WO2016144649A1 - A sole structure for an article of footwear, including a fluid-filled chamber and an outsole, and methods for manufacturing - Google Patents

A sole structure for an article of footwear, including a fluid-filled chamber and an outsole, and methods for manufacturing Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2016144649A1
WO2016144649A1 PCT/US2016/020490 US2016020490W WO2016144649A1 WO 2016144649 A1 WO2016144649 A1 WO 2016144649A1 US 2016020490 W US2016020490 W US 2016020490W WO 2016144649 A1 WO2016144649 A1 WO 2016144649A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
outsole
fluid
chamber
sole structure
filled chamber
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2016/020490
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Fidencio Campos
Benjamin J. MONFILS
Lee D. Peyton
Original Assignee
Nike Innovate C.V.
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 US14/641,789 priority Critical patent/US9750307B2/en
Priority to US14/641,789 priority
Application filed by Nike Innovate C.V. filed Critical Nike Innovate C.V.
Publication of WO2016144649A1 publication Critical patent/WO2016144649A1/en

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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29DPRODUCING PARTICULAR ARTICLES FROM PLASTICS OR FROM SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE
    • B29D35/00Producing footwear
    • B29D35/12Producing parts thereof, e.g. soles, heels, uppers, by a moulding technique
    • B29D35/14Multilayered parts
    • B29D35/148Moulds or apparatus therefor
    • 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
    • A43B13/12Soles with several layers of different materials
    • A43B13/122Soles with several layers of different materials characterised by the outsole or external layer
    • 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
    • A43B13/12Soles with several layers of different materials
    • A43B13/125Soles with several layers of different materials characterised by the midsole or middle layer
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B13/00Soles; Sole and heel units
    • A43B13/14Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B13/18Resilient soles
    • A43B13/20Pneumatic soles filled with a compressible fluid, e.g. air, gas
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B13/00Soles; Sole and heel units
    • A43B13/14Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B13/22Soles made slip-preventing or wear-resisting, e.g. by impregnation or spreading a wear-resisting layer
    • A43B13/223Profiled soles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B29WORKING OF PLASTICS; WORKING OF SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE IN GENERAL
    • B29DPRODUCING PARTICULAR ARTICLES FROM PLASTICS OR FROM SUBSTANCES IN A PLASTIC STATE
    • B29D35/00Producing footwear
    • B29D35/12Producing parts thereof, e.g. soles, heels, uppers, by a moulding technique
    • B29D35/14Multilayered parts
    • B29D35/142Soles

Abstract

The disclosure id directed to an article of footwear (100) including an upper (120, 20, 2120) and the sole structure (1130, 130, 2130), to the sole structure (1130, 130, 2130), and to a method for manufacturing the sole structure (1130, 130, 2130) and a method for manufacturing the article of footwear (100). The sole structure (1130, 130, 2130) includes a fluid-filled chamber and an outsole (1170, 2270) that at least partially surrounds the chamber.

Description

A SOLE STRUCTURE FOR AN ARTICLE OF FOOTWEAR, INCLUDING A FLUID-FILLED CHAMBER AND AN OUTSOLE, AND METHODS FOR

MANUFACTURING

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application is a continuation-in-part of Campos II, et al., United States Patent Application Publication 2014/0230276, published August 21 , 2014, and entitled "Article of Footwear Incorporating a Chamber System and Methods for Manufacturing the Chamber System," the disclosure of which application is entirely incorporated herein by reference.

Field

[0002] The disclosure related to a sole structure for an article of footwear, to an article of footwear including the sole structure, and to a method for manufacturing the sole structure.

Background

[0003] The present disclosure relates generally to an article of footwear having an upper and a sole structure including co-molded fluid-filled chamber and outsole. The disclosure also relates to the sole structure, to a method for manufacturing the sole structure, and to a method for manufacturing the article of footwear having the sole structure.

[0004] Conventional articles of athletic footwear include two primary elements, an upper and a sole structure. The upper is generally formed from a plurality of elements (e.g., textiles, foam, leather, synthetic leather) that are stitched or adhesively bonded together to form an interior void for securely and comfortably receiving a foot. The sole structure incorporates multiple layers that are conventionally referred to as a sock liner, a midsole, and an outsole. The sock liner is a thin, compressible member located within the void of the upper and adjacent to a plantar (i.e., lower) surface of the foot to enhance comfort. The midsole is secured to the upper and forms a middle layer of the sole structure that attenuates ground reaction forces (i.e., imparts cushioning) during walking, running, or other ambulatory activities. The outsole forms a ground-contacting element of the footwear and is usually fashioned from a durable and wear-resistant rubber material that includes texturing to impart traction.

[0005] The primary material forming many conventional midsoles is a polymer foam, such as polyurethane or ethylvinylacetate. In some articles of footwear, the midsole may also incorporate a fluid-filled chamber that increases durability of the footwear and enhances ground reaction force attenuation of the sole structure. In some footwear configurations, the fluid-filled chamber may be at least partially encapsulated within the polymer foam, as in U.S. Patent Number 5,755,001 to Potter, et al., U.S. Patent Number 6,837,951 to Rapaport, and U.S. Patent Number 7,132,032 to Tawney, et al. In other footwear configurations, the fluid-filled chamber may substantially replace the polymer foam, as in U.S. Patent Number 7,086,132 to Dojan, et al. In general, the fluid- filled chambers are formed from a polymer material that is sealed and pressurized, but may also be substantially unpressurized or pressurized by an external source. In some configurations, textile or foam tensile members may be located within the chamber, or reinforcing structures may be bonded to an exterior surface of the chamber to impart shape to or retain an intended shape of the chamber.

[0006] Fluid-filled chambers suitable for footwear applications may be manufactured through various processes, including a two-film technique, thermoforming, and blow molding. In the two-film technique, two planar sheets of polymer material are bonded together in various locations to form the chamber. In order to pressurize the chamber, a nozzle or needle connected to a fluid pressure source is inserted into a fill inlet formed in the chamber.

Following pressurization, the fill inlet is sealed and the nozzle is removed. Thermoforming is similar to the two-film technique, but utilizes a heated mold that forms or otherwise shapes the sheets of polymer material during the manufacturing process. In blow-molding, a molten or otherwise softened elastomeric material in the shape of a tube (i.e., a parison) is placed in a mold having the desired overall shape and configuration of the chamber. The mold has an opening at one location through which pressurized air is provided. The pressurized air induces the liquefied elastomeric material to conform to the shape of the inner surfaces of the mold, thereby forming the chamber, which may then be pressurized.

[0007] Manufacture of articles of footwear typically involves ensuring that related parts are in correct location relative to each other. Manufacture of articles of footwear also may involve ensuring that parts do not move when placed during assembly, for example, while adhesive cures and sets. Also, consumers demand products that are attractive, well-constructed, and provide selected properties and characteristics.

[0008] Therefore, there exists a need in the art for an article of footwear that provides properties and characteristics sought by a customer.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0009] The invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings and description. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. Moreover, in the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.

[0010] FIG. 1 is a lateral side elevational view of an embodiment of an article of footwear;

[0011] FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the article of footwear ;

[0012] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the article of footwear of

FIG. 2;

[0013] FIG. 4 is a bottom view of a forefoot sole structure of an article of footwear;

[0014] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of an article of footwear having a forefoot sole structure of FIG. 4;

[0015] FIG. 6 is a bottom perspective view of a forefoot outsole of

FIG. 2;

[0016] FIG. 7 is an exploded view illustrating a relationship between a forefoot outsole and a forefoot component that form a forefoot sole structure of FIG. 2;

[0017] FIG. 8 is an exploded view illustrating a relationship between a heel outsole and a heel component that form a heel sole structure of FIG. 2;

[0018] FIG. 9 is an exploded view illustrating a relationship between a forefoot outsole and a forefoot component that form a forefoot sole structure of FIG. 4;

[0019] FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of an open mold illustrating a relationship of the parts for forming a forefoot sole structure of FIG. 4 in the mold;

[0020] FIG. 1 1 is a cross-sectional view of a closed mold illustrating a forefoot sole structure of FIG. 4 formed in the mold; [0021] FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of an open mold illustrating the relationship of the parts for forming a heel sole structure of FIG. 2 in the mold;

[0022] FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view of a partially-formed heel sole structure of FIG. 2 in a partially-open mold;

[0023] FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view of a closed mold illustrating the heel sole structure of FIG. 2 formed in the mold;

[0024] FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view of a heel sole structure of FIG. 2 removed from the mold opened after forming the structure;

[0025] FIG. 16 is a top view of the interior of a forefoot outsole of

FIG. 4;

[0026] FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view of an embodiment of a heel sole structure;

[0027] FIG. 18 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of a heel sole structure;

[0028] FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view of still another embodiment of a heel sole structure;

[0029] FIG. 20 is a bottom view of an embodiment of an article of footwear;

[0030] FIG. 21 is a bottom view of an embodiment of a heel outsole;

[0031] FIG. 22 is a bottom view of an embodiment of a heel outsole showing internal structure; and

[0032] FIG. 23 is a bottom view of another embodiment of a heel outsole.

Detailed Description

[0033] The disclosure provides an article of footwear that provides properties and characteristics sought by a customer. Embodiments of the disclosure provide a sole structure for an article of footwear comprising a fluid- filled chamber co-molded with an outsole that at least partially surrounds the chamber. Embodiments of the disclosure also provide an article of footwear including an upper and the sole structure. Embodiments of the disclosure provide a method for manufacturing the sole structure. The disclosure also is directed to a method for manufacturing the article of footwear.

[0034] In one aspect, the disclosure relates to a sole structure for article of footwear. The sole structure includes a fluid-filled chamber and an outsole. The fluid-filled chamber has an edge, an upper surface, and a lower surface. The outsole is co-molded to at least a part of the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber and at least part of the edge of the fluid-filled chamber. The outsole is co-extensive with at least part of the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber and with at least part of the edge of the fluid-filled chamber.

[0035] In another aspect, the disclosure relates to an article of footwear having an upper and a sole structure. The sole structure includes a fluid-filled chamber and an outsole. The fluid-filled chamber has an edge, an upper surface, and a lower surface. The outsole is co-molded to at least a part of the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber and to at least a part of the edge of the fluid-filled chamber. The outsole is co-extensive with at least part of the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber and with at least part of the edge of the fluid-filled chamber. At least part of the upper is secured to at least part of the sole structure.

[0036] An aspect of the disclosure relates to a method for manufacturing the sole structure comprising a fluid-filled chamber and an outsole. The fluid-filled chamber has an edge, an upper surface, and a lower surface. In accordance with the method, the outsole is located in position in the second portion of a mold having a first mold portion and a second mold portion to contact at least a part of the edge of the chamber and at least a part of the lower surface of the chamber. A fluid-filled chamber precursor is placed in the mold, and the first mold portion and the second mold portion are closed. The upper surface of the fluid-filled chamber is conformed to the shape of the first mold portion, the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber is conformed to the shape of the second mold portion with the outsole therein, and the edge of the fluid-filled chamber precursor is conformed to the shape of the mold with the outsole therein by a technique selected from the group consisting of drawing a vacuum in the mold, introducing pressure into the fluid-filled chamber precursor, and blends thereof, to form the fluid-filled chamber with the outsole co-molded therewith.

[0037] In another aspect, the disclosure relates to a method for minimizing deleterious effects of incomplete bonding caused by gas-related inclusions in the bond between the bonding surface of a fluid-filled chamber and the bonding surface of an outsole. At least one of the bonding surfaces includes a texture having lands and grooves to ensure a bond between the lands and the other surface. The grooves are deeper than the thickness of an adhesive or of a partly molten opposing surface.

[0038] In some embodiments, at least part of the upper is secured to at least part of the sole structure.

[0039] In some embodiments, at least part of the ground-engaging surface of the outsole is textured.

[0040] In some embodiments, the edge of the fluid-filled chamber is flush with the outsole.

[0041] In some embodiments,, wherein the outsole is adhered to the fluid-filled chamber by partial melting of at least one of the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole, the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber, and the edge of the fluid-filled chamber.

[0042] In some embodiments, the outsole is adhered to the fluid-filled chamber by a layer of adhesive having a thickness. [0043] In some embodiments, the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole is textured, the texture having high areas and low areas having depth, wherein the thickness of the adhesive is less than the depth of the low areas.

[0044] In some embodiments, the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole is textured, the texture having high areas and low areas having depth, and the outsole further having gas escape openings.

[0045] In some embodiments, the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole is textured, the texture having high areas and low areas having depth, and the outsole further having gas escape openings in fluid communication with gas accumulation areas and passages.

[0046] In some embodiments, the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole is textured, the texture having high areas and low areas having depth, and the outsole further having gas escape openings in fluid communication with the low areas.

[0047] In other aspects, the disclosure is directed to a method of manufacturing a sole structure for an article of footwear comprising an upper and a sole structure. In accordance with the method, a component including a fluid-filled chamber having an edge, an upper surface, and a lower surface, is provided. An outsole is co-molded to at least a part of the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber and to at least a part of the edge of the fluid-filled chamber. The outsole is at least partially co-extensive with the lower surface of the chamber and with at least a part of the edge of the chamber, and the outsole has a chamber-engaging surface and a ground-engaging surface.

[0048] In some embodiments, the method further comprises locating the outsole in the second portion of a mold having a first mold portion and a second mold portion in position to contact at least a part of the edge of the chamber and at least a part of the lower surface of the chamber. A fluid-filled chamber precursor is placed in the mold, and the first mold portion and the second mold portion are closed.

[0049] The upper surface of the fluid-filled chamber is conformed to the shape of the first mold portion, the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber is conformed to the shape of the second mold portion with the outsole therein, and the edge of the fluid-filled chamber precursor is conformed to the shape of the mold with the outsole therein using a technique selected from the group consisting of drawing a vacuum in the mold, introducing pressure into the fluid- filled chamber precursor, and blends thereof, to form the fluid-filled chamber with the outsole co-molded therewith.

[0050] In some embodiments, at least part of the upper is connected to at least part of the sole structure.

[0051] In some embodiments, adhesive is applied to the chamber- engaging surface of the outsole before placing the fluid-filled chamber precursor into the mold.

[0052] In some embodiments, the adhesive is dried before placing the fluid-filled chamber precursor in the mold.

[0053] In some embodiments, the method further comprises co- extruding the outsole with the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber precursor.

[0054] In some embodiments, the method further comprises partially melting at least one of the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber, the edge of the fluid-filled chamber, and the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole.

[0055] In some embodiments, the method further comprises forming a texture on the chamber-engaging surface, the texture having high areas and low areas, and forming gas escape openings in the outsole.

[0056] In some embodiments, the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole is textured, the texture having high areas and low areas having depth, and the outsole further has gas escape openings in fluid communication with gas accumulation areas and passages.

[0057] In some embodiments, the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole is textured, the texture having high areas and low areas having depth, and the outsole further has gas escape openings in fluid communication with the low areas. [0058] In some embodiments, the edge of the fluid-filled chamber is conformed to the edge of the mold by introducing pressure into the fluid-filled chamber precursor.

[0059] In another aspect, the disclosure relates to a method for manufacturing an article of footwear having an upper and a sole structure. In accordance with the disclosure, the method comprises securing at least part of the upper to at least part of the sole structure. The sole structure comprises a fluid-filled chamber having an edge, an upper surface, and a lower surface. The outsole is co-molded to at least a part of the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber and to at least a part of the edge of the fluid-filled chamber. The outsole is co-extensive with at least part of the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber and with at least part of the edge of the fluid-filled chamber.

[0060] Other systems, methods, features, and advantages of the invention will be, or will become, apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features and advantages be included within this description and this summary, be within the scope of the invention, and be protected by the following claims.

[0061] The disclosure provides an article of footwear that provides properties and characteristics sought by a customer. Embodiments of the disclosure provide a sole structure for an article of footwear comprising a fluid- filled chamber co-molded with an outsole that at least partially surrounds the chamber. Embodiments of the disclosure also provide an article of footwear including an upper and the sole structure. Embodiments of the disclosure provide a method for manufacturing the sole structure. The disclosure also is directed to a method for manufacturing the article of footwear.

[0062] The following discussion and accompanying figures disclose various fluid-filled chambers. Concepts related to the chambers are disclosed with reference to footwear that is suitable for running. The chambers are not limited to footwear designed for running, however, and may be utilized with a wide range of athletic footwear styles, including basketball shoes, cross-training shoes, cycling shoes, football shoes, soccer shoes, tennis shoes, and walking shoes, for example. Various configurations of the chambers may be utilized with footwear styles that are generally considered to be non-athletic, including dress shoes, loafers, sandals, and boots. Accordingly, concepts related to the chambers may apply to a wide variety of footwear styles.

General Footwear Structure

[0063] An article of footwear 100 is depicted in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 as including an upper 120 and a sole structure 130. Upper 120 provides a comfortable and secure covering for a foot of a wearer. As such, the foot may be located within upper 120 to effectively secure the foot within article of footwear 100 or otherwise unite the foot and article of footwear 100. Sole structure 130 is secured to a lower area of upper 120 and extends between the foot and the ground to attenuate ground reaction forces (i.e., cushion the foot), provide traction, enhance stability, and influence the motions of the foot, for example. In effect, sole structure 130 is located under the foot and supports the foot.

[0064] For reference purposes, footwear 100 may be divided into three general regions: a forefoot region 1 1 1 , a midfoot region 1 12, and a heel region 1 13. Forefoot region 1 1 1 generally includes portions of article of footwear 100 corresponding with toes of the foot and the joints connecting the metatarsals with the phalanges. Midfoot region 1 12 generally includes portions of footwear 100 corresponding with an arch area of the foot. Heel region 1 13 generally corresponds with rear portions of the foot, including the calcaneus bone. Article of footwear 100 also includes a lateral side 1 14 and a medial side 1 15, which correspond with opposite sides of article of footwear 100 and extend through each of forefoot region 1 1 1 , midfoot region 1 12, and heel region 1 13. More particularly, lateral side 1 14 corresponds with an outside area of the foot (i.e. the surface that faces away from the other foot), and medial side 1 15 corresponds with an inside area of the foot (i.e., the surface that faces toward the other foot). Forefoot regions 1 1 1 , midfoot region 1 12, heel region 1 13, lateral side 1 14, and medial side 1 15 are not intended to demarcate precise areas of footwear 100. Rather, forefoot region 1 1 1 , midfoot region 1 12, heel region 1 13, lateral side 1 14, and medial side 1 15 are intended to represent general areas of footwear 100 to aid in the following discussion. The characterizations of forefoot region 1 1 1 , midfoot region 1 12, heel region 1 13, lateral side 1 14, and medial side 1 15 may be applied to article of footwear 100, and also may be applied to upper 120, sole structure 130, forefoot structure 131 , heel structure 132, and individual elements thereof.

[0065] Upper 120 is depicted as having a substantially conventional configuration. A majority of upper 120 incorporates various material elements (e.g., textiles, foam, leather, and synthetic leather) that are stitched or adhesively bonded together to form an interior void for securely and

comfortably receiving a foot. The material elements may be selected and located in upper 120 to selectively impart properties of durability, air- permeability, wear-resistance, flexibility, and comfort, for example. The void in upper 120 is shaped to accommodate the foot. When the foot is located within the void, therefore, upper 120 extends along a lateral side of the foot, along a medial side of the foot, over the foot, around the heel, and under the foot. An ankle opening 121 in heel region 1 13 provides the foot with access to the void. A lace 122 extends over a tongue 123 and through various lace apertures 124 or other lace-receiving elements in upper 20. Lace 122 and the adjustability provided by tongue 123 may be utilized in a conventional manner to modify the dimensions of ankle opening 121 and the interior void, thereby securing the foot within the interior void and facilitating entry and removal of the foot from the interior void.

[0066] Further configurations of upper 120 may also include one or more of (a) a toe guard positioned in forefoot region 1 1 1 and formed of a wear- resistant material, (b) a heel counter located in heel region 1 13 for enhancing stability, and (c) logos, trademarks, and placards with care instructions and material information. Given that various aspects of the present discussion primarily relate to sole structure 130, upper 120 may exhibit the general configuration discussed above or the general configuration of practically any other conventional or non-conventional upper. Accordingly, the structure of upper 120 may vary significantly within the scope of the present disclosure.

Sole Structure

[0067] The primary elements of sole structure 130 are a forefoot sole structure 131 including a forefoot component 140 and a forefoot outsole 160, and a heel sole structure including a heel component 150 and a heel outsole170. In some embodiments, each of forefoot component 140 and heel component 150 may be directly secured to a lower area of upper 120. Forefoot component 140 and heel component 150 are formed from a polymer material that encloses a fluid, which may be a gas, liquid, or gel. During walking and running, for example, forefoot component 140 and heel component 150 may compress between the foot and the ground, thereby attenuating ground reaction forces. That is, forefoot component 140 and heel component 150 are inflated and generally pressurized with the fluid to cushion the foot.

[0068] In some configurations, sole structure 130 may include a foam layer, for example, that extends between upper 120 and one or both of forefoot component 140 and heel component 150, or a foam element may be located within indentations in the lower areas of forefoot component 140 and heel component 150. In other configurations, forefoot sole structure 131 may incorporate plates, moderators, lasting elements, or motion control members that further attenuate forces, enhance stability, or influence the motions of the foot. Heel sole structure 132 also may include such members to further attenuate forces, enhance stability, or influence the motions of the foot.

[0069] In addition to providing a wear surface in article of footwear 100, forefoot outsole 160 and heel outsole 170 may enhance various properties and characteristics of sole structure 130. Properties and characteristics of the outsoles, such as the thickness, flexibility, the properties and characteristics of the material used to make the outsole, and stretch, may be varied or selected to modify or otherwise tune the cushioning response, compressibility, flexibility, and other properties and characteristics of sole structure 130. Reinforcement of the outsole (for example, inclusion of structural elements, such as ribs), apertures, the height of the overlap, the number and location of the edges that overlap, or other features of an outsole all may be used to tune the responses of the sole structure. An outsole also may incorporate tread elements, such as protrusions, ridges, or ground-engaging lugs or sections, that impart traction. In some embodiments, an outsole may be replaced by a plate or other structural element. A plate may have features that assist with securing an outsole or other element to heel component 150.

[0070] In particular, overlap of a portion of an outsole away from the ground-engaging portion and up the edge of a forefoot component or a heel component may be used to tune the elastic response and cushioning response of the resultant sole structure. With the guidance provided herein, these and other properties and characteristics of the outsole may be considered by the user in combination with the properties and characteristics of the fluid-filled components of the components to adjust the responses of a sole structure.

[0071] Sole structure 130 may be translucent or transparent, and may be colored or patterned for aesthetic appeal.

[0072] Forefoot outsole 160 is secured to lower areas of forefoot component 140. In some embodiments, forefoot sole structure 131 may extend into midfoot region 1 12. The forefoot outsole 160 also may be secured to lower areas of forefoot component 140 in midfoot region 1 12. Heel outsole 170 is secured to lower areas of heel component 150. Both heel component 150 and heel outsole 170 may extend into midfoot region 1 12. Forefoot outsole 160 and heel outsole 170 may be formed from a wear-resistant material. The wear- resistant material may be transparent or translucent to provide a visually appealing effect. The wear-resistant material may be textured on the ground- engaging portions to impart traction. In some embodiments, the wear-resistant material may have ground-engaging lugs or portions 135, as illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2.

[0073] FIG. 3 illustrates a cross-sectional view of article of footwear 100 at section line 3-3 with forefoot sole structure 131 , including forefoot component 140 and forefoot outsole 160 with ground-engaging lugs 135. As depicted in FIG. 3, upper 120 also includes a sock-liner 125 that is located within the void and positioned to extend under a lower surface of the foot to enhance the comfort of article of footwear 100.

[0074] FIG. 4 illustrates a bottom view of another embodiment of forefoot sole structure 1 131 including forefoot component 1 140 and forefoot outsole 1 160 with ground-engaging lugs 1 135 associated therewith. Forefoot component 1 140 is directly secured to a lower area of upper 120 and is formed from a polymer material that encloses a fluid, which may be a gas, liquid, or gel. Forefoot component 1 140 may extend into midfoot region 1 12. Forefoot component 1 140 may compress between the foot and the ground, thereby attenuating ground reaction forces. Fluid-filled chambers 1 145 of forefoot component 1 140 may be inflated and generally pressurized with a fluid to cushion the foot.

[0075] Forefoot outsole 1 160, which also may extend into midfoot region 1 12, is secured to lower areas of forefoot component 1 140. Forefoot outsole 1 160 may include individual portions that cover individual lower areas of fluid-filled chambers 1 145 of forefoot component 1 140. Forefoot outsole 1 160 may be formed from wear-resistant material and, in come embodiments, may include ground-engaging portions or lugs 1 135. Forefoot outsole 1 160 may be transparent or translucent, and, in some embodiments, may be textured to improve traction.

[0076] FIG. 5 illustrates a cross-sectional view of an article of footwear 100 at section line 3-3 for another embodiment of forefoot sole structure 1 130 including forefoot component 1 140 and forefoot outsole 1 160. Upper 120 includes laces 122, tongue 123, and sock-liner 125.

[0077] Forefoot component 140 and heel component 150 are formed from a polymer material that defines an upper surface, a lower surface, and an edge. Forefoot component 140 may include a plurality of forefoot component fluid-filled chambers 145 and heel component 150 may include a plurality of fluid-filled chambers 155, each of which may be in fluid communication with at least one other chamber of the component. Upper surface 141 of forefoot component 140 is facing downward so that the forefoot component lower surface 142 and forefoot component edge 143 of each forefoot component fluid-filled chamber 145 are clearly visible in FIG. 7. Similarly, upper surface 1 141 of forefoot component 1 140 is facing downward so that the forefoot component lower surface 1 142 and forefoot component edge 1 143 of each forefoot component fluid-filled chamber 1 145 are clearly visible in FIG. 9. Heel component fluid-filled chamber 155, heel component upper surface 151 , heel component lower surface 152, and heel component edge 153 of heel component 150 are illustrated in FIG. 8.

[0078] FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary bottom surface of forefoot outsole 160. Forefoot outsole 160 includes forefoot outsole compartments 165 having ground-engaging lugs 135 on forefoot outsole outer lower surface 162. Heel outsole compartments 165 also include forefoot outsole outside edge 163.

[0079] A relationship between an embodiment of a forefoot component 140 and an embodiment of a forefoot outsole 160 is depicted in FIG. 7. Similarly, FIG. 8 is an illustration of the relationship between an embodiment of heel component 150 and an embodiment of heel outsole 170.

[0080] The relationship between an embodiment of forefoot component 140 and an embodiment of forefoot outsole 160 is illustrated in FIG. 7. In this embodiment, each forefoot component fluid-filled chamber 145 corresponds with a similarly-sized, congruently-shaped forefoot outsole compartment 165. In this embodiment, each forefoot outsole compartment 165 is aligned with and sufficiently large to accommodate a similarly-sized, congruently-shaped forefoot component fluid-filled chamber 145. In some embodiments, a forefoot component fluid-filled chamber 145 may combine with a forefoot outsole compartment 165 in a snug relationship. Forefoot outsole 160 then may be associated with forefoot component 140 by inserting forefoot component fluid-filled chambers 145 into the corresponding forefoot outsole compartments 165. In some embodiments, a forefoot outsole compartment 165 is bonded to a forefoot component fluid-filled chamber 145. In some embodiments, forefoot component 140 is co-molded with forefoot outsole 160. In some embodiments, forefoot outsole 160 is co-extensive with or overlaps at least a part of forefoot component lower surface 142 or of inside surface 164 (see FIG. 16), and forefoot component edge 1 143 is co-extensive with or overlaps at least a part of forefoot component lower surface 1 142 or sole inside surface 1 164. In some embodiments, forefoot outsole compartments 165 surround forefoot component fluid-filled chambers 145.

[0081] FIG. 8 depicts relationship between an embodiment of heel component 150 and an embodiment of heel outsole 170. In this embodiment, a heel component fluid-filled chamber 155 corresponds with a heel outsole compartment 175. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 8, the single heel outsole compartment 175 may be associated with a similarly-sized,

congruently-shaped forefoot component fluid-filled chamber 155. In another embodiment, heel component 150 may comprise plural fluid-filled chambers 155 and heel outsole 170 may comprise plural heel outsole compartments 175. In these embodiments, each heel outsole 170 fits onto similarly-sized, congruently-shaped heel component 150 by ensuring that each heel outsole compartment 175 is aligned with and sufficiently large enough to accommodate each heel component fluid-filled chamber 155. In some embodiments, a heel component fluid-filled chamber 155 may combine with a heel outsole compartment 175 in a snug relationship. Heel outsole 170 then may be associated with heel component 150 by inserting heel component fluid-filled chambers 155 into the corresponding heel outsole compartments 175. In some embodiments, a heel outsole compartment 175 is bonded to a heel component fluid-filled chamber 155. In some embodiments, heel component 150 is co- molded with heel outsole 170. In some embodiments, heel outsole

compartment 175 surrounds heel component fluid-filled chamber 155. In some embodiments, the heel outsole 170 is co-extensive with or at least partly overlaps at least a part of heel component edge 153.

[0082] FIG. 9 illustrates a relationship between forefoot component 1 140 and forefoot outsole 1 160 in forefoot sole structure 1 131. Each of forefoot component fluid-filled chambers 1 145 has a section or compartment 1 165 of forefoot outsole 1 160 associated therewith. Each forefoot outsole section 1 165 of forefoot outsole 1 160 may wrap around the corner between forefoot component fluid-filled chamber lower surface 1 142 and forefoot component fluid-filled chamber edge 1 143 of each forefoot component fluid- filled chamber 1 145 of forefoot component 1 140. Lugs 1 135 may be attached to or formed on the lower surface of forefoot outsole 1 160.

[0083] FIG. 9 illustrates another embodiment of a forefoot sole structure. Forefoot sole structure 1 131 includes forefoot component 1 140 having forefoot component fluid-filled chambers 1 145 formed from a polymer material that defines forefoot component upper surface 1 141 , forefoot component lower surface 1 142, and forefoot component edge 1 143. Forefoot component upper surface 1 141 is facing downward in FIG. 9.

[0084] FIG. 9 also illustrates the relationship between an embodiment of forefoot outsole 1 160 and forefoot component 1 140. As illustrated in FIG. 9, forefoot outsole 1 160 includes forefoot outsole outer lower surfacel 162 having ground-engaging lugs 1 135 thereon. Forefoot outsole 1 160 further includes forefoot outsole compartment edges 1 163 that extend over at least part of forefoot component edge 1 143.

Method for Manufacture

[0085] An outsole may be attached to a corresponding component in any suitable manner. In some embodiments, the outsole and component are adhered by adhesion as part of a co-molding process. In some embodiments, the outsole and corresponding component are adhered by partial melting as part of a co-molding process.

[0086] Forefoot component 140 and heel component 150 may be formed from any suitable polymeric material. Forefoot component 140 and heel component 150 may be formed of a single layer of material or multiple layers, and may be thermoformed or otherwise shaped. Examples of polymeric materials that may be utilized for forefoot component or a heel component include any of polyurethane, urethane, polyester, polyester polyurethane, polyether, polyether polyurethane, latex, polycaprolactone, polyoxypropylene, polycarbonate macroglycol, and blends thereof. These and other polymeric materials, and an exemplary embodiment of forefoot component 140 and heel component 150, and of a method for manufacturing them, may be found in copending application serial number 13/773,360, filed February 21 , 2013, by Campos II et al., and entitled ARTICLE OF FOOTWEAR INCORPORATING A CHAMBER SYSTEM AND METHODS FOR MANUFACTURING THE CHAMBER SYSTEM, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

[0087] In a co-molding process, an outsole first may be formed in any suitable manner. An outsole typically may be formed from any durable material. Typically, outsole material is tough, durable, resistant to abrasion and wear, flexible, and skid-resistant. In some embodiments, polyurethane materials sufficiently durable for ground contact. Suitable thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer materials include Bayer Texin®285, available from Bayer.

Elastollan® SP9339, Elastollan® SP9324, and Elastollan® C70S, available from BASF, also are suitable. Polyurethane and other polymers that may not be sufficiently durable for direct ground contact may be used to form part of an outsole in some embodiments. In such embodiments, a rubber outsole may be adhered or cemented onto the outsole. In embodiments, the outsole material is transparent or translucent. In embodiments, ground-engaging lugs may be integrally formed as part of an outsole, or may be separately formed and adhered to the outsole. The outsole may have a textured ground-engaging surface to improve traction.

[0088] An outsole then is placed in a mold that accommodates the outsole in an appropriate relationship with the corresponding component to be co-molded therewith. In some embodiments, adhesive may be applied to the appropriate surfaces of the outsole, the component, or both. The component then may be co-molded with the corresponding outsole to form a forefoot sole structure or a heel sole structure.

[0089] FIG. 10 and FIG. 1 1 depict a mold for co-molding forefoot component 1 140 with forefoot outsole 1 160 with ground-engaging lugs 1 135 thereon to form forefoot sole structure 1 131. In some embodiments, forefoot outsole 1 160 wraps at least a portion of forefoot component edge 1 143 on forefoot component fluid-filled chamber 1 145. This forefoot outsole section 1 165 of forefoot outsole compartment edge 1 163 that wraps at least a portion of forefoot component edge 1 143 may be used to tune the cushioning response of the forefoot sole structure 1 131 , as described herein. The wrapping portion of forefoot outsole compartment edge 1 163 may provide additional strength and resistance to flexure at the sidewall or edge of forefoot component fluid- filled chamber 1 145. In some embodiments, forefoot outsole compartment edge 1 163 wraps a short distance up fluid-filled chamber edge 1 143. In other embodiments, forefoot outsole compartment edge 1 163 wraps further up fluid- filled chamber edge 1 143 to provide additional stiffness and better protect fluid- filled chamber edge 1 143 from damage or wear. Forefoot sole structure 1 131 is an embodiment of a forefoot sole structure having forefoot outsole 1 160 wrapping a significant portion of forefoot component fluid-filled chamber 1 145.

[0090] FIG. 10 and FIG. 1 1 are cross-sectional depictions of mold 1700 for forefoot component 1 140. As shown in FIG. 10 and FIG. 1 1 , forefoot component 1 140 is co-molded with forefoot outsole 1 160 present in the mold. Adhesive also may be present on appropriate portions of forefoot component 1 140, particularly forefoot component fluid-filled chamber edges 1 143 and forefoot component fluid-filled chamber lower surface 1 142, or to chamber- engaging surfaces of forefoot outsole 1 160 that will be in contact with forefoot component 1 140.

[0091] A variety of manufacturing processes may be utilized to form forefoot sole structure 1 131 . In some embodiments, mold 1700 that may be utilized in the manufacturing process is depicted as including a first mold portion 1710 and a second mold portion 1720. Mold 1700 is utilized to form forefoot component 1 140 from a first polymer layer 1810 and a second polymer layer 1820, which are the polymer layers forming forefoot component upper surface 1 141 and forefoot component lower surface 1 142, respectively. More particularly, mold 1700 facilitates the manufacturing process by (a) shaping first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 in areas corresponding with forefoot component fluid-filled chambers 1 143, forefoot component flange 1 146, and conduits between chambers, and (b) joining first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 in areas corresponding with forefoot component flange 1 146 and forefoot component web area 1 147.

[0092] Various surfaces or other areas of mold 1700 will now be defined for use in discussion of the manufacturing process. Referring now to FIG. 10 and FIG. 1 1 , first mold portion 1710 includes a pinch surface 1730, a first seam-forming surface 1740, and a compression surface 1750. Pinch surfaces 1730 and first seam-forming surface 1740 are angled relative to each other, with pinch surface 1730 being more vertical than first seam-forming surface 1740. Second mold portion 1720 includes a pinch edge 1760 and a second seam-forming surface 1770. Whereas pinch edge 1760 is a relatively sharp corner or angled area in second mold portion 1720, second seam- forming surface 1770 extends downward and is generally, although not necessarily, parallel to pinch surface 1730. A void volume 1790 within mold 1700 and between mold portions 1710 and 1720 has a shape of forefoot component 1 140, prior to pressurization, and forms various features of forefoot component 1 140. A portion of this void volume 1790 is identified as a depression 1780 in second mold portion 1720.

[0093] Each of first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 are initially located between each of first mold portion 1710 and second mold portion 1720, which are in a spaced or open configuration, as depicted in FIG. 10 and FIG. 1 1 . In this position, first polymer layer 1810 is positioned adjacent or closer to first mold portion 1710, and second polymer layer 1820 is positioned adjacent or closer to second mold portion 1720. A shuttle frame or other device may be utilized to properly position first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820. As part of the manufacturing process, one or both of first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 are heated to a temperature that facilitates shaping and bonding. As an example, various radiant heaters or other devices may be utilized to heat first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820, possibly prior to being located between first mold portion 1710 and second mold portion 1720. As another example, mold 1700 may be heated such that contact between mold 1700 and first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 at a later potion of the

manufacturing process raises the temperature to a level that facilitates shaping and bonding.

[0094] Once first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 are properly positioned, first mold portion 1710 and second mold portion 1720 translate or otherwise move toward each other and begin to close upon first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820. As first mold portion 1710 and second mold portion 1720 move toward each other, various techniques may be utilized to draw first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 against surfaces of first mold portion 1710 and second mold portion 1720, thereby beginning the process of shaping first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820. For example, air may be partially evacuated from the areas between (a) first mold portion 1710 and first polymer layer 1810 and (b) second mold portion 1720 and second polymer layer 1820. More particularly, air may be withdrawn through various vacuum ports in first mold portion 1710 and second mold portion 1720. By removing air, first polymer layer 1810 is drawn into contact with the surfaces of first mold portion 1710 and second polymer layer 1820 is drawn into contact with the surfaces of second mold portion 1720. As another example, air may be injected into the area between first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820, thereby elevating the pressure between first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820. During a preparatory stage of this process, an injection needle may be located between first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820, and a gas, liquid, or gel, for example, then may be ejected from the injection needle such that first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 engage the surfaces of mold 1700. Each of these techniques may be used together or independently.

[0095] As first mold portion 1710 and second mold portion 1720 continue to move toward each other, first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 are pinched between first mold portion 1710 and second mold portion 1720. More particularly, first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 are compressed between pinch surface 1730 and pinch edge 1760. In addition to beginning the process of separating excess portions of first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 from portions that form forefoot component 1 140, the pinching of first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 begins the process of bonding or joining first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 in the area of forefoot component flange 1 146.

[0096] Following the pinching of first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820, first mold portion 1710 and second mold portion 1720 proceed with moving toward each other and into a closed configuration, as depicted in FIG. 1 1 . As the mold closes, pinch surface 1730 contacts and slides against a portion of second seam-forming surface 1770. The contact between pinch surface 1730 and second seam-forming surface 1770 effectively severs excess portions of first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 from portions that form forefoot component 1 140. In addition, the sliding movement pushes portions of the material forming first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 downward and further into depression 1780.

Moreover, the material forming first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 compacts or otherwise collects in the area between first seam- forming surfaces 1740 and second seam forming surface 1770. Given that first seam-forming surface 1740 and second seam-forming surface 1770 are angled relative to each other, the compacted polymer material forms a generally triangular or tapered structure, which results in forefoot component flange 1 146. In addition to forming forefoot component flange 1 146, first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 are (a) shaped to form forefoot component fluid-filled chambers 1 145 and (b) compressed and joined to form web area 1 147.

[0097] At the stage of the process depicted in FIG. 1 1 , a void volume 1790, which is located between compression surface 1750 and depression 1780 within mold 1700, effectively has the shape of forefoot component 1 140 prior to inflation or pressurization. Moreover, a peripheral portion of the void includes an area that forms forefoot component flange 1 146 between first seam-forming surface 1740 and second seam-forming surface 1770. The non-parallel configuration between first seam-forming surface 1740 and second seam-forming surface 1770 results in a tapered space where the polymer material collects to form forefoot component flange 1 146. A distance across the space between first seam-forming surface 1740 and second seam- forming surface 1770 is greater adjacent to a portion of the void volume 1790 that forms fluid-filled components 1 145 than in the area where first seam- forming surface 1740 and second seam-forming surface 1770 meet, which is spaced from the portion of the void that forms forefoot component fluid-filled chambers 1 145. Although the configuration of the tapered space between first seam-forming surface 1740 and second seam-forming surface 1770 may vary, an angle formed between first seam-forming surface 1740 and second seam- forming surface 1770 may be in a range of between twenty degrees and forty- five degrees.

[0098] As described above, the material forming first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 compacts or otherwise collects in the area between first seam-forming surface 1740 and second seam-forming surface 1770. This compaction effectively thickens one or both of first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820. That is, whereas first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 have a first thickness at the stage depicted in FIG. 1 1 , one or both of first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820 within flange 1 146 may have a second, greater thickness at the stage depicted in FIG. 1 1. The compaction that occurs as pinch surface 1730 contacts and slides against a portion of second seam-forming surface 1770 increases the thickness of the polymer material forming one or both of first polymer layer 1810 and second polymer layer 1820.

[0099] When forming forefoot component 1 140 is complete, mold 1700 is opened and forefoot structure 1 131 is removed and permitted to cool. A fluid then may be injected into forefoot component 1 140 to pressurize forefoot component fluid-filled chambers 1 145, thereby completing the manufacture of forefoot sole structure 1 131. As a final step in the process, forefoot sole structure 1 131 may be incorporated into a sole structure of an article of footwear 100.

[00100] FIG. 10 and FIG. 1 1 illustrate an embodiment having relatively small overlap of forefoot outsole 1 160 on forefoot component edges 1 143 of forefoot component fluid-filled chambers 1 145. FIG. 10 and FIG. 1 1 also illustrate an embodiment in which forefoot component edges 1 143 of fluid-filled chambers 1 145 of forefoot component 1 140 form a forefoot sole structure 1 131 having a continuous, smooth shape from forefoot component upper surface 1 141 to forefoot component lower surface 1 142.

[00101] FIG. 12 and FIG. 13 illustrate a mold for a heel component wherein heel outsole 1 170 is placed in a mold portion in an area that is not formed to accommodate the outsole. Then, the heel component 1 150 is co- molded with and encompasses heel outsole 1 170. This technique yields a heel sole structure 1 132 having heel component edges 1 153 flush with heel outsole edges 1 173.

[00102] Although a variety of manufacturing processes may be utilized, heel sole structure 1 132 may be formed through a process that is generally similar to the process discussed above for forefoot component 1 140 and forefoot sole structure 1 131 . Mold 1 190 that may be utilized in the

manufacturing process is depicted as including a first mold portion 1 191 and a second mold portion 1 192. Mold 1 190 is utilized to form heel component 1 150 from additional elements of first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182, which are the polymer layers forming, respectively, heel component upper surface 1 151 and heel component lower surface 1 152. More particularly, mold 1 190 facilitates the manufacturing process by (a) shaping first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182 in areas corresponding with heel component fluid-filled chamber 1 155 and heel component flange 1 154 and (b) joining first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182 in areas corresponding with heel component flange 1 156 and heel component web area 1 157. In addition, mold 1 190 facilitates the bonding of heel outsole 1 170 to heel component 1 150.

[00103] Each of first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182 is initially located between each of first mold portion 1 191 and second mold portion 1 192, as depicted in FIG. 12. In addition, one or more elements that form outsole 1 170 are also located relative to mold 1 190. Once first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182 are properly positioned and the elements of outsole 1 170 are located within void volume 1 198 in second mold portion 1 192, first mold portion 1 191 and second mold portion 1 192 translate or otherwise move toward each other and begin to close upon first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182, as depicted in FIG. 13. As discussed above, air may be partially evacuated from the areas between (a) first mold portion 1 191 and first polymer layer 1 181 and (b) second mold portion 1 192 and second polymer layer 1 182. Additionally, fluid may be injected into the area between first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182. Fluid may be selected from the group consisting of air, liquid, gel, and blends thereof. Using one or both of these techniques, first polymer layer

1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182 are induced to engage the surfaces of mold 1 190. Additionally, first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer

1 182 also lay against heel outsole 1 170. In effect, therefore, first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182 are shaped against surfaces of mold 1 190 and outsole 1 170, as shown in FIG. 13.

[00104] As first mold portion 1 191 and second mold portion 1 192 continue to move toward each other, first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182 are compressed between first mold portion 1 191 and second mold portion 1 192, as depicted in FIG. 14. More particularly, first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182 are compressed to form heel component flange 1 156 and heel component web area 1 157. Polymer layer 1 182 also bonds with outsole 1 170. [00105] When the manufacture of heel sole structure 1 132 is complete, mold 1 190 is opened and heel sole structure 1 132 is removed and permitted to cool, as depicted in FIG. 15. A fluid then may be injected into heel component 1 150 to pressurize heel component fluid-filled chambers 1 155, thereby completing the manufacture of heel sole structure 1 132. As a final step in the process, heel sole structure 1 132 may be incorporated into sole structure 1 130 of article of footwear 100.

[00106] As first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182 are drawn into mold 1 190, particularly the larger volumes in second mold portion 1 191 , first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182 stretch to conform to the contours of mold 1 190. When first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182 stretch, they also thin or otherwise decrease in thickness. Accordingly, the initial thicknesses of first polymer layer 1 181 and second polymer layer 1 182 may be greater than the resulting thicknesses after the manufacturing process.

[00107] FIG. 17, FIG. 18, and FIG. 19 illustrate other embodiments of heel sole structures. FIG. 17 illustrates heel sole structure 2732 including heel outsole portions 2770. In embodiments illustrated in FIG. 17, heel outsole portions 2770 have a first thickness at the ground-engaging area, such as the location for traction lugs, and a second, lesser thickness on at least part of one or both vertical surfaces of heel component fluid-filled chamber 2755. The thickness may be changed in a gradual way, such as by a linear taper, or may be stepwise. Heel outsole portions 2770 are thinner on the outside vertical surfaces of heel component fluid-filled chamber 2755 than they are at the ground-engaging area. In this way, the elastic response of heel sole structure 2732 may be tuned.

[00108] FIG. 18 illustrates heel sole structure 2832 having heel outsole portions 2870, which are thinner on both vertical surfaces of heel component fluid-filled chambers 2855 than they are at the ground-engaging area. In other embodiments, only the inside vertical surfaces of heel outsole portions 2770 or 2870 may be thinned on the vertical surfaces of heel component fluid-filled chambers 2755 or 2855, respectively.

[00109] In some embodiments, any combination of such configurations may be used, thus providing additional opportunities to tune the elastic response of the heel sole structure.

[00110] FIG. 19 illustrates another embodiment of a heel sole structure. Heel sole structure 1932 includes heel outsole portions 1970. Heel outsole portions 1970 extend up the interior vertical surfaces of heel component fluid- filled chambers 1955 to heel component web area 1957. The heel outsole portions also include a flange that extends across a portion of heel component web area 1957. This flange provides an additional feature that can be varied to tune the elastic response of the heel component. Heel outsole portions 1970 extend a distance up the exterior vertical surfaces of heel component fluid-filled chambers 1955. This distance also may be varied to adjust the elastic response of the heel outsole portions.

[00111] Any of these and other suitable manufacturing techniques may be used to form forefoot structures and heel structures. In particular, a manufacturing technique described herein for a forefoot structure may be used to form a heel structure, and a technique described herein for a heel structure may be used to form a forefoot structure. Separate parts may be bonded to a corresponding component by adhesion or by partial melting. In some embodiments, an outsole may be thermally bonded to a corresponding component during the manufacturing process to form a sole structure. For example, when each of a second polymer layer and the corresponding outsole are formed from similar or compatible polymer materials, or when the outsole is at least partially formed from the polymer material of a fluid-filled chamber, heating of the polymer layer/fluid-filled chamber and the outsole may induce thermal bonding between the components. Similarly, ground-engaging lugs may be formed integrally with an outsole, or may be bonded thereto using any suitable technique, such as adhering or partial melting. In some embodiments, it may be convenient to bond parts with heat-activated adhesive. [00112] In some embodiments, a polymer layer of a fluid-filled chamber to which the ground-engaging portions of an outsole may be attached by co-molding or may instead be co-extruded with the outsole ground-engaging portions. In this manner, the manufacturer of the components may be simplified, including in particular making molding easier. If lugs are to be added, the lugs may be placed in the mold for co-molding with the other parts of the outsole, as described above.

[00113] In some embodiments, the fluid-filled chamber layer and the outsole portions may be compatible compositions that may be co-extruded as adjacent layers that may form a mutual bond upon co-extrusion. In some embodiments, a tie layer may be required to adhere an outsole portion to a fluid-filled chamber polymer layer. In some embodiments, lugs forming part of the ground-engaging outsole may be placed in the mold and co-molded with the rest of the layers.

[00114] With the guidance provided herein, the user will be able to identify a suitable method without undue experimentation.

[00115] The joints between lugs and outsoles and between outsoles and components may be made aesthetically pleasing in embodiments of the disclosure in which the joint can be seen by the user, for example when the pieces that form the sole structure are transparent or translucent. In some embodiments, an adhesive that softens in response to heat, such as the heat of molding, also may be suitable.

[00116] In some embodiments, an outsole piece that may be positively sprung may be pressed into a mold. A fluid-filled chamber may be overmolded onto the outsole piece. Although the thermoforming molds may have undercuts, the outsole pieces typically do not. In such embodiments, a non-undercut outsole piece may create distortion in the outsole element. In particular, the outsole piece may pull away from the mold side wall. However, the fluid-filled chamber then is over-molded onto the outsole piece. The overmolding pushes the outsole back into position when pressure is introduced into the fluid-filled chamber in the mold, and thus pushes the outsole into shape. This technique is fully illustrated in [application incorporated by reference].

Method for Manufacturing an Article of Footwear

[00117] An article of footwear having an upper and a sole structure may be manufactured by securing at least part of the upper to at least part of the sole structure. In some embodiments, the sole structure includes a fluid- filled chamber that includes an edge, an upper surface, and a lower surface. The sole structure also includes an outsole. The outsole is co-molded to at least a part of the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber and to at least a part of the edge of the fluid-filled chamber. The outsole is co-extensive with at least part of the lower surface of the chamber and with at least part of the edge of the chamber. The outsole and the fluid-filled chamber may be bonded by adhesive or by partially melting at least one of the surfaces to be bonded.

Method for Minimizing Gas Inclusions

[00118] In some embodiments, particularly when adhesive is used to bond an outsole to a component to form a sole structure, a feature that some users may find aesthetically objectionable may form. As shown in FIG. 4, feature 900 is an example of an inclusion that is a small gas bubble between forefoot outsole 1 160 and forefoot component fluid-filled chamber lower surface 1 142, both of which may have smooth surfaces. Such inclusions may not be visible in all circumstances. However, the inclusions may weaken the bond between the component and the outsole, especially if the inclusions are concentrated or prevalent in an area.

[00119] In some embodiments, the bond between parts may be made more aesthetically pleasing and stronger by providing a texture on at least one of the component lower surface and the outsole inside lower surface. In some embodiments, the textured surface may have lands and grooves, or high areas and low areas. In some embodiments, gas escape openings in an outsole may allow trapped gas to escape.

[00120] In some embodiments, the thickness of the adhesive is less than the depth of the grooves or low areas of the texture. An excess of adhesive may weaken the bond because it may preclude sufficient contact between the surfaces, i.e., between the high areas of the textured surface and the other surface, by filling the volumes between the low areas of the texture. Filling the low area of the texture may force the land, or high area of the texture, away from the other surface, thus precluding good bonding.

[00121] The texture need not be regular or patterned, but, as described above, should ensure that the high areas are of consistent height and sufficiently prevalent so as to ensure adequate contact between the outsole and the component lower surface. In some embodiments, the texture is a regular, repeating, patterned texture, such as straight groves, intersecting grooves, circles, triangles, or any other shape. In some embodiments, other aesthetically pleasing texture, such as words, letters, numbers, logotypes, or slogans may be suitable textures.

[00122] Although a textured bonding surface may trap a quantity of gas during bonding, the texture may serve to minimize any reduction in strength and may contribute to a pleasing aesthetic. In some embodiments, the texture may serve to ensure that any large inclusions are precluded and broken into smaller inclusions distributed over the surface. Also, a regular pattern, such as that illustrated in FIG. 16, may be more aesthetically pleasing because low points may include a gas bubble or the appearance of a gas bubble, thus presenting a regular appearance. Further, such a pattern may yield a high-strength bond, as the adhesive is able to form a good bond between the high points and the other surface. A texture also may form excellent bonds on areas adjacent high points, as the adhesive may spread between the surfaces to form a strong bond.

[00123] FIG. 16 illustrates a top view of forefoot outsole 160 having forefoot outsole compartments 165 and forefoot outsole inner edges 164.

Forefoot outsole inside lower surface 166 is textured with a regular pattern of non-parallel grooves that form a square or diamond pattern on the forefoot outsole inside lower surface 166. In some embodiments, the lines indicate raised areas, and the area between the lines is a low area. In some embodiments, the lines indicate grooves cut into the surface. With the guidance provided herein, the user can identify a suitable texture for either surface.

[00124] FIG. 20, FIG. 21 , FIG. 22, and FIG. 23 illustrate additional embodiments related to minimizing air inclusions between outsole portions and fluid-filled chamber lower surfaces. FIG. 20 is a bottom view of an article of footwear in accordance with some embodiments of the disclosure. FIG. 21 illustrates an embodiment of a heel outsole. FIG. 22 illustrates an interior structure for enhancing gas movement to a gas escape opening. FIG. 23 illustrates another embodiment of a heel outsole. These and other structures may be used to minimize air inclusions.

[00125] FIG. 20 illustrates sole structure 2130, which is secured to the lower end of an upper, such as upper 120 (FIG. 1 ). Sole structure 2130 is located under the foot and supports the foot. The primary elements of sole structure 2130 are a forefoot sole structure 2131 including a forefoot

component 2140 and forefoot outsole portions 2060, and a heel sole structure including a heel component 2150 and a heel outsole 2070. In some

embodiments, each of forefoot component 2140 and heel component 2150 may be directly secured to a lower area of upper 2120. Forefoot component 2140 and heel component 2150 are formed from a polymer material that encloses a fluid, which may be a gas, liquid, or gel. During walking and running, for example, forefoot component 2140 and heel component 2150 may compress between the foot and the ground, thereby attenuating ground reaction forces. That is, forefoot component 2140 and heel component 2150 are inflated and generally pressurized with the fluid to cushion the foot.

[00126] In some configurations, sole structure 2130 may include a foam layer, for example, that extends between upper 120 and one or both of forefoot component 2140 and heel component 2150, or a foam element may be located within indentations in the lower areas of forefoot component 2140 and heel component 2150. In other configurations, forefoot sole structure 2131 may incorporate plates, moderators, lasting elements, or motion control members that further attenuate forces, enhance stability, or influence the motions of the foot. Heel sole structure 2132 also may include such members to further attenuate forces, enhance stability, or influence the motions of the foot.

[00127] In addition to providing a wear surface in article of footwear 100, forefoot outsole 2060 and heel outsole 2070 may enhance various properties and characteristics of sole structure 2130. Properties and

characteristics of the outsoles, such as the thickness, flexibility, the properties and characteristics of the material used to make the outsole, and stretch, may be varied or selected to modify or otherwise tune the cushioning response, compressibility, flexibility, and other properties and characteristics of sole structure 2130. Reinforcement of the outsole (for example, inclusion of structural elements, such as ribs), apertures, the height of the overlap, the number and location of the edges that overlap, or other features of an outsole all may be used to tune the responses of the sole structure. An outsole also may incorporate tread elements, such as protrusions, ridges, or ground- engaging lugs or sections, that impart traction. In some embodiments, an outsole may be replaced by a plate or other structural element. A plate may have features that assist with securing an outsole or other element to heel component 2150.

[00128] In particular, overlap of a portion of an outsole away from the ground-engaging portion and up the edge of a forefoot component or a heel component, such as described above and illustrated at least in FIG. 17, FIG. 18, and FIG. 19, may be used to tune the elastic response and cushioning response of the resultant sole structure. With the guidance provided herein, these and other properties and characteristics of the outsole may be

considered by the user in combination with the properties and characteristics of the fluid-filled components of the components to adjust the responses of a sole structure.

[00129] Sole structure 2130 may be translucent or transparent, and may be colored or patterned for aesthetic appeal. [00130] Forefoot outsole 2060 is secured to lower areas of forefoot component 2140. In some embodiments, forefoot sole structure 2131 may extend into a midfoot region. The forefoot outsole 2060 also may be secured to lower areas of forefoot component 2140 in a midfoot region. Heel outsole 2070 is secured to lower areas of heel component 2150. Both heel component 2150 and heel outsole 2070 may extend into a midfoot region. Forefoot outsole 2060 and heel outsole 2070 may be formed from a wear-resistant material. The wear-resistant material may be transparent or translucent to provide a visually appealing effect. The wear-resistant material may be textured on the ground- engaging portions to impart traction. In some embodiments, the wear-resistant material may have ground-engaging lugs or portions 2135, as illustrated in FIG. 20.

[00131] FIG. 20 also illustrates gas escape openings 2069 in forefoot outsole portions 2060 and gas escape openings 2079 in heel outsole portions 2070. These gas escape openings allow air or other gases trapped between a component and the corresponding outsole during assembly to escape. The inside surface of an outsole portion may be shaped in a manner that may accumulate trapped gas and direct the entrapped gas to a gas escape opening. For example, small passages, such as a small tunnel or removed area, may be formed on the inside surface of the outsole portion.

[00132] FIG. 21 and FIG. 22 illustrate an embodiment of a heel outsole. FIG. 21 illustrates an embodiment of such gas escaping openings 2179. These openings 2179 may be located on the bottom surface of heel outsole 2170 or forefoot outsole 2060. Some gas escape openings may be close to the ground-engaging surface, such as FIG. 21 through FIG. 25, whereas others may be located between ground-engaging portions, such as gas escape opening 2189. FIG. 21 also illustrates ground-engaging lugs 2135 and gas escape openings 2179.

[00133] FIG. 22 illustrates embodiments of gas escape passages and volumes on the inside surface of heel outsole 2170. FIG. 22 illustrates gas accumulation areas 2178 present in association with gas escape openings 2179. The gas accumulation areas and passages 2178 serve to reduce inclusions between the heel component and heel outsole 2170. Gas accumulation passages 2181 may connect gas escape openings 2189 to gas accumulation area 2178. As an illustration, each member of the gas accumulation system need not be connected to every other member. For example, gas accumulation area 2182 is not continuous with or connected to adjacent gas escape passage 2179.

[00134] FIG. 23 illustrates an embodiment wherein the gas accumulation passages 2278 are formed as a regular pattern on the inside surface of outsole 2270. Gas escape openings 2279 are present in outsole 2270. Each of gas escape openings 2279 is in communication with a gas accumulation passage 2278. In some embodiments, each of the passages 2278 is associated with other passages, so gas accumulated in the pattern of gas accumulation passages 2278 may escape through a gas escape opening 2279. Thus, imperfections from captured gas bubbles may be minimizes for a clear, clean, unblemished appearance. In some embodiments, gas escape passages 2279 not located on a ground-engaging surface need not be associated with gas accumulation passages 2278.

[00135] Although FIG. 21 , FIG. 22, and FIG. 23 depict only heel- related objects, the principles expressed in each also may be applied to a forefoot section to produce a forefoot section similar to the heel-related disclosure herein. The skilled practitioner can readily determine how to extend the principles used to form a heel outsole to form a forefoot outsole.

[00136] While various embodiments of the invention have been described, the description is intended to be exemplary, rather than limiting and it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that many more embodiments and implementations are possible that are within the scope of the invention. For example, rather than a square or diamond-shaped texture on the interior of an outsole, another pattern, such as triangles, pentagons, or circles may be used. Accordingly, the invention is not to be restricted except in light of the attached claims and their equivalents. Also, various modifications and changes may be made within the scope of the attached claims.

Claims

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1. A sole structure for an article of footwear comprising an upper and a sole structure, the sole structure comprising
a component including a fluid-filled chamber,
the fluid-filled chamber having an edge, an upper surface, and a lower surface, and
an outsole having a chamber-engaging surface and a ground-engaging surface,
wherein the outsole is co-molded to at least a part of the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber and to at least a part of the edge of the fluid-filled chamber; and
wherein the outsole is at least partially co-extensive with the lower surface of the chamber and with at least a part of the edge of the chamber.
2. The sole structure of claim 1 , wherein at least part of the upper is secured to at least part of the sole structure.
3. The sole structure of any of claims 1-2, wherein at least part of the ground-engaging surface of the outsole is textured.
4. The sole structure of any of claims 1-3, wherein the edge of the fluid- filled chamber is flush with the outsole.
5. The sole structure of any of claims 1-4, wherein the outsole is adhered to the fluid-filled chamber by partial melting of at least one of the chamber- engaging surface of the outsole, the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber, and the edge of the fluid-filled chamber.
6. The sole structure of any of claims 1-5, wherein the outsole is adhered to the fluid-filled chamber by a layer of adhesive having a thickness.
7. The sole structure of any of claims 1-6, wherein the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole is textured, the texture having high areas and low areas having depth,
wherein the thickness of the adhesive is less than the depth of the low areas.
8. The sole structure of any of claims 1-7, wherein the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole is textured, the texture having high areas and low areas having depth, and the outsole further having gas escape openings.
9. The sole structure of any of claims 1-8, wherein the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole is textured, the texture having high areas and low areas having depth, and the outsole further having gas escape openings in fluid communication with gas accumulation areas and passages.
10. The sole structure of any of claims 1-9, wherein the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole is textured, the texture having high areas and low areas having depth, and the outsole further having gas escape openings in fluid communication with the low areas.
1 1 . A method of manufacturing a sole structure for an article of footwear comprising an upper and a sole structure, the method comprising:
providing a component including a fluid-filled chamber, the fluid-filled chamber having an edge, an upper surface, and a lower surface; and
co-molding an outsole to at least a part of the lower surface of the fluid- filled chamber and to at least a part of the edge of the fluid-filled chamber; wherein the outsole is at least partially co-extensive with the lower surface of the chamber and with at least a part of the edge of the chamber, and the outsole has a chamber-engaging surface and a ground-engaging surface.
12 The method for manufacturing a sole structure of claim 1 1 , further comprising:
locating in the second portion of a mold having a first mold portion and a second mold portion the outsole in position to contact at least a part of the edge of the chamber and at least a part of the lower surface of the chamber;
placing a fluid-filled chamber precursor in the mold;
closing the first mold portion and the second mold portion; and conforming the upper surface of the fluid-filled chamber to the shape of the first mold portion, conforming the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber to the shape of the second mold portion with the outsole therein, and conforming the edge of the fluid-filled chamber precursor to the shape of the mold with the outsole therein by a technique selected from the group consisting of drawing a vacuum in the mold, introducing pressure into the fluid-filled chamber precursor, and blends thereof, to form the fluid-filled chamber with the outsole co-molded therewith.
13. The method of any of claims 1 1 -12, further comprising connecting at least part of the upper to at least part of the sole structure.
14. The method of any of claims 1 1-13, further comprising applying adhesive to the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole before placing the fluid-filled chamber precursor into the mold.
15. The method of any of claims 1 1-14, further comprising drying the adhesive before placing the fluid-filled chamber precursor in the mold.
16. The method of any of claims 1 1 -15, further comprising co-extruding the outsole with the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber precursor.
17. The method of any of claims 1 1-16, further comprising partially melting at least one of the lower surface of the fluid-filled chamber, the edge of the fluid-filled chamber, and the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole.
18. The method of any of claims 1 1 -17, further comprising forming a texture on the chamber-engaging surface, the texture having high areas and low areas, and
forming gas escape openings in the outsole.
19. The method of any of claims 1 1 -18, wherein the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole is textured, the texture having high areas and low areas having depth, and the outsole further having gas escape openings in fluid communication with gas accumulation areas and passages.
20. The method of any of claims 1 1 -19, wherein the chamber-engaging surface of the outsole is textured, the texture having high areas and low areas having depth, and the outsole further having gas escape openings in fluid communication with the low areas.
21 . The method of any of claims 1 1-20, wherein the edge of the fluid-filled chamber is conformed to the edge of the mold by introducing pressure into the fluid-filled chamber precursor.
PCT/US2016/020490 2013-02-21 2016-03-02 A sole structure for an article of footwear, including a fluid-filled chamber and an outsole, and methods for manufacturing WO2016144649A1 (en)

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US14/641,789 2015-03-09

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