US20150027001A1 - Tapeless waterproof footwear - Google Patents

Tapeless waterproof footwear Download PDF

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Publication number
US20150027001A1
US20150027001A1 US14/057,266 US201314057266A US2015027001A1 US 20150027001 A1 US20150027001 A1 US 20150027001A1 US 201314057266 A US201314057266 A US 201314057266A US 2015027001 A1 US2015027001 A1 US 2015027001A1
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Prior art keywords
footwear
waterproof
waterproof membrane
liner
tapeless
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US14/057,266
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Josh VanDernoot
Frank Xu
Henry Feng
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STARENSIER Inc
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STARENSIER Inc
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Priority to US201313949540A priority Critical
Application filed by STARENSIER Inc filed Critical STARENSIER Inc
Priority to US14/057,266 priority patent/US20150027001A1/en
Assigned to STARENSIER, INC. reassignment STARENSIER, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: FENG, HENRY, XU, FRANK, VANDERNOOT, JOSH
Publication of US20150027001A1 publication Critical patent/US20150027001A1/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B7/00Footwear with health or hygienic arrangements
    • A43B7/12Special watertight footwear
    • A43B7/125Special watertight footwear provided with a vapour permeable member, e.g. a membrane
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B13/00Soles; Sole and heel units
    • A43B13/02Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the material
    • A43B13/04Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the material plastics, rubber or vulcanised fibre

Abstract

Described herein are devices and techniques for solving the problems associated with the assembly of standard waterproof footwear such as the increased labor and cost of purchasing a taping machine and individually taping each seam of a waterproof article of footwear. Waterproof footwear described herein is made by laminating a waterproof membrane over substantially the entire exterior surface, including the seams, of a footwear liner, thereby producing a tapeless waterproof footwear article.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates generally to waterproof footwear and more particularly to a method for producing waterproof, breathable footwear without using waterproof tape to seal seams.
  • 2. Discussion of Background Information
  • Waterproof boots and shoes are typically made from a layered, waterproof textile. The waterproof textile is typically produced in sheets or rolls comprising a non-waterproof textile (e.g., polyester) laminated or glued to a waterproof layer (e.g., the membrane known under the trademark “GORE-TEX”). The layered, waterproof textile is typically cut and sewn, glued, etc. together along the seams into the shape of a shoe or bootie (i.e., forming the upper and possibly forming the sock liner, insole and/or midsole as well). In this construction, the seams are not waterproof and each seam must be subsequently sealed using a seam-specific sealing step in which a waterproof tape is applied over the seams. This is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process, which requires expensive equipment and adds substantially to the cost of production.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • It would be desirable in shoe production applications to produce waterproof shoes without the need for a seam-specific waterproofing step. Because conventional seam-specific waterproofing requires the application of a waterproof “tape,” the term “tapeless” is used throughout this application to capture the concept of waterproofing without the need for a seam-specific waterproofing step in the production process. The tapeless waterproof footwear can be assembled with substantially less labor cost and time than the state of the art construction described above.
  • Described herein are devices and techniques for solving the problems, such as high costs and intensive labor, associated with seam-specific treatment of a waterproof layer. The tapeless waterproof footwear described herein is made by laminating a waterproof membrane over the exterior surface, including the seams, of a footwear liner. The footwear liner may, for example, be constructed from one or more lining materials. The lining materials may, in various embodiments, be substantially free of waterproof membrane prior to lamination.
  • In one embodiment, the invention relates to a tapeless waterproof footwear article comprising a footwear liner comprising an exterior surface and at least one seam, wherein the footwear liner is substantially free of any waterproof membrane, and one or more layers of waterproof membrane laminated with substantially the entire exterior surface of the footwear liner and associated seams, wherein none of the one or more layers of waterproof membrane are seam-specific.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the tapeless waterproof footwear article of paragraph [0005], wherein the footwear liner is constructed from one or more textile layers.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the tapeless waterproof footwear article of paragraph [0005], wherein the one or more textile layers are constructed from at least one of a woven textile, non-woven textile, tricot, knit textile, polyester, nylon, polypropylene, cotton, wool, or leather.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the tapeless waterproof footwear article of paragraph [0005], wherein the at least one seam is positioned so that the footwear liner lies flat when empty.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the tapeless waterproof footwear article of paragraph [0005], wherein the at least one seam is positioned so that the footwear liner retains a three-dimensional shape when empty.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the tapeless waterproof footwear article of paragraph [0005], wherein the footwear liner further comprises a substantially foot-shaped base.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the tapeless waterproof footwear article of paragraph [0010], wherein the substantially foot-shaped base further comprises at least one of a Strobel board, a cushioning layer, or a footbed.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the tapeless waterproof footwear article of paragraph [0005], wherein the at least one seam is at least one of sewn, stitched, needle-punched, welded, and/or glued.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the tapeless waterproof footwear article of paragraph [0005], wherein the one or more layers of waterproof membrane are constructed from at least one of fluoropolymers, polyurethanes, polyesters, polyethers, polyamides, polyacrylates, coplyether esters, copolyether amides, Teflon, microporous polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), expanded PTFE, the membrane known under the trademark “GORE-TEX”, or the membrane known under the trademark “SYMPATEX.”
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to a system for producing tapeless waterproof footwear comprising a closeable press including a first heatable plate and a second heatable plate, wherein the second heatable plate is substantially parallel to the first heatable plate in a closed position of the press, and a pressurizing mechanism for closing the closeable press to apply pressure externally of a waterproof membrane, wherein applying pressure externally of the waterproof membrane laminates the waterproof membrane with substantially an entire exterior surface of a footwear liner and at least one seam of the footwear liner.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the system of paragraph [0014], wherein the pressurizing mechanism is at least one of an electric drive, a hydraulic drive, a hydraulic piston drive, a winch, a lever, or a clamp.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to a system for producing tapeless waterproof footwear comprising a footwear last, a closeable mold including at least two heatable shells, the at least two heatable shells being shaped to receive the footwear last, wherein closing the closeable mold causes the at least two shells to close about the footwear last and apply pressure externally of a waterproof membrane, wherein applying pressure externally of the waterproof membrane laminates the waterproof membrane with substantially an entire exterior surface of a footwear liner and at least one seam of the footwear liner.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to a method for producing tapeless waterproof footwear comprising providing a footwear liner comprising an exterior surface and at least one seam, wherein the footwear liner is substantially free of any waterproof membrane, providing one or more layers of waterproof membrane, and laminating substantially the entire exterior surface of the footwear liner and associated seams with the one or more layers of waterproof membrane.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the method of paragraph [0017], further comprising fitting the footwear liner around a footwear last.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the method of paragraph [0017], further comprising positioning the one or more layers of waterproof membrane in at least two heatable shells of a closeable mold.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the method of paragraph [0019], further comprising closing the closeable mold to compress a footwear last having the footwear liner fitted thereon between the at least two heatable shells.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the method of paragraph [0017], further comprising positioning the one or more layers of waterproof membrane on at least one heatable plate of a closeable press, wherein the footwear liner is positioned between at least two of the one or more layers of waterproof membrane.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the method of paragraph [0021], further comprising closing the closeable press to compress the footwear liner positioned between the at least two of the one or more layers of waterproof membrane between the at least one heatable plate and at least one additional heatable plate.
  • In another embodiment, the invention relates to the method of paragraph [0017], wherein the step of laminating is performed using at least one of an epoxy, heat-activated adhesives, water-based adhesives, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA)-based adhesives, polyurethane-based adhesives, solvent-based glue, flame lamination, or heat-pressing.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • One will better understand these and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention following a review of the description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings:
  • FIG. 1A is an exploded view of various components of an article of tapeless waterproof footwear constructed in accordance with various embodiments having a flat seam structure.
  • FIG. 1B is a side view of an article of tapeless waterproof footwear constructed in accordance with various embodiments having a flat seam structure.
  • FIG. 1C is a cross-sectional view of an article of tapeless waterproof footwear constructed in accordance with various embodiments having a flat seam structure.
  • FIGS. 2A-2B are isometric views of a system for producing an article of tapeless waterproof footwear having a flat seam structure in accordance with various embodiments.
  • FIG. 3A is an isometric top view of an article of tapeless waterproof footwear constructed in accordance with various embodiments having a three-dimensional seam structure.
  • FIG. 3B is an isometric bottom view of an article of tapeless waterproof footwear constructed in accordance with various embodiments having a three-dimensional seam structure.
  • FIGS. 4A-4B are diagrams of a system for producing an article of tapeless waterproof footwear having a three dimensional seam structure in accordance with various embodiments.
  • FIG. 5 is a flow chart of a method for making an article of tapeless waterproof footwear in accordance with various embodiments.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The devices and techniques described herein solve the problems associated with standard waterproof footwear assembly such as the increased labor and cost of purchasing a taping machine and individually taping each seam of a waterproof article of footwear. The tapeless waterproof footwear described herein is made by laminating a waterproof membrane over the exterior surface, including the seams, of a footwear liner. The footwear liner may, for example, be constructed from one or more lining materials. The lining materials, in various embodiments, are substantially free of waterproof membrane prior to lamination.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 1A-1C, various embodiments of a tapeless waterproof footwear article 100 may include at least a footwear liner 101 having lining materials 104 and one or more seams 103, and at least one layer of waterproof membrane 105 laminated over substantially the entire exterior surface 107 of the footwear liner 101, including the one or more seams 103, thereby providing tapeless waterproofing of both the lining materials 104 and the one or more seams 103 of the footwear liner 101.
  • The footwear liner 101 as shown in FIGS. 1A-1C is constructed from one or more lining materials 104 and, as a whole, is non-waterproof. In various embodiments, the lining materials 104 are substantially free of any waterproof membrane 105. In various embodiments, the lining material(s) 104 can each include a single layer or multiple layers of one or more textiles. The one or more textiles can be, for example, any textile suitable for providing a bootie, footbed, and/or sock liner in a shoe. In various embodiments such textiles can include any suitable textile material (e.g., any woven textile, any non-woven textile, any tricot, any knit textile, polyester, polypropylene, nylon, cotton, wool, leather, and/or any other suitable material).
  • While the lining material(s) 104 are generally non-waterproof, the footwear liner, in various embodiments, may include cushioning and/or stiffening elements which are incidentally waterproof, thus adding local areas of waterproof properties. In such embodiments, the footwear liner 101 as a whole still remains non-waterproof Due to cost and performance considerations (e.g., breathability), it can be, in various embodiments, advantageous for the lining materials 104 to be substantially free of any waterproof membrane 105. However, it will be apparent in view of this disclosure that a textile having a waterproof membrane can be used to construct the footwear liner 101, in accordance with various embodiments. In such embodiments the presence of the one or more seams 103 still renders the footwear liner 101 as a whole non-waterproof Therefore, in such embodiments, at least one additional layer of waterproof membrane 105 is laminated over substantially the entire exterior surface 107 of the footwear liner 101.
  • The one or more seams 103 can, in various embodiments, be sewn, stitched, needle-punched, welded, and/or glued. It will be apparent in view of this disclosure that, while a single seam 103 is shown in FIGS. 1A-1C for clarity, any number of seams 103 can be used in accordance with various embodiments (e.g., seams required to assemble reinforcing elements, cushioning elements, toe caps, vamps, and quarter portions). As shown in FIGS. 1A-1C, the one or more seams 103 include a single stitched seam arranged such that the footwear liner 101 lies flat when empty (e.g., when no foot or last has been inserted into the footwear liner 101). This flat structure of the one or more seams 103 advantageously allows lamination of the waterproof membrane 105 using relatively simplistic, inexpensive equipment as described below with reference to FIGS. 2A-2B below. However, a flat seam structure of the footwear liner 101 can, in various embodiments, limit the manufacturer's ability to provide an accurate foot-shape of the footwear liner, thereby decreasing the quality of the fit. Accordingly, for various embodiments where the importance of improved fit outweighs the associated increase in equipment cost and complexity, a three-dimensional seam structure can be used as described in further detail below with reference to FIGS. 3A-4D.
  • The waterproof membrane 105, in various embodiments may include any waterproof material (e.g., rubber, plastic, polymer, etc.). In various embodiments the waterproof membrane 105 is constructed from one or more waterproof, water vapor permeable functional layers, such as a breathable polymeric membrane. As used herein, the terms “water vapor permeable” and “breathable” are used interchangeably and mean that the waterproof membrane 105 has a water vapor permeability coefficient Ret of less than 200 m2 Pa W−1. The water vapor permeability is tested by the Hohenstein skin model. This test method is described in DIN EN 31092 (02/94) or ISO 11092 (19/33). Breathable polymeric membranes may be breathable by virtue of pores in the breathable polymeric membrane or through a solution diffusion mechanism. Breathable polymeric membranes include, for example but not limited to, fluoropolymers, polyurethanes, polyesters, polyethers, polyamides, polyacrylates, coplyether esters and copolyether amides, Teflon, polyester, microporous polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) such as expanded PTFE, and/or any commercially available membrane which is waterproof and vapor permeable, such as the membrane known under the trademark “GORE-TEX” or “SYMPATEX.”
  • During construction of the tapeless waterproof footwear article 100, the waterproof membrane 105 is applied about the exterior surface 107 of the footwear liner, including the one or more seams 103 and the lining materials 104. The waterproof membrane is then laminated over substantially the entire exterior surface 107 of the footwear liner 101, including the one or more seams 103, thereby providing tapeless waterproofing of both the lining materials 104 and the one or more seams 103 of the footwear liner 101. Lamination of the waterproof membrane over substantially the entire exterior surface 107 can be performed according to any method of lamination, including for example, using epoxies, heat-activated adhesives, water-based adhesives, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA)-based adhesives, polyurethane-based adhesives, solvent-based glue, flame lamination, heat-pressing, and/or any other suitable method.
  • As shown in FIGS. 2A-2B, a system 200 for producing an article of tapeless waterproof footwear 100 having a flat seam structure includes, in various embodiments, a heat press 201 having a first plate 203 a, a second plate 203 b, and a pressurizing mechanism 207. As shown in FIG. 2A, in various embodiments, the footwear liner 101 is sandwiched between two layers of waterproof membrane 105 and positioned on the first plate 203 a. The waterproof membrane 105 is heated and, as shown in FIG. 2B, the second plate 203 b is driven by the pressurizing mechanism to exert pressure against the waterproof membrane 105 and the footwear liner 101, thereby laminating the waterproof membrane 105 to the footwear liner 101 to produce a tapeless waterproof footwear article 100 (e.g., as shown in FIG. 1B).
  • Heat press 201, in accordance with various embodiments, may be any suitable press, including for example, a steam fabric press, a dry heat press, a small format heat press, a large format heat press, or any other suitable device. The first plate 203 a and the second plate 203 b of the heat press 201 may be completely flat or may have one or more slight depressions for accommodating the thickness of the tapeless waterproof footwear article 100. The first and second plates 203 a, 203 b can be constructed from any suitable material, including for example, metal (e.g., iron, steel, titanium, aluminum), coated metal (e.g., powder coating, ceramic coating, and/or Teflon coating), wood (e.g., bamboo, oak, butcher block), ceramic, plastic (e.g., polyvinylchloride), composites (e.g., carbon fiber) and/or any other suitable material. Heat can be introduced to the waterproof membrane 105 by for example but not limited to, directly heating the first and second plates 203 a, 203 b (e.g., via an electrical heating element or an external heat source), introducing steam and/or heated air through the first plate 203 a and/or the second plate 203 b, combinations of direct heating and steam/hot air introduction, and/or any other suitable method of introducing heat to the waterproof membrane 105
  • Pressurizing mechanism 207 is operable to drive the first and second plates 203 a, 203 b together so as to apply pressure to the waterproof membrane 105 and the footwear liner 101. The pressurizing mechanism 207 can be, for example but not limited to, a manual lever, a hydraulic piston (e.g., as shown in FIGS. 2A-2B), an electrical motor, and/or any other suitable mechanism.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 3A-3B, various embodiments of a tapeless waterproof footwear article 300 may include at least a footwear liner 301 having upper lining materials 304 a, lower lining materials 304 b, and one or more seams 303, and at least one layer of waterproof membrane 305 laminated over substantially the entire exterior surface 407 of the footwear liner 301, including the one or more seams 303, thereby providing tapeless waterproofing of the upper and lower lining materials 304 a, 304 b and the one or more seams 303 of the footwear liner 301.
  • The footwear liner 301 as shown in FIGS. 3A-3B is constructed from one or more upper lining materials 304 a and one or more lower lining materials 304 b and, as a whole, is non-waterproof In various embodiments, the upper lining materials 304 a are substantially free of any waterproof membrane 305. In various embodiments, the upper lining material(s) 304 a can be, for example but not limited to, lining materials 104 as described above with reference to FIGS. 1A-1C. In addition, upper lining materials 304 a may include various reinforcing or other add-on materials, such as for example, cushioning materials (e.g., polyester needle-punch, recycled fiber, viscose fibers, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), rubber, neoprene, polyurethane, gel, combinations thereof, and/or any other suitable material) or reinforcing/stiffening materials (e.g., any non-woven, stitch-bounded, fibrous material, polyester, polypropylene, cotton, nylon, wool, viscose fibers, leather, polyvinylchloride, wood, metal, carbon fiber, combinations thereof, and/or any other suitable material).
  • FIGS. 3A-3B illustrate, in accordance with various embodiments, upper lining materials 304 a comprising a single piece of upper lining material 304 a on each side of an upper portion of the tapeless waterproof footwear article 300. However, it will be apparent in view of this disclosure that a plurality of pieces of upper lining materials 304 a can be used (e.g., to improve fit, install reinforcement elements, provide a toe cap, provide a vamp, provide a quarter portion, or to serve any other purpose associated with upper lining materials 304 a).
  • In various embodiments, the lower lining materials 304 b are substantially free of any waterproof membrane 305. In various embodiments, the lower lining material(s) 304 b can be, for example but not limited to, upper lining materials 304 a described above and/or lining materials 104 as described above with reference to FIGS. 1A-1C. In addition, in various embodiments, lower lining materials 304 b may include various materials suitable for use in a midsole and/or insole, such as for example, cushioning materials (e.g., polyester needle-punch, recycled fiber, viscose fibers, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), rubber, neoprene, polyurethane, gel, combinations thereof, and/or any other suitable material), Strobel board materials (e.g., any non-woven, stitch-bounded, fibrous material, polyester, polypropylene, cotton, nylon, wool, viscose fibers, leather, combinations thereof, and/or any other suitable material), and/or footbed (also referred to as a sock liner) materials (e.g., any textile material previously recited herein with reference to upper lining materials 304 a and lining materials 104).
  • As illustrated by FIGS. 3A-3B, the upper lining materials 304 a are attached to lower lining materials 304 b along one or more seams 303 to form a generally non-waterproof footwear liner 301. It will be apparent in view of this disclosure that, in various embodiments, footwear liner 301 may include cushioning and/or stiffening elements which are incidentally waterproof, thus adding local areas of waterproof properties. In such embodiments, the footwear liner 301 as a whole still remains non-waterproof Due to cost and performance considerations (e.g., breathability), it can be, in various embodiments, advantageous for the upper and lower lining materials 304 a, 304 b to be substantially free of any waterproof membrane 305. However, it will be apparent in view of this disclosure that a textile having a waterproof membrane can be used to construct the footwear liner 301 in accordance with various embodiments. In such embodiments the presence of the one or more seams 303 still renders the footwear liner 301 as a whole non-waterproof Therefore, in such embodiments, at least one additional layer of waterproof membrane 305 is laminated over substantially the entire exterior surface 307 of the footwear liner 301.
  • The one or more seams 303 can, in various embodiments, be sewn, stitched, needle-punched, welded, and/or glued. It will be apparent in view of this disclosure that, while three seams 303 are shown in FIGS. 3A-3B (i.e., Strobel seam 303 a, front seam 303 b, and heel seam 303 c), any number of seams 303 can be used in accordance with various embodiments (e.g., seams required to assemble reinforcing elements, cushioning elements, toe caps, vamps, and/or quarter portions). As shown in FIGS. 3A-3B, the one or more seams 303 are arranged such that the footwear liner 301 retains a three-dimensional shape when empty (e.g., when no foot or last has been inserted into the footwear liner 301). This three-dimensional structure of the one or more seams 303 advantageously allows for a broad variety of configurations and a highly adjustable fit. However, lamination of the waterproof membrane 305 for a three-dimensional footwear liner 301 requires more complex and expensive equipment (e.g., as described below with reference to FIGS. 4A-4B) when compared with the relatively simplistic, inexpensive equipment described above with reference to FIGS. 2A-2B.
  • The waterproof membrane 305, in various embodiments may include any waterproof material (e.g., rubber, plastic, polymer, etc.). The waterproof membrane can be, for example but not limited to, waterproof membrane 105 as described above with reference to FIGS. 1A-1C.
  • During construction of the tapeless waterproof footwear article 300, the waterproof membrane 305 is applied about the exterior surface 307 of the footwear liner 301, including the one or more seams 303, the upper lining materials 304 a, and the lower lining materials 304 b. The waterproof membrane 305 is then laminated over substantially the entire exterior surface 307 of the footwear liner 301, including the one or more seams 303, thereby providing tapeless waterproofing of the upper lining materials 304 a, the lower lining materials 304 b, and the one or more seams 303 of the footwear liner 301. Lamination of the waterproof membrane over substantially the entire exterior surface 307 can be performed according to any method of lamination, including for example but not limited to, adhesives, heat-activated adhesives, flame lamination, heat-pressing, vacuum-molding, and/or any other suitable method.
  • As shown in FIGS. 4A-4B, a system 400 for producing an article of tapeless waterproof footwear 300 having a three-dimensional seam structure includes, in various embodiments, a last 401, a mold 402 having a first shell 403 a, a second shell 403 b. In various embodiments, at least one of the first shell 403 a and the second shell 403 b. As shown in FIGS. 4A-4C, in various embodiments, the footwear liner 301 is fitted onto last 401. The waterproof membrane 305 is then positioned in the first shell 403 a and the second shell 403 b such that hangers 407 hold the waterproof membrane in place. The waterproof membrane is then heated and the first and second shells 403 a, 403 b are closed about the last 401 to exert pressure against the waterproof membrane 305 and the footwear liner 301, thereby laminating the waterproof membrane 305 to the footwear liner 301 to produce a tapeless waterproof footwear article 300.
  • Last 401 can be foot-shaped (as is typical in the footwear industry), or any other suitable shape (e.g., egg-shaped, a rectangular prism, circular). Last 401 can be constructed of, for example but not limited to, any metal, any wood, any plastic, any composite, and/or any other suitable material.
  • Mold 402, in accordance with various embodiments, may be shaped and sized so as to receive the last 401, thereby encasing and applying pressure to substantially the entire exterior surface 307 of the footwear liner 301. The mold 402 can be sized to fit the last 401 exactly or may be sized to provide a designed clearance from the last so as to accommodate the thickness of the footwear liner 301 and/or waterproof membrane 305. The first shell 403 a and the second shell 403 b of the mold 402 can be constructed from any suitable material, including for example, metal, coated metal, wood, ceramic, plastic, composites, and/or any other suitable material. Heat can be introduced to the waterproof membrane 305 by for example but not limited to, directly heating the first and second shells 403 a, 403 b (e.g., via an electrical heating element or external heat source), introducing steam and/or heated air through the first shell 403 a and/or the second shell 403 b, combinations of direct heating and steam/hot air introduction, and/or any other suitable method of introducing heat to the waterproof membrane 305. In various embodiments, the first and second shells 403 a, 403 b are heated via an electrical heating element to a temperature of between 120° C.-130° C. However, it will be apparent in view of this disclosure that any temperature can be used in accordance with various embodiments.
  • While depicted in FIGS. 4A-4B as having two shells (i.e., first shell 403 a and second shell 403 b), it will be apparent in view of this disclosure that mold 402 may include any number of shells and/or shell pieces. For example, in various embodiments, mold 402 can be a three-piece mold having a bottom shell and two upper/side shells. In other embodiments, mold 402 may have any number of additional shells as appropriate for laminating the waterproof membrane.
  • Hangers 407 hold the waterproof membrane 305 in and/or on each of the first shell 403 a and the second shell 403 b. Suitable hangers include, for example but not limited to, hooks, hook and loop fasteners, tack strips, clips, clamps, adhesive strips, and/or any other suitable mechanism for removably retaining the waterproof membrane 305 on each of the first and second shells 403 a and 403 b.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a method 500 for making an article of tapeless waterproof footwear in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure comprising the steps of providing a footwear liner comprising an exterior surface and a seam 501, providing one or more layers of waterproof membrane 503, and laminating substantially the entire exterior surface of the footwear liner and associated seams with the one or more layers of waterproof membrane 505.
  • In various embodiments the steps of providing a footwear liner comprising an exterior surface and a seam 501 and providing one or more layers of waterproof membrane 503 may include, but are not limited to, providing a footwear liner 101, 301 and one or more layers of a waterproof membrane 105, 305 as described above with reference to FIGS. 1A-1B and 3A-3B.
  • The step of laminating substantially the entire exterior surface of the footwear liner and associated seams with the one or more layers of waterproof membrane 505 may, in various embodiments include laminating waterproof membrane 105, 305 externally of substantially the exterior surface 107, 307 and one or more seams 103, 303 of the footwear liner 101, 301 as described above with reference to FIGS. 1A-1B and 3A-3B. The step of laminating 505 can be performed using, for example but not limited to, an epoxy, heat-activated adhesives, water-based adhesives, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA)-based adhesives, polyurethane-based adhesives, solvent-based glue, flame lamination, heat-pressing, and/or any combination thereof
  • Accordingly, a tapeless waterproof footwear article 100, 300 is provided, the use of which reduces the time, labor, and cost associated with taped waterproof footwear construction. It will be apparent in view of this disclosure that any tapeless waterproof footwear article described herein can be constructed as a standalone bootie or be incorporated into an article of consumer footwear (e.g., work boots, hiking boots, athletic shoes, dress shoes, high-heeled shoes, hiking socks, and/or any other type of footwear).
  • Furthermore, although the tapeless waterproof footwear article 100, 300 is described throughout with reference to application in a footwear product, other applications of the present invention are contemplated, particularly applications requiring reduced-cost flexible waterproof products. Such applications may include, for example, construction of various athletic devices and/or articles of clothing.
  • It is noted that the foregoing examples have been provided merely for the purpose of explanation and are in no way to be construed as limiting of the present invention. While the present invention has been described with reference to an exemplary embodiment, it is understood that the words, which have been used herein, are words of description and illustration, rather than words of limitation. Changes may be made, within the purview of the appended claims, as presently stated and as amended, without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention in its aspects. Although the present invention has been described herein with reference to particular means, materials and embodiments, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the particulars disclosed herein; rather, the present invention extends to all functionally equivalent structures, methods and uses, such as are within the scope of the appended claims.

Claims (19)

What is claimed is:
1. A tapeless waterproof footwear article comprising:
a footwear liner comprising an exterior surface and at least one seam, wherein the footwear liner is substantially free of any waterproof membrane; and
one or more layers of waterproof membrane laminated with substantially the entire exterior surface of the footwear liner and associated seams, wherein none of the one or more layers of waterproof membrane are seam-specific.
2. The tapeless waterproof footwear article of claim 1, wherein the footwear liner is constructed from one or more textile layers.
3. The tapeless waterproof footwear article of claim 1, wherein the one or more textile layers are constructed from at least one of a woven textile, non-woven textile, tricot, knit textile, polyester, nylon, polypropylene, cotton, wool, or leather.
4. The tapeless waterproof footwear article of claim 1, wherein the at least one seam is positioned so that the footwear liner lies flat when empty.
5. The tapeless waterproof footwear article of claim 1, wherein the at least one seam is positioned so that the footwear liner retains a three-dimensional shape when empty.
6. The tapeless waterproof footwear article of claim 1, wherein the footwear liner further comprises a substantially foot-shaped base.
7. The tapeless waterproof footwear article of claim 6, wherein the substantially foot-shaped base further comprises at least one of a Strobel board, a cushioning layer, or a footbed.
8. The tapeless waterproof footwear article of claim 1, wherein the at least one seam is at least one of sewn, stitched, needle-punched, welded, and/or glued.
9. The tapeless waterproof footwear article of claim 1, wherein the one or more layers of waterproof membrane are constructed from at least one of fluoropolymers, polyurethanes, polyesters, polyethers, polyamides, polyacrylates, coplyether esters, copolyether amides, Teflon, microporous polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), expanded PTFE, the membrane known under the trademark “GORE-TEX”, or the membrane known under the trademark “SYMPATEX.”
10. A system for producing tapeless waterproof footwear comprising:
a closeable press including a first heatable plate and a second heatable plate, wherein the second heatable plate is substantially parallel to the first heatable plate in a closed position of the press; and
a pressurizing mechanism for closing the closeable press to apply pressure externally of a waterproof membrane, wherein applying pressure externally of the waterproof membrane laminates the waterproof membrane with substantially an entire exterior surface of a footwear liner and at least one seam of the footwear liner.
11. The system of claim 10, wherein the pressurizing mechanism is at least one of an electric drive, a hydraulic drive, a hydraulic piston drive, a winch, a lever, or a clamp.
12. A system for producing tapeless waterproof footwear comprising:
a footwear last;
a closeable mold including at least two heatable shells, the at least two heatable shells being shaped to receive the footwear last, wherein closing the closeable mold causes the at least two shells to close about the footwear last and apply pressure externally of a waterproof membrane, wherein applying pressure externally of the waterproof membrane laminates the waterproof membrane with substantially an entire exterior surface of a footwear liner and at least one seam of the footwear liner.
13. A method for producing tapeless waterproof footwear comprising:
providing a footwear liner comprising an exterior surface and at least one seam, wherein the footwear liner is substantially free of any waterproof membrane;
providing one or more layers of waterproof membrane; and
laminating substantially the entire exterior surface of the footwear liner and associated seams with the one or more layers of waterproof membrane.
14. The method of claim 13, further comprising fitting the footwear liner around a footwear last.
15. The method of claim 13, further comprising positioning the one or more layers of waterproof membrane in at least two heatable shells of a closeable mold.
16. The method of claim 15, further comprising closing the closeable mold to compress a footwear last having the footwear liner fitted thereon between the at least two heatable shells.
17. The method of claim 13, further comprising positioning the one or more layers of waterproof membrane on at least one heatable plate of a closeable press, wherein the footwear liner is positioned between at least two of the one or more layers of waterproof membrane.
18. The method of claim 17, further comprising closing the closeable press to compress the footwear liner positioned between the at least two of the one or more layers of waterproof membrane between the at least one heatable plate and at least one additional heatable plate.
19. The method of claim 13, wherein the step of laminating is performed using at least one of an epoxy, heat-activated adhesives, water-based adhesives, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA)-based adhesives, polyurethane-based adhesives, solvent-based glue, flame lamination, or heat-pressing.
US14/057,266 2013-07-24 2013-10-18 Tapeless waterproof footwear Abandoned US20150027001A1 (en)

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