US20180229092A1 - Composite sporting equipment - Google Patents

Composite sporting equipment Download PDF

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Publication number
US20180229092A1
US20180229092A1 US15/876,541 US201815876541A US2018229092A1 US 20180229092 A1 US20180229092 A1 US 20180229092A1 US 201815876541 A US201815876541 A US 201815876541A US 2018229092 A1 US2018229092 A1 US 2018229092A1
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US
United States
Prior art keywords
sporting equipment
head
fiber
fibers
matrix
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Pending
Application number
US15/876,541
Inventor
Kenneth Lyle Tyler
Ryan C. Stockett
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Continuous Composites Inc
Original Assignee
CC3D LLC
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US201762458328P priority Critical
Application filed by CC3D LLC filed Critical CC3D LLC
Priority to US15/876,541 priority patent/US20180229092A1/en
Assigned to CC3D LLC reassignment CC3D LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: STOCKETT, RYAN C, TYLER, KENNETH LYLE
Publication of US20180229092A1 publication Critical patent/US20180229092A1/en
Assigned to CONTINUOUS COMPOSITES INC. reassignment CONTINUOUS COMPOSITES INC. CHANGE OF NAME (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: CC3D LLC
Application status is Pending legal-status Critical

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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41AFUNCTIONAL FEATURES OR DETAILS COMMON TO BOTH SMALLARMS AND ORDNANCE, e.g. CANNONS; MOUNTINGS FOR SMALLARMS OR ORDNANCE
    • F41A21/00Barrels; Gun tubes; Muzzle attachments; Barrel mounting means
    • F41A21/02Composite barrels, i.e. barrels having multiple layers, e.g. of different materials
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B49/00Stringed rackets, e.g. for tennis
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B49/00Stringed rackets, e.g. for tennis
    • A63B49/02Frames
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B49/00Stringed rackets, e.g. for tennis
    • A63B49/02Frames
    • A63B49/10Frames made of non-metallic materials, other than wood
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
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    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B53/00Golf clubs
    • A63B53/10Non-metallic shafts
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    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
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    • A63B53/14Handles
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
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    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B60/00Details or accessories of golf clubs, bats, rackets or the like
    • A63B60/06Handles
    • A63B60/08Handles characterised by the material
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    • A63B60/42Devices for measuring, verifying, correcting or customising the inherent characteristics of golf clubs, bats, rackets or the like, e.g. measuring the maximum torque a batting shaft can withstand
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    • A63B71/08Body-protectors for players or sportsmen, i.e. body-protecting accessories affording protection of body parts against blows or collisions
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    • A63CSKATES; SKIS; ROLLER SKATES; DESIGN OR LAYOUT OF COURTS, RINKS OR THE LIKE
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    • A63C5/052Structure of the surface thereof of the tips or rear ends
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    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29CSHAPING OR JOINING OF PLASTICS; SHAPING OF MATERIAL IN A PLASTIC STATE, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; AFTER-TREATMENT OF THE SHAPED PRODUCTS, e.g. REPAIRING
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    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29CSHAPING OR JOINING OF PLASTICS; SHAPING OF MATERIAL IN A PLASTIC STATE, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; AFTER-TREATMENT OF THE SHAPED PRODUCTS, e.g. REPAIRING
    • B29C70/00Shaping composites, i.e. plastics material comprising reinforcements, fillers or preformed parts, e.g. inserts
    • B29C70/04Shaping composites, i.e. plastics material comprising reinforcements, fillers or preformed parts, e.g. inserts comprising reinforcements only, e.g. self-reinforcing plastics
    • B29C70/06Fibrous reinforcements only
    • B29C70/08Fibrous reinforcements only comprising combinations of different forms of fibrous reinforcements incorporated in matrix material, forming one or more layers, and with or without non-reinforced layers
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    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29CSHAPING OR JOINING OF PLASTICS; SHAPING OF MATERIAL IN A PLASTIC STATE, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; AFTER-TREATMENT OF THE SHAPED PRODUCTS, e.g. REPAIRING
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    • B29C70/04Shaping composites, i.e. plastics material comprising reinforcements, fillers or preformed parts, e.g. inserts comprising reinforcements only, e.g. self-reinforcing plastics
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    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29CSHAPING OR JOINING OF PLASTICS; SHAPING OF MATERIAL IN A PLASTIC STATE, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; AFTER-TREATMENT OF THE SHAPED PRODUCTS, e.g. REPAIRING
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    • B29C70/04Shaping composites, i.e. plastics material comprising reinforcements, fillers or preformed parts, e.g. inserts comprising reinforcements only, e.g. self-reinforcing plastics
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    • B29C70/38Automated lay-up, e.g. using robots, laying filaments according to predetermined patterns
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    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29CSHAPING OR JOINING OF PLASTICS; SHAPING OF MATERIAL IN A PLASTIC STATE, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; AFTER-TREATMENT OF THE SHAPED PRODUCTS, e.g. REPAIRING
    • B29C70/00Shaping composites, i.e. plastics material comprising reinforcements, fillers or preformed parts, e.g. inserts
    • B29C70/68Shaping composites, i.e. plastics material comprising reinforcements, fillers or preformed parts, e.g. inserts by incorporating or moulding on preformed parts, e.g. inserts or layers, e.g. foam blocks
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29CSHAPING OR JOINING OF PLASTICS; SHAPING OF MATERIAL IN A PLASTIC STATE, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; AFTER-TREATMENT OF THE SHAPED PRODUCTS, e.g. REPAIRING
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    • B29C70/68Shaping composites, i.e. plastics material comprising reinforcements, fillers or preformed parts, e.g. inserts by incorporating or moulding on preformed parts, e.g. inserts or layers, e.g. foam blocks
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29CSHAPING OR JOINING OF PLASTICS; SHAPING OF MATERIAL IN A PLASTIC STATE, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; AFTER-TREATMENT OF THE SHAPED PRODUCTS, e.g. REPAIRING
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    • B29C70/68Shaping composites, i.e. plastics material comprising reinforcements, fillers or preformed parts, e.g. inserts by incorporating or moulding on preformed parts, e.g. inserts or layers, e.g. foam blocks
    • B29C70/86Incorporated in coherent impregnated reinforcing layers, e.g. by winding
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    • B33ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY
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    • B33Y10/00Processes of additive manufacturing
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
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    • F41A21/16Barrels or gun tubes characterised by the shape of the bore
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    • F41A3/64Mounting of breech-blocks; Accessories for breech-blocks or breech-block mountings
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01LMEASURING FORCE, STRESS, TORQUE, WORK, MECHANICAL POWER, MECHANICAL EFFICIENCY, OR FLUID PRESSURE
    • G01L5/00Apparatus for, or methods of, measuring force, e.g. due to impact, work, mechanical power, or torque, adapted for special purposes
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    • B29KINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBCLASSES B29B, B29C OR B29D, RELATING TO MOULDING MATERIALS OR TO MATERIALS FOR MOULDS, REINFORCEMENTS, FILLERS OR PREFORMED PARTS, e.g. INSERTS
    • B29K2707/00Use of elements other than metals for preformed parts, e.g. for inserts
    • B29K2707/04Carbon
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29KINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBCLASSES B29B, B29C OR B29D, RELATING TO MOULDING MATERIALS OR TO MATERIALS FOR MOULDS, REINFORCEMENTS, FILLERS OR PREFORMED PARTS, e.g. INSERTS
    • B29K2709/00Use of inorganic materials not provided for in groups B29K2703/00 - B29K2707/00, for preformed parts, e.g. for inserts
    • B29K2709/08Glass
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29KINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBCLASSES B29B, B29C OR B29D, RELATING TO MOULDING MATERIALS OR TO MATERIALS FOR MOULDS, REINFORCEMENTS, FILLERS OR PREFORMED PARTS, e.g. INSERTS
    • B29K2995/00Properties of moulding materials, reinforcements, fillers, preformed parts or moulds
    • B29K2995/0037Other properties
    • B29K2995/0063Density
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29KINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBCLASSES B29B, B29C OR B29D, RELATING TO MOULDING MATERIALS OR TO MATERIALS FOR MOULDS, REINFORCEMENTS, FILLERS OR PREFORMED PARTS, e.g. INSERTS
    • B29K2995/00Properties of moulding materials, reinforcements, fillers, preformed parts or moulds
    • B29K2995/0037Other properties
    • B29K2995/0082Flexural strength; Flexion stiffness
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29LINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBCLASS B29C, RELATING TO PARTICULAR ARTICLES
    • B29L2031/00Other particular articles
    • B29L2031/48Wearing apparel
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29LINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBCLASS B29C, RELATING TO PARTICULAR ARTICLES
    • B29L2031/00Other particular articles
    • B29L2031/52Sports equipment ; Games; Articles for amusement; Toys
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B33ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY
    • B33YADDITIVE MANUFACTURING, i.e. MANUFACTURING OF THREE-DIMENSIONAL [3-D] OBJECTS BY ADDITIVE DEPOSITION, ADDITIVE AGGLOMERATION OR ADDITIVE LAYERING, e.g. BY 3-D PRINTING, STEREOLITHOGRAPHY OR SELECTIVE LASER SINTERING
    • B33Y80/00Products made by additive manufacturing
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D10INDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10BINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10B2101/00Inorganic fibres
    • D10B2101/02Inorganic fibres based on oxides or oxide ceramics, e.g. silicates
    • D10B2101/06Glass
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D10INDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10BINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10B2101/00Inorganic fibres
    • D10B2101/10Inorganic fibres based on non-oxides other than metals
    • D10B2101/12Carbon; Pitch
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D10INDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10BINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10B2331/00Fibres made from polymers obtained otherwise than by reactions only involving carbon-to-carbon unsaturated bonds, e.g. polycondensation products
    • D10B2331/02Fibres made from polymers obtained otherwise than by reactions only involving carbon-to-carbon unsaturated bonds, e.g. polycondensation products polyamides
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D10INDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10BINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10B2401/00Physical properties
    • D10B2401/06Load-responsive characteristics
    • D10B2401/061Load-responsive characteristics elastic
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D10INDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10BINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10B2401/00Physical properties
    • D10B2401/06Load-responsive characteristics
    • D10B2401/062Load-responsive characteristics stiff, shape retention
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D10INDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10BINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10B2403/00Details of fabric structure established in the fabric forming process
    • D10B2403/02Cross-sectional features
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D10INDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10BINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10B2501/00Wearing apparel
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D10INDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10BINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10B2507/00Sport; Military

Abstract

A sporting equipment is disclosed. The sporting equipment may include a head, and at least one of a handle and a shaft extending from the head. The head and the at least one of the handle and the shaft may be a monolithic structure having at least one continuous fiber passing from the head to the at least one of the handle and the shaft.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is based on and claims the benefit of priority from U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/458,328 that was filed on Feb. 13, 2017, the contents of which are expressly incorporated herein by reference.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The present disclosure relates generally to sporting equipment and, more particularly, to sporting equipment made from a composite material via additive manufacturing.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Unique equipment is available for most any sport. For example, a racket may be used to play tennis, a club may be used to play golf, body armor may be used for motocross, a gun may be used for skeet or biathlon events, etc. Often, a quality of the equipment used during a sporting event can affect an outcome of the event. For example, a weight of the equipment, a strength of the equipment, a shape of the equipment, a flexibility of the equipment, a hardness of the equipment, a durability of the equipment, a conformability of the equipment, etc., can directly affect an acceleration, a speed, a distance, a force, an accuracy, a repeatability, a longevity, and other performance parameters. Unfortunately, conventional manufacturing capabilities may limit the available quality of conventional sporting equipment.
  • Some sporting equipment is manufactured from composite materials, which can enhance the quality of the equipment. For example, the frame of a tennis racket, the handle of a golf club, and the stock of a gun have been made from fiberglass, Kevlar, and carbon fibers using a vacuum-mold technique or a pultrusion process. Thereafter, the composite components are joined to other non-composite components (e.g., to strings, a head, a grip, a barrel, an action, etc.) using conventional techniques (e.g., gluing, welding, mechanical fastening, etc.). Sporting goods made from composite materials may have a reduced weight and/or increased strength or stiffness.
  • Although sporting equipment having composite components may have improved qualities, the associated benefits may be limited. In particular, the quality may be interrupted because of the conventional joining techniques used to connect composite components to non-composite components. In addition, conventional vacuum-mold techniques and pultrusion processes may limit the shape, size, and/or configuration possible within the composite components. In addition, it may be beneficial, in some applications, to receive feedback from the sporting equipment; and this may not be possible using conventionally manufactured equipment.
  • The disclosed sporting equipment is directed to overcoming one or more of the problems set forth above and/or other problems of the prior art.
  • SUMMARY
  • In one aspect, the present disclosure is directed to a sporting equipment. The sporting equipment may include a head, and at least one of a handle and a shaft extending from the head. The head and the at least one of the handle and the shaft may be a monolithic structure having at least one continuous fiber passing from the head to the at least one of the handle and the shaft.
  • In another aspect, the present disclosure is directed to a method of fabricating a sporting equipment. This method may include wetting a continuous fiber with a matrix, and discharging a matrix-wetted continuous fiber through a nozzle. The method may also include moving the nozzle during discharging to extend the matrix-wetted continuous fiber from a head of the sporting equipment through at least one of a handle and a shaft, and curing the matrix wetting the continuous fiber.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic illustration of an exemplary system for manufacturing sporting equipment; and
  • FIGS. 2 and 3 are isometric illustrations of exemplary sporting equipment that can be manufactured utilizing the system of FIG. 1.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary system 10 for additively manufacturing sporting equipment 12. System 10 may implement any number of different additive processes during manufacture of sporting equipment 12. For example, sporting equipment 12 is shown in FIG. 1 as being manufactured via a first additive process and via a second additive process. It should be noted that the first and second additive processes may be performed simultaneously or consecutively, as desired. It should also be noted that sporting equipment 12 may be manufactured utilizing only one of the first and second additive processes.
  • The first additive process (represented in the lower-left of FIG. 1) may be a pultrusion and/or extrusion process, which creates hollow tubular structures 14 from a composite material (e.g., a material having a matrix and at least one continuous fiber). One or more heads 16 may be coupled to a support 18 (e.g., to a robotic arm) that is capable of moving head(s) 16 in multiple directions during discharge of structures 14, such that resulting longitudinal axes 20 of structures 14 are three-dimensional. Such a head is disclosed, for example, in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 15/130,412 and 15/130,207, all of which are incorporated herein in their entireties by reference.
  • Head(s) 16 may be configured to receive or otherwise contain the matrix material. The matrix material may include any type of liquid resin (e.g., a zero-volatile organic compound resin) that is curable. Exemplary matrixes include thermosets, single- or multi-part epoxy resins, polyester resins, cationic epoxies, acrylated epoxies, urethanes, esters, thermoplastics, photopolymers, polyepoxides, thiols, alkenes, thiol-enes, and more. In one embodiment, the pressure of the matrix material inside of head(s) 16 may be generated by an external device (e.g., an extruder or another type of pump) that is fluidly connected to head(s) 16 via corresponding conduits (not shown). In another embodiment, however, the pressure may be generated completely inside of head(s) 16 by a similar type of device and/or simply be the result of gravity acting on the matrix material. In some instances, the matrix material inside head(s) 16 may need to be kept cool and/or dark in order to inhibit premature curing; while in other instances, the matrix material may need to be kept warm for the same reason. In either situation, head(s) 16 may be specially configured (e.g., insulated, chilled, and/or warmed) to provide for these needs.
  • The matrix material stored inside head(s) 16 may be used to coat any number of continuous fibers and, together with the fibers F make up walls of composite structures 14. The fibers may include single strands, a tow or roving of several strands, or a weave of many strands. The strands may include, for example, carbon fibers, vegetable fibers, wood fibers, mineral fibers, glass fibers, metallic wires, SiC Ceramic fibers, basalt fibers, etc. The fibers may be coated with the matrix material while the fibers are inside head(s) 16, while the fibers are being passed to head(s) 16, and/or while the fibers are discharging from head(s) 16, as desired. In some embodiments, a filler material (e.g., chopped fibers) may be mixed with the matrix material before and/or after the matrix material coats the fibers. The matrix material, the dry fibers, fibers already coated with the matrix material, and/or the filler may be transported into head(s) 16 in any manner apparent to one skilled in the art. The matrix-coated fibers may then pass over a centralized diverter (not shown) located at a mouth of head(s) 16, where the resin is caused to cure (e.g., from the inside-out, from the outside-in, or both) by way of one or more cure enhancers (e.g., UV lights, ultrasonic emitters, microwave generators, chillers, etc.) 22.
  • In embodiments where sporting equipment 12 is made up of multiple structures 14, each structure 14 may be discharged adjacent another structure 14 and/or overlap a previously discharged structure 14. In this arrangement, subsequent curing of the liquid resin within neighboring structures 14 may bond structures 14 together. Any number of structures 14 may be grouped together and have any trajectory required to generate the desired shape of sporting equipment 12.
  • In some embodiments, a fill material (e.g., an insulator, a conductor, an optic, a surface finish, etc.) could be deposited inside and/or outside of structures 14 while structures 14 are being formed. For example, a hollow shaft (not shown) could extend through a center of and/or over any of the associated head(s) 16. A supply of material (e.g., a liquid supply, a foam supply, a solid supply, a gas supply, etc.) could then be connected with an end of the hollow shaft, and the material forced through the hollow shaft and onto particular surfaces (i.e., interior and/or exterior surfaces) of structure 14. It is contemplated that the same cure enhancer(s) 22 used to cure structure 14 could also be used to cure the fill material, if desired, or that additional dedicated cure enhancer(s) (not shown) could be used for this purpose. The fill materials could allow one or more of structures 14 to function as tanks, passages, conduits, ducts, etc.
  • The second additive manufacturing process (represented in the upper-right of FIG. 1) may also be a pultrusion and/or extrusion process. However, instead of creating hollow tubular structures 14, the second additive manufacturing process may be used to discharge tracks, ribbons, and/or sheets of composite material (e.g., over tubular structures 14 and/or over other features of sporting equipment 12). In particular, one or more heads 24 may be coupled to a support 26 (e.g., to an overhead gantry) that is capable of moving head(s) 24 in multiple directions during fabrication of sporting equipment 12, such that resulting contours of sporting equipment 12 are three-dimensional.
  • Head 24 may be similar to head 16 and configured to receive or otherwise contain a matrix material (e.g., the same matrix material contained within head 16). The matrix material stored inside head(s) 24 may be used to coat any number of separate fibers, allowing the fibers to make up centralized reinforcements of the discharging tracks, ribbons, and/or sheets. The fibers may include single strands, a tow or roving of several strands, or a weave of multiple strands. The strands may include, for example, carbon fibers, vegetable fibers, wood fibers, mineral fibers, glass fibers, metallic wires, etc. The fibers may be coated with the matrix material while the fibers are inside head(s) 24, while the fibers are being passed to head(s) 24, and/or while the fibers are discharging from head(s) 24, as desired. The matrix material, the dry fibers, and/or fibers already coated with the matrix material may be transported into head(s) 24 in any manner apparent to one skilled in the art. The matrix-coated fibers may then pass through one or more circular orifices, rectangular orifices, triangular orifices, or orifices of another curved or polygonal shape, where the fibers are pressed together and the resin is caused to cure by way of one or more cure enhancers 22.
  • As described above, the first and second additive manufacturing processes can be extrusion or pultrusion processes. For example, extrusion may occur when the liquid resin matrix and the associated continuous fibers are pushed from head(s) 16 and/or head(s) 24 during the movement of supports 18 and/or 26. Pultrusion may occur after a length of resin-coated fibers is connected to an anchor (not shown) and cured, followed by movement of head(s) 16 and/or head(s) 24 away from the anchor. The movement of head(s) 16 and/or head(s) 24 away from the anchor may cause the fibers to be pulled from the respective head(s) along with the coating of the matrix material.
  • In some embodiments, pultrusion may be selectively implemented to generate tension in the fibers that make up sporting equipment 12 and that remains after curing. In particular, as the fibers are being pulled from the respective head(s), the fibers may be caused to stretch. This stretching may create tension within the fibers. As long as the matrix surrounding the fibers cures and hardens while the fibers are stretched, at least some of this tension may remain in the fibers and function to increase a strength of the resulting composite structure.
  • Structures fabricated via conventional pultrusion methods may have increased strength in only a single direction (e.g., in the one direction in which fibers were pulled through the corresponding die prior to resin impregnation and curing). However, in the disclosed embodiment, the increased strength in sporting equipment 12 caused by residual tension within the corresponding fibers may be realized in the axial direction of each of the fibers. And because each fiber could be pulled in a different direction when being discharged by head(s) 16 and/or 24, the tension-related strength increase may be realized in multiple (e.g., innumerable) different directions.
  • Structures fabricated via conventional pultrusion methods may have strength increased to only a single level (e.g., to a level proportionate to an amount in which the fibers were stretched by a pulling machine prior to resin impregnation and curing). However, in the disclosed embodiment, because the matrix surrounding each fiber may be cured and harden immediately upon discharge, the force pulling on the fiber may be continuously varied along the length of the fiber, such that different segments of the same fiber are stretched by different amounts. Accordingly, the residual tensile stress induced within each of the different segments of each fiber may also be different, resulting in a variable strength within different areas of sporting equipment 12. This may be beneficial in variably loaded areas of sporting equipment 12.
  • FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of sporting equipment 12, which can be manufactured using one or both of the additive processes described above. In this embodiment, sporting equipment 12 is a racket, such as can be used for tennis, racquetball, badminton, squash, pickleball, etc. As a racket, sporting equipment 12 may include, among other things, a head 28, a handle 30, and a throat 32 connecting head 28 to handle 30. Head 28 may include a generally rounded (e.g., circular, ellipsoid, oval, etc.) beam 34 that at least partially surrounds and supports a webbing (e.g., a network of strings) 36.
  • As shown in the upper-left enlargement of FIG. 2, beam 34 may be integral with webbing 36. In particular, beam 34 and webbing 36 may be manufactured simultaneously via the second additive process described above. For example, head 24 (referring to FIG. 1) may discharge matrix-coated fibers while being moved by support 26 in a circular pattern to form a portion of beam 34, then in a linear pattern to form a portion of webbing 36, and then again in the circular pattern to form another portion of beam 34. In this way, webbing 36 may be fabricated at the same time that a thickness and/or width of beam 34 is being built up. Beam 34 and/or webbing 36 may consist of any number of different fibers (e.g., fibers of different materials, sizes, colors, and/or cross-sectional shapes) crisscrossing each other in any pattern, at any location, and with any desired density.
  • In one exemplary embodiment, some of the fibers within the composite material making up one or more portions of sporting equipment 12 have unique characteristics. For example, while a majority of sporting equipment 12 may comprise a structural type fiber Fs (e.g., carbon fibers, glass fibers, or aramid fibers such as Kevlar fibers), some portions of sporting equipment 12 may include a functional type of fiber Ff (e.g., electrically conductive fibers, optical fibers, shape memory fibers, etc.). The functional type of fibers Ff may be selectively interwoven with the structural type fibers Fs at strategic locations. For example, electrically conductive fibers Ff may be located at high-stress regions (e.g., at the intersection of throat 32 with head 28 and/or handle 30) and used as strain gauges to detect loading conditions of sporting equipment 12.
  • In a similar manner, optical fibers Ff may be located at high-stress regions (e.g., within webbing 34) and an energy beam passed therethrough. As the strings of webbing 34 flex, the optical fibers Ff may be squeezed and/or closed, thereby generating an optical feedback signal indicative of the flexing. This information may be used to determine a ball-strike location on head 28, a swing strength, a ball speed, a strike timing, etc. In some embodiments, a receiving and/or interpreting device (e.g., an interrogator) may be embedded within the sporting equipment 12 to receive, interpret, respond to, and/or remotely transmit the information.
  • The electrically conductive fibers Ff and/or the optical fibers Ff may be coated with another material (e.g., insulation, a strength enhancing layer, etc.), if desired. It is also contemplated that other functional components (e.g., resistors, capacitors, LEDs, switches, batteries, filters, etc.) 38 may be integrated into the functional fibers Ff and extruded through heads 16, 24, and/or automatically picked-and-placed (e.g., via attachments associated with heads 16 and/or 24) during discharge of the functional fibers Ff. Operation of these components and/or of the structural fibers Fs may be selectively tuned in these instances, for example by adjusting a shape, tension, type, and/or size of the structural fibers Fs based on feedback provided by the functional fibers Ff.
  • The configuration of the structural fibers Fs within webbing 36 (and/or the location/orientation relationship to beam 34) may be adjustable and/or user-customizable. Specifically, the material type, fiber size, color, shape, pattern, location, orientation, and/or density may be selectively adjusted (e.g., prior to and/or on the fly during fabrication) to provide a desired appearance and/or performance (e.g., weight, balance, strength, flexibility, shape, contour, etc.) of sporting equipment 12. These adjustments may be manually selected by an end-user and/or automatically selected based on characteristics of the user (e.g., based on a body scan of the user, monitored performance of the user, etc.).
  • Although beam 34 and webbing 36 have been described above as being manufactured simultaneously, it is contemplated that all of sporting equipment 12 may be manufactured together as an integral monolithic structure, in some embodiments. For example, head 28, handle 30, and throat 32 may be fabricated together (e.g., at the same time as and without separation from each other). In particular, the structural fibers Fs discharging from head(s) 16 and/or 24 (referring to FIG. 1) may be continuous through each of these components, such that thousands (or millions) of fibers Fs extend through the intersections between head 28, handle 30, and throat 32, thereby creating a strong mechanical connection without requiring the use of specialized hardware, glues, and/or heavy fasteners. It should be noted that, although head 28, handle 30, and throat 32 have been described above as being fabricated together as a single monolithic structure, one or more of these components could be fabricated separately and later joined (e.g., via chemical and/or mechanical means) to each other.
  • Structures fabricated via conventional pultrusion and/or extrusion methods may be limited in the orientation of the associated fibers. That is, the fibers may be generally overlapping and lie in parallel layers. However, as shown in the lower-left enlargement of FIG. 2, because the matrix surrounding each fiber may be cured and harden immediately upon discharge, the fibers may be caused to extend into free space without additional support. That is, the fibers may not be required to lie in flat layers on top of each other. Accordingly, the fibers making up handle 30 and/or throat 32 may be oriented in directions that are non-parallel (e.g., perpendicular) to each other in three dimensions. For example, the lower-left enlargement illustrates straight fibers that extend in an axial direction of handle 30, and spiraling fibers that wrap around and/or weave in-and-out of the straight fibers. This may allow for interlocking of fiber layers and/or for the creation of unique (e.g., strengthening, rigidity-enhancing, flexibility-enhancing, and/or vibration-dampening) features.
  • Portions (e.g., handle 30, throat 32, and/or beam 34) of the exemplary sporting equipment 12 shown in FIG. 2 may also or alternatively be manufactured using the first additive process described above. For example, tubular features (e.g., an inner core, an outer grip, etc.) of sporting equipment 12 may be fabricated using the first additive process. These features may be formed inside of and/or external to other features manufactured via the second additive process.
  • In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 2, the matrix within the composite material making up one or more portions of sporting equipment 12 has unique characteristics. For example, while a majority of handle 30, throat 32, and/or beam 34 may comprise a structural-type matrix (e.g., a conventional UV curable liquid resin, such as an acrylated epoxy), some portions of sporting equipment 12 may include another type of matrix (e.g., a matrix that remains somewhat flexible after curing). The other type of matrix may be selectively used to coat the fibers at strategic locations. For example, the flexible matrix may be fed into head 16 and/or 24, as they near a grip portion of handle 30 and/or webbing 36, such that the resulting composite material functions as a spring and/or dampener in these areas.
  • FIG. 3 illustrates another exemplary embodiment of sporting equipment 12, which can be manufactured using one or both of the additive processes described above. In this embodiment, sporting equipment 12 is a club or stick, such as can be used for golf, hockey, polo, etc. As a club or stick, sporting equipment 12 may include, among other things, a head 40, a shaft 42 extending from head 40, and a grip 44 connected to an end of shaft 42 opposite head 40. Head 40 may be available in a variety of shapes, ranging from bulbous or blocky to that of a blade. Regardless of the shape, head 40 may include a face portion 46 having a toe end 46 a, and a heel end 46 b located opposite toe end 46 a. Shaft 42 may be generally cylindrical and connect to head 40 at heel end 46 b. Grip 44 may provide a gripping texture and function to dampen vibrations within shaft 42.
  • Similar to the embodiment of FIG. 2, any two or more of the different components of sporting equipment 12 may be integrally formed with each other. For example, head 40 and shaft 42 may be formed as a single monolithic structure. Likewise, shaft 42 and grip 44 may be formed as a single monolithic structure. And finally, all of head 40, shaft 42, and grip 44 may be formed as a single monolithic structure, if desired. When any two or more components of sporting equipment 12 are simultaneously manufactured to form a single monolithic structure, some or all of the fibers discharging from head(s) 16 and/or 24 (referring to FIG. 1) may be continuous through each of these components, such that thousands (if not millions) of fibers extend through intersections between the components, thereby creating strong mechanical connections without requiring the use of specialized hardware, glues, and/or heavy fasteners. It should be noted that, although head 40, shaft 42, and grip 44 have been described above as being fabricated together as a single monolithic structure, one or more of these components could be fabricated separately and later joined (e.g., via chemical and/or mechanical means) to each other.
  • Each of these components may be formed via any combination of the first and second additive processes described above, and may include of any number of different fibers (e.g., fibers of different materials, sizes, colors, and/or cross-sectional shapes) overlapping and/or interweaving with each other in any pattern, at any location, and with any desired density.
  • In one exemplary embodiment, some of the fibers within the composite material making up one or more portions of sporting equipment 12 have unique characteristics. For example, while a majority of sporting equipment 12 may comprise a structural type fiber Fs (e.g., carbon fibers, fiberglass, or Kevlar fibers), some portions of sporting equipment 12 may include a functional type of fiber Ff (e.g., electrically conductive fibers, optical fibers, shape memory fibers, etc.). The functional type of fibers Ff may be selectively interwoven with the structural type fibers Fs at strategic locations. For example, electrically conductive fibers Ff may be located at high-stress regions (e.g., at the intersection of shaft 42 with head 40) and used as strain gauges to detect loading conditions of sporting equipment 12.
  • In a similar manner optical fibers Ff may be located at high-stress regions (e.g., within face portion 46) and an energy beam passed therethrough. As face portion 46 flexes, the optical fibers Ff may be squeezed and/or closed, thereby generating an optical feedback signal indicative of the flexing. This information may be used to determine a ball-strike location on head 40, a swing strength or direction, a ball speed or trajectory, a swing or strike timing, etc.
  • The electrically conductive fibers Ff and/or the optical fibers Ff may be coated with another material (e.g., insulation, a strength enhancing layer, etc.), if desired. Additionally, other electrical components (e.g., resistors, capacitors, etc.) 48 may be extruded through heads 16, 24 and/or automatically picked-and-placed (e.g., via attachments associated with heads 16 and/or 24) during discharge of the fibers Ff. Operation of these components and/or of fibers Ff may be selectively tuned in these instances, for example by adjusting a shape, tension, type, and/or size of the structural fibers Fs.
  • The configuration of fibers within head 40, shaft 42 (and/or the location/orientation relationship between head 40 and shaft 42), and/or grip 44 may be adjustable and/or user-customizable. For example, the material type, fiber size, color, shape, pattern, location, orientation, and/or density may be selectively adjusted to provide a desired performance (e.g., weight, balance, strength, flexibility, shape, contour, etc.) of sporting equipment 12. These adjustments may be manually selected by an end-user and/or automatically selected based on characteristics of the user (e.g., based on a body scan of the user, monitored performance of the user, etc.).
  • As shown in the enlargement of FIG. 3, because the matrix surrounding each fiber may be cured and harden immediately upon discharge, the fibers may not be required to lie in parallel flat layers on top of each other. Accordingly, the fibers making up head 40, shaft 42, and/or grip 44 may be oriented in any desired direction. This may allow for interlocking of fiber layers and/or for the creation of unique (e.g., strengthening, rigidity-enhancing, flexibility-enhancing, vibration-dampening, and/or directional-control) features.
  • In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the matrix within the composite material making up one or more portions of sporting equipment 12 has unique characteristics. For example, while a majority of head 40 and/or shaft 42 may comprise a structural-type matrix (e.g., a conventional UV curable liquid resin, such as an acrylated epoxy), some portions of sporting equipment 12 (e.g., grip 44) may include another type of matrix (e.g., a matrix that remains somewhat flexible after curing). The other type of matrix may be selectively used to coat the fibers at strategic locations. The resulting composite material may function as a spring and/or dampener in these areas.
  • INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY
  • The disclosed arrangements and designs of sporting equipment 12 may be used in connection with any sporting event. Sporting equipment 12 may be light-weight and low-cost, due to a reduction in the number of fasteners required to join the various components to each other. In addition, sporting equipment 12 may be light-weight do to the use of composite materials. High-performance may be provided in the unique ways that particular fibers, resins, and functional components are used and laid out within sporting equipment 12.
  • It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made to the disclosed sporting equipment. Other embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the disclosed sporting equipment. For example, although sporting equipment 12 is described above as being fabricated from matrix-wetted reinforcements, it is contemplated that portions (e.g., structurally insignificant areas and/or an outer skin) of sporting equipment 12 may be fabricated from only the matrix, if desired. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope being indicated by the following claims and their equivalents.

Claims (20)

What is claimed is:
1. A sporting equipment, comprising:
a head; and
at least one of a handle and a shaft extending from the head,
wherein the head and the at least one of the handle and the shaft are a monolithic structure having at least one continuous fiber passing from the head to the at least one of the handle and the shaft.
2. The sporting equipment of claim 1, wherein:
the head includes:
a beam; and
a webbing of strings at least partially surrounded by the beam; and
the webbing of strings are formed from fibers that are continuous with and structurally make up the beam.
3. The sporting equipment of claim 1, further including a functional component imbedded within at least one of the head and the at least one of the handle and the shaft.
4. The sporting equipment of claim 3, wherein the functional component is at least one of a resistor, a capacitor, an LED, a switch, a battery, and a filter.
5. The sporting equipment of claim 1, wherein at least one of the head and the at least one of the handle and the shaft are fabricated from a plurality of different types of fibers.
6. The sporting equipment of claim 5, wherein the plurality of different types of fibers includes:
a structural type of fiber; and
a functional type of fiber.
7. The sporting equipment of claim 6, wherein the functional type of fiber includes at least one of an electrically conductive fiber, an optical fiber, and a shape memory fiber.
8. The sporting equipment of claim 7, wherein the structural type of fiber includes at least one of an aramid fiber, a carbon fiber, and a glass fiber.
9. The sporting equipment of claim 1, wherein at least one of the head and the at least one of the handle and the shaft are fabricated from a plurality of different types of resins.
10. The sporting equipment of claim 9, wherein the plurality of different types of resins includes:
a structural type of resin; and
a functional type of resin.
11. The sporting equipment of claim 10, wherein:
the structural type of resin is stiff after curing; and
the functional type of resin is flexible after curing.
12. The sporting equipment of claim 1, wherein the head includes a plurality of fibers overlapping in at least one of different directions and different densities.
13. The sporting equipment of claim 12, wherein the at least one of different directions and different densities is customizable.
14. The sporting equipment of claim 13, wherein the at least one of different directions and different densities is user-selectable.
15. The sporting equipment of claim 13, wherein the at least one of different directions and different densities is automatically selected based on at least one of a monitored user performance or a scan of a user.
16. A method of manufacturing a sporting equipment, comprising:
wetting a continuous fiber with a matrix;
discharging a matrix-wetted continuous fiber through a nozzle;
moving the nozzle during discharging to extend the matrix-wetted continuous fiber from a head of the sporting equipment through at least one of a handle and a shaft; and
exposing the matrix wetting the continuous fiber to a cure energy.
17. The method of claim 16, further including moving the nozzle during discharging to extend a matrix-wetted continuous fiber from a beam of the head through a webbing that is at least partially surrounded by the beam.
18. The method of claim 17, wherein:
moving the nozzle during discharging to extend the matrix-wetted continuous fiber from the head of the sporting equipment through the at least one of the handle and the shaft includes extending a structural type of fiber; and
moving the nozzle during discharging to extend the matrix-wetted continuous fiber from the beam of the head through the webbing includes extending a functional type of fiber that is different from the structural type of fiber.
19. The method of claim 16, further including imbedding at least one of a resistor, a capacitor, an LED, a switch, a battery, a filter, and an interrogator within at least one of the head and the at least one of the handle and the shaft.
20. The method of claim 16, further including:
at least one of monitoring a performance of a user of the sporting equipment and scanning a body of the user; and
customizing at least one of a direction and a density of the matrix-wetted continuous fiber within the sporting equipment based on at least one of a monitored performance and a scanned body of the user.
US15/876,541 2017-02-13 2018-01-22 Composite sporting equipment Pending US20180229092A1 (en)

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US15/880,605 Active US10345068B2 (en) 2017-02-13 2018-01-26 Composite sporting equipment
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