(19)
(11)EP 2 752 123 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
09.11.2016 Bulletin 2016/45

(21)Application number: 13150249.4

(22)Date of filing:  04.01.2013
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A41D 19/015(2006.01)

(54)

Covering in order to increase the sensitivity to touch

Abdeckung zum Erhöhen der Berührungsempfindlichkeit

Recouvrement pour augmenter la sensibilité au toucher


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(43)Date of publication of application:
09.07.2014 Bulletin 2014/28

(73)Proprietor: W+R GmbH
72555 Metzingen (DE)

(72)Inventors:
  • Bouckaert, Luc
    8000 Brugge (BE)
  • Junger, Hannes
    72555 Metzingen (DE)

(74)Representative: Kohler Schmid Möbus Patentanwälte 
Partnerschaftsgesellschaft mbB Kaiserstrasse 85
72764 Reutlingen
72764 Reutlingen (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
DE-A1- 10 131 355
US-A- 4 497 072
US-A1- 2010 083 420
JP-A- 1 216 778
US-A- 5 983 395
US-A1- 2012 167 274
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] The invention relates to a covering, in particular for a garment or a device to be handled manually, in order to increase the sensitivity to touch, comprising a plurality of projections projecting from a base surface.

    [0002] In the drive to replace animal based products with synthetic eco friendly material, it has become necessary to develop a surface finish or coating to enhance and in all cases improve effective functionality of the synthetic products.

    [0003] Converting to synthetic materials improves manufacturing control, productivity and quality consistency.

    [0004] Synthetic woven and knitted fabrics have their limitations to be water repellent, breathable and fireproof, amongst other things, necessitating industrial solutions to improve fabric properties. Furthermore, synthetic fabrics often have negative effects on dexterity and the sensitivity to touch, in particular, if a synthetic material is used for production of a glove.

    [0005] US 2010/0083420 A1 discloses a glove comprising an element shaped as a hand to form the base structure of a glove and a cladding applied to said base element in at least one gripping region on its palm, said cladding presenting a plurality of micro-craters each formed of a material which enables it to at least partially deform when subjected to a force and to return to its original shape when said force ceases.

    [0006] DE 101 31 355 A1 discloses a glove which comprises anti slip profiles.

    [0007] JP 01216778 discloses a friction material which is formed with the outer layer of the skin of aquatic fish which has a group of thickly grown needle-like projections as the friction face.

    [0008] US 4,497,072 discloses a porous glove for use especially by workers and motorcyclists made of fabric material with a coating layer. The coating layer has sharp projections in the shape of broken bubbles.

    [0009] US 5,983,395 discloses a glove including a textured surface on the inside designed to bring the texture into contact with the skin on the hand. The texture is provided over the entire interior of the glove, or just over selected areas of the glove that will provide the desired sensory contact with the hand.

    [0010] US 2012/0167274 A1 relates to a support device for improving the haptics and/or gripping impression of humanoid or android type hands. The device comprises an active surface that interacts with parts of the respective hand to carry out a movement and that has individual, stem-like projections, each comprising a free end face such that said projections at least partially improve the adhesion of a least parts of the hand or of a hand protector to surfaces.

    [0011] WO2012/070576 A1 discloses a non-slip glove comprising a fiber made glove body covering a wearer's hand, a plurality of resin- or rubber-made convex portions which are firmly fixed at least to the palm area of the outer surface of said glove body, and an air-permeable coating layer which is laminated at least on areas other than said convex portions in the palm area of the outer surface of said glove body, wherein said convex portions project out from the outer surface of the coating layer.

    [0012] The object of the present invention is to provide a means for improving the sensitivity to touch.

    [0013] This object is solved by a covering, in particular for a garment or device to be handled manually, in order to increase the sensitivity to touch, according to claim 1.

    [0014] By choosing the form of the apex of the projection, the covering can be adapted to the intended use. For example, an acute apex can act like "a feeler". Depending on the intended use, the projections can be in touch with the skin of a user, i. e. they can be on the inside of a garment worn on the skin, thus leaving space for air between the skin and the garment for the reduction of heat co-conductivity or heat transfer. Alternatively, the projections can be on the outside of for example a garment and transfer the feeling of touch through for example a carrier material to the skin of a user. The covering can form a surface 3D-structure. The projections may be made of a polymer. The Shore-Hardness and the strength of the polymer may determine the "grip". The softer, more flexible or elastic the polymer is, the greater is the tendency to penetrate or conform to finer surfaces. Such a covering can be designed to simulate or enhance a finger's contact, adhesive properties and touch. The spacing of the projections allows for air ventilation, moisture wicking and assists with cooling.

    [0015] The projections may have different heights measured from the base surface. This has the benefit that the projections can penetrate through a substance, for example a liquid, covering an item to be touched. The substance can be penetrated by different extents by projections having different heights. Also, the sensitivity can be improved by projections having different heights.

    [0016] The covering comprises a carrier material, the top surface of the carrier material forming the base surface, and at least some projections being attached to the carrier material. Hence, the covering can be attached directly onto a carrier, such as a fabric, or as a patch in a designated area to improve the dexterity, contact and specific operational movement and control issues. The projections can be coated, injected, moulded, cast or centrifugally injection moulded directly or indirectly onto the product, such as a textile or a carrier. The projections can be applied both as a male (against the skin), as used for glove insides and insoles, or they can be used as a female application (against an object), when used at the outside of gloves, elbow or knee pads, on grips, handlebars etc.

    [0017] At least some projections penetrate the carrier material. For example; a fabric may be used as carrier material. The touch sensation of such a material can be improved by impregnating the projections through the carrier, which stabilizes, softens, and reduces/flattens the carrier, in particular fabric, into a thinner, more compressed form, without damaging the surface of the carrier or fabric fibres. This single layered application or coating transforms the characteristics of a carrier material without damaging the carrier material, in particular, a knit.

    [0018] The projections improve the touch sensation from the apex of a projection onto the carrier. The carrier acts like a resonance body and resonates against the skin, thus improving touch and sensitivity. The compression of the carrier material improves the transfer of the touch sensation.

    [0019] This sensitivity is improved and indeed engineered since at least some projections penetrate the carrier material to different extents. In particular, the projections can penetrate the carrier material to different extents in different regions of the carrier material.

    [0020] In one preferred embodiment, some projections may be arranged to form ridges. For example, the projections may be arranged to form circular, oval, or oblong ridges. For example, circular ridges may be formed around a central contact point, to which a specific pressure needs to be applied, balancing out multidirectional pressure.

    [0021] In an alternative embodiment, some projections may be arranged to imitate epidermal ridges. Thus, the projections can be used to simulate or enhance the finger's contact, adhesive properties and touch.

    [0022] In an advantageous embodiment, some projections may comprise carbon and/or metal particles. In particular, a polymer may be mixed with nano carbon or carbon tubes, which transfer electrical impulses through the projections and in particular the covering. In particular, the transfer can be from a user's skin to the outside of the covering. By using nano carbon or carbon tubes in.the polymer, i. e. in the projections, the covering may be used to operate touch screens.

    [0023] In a further embodiment, some projections may comprise gas bubbles, in particular air bubbles. By incorporating gas bubbles into the projections, the elasticity of the projections can be modified and engineered.

    [0024] At least some of the projections may be designed as micro-craters. Those micro-craters may have a hollow tip. These structures can be used to accommodate vibrations, thus improving the comfort of a user.

    [0025] Further advantages arise, if at least some projections are tapered. In particular, the projections may have a wider base and then taper towards a tip of the projections. This construction improves stability of the projections.

    [0026] The covering may comprise regions having projections of different size and/or height and/or apex form and/or different densities of projections. Hence, there are many parameters for designing an ideal covering for an intended purpose. In particular, the covering may be used for improving the handling properties and dexterity to manipulate fine objects through increased sensitivity and at the same time allowing full sensitivity and electrical/static transfer through the carrier. Thus, the covering according to the invention has many advantages over previously known materials, such as leather. For example, the projections having an acute, rounded or flattened apex can be used in the regions of the fingertips of a glove, thus improving dexterity and sensitivity. On the other hand, projections having a micro-crater form may be used in the area of a palm of a hand, where vibrations may have to be absorbed.

    [0027] The invention also relates to a garment having a covering according to the invention.

    [0028] Other advantages and features of the invention will be appreciated from the following description of embodiments with reference to the figures of the drawings, which show significant details, and from the claims. The individual features may each be carried out individually or carried out together in any combination in variants of the invention.
    Fig. 1a
    shows a cross section of an inventive covering;
    Fig. 1b
    shows a projection having an acute apex;
    Fig. 1c
    shows a projection having a rounded apex;
    Fig. 1d
    shows a projection having a flat apex;
    Fig.2
    shows an arrangement of projections forming epidermal ridges;
    Fig.3
    shows a covering having epidermal ridges;
    Fig. 4
    shows the garment, in particular a glove, having regions with different kinds of projections.


    [0029] Fig. 1a shows a covering 1 comprising a plurality of projections 2 to 13 projecting from a base surface 14. As can be seen in the enlarged representation of projections 2, 4, 7 in Fig. 1b, some projections have an acute apex 15. Other projections 5, 9, 12, which are represented in an enlargement in Fig. 1c, have a rounded apex 16. Some projections 6, 8, 10, which are represented in a better view in Fig. 1d, have a flat apex 17. From Figs. 1b to 1d it is clear, that the projections 2 to 13 have a fairly broad base and are tapered towards their apex 15, 16, 17.

    [0030] Furthermore, from Fig. 1a it can be seen that the projections 2 to 13 may have different heights. The projections 2 to 13 are made of elastically deformable material. In particular, the material can be a polymer. The polymer can be designed to achieve special effects. In particular, the polymer can be designed to withstand weather conditions such as extreme heat or cold, dry or wet weather conditions. Furthermore, the polymer can be designed to be fireproof, antistatic, cut-proof, histamine free, to be infrared non-detectable, to form a ballistic protection and for Increased electrical conductivity. Furthermore, the polymer may comprise additives such as ceramic or silicate particles preventing needle penetration as puncture resistance. Also, additives may comprise glass beads for reflectivity and/or additives for retro-reflectivity. Advantageously, IR sensitive markers may be mixed into the polymer, making it possible for light enhancing "night vision" equipment to distinguish between friend and foe in a combat situation.

    [0031] The base surface 14 can be the top surface of a carrier material 20. The protections 2 to 13 can penetrate the carrier material 20 to different extents. The carrier material 20 may be a fabric, such as a knitted material or a woven material. In particular, the carrier material 20 may be a synthetic material. By penetrating the carrier material 20, the carrier material 20 is compressed. Furthermore, the compressed carrier material 20 may form a resonant body, thus transferring information from the apex 15, 16, 17 of projections 2 to 13 to the skin of a person touching the carrier material 20 from below.

    [0032] As can be seen from Fig. 2, Fig. 1a is a cross sectional view of the covering 1 shown in Fig. 2. The projections 2 to 13 can be arranged to form ridges 25, in particular they can be arranged to form epidermal ridges to imitate the skin of for example a finger of a human being. The ridges 25 can have different heights, corresponding to different heights of the projections 2 to 13. The projections forming a particular ridge 25 may have the same height above the base surface 14 or may have varying heights. They may form wave-like serrated patterns. Thus, the covering 1 can be designed according to the intended purpose. In particular, if items having a special surface or being covered, for example, by a layer of liquid or paste have to be touched, the height of the projections 2 to 13 can be selected accordingly, in order to penetrate the layer, such as oil, to different extents. The grooving pattern can assist in the displacement of water or liquids, thus improving "wet grip". Furthermore, using projections having different heights helps with penetration of substances. The heights and depressions patterns increase the "surface contact area" which improves "dry grip" with higher pressure (due to polymer flexibility).

    [0033] Fig. 3 shows a part of a garment 30 having a covering 1. In particular, the covering can be part of the garment, i. e. the projections 2 to 13 can penetrate a fabric forming the garment 30. In the alternative, the covering 1 can be a separate part attached to a garment.

    [0034] Fig. 4 shows a part of a garment 50, in particular the inner hand of a glove. As can be seen from Fig. 4, projections can be arranged in different shapes and in different parts of the garment. For example, in the finger tips 51 to 54 protections can be arranged to imitate epidermal ridges. This can be seen in the regions 51, 52, 53, 54. Those regions are very sensitive to touch. On the other hand, in other regions such as in a palm region 55, different kinds of projections can be used, such as micro-craters, i.e. projections having a hollow tip. Those projections are particularly suitable to absorb vibrations. Hence, the comfort of a wearer of the garment 50 can be improved.


    Claims

    1. Covering (1), in particular for a garment (30, 50) or a device to be handled manually, in order to increase the sensitivity to touch, comprising a plurality of projections (2 - 13) projecting from a base surface (14), the projections (2 - 13) being made of an elastically deformable material wherein at least some of the projections (2 - 13) have a flat (17), acute (15) or rounded apex (16), wherein the covering (1) comprises a carrier material (20), the top surface of the carrier material (20) forming the base surface (14) and at least some projections (2 - 13) being attached to the carrier material (20), wherein at least some projections (2 - 13) penetrate the carrier material (20), characterized in that at least some projections (2 - 13) penetrate the carrier material (20) to different extents.
     
    2. Covering according to claim 1, wherein some projections (2 - 13) are arranged to form ridges (25).
     
    3. Covering according to claim 2, wherein some projections (2 - 13) are arranged to imitate epidermal ridges.
     
    4. Covering according to any of the preceding claims, wherein some projections (2 - 13) comprise carbon particles.
     
    5. Covering according to any of the preceding claims, wherein some projections (2 - 13) comprise metal particles.
     
    6. Covering according to any of the preceding claims, wherein some projections (2 - 13) comprise gas bubbles, in particular air bubbles.
     
    7. Covering according to any of the preceding claims, wherein at least some projections (2 - 13) are designed as micro-craters.
     
    8. Covering according to any of the preceding claims, wherein some projections (2 - 13) are tapered.
     
    9. Covering according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the covering (1) comprises regions having projections (2 - 13) of different size and/or height and/or apex form and/or different densities of projections (2 - 13).
     
    10. Garment (30, 50) having a covering (1) according to any of the preceding claims.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Abdeckung (1), insbesondere für ein Kleidungsstück (30, 50) oder eine Vorrichtung zur manuellen Handhabung, zur Steigerung der Berührungsempfindlichkeit, umfassend eine Vielzahl von Vorsprüngen (2 - 13), die von einer Grundfläche (14) hervorstehen, wobei die Vorsprünge (2 - 13) aus einem elastisch verformbaren Material hergestellt sind, wobei mindestens einige der Vorsprünge (2 - 13) eine abgeflachte (17), spitze (15) oder abgerundete Spitze (16) aufweisen, wobei die Abdeckung (1) ein Trägermaterial (20) umfasst, die Oberfläche des Trägermaterials (20) die Grundfläche (14) bildet und zumindest einige Vorsprünge (2 - 13) an dem Trägermaterial (20) angebracht sind, wobei zumindest einige Vorsprünge (2 - 13) in das Trägermaterial (20) eindringen, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass zumindest einige Vorsprünge (2 - 13) in einem unterschiedlichen Ausmaß in das Trägermaterial (20) eindringen.
     
    2. Abdeckung nach Anspruch 1, wobei einige Vorsprünge (2 - 13) zum Bilden von Leisten (25) angeordnet sind.
     
    3. Abdeckung nach Anspruch 2, wobei einige Vorsprünge (2 - 13) zum Imitieren von Hautleisten angeordnet sind.
     
    4. Abdeckung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei einige Vorsprünge (2 - 13) Kohlenstoffpartikel aufweisen.
     
    5. Abdeckung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei einige Vorsprünge (2 - 13) Metallpartikel aufweisen.
     
    6. Abdeckung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei einige Vorsprünge (2 - 13) Gasblasen, insbesondere Luftblasen, aufweisen.
     
    7. Abdeckung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei mindestens einige Vorsprünge (2 - 13) als Mikrokrater ausgebildet sind.
     
    8. Abdeckung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei einige Vorsprünge (2 - 13) sich verjüngen.
     
    9. Abdeckung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Abdeckung (1) Bereiche mit Vorsprüngen (2 - 13) von unterschiedlicher Größe und/oder Höhe und/oder Spitzenform und/oder unterschiedlicher Dichten der Vorsprünge (2 - 13) aufweist.
     
    10. Kleidungsstück (30, 50) mit einer Abdeckung (1) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche.
     


    Revendications

    1. Revêtement (1), en particulier destiné à un vêtement (30, 50) ou un dispositif à manier à la main, afin d'augmenter la sensibilité tactile, comprenant une pluralité de saillies (2 à 13) faisant saillie depuis une surface de base (14), les saillies (2 à 13) étant réalisées en un matériau élastiquement déformable, dans lequel au moins certaines des saillies (2 à 13) ont un sommet plat (17), aigu (15) ou arrondi (16), dans lequel le revêtement (1) comprend un matériau porteur (20), la surface du dessus du matériau porteur (20) formant la surface de base (14) et au moins certaines saillies (2 à 13) étant attachées au matériau porteur (20), dans lequel au moins certaines saillies (2 à 13) pénètrent le matériau porteur (20), caractérisé en ce qu'au moins certaines saillies (2 à 13) pénètrent le matériau porteur (20) à des degrés différents.
     
    2. Revêtement selon la revendication 1, dans lequel certaines saillies (2 à 13) sont agencées pour former des crêtes (25).
     
    3. Revêtement selon la revendication 2, dans lequel certaines saillies (2 à 13) sont agencées pour imiter des crêtes papillaires.
     
    4. Revêtement selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel certaines saillies (2 à 13) comprennent des particules de carbone.
     
    5. Revêtement selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel certaines saillies (2 à 13) comprennent des particules de métal.
     
    6. Revêtement selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel certaines saillies (2 à 13) comprennent des bulles de gaz, en particulier des bulles d'air.
     
    7. Revêtement selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel au moins certaines saillies (2 à 13) sont conçues comme des microcratères.
     
    8. Revêtement selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel certaines saillies (2 à 13) sont effilées.
     
    9. Revêtement selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le revêtement (1) comprend des régions ayant des saillies (2 à 13) de taille et/ou de hauteur et/ou de forme de sommet différentes et/ou de densités de saillies (2 à 13) différentes.
     
    10. Vêtement (30, 50) ayant un revêtement (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes.
     




    Drawing











    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description