CROSSREFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuationinpart of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/976,109, filed Dec. 22, 2010, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a golf ball dimples, and more particularly, to the contour of the dimple surface being defined by superposed curves. More specifically, the cross section of a dimple is based on the superposition of two or more continuous and differentiable functions that yield valid solutions. Even more specifically, the present invention relates to a golf ball dimple having a cross section shape based on the superposition of a catenary curve and a Witch of Agnesi curve.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Golf balls were originally made with smooth outer surfaces. In the late nineteenth century, players observed that the guttapercha golf balls traveled further as they got older and more gouged up. The players then began to roughen the surface of new golf balls with a hammer to increase flight distance. Manufacturers soon caught on and began molding nonsmooth outer surfaces on golf balls.

By the mid 1900's, almost every golf ball being made had 336 dimples arranged in an octahedral pattern. Generally, these balls had about 60 percent of their outer surface covered by dimples. Over time, improvements in ball performance were developed by utilizing different dimple patterns. In 1983, for instance, Titleist introduced the TITLEIST 384, which, not surprisingly, had 384 dimples that were arranged in an icosahedral pattern. About 76 percent of its outer surface was covered with dimples and the golf ball exhibited improved aerodynamic performance. Today, dimpled golf balls travel nearly two times farther than a similar ball without dimples.

The dimples on a golf ball are important in reducing drag and increasing lift. Drag is the air resistance that acts on the golf ball in the opposite direction from the ball flight direction. As the ball travels through the air, the air surrounding the ball has different velocities and, thus, different pressures. The air exerts maximum pressure at the stagnation point on the front of the ball. The air then flows over the sides of the ball and has increased velocity and reduced pressure. At some point it separates from the surface of the ball, leaving a large turbulent flow area called the wake that has low pressure. The difference in the high pressure in front of the ball and the low pressure behind the ball slows the ball down. This is the primary source of drag for a golf ball.

The dimples on the ball create a turbulent boundary layer around the ball, i.e., a thin layer of air adjacent to the ball flows in a turbulent manner. The turbulence energizes the boundary layer of air around the ball and helps it stay attached further around the ball to reduce the area of the wake. This greatly increases the pressure behind the ball and substantially reduces the drag.

Lift is the upward force on the ball that is created from a difference in pressure on the top of the ball to the bottom of the ball. The difference in pressure is created by a warpage in the air flow resulting from the ball's back spin. Due to the back spin, the top of the ball moves with the air flow, which delays the separation to a point further aft. Conversely, the bottom of the ball moves against the air flow, moving the separation point forward. This asymmetrical separation creates an arch in the flow pattern, requiring the air over the top of the ball to move faster, and thus have lower pressure than the air underneath the ball.

Almost every golf ball manufacturer researches dimple patterns in order to improve the aerodynamic forces on the ball during flight and increase the distance traveled by a golf ball. A high degree of dimple coverage is generally beneficial to flight distance, but only if the dimples are of preferred size and shape. For example, dimple coverage gained by filling spaces with tiny dimples is generally not very effective, since tiny dimples are not good turbulence generators.

In addition to researching dimple pattern and size, golf ball manufacturers also study the effect of dimple shape, volume, and crosssection on overall flight performance of the ball. One example is U.S. Pat. No. 5,737,757, which discusses making dimples using two different spherical radii with an inflection point where the two curves meet. In most cases, however, the crosssectional profiles of dimples in prior art golf balls are parabolic curves, ellipses, semispherical curves, saucershaped, a sine curve, a truncated cone, or a flattened trapezoid. One disadvantage of these shapes is that they can sharply intrude into the surface of the ball, which may cause the drag to become greater than the lift. As a result, the ball may not make best use of momentum initially imparted thereto, resulting in an insufficient carry of the ball. Despite all the crosssectional profiles disclosed in the prior art, there has been no disclosure of a golf ball having dimples defined by superposed curves, and particularly the superposition of a catenary curve and a Witch of Agnesi curve.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a golf ball having a surface with a plurality of recessed dimples thereon, wherein at least one of the dimples has a crosssection that can be defined by the superposition of two or more curves defined by continuous and differentiable functions that have valid solutions. The golf ball dimples preferably have a circular boundary and maintain an axis coincident with a center of the circular boundary.

In one embodiment, the dimple profile is defined by combining a spherical curve and a different curve, such as a cosine curve, a frequency curve or a catenary curve. In another embodiment, the dimple profile is defined by combining a cosine curve and a different curve. In yet another embodiment, the dimple profile is defined by the superposition of a frequency curve and a different curve. In still another embodiment, the dimple profile is defined by the superposition of a catenary curve and different curve. In a particular aspect of this embodiment, the dimple profile is defined by the superposition of a catenary curve and a Witch of Agnesi curve.

In one embodiment, the dimple profile has a dimple depth of between 0.002 and 0.02 inches.

The present invention is similarly directed to golf ball having a surface with a plurality of recessed dimples thereon, wherein at least one of the dimples has a crosssection that can be defined by the superposition of three or more curves defined by continuous and differentiable functions that have valid solutions.

It is preferred that all of the dimple profiles on the ball be similar. However, in certain embodiments, the profiles can be varied over the surface of the ball and the dimples can have different diameters and depths.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

These and other aspects of the present invention may be more fully understood with references to, but not limited by, the following drawings:

FIG. 1 depicts spherical and cosine profile curves;

FIG. 2 illustrates a dimple profile created from the superposing of the curves of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 illustrates an alternative dimple profile from superposing of another cosine profile curve with a spherical curve;

FIG. 4 illustrates an alternative dimple profile from the superposing of another cosine profile with a spherical curve;

FIG. 5 illustrates another alternative dimple profile from the superposing of yet another cosine profile with a spherical curve;

FIG. 6 illustrates still yet another alternative dimple profile from the superposing of another cosine profile with a spherical curve;

FIG. 7 depicts frequency and catenary profile curves;

FIG. 8 illustrates a dimple profile created from the superposing of the curves of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 depicts frequency, catenary, and cosine profile curves;

FIG. 10 illustrates a dimple profile created from the superposing of the curves of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 illustrates a dimple profile created from the superposing of a catenary curve with a cosine curve and a frequency curve;

FIG. 12 illustrates a dimple profile created from the superposing of a catenary curve with a spherical curve;

FIG. 13 illustrates a dimple profile created from the superposing of a catenary curve with a frequency curve;

FIG. 14 illustrates a dimple profile created from the superposing of a plurality of different curves;

FIG. 15 illustrates a dimple profile created from the superposing of a plurality of different curves;

FIG. 16 illustrates a dimple profile created from the superposing of a plurality of different curves;

FIG. 17 illustrates a dimple profile created from the superposing of a catenary curve and a Witch of Agnesi curve according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 18 illustrates a dimple profile created from the superposing of a catenary curve and a Witch of Agnesi curve according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 19 illustrates a dimple profile created from the superposing of a catenary curve and a Witch of Agnesi curve according to another embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 20 is a plot of chord volume versus dimple diameter.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention is a golf ball which comprises dimples having a cross section defined by the superposition of two or more continuous and differentiable functions. Additionally, the dimples preferably have a circular boundary and maintain an axis coincident with the center of the circular boundary.

Dimples that are defined by superposed curves provide greater opportunity to control the dimple crosssection and therefore, provide dimples that improve the flight characteristics of the golf ball. This method is capable of producing an unlimited number of unique dimple shapes produced using the superposition principle. Since the dimple shape is axially symmetric and maintains a circular boundary, hob, and cavity manufacture remains similar to those for conventionally shaped prior art dimple profiles.

The Superposition Principle states that for linear homogenous ordinary differential equations, if y1(x) and y2(x) yield valid solutions, then the sum of y1(x) and y2(x) will also yield a valid solution. (Weisstein, Eric W. “Superposition Principle”) This allows the combination of equations that are continuous and differentiable, and combining their solutions creates unique dimple profiles.

Several examples of dimple cross sections according to the present invention are illustrated by referencing FIGS. 16. For example, FIG. 1 displays two possible curves, a traditional spherical dimple curve 20 and a cosine curve 21. A phantom ball surface 22 is shown for reference. By using the superposition principle these curves 20 and 21 are combined to create an alternative dimple profile 23, which is illustrated in FIG. 2. The additional dimple shape parameters allow for greater flexibility in defining the final profile, including the dimple depth as defined by the distance from the center point of the dimple to the curved phantom surface and the edge angle as defined in U.S. Pat. No. 6,162,136, which is incorporated herein by reference. The depths of the dimples are preferably between about 0.002 inches and 0.02 inches. With the superposition of the functions as set forth in this invention, the range of potential edge angles of the dimple can be significantly wide. For example, the edge angle show in FIG. 1 is less than 0. However, edge angles of 0 degrees to 40 degrees are preferred.

FIGS. 3 to 6 show alternative profiles from the manipulation of spherical curves 20 with cosine curves 21. Manipulation of both the frequency and the amplitude of the cosine function superposed with a prior art spherical profile produces an unlimited number of dimple profiles 23. Obviously, the permutations are endless. Preferably, the frequency of the cosine function is related to the dimple diameter such that the edges on opposite sides of the dimple are substantially equal and the dimple crosssection is symmetrical.

Another example of a dimple profile is illustrated by reference to FIGS. 7 and 8, wherein a frequency curve is combined with a catenary profile. FIG. 7 displays a frequency curve 31 and a catenary curve 30 in relation to a golf ball phantom spherical surface 22. By using the superposition principle we can combine these curves to create an alternative dimple profile 33 shown in FIG. 8. Again, an infinite number of profiles exist based on the superposition of variations to these function families.

Yet another example of the present invention is the superposition of more than 2 functions. For example, a frequency curve, catenary curve and cosine curve as shown in FIG. 9 can be combined to form the dimple profile in FIG. 10. FIG. 9 depicts three curves: a frequency curve 31, a catenary curve 30 and a cosine curve 21. By using the superposition principle we can combine these curves to create the alternative dimple profile curve 43 shown in FIG. 10. FIG. 11 is another such superimposition of functions. Again, the superposition of these curves greatly increases the possibilities of dimple depth and edge angles. Moreover, the edge angle and depth are not necessarily directly related as evidence from the vast differences between the dimple profiles 43 shown in FIGS. 10 and 11.

Another example of the present invention is the combination of a catenary curve 30 and a spherical curve 21 to form the catenaryspherical curve dimple profile 53 shown in FIG. 12. Another dimple profile 58, shown in FIG. 13, is the combination of a catenary curve 30 with a frequency curve 31.

FIG. 14 is an example of multiple equations being combined. A catenary curve 30, a cosine curve 21, a spherical curve 20, a frequency curve 31 and a linear function (or cone) 40 are superimposed to form the dimple profile 63 in FIG. 14. The linear function 40 is continuous from the dimple edge to the center and symmetrical, whereas the other functions are continuous through the entire dimple diameter, but also symmetrical about the center. Thus, the overall dimple profile 63 is similarly axial symmetric about the center of the dimple. Similarly, multiple functions are combined to form the dimple profile 73 in FIG. 15. The dimple profile 83 in FIG. 16 is formed by the superposition of a cosine curve 21, a spherical curve 20, a frequency curve 31, a Neile's parabola 81 and a conical curve 40.

Each of FIGS. 1719 illustrates a dimple profile 110 in relation to a golf ball phantom spherical surface 100, according to a particular embodiment of the present invention, wherein dimple profile 110 is defined by the superposition of a catenary curve 102 and a Witch of Agnesi curve 104.

In FIGS. 1719, catenary curve 102 is defined by the equation:

$y\ue8a0\left(x\right)=\frac{{d}_{\mathrm{CAT}}\ue8a0\left(\mathrm{cosh}\ue8a0\left(\mathrm{SF}\times x\right)1\right)}{\mathrm{cosh}\ue8a0\left(\mathrm{SF}\times \frac{{D}_{D}}{2}\right)1}$

where d_{CAT }is chord depth (in inches), D_{D }is dimple diameter (in inches), and SF, referred to as shape factor, is a constant selected to alter the steepness of the sidewall. In FIG. 17, d_{CAT }is 0.004 inches, D_{D }is 0.175 inches, and SF is 50. In FIG. 18, d_{CAT }is 0.003 inches, D_{D }is 0.100 inches, and SF is 100. In FIG. 19, d_{CAT }is 0.002 inches, D_{D }is 0.200 inches, and SF is 200.

In FIGS. 1719, Witch of Agnesi curve 104 is defined by the equation:

$y\ue8a0\left(x\right)=\frac{{C}_{1}\ue89e{a}^{3}}{{x}^{2}+{C}_{2}\ue89e{a}^{2}}+\frac{{C}_{1}\ue89e{a}^{3}}{{\left(\frac{{D}_{D}}{2}\right)}^{2}+{C}_{2}\ue89e{a}^{2}}$

where D_{D }is dimple diameter (in inches); C_{1}, referred to as steepness factor, is a constant selected to alter the steepness of the sidewall; C_{2}, referred to as curvature factor, is a constant selected to alter the radius of curvature of the sidewall; and a, referred to as depth factor, is a constant selected to alter the depth of the profile. In FIG. 17, D_{D }is 0.175 inches, C_{1 }is 1, C_{2 }is 3, and a is 0.01. In FIG. 18, D_{D }is 0.100 inches, C_{1 }is 1.8, C_{2 }is 2.5, and a is 0.003. In FIG. 19, D_{D }is 0.200 inches, C_{1 }is 4, C_{2 }is 4, and a is 0.008.

Golf ball dimple profiles defined using catenary curves are further disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 7,641,572, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference. Golf ball dimple profiles defined using Witch of Agnesi curves are further disclosed, for example, in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2012/0122613, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

Dimples having a profile shape defined by the superposition of a catenary curve and a Witch of Agnesi curve, herein referred to as catwitch dimples, preferably have a circular plan shape and a dimple diameter of from 0.100 inches to 0.220 inches. The chord volume of the catwitch dimple profile is calculated by summing the individual chord volume contributions of the catenary profile and the Witch profile. The chord volume of a catenary dimple profile, V_{CAT}, is defined as:

${V}_{\mathrm{CAT}}=\frac{\pi \ue89e\phantom{\rule{0.3em}{0.3ex}}\ue89e{d}_{\mathrm{CAT}}\ue8a0\left({\alpha}^{2}\ue89e\mathrm{cosh}\ue8a0\left(\alpha \right)+{\uf74d}^{\alpha}\ue8a0\left(1\alpha \right)+{\uf74d}^{\alpha}\ue8a0\left(1+\alpha \right)2\right)}{{\mathrm{SF}}^{2}\ue8a0\left(\mathrm{cosh}\ue8a0\left(\alpha \right)1\right)}$

where d_{CAT }is chord depth (in inches);

SF, referred to as shape factor, is a constant in the range of 10300, selected to alter the steepness of the sidewall; and

$\alpha =\mathrm{SF}\ue8a0\left(\frac{{D}_{D}}{2}\right),$

where D_{D }is dimple diameter (in inches).
 The chord volume of a Witch of Agnesi dimple profile, V_{W}, is defined as:

${V}_{W}=\pi \ue89e\frac{{d}_{W}\ue89e{D}_{D}^{2}\ue89e{C}_{2}{D}_{D}^{2}\ue89e{C}_{1}\ue89ea8\ue89e{C}_{1}\ue89e{C}_{2}\ue89e{a}^{3}\ue89e\mathrm{ln}\ue8a0\left(2\right)+4\ue89e{C}_{1}\ue89e{C}_{2}\ue89e{a}^{3}\ue89e\mathrm{ln}\ue8a0\left({D}_{D}^{2}+4\ue89e{C}_{2}\ue89e{a}^{2}\right)4\ue89e{C}_{1}\ue89e{C}_{2}\ue89e{a}^{3}\ue89e\mathrm{ln}\ue8a0\left({C}_{2}\ue89e{a}^{2}\right)}{4\ue89e{C}_{2}}$

 where D_{D }is dimple diameter (in inches);
 C_{1}, referred to as steepness factor, is a constant selected to alter the steepness of the sidewall;
 C_{2}, referred to as curvature factor, is a constant selected to alter the radius of curvature of the sidewall;
 a, referred to as depth factor, is a constant selected to alter the depth of the profile; and

${d}_{W}=\frac{{C}_{1}\ue89ea}{{C}_{2}}\frac{{C}_{1}\ue89e{a}^{3}}{{\left(\frac{{D}_{D}}{2}\right)}^{2}+{C}_{2}\ue89e{a}^{2}}.$

Thus, the chord volume of the catwitch dimple profile, V_{D}, is equal to V_{CAT}+V_{W}.

FIG. 20 is a plot of chord volume versus dimple diameter for catwitch dimples of the present invention. Curve 1 is defined by the equation:

v _{1}=407.14D _{D} ^{2}−17.79D _{D}−0.09

curve 2 is defined by the equation:

v _{2}=66.67D _{D} ^{2}+35.33D _{D}−2.80

curve 3 is defined by the equation:

v _{3}=319.05D _{D} ^{2}−3.76D _{D}−0.81

and curve 4 is defined by the equation:

v _{4}=152.86D _{D} ^{2}+20.59D _{D}−1.93

where D_{D }is the dimple diameter and v is the respective chord volume. In a particular embodiment, the catwitch dimples have a chord volume within a range having a lower limit defined by curve 2 and an upper limit defined by curve 1. In another particular embodiment, the catwitch dimples have a chord volume within a range having a lower limit defined by curve 4 and an upper limit defined by curve 3.

Catwitch dimples of the present invention preferably have a surface depth, defined herein as the distance from the phantom ball surface to the bottom of the dimple, of 0.020 inches or less, or 0.015 inches or less.

The simplicity of this method has the potential to generate dimple profiles that have not been utilized on prior art golf balls. Since the dimple boundaries of the golf ball are preferably circular, previously developed patterns can be utilized, refined and optimized for potentially improved distance and flight control. The visual appearance of golf balls produced from this method can be significantly different. The present invention may be used with any type of ball construction. For instance, the ball may have a 2piece construction, a double cover or veneer cover construction or other multilayer constructions depending on the type of performance desired of the ball. Examples of these and other types of ball constructions that may be used with the present invention include those described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,713,801, 5,803,831, 5,885,172, 5,919,100, 5,965,669, 5,981,654, 5,981,658, and 6,149,535, for example, the construction and materials disclosed in the patents being expressly incorporated herein. Different materials also may be used in the construction of the golf balls made with the present invention. For example, the cover of the ball may be made of polyurethane, ionomer resin, balata or any other suitable cover material known to those skilled in the art. Different materials also may be used for forming core and intermediate layers of the ball.

After selecting the desired ball construction, the flight performance of the golf ball can be adjusted according to the design, placement, and number of dimples on the ball. As explained above, the use of a variety of dimples, based on a superposition profile, provides a relatively effective way to modify the ball flight performance without significantly altering the dimple pattern. Thus, the use of dimples based on the superposition profile allows a golf ball designer to select flight characteristics of a golf ball in a similar way that different materials and ball constructions can be selected to achieve a desired performance.

Each dimple of the present invention is part of a dimple pattern selected to achieve a particular desired lift coefficient. Dimple patterns that provide a high percentage of surface coverage are preferred, and are well known in the art. For example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,562,552, 5,575,477, 5,957,787, 5,249,804, and 4,925,193 disclose geometric patterns for positioning dimples on a golf ball. In one embodiment of the present invention, the dimple pattern is at least partially defined by phyllotaxisbased patterns, such as those described in copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/418,003, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety. Preferably a dimple pattern that provides greater than about 70% surface coverage is selected. Even more preferably, the dimple pattern provides greater than about 80% surface coverage. Once the dimple pattern is selected, several alternative dimple profiles can be tested in a wind tunnel or indoor test range to empirically determine the properties of the profiles that provide the desired lift and drag coefficients at the desired launch conditions.

While the invention has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments, it is evident that numerous alternatives, modifications, and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art in light of the foregoing description.