US 3120712 A
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Feb. 11, 1964 L. L, MENKEN 3,120,712
` Y SHOE CONSTRUCTION Fi1ed Aug. so, 1961 J 0 3 INVENTOR.
L92 Esme A/1455er MEA/EN United States Patent O 3,120,712 SHOE CONSTRUCTION Lester Lambert Menken, 7709 Niles Center Road, Skokie, Ill. Filed Aug. 30, 1961, Ser. No. 134,885 2 Claims. (Cl. 36-29) This invention relates to an improved shoe construction, and it relates more particularly to an improved shoe which is designed for comfort even after long periods of standing, walking, or other use.
It is well known that severe discomfort and physical impairments can result when persons must be on their feet for extended periods of time. In other instances existing physical defects can be aggravated by extended use of certain shoes, even where the wearing of the shoes is held to a minimum. It is obvious that the efficiency, temperament, and health of an individual can be extensively affected by the wearing of improper shoes.
Shoe manufacturers can produce tailor-made shoes which will in many cases overcome many of the deficiencies of conventional shoes. However, it is well known that the cost of such shoes is prohibitive and therefore these cannot be considered to be a general solution to the aforementioned problems.
As a different approach, manufacturers have provided Various paddings and soft materials such as foam rubber in various shoe constructions. Thus an attempt has been made to provide a fit in shoes which will permit the shoes to adapt to the contour of an individuals feet while at the same time providing a comfortable medium for standing. Such shoes have decreased the discomfort of wearing shoes. However, it has been found that the decrease in discomfort is ordinarily considerably reduced after a short period of wear. This is occasioned due to the fact that the padding employed tends to assume a harder nature after a given period, and the cushioning materials also are diflicult to maintain in desired positions within the shoe construction.
It has been proposed in the past to provide shoes with an air space beneath the inner sole with or without means for preserving the air pressure therein. This type of cushioning is considered advantageous, since there is a desirable resiliency provided by the air cushion, and, if valve means are provided for the shoes, the pressure therein can be kept reasonably constant or varied, as desired.
The prior shoe constructions of the last-mentioned type have proved unsatisfactory for several reasons. Specifically, after a short period of wear certain areas of the shoe tend to give in preference to other areas in accordance with the pressure of the wearers foot. The leather or composition materials employed in the shoes tend to set in position in these areas, and, therefore, despite the build-up of fluid pressure beneath these areas, non-uniformity occurs within the construction. Accordingly, stress distribution is non-uniform and aggravation and discomfort will still result. For this reason, cushioned shoes of the so-called pneumatic type have not been widely accepted.
It is an object of this invention :to provide an improved shoe construction which is capable of providing comfortable use even after extended periods of standing, walking, or other wear.
It is a further object of this invention to provide a shoe construction of a type which will not tend to create physical impairment or other discomfort in the wearer, and which will reduce aggravation of existing physical defects.
It is an additional object of this invention to provide a shoe construction of the pneumatic 4type or of the type which provides for a pressurized fluid cushion, the shoe construction being capable of accomplishing the abovenoted objects and being further characterized by the ability "Ice to retain uniformity throughout its life, whereby a consistently comfortable fit can be guaranteed to the wearer.
These and other objects of this invention will appear hereinafter, and, for purposes of illustration but not of limitation, specific embodiments of this invention are shown in the accompanying drawings, in which- FIG. l is a bottom plan view of the shoe construction of this invention, as seen with the outer sole removed;
FIG. 2 is a side elevation in section of the shoe construction of this invention;
FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the shoe construction taken about the line 3-3 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a detail view of the valve mechanism employed in the instant shoe construction; and
FIG. 5 is a detail sectional view of the valve mechanism taken about the line 5-5 of FIG. 4.
The present invention generally relates to a shoe construction which includes a relatively thin, flexible inner sole and an outer sole, and wherein a support is positioned between these soles. A compressible means is positioned beneath the support whereby pressure exerted by the person wearing the shoe will be directly transmitted to the compressible means and will be distributed uniformly by the support positioned over the compressible means.
More specifically, the shoe construction provides a wall located about the peripheries of the inner and outer soles which defines an open space between these soles. A hollow flexible sole-shaped bladder is preferably placed within this hollow space and a fluid under pressure is provided within the bladder. The support means of this 4invention preferably comprises a relatively stiff plate located beneath the inner sole and supported by the flexible tube. The plate is otherwise disconnected with respect to the rest of the construction, and, being thus freely positioned, is capable of distributing forces uniformly to the flexible bladder. In that the plate is of a relatively stiff construction, there will be no opportunity for the plate to lose its original contour and therefore the comfort provided by the shoe can be maintained over an indefinite period. In a preferred shoe construction the flexible bladder is provided with a valve means whereby the fluid pressure in the tube can be replenished or varied as desired.
A specific embodiment of the shoe construction of this invention is shown in the drawings, wherein a shoe construction 10, comprised of an upper 12, inner and outer soles 13 and 20, and a heel 21 is shown. It will be appreciated that the components of the shoe construction are arranged in a conventional fashion.
The sole of the shoe construction as noted includes an inner sole 18 and an outer sole 20, and these soles are disposed in a spaced-apart relation by means of the wall 22 passing around the peripheries thereof. The space 24 provided between the soles is adapted to receive a stiff plate 26 which extends preferably across the whole open space. The plate is supported by a flexible member 2S which is adapted to be filled with a compressible fluid or to be otherwise placed in a condition whereby it will give in response to pressure, while still being capable of fully recovering after release of this pressure. The flexible bladder is preferably provided with a valve 30 having an orifice 32 whereby the pressure can be replenished or varied. The valve shown is of the self-sealing type, wherein a needle can be inserted for increase or decrease of the pressure; however, various valve constructions will obviously be suitable for the disclosed construction` As suggested, the member 28 must be resilient while still being capable of substantially complete recovery over an indefinite period. The preferred type comprises a rubber bladder as shown, which is adapted to be filled with air at about thirty-pounds pressure. Obviously, the desired pressure can vary over a considerable range, depending on the size of the shoe, weight of the wearer, nature of use, etc.
Other fluids, including various gases or liquids, are contemplated as .possible alternatives to the use of air. Similarly, flexible materials could conceivably be employed which would provide the desired recovery characteristics, and these materials are therefore contemplated. However, it will be appreciated that known materials are not generally capable of providing uniform flexibility over an indefinite period, and for this reason compressible fluids are preferred.
The member 28 is shown asextending approximately :over the entire extent of the plate 26, `and this is obviously the desired design, since the transmission of pressure can thus be more uniformly distributed. It is confceivable, however, thatthe flexible member 28 could be aof smaller dimensions, since the plate 26 is largely responsible for the uniform distribution of stresses, as will be hereinafter explained.
The plate 26 represents a distinctive feature of the shoe construction of this invention, this plate providing for the desired uniformity so far as stress distribution is concerned. As noted, the plate is formed of a stiff material whereby it will not lose the configuration originally imparted thereto. On the other hand, the plate is made of a thin sheet, whereby it will flex in response to the pressure of the wearer. A .015 inch thick cold-rolled steel sheet is cited as a typical example of a material having the desired characteristics. It will be understood, however, that other metallic and non-metallic materials of various compositions which are capable of retaining their shape and stiffness through extended use are also contemplated.
The plate 26 is initially formed in the shape corresponding to a standard sole, as shown in the drawings. The
` combination of this plate and the flexible member 28 provides for a unique response to the pressure exerted by the wearer in the use of the shoe. The force exerted will be borne by the extensive surface of the plate 26, and, since this plate is free with respect to the inner sole 18 and the wall 22, a floating effect will be provided thereby. The plate 26 absorbs all pressure, while tilting and flexing in response to all movements of the foot and shoe. The disclosed construction thus approaches as nearly as possible the concept of walking on air, and thus provides heretofore unattainable comfort.
In a preferred form of manufacturing the flexible tube or bladder 28, it is desired to use a core member about which the rubber or other material can be molded. The
' core can be formed of any material, and can be of a removable material if desired. However, in a special embodiment of this invention, the core is formed of a stiff material similar to that used for the plate 26. The inner surfaces of the bladder are then detached from the core 4 and it is positioned at the top of the bladder (FIGURES 2 and 3). The core can thus remain within the tube when the latter is incorporated into the shoe construction. This core, shown at 34 in the drawings, is thus available as an additional freely positioned supporting member capable of functioning in cooperation with the plate 26 in achieving the floating effect of this invention.
It will be appreciated that the components of the shoe construction described are relatively inexpensive items, and therefore the constructions of this invention are capable of adaptation on a large scale into existing shoe manufacturing processes. It will be understood that the concepts herein disclosed can be integrated into shoes sold in any price range.
It will be apparent that various modifications may be made in the above-described shoe construction which will provide the characteristics of this invention without departing from the spirit thereof, particularly as defined in the following claims.
1. A shoe construction comprising an upper portion attached to an inner sole, an outer sole beneath said inner sole, a wall located between said soles about the peripheries thereof defining an enclosed space between said soles, a hollow flexible bladder located within said space, a pressurized fluid within said bladder and a relatively stiff plate located beneath said inner sole at the top of said space and being supported on top of said flexible bladder, said plate being disconnected with respect to said inner sole and with respect to said wall, and extending substantially completely across said space, said plate having longitudinal and transverse dimensions less than the corresponding dimensions of said space whereby said plate is free of attachment with said wall and is free to move relative to said Wall.
2. A shoe construction according to claim 1 including valve means connected to said flexible bladder for releasing and building up pressure within said bladder.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 570,814 Owen Nov. 3, 1896 1,109,130 Kaye Sept. 1, 1914 2,037,230 Hack Apr. 14, 1936 2,605,560 Gouabault Aug. 5, 1952 2,677,904 Reed May l1, 1954 2,682,712 Owsen et al July 6, 1954 FOREIGN PATENTS 860,419 France Sept. 30, 1940 6,684 Great Britain of 1896
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