely demarcating article 300 into two halves. In addition, forefoot region 10, midfoot region 12 and heel region 14, as well as medial side 16 and lateral side 18, can also be applied to individual components of an article, such as a sole structure and/or an upper.
  • For consistency and convenience, directional adjectives are employed throughout this detailed description corresponding to the illustrated embodiments. The term “longitudinal” as used throughout this detailed description and in the claims refers to a direction extending a length of an article. In some cases, the longitudinal direction may extend from a forefoot region to a heel region of the article. Also, the term “lateral” as used throughout this detailed description and in the claims refers to a direction extending a width of an article. In other words, the lateral direction may extend between a medial side and a lateral side of an article. Furthermore, the term “vertical” as used throughout this detailed description and in the claims refers to a direction generally perpendicular to a lateral and longitudinal direction. For example, in cases where an article is planted flat on a ground surface, the vertical direction may extend from the ground surface upward. It will be understood that each of these directional adjectives may be applied to individual components of an article, such as an upper and/or a sole structure.
  • Referring now to FIG. 3, article of footwear 300 may include an upper 302 and a sole structure 304. Sole structure 304 is secured to upper 302 and extends between the foot and the ground when article 300 is worn. In different embodiments, sole structure 304 may include different components. For example, sole structure 304 may include an outsole, a midsole, and/or an insole. In some cases, one or more of these components may be optional.
  • In some embodiments, sole structure 304 may be configured to provide traction for article 300. In addition to providing traction, sole structure 304 may attenuate ground reaction forces when compressed between the foot and the ground during walking, running or other ambulatory activities. The configuration of sole structure 304 may vary significantly in different embodiments to include a variety of conventional or non-conventional structures. In some cases, the configuration of sole structure 304 can be configured according to one or more types of ground surfaces on which sole structure 304 may be used. Examples of ground surfaces include, but are not limited to: natural turf, synthetic turf, dirt, as well as other surfaces.
  • Generally, upper 302 may be any type of upper. In particular, upper 302 may have any design, shape, size and/or color. For example, in embodiments where article 300 is a skateboarding shoe, upper 302 could be a low top upper. In embodiments where article 300 is a basketball shoe, upper 302 could be a high top upper that is shaped to provide high support on an ankle. Generally, upper 302 may be made from any suitable material, including but not limited to, for example, nylon, natural leather or suede, synthetic leather, natural rubber, or synthetic rubber. In some cases, upper 302 can be made of any suitable knitted, woven or non-woven material. In an exemplary embodiment, upper 302 may be made from natural leather or suede materials.
  • Upper 302 may define a void in article 300 for receiving and securing a foot of a wearer relative to sole structure 304. In particular, the void is shaped to accommodate a foot and extends along the lateral side of the foot, along the medial side of the foot, over the foot and under the foot. In some cases, upper 302 may be provided with an entry hole 306 that provides access to the void. In an exemplary embodiment, entry hole 306 may be provided adjacent to a top end portion 310 of upper 302. In this embodiment, article 300 is configured as a slip-on type shoe, however, in other embodiments, article 300 may be configured with a lacing system or other securing mechanism to assist with securing an article to a foot of a wearer.
  • In some embodiments, article 300 may include a vamp portion 308. The term “vamp portion” as used throughout this detailed description and in the claims generally refers to a portion of upper 302 extending through midfoot region 12. In some embodiments, vamp portion 308 may be configured to cover an instep of a foot of a wearer. In other embodiments, vamp portion 308 may further extend over at least a portion of the toes of a wearer towards a toe end portion 312 of article 300. In an exemplary embodiment, vamp portion 308 may extend over upper 302 towards top end portion 310 adjacent to entry hole 306 of upper 302.
  • In some embodiments, vamp portion 308 may include an anti-stretch treatment 314. In an exemplary embodiment, anti-stretch treatment 314 may be configured to maintain or lock the stretch property of vamp portion 308 of upper 302 to prevent or reduce stretching out or otherwise losing shape or form. In an exemplary embodiment, anti-stretch treatment 314 may include a plurality of welds in the material of upper 302, as further described in more detail below. With this arrangement, anti-stretch treatment 314 may prevent or reduce the degree or amount of variation in stretch property of upper 302.
  • Referring now to FIG. 4, a medial side view of article 300 is illustrated. In an exemplary embodiment, article 300 may be provided with a mesh portion 400 disposed along medial side 16 of upper 302. Mesh portion 400 may be made of a mesh material or other suitable woven or non-woven knitted material. In an exemplary embodiment, mesh portion 400 may be configured to assist with breathability of article 300 and to promote airflow within the interior of article 300.
  • In some embodiments, article 300 may be provided with additional components that are configured to assist with providing strength to a portion of upper 302 and to help prevent or resist stretching out of upper 302 and/or vamp portion 308. In an exemplary embodiment, article 300 may include a plurality of tensile strand elements 402 disposed along medial side 16 of article 300. In this embodiment, tensile strand elements 402 extend between a bottom edge 404 disposed along medial side 16 of upper 302 adjacent to sole structure 304 and a top edge 406 disposed adjacent to top end portion 310 of upper 302.
  • Plurality of tensile strand elements 402 may include the strands or other structures disclosed in one or more of the following: Dojan et al., U.S. Pat. No. 8,266,827, entitled “Article of Footwear Incorporating Tensile Strands and Securing Strands”, issued on Sep. 18, 2012; Dojan, U.S. Patent Application Publication Number 2012/0023786, entitled “Article of Footwear Incorporating Floating Tensile Strands”, published on Feb. 2, 2012; Dojan et al., U.S. Patent Application Publication Number 2010/0175276, entitled “Material Elements Incorporating Tensile Strands”, published on Jul. 15, 2010; and Dojan et al., U.S. Patent Application Publication Number 2012/0017468, entitled “Article of Footwear Incorporating Tensile Strands with an Elongate Cross-Sectional Shape”, published on Jan. 26, 2012, each of which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • In other embodiments, plurality of tensile strand elements 402 may be similarly disposed on lateral side 18 in a corresponding configuration as on medial side 16. In still other embodiments, plurality of tensile strand elements 402 is optional and may be omitted.
  • Referring now to FIG. 5, an isometric front view of article 300 with anti-stretch treatment 314 applied to upper 302 is shown. In some embodiments, anti-stretch treatment 314 may include a plurality of welds in the material of upper 302 through vamp portion 308. In an exemplary embodiment, the plurality of welds may prevent or reduce the degree or amount of variation in stretch property of the natural leather or suede material used to make upper 302.
  • The plurality of welds of anti-stretch treatment 314 on upper 302 may be formed by any suitable method of fusing materials of an upper. In some embodiments, the material of the upper may be fused by a thermal fusion method. The thermal fusion method may include bonding through hot die, steam or hot air heating methods. In other embodiments, the material of the upper may be fused by a welding method.
  • In some embodiments, welding methods may be utilized to form the plurality of welds in an upper. In an exemplary embodiment, the welding method used to create the plurality of welds may include a high frequency welding method. In one embodiment, the high frequency welding method may include an ultrasonic welding method or a radio frequency welding method.
  • In embodiments where a high frequency welding method is used to form the plurality of welds in the material of upper 302, the material may be made of any material suitable for such a method. In an exemplary embodiment, the material of upper 302 includes natural leather or suede materials. Due to the inherent variations in stretch property of natural leather or suede materials, the plurality of welds of anti-stretch treatment 314 may be used to prevent or reduce the degree or amount of variation in stretch property of the natural leather or suede material used to make upper 302.
  • In other embodiments, however, the material used to make upper 302 may be made of any other material suitable for high frequency welding methods. Materials suitable for high frequency welding include thermoplastic material or natural material coated with a thermoplastic material. Examples of material suitable for high frequency welding methods include an acrylic, a nylon, a polyester, a polylactic acid, a polyethylene, a polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), an urethane, a natural fiber, such as cotton or wool, that is coated with one or more thermoplastic materials, such as an ethyl vinyl acetate or thermoplastic polyurethane, and combinations thereof.
  • In some embodiments, an ultrasonic welding device is used to fuse portions of the material of upper 302 corresponding to the plurality of welds of anti-stretch treatment 314. Ultrasonic welding devices use high frequency ultrasonic acoustic vibrations. The vibrations may be applied locally to a portion of the material of the upper. Further, the vibrations applied to the material cause friction, which softens the material to fuse the specific portion of the material. The fusion of the selected portions of the upper may be considered a solid state weld.
  • In addition, specifically with regard to the use of ultrasonic welding devices on natural leather or suede materials, the vibrations can result in latent water and/or oils disposed within the natural leather or suede materials being vaporized. As a result, the fusion of the selected portions of the upper causes the natural leather or suede material at that location to be considerably denser and/or harder than the surrounding un-welded or un-fused portions of the upper. Due to this property of the plurality of welds, the material of upper 302 may prevent or resist stretching.
  • Some embodiments may employ one or more of the principles, concepts or methods disclosed in the following patents: Albanese et al., U.S. Pat. No. 7,883,594, entitled “Wrapped pile weatherstripping and methods of making same,” issued on Feb. 8, 2011; Chernyak, U.S. Pat. No. 7,824,513, entitled “Apparatus and method for making pile articles and improved pile articles made therewith,” issued on Nov. 2, 2010; Lehto et al., U.S. Pat. No. 7,776,171, entitled “Arrangement and method for treatment of a material by means of an ultrasonic device,” issued on Aug. 17, 2010; Perrine, U.S. Pat. No. 6,835,257, entitled “Ultrasonic weld pattern for adsorbent containing package” issued on Dec. 28, 2004; and Collette et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,713,399, entitled “Ultrasonic seaming of abutting strips for paper machine clothing” issued on Feb. 3, 1998; the entirety of each being hereby incorporated by reference.
  • In an exemplary embodiment, an ultrasonic welding method may be used to form the plurality of welds of anti-stretch treatment 314 through vamp portion 308 of upper 302. In other embodiments, any other suitable welding or fusion method described above may be used. In some embodiments, the plurality of welds may include one or more groups of welds that are disposed in the material of upper 302 across the longitudinal direction, the lateral direction, or a combination of both. In some embodiments, a weld may be configured to primarily reduce stretching along a direction associated with the direction of the weld across the material. In some cases, a weld may additionally assist with at least partially reducing stretching in directions other than the direction of the weld.
  • In an exemplary embodiment, the plurality of welds may include a first group of welds that is disposed in the material of upper 302 along approximately the longitudinal direction of article 300. In this embodiment, the first group of welds include a first weld 500 disposed adjacent to top end portion 310 of upper 302, a second weld 502 disposed forward of first weld 500, a third weld 504 disposed forward of second weld 502, and/or a fourth weld 506 disposed forward of third weld 504. In addition, in an exemplary embodiment, the plurality of welds may also include a second group of welds disposed in the material of upper 302 along approximately the lateral direction of article 300. In this embodiment, the second group of welds includes a fifth weld 508 disposed adjacent to fourth weld 506 and towards medial side 16 of article 300. Similarly, the second group of welds may further include a sixth weld 510 disposed adjacent to fifth weld 508 towards medial side 16, and/or a seventh weld 512 disposed adjacent to sixth weld 510 towards medial side 16 of article 300.
  • In this embodiment, the plurality of welds forming anti-stretch treatment 314 includes seven individual welds. In other embodiments, a larger or smaller number of welds, including a larger or smaller number of welds associated with each of the first group of welds and/or the second group of welds, may be included on upper 302 to form anti-stretch treatment 314. The number of welds in each group of welds of the plurality of welds may depend on the amount of resistance to stretch that is desired for that particular portion of the upper. The welds may be formed in each portion of the upper in any suitable pattern. In some cases, the amount of resistance to stretch that is desired for a particular portion of the upper may determine the number of welds as well as the pattern of welds.
  • In some embodiments, the plurality of welds associated with anti-stretch treatment 314 extends through substantially all of vamp portion 308 of upper 302. In other embodiments, additional welds may be disposed on other portions of upper 302, including one or more welds disposed in forefoot region 10 of upper 302, adjacent to toe end portion 312 of article 300.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates an enlarged view of anti-stretch treatment 314 on vamp portion 308 of upper 302. In some embodiments, the plurality of welds may be arranged in a curved or arced configuration across vamp portion 308 of upper 302 from lateral side 18 to medial side 16 of article 300. By providing a curved configuration of the plurality of welds forming anti-stretch treatment 314, stretching out of upper 302 along multiple directions of article 300 may be prevented or reduced. In an exemplary embodiment, the curvature associated with the curved or arced configuration of anti-stretch treatment 314 may be configured to prevent or reduce stretching of upper 302 along the longitudinal direction and/or along the lateral direction.
  • For example, the curved arrangement of the first group of welds disposed in the material of upper 302 along approximately the longitudinal direction, including first weld 500, second weld 502, third weld 504, and/or fourth weld 506, may be configured to prevent or reduce stretching of upper 302 along the longitudinal direction and, at least partially, along the lateral direction. Similarly, the curved arranged of the second group of welds disposed in the material of upper 302 along approximately the lateral direction, including fifth weld 508, sixth weld 510, and/or seventh weld 512, may be configured to prevent or reduce stretching of upper 302 along the lateral direction and, at least partially, along the longitudinal direction.
  • Additionally, the plurality of welds forming anti-stretch treatment 314 may further vary in size or length of the individual welds. In some embodiments, the size or length of the welds may depend on the amount of resistance to stretch that is desired for that particular portion of the upper. In an exemplary embodiment, the longer or larger the size of the weld, the greater amount of resistance to stretch may be provided. In this embodiment, each of the welds associated with the first group of welds, including first weld 500, second weld 502, third weld 504, and/or fourth weld 506, may be approximately the same size or length. In some cases, the welds of first group of welds may be approximately 4 cm to 7 cm in length. In other cases, the welds of the first group of welds may be shorter or longer.
  • In contrast, each of the welds associated with the second group of welds, including fifth weld 508, sixth weld 510, and/or seventh weld 512, may smaller than the welds of the first group of welds. In addition, in some embodiments, fifth weld 508 may be larger or longer than sixth weld 510 and seventh weld 512, and sixth weld 510 may be larger or longer than seventh weld 512. In one embodiment, fifth weld 508 may be approximately 4 cm to 6 cm, sixth weld 510 may be approximately 2.5 cm to 5 cm, and seventh weld 512 may be approximately 1 cm to 3 cm. In other embodiments, the welds of the second group of welds may be shorter or longer.
  • FIGS. 7 and 8 are schematic views to illustrate the function of anti-stretch treatment 314 on vamp portion 308 to prevent or reduce stretching out of upper 302. FIG. 7 shows upper 302 of article 300 in an original or unstretched configuration. In an exemplary embodiment, each of the individual welds of the plurality of welds of anti-stretch treatment 314 may be disposed across vamp portion 308 of upper 302 separated by approximately equal distances.
  • In this embodiment, first weld 500 is disposed a first distance D1 from second weld 502, second weld 502 is disposed a second distance D2 from third weld 504, third weld 504 is disposed a third distance D3 from fourth weld 506. Continuing, fourth weld 506 is disposed a fourth distance D4 from fifth weld 508, fifth weld 508 is disposed a fifth distance D5 from sixth weld 510, and sixth weld 510 is disposed a sixth distance D6 from seventh weld 512.
  • In one embodiment, the distance between each of the individual welds of the plurality of welds, including first distance D1, second distance D2, third distance D3, fourth distance D4, fifth distance D5, and/or sixth distance D6 may be approximately 1 cm to 3 cm. In other embodiments, the distance between welds may be larger or smaller.
  • Additionally, in still other embodiments, the plurality of welds forming anti-stretch treatment 314 may be separated by varying distances from each individual weld, including larger or smaller distances. In some cases, the amount of resistance to stretch that is desired for a particular portion of the upper may determine the distance between each of the individual welds, where a smaller distance between adjacent welds increases the resistance to stretch and a larger distance between the adjacent welds decreases the resistance to stretch at that particular portion of the upper.
  • In an exemplary embodiment, article 300 in its original or unstretched configuration may be associated with a third width W3 across vamp portion 308 of upper 302 between a midfoot lateral edge 700 and a midfoot medial edge 702. In some embodiments, third width W3 across vamp portion 308 may include one or more of the plurality of welds of anti-stretch treatment 314. In this embodiment, third width W3 across vamp portion 308 of upper 302 between midfoot lateral edge 700 and midfoot medial edge 702 includes a portion of second weld 502, third weld 504, fourth weld 506, and/or fifth weld 508.
  • Article 300 in its original or unstretched configuration may be further associated with a fourth width W4 across toe end portion 312 in forefoot region 10 of upper 302 between a forefoot lateral edge 704 and a forefoot medial edge 706. In some embodiments, fourth width W4 across toe end portion 312 may not include any of the plurality of welds of anti-stretch treatment 314. In this embodiment, fourth width W4 across toe end portion 312 of upper 302 between forefoot lateral edge 704 and forefoot medial edge 706 does not include any welds. As discussed above, however, in other embodiments, welds associated with anti-stretch treatment 314 may be configured to extend into toe end portion 312 of upper 302.
  • Referring now to FIG. 8, upper 302 of article 300 in illustrated in a stressed or stretched configuration. In an exemplary embodiment, article 300 in its stressed or stretched configuration may be associated with a fifth width W5 across vamp portion 308 of upper 302 between midfoot lateral edge 700 and midfoot medial edge 702. In some embodiments, fifth width W5 across vamp portion 308 may include one or more of the plurality of welds of anti-stretch treatment 314. In this embodiment, fifth width W5 across vamp portion 308 of upper 302 between midfoot lateral edge 700 and midfoot medial edge 702 includes a portion of second weld 502, third weld 504, fourth weld 506, and/or fifth weld 508. With this arrangement, second weld 502, third weld 504, fourth weld 506, and fifth weld 508 in the material of upper 302 disposed across vamp portion 308 between midfoot lateral edge 700 and midfoot medial edge 702 may prevent or reduce stretching out of this portion of upper 302. In some cases, fifth width W5 may be approximately equal to third width W3 of the same portion of upper 302 in its original or unstretched configuration. In other cases, fifth width W5 may be only slightly or marginally larger than third width W3. In other words, the plurality of welds of anti-stretch treatment 314 disposed across upper 302 prevent or reduce stretching of the material of upper 302 to assist with keeping upper 302 from becoming stretched out or otherwise losing shape or form.
  • In contrast, article 300 in its stressed or stretched configuration may be further associated with a sixth width W6 across toe end portion 312 in forefoot region 10 of upper 302 between forefoot lateral edge 704 and forefoot medial edge 706. In some embodiments, sixth width W6 across toe end portion 312 may not include any of the plurality of welds of anti-stretch treatment 314. In this embodiment, sixth width W6 across toe end portion 312 of upper 302 between forefoot lateral edge 704 and forefoot medial edge 706 does not include any welds. As a result, when article 300 is in its stressed or stretched configuration, the material of upper 302 between forefoot lateral edge 704 and forefoot medial edge 706 does not have any welds to prevent or reduce stretching of the material in that portion of upper 302. In some cases, sixth width W6 may be larger than fourth width W4 associated with article 300 in its original or unstretched configuration. In other cases, sixth width W6 may be substantially larger than fourth width W4.
  • It should be understood that FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate an exemplary embodiment of the prevention or reduction of stretching of upper 302 across the lateral direction of article 300, however, the same principles also apply to the prevention or reduction of stretching of upper 302 across the longitudinal direction of article 300. In addition, in the embodiments of FIGS. 7 and 8, anti-stretch treatment 314 did not include any welds disposed in the material adjacent to toe end portion 312, however, as discussed above, in other embodiments, welds associated with anti-stretch treatment 314 may be configured to extend into toe end portion 312 of upper 302.
  • While various embodiments of the invention have been described, the description is intended to be exemplary, rather than limiting and it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that many more embodiments and implementations are possible that are within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not to be restricted except in light of the attached claims and their equivalents. Also, various modifications and changes may be made within the scope of the attached claims.

Claims (20)

    What is claimed is:
  1. 1. An article of footwear comprising:
    an upper, the upper being made of a natural leather or suede material;
    the upper including a vamp portion disposed across a midfoot region of the article; and
    an anti-stretch treatment disposed across at least a portion of the vamp portion;
    wherein the anti-stretch treatment comprises a plurality of welds in the material of the upper.
  2. 2. The article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of welds includes at least one weld that is disposed across the upper in a generally lateral direction.
  3. 3. The article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of welds includes at least one weld that is disposed across the upper in a generally longitudinal direction.
  4. 4. The article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein the anti-stretch treatment includes a first group of welds and a second group of welds; and
    wherein the first group of welds and the second group of welds are disposed in different directions across the upper.
  5. 5. The article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein the anti-stretch treatment extends along the vamp portion of the upper from at least a top end portion of the upper adjacent to an entry hole for a foot in a direction towards a toe end portion of the upper disposed in a forefoot region of the article.
  6. 6. The article of footwear according to claim 5, wherein the anti-stretch treatment further includes at least one weld disposed on the upper adjacent to the toe end portion of the upper in the forefoot region.
  7. 7. The article of footwear according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of welds of the anti-stretch treatment have an approximately uniform spacing between each of the welds.
  8. 8. An article of footwear comprising:
    an upper made of a natural leather or suede material;
    the upper including a vamp portion disposed across a midfoot region of the article; and
    an anti-stretch treatment comprising a plurality of welds in the upper disposed across at least a portion of the vamp portion;
    wherein the upper is associated with a first width across the vamp portion between a midfoot lateral edge and a midfoot medial edge when the article is in an unstretched configuration;
    wherein the upper is associated with a second width across the vamp portion between the midfoot lateral edge and the midfoot medial edge when the article is in a stretched configuration; and
    the first width being approximately equal to the second width.
  9. 9. The article of footwear according to claim 8, wherein the plurality of welds of the anti-stretch treatment are disposed on the vamp portion between the midfoot lateral edge and the midfoot medial edge.
  10. 10. The article of footwear according to claim 8, wherein the anti-stretch treatment is configured to resist stretching of the upper along at least one of a longitudinal direction and a lateral direction.
  11. 11. The article of footwear according to claim 10, wherein the anti-stretch treatment is configured to resist stretching of the upper along both of the longitudinal direction and the lateral direction.
  12. 12. The article of footwear according to claim 8, wherein the plurality of welds of the anti-stretch treatment are disposed in a curved arrangement across the vamp portion of the upper.
  13. 13. The article of footwear according to claim 12, wherein the plurality of welds of the anti-stretch treatment have an approximately uniform spacing between each of the welds.
  14. 14. The article of footwear according to claim 8, wherein the anti-stretch treatment includes a first group of welds and a second group of welds; and
    wherein the first group of welds and the second group of welds are disposed in different directions across the upper.
  15. 15. The article of footwear according to claim 8, wherein the article of footwear further includes a plurality of tensile strand elements disposed along at least one of a lateral side and a medial side of the upper adjacent to the anti-stretch treatment.
  16. 16. A method of providing a resistance to stretching to an article of footwear having an upper made of natural leather or suede materials, the method comprising:
    welding a portion of the material of the upper across a vamp portion of the upper to form a plurality of welds in the material;
    wherein the plurality of welds in the material form an anti-stretch treatment that is disposed across a generally lateral direction of the upper; and
    wherein the anti-stretch treatment provides resistance to stretching in the lateral direction to the upper.
  17. 17. The method according to claim 16, further comprising:
    welding a first group of welds across the vamp portion of the upper in the generally lateral direction; and
    welding a second group of welds across the vamp portion of the upper in a generally longitudinal direction.
  18. 18. The method according to claim 17, wherein the second group of welds are configured to provide resistance to stretching in the longitudinal direction of the upper.
  19. 19. The method according to claim 16, wherein the plurality of welds of the anti-stretch treatment are disposed in a curved arrangement across the vamp portion of the upper.
  20. 20. The method according to claim 16, wherein the plurality of welds of the anti-stretch treatment have an approximately uniform spacing between each of the welds.
US13747536 2013-01-23 2013-01-23 Anti-Stretch Treatment Of Leather For Articles Of Footwear Abandoned US20140202034A1 (en)

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US13747536 US20140202034A1 (en) 2013-01-23 2013-01-23 Anti-Stretch Treatment Of Leather For Articles Of Footwear
CN 201480005455 CN104936477B (en) 2013-01-23 2014-01-22 For an article of footwear leather processing unit tensile
PCT/US2014/012435 WO2014116629A1 (en) 2013-01-23 2014-01-22 Anti-stretch treatment of leather for articles of footwear
EP20140708704 EP2906067A1 (en) 2013-01-23 2014-01-22 Anti-stretch treatment of leather for articles of footwear

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CN104936477A (en) 2015-09-23 application
CN104936477B (en) 2018-01-05 grant

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