(19)
(11)EP 3 592 545 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
09.09.2020 Bulletin 2020/37

(21)Application number: 18807750.7

(22)Date of filing:  19.10.2018
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B29D 35/12(2010.01)
A43B 13/12(2006.01)
B29D 35/14(2010.01)
A43B 13/18(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2018/056702
(87)International publication number:
WO 2019/079715 (25.04.2019 Gazette  2019/17)

(54)

OUTSOLE AND METHOD OF MAKING AN OUTSOLE

AUSSENSOHLE UND VERFAHREN ZUR HERSTELLUNG EINER AUSSENSOHLE

SEMELLE EXTÉRIEURE ET SON PROCÉDÉ DE FABRICATION


(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

(30)Priority: 19.10.2017 US 201762574262 P
03.07.2018 US 201862693740 P
26.07.2018 US 201862703513 P
09.10.2018 US 201862743380 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
15.01.2020 Bulletin 2020/03

(60)Divisional application:
20187705.7

(73)Proprietor: NIKE Innovate C.V.
Beaverton, OR 97005 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • CONSTANTINOU, Jay
    Beaverton, OR 97005 (US)
  • DYER, Caleb W.
    Beaverton, OR 97005 (US)
  • WALKER, Jeremy D.
    Beaverton, OR 97005 (US)
  • WRIGHT, Zachary C.
    Beaverton, OR 97005 (US)

(74)Representative: Abel & Imray 
Westpoint Building James Street West
Bath BA1 2DA
Bath BA1 2DA (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
US-A1- 2017 251 751
  
      
    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

    BACKGROUND



    [0001] Articles of apparel and sporting equipment of various types are frequently used for a variety of activities including outdoor activities, military use, and/or competitive sports. The externally facing surfaces of the articles can be formed of elastomeric materials, including cured rubbers which include pigments or dyes. During the use of these articles, the externally facing surfaces of the articles may frequently make contact with water, either in the form of liquid water, water vapor, or wet ground. US 2017/251751 A1 discloses articles and components thereof, including outsoles, which can be used in conditions normally conducive to the accumulation of soil. The articles have substrate body, a tie layer secured to the substrate body, and a material including a hydrogel secured to the tie layer to prevent or reduce the accumulation of soil during use. The presence of the tie layer can minimize or prevent delamination of the hydrogel containing material during normal use.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0002] 

    Figure 1A is a cross-sectional view of an article or a component of an article formed of an elastomeric material according to the teachings of the present disclosure.

    Figure 1B is a cross-sectional view of another article or component of an article formed of an elastomeric material according to the teachings of the present disclosure.

    Figure 1C is a cross-sectional view of a finished article that comprises the article or component of Figure 1A.

    Figure 1D is a cross-sectional view of another finished article that comprises the article or component of Figure 1B.

    Figure 2A is a perspective view of a finished article in the form of a garment comprising the article or component of Figure 1A.

    Figure 2B is a perspective view of a finished article in the form of a ball cap or helmet comprising the article or a component of Figure 1B.

    Figure 2C is a perspective view of a finished article in the form of a tire or wheel comprising the article or component of Figure 1A.

    Figure 2D is a perspective view of a finished article in the form of hiking equipment comprising the articles or components of Figure 1A and 1B.

    Figure 2E is a perspective view of a finished article in the form of a protective glove comprising the article or component of Figure 1A.

    Figure 2F is a perspective view of a finished article in the form of footwear comprising the article or component of Figure 1A.

    Figure 2G is a bottom-side view of the finished article of footwear of Figure 2F.

    Figure 3A is a side view of an example of footwear, while Figure 3B is a bottom view of an example of footwear.

    Figures 4A and 4B illustrate cross-sections of an article of footwear.

    Figure 5A is a flowchart describing a method of forming the finished article of footwear of Figures 2F and 2G.

    Figure 5B is a flowchart describing a method of preparing an uncured composition or an elastomeric material.

    Figure 5C is a flowchart describing a method of forming an article or a component of an article comprising an uncured composition or an elastomeric material.

    Figure 5D is a flowchart describing a method of forming the finished article of apparel or sporting equipment of Figures 2A-2E.

    Figure 6A is a perspective view of a test set-up used for mud pull-off testing.

    Figure 6B is a diagram of the measured force applied during mud pull-off testing plotted as a function of compressive displacement.

    Figure 7 is a diagram of the average mud pull-off force exhibited by articles or components of articles that comprise the elastomeric material of the present disclosure.

    Figure 8A is a diagram of the engineering stress (MPa) applied to a "dry" article or component of an article plotted as a function of displacement distance.

    Figure 8B is a diagram of the engineering stress (MPa) applied to a "wet" article or component of an article plotted as a function of displacement distance.

    Figure 9A is a diagram and table highlighting the water uptake rate and overall water uptake capacity of an article or component of an article that comprises various amounts of a hydrogel mixed with cured rubber.

    Figure 9B is a diagram and table highlighting the water uptake rate and overall water uptake capacity of an article or a component of an article that comprises various amounts of another hydrogel mixed with the cured rubber of Figure 9A.

    Figure 10 is a diagram of the water uptake rate measured for articles or components of articles comprising various amounts of a hydrogel mixed with different cured rubbers.

    Figure 11A is a photomicrograph of the mud on the surface of an article or a component of an article that comprises only a conventional cured rubber without a polymeric hydrogel distributed throughout the rubber.

    Figure 11B is a photomicrograph of the mud on the surface of an article or a component of an article that comprises an elastomeric material including a cured rubber with a polymeric hydrogel distributed throughout the rubber according to the teachings of the present disclosure.

    Figure 12 is a photomicrograph illustrating the swelling capacity of the elastomeric material formed according to the teachings of the present disclosure.

    Figure 13A is a photomicrograph of an elastomeric material including cured rubber with polyacrylic acid (PAA) distributed throughout the rubber, before and after exposure of the material to water in a Water Cycling Test.

    Figure 13B is a photomicrograph of an elastomeric material formed according to the teachings of the present disclosure in which a polymeric hydrogel is entrapped (e.g., physically entrapped) by a cured rubber, before and after exposure to water in a Water Cycling Test.

    Figure 14 is a chemical description of formulas F-1A to F-1E.


    DESCRIPTION



    [0003] The present disclosure, in general, provides for elastomeric materials which comprise a cured rubber and a polymeric hydrogel distributed throughout the cured rubber, as well as methods of forming and using the elastomeric materials. It has been found that distributing the polymeric hydrogel throughout an uncured rubber to form a composition which is subsequently cured, can result in an elastomeric material which, when it contacts water, readily takes up water, reversibly, and undergoes a change in physical characteristics. In other words, the elastomeric material of the present disclosure combines the elastomeric properties of a cured rubber, which generally has a hydrophobic nature and a limited ability to take up water, with hydrophilic nature and ability to take up water, dry, and then again take up water, of a polymeric hydrogel. The polymeric network formed in the elastomeric material by curing the rubber with the polymeric hydrogel dispersed in it can also entrap at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel present within the polymeric matrix formed by the curing. In many examples of the resulting elastomeric material, a majority of or substantially all of the polymeric hydrogel remains entrapped in the elastomeric material rather than migrating out of the elastomeric material when soaked in water or when repeatedly exposed to water. The water can be in the form of liquid water (including aqueous solutions), water vapor, or wet ground (e.g., wet soil, wet grass, wet pavement, etc.). As can be readily appreciated, an elastomeric material which retains both its durability, elastomeric nature and ability to take up water on repeated exposure to water can be used in a variety of articles of manufacture, including articles which contact mud or soil during use, where the accumulation of mud or soil is not desirable.

    [0004] Due to the presence of uncured or partially cured rubber in the uncured composition, curing the uncured composition in contact with another material (e.g., another uncured rubber, a crosslinkable polymer, or a polymer precursor) can result in chemical bonds (e.g., crosslinking bonds, polymer bonds, etc.) forming between the elastomeric material of the present disclosure and the other material during curing. This makes it possible to bond other polymeric materials including conventional rubber (i.e., rubber substantially free of the polymeric hydrogel) and/or different elastomeric materials of the present disclosure (e.g., elastomeric materials having different formulations and/or characteristics) to one another during a curing process, without the need to use adhesives.

    [0005] The uncured compositions and/or elastomeric materials of the present disclosure can be used to make and/or be incorporated into various types of articles (e.g., footwear, apparel, sporting equipment, and components of each, along with other consumer goods). The elastomeric material (e.g., dry or wet but not saturated), when contacted by water, can take up water until it becomes saturated with water. As it takes up water, the elastomeric material undergoes a physical change that is reversible. The elastomeric material can cycle from dry to wet and will again undergo the same physical change. In other words, the physical dimensions and/or physical properties of the elastomeric material change with the level of water uptake or release. In some examples, when wet, the elastomeric material can be softer, less brittle, more compliant, and combinations thereof, as compared to the elastomeric material when dry. When wet, the elastomeric material can swell, increasing the length, width and/or height of an element on an article. When wet, the elastomeric material can exhibit an increase in compressive compliance; and can, when compressed, expel water that was taken up previously; can have a lubricious externally facing surface; and combinations thereof. The physical characteristics of the elastomeric materials when wet (e.g., compressive compliance, lubricity), as well as these physical characteristic changes which can occur when the material is wet (e.g., expelling water) can also serve to disrupt the adhesion of soil on the wet elastomeric material or at an interface including the wet elastomeric material, or disrupt the cohesion of particles to each other on the wet elastomeric material, or both.

    [0006] The elastomeric material described herein, as well as uncured compositions which, when cured, form the elastomeric material, can be used to make and/or be incorporated into various types of articles or components of articles. The article can be an article of manufacture which comprises cured rubber such as tubing or a tire. The article can be an article of footwear, a component of an article of footwear, an article of apparel, a component of an article of apparel, an article of sporting equipment, or a component of an article of sporting equipment. In the example where the article is an article of footwear, the elastomeric material or a component including the elastomeric material can be incorporated into an upper of the footwear or into the sole of the footwear or both. The elastomeric material can be present on an externally-facing area of the article. When the elastomeric material is incorporated into a sole for footwear, the elastomeric material can be ground-facing in the footwear, such as on an outsole component of the sole.

    [0007] The elastomeric material and/or uncured compositions described herein can be incorporated into and used in finished articles or components of finished articles. The finished articles within the scope of the present disclosure generally include any article of manufacture including, but not limited to, footwear, apparel, such as garments, and sporting equipment, such as balls, bats, clubs, protective gear, and hunting, hiking, or camping equipment, as well as consumer goods such as tubing, wheels, and tires, or the like, and are described in more detail herein.

    [0008] In particular, the present invention provides outsoles for articles of footwear comprising an elastomeric material described herein, as defined in claim 1, and to a method for manufacturing an outsole as specified in appended independent claim 10. Preferred embodiments of the invention are disclosed in the dependent claims.

    [0009] The present disclosure is also directed to uncured compositions that comprise a mixture of an uncured rubber with a polymeric hydrogel which, when cured to form crosslinks in the rubber, form the elastomeric material. The present disclosure is also directed to methods of using the uncured compositions and the elastomeric materials.

    [0010] The present disclosure provides for a composition comprising: a rubber; and a polymeric hydrogel; wherein, in the composition, the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the rubber. The rubber can be an uncured rubber or cured rubber. In some examples, at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel in the elastomeric material is entrapped by the cured rubber. In the elastomeric material, the polymeric hydrogel can be physically entrapped by the cured rubber. In the elastomeric material, the polymeric hydrogel can be chemically entrapped by the cured rubber through chemical bonds such as crosslinking bonds. In the elastomeric material, the polymeric hydrogel can be both physically entrapped by and chemically bonded to the cured rubber.

    [0011] The present disclosure provides for an article comprising: an elastomeric material including a cured rubber and a polymeric hydrogel; wherein, in the elastomeric material, the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the cured rubber, and at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel present in the elastomeric material is entrapped by the cured rubber.

    [0012] The present disclosure provides for an article comprising a first elastomeric material of the present disclosure. For example, a first portion of the article can comprise the first elastomeric material. The first portion can be externally-facing on the article. The first elastomeric material can includes a mixture of a first cured rubber and a first polymeric hydrogel at a first concentration; wherein, in the first elastomeric material, the first polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the first cured rubber and at least a portion of the first polymeric hydrogel present in the first elastomeric material is entrapped by the first cured rubber, wherein the first elastomeric material is capable of taking up water. In a particular example, the article is an article of footwear comprising: an upper; and a sole. The upper can comprise the first elastomeric material. Alternatively or additionally, the sole can comprise the first elastomeric material. In the example where the sole comprises the first elastomeric material, the first elastomeric material can be present in an outsole. The outsole can be an outsole comprising a first region having a first elastomeric material; wherein the first region defines a portion of an externally facing side of the outsole.

    [0013] The present disclosure also provides for when the article comprises a second region including a second elastomeric material according to the present disclosure. The first region and the second region can be adjacent one another, wherein the second region defines a portion of the externally facing side of the article, and wherein the second elastomeric material includes a mixture of a second cured rubber and a second polymeric hydrogel at a second concentration, wherein, in the second elastomeric material, the second polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the second cured rubber and at least a portion of the second polymeric hydrogel present in the second elastomeric material is entrapped by the second cured rubber.

    [0014] The present disclosure also provides for an outsole including a first elastomeric material; wherein the first elastomeric material forms a first portion of an externally-facing side of the outsole; wherein the first elastomeric material includes a mixture of a first cured rubber and a first polymeric hydrogel at a first concentration, in which the first polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout and entrapped by a first polymeric network including the first cured rubber, and the first elastomeric material has a water uptake capacity of at least 40 percent by weight based on a total weight of the first elastomeric material present in the first portion.

    [0015] The present disclosure also provides for a method of making an article, comprising: attaching a first component and a second component including the elastomeric material as described herein, to one another, thereby forming the article. The article can be any article of manufacture, for example an article of footwear, an article of apparel, or an article of sporting equipment. The present disclosure also provides for an article comprising a product of the method as described above or herein.

    [0016] The present disclosure provides for a method of preparing a composition, the method comprising: mixing an uncured rubber and a polymeric hydrogel together to distribute the polymeric hydrogel throughout the uncured rubber, forming the composition. The present disclosure also provides for a composition prepared according to the method of above and as provided herein. The present disclosure provides for an elastomeric material prepared according to the method above and described herein.

    [0017] The present disclosure provides for a method of forming an elastomeric material, the method comprising: providing a composition including a mixture of an uncured rubber and a polymeric hydrogel, wherein, in the composition, the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the uncured rubber; and curing the composition to form the elastomeric material, wherein the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the cured rubber and at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel present in the elastomeric material is entrapped by the cured rubber. The curing can comprise forming chemical bonds between polymer chains of the rubber, which forms a polymeric network of cured rubber chains that physically entraps at least a portion the polymeric hydrogel within the elastomeric material. The curing can comprise forming chemical bonds which link polymer chains of the rubber to polymer chains of at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel present in the elastomeric material, forming a polymeric network of the bonded cured rubber chains and hydrogel chains, which chemically entraps the at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel within the elastomeric material. The present disclosure provides for an elastomeric material prepared as described above and disclosed herein.

    [0018] The present disclosure provides for a method of forming an article, the method comprising: providing a composition including a mixture of an uncured rubber and a polymeric hydrogel; wherein, in the composition, the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the uncured rubber; shaping the composition to form a shaped composition; and curing the shaped composition to cure the uncured rubber of the composition and form the article, the article comprising an elastomeric material in which the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the cured rubber and at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel in the elastomeric material is entrapped by cured rubber. The present disclosure also provides for an article prepared according to the method above and described herein.

    [0019] The present disclosure also provides for a method of forming an article comprising a first component including a first material and a second component including an uncured composition or elastomeric material as described herein. Attaching the first and second components can comprise curing the first material in contact with the second material. Curing the first material and the second material while in contact with each other can form chemical bonds (e.g., crosslinking bonds or polymer bonds) between the first material and the second material, thereby attaching the first component to the second component using these chemical bonds. In some cases, it may not be necessary to further reinforce the bond using an adhesive.

    [0020] In particular, the present invention provides a method of forming an outsole, wherein the method comprises: shaping a first composition to form a first portion of an externally-facing side an outsole, wherein the first composition includes a mixture of a first uncured or partially cured rubber and a first polymeric hydrogel at a first concentration, wherein the first polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the first uncured or partially cured rubber; and curing the first portion to form a first elastomeric material, thereby curing the first uncured or partially cured rubber into a first fully cured rubber, and forming a first polymeric network including the first fully cured rubber in the first elastomeric material, wherein the first polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout and entrapped by the first polymeric network.

    [0021] This disclosure is not limited to particular aspects, embodiment or examples described, and as such may, of course, vary. The terminology used herein serves the purpose of describing particular aspects, embodiments and examples only, and is not intended to be limiting, since the scope of the present disclosure will be limited only by the appended claims.

    [0022] Where a range of values is provided, each intervening value, to the tenth of the unit of the lower limit unless the context clearly dictates otherwise, between the upper and lower limit of that range and any other stated or intervening value in that stated range, is encompassed within the disclosure. The upper and lower limits of these smaller ranges may independently be included in the smaller ranges and are also encompassed within the disclosure, subject to any specifically excluded limit in the stated range. Where the stated range includes one or both of the limits, ranges excluding either or both of those included limits are also included in the disclosure.

    [0023] Aspects, embodiments and examples of the present disclosure will employ, unless otherwise indicated, techniques of material science, chemistry, textiles, polymer chemistry, textile chemistry, and the like, which are within the skill of the art. Such techniques are explained fully in the literature.

    [0024] Unless otherwise indicated, any of the functional groups or chemical compounds described herein can be substituted or unsubstituted. A "substituted" group or chemical compound, such as an alkyl, alkenyl, alkynyl, cycloalkyl, cycloalkenyl, aryl, heteroaryl, alkoxyl, ester, ether, or carboxylic ester refers to an alkyl, alkenyl, alkynyl, cycloalkyl, cycloalkenyl, aryl, heteroaryl, alkoxyl, ester, ether, or carboxylic ester group, has at least one hydrogen radical that is substituted with a non-hydrogen radical (i.e., a substituent). Examples of non-hydrogen radicals (or substituents) include, but are not limited to, alkyl, cycloalkyl, alkenyl, cycloalkenyl, alkynyl, ether, aryl, heteroaryl, heterocycloalkyl, hydroxyl, oxy (or oxo), alkoxyl, ester, thioester, acyl, carboxyl, cyano, nitro, amino, amido, sulfur, and halo. When a substituted alkyl group includes more than one non-hydrogen radical, the substituents can be bound to the same carbon or two or more different carbon atoms.

    [0025] Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art of microbiology, molecular biology, medicinal chemistry, and/or organic chemistry. Although methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present disclosure, suitable methods and materials are described herein.

    [0026] As used in the specification and the appended claims, the singular forms "a," "an," and "the" may include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, reference to "a support" includes a plurality of supports. In this specification and in the claims that follow, reference will be made to a number of terms that shall be defined to have the following meanings unless a contrary intention is apparent.

    [0027] As used herein, the term "weight" refers to a mass value, such as having the units of grams, kilograms, and the like. Further, the recitations of numerical ranges by endpoints include the endpoints and all numbers within that numerical range. For example, a concentration ranging from 40 percent by weight to 60 percent by weight includes concentrations of 40 percent by weight, 60 percent by weight, and all water uptake capacities between 40 percent by weight and 60 percent by weight (e.g., 40.1 percent, 41 percent, 45 percent, 50 percent, 52.5 percent, 55 percent, 59 percent, etc.). This will also apply to parts per hundred resin (phr).

    [0028] As used herein, the term "providing", such as for "providing a structure", when recited in the claims, is not intended to require any particular delivery or receipt of the provided item. Rather, the term "providing" is merely used to recite items that will be referred to in subsequent elements of the claim(s), for purposes of clarity and ease of readability.

    [0029] As used herein, the phrase "consist essentially οf" or "consisting essentially of" refer to the feature being disclosed as having primarily the listed feature without other active components (relative to the listed feature) and/or those that do not materially affect the characteristic(s) of the listed feature. For example, the elastomeric material can consist essentially of a polymeric hydrogel, which means that second composition can include fillers, colorants, etc. that do not substantially interact with or interact with the change the function or chemical characteristics of the polymeric hydrogel. In another example, the polymeric hydrogel can consist essentially of a polycarbonate hydrogel, which means that the polymeric hydrogel does not include a substantial amount or any amount of another type of polymer hydrogel such as a polyetheramide hydrogel or the like.

    [0030] As used herein, the terms "at least one" and "one or more of" an element are used interchangeably, and have the same meaning that includes a single element and a plurality of the elements, and may also be represented by the suffix "(s)" at the end of the element. For example, "at least one polyurethane", "one or more polyurethanes", and "polyurethane(s)" may be used interchangeably and have the same meaning.

    [0031] Aspects of the present disclosure provide for a composition and an elastomeric material. The composition includes an uncured rubber and a polymeric hydrogen, wherein the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the uncured rubber. In the elastomeric material, the rubber is cured so that at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel dispersed throughout the cured rubber is entrapped by the cured rubber. In general, the uncured rubber alone, or the uncured rubber and the polymeric hydrogel in the composition can undergo a reaction (e.g., crosslinking reaction) to form the elastomeric material.

    [0032] In regard to the composition, the composition includes the uncured rubber and the polymeric hydrogel, where the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the uncured rubber. Also, the composition can include additional ingredients such as crosslinking agents, colorants, fillers, and the like. Additional details regarding the uncured rubber and polymeric hydrogel are provided below and herein.

    [0033] When these compositions are cured to crosslink at least the uncured rubber, the elastomeric material which is formed by the curing is capable of taking up water and, when wet, including when saturated, provides a lubricious surface while maintaining sufficient abrasion resistance for use on externally-facing surfaces, such as externally-facing surfaces of any article of manufacturing, including garments, articles of footwear, and articles of sporting equipment. The high level of entrapment of the polymeric hydrogel by the cured rubber in the elastomeric material is indicated by the stability of the elastomeric material when soaked in water. For example, the Water Cycling Test using the Sampling Procedures described below, can be used to test the stability of the elastomeric materials. In particular examples, weight losses of less than about 15 weight percent (due to migration of polymeric hydrogel out of the elastomeric material) are observed.

    [0034] The crosslinking agent can be a crosslinking agent for crosslinking uncured or partially cured rubber. The crosslinking agent can include a crosslinking agent activated by actinic radiation. For example, the crosslinking agent can be a thermally initiated crosslinking agent, or a crosslinking agent initiated by ultra-violet (UV) radiation. The thermally initiated crosslinking agent may be, without limitation, a sulfur-based crosslinking agent or a peroxide-based crosslinking agent. The uncured rubber may be an UV radiation curable rubber, and the crosslinking agent can be an initiator for crosslinking the radiation curable rubber upon exposure to UV radiation.

    [0035] The present disclosure also provides for the elastomeric material that includes the cured rubber and the polymeric hydrogel where the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the cured rubber and at least a portion (e.g., about 1 percent to 100 percent) of the polymeric hydrogel in the elastomeric material is physically entrapped by the cured rubber and a portion can optionally (e.g., about 0 to 50 percent) be chemically bonded or crosslinked with the cured rubber. In addition, the elastomeric material can be chemically bonded or crosslinked with cured rubber in an adjacent layer (e.g., traction element such as lugs or cleats, an upper, or other element in an article).

    [0036] In addition, the composition (e.g., including the uncured rubber and the polymeric hydrogel) and elastomeric material can optionally include one or more colorants such as dyes and pigments, which can be homogeneously or heterogeneously distributed within the composition and elastomeric material. The selection of one or more colorants and the distribution of the colorants can be random or selected to achieve a desired aesthetic effect.

    [0037] Referring to Figures 1A-1D, the article or component 15 of a finished article 1 comprises a first surface 10 configured to be externally-facing when the article or component 15 is present in a finished article 1; and a second surface 20 that opposes the first surface 10. The second surface 20 is located such that it can be optionally attached (e.g., affixed, adhered, coupled, bonded, etc.) with a substrate 25, which makes up part of the finished article 1. When desirable, the finished article 1 may be an article of apparel or sporting equipment. In the case of an article of footwear, the article or component may be an outsole and the substrate may be a midsole or an upper. The component 15 comprises an elastomeric material 16, such that at least a portion of the first surface 10 comprises a mixture of a polymeric hydrogel and a cured rubber. This elastomeric material may represent the reaction product of a composition that comprises a mixture of an uncured rubber and the hydrogel. In other words, the elastomeric material 16 is present at or forms the whole of or part of an outer surface of the article or component 15. When the article or component 15 is included in an article of apparel or sporting equipment 1, the elastomeric material 16 defines at least a portion of an exterior surface of the article 1 on a side, the bottom or the top of the article 1.

    [0038] According to the present disclosure, the article or component 15 can extend across an entire externally-facing surface (shown in Figures 1A and 1C), such as an entire bottom surface of an article. However, in an alternative aspect of the present disclosure, the crosslinked elastomeric material 16 can be present as one or more segments of the article or component 15 that are present at separate, discrete locations on an externally-facing side or surface of a finished article 1. For instance, as shown in Figure 1B, the material can alternatively be present as discrete segments 16 secured to the surface of a substrate 25 that is part of the finished article 1. In this example, the remaining region 17 of the externally-facing surface, such as the remaining bottom surface of an outsole, can be free of the elastomeric material and comprise only the cured rubber or another material formulation.

    [0039] The article can include the elastomeric material as described herein. In a particular example, the article is an article of footwear that includes an upper and an outsole comprising a first region having a first elastomeric material. The first region defines a portion of an externally facing side or surface of the outsole, so that upon uptake of water, the elastomeric material undergoes a physical change. The article of footwear can include more than one type of elastomeric material in the same or different regions and/or other types of materials in the same or different regions.

    [0040] Various ways in which the elastomeric material have been presented herein, but the elastomeric material may be used in other ways or various combinations to achieve appealing aesthetic change to the article.

    [0041] The elastomeric material can be incorporated into various forms such as molded components, textiles, films and the like. For example, the molded component, textile or film can be used in apparel (e.g., shirts, jerseys, pants, shorts, gloves, glasses, socks, hats, caps, jackets, undergarments) or components thereof, containers (e.g., backpacks, bags), and upholstery for furniture (e.g., chairs, couches, car seats), bed coverings (e.g., sheets, blankets), table coverings, towels, flags, tents, sails, tubing, wheels, tires, and parachutes. In addition, the elastomeric material can be used to produce components or other items such as molded components, textiles, films and the like that are disposed on the article, where the article can be striking devices (e.g., bats, rackets, sticks, mallets, golf clubs, paddles, etc.), athletic equipment (e.g., golf bags, baseball and football gloves, soccer ball restriction structures), protective equipment (e.g., pads, helmets, guards, visors, masks, goggles, etc.), locomotive equipment (e.g., bicycles, motorcycles, skateboards, cars, trucks, boats, surfboards, skis, snowboards, etc.), balls or pucks for use in various sports, fishing or hunting equipment, furniture, electronic equipment, construction materials, eyewear, timepieces, jewelry, and the like.

    [0042] In the example where the article of the present disclosure is an article of footwear, it may be designed for a variety of uses, such as sporting, athletic, military, work-related, recreational, or casual use. Primarily, the article of footwear is intended for outdoor use on unpaved surfaces (in part or in whole), such as on a ground surface including one or more of grass, turf, gravel, sand, dirt, clay, mud, and the like, whether as an athletic performance surface or as a general outdoor surface. However, the article of footwear may also be desirable for indoor applications, such as indoor sports including dirt playing surfaces for example (e.g., indoor baseball fields with dirt infields).

    [0043] The article of footwear can be designed use in outdoor sporting activities, such as global football/soccer, golf, American football, rugby, baseball, running, track and field, cycling (e.g., road cycling and mountain biking), and the like. The article of footwear can optionally include traction elements (e.g., lugs, cleats, studs, and spikes as well as tread patterns) to provide traction on soft and slippery surfaces, wherein the elastomeric material can be located between or among the traction elements and optionally on the sides of the traction elements, but not on the surface of the traction element that directly contact the ground or surface during wear. In other words, the terminal ends of the traction elements can be substantially free of the elastomeric material of the present disclosure. Cleats, studs and spikes are commonly included in footwear designed for use in sports such as global football/soccer, golf, American football, rugby, baseball, and the like, which are frequently played on unpaved surfaces. Lugs and/or exaggerated tread patterns are commonly included in footwear including boots design for use under rugged outdoor conditions, such as trail running, hiking, and military use.

    [0044] The elastomeric material of the present disclosure can be incorporated into articles such as footwear or components thereof, apparel or components thereof, sporting equipment or components thereof. The elastomeric material can be formed into a structure (e.g., outsole) that can have a range of dimensions depending upon the use. In one aspect, the elastomeric material can be used in an outsole or as a layer in an outsole and can a thickness of about 0.1 millimeters to 10 millimeters, about 0.1 millimeters to 5 millimeters, about 0.1 millimeters to 2 millimeters, about 0.25 millimeters to 2 millimeters, or about 0.5 millimeters to 1 millimeter, where the width and length can vary depending upon the particular application (e.g., article to be incorporated into).

    [0045] Referring once again to Figures 1C and 1D, at least a portion of the second surface 20 of the component 15 is attached to a substrate 25 that comprises, without limitation, a polymeric foam, a polymeric sheet, a textile including a natural or synthetic leather, a molded solid polymeric material, or a combination thereof. The substrate 25 can comprise a thermoset polymeric material, a thermoplastic polymeric material, or a combination thereof. The thermoplastic polymeric material may include, without limitation, a thermoplastic polyurethane, a thermoplastic polyester, a thermoplastic polyamide, a thermoplastic polyolefin, or any combination thereof, as is described in greater detail below. The elastomeric material can be attached (e.g., affixed, coupled, adhered, bonded, etc.) to a surface of the substrate that is externally-facing, such that the elastomeric material defines at least a portion of an externally-facing surface of the article or component of the article.

    [0046] The substrate 25 can comprise or be a textile, including a knit textile, a woven textile, a non-woven textile, a braided textile, a crocheted textile, or any combination thereof. The textile can comprise a plurality of fibers, one or more yarns, or both. The plurality of fibers or the one or more yarns or both can include one or more natural or synthetic fibers or yarns. The synthetic fibers or yarns can comprise, consist of, or consist essentially of a thermoplastic composition. The polymeric component of the thermoplastic composition may comprise, consist of, or consist essentially of a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), a thermoplastic polyamide, a thermoplastic polyester, a thermoplastic polyolefin, or a mixture thereof, as described in more detail herein.

    [0047] In another example, the component or article itself 15, or the segment including the elastomeric material 16 can comprise a plurality of fibers, one or more yarns, one or more textiles, or any combination thereof. The plurality of fibers, the one or more yarns, the one or more textiles, or any combination thereof, can act as a filler or as a reinforcing element in one or more layers of the component or article 15 or segment 16. The one or more textiles can comprise a knit textile, a woven textile, a non-woven textile, a braided textile, a crocheted textile, or any combination thereof. The plurality of fibers, the one or more yarns, the one or more textiles, or any combination thereof, can be present in the composition and the elastomeric material, or in a layer of the component or article 15 or segment 16, or in any combination thereof. When present in a layer, the layer can be a composite layer, in which the plurality of fibers are dispersed in the composition of the layer or elastomeric material of the layer, or in which the elastomeric material or the composition infiltrates a yarn and/or a textile and consolidates the fibers of the yarn and/or the fibers or yarn of the textile. For example, a layer can be a composite layer comprising a first plurality of fibers dispersed in the elastomeric material. In another example, the elastomeric material can be a composite layer comprising a textile, wherein the elastomeric material infiltrates gaps between fibers and/or yarns of the textile, and substantially surrounds the fibers and/or yarns of the textile. The plurality of fibers, the one or more yarns, the one or more textiles, or any combination thereof, may include one or more natural or synthetic fibers or yarns. The synthetic fibers or yarns may comprise, consist of, or consist essentially of a thermoplastic composition. The polymeric component of the thermoplastic composition may comprise, consist of, or consist essentially of a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), a thermoplastic polyamide, a thermoplastic polyester, a thermoplastic polyolefin, or a mixture thereof, which are described in detail herein.

    [0048] Optionally, the component may further include an adhesive, a primer, a tie layer, or a combination thereof located between the second surface 20 of the elastomeric material and the externally-facing side of the substrate 25 attached thereto. The adhesive, tie layer, or primer may comprise, but not be limited to, a polymer having one or more epoxy segments, urethane segments, acrylic segments, cyanoacrylate segments, silicone segments, or a combination thereof. The adhesive, primer, or tie layer can include a thermoplastic polyurethane. Alternatively, the interface between the second surface 20 of the elastomeric material and the externally-facing side of the substrate 25 can be substantially free of an adhesive, a primer, a tie layer, or any combination thereof.

    [0049] At least a portion of the first surface 10 of the component 15 may comprise a pattern or a texture. This pattern may represent a tread pattern. In addition to a pattern or texture, the first surface 10 of the component 15 may comprise one or more traction elements (best shown in Figure 2G). In some examples, the portion of the elements that contact the ground during use (e.g., the terminal end) are substantially free of the polymeric hydrogel or the elastomeric material including the polymeric hydrogel as described herein, as, due to the lubricious nature of these material, they may reduce the effectiveness of the traction elements. Alternatively, the portion of the traction elements which contact the ground during use can be made of a different material, such as a material that is harder than the elastomeric material. When desirable, the one or more traction elements may have a conical or rectangular shape as further described below.

    [0050] Referring now to Figures 2A to 2G, the finished article 1 may be, without limitation, an article of apparel, such as a garment 50, or an article of sporting equipment, such as a ball cap or helmet 55, footwear 75; a tire or wheel 60; hunting, hiking, or camping equipment 65; a ball, glove, bat, club, or protective gear 70. Alternatively, the component 15 may be attached to, coupled with, or in contact with another material, e.g., the substrate 25 of the finished article 1. The component 15 of the article of footwear 75 may be an outsole 15, for example (see Figures 2F & 2G).

    [0051] Referring now to Figures 2F and 2G, the footwear 75 or shoe 75 may comprise, consist of, or consist essentially of an upper 25 and an outsole 15 having a predetermined shape. The outsole 15 is in contact with and affixed or attached to the upper 25. At least part of the outsole 15 comprises an elastomeric material in an at least partially cured state, alternatively, in a fully cured state. The elastomeric material or layer in the outsole 15 is a mixture of the polymeric hydrogel and the cured rubber as described above and further defined herein. The polymeric hydrogel resin may exhibit a water uptake capacity in the range of 50 percent to 1200 percent, the water uptake capacity representing the amount of water by weight taken up by the polymeric hydrogel as a percentage by weight of dry hydrophilic resin. The cured rubber in the elastomeric material comprises one or more natural or synthetic rubbers. The polymeric hydrogel is present in an amount that ranges from about 5 weight percent to about 75 weight percent based on the overall weight of the elastomeric material. The elastomeric material may further comprise one or more processing aids independently selected from the group of crosslinking agents, plasticizers, mold release agents, lubricants, antioxidants, flame retardants, dyes, pigments, reinforcing and non-reinforcing fillers, fiber reinforcements, and light stabilizers.

    [0052] Still referring to Figures 2F and 2G, the outsole 15 refers to the very bottom of the article of footwear 75 such that one surface 10 is facing the ground during wear. The outsole 15 can exhibit a thickness that is in the range from about 0.2 millimeters to about 2.0 millimeters; alternatively, about 0.2 millimeters to about 1.0 millimeters. The outsole 15 may be relatively smooth or include a tread pattern 90. The surface 10 of the outsole 15 may directly contact the ground during wear. Optionally, the outsole 15 may also include one or more traction elements 95. When the outsole 15 includes traction elements 95, the traction elements 95 may directly contact the ground during wear, while the surface 10 of the outsole may only contact the ground when the ground is sufficiently soft that an entire height of the traction elements 95 sink into the ground during wear. The traction elements 95 may provide enhanced traction, as well as provide support or flexibility to the outsole 15 and/or provide an aesthetic design or look to the shoe.

    [0053] The traction elements 95 may include, but are not limited to, various shaped projections, such as cleats, studs, spikes, or similar elements configured to enhance traction for a wearer during cutting, turning, stopping, accelerating, and backward movement as described in more detail herein. The traction elements 95 can be arranged in any suitable pattern along the bottom surface of the outsole 15. For instance, the traction 95 elements can be distributed in groups or clusters along the outsole 15 (e.g., clusters of 2-8 traction elements). Alternatively, the traction elements 95 can be arranged along the outsole 15 symmetrically or non-symmetrically between a medial side and a lateral side of the article of footwear 1. Moreover, one or more of the traction elements can be arranged along a centerline of the outsole 15 between the medial side and the lateral side.

    [0054] The traction elements 95 can be made of one or more materials that are different from the composition and/or elastomeric material. When desirable, the traction elements 95 may be individually selected to be comprised of the same rubber as is present in the composition and/or the elastomeric material. Alternatively, the traction elements 95 can comprise a different rubber (e.g., a harder rubber) or a different polymeric material (e.g., a different type of cured rubber, or a polymeric material substantially free of natural or synthetic rubber). In at least one of the traction elements 95 the portion of said element that makes contact with the ground may be substantially free of the composition or elastomeric material. The one or more traction elements 95 may be made of a polymeric material that is harder than the elastomeric material. A plurality of traction elements can be present with at least two of the plurality of traction elements differing from each other based on height, width, or thickness.

    [0055] In another aspect, Figures 3A and 3B illustrates an article of footwear 100 that includes an upper 120 and a sole structure 130, where the upper 120 is secured to the sole structure 130. The sole structure 130 can include a toe plate 132, a mid-plate 134, and a heel plate 136 and traction elements 138 as well as the elastomeric material 110, where the elastomeric material 100 is on the outside surface so to be ground-facing under normal use. Optionally, the elastomeric material 110 can be an externally-facing layer of the upper 120. The elastomeric material 110 can cover substantially all of the upper 120 or can be in a region proximal to the sole structure 130. In other aspects not depicted, the sole structure 130 may incorporate foam, one or more fluid-filled chambers, plates, moderators, or other elements that further attenuate forces, enhance stability, or influence the motions of the foot.

    [0056] The upper 120 of the footwear 100 has a body which may be fabricated from materials known in the art for making articles of footwear, and is configured to receive a user's foot. The upper 120 and components of the upper 120 may be manufactured according to conventional techniques (e.g., molding, extrusion, thermoforming, stitching, knitting, etc.). The upper 120 may alternatively have any desired aesthetic design, functional design, brand designators, and the like.

    [0057] The sole structure 130 may be directly or otherwise secured to the upper 120 using any suitable mechanism or method. As used herein, the terms "secured to", such as for an outsole that is secured to an upper, e.g., is operably secured to an upper, refers collectively to direct connections, indirect connections, integral formations, and combinations thereof. For instance, for the sole structure 130 that is secured to the upper 120, the sole structure 130 can be directly connected to the upper 120 using the hot melt adhesive layer of the elastomeric material and optionally include the outsole 120 indirectly connected to the upper (e.g., with an intermediate midsole), can be integrally formed with the upper (e.g., as a unitary component), and combinations thereof.

    [0058] Figures 4A and 4B illustrate cross-sections of an article of footwear 200 and 201 that include an outsole including the elastomeric material or the composition of the present disclosure in a first layer 204. Figure 4A illustrates a cross-section of an article of footwear 200 including the first layer 204 attached (optionally) to the upper 202 and a second layer 206 (or structure or substrate or film) comprising a cured rubber substantially free of the polymeric hydrogel, for example a cured rubber such as rubber lugs, rubber cleats, or other tractions elements. The outsole can be prepared by forming the first layer 204 of an uncured composition or partially cured elastomeric material of the present disclosure, forming the second layer 206 of an uncured or partially rubber, then placing a first side of the first layer 204 in contact with a first side of the second layer 206, and fully curing the first layer 204 and the second layer 206 while they remain in contact with each other. For example, they can be cured in a vulcanization process. In this example, the curing process results in a portion of the rubber of the first layer 204 crosslinking with a portion of the rubber of the second layer 206, forming chemical bonds (e.g., crosslinking) which adhere the first layer 204 and the second layer 206 to each other without an adhesive. In particular, during a curing process, the rubber in the first layer 204 can crosslink with the rubber in the second layer 206 and the polymeric hydrogel of the first layer 204 can optionally crosslink with the rubber in the first layer 204 and/or the rubber in the second layer 206. In this way, the first layer 204 and the second layer 206 can form stronger bonds than what might be obtained using adhesives or the like. In an embodiment, the second layer 206 can be disposed in a mold (not shown) and then the first layer 204 disposed on top of the second layer 206. The first layer 206 and the second layer 204 can be subjected to a vulcanization process to form the outsole. The upper 202 or a component of the upper can be optionally disposed on a second side of the first layer 204 before or after vulcanization, as illustrated in Figure 4A, or a midsole or plate 208 can be disposed between the upper 202 (optionally including a strobel) and the outsole can be bonded to the midsole or plate using a direct attachment process by forming the midsole or plate 208 in contact with the outsole, or by attaching the midsole or plate 208 using an adhesive or other attachment method.

    [0059] The term "externally-facing" as used in "externally-facing layer" refers to the position the element is intended to be in when the element is present in an article during normal use. If the article is footwear, the element is positioned toward the ground during normal use (i.e., is ground-facing) by a wearer when in a standing position, and thus may contact the ground including unpaved surfaces when the footwear is used in a conventional manner, such as standing, walking or running on an unpaved surface. In other words, even though the element may not necessarily be facing the ground during various steps of manufacturing or shipping, if the element is intended to face the ground during normal use by a wearer, the element is understood to be externally-facing or more specifically for an article of footwear, ground-facing. In some circumstances, due to the presence of elements such as traction elements, the externally-facing (e.g., ground-facing) surface can be positioned toward the ground during conventional use but may not necessarily come into contact the ground. For example, on hard ground or paved surfaces, the terminal ends of traction elements on the outsole may directly contact the ground, while portions of the outsole located between the traction elements do not. As described in this example, the portions of the outsole located between the traction elements are considered to be externally-facing (e.g., ground-facing) even though they may not directly contact the ground in all circumstances.

    [0060] The traction elements may each include any suitable cleat, stud, spike, or similar element configured to enhance traction for a wearer during cutting, turning, stopping, accelerating, and backward movement. The traction elements can be arranged in any suitable pattern along the bottom surface of the footwear. For instance, the traction elements can be distributed in groups or clusters along the outsole (e.g., clusters of 2-8 traction elements). In an aspect, the traction elements can be grouped into a cluster at the forefoot region, a cluster at the midfoot region, and a cluster at the heel region. In this example, six of the traction elements are substantially aligned along the medial side of the outsole, and the other six traction elements are substantially aligned along the lateral side of the outsole.

    [0061] The traction elements may alternatively be arranged along the outsole symmetrically or non-symmetrically between the medial side and the lateral side, as desired. Moreover, one or more of the traction elements may be arranged along a centerline of outsole between the medial side and the lateral side, such as a blade, as desired to enhance or otherwise modify performance.

    [0062] Alternatively (or additionally), traction elements can also include one or more front-edge traction elements, such as one or more blades, one or more fins, and/or one or more cleats (not shown) secured to (e.g., integrally formed with) the backing plate at a front-edge region between forefoot region and cluster. In this application, the externally-facing portion of the elastomeric material can optionally extend across the bottom surface at this front-edge region while maintaining good traction performance.

    [0063] Furthermore, the traction elements may each independently have any suitable dimension (e.g., shape and size). For instance, in some designs, each traction element within a given cluster (e.g., clusters) may have the same or substantially the same dimensions, and/or each traction element across the entirety of the outsole may have the same or substantially the same dimensions. Alternatively, the traction elements within each cluster may have different dimensions, and/or each traction element across the entirety of the outsole may have different dimensions.

    [0064] Examples of suitable shapes for the traction elements include rectangular, hexagonal, cylindrical, conical, circular, square, triangular, trapezoidal, diamond, ovoid, as well as other regular or irregular shapes (e.g., curved lines, C-shapes, etc.). The traction elements may also have the same or different heights, widths, and/or thicknesses as each other, as further discussed below. Further examples of suitable dimensions for the traction elements and their arrangements along the plate include those provided in soccer/global football footwear commercially available under the tradenames "TIEMPO", "HYPERVENOM", "MAGISTA", and "MERCURIAL" from Nike, Inc. of Beaverton, OR, USA.

    [0065] The traction elements may be incorporated into the outsole including the optional backing plate by any suitable mechanism such that the traction elements preferably extend from the bottom surface (e.g., elastomeric material). For example, as discussed below, the traction elements may be integrally formed with the backing plate through a molding process (e.g., for firm ground (FG) footwear). Alternatively, the outsole or optional backing plate may be configured to receive removable traction elements, such as screw-in or snap-in traction elements. In these aspects, the backing plate may include receiving holes (e.g., threaded or snap-fit holes, not shown), and the traction elements can be screwed or snapped into the receiving holes to secure the traction elements to the backing plate (e.g., for soft ground (SG) footwear).

    [0066] In further examples, a first portion of the traction elements can be integrally formed with the outsole or optional backing plate and a second portion of the traction elements can be secured with screw-in, snap-in, or other similar mechanisms (e.g., for SG pro footwear). The traction elements may also be configured as short studs for use with artificial ground (AG) footwear, if desired. In some applications, the receiving holes may be raised or otherwise protrude from the general plane of the bottom surface of the backing plate. Alternatively, the receiving holes may be flush with the bottom surface.

    [0067] The traction elements can be fabricated from any suitable material for use with the outsole. For example, the traction elements may include one or more of polymeric materials such as thermoplastic elastomers; thermoset polymers; elastomeric polymers; silicone polymers; natural and synthetic rubbers; composite materials including polymers reinforced with carbon fiber and/or glass; natural leather; metals such as aluminum, steel and the like; and combinations thereof. In aspects in which the traction elements are integrally formed with the backing plate (e.g., molded together), the traction elements preferably include the same materials as the outsole or backing plate (e.g., thermoplastic materials). Alternatively, in aspects in which the traction elements are separate and insertable into receiving holes of the backing plate, the traction elements can include any suitable materials that can secured in the receiving holes of the backing plate (e.g., metals and thermoplastic materials).

    [0068] As mentioned above, the traction element may have any suitable dimensions and shape, where the shaft (and the outer side surface) can correspondingly have rectangular, hexagonal, cylindrical, conical, circular, square, triangular, trapezoidal, diamond, ovoid, as well as other regular or irregular shapes (e.g., curved lines, C-shapes, etc.). Similarly, the terminal edge can have dimensions and sizes that correspond to those of the outer side surface, and can be substantially fiat, sloped, rounded, and the like. Furthermore, in some aspects, the terminal edge can be substantially parallel to the bottom surface and/or the elastomeric material.

    [0069] Examples of suitable average lengths for each shaft relative to bottom surface range from 1 millimeter to 20 millimeters, from 3 millimeters to 15 millimeters, or from 5 millimeters to 10 millimeters, where, as mentioned above, each traction element can have different dimensions and sizes (i.e., the shafts of the various traction elements can have different lengths).

    [0070] It has been found the elastomeric material and articles incorporating the elastomeric material (e.g., footwear) can prevent or reduce the accumulation of soil on the externally-facing layer of the elastomeric material during wear on unpaved surfaces. As used herein, the term "soil" can include any of a variety of materials commonly present on a ground or playing surface and which might otherwise adhere to an outsole or exposed midsole of a footwear article. Soil can include inorganic materials such as mud, sand, dirt, and gravel; organic matter such as grass, turf, leaves, other vegetation, and excrement; and combinations of inorganic and organic materials such as clay. Additionally, soil can include other materials such as pulverized rubber which may be present on or in an unpaved surface.

    [0071] While not wishing to be bound by theory, it is believed that the polymeric hydrogel of the elastomeric material, as well as the elastomeric material of the present disclosure itself, when sufficiently wet with water (including water containing dissolved, dispersed or otherwise suspended materials) can provide compressive compliance and/or expulsion of uptaken water. In particular, it is believed that the compressive compliance of the wet polymeric hydrogel and/or elastomeric material, the expulsion of liquid from the wet polymeric hydrogel and/or elastomeric material, a change in topography of the externally-facing surface, or combination thereof, can disrupt the adhesion of soil on or at the externally-facing surface, or the cohesion of the particles to each other on the externally-facing surface, or can disrupt both the adhesion and cohesion. This disruption in the adhesion and/or cohesion of soil is believed to be a responsible mechanism for preventing (or otherwise reducing) the soil from accumulating on the externally-facing surface (due to the presence of the wet material).

    [0072] This disruption in the adhesion and/or cohesion of soil is believed to be a responsible mechanism for preventing (or otherwise reducing) the soil from accumulating on the externally-facing surface (due to the presence of the polymeric hydrogel in the elastomeric material of the present disclosure). As can be appreciated, preventing soil from accumulating on articles, including on articles of footwear, apparel or sporting equipment particularly, can improve the performance of traction elements present on the articles (e.g., on a sole) during use or wear on unpaved surfaces, can prevent the article from gaining weight due to accumulated soil during use or wear, can preserve performance of the article and thus can provide significant benefits to a user or wearer as compared to an article without the elastomeric material present.

    [0073] The swelling of the elastomeric material can be observed as an increase in thickness of the elastomeric material from the dry-state thickness of the elastomeric material, through a range of intermediate-state thicknesses as additional water is absorbed, and finally to a saturated-state thickness of the elastomeric material, which is an average thickness of the elastomeric material when fully saturated with water. For example, the saturated-state thickness (or length, and/or height) for the fully saturated elastomeric material can be greater than 25 percent, greater than 50 percent, greater than 100 percent, greater than 150 percent, greater than 200 percent, greater than 250 percent, greater than 300 percent, greater than 350 percent, greater than 400 percent, or greater than 500 percent, of the dry-state thickness for the same elastomeric material, as characterized by the Swelling Capacity Test. The saturated-state thickness (or length, and/or height) for the fully saturated elastomeric material can be about 150 percent to 500 percent, about 150 percent to 400 percent, about 150 percent to 300 percent, or about 200 percent to 300 percent of the dry-state thickness for the same elastomeric material. The increase in thickness may be greater in areas at and/or near the channel where the elastomeric material is exposed through the channel.

    [0074] The polymeric hydrogel and/or the elastomeric material in neat form can have an increase in thickness (or length, and/or height) at 1 hour of about 35 percent to 400 percent, about 50 percent to 300 percent, or about 100 percent to 200 percent, as characterized by the Swelling Capacity Test. The elastomeric material in neat form can have an increase in thickness (or length, and/or height) at 24 hours of about 45 percent to 500percent, about 100 percent to 400 percent, or about 150 percent to 300 percent. Correspondingly, the component or layer comprising the elastomeric material can have an increase in volume at 1 hour of about 50 percent to 500 percent, about 75 percent to 400 percent, or about 100 percent to 300 percent.

    [0075] The polymeric hydrogel and/or the elastomeric material can quickly take up water that is in contact with the polymeric hydrogel and/or the elastomeric material. For instance, the elastomeric material can take up water from mud and wet grass, such as during a warmup period prior to a competitive match. Alternatively (or additionally), the elastomeric material can be pre-conditioned with water so that the elastomeric material of the elastomeric material is partially or fully saturated, such as by spraying or soaking the structure with water prior to use.

    [0076] The elastomeric material can exhibit an overall water uptake capacity of about 10 weight percent to 225 weight percent as measured in the Water Uptake Capacity Test over a soaking time of 24 hours using the Component Sampling Procedure, as will be defined below. The overall water uptake capacity (at 24 hours) exhibited by the elastomeric material can be in the range of about 10 weight percent to about 225 weight percent; about 30 weight percent to about 200 weight percent; about 50 weight percent to about 150 weight percent; or about 75 weight percent to about 125 weight percent. The water uptake capacity, as measured by the Water Uptake Capacity test at 24 hours, exhibited by the elastomeric material can be about 20 weight percent or more, about 40 weight percent or more, about 60 weight percent or more, about 80 weight percent or more, or about 100 weight percent or more. For the purpose of this disclosure, the term "overall water uptake capacity" is used to represent the amount of water by weight taken up by the elastomeric material as a percentage by weight of the elastomeric material when dry. The procedure for measuring overall water uptake capacity includes measurement of the "dry" weight of the elastomeric material, immersion of the elastomeric material in water at ambient temperature (∼23°C) for a predetermined amount of time, followed by re-measurement of the weight of the elastomeric material when "wet". The procedure for measuring the overall weight uptake capacity according to the Water Uptake Capacity Test using the Component Sampling Procedure is described below.

    [0077] The polymeric hydrogel itself, in neat form (e.g., prior to being distributed in the rubber), can exhibit an overall water uptake capacity of about 10 weight percent to 3000 weight percent as measured in the Water Uptake Capacity Test over a soaking time of 24 hours using the Component Sampling Procedure, as will be defined below. The overall water uptake capacity (at 24 hours) exhibited by the polymeric hydrogel can be in the range of about 50 weight percent to about 2500 weight percent; about 100 weight percent to about 2000 weight percent; about 200 weight percent to about 1500 weight percent; or about 300 weight percent to about 1000 weight percent. The water uptake capacity, as measured by the Water Uptake Capacity test at 24 hours, exhibited by the polymeric hydrogel can be about 20 weight percent or more, about 40 weight percent or more, about 60 weight percent or more, about 80 weight percent or more, or about 100 weight percent or more. The water uptake capacity, as measured by the Water Uptake Capacity test at 24 hours, exhibited by the polymeric hydrogel can be about 100 weight percent or more, about 200 weight percent or more, about 300 weight percent or more, about 400 weight percent or more, or about 500 weight percent or more. For the purpose of this disclosure, the term "overall water uptake capacity" is used to represent the amount of water by weight taken up by the polymeric hydrogel as a percentage by weight of the polymeric hydrogel when dry. The procedure for measuring overall water uptake capacity includes measurement of the "dry" weight of the polymeric hydrogel, immersion of the polymeric hydrogel in water at ambient temperature (∼23°C) for a predetermined amount of time, followed by re-measurement of the weight of the polymeric hydrogel when "wet". The procedure for measuring the overall weight uptake capacity according to the Water Uptake Capacity Test using the Component Sampling Procedure is described below.

    [0078] The elastomeric material can have a "time value" equilibrium water uptake capacity, where the time value corresponds to the duration of soaking or exposure to water (e.g., for example in use of footwear being exposed to water). For example, a "30 second equilibrium water uptake capacity" corresponds to the water uptake capacity at a soaking duration of 30 seconds, a "2 minute equilibrium water uptake capacity" corresponds to the water uptake capacity at a soaking duration of 2 minutes, and so on at various time duration of soaking. A time duration of "0 seconds" refers to the dry-state and a time duration of 24 hours corresponds to the saturated state of the elastomeric material at 24 hours. Additional details are provided in the Water Uptake Capacity Test Protocol described herein.

    [0079] The polymeric hydrogel can have a "time value" equilibrium water uptake capacity, where the time value corresponds to the duration of soaking or exposure to water (e.g., in neat form when exposed to water). For example, a "30 second equilibrium water uptake capacity" corresponds to the water uptake capacity at a soaking duration of 30 seconds, a "2 minute equilibrium water uptake capacity" corresponds to the water uptake capacity at a soaking duration of 2 minutes, and so on at various time duration of soaking. A time duration of "0 seconds" refers to the dry-state and a time duration of 24 hours corresponds to the saturated state of the polymeric hydrogel at 24 hours. Additional details are provided in the Water Uptake Capacity Test Protocol described herein.

    [0080] The elastomeric material can also be characterized by a water uptake rate of 10 g/m2/√min to 120 g/m2/√min as measured in the Water Uptake Rate Test using the Material Sampling Procedure. The water uptake rate is defined as the weight (in grams) of water absorbed per square meter (m2) of the elastomeric material over the square root of the soaking time (√min). Alternatively, the water uptake rate ranges from about 12 g/m2/√min to about 100 g/m2/√min; alternatively, from about 25 g/m2/√min to about 90 g/m2/√min; alternatively, up to about 60 g/m2/√min.

    [0081] To cause a character change (e.g., shape, color, etc) of the elastomeric material, the elastomeric material can have a water uptake rate of 10 g/m2/√min to 120 g/m2/√min as measured in the Water Uptake Rate Test using the Material Sampling Procedure

    [0082] The polymeric hydrogel can also be characterized by a water uptake rate of 10 g/m2/√min to 120 g/m2/√min as measured in the Water Uptake Rate Test using the Material Sampling Procedure. The water uptake rate is defined as the weight (in grams) of water absorbed per square meter (m2) of the polymeric hydrogel over the square root of the soaking time (√min). Alternatively, the water uptake rate ranges from about 12 g/m2/√min to about 100 g/m2/√min; alternatively, from about 25 g/m2/√min to about 90 g/m2/√min; alternatively, up to about 60 g/m2/√min.

    [0083] To cause a character change of the elastomeric material, the polymeric hydrogel present in the composition used to form the elastomeric material can have a water uptake rate of 10 g/m2/√min to 120 g/m2/√min as measured in the Water Uptake Rate Test using the Material Sampling Procedure.

    [0084] The overall water uptake capacity and the water uptake rate can be dependent upon the amount of the polymeric hydrogel that is present in the elastomeric material. The polymeric hydrogel can characterized by a water uptake capacity of 50 weight percent to 2500 weight percent as measured according to the Water Uptake Capacity Test using the Material Sampling Procedure. In this case, the water uptake capacity of the polymeric hydrogel is determined based on the amount of water by weight taken up by the polymeric hydrogel (in neat form) as a percentage by weight of dry polymeric hydrogel. Alternatively, the water uptake capacity exhibited by the polymeric hydrogel is in the range of about 100 weight percent to about 1500 weight percent; alternatively, in the range of about 300 weight percent to about 1200 weight percent.

    [0085] To cause a character change of the elastomeric material, the polymeric hydrogel present in the composition used to form the elastomeric material can have a water uptake capacity of 50 weight percent to 2500 weight percent as measured according to the Water Uptake Capacity Test using the Material Sampling Procedure.

    [0086] The elastomeric material can exhibit no appreciable weight loss in a Water Cycling Test. The Water Cycling Test as further defined below involves a comparison of the initial weight of the elastomeric material to that of the elastomeric material after being soaked in a water bath for a predetermined amount of time, dried and then reweighed. Alternatively, the elastomeric material exhibits a Water Cycling weight loss from 0 weight percent to about 15 weight percent as measured pursuant to the Water Cycling Test and using the Material Sampling Procedure or the Component Sampling Procedure. Alternatively, the water cycling weight loss is less than 15 weight percent; alternatively, less than 10 weight percent.

    [0087] The elastomeric material may also be characterized by the degree to which it exhibits a mud pull-off force that is less than about 12 Newton (N). Alternatively, the mud pull-off force is less than about 10 N; alternatively, in the range of about 1 N to about 8 N. The mud pull-off force is determined by the Mud Pull-Off Test using the Component Sampling Procedure as described the Example section below.

    [0088] The Component Sampling Procedure may constitute the Footwear Sampling Procedure, when the component is part of an article of footwear; the Apparel Sampling Procedure, when the component is part of another article of apparel (e.g., a garment); or the Equipment Sampling Procedure, when the component is part of an article of sporting equipment. The Material Sampling Procedure is used when the sample is provided in media form. Each of these sampling procedures are described in more detail in the Example section provided below.

    [0089] The surface of the elastomeric material can exhibit hydrophilic properties. The hydrophilic properties can be characterized by determining the static sessile drop contact angle of the elastomeric material's surface. Accordingly, in some examples, the elastomeric material's surface in a dry state has a static sessile drop contact angle (or dry-state contact angle) of less than 105 degrees, or less than 95 degrees, less than 85 degrees, as characterized by the Contact Angle Test. The Contact Angle Test can be conducted on a sample obtained in accordance with the Article Sampling Procedure or the Co-Extruded Film Sampling Procedure. In some further examples, the elastomeric material in a dry state has a static sessile drop contact angle ranging from 60 degrees to 100 degrees, from 70 degrees to 100 degrees, or from 65 degrees to 95 degrees.

    [0090] In other examples, the surface of the elastomeric material in a wet state has a static sessile drop contact angle (or wet-state contact angle) of less than 90 degrees, less than 80 degrees, less than 70 degrees, or less than 60 degrees. In some further examples, the surface in a wet state has a static sessile drop contact angle ranging from 45 degrees to 75 degrees. In some cases, the dry-state static sessile drop contact angle of the surface is greater than the wet-state static sessile drop contact angle of the surface by at least 10 degrees, at least 15 degrees, or at least 20 degrees, for example from 10 degrees to 40 degrees, from 10 degrees to 30 degrees, or from 10 degrees to 20 degrees.

    [0091] The exposed region of the elastomeric material can also exhibit a low coefficient of friction when the elastomeric material is wet. Examples of suitable coefficients of friction for the elastomeric material in a dry state (or dry-state coefficient of friction) are less than 1.5, for instance ranging from 0.3 to 1.3, or from 0.3 to 0.7, as characterized by the Coefficient of Friction Test. The Coefficient of Friction Test can be conducted on a sample obtained in accordance with the Article Sampling Procedure, or the Co-Extruded Film Sampling Procedure. Examples of suitable coefficients of friction for the elastomeric material in a wet state (or wet-state coefficient of friction) are less than 0.8 or less than 0.6, for instance ranging from 0.05 to 0.6, from 0.1 to 0.6, or from 0.3 to 0.5. Furthermore, the elastomeric material can exhibit a reduction in its coefficient of friction from its dry state to its wet state, such as a reduction ranging from 15 percent to 90 percent, or from 50 percent to 80 percent. In some cases, the dry-state coefficient of friction is greater than the wet-state coefficient of friction for the material, for example being higher by a value of at least 0.3 or 0.5, such as 0.3 to 1.2 or 0.5 to 1.

    [0092] Furthermore, the compliance of the elastomeric material can be characterized based on the elastomeric material's storage modulus in the dry state (when equilibrated at 0 percent relative humidity (RH)), and in a partially wet state (e.g., when equilibrated at 50 percent RH or at 90 percent RH), and by reductions in its storage modulus between the dry and wet states. In particular, the elastomeric material can have a reduction in storage modulus (ΔE') from the dry state relative to the wet state. A reduction in storage modulus as the water concentration in the elastomeric material corresponds to an increase in compliance, because less stress is required for a given strain/deformation.

    [0093] The elastomeric material can exhibit a reduction in the storage modulus from its dry state to its wet state (50 percent RH) of more than 20 percent, more than 40 percent, more than 60 percent, more than 75 percent, more than 90 percent, or more than 99 percent, relative to the storage modulus in the dry state, and as characterized by the Storage Modulus Test with the Neat Film Sampling Process.

    [0094] In some further aspects, the dry-state storage modulus of the elastomeric material is greater than its wet-state (50 percent RH) storage modulus by more than 25 megaPascals (MPa), by more than 50 MPa, by more than 100 MPa, by more than 300 MPa, or by more than 500 MPa, for example ranging from 25 MPa to 800 MPa, from 50 MPa to 800 MPa, from 100 MPa to 800 MPa, from 200 MPa to 800 MPa, from 400 MPa to 800 MPa, from 25 MPa to 200 MPa, from 25 MPa to 100 MPa, or from 50 MPa to 200 MPa. Additionally, the dry-state storage modulus can range from 40 MPa to 800 MPa, from 100 MPa to 600 MPa, or from 200 MPa to 400 MPa, as characterized by the Storage Modulus Test. Additionally, the wet-state storage modulus can range from 0.003 MPa to 100 MPa, from 1 MPa to 60 MPa, or from 20 MPa to 40 MPa.

    [0095] The elastomeric material can exhibit a reduction in the storage modulus from its dry state to its wet state (90 percent RH) of more than 20 percent, more than 40 percent, more than 60 percent, more than 75 percent, more than 90 percent, or more than 99 percent, relative to the storage modulus in the dry state, and as characterized by the Storage Modulus Test with the Neat Film Sampling Process. The dry-state storage modulus of the elastomeric material can be greater than its wet-state (90 percent RH) storage modulus by more than 25 megaPascals (MPa), by more than 50 MPa, by more than 100 MPa, by more than 300 MPa, or by more than 500 MPa, for example ranging from 25 MPa to 800 MPa, from 50 MPa to 800 MPa, from 100 MPa to 800 MPa, from 200 MPa to 800 MPa, from 400 MPa to 800 MPa, from 25 MPa to 200 MPa, from 25 MPa to 100 MPa, or from 50 MPa to 200 MPa. Additionally, the dry-state storage modulus can range from 40 MPa to 800 MPa, from 100 MPa to 600 MPa, or from 200 MPa to 400 MPa, as characterized by the Storage Modulus Test. Additionally, the wet-state storage modulus can range from 0.003 MPa to 100 MPa, from 1 MPa to 60 MPa, or from 20 MPa to 40 MPa.

    [0096] In addition to a reduction in storage modulus, the elastomeric material can also exhibit a reduction in its glass transition temperature from the dry state (when equilibrated at 0 percent relative humidity (RH) to the wet state (when equilibrated at 90 percent RH). While not wishing to be bound by theory, it is believed that the water taken up by the elastomeric material plasticizes the elastomeric material, which reduces its storage modulus and its glass transition temperature, rendering the elastomeric material more compliant (e.g., compressible, expandable, and stretchable).

    [0097] The elastomeric material can exhibit a reduction in glass transition temperature (ΔTg) from its dry-state (0 percent RH) glass transition temperature to its wet-state glass transition (90 percent RH) temperature of more than a 5 degrees C difference, more than a 6 degrees C difference, more than a 10 degrees C difference, or more than a 15 degrees C difference, as characterized by the Glass Transition Temperature Test with the Neat Film Sampling Process or the Neat Material Sampling Process. For instance, the reduction in glass transition temperature can range from more than a 5 degrees C difference to a 40 degrees C difference, from more than a 6 degrees C difference to a 50 degrees C difference, form more than a 10 degrees C difference to a 30 degrees C difference, from more than a 30 degrees C difference to a 45 degrees C difference, or from a 15 degrees C difference to a 20 degrees C difference. The elastomeric material can also exhibit a dry glass transition temperature ranging from -40 degrees C to -80 degrees C, or from -40 degrees C to -60 degrees C.

    [0098] Alternatively (or additionally), the reduction in glass transition temperature can range from a 5 degrees C difference to a 40 degrees C difference, form a 10 degrees C difference to a 30 degrees C difference, or from a 15 degrees C difference to a 20 degrees C difference. The elastomeric material can also exhibit a dry glass transition temperature ranging from -40 degrees C to -80 degrees C, or from -40 degrees C to -60 degrees C.

    [0099] The total amount of water that the elastomeric material can take up depends on a variety of factors, such as its composition, when present, the type and concentration of polymeric hydrogel (e.g., its hydrophilicity), its cross-linking density, its thickness, the amount of the elastomeric material present in the elastomeric material, and the like. The water uptake capacity and the water uptake rate of the elastomeric material, and of the elastomeric material, are dependent on the size and shape of its geometry, and are typically based on the same factors. Conversely, the water uptake rate is transient and can be defined kinetically. The three factors for water uptake rate for a given elastomeric material present in a given elastomeric material having a given geometry include time, thickness, and the surface area of the exposed region available for taking up water.

    [0100] As also mentioned above, in addition to swelling, the compliance of the elastomeric material can also increase from being relatively stiff (i.e., dry-state) to being increasingly stretchable, compressible, and malleable (i.e., wet-state). The increased compliance accordingly can allow the elastomeric material to readily compress under an applied pressure (e.g., during a foot strike on the ground), and in some examples, to quickly expel at least a portion of its retained water (depending on the extent of compression). While not wishing to be bound by theory, it is believed that this compressive compliance alone, water expulsion alone, or both in combination can disrupt the adhesion and/or cohesion of soil, which prevents or otherwise reduces the accumulation of soil.

    [0101] In addition to quickly expelling water, in particular examples, the compressed elastomeric material is capable of quickly re-absorbing water when the compression is released (e.g., liftoff from a foot strike during normal use). As such, during use in a wet or damp environment (e.g., a muddy or wet ground), the elastomeric material of the structure can dynamically expel and repeatedly take up water over successive foot strikes, particularly from a wet surface. As such, elastomeric material of the structure can continue to prevent soil accumulation over extended periods of time (e.g., during an entire competitive match), particularly when there is ground water available for re-uptake, as well as undergo a character change and be aesthetically advantageous.

    [0102] As used herein, the terms "take up", "taking up", "uptake", "uptaking", and the like refer to the drawing of a liquid (e.g., water) from an external source into the elastomeric material, the elastomeric material, and when present, the polymeric hydrogel, such as by absorption, adsorption, or both. Furthermore, as briefly mentioned above, the term "water" refers to an aqueous liquid that can be pure water, or can be an aqueous carrier with lesser amounts of dissolved, dispersed or otherwise suspended materials (e.g., particulates, other liquids, and the like).

    [0103] In addition to being effective at preventing soil accumulation, the elastomeric material has also been found to be sufficiently durable for its intended use on the ground-contacting side of the article of footwear. In various aspects, the useful life of the elastomeric material (and footwear containing it) is at least 10 hours, 20 hours, 50 hours, 100 hours, 120 hours, or 150 hours of wear.

    [0104] Having described the article, composition and elastomeric materials in general, additional details regarding articles, compositions and elastomeric materials are now provided. The article can include the elastomeric material, wherein, in the elastomeric material, the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the cured rubber. At least a portion (e.g. about 1 to 100 weight percent or about 50 to 100 weight percent) of the polymeric hydrogel present in the elastomeric material is entrapped by the cured rubber. The polymeric hydrogel can be physically entrapped and/or chemically bonded to the cured rubber.

    [0105] In an example, the footwear includes an upper and an outsole comprising a first region having a first elastomeric material. The first elastomeric material can include a mixture of a first cured rubber and a first polymeric hydrogel. The first region defines a first portion of an externally facing side of the outsole. The outsole also comprises a second region having a second material, where the first region and the second region are adjacent one another. The second region defines a second portion of the externally facing side of the outsole. Optionally, the second material is a second elastomeric material including a mixture of a second cured rubber and a second polymeric hydrogel. Alternatively, the second material is a second cured rubber which is substantially free of a polymeric hydrogel. The first polymeric hydrogel and the second polymeric hydrogel can be the same (e.g., the two polymeric hydrogels can be formed of the same type of polymer or combination of polymers having substantially equivalent water uptakes and are present in the elastomeric materials in substantially equivalent concentrations) or they can be different (e.g., they can be formed of different types of polymer, and/or have substantially different water uptakes, and/or be present in the elastomeric materials in substantially different concentrations). Similarly, the cured rubber of the first elastomeric material and second elastomeric material can be the same (e.g., the two cured rubbers are formed of the same type of uncured rubber or combination of uncured rubber having substantially equivalent molecular weights and are present in substantially equivalent concentrations) or they can be different (e.g., they are formed from types of uncured rubbers having different chemical structures and/or are present in substantially different concentrations).

    [0106] As described herein, an article can include two or more different types of elastomeric materials, where each have different water uptake capacities so that different physical characteristics are exhibited by the different types of elastomeric materials. For example, when an article includes a first and a second elastomeric material that are in the dry-state, the first and second elastomeric materials can have substantially physical characteristics.

    [0107] The first elastomeric material can comprise a first colorant at a first concentration, where the type of colorant and/or the concentration of the colorant can be the same or different than a second elastomeric material. The first colorant and the second colorant can be the same or different and can have substantially the same or different concentration, where differences in the elastomeric material can be responsible for differences in a characteristic change of the elastomeric materials.

    [0108] The rubber (e.g., uncured rubber, partially cured rubber, or cured rubber) of the composition and/or the elastomeric material can include one or more natural and/or synthetic rubbers. The natural or synthetic rubbers can include: butadiene rubber, styrene-butadiene (SBR) rubber, butyl rubber, isoprene rubber, urethane rubber (e.g., millable), nitrile rubber, neoprene rubber, ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber, ethylene-propylene rubber, urethane rubber or any combination thereof. Other examples of rubber compounds include, but are not limited to polynorbornene rubber, methyl methacrylate butadiene styrene rubber (MBS), styrene ethylene butylene (SEBS) rubber, silicone rubber, urethane rubber, and mixtures thereof. The natural or synthetic rubbers may be individually selected as virgin materials, regrind materials, or a mixture thereof.

    [0109] The uncured rubber can be a millable rubber, such as a millable polyurethane rubber. The millable rubber may be a thermally curable millable rubber, such as a thermally curable millable polyurethane rubber, for example, a sulfur or peroxide curable millable rubber. The millable rubber may also be a UV curable polyurethane rubber such as, for example, MILLATHANE UV-curable millable polyurethane rubber (TSE Industries Inc., Clearwater, FL, USA). The millable polyurethane rubber may be made be reacting either polyester or polyether polyols with diisocyanates, such as methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) or toluene diisocyanate (TDI), with or without a chain extender.

    [0110] The rubber further can include an additive. For example, the additive can include a plurality of polymer chains individually having a maleic anhydride moiety grafted to the polymer chain. The additive can be a functionalized polymer which has been modified by grafting maleic anhydride groups into the polymer backbone, end groups, or side groups, including ethylene-based polymers with maleic anhydride grafting. The additive can be a maleic-anhydride modified polymer such as "FUSABOND" (sold by E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Wilmington, DE, USA). The functionalized polymer can include modified ethylene acrylate carbon monoxide terpolymers, ethylene vinyl acetates (EVAs), polyethylenes, metallocenepolyethylenes, ethylene propylene rubbers and polypropylenes, where the modification to the functional polymer can include maleic anhydride grafted to the functional polymer. The amount of the additive present in the uncured rubber formulation can be up to 10 parts per hundred resin (phr), or from about 1 phr to about 8 phr, or from about 3 phr to about 6 phr.

    [0111] The rubber can further comprise fillers; process oils; and/or a curing package including at least one of crosslinking agents(s), crosslinking accelerator(s), and crosslinking retarder(s). Examples of fillers include, but are not limited to, carbon black, silica, and talc. Examples of process oils include, but are not limited to, paraffin oil and/or aromatic oils. Examples of crosslinking agents include, but are not limited to sulfur or peroxide initiators such as di-t-amyl peroxide, di-t-butyl peroxide, t-butyl cumyl peroxide, di-cumyl peroxide (DCP), di(2-methyl-1-phenyl-2-propyl)peroxide, t-butyl 2-methyl-1-phenyl-2-propyl peroxide, di(t-buylperoxy)-diisopropylbenzene, 2,5-dimethyl-2,5-di(t-butylperoxy)hexane, 2,5-dimethyl-2,5-di(t-butylperoxy)hexyne-3,1,1-di(t-butylperoxy)-3,3,5-trimethylcyclohexane, 4,4-di(t-butylperoxy)-n-butylvalerate, and mixtures thereof. Examples of crosslinking accelerators include, but are not limited to, N-cyclohexyl-2-benzothiazole sulfenamide (CBZ), N-oxydiethylene-2-benzothiazole sulfenamide, N,N-diisopropyl-2-benzothiazole sulfenamide, 2-mercaptobenzothiazole, 2-(2,4-dinitrophenyl)mercaptobenzothiazole, 2-(2,6-diethyl-4-morpholinothio)benzothiazole and dibenzothiazyl disulfide; guanidine compounds, such as diphenylguanidine (DPG), triphenylguanidine, diorthonitrileguanidine, orthonitrile biguanide and diphenylguanidine phthalate; aldehyde amine compounds or aldehyde ammonia compounds, such as acetaldehyde-aniline reaction product, butylaldehyde-aniline condensate, hexamethylenetetramine and acetaldehyde ammonia; imidazoline compounds, such as 2-mercaptoimidazoline; thiourea compounds, such as thiocarbanilide, diethylthiourea, dibutylthiourea, trimethylthiourea and diorthotolylthiourea; thiuram compounds, such as tetramethylthiuram monosulfide, tetramethylthiuram disulfide, tetraethylthiuram disulfide, tetrabutylthiuram disulfide and pentamethylenethiuram tetrasulfide; dithioate compounds, such as zinc dimethyldithiocarbamate, zinc diethyldithiocarbamate, zinc di-n-butyldithiocarbamate, zinc ethylphenyldithiocarbamate, zinc butylphenyldithiocarbamate, sodium dimethyldithiocarbamate, selenium dimethyldithiocarbamate and tellurium dimethyldithiocarbamate; xanthate compounds, such as zinc dibutylxanthogenate; and other compounds, such as zinc white. Examples of crosslinking retarders include, but are not limited to, alkoxyphenols, catechols, and benzoquinones, and alkoxyphenols such as 3,5-di-t-butyl-4-hydroxyanisol.

    [0112] In the article or component of the article, the elastomeric material and/or the rubber comprises at least some level of crosslinking, is at least partially cured, and generally is fully cured. In the finished article, the rubber is at least partially cured, and is generally fully cured. Or stated another way, in the elastomeric materials of the present disclosure, the rubber is at least partially cured. As used herein, the term "partially cured" generally refers to a compound (e.g., a rubber) having a relatively low crosslink density of less than or equal to 10-3 moles per cubic centimeter, or less than or equal to 10-5 moles per cubic centimeter. For example, the partially cured elastomeric material can have from about 15 to about 1500 monomer units present between crosslinks. Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) can be used to determine the modulus plateau for the compound. In the region of the modulus plateau above the glass transition temperature of the compound and below the melting point of the compound, the crosslink density is directly proportional to the modulus of the compound. As used herein, the term "cured" generally refers to a compound (e.g., a rubber) having a relatively high crosslink density. For example, the crosslink density of the cured compound can be at least 20 percent greater, or at least 30 percent greater, or at least 50 percent greater than the crosslink density of the uncured or partially cured composition.

    [0113] Examples of crosslinking reactions include, but are not limited to, free-radical reactions, ionic reactions (both anionic and cationic), addition reactions, and metal salt reactions. Crosslinking reactions can be initiated by actinic radiation, including thermal radiation, UV radiation, electron beam radiation, and other types of high energy radiations. The crosslinking reactions can occur during a vulcanization process.

    [0114] The term "partially cured" can denote the occurrence of at least about 1 percent, alternatively, at least about 5 percent of the total polymerization required to achieve a substantially full cure. The term "fully cured" is intended to mean a substantially full cure in which the degree of curing is such that the physical properties of the cured material do not noticeably change upon further exposure to conditions that induce curing (e.g., temperature, pressure, presence of curing agents, etc.).

    [0115] In regard to the polymeric hydrogel, the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the uncured rubber and/or the cured rubber in the elastomeric material. Upon curing of the uncured rubber, at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel in the elastomeric material may be entrapped (e.g., physically entrapped and/or chemically) by the cured rubber. A portion of the polymeric hydrogel can optionally be chemically (e.g., covalently or ionically) bonded to the cured rubber in the elastomeric material or in an adjacent surface or structure. Substantially all of the polymeric hydrogel in the elastomeric material can be entrapped (e.g., physically or chemically) by the cured rubber.

    [0116] The polymeric hydrogel is present in the composition and/or elastomeric material in an amount of about 0.5 weight percent to about 85 weight percent based on the overall weight of the elastomeric material (i.e., polymeric) component present in composition or the elastomeric material. Alternatively, the polymeric hydrogel is present in an amount that ranges from about 5 weight percent to about 80 weight percent based on the overall weight of the composition or the elastomeric material; alternatively, about 10 weight percent to about 70 weight percent, or about 20 weight percent to about 70 weight percent, or about 30 weight percent to about 70 weight percent, or about 45 to about 70 weight percent. Alternatively, concentration of the polymeric hydrogel in the composition and/or the elastomeric material can be expressed in parts per hundred resin (phr) based on the overall weight of the resin component of the composition or the elastomeric material. For example, the composition or elastomeric material can comprise from about 5 parts per hundred resin (phr), or about 10 to 80 phr, or about 15 to 70 phr, or about 20 to 70 phr, or about 30 to 70 phr, or about 45 to 70 phr of the polymeric hydrogel.

    [0117] For the purpose of this disclosure, the term "weight" refers to a mass value, such as having the units of grams, kilograms, and the like. Further, the recitations of numerical ranges by endpoints include the endpoints and all numbers within that numerical range. For example, a concentration ranging from 40 percent by weight to 60 percent by weight includes concentrations of 40 percent by weight, 60 percent by weight, and all concentrations there between (e.g., 40.1 percent, 41 percent, 45 percent, 50 percent, 52.5 percent, 55 percent, 59 percent, etc.). For example, a concentration ranging from 40 phr to 60 phr includes concentrations of 40 phr, 60 phr, and all concentrations there between (e.g., 40.1 phr, 41 phr, 45 phr, 50 phr, 52.5 phr, 55 phr, 59 phr, etc.).

    [0118] Additional details are provided for the polymeric hydrogel component of the composition and/or elastomeric material. The composition and/or elastomeric material includes the polymeric hydrogel distributed throughout the rubber, (i.e., the uncured rubber or the cured rubber) portion of the composition, and/or elastomeric material. Upon curing of the elastomeric material, at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel in the composition may be entrapped (e.g., physically entrapped and/or chemically entrapped) by the cured rubber. For example, a portion of the polymeric hydrogel can optionally be covalently bonded to the cured rubber in the elastomeric material, and/or substantially all of the polymeric hydrogel in the elastomeric material can be physically entrapped by the cured rubber.

    [0119] The polymeric hydrogel can be a thermoset hydrogel or a thermoplastic hydrogel. The polymeric hydrogel can be an elastomeric hydrogel, including an elastomeric thermoset hydrogel or an elastomeric thermoplastic hydrogel. The polymeric hydrogel can comprise one or more polymers. The polymer can be selected from: polyurethanes (including elastomeric polyurethanes, thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs), and elastomeric TPUs), polyesters, polyethers, polyamides, vinyl polymers (e.g., copolymers of vinyl alcohol, vinyl esters, ethylene, acrylates, methacrylates, styrene, and so on), polyacrylonitriles, polyphenylene ethers, polycarbonates, polyureas, polystyrenes, co-polymers thereof (including polyester-polyurethanes, polyether-polyurethanes, polycarbonate-polyurethanes, polyether block polyamides (PEBAs), and styrene block copolymers), and any combination thereof, as described herein. The polymer can include one or more polymers selected from the group consisting of polyesters, polyethers, polyamides, polyurethanes, polyolefins copolymers of each, and combinations thereof.

    [0120] The polymeric hydrogel can comprise a single type of polymeric hydrogel, or a mixture of two or more types of polymeric hydrogels. The polymeric hydrogel can comprise or consist essentially of a polyurethane hydrogel. The polymeric network of the elastomeric material can include one or more polyurethane hydrogels. Polyurethane hydrogels are prepared from one or more diisocyanate and one or more hydrophilic diol. A hydrophobic diol can be used in addition to the hydrophilic diol. The polymerization is normally carried out using roughly an equivalent amount of the diol and diisocyanate. Examples of hydrophilic diols are polyethylene glycols or copolymers of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. The diisocyanate can be selected from a wide variety of aliphatic or aromatic diisocyanates. The relative hydrophobicity of the resulting polymer is determined by the amount and type of the hydrophilic diols, the type and amount of the hydrophobic diols, and the type and amount of the diisocyanates.

    [0121] The polymeric hydrogel can comprise or consist essentially of a polyurea hydrogel. The polymeric network of the elastomeric material can include one or more polyurea hydrogels. Polyurea hydrogels are prepared from one or more diisocyanate and one or more hydrophilic diamine. A hydrophobic diamine can be used in addition to the hydrophilic diamine. The polymerization is normally carried out using roughly an equivalent amount of the diamine and diisocyanate. Typical hydrophilic diamines are amine-terminated polyethylene oxides and amine-terminated copolymers of polyethylene oxide/polypropylene. Examples are JEFFAMINE diamines sold by Huntsman (The Woodlands, TX, USA). The diisocyanate can be selected from a wide variety of aliphatic or aromatic diisocyanates. The hydrophobicity of the resulting polymer is determined by the amount and type of the hydrophilic diamine, the type and amount of the hydrophobic amine, and the type and amount of the diisocyanate.

    [0122] The polymeric hydrogel can comprise or consist essentially of a polyester hydrogel. The polymeric network of the elastomeric material can comprise one or more polyester hydrogels. Polyester hydrogels can be prepared from dicarboxylic acids (or dicarboxylic acid derivatives) and diols where part or all of the diol is a hydrophilic diol. Examples of hydrophilic diols are polyethylene glycols or copolymers of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. A second hydrophobic diol can also be used to control the polarity of the final polymer. One or more diacid can be used which can be either aromatic or aliphatic. Block polyesters prepared from hydrophilic diols and lactones of hydroxyacids can also be used. The lactone can be polymerized on each end of the hydrophilic diol to produce a triblock polymer. In addition, these triblock segments can be linked together to produce a multiblock polymer by reaction with a dicarboxylic acid.

    [0123] The polymeric hydrogel can comprise or consist essentially of a polycarbonate hydrogel. The polymeric network of the elastomeric material can comprise one or more polycarbonate hydrogels. Polycarbonates are typically prepared by reacting a diol with phosgene or a carbonate diester. A hydrophilic polycarbonate is produced when part or all of the diol is a hydrophilic diol. Examples of hydrophilic diols are hydroxyl terminated polyethers of ethylene glycol or polyethers of ethylene glycol with propylene glycol. A second hydrophobic diol can also be included to control the polarity of the final polymer.

    [0124] The polymeric hydrogel can comprise or consist essentially of a polyetheramide hydrogel. The polymeric network of the elastomeric material can comprise one or more polyetheramide hydrogels. Polyetheramides are prepared from dicarboxylic acids (or dicarboxylic acid derivatives) and polyether diamines (a polyether terminated on each end with an amino group). Hydrophilic amine-terminated polyethers can be used to produce hydrophilic polymers that can swell with water. Hydrophobic diamines can be used in conjunction with hydrophilic diamines to control the hydrophilicity of the final polyetheramide hydrogel. In addition, the type dicarboxylic acid segment can be selected to control the polarity of the polyetheramide hydrogel and the physical properties of the polyetheramide hydrogel. Typical hydrophilic diamines are amine-terminated polyethylene oxides and amine-terminated copolymers of polyethylene oxide/polypropylene. Examples are JEFFAMINE diamines sold by Huntsman (The Woodlands, TX, USA).

    [0125] The polymeric hydrogel can comprise or consist essentially of a hydrogel formed of addition polymers of ethylenically unsaturated monomers. The polymeric network of the elastomeric material can comprise one or more hydrogels formed of addition polymers of ethylenically unsaturated monomers. The addition polymers of ethylenically unsaturated monomers can be random polymers. The addition polymers can be prepared by free radical polymerization of one of more hydrophilic ethylenically unsaturated monomer and one or more hydrophobic ethylenically unsaturated monomers. Examples of hydrophilic monomers are acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, 2-acrylamido-2-methylpropane sulphonic acid, vinyl sulphonic acid, sodium p-styrene sulfonate, [3-(methacryloylamino)propyl]trimethylammonium chloride, 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate, acrylamide, N,N-dimethylacrylamide, 2-vinylpyrrolidone, (meth)acrylate esters of polyethylene glycol, and (meth)acrylate esters of polyethylene glycol monomethyl ether. Examples of hydrophobic monomers are (meth)acrylate esters of C1 to C4 alcohols, polystyrene, polystyrene methacrylate macromonomer and mono(meth)acrylate esters of siloxanes. The water uptake and physical characteristics of the resulting polymeric hydrogel can be tuned by selection of the monomer and the amounts of each monomer type.

    [0126] The addition polymers of ethylenically unsaturated monomers can be comb polymers. Comb polymers are produced when one of the monomers is a macromer (an oligomer with an ethylenically unsaturated group one end). In one case the main chain is hydrophilic while the side chains are hydrophobic. Alternatively the comb backbone can be hydrophobic while the side chains are hydrophilic. An example is a backbone of a hydrophobic monomer such as styrene with the methacrylate monoester of polyethylene glycol.

    [0127] The addition polymers of ethylenically unsaturated monomers can be block polymers. Block polymers of ethylenically unsaturated monomers can be prepared by methods such as anionic polymerization or controlled free radical polymerization. In one example, hydrogels are produced when the polymer has both hydrophilic blocks and hydrophobic blocks. The polymeric hydrogel can be a diblock polymer (A-B) polymer, triblock polymer (A-B-A) or multiblock polymer. Triblock polymers with hydrophobic end blocks and a hydrophilic center block can be useful for this application. Block polymers can be prepared by other means as well. Partial hydrolysis of polyacrylonitrile polymers produces multiblock polymers with hydrophilic domains (hydrolyzed) separated by hydrophobic domains (unhydrolyzed) such that the partially hydrolyzed polymer acts as a hydrogel. The hydrolysis converts acrylonitrile units to hydrophilic acrylamide or acrylic acid units in a multiblock pattern.

    [0128] The polymeric hydrogel can comprise or consist essentially of a hydrogel formed of copolymers. The polymeric network of the elastomeric material can comprise one or more hydrogels formed of copolymers. Copolymers combine two or more types of monomeric units within each polymer chain to achieve the desired set of properties. Of particular interest are polyurethane/polyurea copolymers, polyurethane/polyester copolymers, and polyester/polycarbonate copolymers.

    [0129] The polymeric hydrogel present may be characterized as including a plurality of polymer or copolymer chains in which each chain is independently selected to comprise a combination of both hard segments and soft segments. These hard and soft segments can exist as phase separated regions within the polymeric network while the polymeric hydrogel is in a solid (non-molten) state. The hard segments can form portions of the polymer chain backbones, and can exhibit high polarities, allowing the hard segments of multiple polymer chains to aggregate together, or interact with each other, to form semi-crystalline regions in the polymeric network. Typically, in polymeric hydrogels having both soft segments and hard segments, each of the soft segments of the polymeric hydrogel independently has a greater level of hydrophilicity than each of the hard segments.

    [0130] A "semi-crystalline" or "crystalline" region has an ordered molecular structure with sharp melting points, which remains solid until a given quantity of heat is absorbed and then rapidly changes into a low viscosity liquid. A "pseudo-crystalline" region has properties of a crystal, but does not exhibit a true crystalline diffraction pattern. For ease of reference, the term "crystalline region" is used herein to collectively refer to a crystalline region, a semi-crystalline region, and a pseudo-crystalline region of a network of polymeric hydrogel chains. In some examples, the hard segments of polymeric hydrogels form crystalline regions.

    [0131] In comparison, the soft segments of these polymeric hydrogels can be longer, more flexible, hydrophilic regions and can form networks that allow the elastomeric material to expand and swell under the pressure of taken up water. The soft segments can constitute amorphous hydrophilic regions of the hydrogel, or of crosslinked portions of the elastomeric material. The soft segments, or amorphous regions, can also form portions of the backbones of the polymer chains of the polymeric hydrogel along with the hard segments. Additionally, one or more portions of the soft segments, or amorphous regions, can be grafted or otherwise represent pendant chains that extend from the backbones at the soft segments. Each of the soft segments independently can include a plurality of hydroxyl groups, one or more poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) segments, or both. The soft segments, or amorphous regions, can be covalently bonded to the hard segments, or crystalline regions (e.g., through carbamate linkages). For example, the polymeric hydrogel can include a plurality of amorphous hydrophilic regions covalently bonded to the crystalline regions of the hard segments.

    [0132] The polymeric hydrogel, or the polymeric network of the elastomeric material, or both, can include a plurality of polymer or copolymer chains having at least a portion of the chains comprising a hard segment that is physically crosslinked to other hard segments and a soft segment covalently bonded to the hard segment, such as through a carbamate group or an ester group, among other functional groups.

    [0133] The polymeric hydrogel or the polymeric network of the elastomeric material, or both, thereof may include a plurality of polymer or copolymer chains. At least a portion of the polymer or copolymer chains can include a first segment that forms at least a crystalline region with other hard segments of the copolymer chains and a second segment, such as a soft segment (e.g., a segment having polyether chains or one or more ether groups) covalently bonded to the first segment. In this example, the soft segment forms amorphous regions of the hydrogel or crosslinked polymeric network. The hydrogel or crosslinked polymeric network can include a plurality of polymer or copolymer chains, where at least a portion of the polymer or copolymer chains has hydrophilic segments.

    [0134] The polymeric hydrogel can be an aliphatic polyurethane (TPU) resin that comprises a combination of hard segments and soft segments, wherein the hard segments include one or more segments having isocyanate groups. The hard segments may include segments formed from hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) or 4,4'-methylenebis(cyclohexyl isocyanate) (HMDI) in combination with 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BD) as a chain extender as shown in formula (F-1A) (Figure 14). The segments having isocyanate groups include segments having isocyanate groups that are directly bonded to segments formed from the 1,4-BD. The soft segments may be formed from poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) as shown in formula (F-1B). The reaction product or polymeric hydrogel formed of both hard segments, HS, and the soft segments, SS, may correspond to the formula shown in (F-1C), wherein the SS and HS correspond to the formulas shown in (F-1D) and (F-1E), respectively. The polymeric hydrogel may exhibit an average ratio of a number of soft segments to a number of hard segments (SS:HS) present in the copolymer chains of the polymeric hydrogel in the range of about 6:1 to about 100:1; alternatively, in the range of about 15:1 to about 99:1; alternatively, in the range of about 30:1 to about 95:1; alternatively, in the range of about 50:1 to about 90:1; alternatively in the range of 75:1 to 85:1. As the SS:HS ratio of the copolymer increases, more PEO is present in the structure of the resin. While not wishing to be bound by theory, it is believed that the higher the SS:HS ratio, the higher water uptake capacity is for the copolymer and faster the release kinetics associated therewith. A chemical description of formulas F-1A to F-1E is provided below.









    [0135] As used herein, the term "polymer" refers to a chemical compound formed of a plurality of repeating structural units referred to as monomers. Polymers often are formed by a polymerization reaction in which the plurality of structural units become covalently bonded together. When the monomer units forming the polymer all have the same chemical structure, the polymer is a homopolymer. When the polymer includes two or more monomer units having different chemical structures, the polymer is a copolymer. One example of a type of copolymer is a terpolymer, which includes three different types of monomer units. The co-polymer can include two or more different monomers randomly distributed in the polymer (e.g., a random co-polymer). Alternatively, one or more blocks containing a plurality of a first type of monomer can be bonded to one or more blocks containing a plurality of a second type of monomer, forming a block copolymer. A single monomer unit can include one or more different chemical functional groups.

    [0136] Polymers having repeating units which include two or more types of chemical functional groups can be referred to as having two or more segments. For example, a polymer having repeating units of the same chemical structure can be referred to as having repeating segments. Segments are commonly described as being relatively harder or softer based on their chemical structures, and it is common for polymers to include relatively harder segments and relatively softer segments bonded to each other in a single monomeric unit or in different monomeric units. When the polymer includes repeating segments, physical interactions or chemical bonds can be present within the segments or between the segments or both within and between the segments. Examples of segments often referred to as hard segments include segments including a urethane linkage, which can be formed from reacting an isocyanate with a polyol to form a polyurethane. Examples of segments often referred to as soft segments include segments including an alkoxy functional group, such as segments including ether or ester functional groups, and polyester segments. Segments can be referred to based on the name of the functional group present in the segment (e.g., a polyether segment, a polyester segment), as well as based on the name of the chemical structure which was reacted in order to form the segment (e.g., a polyol-derived segment, an isocyanate-derived segment). When referring to segments of a particular functional group or of a particular chemical structure from which the segment was derived, it is understood that the polymer can contain up to 10 mole percent of segments of other functional groups or derived from other chemical structures. For example, as used herein, a polyether segment is understood to include up to 10 mole percent of non-polyether segments.

    [0137] The composition of the present disclosure can be or can comprise a thermoplastic material. The article comprising the elastomeric material of the present disclosure can further comprise a thermoplastic material. The polymeric hydrogel of the composition and/or the elastomeric material can be a thermoplastic material. The composition can comprise at least one thermoplastic material in addition to the polymeric hydrogel. In general, a thermoplastic material softens or melts when heated and returns to a solid state when cooled. The thermoplastic material transitions from a solid state to a softened state when its temperature is increased to a temperature at or above its softening temperature, and a liquid state when its temperature is increased to a temperature at or above its melting temperature. When sufficiently cooled, the thermoplastic material transitions from the softened or liquid state to the solid state. As such, the thermoplastic material may be softened or melted, molded, cooled, re-softened or re-melted, re-molded, and cooled again through multiple cycles. For amorphous thermoplastic polymers, the solid state is understood to be the "rubbery" state above the glass transition temperature of the polymer. The thermoplastic material can have a melting temperature from about 90 degrees C to about 190 degrees C when determined in accordance with ASTM D3418-97 as described herein below, and includes all subranges therein in increments of 1 degree. The thermoplastic material can have a melting temperature from about 93 degrees C to about 99 degrees C when determined in accordance with ASTM D3418-97 as described herein below. The thermoplastic material can have a melting temperature from about 112 degrees C to about 118 degrees C when determined in accordance with ASTM D3418-97 as described herein below.

    [0138] The glass transition temperature is the temperature at which an amorphous polymer transitions from a relatively brittle "glassy" state to a relatively more flexible "rubbery" state. The thermoplastic material can have a glass transition temperature from about -20 degrees C to about 30 degrees C when determined in accordance with ASTM D3418-97 as described herein below. The thermoplastic material can have a glass transition temperature (from about -13 degree C to about -7 degrees C when determined in accordance with ASTM D3418-97 as described herein below. The thermoplastic material can have a glass transition temperature from about 17 degrees C to about 23 degrees C when determined in accordance with ASTM D3418-97 as described herein below.

    [0139] The thermoplastic material can have a melt flow index from about 10 to about 30 cubic centimeters per 10 minutes (cm3/10 min) when tested in accordance with ASTM D1238-13 as described herein below at 160 degrees C using a weight of 2.16 kilograms (kg). The thermoplastic material can have a melt flow index from about 22 cm3/10 min to about 28 cm3/10 min when tested in accordance with ASTM D1238-13 as described herein below at 160 degrees C using a weight of 2.16 kg.

    [0140] The elastomeric material can have a cold Ross flex test result of about 120,000 to about 180,000 cycles without cracking or whitening when tested on a plaque of the elastomeric material in accordance with the cold Ross flex test as described herein below. The elastomeric material can have a cold Ross flex test result of about 140,000 to about 160,000 cycles without cracking or whitening when tested on a plaque of the elastomeric material in accordance with the cold Ross flex test as described herein below.

    [0141] The elastomeric material can have a modulus from about 5 megaPascals (MPa) to about 100 MPa when determined on a plaque in accordance with ASTM D412-98 Standard Test Methods for Vulcanized Rubber and Thermoplastic Rubbers and Thermoplastic Elastomers-Tension with modifications described herein below. The elastomeric material can have a modulus from about 20 MPa to about 80 MPa when determined on a plaque in accordance with ASTM D412-98 Standard Test Methods for Vulcanized Rubber and Thermoplastic Rubbers and Thermoplastic Elastomers-Tension with modifications described herein below.

    [0142] The elastomeric material is a thermoset material. A "thermoset material" is understood to refer to a material which cannot be heated and melted, as its melting temperature is at or above its decomposition temperature. A "thermoset material" refers to a composition which comprises at least one thermoset polymer. The thermoset polymer and/or thermoset material can be prepared from a precursor (e.g., an uncured or partially cured polymer or material) using actinic radiation (e.g., thermal energy, ultraviolet radiation, visible radiation, high energy radiation, infrared radiation) to form a partially cured or fully cured polymer or material which no longer remains fully thermoplastic. In some cases, the cured or partially cured elastomeric material may retain some thermoplastic properties, in that it is possible to partially soften and mold the elastomeric material at elevated temperatures and/or pressures, but it is not possible to melt the elastomeric material. The curing can be promoted, for example, with the use of high pressure and/or a catalyst. The curing process is irreversible since it results in crosslinking and/or polymerization reactions of the precursors. The uncured compositions or partially cured elastomeric materials can be malleable or liquid prior to curing. In some cases, the uncured composition or partially cured elastomeric materials can be molded into their final shape, or used as adhesives. Once hardened, a thermoset material cannot be re-melted in order to be reshaped, but it may be possible to soften it. The textured surface can be formed by partially or fully curing the composition to lock in the textured surface into the elastomeric material.

    [0143] The composition and/or the elastomeric material can comprise a polyurethane. The article comprising the elastomeric material can further include one or more components comprising a polyurethane. The polyurethane can be a thermoplastic polyurethane (also referred to as "TPU"). Alternatively, the polyurethane can be a thermoset polyurethane. Additionally, the polyurethane can be an elastomeric polyurethane, including an elastomeric TPU or an elastomeric thermoset polyurethane. The elastomeric polyurethane can include hard and soft segments. The hard segments can comprise or consist of urethane segments (e.g., isocyanate-derived segments). The soft segments can comprise or consist of alkoxy segments (e.g., polyol-derived segments including polyether segments, or polyester segments, or a combination of polyether segments and polyester segments). The polyurethane can comprise or consist essentially of an elastomeric polyurethane having repeating hard segments and repeating soft segments.

    [0144] One or more of the polyurethanes can be produced by polymerizing one or more isocyanates with one or more polyols to produce polymer chains having carbamate linkages (-N(CO)O-) as illustrated below in Formula 1, where the isocyanate(s) each preferably include two or more isocyanate (-NCO) groups per molecule, such as 2, 3, or 4 isocyanate groups per molecule (although, mono-functional isocyanates can also be optionally included, e.g., as chain terminating units).



    [0145] Each R1 group and R2 group independently is an aliphatic or aromatic group. Optionally, each R2 can be a relatively hydrophilic group, including a group having one or more hydroxyl groups.

    [0146] Additionally, the isocyanates can also be chain extended with one or more chain extenders to bridge two or more isocyanates, increasing the length of the hard segment. This can produce polyurethane polymer chains as illustrated below in Formula 2, where R3 includes the chain extender. As with each R1 and R2, each R3 independently is an aliphatic or aromatic functional group.



    [0147] Each R1 group in Formulas 1 and 2 can independently include a linear or branched group having from 3 to 30 carbon atoms, based on the particular isocyanate(s) used, and can be aliphatic, aromatic, or include a combination of aliphatic portions(s) and aromatic portion(s). The term "aliphatic" refers to a saturated or unsaturated organic molecule or portion of a molecule that does not include a cyclically conjugated ring system having delocalized pi electrons. In comparison, the term "aromatic" refers to an organic molecule or portion of a molecule having a cyclically conjugated ring system with delocalized pi electrons, which exhibits greater stability than a hypothetical ring system having localized pi electrons.

    [0148] Each R1 group can be present in an amount of about 5 percent to about 85 percent by weight, from about 5 percent to about 70 percent by weight, or from about 10 percent to about 50 percent by weight, based on the total weight of the reactant compounds or monomers which form the polymer.

    [0149] In aliphatic embodiments (from aliphatic isocyanate(s)), each R1 group can include a linear aliphatic group, a branched aliphatic group, a cycloaliphatic group, or combinations thereof. For instance, each R1 group can include a linear or branched alkylene group having from 3 to 20 carbon atoms (e.g., an alkylene having from 4 to 15 carbon atoms, or an alkylene having from 6 to 10 carbon atoms), one or more cycloalkylene groups having from 3 to 8 carbon atoms (e.g., cyclopropyl, cyclobutyl, cyclopentyl, cyclohexyl, cycloheptyl, or cyclooctyl), and combinations thereof. The term "alkene" or "alkylene" as used herein refers to a bivalent hydrocarbon. When used in association with the term Cn it means the alkene or alkylene group has "n" carbon atoms. For example, C1-6 alkylene refers to an alkylene group having, e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 carbon atoms.

    [0150] Examples of suitable aliphatic diisocyanates for producing the polyurethane polymer chains include hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI), isophorone diisocyanate (IPDI), butylenediisocyanate (BDI), bisisocyanatocyclohexylmethane (HMDI), 2,2,4-trimethylhexamethylene diisocyanate (TMDI), bisisocyanatomethylcyclohexane, bisisocyanatomethyltricyclodecane, norbornane diisocyanate (NDI), cyclohexane diisocyanate (CHDI), 4,4'-dicyclohexylmethane diisocyanate (H12MDI), diisocyanatododecane, lysine diisocyanate, and combinations thereof.

    [0151] The isocyanate-derived segments can include segments derived from aliphatic diisocyanate. A majority of the isocyanate-derived segments can comprise segments derived from aliphatic diisocyanates. At least 90 percent of the isocyanate-derived segments are derived from aliphatic diisocyanates. The isocyanate-derived segments can consist essentially of segments derived from aliphatic diisocyanates. The aliphatic diisocyanate-derived segments can be derived substantially (e.g., about 50 percent or more, about 60 percent or more, about 70 percent or more, about 80 percent or more, about 90 percent or more) from linear aliphatic diisocyanates. At least 80 percent of the aliphatic diisocyanate-derived segments can be derived from aliphatic diisocyanates that are free of side chains. The segments derived from aliphatic diisocyanates can include linear aliphatic diisocyanates having from 2 to 10 carbon atoms.

    [0152] When the isocyanate-derived segments are derived from aromatic isocyanate(s)), each R1 group can include one or more aromatic groups, such as phenyl, naphthyl, tetrahydronaphthyl, phenanthrenyl, biphenylenyl, indanyl, indenyl, anthracenyl, and fluorenyl. Unless otherwise indicated, an aromatic group can be an unsubstituted aromatic group or a substituted aromatic group, and can also include heteroaromatic groups. "Heteroaromatic" refers to monocyclic or polycyclic (e.g., fused bicyclic and fused tricyclic) aromatic ring systems, where one to four ring atoms are selected from oxygen, nitrogen, or sulfur, and the remaining ring atoms are carbon, and where the ring system is joined to the remainder of the molecule by any of the ring atoms. Examples of suitable heteroaryl groups include pyridyl, pyrazinyl, pyrimidinyl, pyrrolyl, pyrazolyl, imidazolyl, thiazolyl, tetrazolyl, oxazolyl, isooxazolyl, thiadiazolyl, oxadiazolyl, furanyl, quinolinyl, isoquinolinyl, benzoxazolyl, benzimidazolyl, and benzothiazolyl groups.

    [0153] Examples of suitable aromatic diisocyanates for producing the polyurethane polymer chains include toluene diisocyanate (TDI), TDI adducts with trimethyloylpropane (TMP), methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), xylene diisocyanate (XDI), tetramethylxylylene diisocyanate (TMXDI), hydrogenated xylene diisocyanate (HXDI), naphthalene 1,5-diisocyanate (NDI), 1,5-tetrahydronaphthalene diisocyanate, para-phenylene diisocyanate (PPDI), 3,3'-dimethyldipheny1-4, 4'-diisocyanate (DDDI), 4,4'-dibenzyl diisocyanate (DBDI), 4-chloro-1,3-phenylene diisocyanate, and combinations thereof. The polymer chains can be substantially free of aromatic groups.

    [0154] The polyurethane polymer chains can be produced from diisocyanates including HMDI, TDI, MDI, H12 aliphatics, and combinations thereof. For example, the polyurethane can comprise one or more polyurethane polymer chains produced from diisocyanates including HMDI, TDI, MDI, H12 aliphatics, and combinations thereof.

    [0155] Polyurethane chains which are at least partially crosslinked or which can be crosslinked, can be used in accordance with the present disclosure. It is possible to produce crosslinked or crosslinkable polyurethane chains by reacting multi-functional isocyanates to form the polyurethane. Examples of suitable triisocyanates for producing the polyurethane chains include TDI, HDI, and IPDI adducts with trimethyloylpropane (TMP), uretdiones (i.e., dimerized isocyanates), polymeric MDI, and combinations thereof.

    [0156] The R3 group in Formula 2 can include a linear or branched group having from 2 to 10 carbon atoms, based on the particular chain extender polyol used, and can be, for example, aliphatic, aromatic, or an ether or polyether. Examples of suitable chain extender polyols for producing the polyurethane include ethylene glycol, lower oligomers of ethylene glycol (e.g., diethylene glycol, triethylene glycol, and tetraethylene glycol), 1,2-propylene glycol, 1,3-propylene glycol, lower oligomers of propylene glycol (e.g., dipropylene glycol, tripropylene glycol, and tetrapropylene glycol), 1,4-butylene glycol, 2,3-butylene glycol, 1,6-hexanediol, 1,8-octanediol, neopentyl glycol, 1,4-cyclohexanedimethanol, 2-ethyl-1,6-hexanediol, 1-methyl-1,3-propanediol, 2-methyl-1,3-propanediol, dihydroxyalkylated aromatic compounds (e.g., bis(2-hydroxyethyl)ethers of hydroquinone and resorcinol, xylene-a,a-diols, bis(2-hydroxyethyl)ethers of xylene-a,a-diols, and combinations thereof.

    [0157] The R2 group in Formula 1 and 2 can include a polyether group, a polyester group, a polycarbonate group, an aliphatic group, or an aromatic group. Each R2 group can be present in an amount of about 5 percent to about 85 percent by weight, from about 5 percent to about 70 percent by weight, or from about 10 percent to about 50 percent by weight, based on the total weight of the reactant monomers.

    [0158] At least one R2 group of the polyurethane includes a polyether segment (i.e., a segment having one or more ether groups). Suitable polyether groups include, but are not limited to, polyethylene oxide (PEO), polypropylene oxide (PPO), polytetrahydrofuran (PTHF), polytetramethylene oxide (PTMO), and combinations thereof. The term "alkyl" as used herein refers to straight chained and branched saturated hydrocarbon groups containing one to thirty carbon atoms, for example, one to twenty carbon atoms, or one to ten carbon atoms. When used in association with the term Cn it means the alkyl group has "n" carbon atoms. For example, C4 alkyl refers to an alkyl group that has 4 carbon atoms. C1-7 alkyl refers to an alkyl group having a number of carbon atoms encompassing the entire range (i.e., 1 to 7 carbon atoms), as well as all subgroups (e.g., 1-6, 2-7, 1-5, 3-6, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 carbon atoms). Non-limiting examples of alkyl groups include, methyl, ethyl, n-propyl, isopropyl, n-butyl, sec-butyl (2-methylpropyl), t-butyl (1,1- dimethylethyl), 3,3-dimethylpentyl, and 2-ethylhexyl. Unless otherwise indicated, an alkyl group can be an unsubstituted alkyl group or a substituted alkyl group.

    [0159] In some examples of the polyurethane, the at least one R2 group includes a polyester group. The polyester group can be derived from the polyesterification of one or more dihydric alcohols (e.g., ethylene glycol, 1,3-propylene glycol, 1,2-propylene glycol, 1,4-butanediol, 1,3-butanediol, 2-methylpentanediol, 1,5,diethylene glycol,1,5-pentanediol, 1,5-hexanediol, 1,2-dodecariediol, cyclohexanedimethanol, and combinations thereof) with one or more dicarboxylic acids (e.g., adipic acid, succinic acid, sebacic acid, suberic acid, methyladipic acid, glutaric acid, pimelic acid, azelaic acid, thiodipropionic acid and citraconic acid and combinations thereof). The polyester group also can be derived from polycarbonate prepolymers, such as poly(hexamethylene carbonate) glycol, poly(propylene carbonate) glycol, poly(tetramethylene carbonate)glycol, and poly(nonanemethylene carbonate) glycol. Suitable polyesters can include, for example, polyethylene adipate (PEA), poly(1,4-butylene adipate), poly(tetramethylene adipate), poly(hexamethylene adipate), polycaprolactone, polyhexamethylene carbonate, poly(propylene carbonate), poly(tetramethylene carbonate), poly(nonanemethylene carbonate), and combinations thereof.

    [0160] At least one R2 group can include a polycarbonate group. The polycarbonate group can be derived from the reaction of one or more dihydric alcohols (e.g., ethylene glycol, 1,3-propylene glycol, 1,2-propylene glycol, 1,4-butanediol, 1,3-butanediol, 2-methylpentanediol, 1,5, diethylene glycol, 1,5-pentanediol, 1,5-hexanediol, 1,2-dodecanediol, cyclohexanedimethanol, and combinations thereof) with ethylene carbonate.

    [0161] The aliphatic group can be linear and can include, for example, an alkylene chain having from 1 to 20 carbon atoms or an alkenylene chain having from 1 to 20 carbon atoms (e.g., methylene, ethylene, propylene, butylene, pentylene, hexylene, heptylene, octylene, nonylene, decylene, undecylene, dodecylene, tridecylene, ethenylene, propenylene, butenylene, pentenylene, hexenylene, heptenylene, octenylene, nonenylene, decenylene, undecenylene, dodecenylene, tridecenylene). The term "alkene" or "alkylene" refers to a bivalent hydrocarbon. The term "alkenylene" refers to a bivalent hydrocarbon molecule or portion of a molecule having at least one double bond.

    [0162] The aliphatic and aromatic groups can be substituted with one or more pendant relatively hydrophilic and/or charged groups. The pendant hydrophilic group can include one or more (e.g., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or more) hydroxyl groups. The pendant hydrophilic group includes one or more (e.g., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or more) amino groups. In some cases, the pendant hydrophilic group includes one or more (e.g., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or more) carboxylate groups. For example, the aliphatic group can include one or more polyacrylic acid group. In some cases, the pendant hydrophilic group includes one or more (e.g., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or more) sulfonate groups. In some cases, the pendant hydrophilic group includes one or more (e.g., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or more) phosphate groups. In some examples, the pendant hydrophilic group includes one or more ammonium groups (e.g., tertiary and/or quaternary ammonium). In other examples, the pendant hydrophilic group includes one or more zwitterionic groups (e.g., a betaine, such as poly(carboxybetaine (pCB) and ammonium phosphonate groups such as a phosphatidylcholine group).

    [0163] The R2 group can include charged groups that are capable of binding to a counterion to ionically crosslink the polymer and form ionomers. For example, R2 is an aliphatic or aromatic group having pendant amino, carboxylate, sulfonate, phosphate, ammonium, or zwitterionic groups, or combinations thereof.

    [0164] When a pendant hydrophilic group is present, the pendant hydrophilic group can be at least one polyether group, such as two polyether groups. In other cases, the pendant hydrophilic group is at least one polyester. The pendant hydrophilic group can be a polylactone group (e.g., polyvinylpyrrolidone). Each carbon atom of the pendant hydrophilic group can optionally be substituted with, e.g., an alkyl group having from 1 to 6 carbon atoms. The aliphatic and aromatic groups can be graft polymeric groups, wherein the pendant groups are homopolymeric groups (e.g., polyether groups, polyester groups, polyvinylpyrrolidone groups).

    [0165] The pendant hydrophilic group can be a polyether group (e.g., a polyethylene oxide (PEO) group, a polyethylene glycol (PEG) group), a polyvinylpyrrolidone group, a polyacrylic acid group, or combinations thereof.

    [0166] The pendant hydrophilic group can be bonded to the aliphatic group or aromatic group through a linker. The linker can be any bifunctional small molecule (e.g., one having from 1 to 20 carbon atoms) capable of linking the pendant hydrophilic group to the aliphatic or aromatic group. For example, the linker can include a diisocyanate group, as previously described herein, which when linked to the pendant hydrophilic group and to the aliphatic or aromatic group forms a carbamate bond. The linker can be 4,4'-diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI), as shown below.



    [0167] The pendant hydrophilic group can be a polyethylene oxide group and the linking group can be MDI, as shown below.



    [0168] The pendant hydrophilic group can be functionalized to enable it to bond to the aliphatic or aromatic group, optionally through the linker. For example, when the pendant hydrophilic group includes an alkene group, which can undergo a Michael addition with a sulfhydryl-containing bifunctional molecule (i.e., a molecule having a second reactive group, such as a hydroxyl group or amino group), resulting in a hydrophilic group that can react with the polymer backbone, optionally through the linker, using the second reactive group. For example, when the pendant hydrophilic group is a polyvinylpyrrolidone group, it can react with the sulfhydryl group on mercaptoethanol to result in hydroxyl-functionalized polyvinylpyrrolidone, as shown below.



    [0169] At least one R2 group in the polyurethane can include a polytetramethylene oxide group. At least one R2 group of the polyurethane can include an aliphatic polyol group functionalized with a polyethylene oxide group or polyvinylpyrrolidone group, such as the polyols described in E.P. Patent No. 2 462 908. For example, the R2 group can be derived from the reaction product of a polyol (e.g., pentaerythritol or 2,2,3-trihydroxypropanol) and either MDI-derivatized methoxypolyethylene glycol (to obtain compounds as shown in Formulas 6 or 7) or with MDI-derivatized polyvinylpyrrolidone (to obtain compounds as shown in Formulas 8 or 9) that had been previously been reacted with mercaptoethanol, as shown below.









    [0170] At least one R2 of the polyurethane can be a polysiloxane, In these cases, the R2 group can be derived from a silicone monomer of Formula 10, such as a silicone monomer disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,969,076:

    wherein: a is 1 to 10 or larger (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10); each R4 independently is hydrogen, an alkyl group having from 1 to 18 carbon atoms, an alkenyl group having from 2 to 18 carbon atoms, aryl, or polyether; and each R5 independently is an alkylene group having from 1 to 10 carbon atoms, polyether, or polyurethane.

    [0171] Each R4 group can independently be a H, an alkyl group having from 1 to 10 carbon atoms, an alkenyl group having from 2 to 10 carbon atoms, an aryl group having from 1 to 6 carbon atoms, polyethylene, polypropylene, or polybutylene group. Each R4 group can independently be selected from the group consisting of methyl, ethyl, n-propyl, isopropyl, n-butyl, isobutyl, s-butyl, t-butyl, ethenyl, propenyl, phenyl, and polyethylene groups.

    [0172] Each R5 group can independently include an alkylene group having from 1 to 10 carbon atoms (e.g., a methylene, ethylene, propylene, butylene, pentylene, hexylene, heptylene, octylene, nonylene, or decylene group). Each R5 group can be a polyether group (e.g., a polyethylene, polypropylene, or polybutylene group). Each R5 group can be a polyurethane group.

    [0173] Optionally, the polyurethane can include an at least partially crosslinked polymeric network that includes polymer chains that are derivatives of polyurethane. The level of crosslinking can be such that the polyurethane retains thermoplastic properties (i.e., the crosslinked thermoplastic polyurethane can be melted and re-solidified under the processing conditions described herein). The crosslinked polyurethane can be a thermoset polymer. This crosslinked polymeric network can be produced by polymerizing one or more isocyanates with one or more polyamino compounds, polysulftlydryl compounds, or combinations thereof, as shown in Formulas 11 and 12, below:



    where the variables are as described above. Additionally, the isocyanates can also be chain extended with one or more polyamino or polythiol chain extenders to bridge two or more isocyanates, such as previously described for the polyurethanes of Formula 2.

    [0174] The polyurethane chain can be physically crosslinked to another polyurethane chain through e.g., nonpolar or polar interactions between the urethane or carbamate groups of the polymers (the hard segments). The R1 group in Formula 1, and the R1 and R3 groups in Formula 2, form the portion of the polymer often referred to as the "hard segment", and the R2 group forms the portion of the polymer often referred to as the "soft segment". The soft segment is covalently bonded to the hard segment. The polyurethane having physically crosslinked hard and soft segments can be a hydrophilic polyurethane (i.e., a polyurethane, including a thermoplastic polyurethane, including hydrophilic groups as disclosed herein).

    [0175] One or more of the polyurethanes can be produced by polymerizing one or more isocyanates with one or more polyols to produce copolymer chains having carbamate linkages (-N(C=O)O-) and one or more water-uptake enhancing moieties, where the polymer chain includes one or more water-uptake enhancing moieties (e.g., a monomer in polymer chain). The water-uptake enhancing moiety can be added to the chain of Formula 1 or 2 (e.g., within the chain and/or onto the chain as a side chain). Inclusion of the water-uptake enhancing moiety can enable the formation of a polyurethane hydrogel.

    [0176] The polyurethane can include one or more water-uptake enhancing moieties. The water-uptake enhancing moiety can have at least one hydrophilic (e.g., poly(ethylene oxide)), ionic or potentially ionic group.\ A polyurethane can be formed by incorporating a moiety bearing at least one hydrophilic group or a group that can be made hydrophilic (e.g., by chemical modifications such as neutralization) into the polymer chain. For example, these compounds can be nonionic, anionic, cationic or zwitterionic or the combination thereof. In one example, anionic groups such as carboxylic acid groups can be incorporated into the chain in an inactive form and subsequently activated by a salt-forming compound, such as a tertiary amine. Other water-uptake enhancing moieties can also be reacted into the backbone through urethane linkages or urea linkages, including lateral or terminal hydrophilic ethylene oxide or ureido units.

    [0177] The water-uptake enhancing moiety can be a one that includes carboxyl groups. Water-uptake enhancing moiety that include a carboxyl group can be formed from hydroxycarboxylic acids having the general formula (HO)xQ(COOH)y, where Q can be a straight or branched bivalent hydrocarbon radical containing 1 to 12 carbon atoms, and x and y can each independently be 1 to 3. Illustrative examples include dimethylolpropanoic acid (DMPA), dimethylol butanoic acid (DMBA), citric acid, tartaric acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, dihydroxymalic acid, dihydroxytartaric acid, and the like, and mixtures thereof.

    [0178] The water-uptake enhancing moiety can include reactive polymeric polyol components that contain pendant anionic groups that can be polymerized into the backbone to impart water dispersible characteristics to the polyurethane. Anionic functional polymeric polyols can include anionic polyester polyols, anionic polyether polyols, and anionic polycarbonate polyols, where additional detail is provided in U.S. Pat. No. 5,334,690.

    [0179] The water-uptake enhancing moiety can include a side chain hydrophilic monomer. For example, the water-uptake enhancing moiety including the side chain hydrophilic monomer can include alkylene oxide polymers and copolymers in which the alkylene oxide groups have from 2-10 carbon atoms as shown in U.S. Patent 6,897,281. Additional types of water-uptake enhancing moieties can include thioglycolic acid, 2,6-dihydroxybenzoic acid, sulfoisophthalic acid, polyethylene glycol, and the like, and mixtures thereof. Additional details regarding water-dispersible enhancing moieties can be found in U.S. Patent 7,476,705.

    Polyamides



    [0180] The composition and/or the elastomeric material can comprise a polyamide. The article comprising the elastomeric material can further one or more components comprising a polyamide. The polyamide can be a thermoplastic polyamide, or a thermoset polyamide. The polyamide can be an elastomeric polyamide, including an elastomeric thermoplastic polyamide or an elastomeric thermoset polyamide. The polyamide can be a polyamide homopolymer having repeating polyamide segments of the same chemical structure. Alternatively, the polyamide can comprise a number of polyamide segments having different polyamide chemical structures (e.g., polyamide 6 segments, polyamide 11 segments, polyamide 12 segments, polyamide 66 segments, etc.). The polyamide segments having different chemical structure can be arranged randomly, or can be arranged as repeating blocks.

    [0181] The polyamide can be a co-polyamide (i.e., a co-polymer including polyamide segments and non-polyamide segments). The polyamide segments of the co-polyamide can comprise or consist of polyamide 6 segments, polyamide 11 segments, polyamide 12 segments, polyamide 66 segments, or any combination thereof. The polyamide segments of the co-polyamide can be arranged randomly, or can be arranged as repeating segments. The polyamide segments can comprise or consist of polyamide 6 segments, or polyamide 12 segments, or both polyamide 6 segment and polyamide 12 segments, In the example where the polyamide segments of the co-polyamide include of polyamide 6 segments and polyamide 12 segments, the segments can be arranged randomly. The non-polyamide segments of the co-polyamide can comprise or consist of polyether segments, polyester segments, or both polyether segments and polyester segments. The co-polyamide can be a block co-polyamide, or can be a random co-polyamide. The copolyamide can be formed from the polycondensation of a polyamide oligomer or prepolymer with a second oligomer prepolymer to form a copolyamide (i.e., a co-polymer including polyamide segments. Optionally, the second prepolymer can be a hydrophilic prepolymer.

    [0182] The polyamide can be a polyamide-containing block co-polymer. For example, the block co-polymer can have repeating hard segments, and repeating soft segments. The hard segments can comprise polyamide segments, and the soft segments can comprise non-polyamide segments. The polyamide-containing block co-polymer can be an elastomeric co-polyamide comprising or consisting of polyamide-containing block co-polymers having repeating hard segments and repeating soft segments. In block co-polymers, including block co-polymers having repeating hard segments and soft segments, physical crosslinks can be present within the segments or between the segments or both within and between the segments.

    [0183] The polyamide itself, or the polyamide segment of the polyamide-containing block co-polymer can be derived from the condensation of polyamide prepolymers, such as lactams, amino acids, and/or diamino compounds with dicarboxylic acids, or activated forms thereof. The resulting polyamide segments include amide linkages (-(CO)NH-). The term "amino acid" refers to a molecule having at least one amino group and at least one carboxyl group. Each polyamide segment of the polyamide can be the same or different.

    [0184] The polyamide or the polyamide segment of the polyamide-containing block co-polymer can be derived from the polycondensation of lactams and/or amino acids, and can include an amide segment having a structure shown in Formula 13, below, wherein R6 group represents the portion of the polyamide derived from the lactam or amino acid.



    [0185] The R6 group can be derived from a lactam. The R6 group can be derived from a lactam group having from 3 to 20 carbon atoms, or a lactam group having from 4 to 15 carbon atoms, or a lactam group having from 6 to 12 carbon atoms. The R6 group can be derived from caprolactam or laurolactam. The R6 group can be derived from one or more amino acids. The R6 group can be derived from an amino acid group having from 4 to 25 carbon atoms, or an amino acid group having from 5 to 20 carbon atoms, or an amino acid group having from 8 to 15 carbon atoms. The R6 group can be derived from 12-aminolauric acid or 11-aminoundecanoic acid.

    [0186] Optionally, in order to increase the relative degree of hydrophilicity of the polyamide-containing block co-polymer, Formula 13 can include a polyamide-polyether block copolymer segment, as shown below:

    wherein m is 3-20, and n is 1-8. Optionally, m is 4-15, or 6-12 (e.g., 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12), and n is 1, 2, or 3. For example, m can be 11 or 12, and n can be 1 or 3. The polyamide or the polyamide segment of the polyamide-containing block co-polymer can be derived from the condensation of diamino compounds with dicarboxylic acids, or activated forms thereof, and can include an amide segment having a structure shown in Formula 15, below, wherein the R7 group represents the portion of the polyamide derived from the diamino compound, and the R8 group represents the portion derived from the dicarboxylic acid compound:



    [0187] The R7 group can be derived from a diamino compound that includes an aliphatic group having from 4 to 15 carbon atoms, or from 5 to 10 carbon atoms, or from 6 to 9 carbon atoms. The diamino compound can include an aromatic group, such as phenyl, naphthyl, xylyl, and tolyl. Suitable diamino compounds from which the R7 group can be derived include, but are not limited to, hexamethylene diamine (HMD), tetramethylene diamine, trimethyl hexamethylene diamine (TMD),m-xylylene diamine (MXD), and 1,5-pentamine diamine. The R8 group can be derived from a dicarboxylic acid or activated form thereof, including an aliphatic group having from 4 to 15 carbon atoms, or from 5 to 12 carbon atoms, or from 6 to 10 carbon atoms. The dicarboxylic acid or activated form thereof from which R8 can be derived includes an aromatic group, such as phenyl, naphthyl, xylyl, and tolyl groups. Suitable carboxylic acids or activated forms thereof from which R8 can be derived include adipic acid, sebacic acid, terephthalic acid, and isophthalic acid. The polyamide chain can be substantially free of aromatic groups.

    [0188] Each polyamide segment of the polyamide (including the polyamide-containing block co-polymer) can be independently derived from a polyamide prepolymer selected from the group consisting of 12-aminolauric acid, caprolactam, hexamethylene diamine and adipic acid.

    [0189] The polyamide can comprise or consist essentially of a poly(ether-block-amide). The poly(ether-block-amide) can be formed from the polycondensation of a carboxylic acid terminated polyamide prepolymer and a hydroxyl terminated polyether prepolymer to form a poly(ether-block-amide), as shown in Formula 16:



    [0190] The poly(ether block amide) polymer can be prepared by polycondensation of polyamide blocks containing reactive ends with polyether blocks containing reactive ends. Examples include: 1) polyamide blocks containing diamine chain ends with polyoxyalkylene blocks containing carboxylic chain ends; 2) polyamide blocks containing dicarboxylic chain ends with polyoxyalkylene blocks containing diamine chain ends obtained by cyanoethylation and hydrogenation of aliphatic dihydroxylated alpha-omega polyoxyalkylenes known as polyether diols; 3) polyamide blocks containing dicarboxylic chain ends with polyether diols, the products obtained in this particular case being polyetheresteramides. The polyamide block of the poly(ether-block-amide) can be derived from lactams, amino acids, and/or diamino compounds with dicarboxylic acids as previously described. The polyether block can be derived from one or more polyethers selected from the group consisting of polyethylene oxide (PEO), polypropylene oxide (PPO), polytetrahydrofuran (PTHF), polytetramethylene oxide (PTMO), and combinations thereof.

    [0191] The poly(ether block amide) polymers can include those comprising polyamide blocks comprising dicarboxylic chain ends derived from the condensation of α, ω-aminocarboxylic acids, of lactams or of dicarboxylic acids and diamines in the presence of a chain-limiting dicarboxylic acid. In poly(ether block amide) polymers of this type, a α, ω-aminocarboxylic acid such as aminoundecanoic acid can be used; a lactam such as caprolactam or lauryllactam can be used; a dicarboxylic acid such as adipic acid, decanedioic acid or dodecanedioic acid can be used; and a diamine such as hexamethylenediamine can be used; or various combinations of any of the foregoing. The copolymer can comprise polyamide blocks comprising polyamide 12 or of polyamide 6.

    [0192] The poly(ether block amide) polymers can include those comprising polyamide blocks derived from the condensation of one or more α, ω-aminocarboxylic acids and/or of one or more lactams containing from 6 to 12 carbon atoms in the presence of a dicarboxylic acid containing from 4 to 12 carbon atoms, and are of low mass, i.e., they have a number-average molecular weight of from 400 to 1000. In poly(ether block amide) polymers of this type, an α, ω-aminocarboxylic acid such as aminoundecanoic acid or aminododecanoic acid can be used; a dicarboxylic acid such as adipic acid, sebacic acid, isophthalic acid, butanedioic acid, 1,4-cyciohexyldicarboxylic acid, terephthalic acid, the sodium or lithium salt of sulphoisophthalic acid, dimerized fatty acids (these dimerized fatty acids have a dimer content of at least 98 weight percent and are preferably hydrogenated) and dodecanedioic acid HOOC-(CH2)10-COOH can be used; and a lactam such as caprolactam and lauryllactam can be used; or various combinations of any of the foregoing. The copolymer can comprise polyamide blocks obtained by condensation of lauryllactam in the presence of adipic acid or dodecanedioic acid and with a number average molecular weight of at least 750 have a melting temperature of from about 127 to about 130 degrees C. The various constituents of the polyamide block and their proportion can be chosen in order to obtain a melting point of less than 150 degrees C, or from about 90 degrees C to about 135 degrees C.

    [0193] The poly(ether block amide) polymers can include those comprising polyamide blocks derived from the condensation of at least one α, ω-aminocarboxylic acid (or a lactam), at least one diamine and at least one dicarboxylic acid. In copolymers of this type, a α,ω-aminocarboxylic acid, the lactam and the dicarboxylic acid can be chosen from those described herein above and the diamine that can be used can include an aliphatic diamine containing from 6 to 12 atoms and can be acyclic and/or saturated cyclic such as, but not limited to, hexamethylenediamine, piperazine, 1-aminoethylpiperazine, bisaminopropylpiperazine, tetramethylenediamine, octamethylene-diamine, decamethylenediamine, dodecamethylenediamine, 1,5-diaminohexane, 2,2,4-trimethyl-1,6-diaminohexane, diamine polyols, isophoronediamine (IPD), methylpentamethylenediamine (MPDM), bis(aminocyclohexyl)methane (BACM) and bis(3-methyl-4-aminocyclohexyl)methane (BMACM).

    [0194] The polyamide can be a thermoplastic polyamide and the constituents of the polyamide block and their proportion can be chosen in order to obtain a melting temperature of less than 150 degrees C, such as a melting point of from about 90 degrees C to about 135 degrees C. The various constituents of the thermoplastic polyamide block and their proportion can be chosen in order to obtain a melting point of less than 150 degrees C, such as from about and 90 degrees C to about 135 degrees C.

    [0195] The number average molar mass of the polyamide blocks can be from about 300 grams per mole to about 15,000 grams per mole, from about 500 grams per mole to about 10,000 grams per mole, from about 500 grams per mole to about 6,000 grams per mole, from about 500 grams per mole to about 5,000 grams per mole, or from about 600 grams per mole to about 5,000 grams per mole. The number average molecular weight of the polyether block can range from about 100 to about 6,000, from about 400 to about 3000, or from about 200 to about 3,000. The polyether (PE) content (x) of the poly(ether block amide) polymer can be from about 0.05 to about 0.8 (i.e., from about 5 mole percent to about 80 mole percent). The polyether blocks can be present in the polyamide in an amount of from about 10 weight percent to about 50 weight percent, from about 20 weight percent to about 40 weight percent, or from about 30 weight percent to about 40 weight percent. The polyamide blocks can be present in the polyamide in an amount of from about 50 weight percent to about 90 weight percent, from about 60 weight percent to about 80 weight percent, or from about 70 weight percent to about 90 weight percent.

    [0196] The polyether blocks can contain units other than ethylene oxide units, such as, for example, propylene oxide or polytetrahydrofuran (which leads to polytetramethylene glycol sequences). It is also possible to use simultaneously PEG blocks, i.e., those consisting of ethylene oxide units, polypropylene glycol (PPG) blocks, i.e. those consisting of propylene oxide units, and poly(tetramethylene ether)glycol (PTMG) blocks, i.e. those consisting of tetramethylene glycol units, also known as polytetrahydrofuran. PPG or PTMG blocks are advantageously used. The amount of polyether blocks in these copolymers containing polyamide and polyether blocks can be from about 10 weight percent to about 50 weight percent of the copolymer, or from about 35 weight percent to about 50 weight percent.

    [0197] The copolymers containing polyamide blocks and polyether blocks can be prepared by any means for attaching the polyamide blocks and the polyether blocks. In practice, two processes are essentially used, one being a 2-step process and the other a one-step process.

    [0198] In the two-step process, the polyamide blocks having dicarboxylic chain ends are prepared first, and then, in a second step, these polyamide blocks are linked to the polyether blocks. The polyamide blocks having dicarboxylic chain ends are derived from the condensation of polyamide precursors in the presence of a chain-stopper dicarboxylic acid. If the polyamide precursors are only lactams or α,ω-aminocarboxylic acids, a dicarboxylic acid is added. If the precursors already comprise a dicarboxylic acid, this is used in excess with respect to the stoichiometry of the diamines. The reaction usually takes place from about 180 to about 300 degrees C, such as from about 200 degrees to about 290 degrees C, and the pressure in the reactor can be set from about 5 to about 30 bar and maintained for approximately 2 to 3 hours. The pressure in the reactor is slowly reduced to atmospheric pressure and then the excess water is distilled off, for example for one or two hours.

    [0199] Once the polyamide having carboxylic acid end groups has been prepared, the polyether, the polyol and a catalyst are then added. The total amount of polyether can be divided and added in one or more portions, as can the catalyst. The polyether is added first and the reaction of the OH end groups of the polyether and of the polyol with the COOH end groups of the polyamide starts, with the formation of ester linkages and the elimination of water. Water is removed as much as possible from the reaction mixture by distillation and then the catalyst is introduced in order to complete the linking of the polyamide blocks to the polyether blocks. This second step takes place with stirring, preferably under a vacuum of at least 50 millibar (5000 Pascals) at a temperature such that the reactants and the copolymers obtained are in the molten state. By way of example, this temperature can be from about 100 to about 400 degrees C, such as from about 200 to about 250 degrees C. The reaction is monitored by measuring the torque exerted by the polymer melt on the stirrer or by measuring the electric power consumed by the stirrer. The end of the reaction is determined by the value of the torque or of the target power. The catalyst is defined as being any product which promotes the linking of the polyamide blocks to the polyether blocks by esterification. The catalyst can be a derivative of a metal (M) chosen from the group formed by titanium, zirconium and hafnium. The derivative can be prepared from a tetraalkoxides consistent with the general formula M(OR)4, in which M represents titanium, zirconium or hafnium and R, which can be identical or different, represents linear or branched alkyl radicals having from 1 to 24 carbon atoms.

    [0200] The catalyst can comprise a salt of the metal (M), particularly the salt of (M) and of an organic acid and the complex salts of the oxide of (M) and/or the hydroxide of (M) and an organic acid. The organic acid can be formic acid, acetic acid, propionic acid, butyric acid, valeric acid, caproic acid, caprylic acid, lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, cyclohexanecarboxylic acid, phenylacetic acid, benzoic acid, salicylic acid, oxalic acid, malonic acid, succinic acid, glutaric acid, adipic acid, maleic acid, fumaric acid, phthalic acid or crotonic acid. The organic acid can be an acetic acid or a propionic acid. M can be zirconium and such salts are called zirconyl salts, e.g., the commercially available product sold under the name zirconyl acetate.

    [0201] The weight proportion of catalyst can vary from about 0.01 to about 5 percent of the weight of the mixture of the dicarboxylic polyamide with the polyetherdiol and the polyol. The weight proportion of catalyst can vary from about 0.05 to about 2 percent of the weight of the mixture of the dicarboxylic polyamide with the polyetherdiol and the polyol.

    [0202] In the one-step process, the polyamide precursors, the chain stopper and the polyether are blended together; what is then obtained is a polymer having essentially polyether blocks and polyamide blocks of highly variable length, but also the various reactants that have reacted randomly, which are distributed randomly along the polymer chain. They are the same reactants and the same catalyst as in the two-step process described above. If the polyamide precursors are only lactams, it is advantageous to add a little water. The copolymer has essentially the same polyether blocks and the same polyamide blocks, but also a small portion of the various reactants that have reacted randomly, which are distributed randomly along the polymer chain. As in the first step of the two-step process described above, the reactor is closed and heated, with stirring. The pressure established is from about 5 to about 30 bar. When the pressure no longer changes, the reactor is put under reduced pressure while still maintaining vigorous stirring of the molten reactants. The reaction is monitored as previously in the case of the two-step process.

    [0203] The proper ratio of polyamide to polyether blocks can be found in a single poly(ether block amide), or a blend of two or more different composition poly(ether block amide)s can be used with the proper average composition. It can be useful to blend a block copolymer having a high level of polyamide groups with a block copolymer having a higher level of polyether blocks, to produce a blend having an average level of polyether blocks of about 20 to about 40 weight percent of the total blend of poly(amid-block-ether) copolymers, or about 30 to about 35 weight percent. The copolymer can comprise a blend of two different poly(ether-block-amide)s comprising at least one block copolymer having a level of polyether blocks below 35 weight percent, and a second poly(ether-block-amide) having at least 45 weight percent of polyether blocks.

    [0204] Exemplary commercially available copolymers include, but are not limited to, those available under the tradenames of "VESTAMID" (Evonik Industries, Essen, Germany); "PLATAMID" (Arkema, Colombes, France), e.g., product code H2694; "PEBAX" (Arkema), e.g., product code "PEBAX MH1657" and "PEBAX MV1074"; "PEBAX RNEW" (Arkema); "GRILAMID" (EMS-Chemie AG, Domat-Ems, Switzerland), or also to other similar materials produced by various other suppliers.

    [0205] The polyamide can be physically crosslinked through, e.g., nonpolar or polar interactions between the polyamide groups of the polymers. In examples where the polyamide is a copolyamide, the copolyamide can be physically crosslinked through interactions between the polyamide groups, and optionally by interactions between the copolymer groups. When the co-polyamide is physically crosslinked through interactions between the polyamide groups, the polyamide segments can form the portion of the polymer referred to as the hard segment, and copolymer segments can form the portion of the polymer referred to as the soft segment. For example, when the copolyamide is a poly(ether-block-amide), the polyamide segments form the hard segments of the polymer, and polyether segments form the soft segments of the polymer. Therefore, in some examples, the polymer can include a physically crosslinked polymeric network having one or more polymer chains with amide linkages.

    [0206] The polyamide segment of the co-polyamide can include polyamide-11 or polyamide-12 and the polyether segment can be a segment selected from the group consisting of polyethylene oxide, polypropylene oxide, and polytetramethylene oxide segments, and combinations thereof.

    [0207] The polyamide can be partially or fully covalently crosslinked, as previously described herein. In some cases, the degree of crosslinking present in the polyamide is such that, when it is thermally processed, e.g., in the form of a yarn or fiber to form the articles of the present disclosure, the partially covalently crosslinked thermoplastic polyamide retains sufficient thermoplastic character that the partially covalently crosslinked thermoplastic polyamide is melted during the processing and re-solidifies. In other cases, the crosslinked polyamide is a thermoset polymer.

    Polyesters



    [0208] The composition and/or the elastomeric material can comprise a polyester. The article comprising the elastomeric material can further one or more components comprising a polyester. The polyester can comprise a thermoplastic polyester, or a thermoset polyester. Additionally, the polyester can be an elastomeric polyester, including a thermoplastic polyester or a thermoset elastomeric polyester. The polyester can be formed by reaction of one or more carboxylic acids, or its ester-forming derivatives, with one or more bivalent or multivalent aliphatic, alicyclic, aromatic or araliphatic alcohols or a bisphenol. The polyester can be a polyester homopolymer having repeating polyester segments of the same chemical structure. Alternatively, the polyester can comprise a number of polyester segments having different polyester chemical structures (e.g., polyglycolic acid segments, polylactic acid segments, polycaprolactone segments, polyhydroxyalkanoate segments, polyhydroxybutyrate segments, etc.). The polyester segments having different chemical structure can be arranged randomly, or can be arranged as repeating blocks.

    [0209] Exemplary carboxylic acids that can be used to prepare a polyester include, but are not limited to, adipic acid, pimelic acid, suberic acid, azelaic acid, sebacic acid, nonane dicarboxylic acid, decane dicarboxylic acid, undecane dicarboxylic acid, terephthalic acid, isophthalic acid, alkyl-substituted or halogenated terephthalic acid, alkyl-substituted or halogenated isophthalic acid, nitro-terephthalic acid, 4,4'-diphenyl ether dicarboxylic acid, 4,4'-diphenyl thioether dicarboxylic acid, 4,4'-diphenyl sulfone-dicarboxylic acid, 4,4'-diphenyl alkylenedicarboxylic acid, naphthatene-2,6-dicarboxylic acid, cyclohexane-1,4-dicarboxylic acid and cyclohexane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid. Exemplary diols or phenols suitable for the preparation of the polyester include, but are not limited to, ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, 1,3-propanediol, 1,4-butanediol, 1,6-hexanediol, 1,8-octanediol, 1,10-decanediol, 1,2-propanediol, 2,2-dimethyl-1,3-propanediol, 2,2,4-trimethylhexanediol, p-xylenediol, 1,4-cyclohexanediol, 1,4-cyclohexane dimethanol, and bis-phenol A.

    [0210] The polyester can be a polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), a polytrimethylene terephthalate, a polyhexamethylene terephthalate, a poly-1,4-dimethylcyclohexane terephthalate, a polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a polyethylene isophthalate (PEI), a polyarylate (PAR), a polybutylene naphthalate (PBN), a liquid crystal polyester, or a blend or mixture of two or more of the foregoing.

    [0211] The polyester can be a co-polyester (i.e., a co-polymer including polyester segments and non-polyester segments). The co-polyester can be an aliphatic co-polyester (i.e., a co-polyester in which both the polyester segments and the non-polyester segments are aliphatic). Alternatively, the co-polyester can include aromatic segments. The polyester segments of the co-polyester can comprise or consist essentially of polyglycolic acid segments, polylactic acid segments, polycaprolactone segments, polyhydroxyalkanoate segments, polyhydroxybutyrate segments, or any combination thereof. The polyester segments of the co-polyester can be arranged randomly, or can be arranged as repeating blocks.

    [0212] For example, the polyester can be a block co-polyester having repeating blocks of polymeric units of the same chemical structure which are relatively harder (hard segments), and repeating blocks of the same chemical structure which are relatively softer (soft segments). In block co-polyesters, including block co-polyesters having repeating hard segments and soft segments, physical crosslinks can be present within the blocks or between the blocks or both within and between the blocks. The polymer can comprise or consist essentially of an elastomeric co-polyester having repeating blocks of hard segments and repeating blocks of soft segments.

    [0213] The non-polyester segments of the co-polyester can comprise or consist essentially of polyether segments, polyamide segments, or both polyether segments and polyamide segments. The co-polyester can be a block co-polyester, or can be a random co-polyester. The co-polyester can be formed from the polycondensation of a polyester oligomer or prepolymer with a second oligomer prepolymer to form a block copolyester. Optionally, the second prepolymer can be a hydrophilic prepolymer. For example, the co-polyester can be formed from the polycondensation of terephthalic acid or naphthalene dicarboxylic acid with ethylene glycol, 1,4-butanediol, or 1,3-propanediol. Examples of co-polyesters include polyethylene adipate, polybutylene succinate, poly(3-hydroxbutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate), polyethylene terephthalate, polybutylene terephthalate, polytrimethylene terephthalate, polyethylene napthalate, and combinations thereof. The co-polyamide can comprise or consist of polyethylene terephthalate.

    [0214] The polyester can be a block copolymer comprising segments of one or more of polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), a polytrimethylene terephthalate, a polyhexamethylene terephthalate, a poly-1,4-dimethylcyclohexane terephthalate, a polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a polyethylene isophthalate (PEI), a polyarylate (PAR), a polybutylene naphthalate (PBN), and a liquid crystal polyester. For example, a suitable polyester that is a block copolymer can be a PET/PEI copolymer, a polybutylene terephthalate/tetraethylene glycol copolymer, a polyoxyalkylenediimide diacid/polybutylene terephthalate copolymer, or a blend or mixture of any of the foregoing.

    [0215] The polyester can be a biodegradable resin, for example, a copolymerized polyester in which poly(α-hydroxy acid) such as polyglycolic acid or polylactic acid is contained as principal repeating units.

    [0216] The disclosed polyesters can be prepared by a variety of polycondensation methods known to the skilled artisan, such as a solvent polymerization or a melt polymerization process.

    Polyolefins



    [0217] The composition and/or elastomeric material can comprise a polyolefin. The article comprising the elastomeric material can further one or more components comprising a polyolefin. The polyolefin can be a thermoplastic polyolefin or a thermoset polyolefin. Additionally, the polyolefin can be an elastomeric polyolefin, including a thermoplastic elastomeric polyolefin or a thermoset elastomeric polyolefin. Exemplary polyolefins can include polyethylene, polypropylene, and olefin elastomers (e.g.,metallocene-catalyzed block copolymers of ethylene and α-olefins having 4 to about 8 carbon atoms). The polyolefin can be a polymer comprising a polyethylene, an ethylene-α-olefin copolymer, an ethylene-propylene rubber (EPDM), a polybutene, a polyisobutylene, a poly-4-methylpent-1-ene, a polyisoprene, a polybutadiene, a ethylene-methacrylic acid copolymer, and an olefin elastomer such as a dynamically cross-linked polymer obtained from polypropylene (PP) and an ethylene-propylene rubber (EPDM), and blends or mixtures of the foregoing. Further exemplary polyolefins include polymers of cycloolefins such as cyclopentene or norbornene.

    [0218] It is to be understood that polyethylene, which optionally can be crosslinked, is inclusive a variety of polyethylenes, including low density polyethylene (LDPE), linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), (VLDPE) and (ULDPE), medium density polyethylene (MDPE), high density polyethylene (HDPE), high density and high molecular weight polyethylene (HDPE-HMW), high density and ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (HDPE-UHMW), and blends or mixtures of any the foregoing polyethylenes. A polyethylene can also be a polyethylene copolymer derived from monomers of monolefins and diolefins copolymerized with a vinyl, acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, ethyl acrylate, vinyl alcohol, and/or vinyl acetate. Polyolefin copolymers comprising vinyl acetate-derived units can be a high vinyl acetate content copolymer, e.g., greater than about 50 weight percent vinyl acetate-derived composition.

    [0219] The polyolefin can be formed through free radical, cationic, and/or anionic polymerization by methods well known to those skilled in the art (e.g., using a peroxide initiator, heat, and/or light). The disclosed polyolefin can be prepared by radical polymerization under high pressure and at elevated temperature. Alternatively, the polyolefin can be prepared by catalytic polymerization using a catalyst that normally contains one or more metals from group IVb, Vb, Vlb or VIII metals. The catalyst usually has one or more than one ligand, typically oxides, halides, alcoholates, esters, ethers, amines, alkyls, alkenyls and/or aryls that can be either p- or s-coordinated complexed with the group IVb, Vb, VIb or VIII metal. The metal complexes can be in the free form or fixed on substrates, typically on activated magnesium chloride, titanium(III) chloride, alumina or silicon oxide. The metal catalysts can be soluble or insoluble in the polymerization medium. The catalysts can be used by themselves in the polymerization or further activators can be used, typically a group la, IIa and/or IIIa metal alkyls, metal hydrides, metal alkyl halides, metal alkyl oxides or metal alkyloxanes. The activators can be modified conveniently with further ester, ether, amine or silyl ether groups.

    [0220] Suitable polyolefins can be prepared by polymerization of monomers of monolefins and diolefins as described herein. Exemplary monomers that can be used to prepare the polyolefin include, but are not limited to, ethylene, propylene, 1-butene, 1-pentene, 1-hexene, 2-methyl-1-propene, 3-methyl-1-pentene, 4-methyl-1-pentene, 5-methyl-1-hexene and mixtures thereof.

    [0221] Suitable ethylene-α-olefin copolymers can be obtained by copolymerization of ethylene with an α-olefin such as propylene, butene-1, hexene-1, octene-1,4-methyl-1-pentene or the like having carbon numbers of 3 to 12.

    [0222] Suitable dynamically cross-linked polymers can be obtained by cross-linking a rubber component as a soft segment while at the same time physically dispersing a hard segment such as PP and a soft segment such as EPDM by using a kneading machine such as a Banbury mixer and a biaxial extruder.

    [0223] The polyolefin can be a mixture of polyolefins, such as a mixture of two or more polyolefins disclosed herein above. For example, a suitable mixture of polyolefins can be a mixture of polypropylene with polyisobutylene, polypropylene with polyethylene (for example PP/HDPE, PP/LDPE) or mixtures of different types of polyethylene (for example LDPE/HDPE).

    [0224] The polyolefin can be a copolymer of suitable monolefin monomers or a copolymer of a suitable monolefin monomer and a vinyl monomer. Exemplary polyolefin copolymers include ethylene/propylene copolymers, linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and mixtures thereof with low density polyethylene (LDPE), propylene/but-1-ene copolymers, propylene/isobutylene copolymers, ethylene/but-1-ene copolymers, ethylene/hexene copolymers, ethylene/methylpentene copolymers, ethylene/heptene copolymers, ethylene/octene copolymers, propylene/butadiene copolymers, isobutylene/isoprene copolymers, ethylene/alkyl acrylate copolymers, ethylene/alkyl methacrylate copolymers, ethylene/vinyl acetate copolymers and their copolymers with carbon monoxide or ethylene/acrylic acid copolymers and their salts (ionomers) as well as terpolymers of ethylene with propylene and a diene such as hexadiene, dicyclopentadiene or ethylidene-norbornene; and mixtures of such copolymers with one another and with polymers mentioned in 1) above, for example polypropylene/ethylene-propylene copolymers, LDPE/ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers (EVA), LDPE/ethylene-acrylic acid copolymers (EAA), LLDPE/EVA, LLDPE/EAA and alternating or random polyalkylene/carbon monoxide copolymers and mixtures thereof with other polymers, for example polyamides.

    [0225] The polyolefin can be a polypropylene homopolymer, a polypropylene copolymers, a polypropylene random copolymer, a polypropylene block copolymer, a polyethylene homopolymer, a polyethylene random copolymer, a polyethylene block copolymer, a low density polyethylene (LDPE), a linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), a medium density polyethylene, a high density polyethylene (HDPE), or blends or mixtures of one or more of the preceding polymers.

    [0226] The polyolefin can be a polypropylene. The term "polypropylene," as used herein, is intended to encompass any polymeric composition comprising propylene monomers, either alone or in mixture or copolymer with other randomly selected and oriented polyolefins, dienes, or other monomers (such as ethylene, butylene, and the like). Such a term also encompasses any different configuration and arrangement of the constituent monomers (such as atactic, syndiotactic, isotactic, and the like). Thus, the term as applied to fibers is intended to encompass actual long strands, tapes, threads, and the like, of drawn polymer. The polypropylene can be of any standard melt flow (by testing); however, standard fiber grade polypropylene resins possess ranges of Melt Flow Indices between about 1 and 1000.

    [0227] The polyolefin can be a polyethylene. The term "polyethylene," as used herein, is intended to encompass any polymeric composition comprising ethylene monomers, either alone or in mixture or copolymer with other randomly selected and oriented polyolefins, dienes, or other monomers (such as propylene, butylene, and the like). Such a term also encompasses any different configuration and arrangement of the constituent monomers (such as atactic, syndiotactic, isotactic, and the like). Thus, the term as applied to fibers is intended to encompass actual long strands, tapes, threads, and the like, of drawn polymer. The polyethylene can be of any standard melt flow (by testing); however, standard fiber grade polyethylene resins possess ranges of Melt Flow Indices between about 1 and 1000.

    [0228] The composition and/or the elastomeric material can further comprise one or more processing aids. The article comprising the elastomeric material can further one or more components comprising one or more processing aids. The processing aid can be a non-polymeric material. These processing aids can be independently selected from the group including, but not limited to, curing agents, initiators, plasticizers, mold release agents, lubricants, antioxidants, flame retardants, dyes, pigments, reinforcing and non-reinforcing fillers, fiber reinforcements, and light stabilizers

    [0229] The composition can be a thermoplastic composition. For example, the thermoplastic composition can comprise one or more of thermoplastic polyurethanes, thermoplastic polyesters, thermoplastic polyamides, thermoplastic polyolefins, or a co-polymer or combination including of any of the foregoing.

    [0230] The thermoplastic composition can have a softening or melting point of about 80° C to about 140° C. A temperature of the thermoplastic composition can be increased to a temperature at or above creep relaxation temperature (Tcr), Vicat softening temperature (Tvs), heat deflection temperature (Thd), and/or melting temperature (Tm). In an aspect, the layers or structure can be attached using the thermoplastic composition while the temperature is maintained at or above the creep relaxation temperature, the heat deflection temperature, the Vicat softening temperature, or the melting temperature, of the thermoplastic composition. The layers or structure can be attached using the thermoplastic composition after the temperature of the thermoplastic composition is allowed to drop below the creep relaxation temperature, the heat deflection temperature, the Vicat softening temperature, or the melting temperature of the thermoplastic composition, as long as the thermoplastic composition only partially re-solidified, it can be used to attached the strucutre or the layers.

    [0231] In general, the thermoplastic composition can have a creep relaxation temperature (Tcr) of about 80° C to about 140° C, or from about 90° C to about 130° C, or about 100° C to about 120° C. In general, the thermoplastic composition can have a Vicat softening temperature (Tvs) of about 80° C to about 140° C, or from about 90° C to about 130° C, or about 100° C to about 120° C. In general, the thermoplastic composition can have a heat deflection temperature (Thd) of about 80° C to about 140° C, or from about 90° C to about 130° C, or about 100° C to about 120° C. In general, the thermoplastic composition can have a melting temperature (Tm) of about 80° C to about 140° C, or from about 90° C to about 130° C, or about 100° C to about 120° C.

    [0232] The elastomeric material is a thermoset composition. The thermoset composition can comprise a thermoset polyurethane polymer, thermoset polyurea polymer, thermoset polyamide polymer, thermoset polyolefin polymer, or thermoset silicone polymer, or a co-polymer or combination including any of the foregoing.

    [0233] In addition to the elastomeric material, the articles of the present disclosure can comprise a polymeric foam composition. For example, the polymeric foam composition can include a polyolefin foam, polyurethane foam, an ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, a propylene foam, or a combination thereof. The polymeric foam composition can include a blend with one or more additional materials to impart additional characteristics or properties to the composition. The polymeric foam composition can include one or more other components. A foam composition can include a chemical blowing agent such as a carbonate, bicarbonate, carboxylic acid, azo compound, isocyanate, persulfate, peroxide, or a combination thereof. The foam composition can include about 1 parts per hundred resin to about 10 parts per hundred resin, or about 3 parts per hundred resin to about 7 parts per hundred resin of the chemical blowing agent. The chemical blowing agent has a decomposition temperature of about 130°C to about 160°C, or about 135°C to about 155°C. A foam composition can include a crosslinking agent such as an aliphatic unsaturated amide, such as methylenebisacryl- or -methacrylamide or ethylenebisacrylamide; aliphatic esters of polyols or alkoxylated polyols with ethylenically unsaturated acids, such as di(meth)acrylates or tri(meth)acrylates of butanediol or ethylene glycol, polyglycols or trimethylolpropane; di- and tri-acrylate esters of trimethylolpropane; acrylate and methacrylate esters of glycerol and pentaerythritol; allyl compounds, such as allyl (meth)acrylate, alkoxylated allyl (meth)acrylate, triallyl cyanurate, triallyl isocyanurate, maleic acid diallyl ester, poly-allyl esters, vinyl trimethoxysilane, vinyl triethoxysilane, polysiloxane comprising at least two vinyl groups, tetraallyloxyethane, tetraallyloxyethane, triallylamine, and tetraallylethylenediamine; or a mixture thereof. The foam composition can include about 0.1 parts per hundred resin to about 1.5 parts per hundred resin, or about 0.3 parts per hundred resin to about 0.8 parts per hundred resin of the crosslinking agent. A foam composition can include zinc oxide. The zinc oxide can be present from about 0.1 parts per hundred resin to about 5 parts per hundred resin, or about 0.7 parts per hundred resin to about 2 parts per hundred resin. The foam composition can include calcium carbonate. The calcium carbonate can be present from about 1 parts per hundred resin to about 10 parts per hundred resin, or from about 3 parts per hundred resin to about 7 parts per hundred resin. The foam composition can include a dye or pigment. The dye or pigment is present in the resin composition at a level of about 0 parts per hundred resin to about 10 parts per hundred resin, or about 0.5 parts per hundred resin to about 5 parts per hundred resin based upon the weight of the resin composition.

    [0234] When the elastomeric materials an article of footwear or a component of an article of footwear, such as an outsole of an article of footwear, the elastomeric material can include an ingredient providing additional abrasion resistance and durability as necessary or desirable for use in such articles. The composition can pass a flex test pursuant to the Cold Ross Flex Test as described further herein. The composition can have suitable abrasion loss when measured pursuant to ASTM D 5963-97, as described further herein. The composition can have an abrasion loss of about 0.07 cubic centimeters (cm3) to about 0.1 cubic centimeters (cm3), about 0.08 cubic centimeters (cm3) to about 0.1 cubic centimeters (cm3), or about 0.08 cubic centimeters (cm3) to about 0.11 cubic centimeters (cm3) pursuant to ASTM D 5963-97a using the Material Sampling Procedure.

    [0235] A component of the article can include a variety of polyolefin copolymers. The copolymers can be alternating copolymers or random copolymers or block copolymers or graft copolymers. The copolymers can be random copolymers. The copolymer can include a plurality of repeat units, with each of the plurality of repeat units individually derived from an alkene monomer having about 1 to about 6 carbon atoms. The copolymer can include a plurality of repeat units, with each of the plurality of repeat units individually derived from a monomer selected from the group consisting of ethylene, propylene, 4-methyl-1-pentene, 1-butene, 1-octene, and a combination thereof.

    [0236] The polyolefin copolymer can be a random copolymer of a first plurality of repeat units and a second plurality of repeat units, and each repeat unit in the first plurality of repeat units is derived from ethylene and the each repeat unit in the second plurality of repeat units is derived from a second olefin. The second olefin can be an alkene monomer having about 1 to about 6 carbon atoms. The second olefin can include propylene, 4-methyl-1-pentene, 1-butene, or other linear or branched terminal alkenes having about 3 to 12 carbon atoms. The polyolefin copolymer can contain about 80 percent to about 99 percent, about 85 percent to about 99 percent, about 90 percent to about 99 percent, or about 95 percent to about 99 percent polyolefin repeat units by weight based upon a total weight of the polyolefin copolymer. The polyolefin copolymer can consist essentially of polyolefin repeat units. The polymers in the polymeric composition can consist essentially of polyolefin copolymers.

    [0237] The polyolefin copolymer can include ethylene, i.e. can include repeat units derived from ethylene. The polyolefin copolymer can include about 1 percent to about 5 percent, about 1 percent to about 3 percent, about 2 percent to about 3 percent, or about 2 percent to about 5 percent ethylene by weight based upon a total weight of the polyolefin copolymer.

    [0238] The polyolefin copolymer can be substantially free of polyurethanes. The polymer chains of the polyolefin copolymer can be substantially free of urethane repeat units. The polymeric composition can be substantially free of polymer chains including urethane repeat units. The polyolefin copolymer can be substantially free of polyamide groups. The polymer chains of the polyolefin copolymer can be substantially free of amide repeat units. The polymeric composition can be substantially free of polymer chains including amide repeat units.

    [0239] The polyolefin copolymer can include polypropylene or can be a polypropylene copolymer. The polymer component of the polymeric composition (i.e., the portion of the polymeric composition that is formed by all of the polymers present in the composition) can consist essentially of polypropylene copolymers. The polypropylene copolymer can include a random copolymer, e.g. a random copolymer of ethylene and propylene. The polypropylene copolymer can include about 80 percent to about 99 percent, about 85 percent to about 99 percent, about 90 percent to about 99 percent, or about 95 percent to about 99 percent propylene repeat units by weight based upon a total weight of the polypropylene copolymer. The polypropylene copolymer can include about 1 percent to about 5 percent, about 1 percent to about 3 percent, about 2 percent to about 3 percent, or about 2 percent to about 5 percent ethylene by weight based upon a total weight of the polypropylene copolymer. The polypropylene copolymer can be a random copolymer including about 2 percent to about 3 percent of a first plurality of repeat units by weight and about 80 percent to about 99 percent by weight of a second plurality of repeat units based upon a total weight of the polypropylene copolymer.

    [0240] The composition forming the component comprised of the polyolefin copolymer can include a resin modifier that can improved flexural durability while maintaining suitable abrasion resistance. For example, the composition including the resin modifier can pass a flex test pursuant to the Cold Ross Flex Test using the Plaque Sampling Procedure, and at the same time, the composition can still have a suitable abrasion loss when measured pursuant to ASTM D 5963-97a using the Material Sampling Procedure. The composition including the resin modifier can have no significant change in the abrasion loss as compared to an abrasion loss of a substantially similar composition without the resin modifier, when measured pursuant to ASTM D 5963-97a using the Material Sampling Procedure. A change in abrasion loss, as used herein, is said to not be significant when the change is about 30 percent, about 25 percent, about 20 percent, about 15 percent, about 10 percent, or less when measured pursuant to ASTM D 5963-97a using the Material Sampling Procedure.

    [0241] The combination of abrasion resistance and flexural durability can be related to the overall crystallinity of the composition comprising the polyolefin copolymer. The composition can have a percent crystallization of about 45 percent, about 40 percent, about 35 percent, about 30 percent, about 25 percent or less when measured according to the Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC) Test using the Material Sampling Procedure. The resin modifier can provide a decrease in the percentcrystallinity of the composition, as compared to a substantially similar composition without the resin modifier. The composition can have a percent crystallization that is at least 6, at least 5, at least 4, at least 3, or at least 2 percentage points less than a percent crystallization a substantially similar composition without the resin modifier when measured according to the Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC) Test using the Material Sampling Procedure.

    [0242] The effective amount of the resin modifier can be about 5 percent to about 30 percent, about 5 percent to about 25 percent, about 5 percent to about 20 percent, about 5 percent to about 15 percent, about 5 percent to about 10 percent, about 10 percent to about 15 percent, about 10 percent to about 20 percent, about 10 percent to about 25 percent, or about 10 percent to about 30 percent by weight based upon a total weight of the composition. The effective amount of the resin modifier can be about 20 percent, about 15 percent, about 10 percent, about 5 percent, or less by weight based upon a total weight of the composition.

    [0243] The resin modifier can include a variety of known resin modifiers. The resin modifier can be a metallocene catalyzed copolymer primarily composed of isotactic propylene repeat units with about 11 percent by weight-15 percent by weight of ethylene repeat units based on a total weight of metallocene catalyzed copolymer randomly distributed along the copolymer. The resin modifier can include about 10 percent to about 15 percent ethylene repeat units by weight based upon a total weight of the polymeric resin modifier. The resin modifier can be a copolymer containing isotactic propylene repeat units and ethylene repeat units.

    [0244] Now having described various aspects of the present disclosure, additional detail regarding methods of making and using the elastomeric material are provided. In an aspect, a method of making an article (e.g., an article of footwear, an article of apparel, or an article of sporting equipment, or component of each) can include attaching (e.g., affixing, coupling, adhering, bonding, etc.) the elastomeric material to a surface of the article. In an example and for illustrative purposes as described below, a first component and a second component including the elastomeric material are attached to one another, thereby forming the article.

    [0245] In regard to an article of footwear, the first component can be an upper for an article of footwear and/or a sole for an article of footwear. For example, the step of attaching can include attaching the sole and the second component such that the externally-facing layer of the elastomeric material forms at least a portion of a side of the sole which is configured to be ground-facing. The footwear can include traction elements, where the elastomeric material is positioned between the traction elements and optionally on the sides of the traction elements, but not on the side(s) configured to touch the ground.

    [0246] Referring once again to Figures 2F and 2G, the outsole 15 of the shoe 75 may be engaged with or attached to the upper 25 being directly adhered thereto. However, when desirable, a portion of the outsole may be attached to the upper 25 through the use of additional means conventionally known or used in the construction of footwear 75, such as through the use of cements or adhesives, by mechanical connectors, and by sewing or stitching, to name a few.

    [0247] Referring now to Figure 5A, according to another aspect of the present disclosure, a method 100 is provided through which an article of footwear can be formed. While an article of footwear is used for exemplary purposes, it is to be understood that this method applies generally to other types of articles. This method 100 may comprise, consist of, or consist essentially of providing or receiving 105 a first component, such as an upper for an article of footwear, optionally comprising a textile; providing or receiving 110 a second component, such as an outsole for an article of footwear, that includes an elastomeric material that defines an externally facing side of the article. The elastomeric material includes a mixture of a polymeric hydrogel and a cured rubber; and coupling 115 the first component and the second component together. The polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the cured rubber and at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel in the elastomeric material is physically entrapped by the cured rubber. When desirable, the method may further include providing or receiving 120 a third component such as a midsole; and attaching 125 the third component to the second component and/or the first component prior to the attaching of the second component to the first component, such that the third component resides between the second component and the first component.

    [0248] The method may also comprise fully curing 137 the rubber, when the rubber is only partially cured in forming the second component. The curing is accomplished through the occurrence of one or more crosslinking or polymerizing mechanisms. The occurrence of such crosslinking mechanisms may be induced by sulfur or peroxide curing of the partially cured rubber or by exposing the partially cured rubber to actinic radiation at a concentration and for a duration to at least partially cure the mixture.

    [0249] The step of receiving 110 the second component may comprise a method 101 of forming an uncured composition 107. This method 101 comprises providing an uncured rubber 126 and providing a hydrogel 127. Then, mixing 130 the hydrogel with the uncured rubber to distribute the polymeric hydrogel throughout the uncured rubber to form a mixture composition. The method 101 may further comprise shaping or forming 132 into a sheet or molding the composition into a shape, such as the shape of an outsole, by subjecting the composition to an extrusion process, a molding process, or a combination thereof. When desirable, the composition is at least partially cured 137 to form an elastomeric material.

    [0250] For the purpose of this disclosure, the term "partially cured" denotes the occurrence of at least about 1 percent, alternatively, at least about 5 percent of the total polymerization required to achieve a substantially full cure. The term "fully cured" is intended to mean a substantially full cure in which the degree of curing is such that the physical properties of the cured material do not noticeably change upon further exposure to conditions that induce curing (e.g., temperature, pressure, presence of curing agents, etc.).

    [0251] According to another aspect of the present disclosure, a method 102 of preparing an elastomeric material 129 for use in forming an article or a component in a finished article such as an article of apparel or sporting equipment is provided. Referring now to Figure 5B, the method 102 comprises the steps of providing 107 a composition. This composition may include a mixture of a polymeric hydrogel and an uncured rubber. The uncured composition may be at least partially cured 119 to form an elastomeric material for use in a component, such as a component of an article of apparel or sporting equipment. The polymeric hydrogel is present in the elastomeric material in an amount that ranges from about 5 weight percent to about 85 weight percentbased on the overall weight of resin component (i.e., the total weight of all the polymeric materials present) of the elastomeric material. Optionally, the elastomeric material may be formed 132 into a component, such that the elastomeric material defines at least a portion of a surface of the component that is configured to be externally facing.

    [0252] According to another aspect of the present disclosure, a method 103 for forming an article or a component of an article 135 for use in a finished article, such as an article of apparel or sporting equipment is provided. Referring now to Figure 5C, this method 103 comprises the steps of providing or receiving 129 an uncured composition or an elastomeric material. When desirable, the uncured composition or the elastomeric material may be prepared according to the previously described methods 101 and 102. The article or component of the article is then formed 132, such that the uncured composition or the elastomeric material defines at least a portion of a surface that is configured to be externally-facing when the component or the article is present in a finished article. The uncured composition is at least partially cured to form the elastomeric material and/or the elastomeric material is partially or fully cured 137, such that it exhibits a water uptake rate of 10 g/m2/√min to 120 g/m2/√min as measured in the Water Uptake Rate Test over a soaking time of 9 minutes using the Component Sampling Procedure.

    [0253] According to yet another aspect of the present disclosure, a method 104 for manufacturing a finished article is provided. Referring now to Figure 5D, the method 104 comprises providing two or more articles or components of an article 141. At least one component comprises an elastomeric material 135, wherein the elastomeric material includes a mixture of a cured rubber and a polymeric hydrogel. The polymeric hydrogel may comprise an aliphatic polyurethane (TPU) resin or a polyether block amide resin, such that the hydrogel is present in an amount ranging from about 5 weight percent to about 85 weight percent based on the overall weight of the resin component (i.e., the total weight of all the polymeric materials present) of the elastomeric material. The elastomeric material may be either partially cured or fully cured. The two or more components are attached to one another (e.g., coupled together) 143, such that the elastomeric material defines at least a portion of a surface of at least one component that is configured to be externally facing when this at least one component is present in a finished article. The elastomeric material exhibits a water cycling weight loss from about 0 weight percent to about 15 weight percent as measured pursuant to the Water Cycling Test and using the Material Sampling Procedure or the Article Sampling Procedure.

    [0254] When desirable, the method 104 may further comprise exposing 145 the finished article or the component of the finished article that comprises the elastomeric material to actinic radiation at a concentration and for a duration of time sufficient to fully cure the elastomeric material. Fully curing 145 the elastomeric material may be done before, during, or after the step of coupling 143 the two or more components together.

    [0255] In the step 130 (see Figure 5A) in which the hydrogel and the uncured rubber are mixed, the materials are mixed together until they are substantially blended. The mixing may be accomplished using, without limitation, an intermeshing-type internal mixer, a tangential-type internal mixer, a planetary mixer, a mill, a ribbon blender, a cone blender, a screw blender, a drum blender, a Banbury mixer, or the like. More specifically, the hydrogel and uncured rubber may be compounded in conventional rubber processing equipment. In a typical procedure, all components of the composition are weighed out. The uncured rubber, the hydrogel (e.g., hydrophilic thermoplastic polyurethane), and any additives are then compounded in a conventional mixer such as a Banbury mixer. If desired, the compounded composition may then be further mixed on a roller mill. At this time, it is possible to add other additives, such as pigments (e.g., carbon black, etc.). The composition may be allowed to mature for a period of hours prior to the addition of a cure system, alternatively, the additives that comprise the cure system may be added immediately on the roller mill.

    [0256] In the step 132 (see Figures 5A and 5B) in which the article or component of an article (e.g., an outsole, etc.) is formed, the process of forming the article or component may include, but not be limited to, the use of one or more of an extrusion process, a calendaring process, an injection molding process, a compression molding process, a thermoforming process, or the like.

    [0257] In the step 137 (see Figures 5A and 5C) in which the elastomeric material is at least partially cured, alternatively, fully cured, the curing is accomplished by the occurrence of one or more crosslinking mechanisms. These crosslinking mechanisms may occur, without limitation, via the use of crosslinking agents that are thermally initiated, such as sulfur-based or peroxide-based crosslinking agents or initiators that crosslink radiation curable rubbers upon exposure of the rubber to actinic radiation at a centration and for a duration of time sufficient to achieve the desired degree of cure. According to another aspect of the present disclosure, the use of an article or a component of an article compositionally comprising an elastomeric material to prevent or reduce soil accumulation on the article or component of a finished article of apparel or sporting equipment is described. The use involves incorporating the article or component as an externally-facing surface in a finished article in order to prevent or reduce soil accumulation on the component and article. The component or article retains at least 5 percent less soil by weight; alternatively, at least 10 percent less soil by weight, as compared to a conventional component or article that is identical except that the externally-facing surface of the conventional component or article is substantially free of an elastomeric material that comprises a mixture of the hydrogel and the cured rubber.

    [0258] The method of forming an article can comprise forming the article from a first component including a first material and a second component including a second material comprising an uncured composition or an elastomeric material as described herein. The first material can form a substantial majority of a volume of the first component, or can be a coating or tie layer present on an exterior surface or side of the first component. When the first component comprises a first material including a crosslinkable polymer, a polymer precursor, or both, attaching the first and second components can comprise curing the first material in contact with the second material.

    [0259] In one example, the first material can be a first uncured composition or a first elastomeric material according to the present disclosure. For example, the first material can comprise substantially the same rubber(s), can comprise the substantially the same polymeric hydrogel(s), can comprise substantially the same concentration of rubber(s), can comprise substantially the same concentrations of and polymeric hydrogel(s), or any combination thereof, as the second material. Alternatively or additionally, the first material and the second material can comprise different types of polymeric hydrogel(s), or different concentrations of polymeric hydrogel(s), or different colorant(s), or different concentrations of colorant(s), or any combination thereof. For example, the first material and the second material can differ only in the concentration of polymeric hydrogel(s), or only in the concentration of colorant(s), or in both the concentration of polymeric hydrogel(s) and colorant(s).

    [0260] In another example, the first material can be substantially free of a polymeric hydrogel but can include a crosslinkable polymeric material, or a polymerizable material, so that it is possible to form crosslinking bonds or polymer bonds between the first material and the second material.

    [0261] The crosslinkable polymeric material can include one or more elastomeric polymers such as uncured or partially cured rubber, or polymer precursors such as one or more types of monomers. In one example, the first material can comprise the same uncured or partially cured rubber(s) as the second elastomeric material, but the first material is substantially free of a polymeric hydrogel. In another example, the first material can comprise one or more uncured or partially cured rubber(s) which are harder than the uncured or partially cured rubber(s) of the second material. In this example, the harder first material can be used to form traction elements such as lugs. In these examples, where both the first and second materials comprises crosslinkable or polymerizable materials, curing the first material and the second material while in contact with each other can form chemical bonds (e.g., crosslinking bonds or polymer bonds) between the first material and the second material, thereby attaching the first component to the second component using these chemical bonds. In some cases, it may not be necessary to further reinforce the bond using an adhesive. In these cases, the interface between the first component and the second component can be substantially free of adhesive.

    Sampling Procedures



    [0262] The properties of the elastomeric material of the component in a finished article can be characterized using samples prepared and measured according to the Materials Sampling Procedure or the Component Sampling Procedure. The Materials Sampling Procedure is used to obtain a sample of a material of the present disclosure that is either in media form or isolated in a neat form (i.e., without any bonded substrate in a layered film, such as that found in the composition defined herein). A material is provided in media form, when it is obtained as flakes, granules, powders, pellets, or the like. If a source of the material is not available in a media form, the material can be cut, scraped, or ground from an outsole of a footwear outsole or from a backing substrate of a co-extruded sheet or web, thereby isolating the material in media form. When desirable, the material in media form may be extruded as a web or sheet having a substantially constant material thickness (within +/-10 percent of the average material thickness), and cooled to solidify the resulting web or sheet. A sample of the material in neat form having a surface area of 4 cm2 is then cut from the resulting web or sheet for use in testing.
    The Component Sampling Procedure may include the use of one or more of the following sampling procedures:

    (A) - Footwear Sampling Procedure



    [0263] This procedure is used to obtain a sample of the elastomeric material when the elastomeric material is a component of an article of footwear (e.g., bonded to an article substrate or a substrate). An article sample, which includes the elastomeric material in a non-wet state (e.g., at about 25 degrees C and approximately 20 percent relative humidity) is cut from the article of footwear using a blade. This process is performed by separating the article from an associated footwear upper, and removing any materials from the article's top surface (e.g., corresponding to the top surface) that can uptake water and potentially skew the water uptake measurements of the elastomeric material. For example, the article's top surface can be skinned, abraded, scraped, or otherwise cleaned to remove any upper adhesives, yarns, fibers, foams, and the like that could potentially take up water themselves.

    [0264] The resulting sample includes the component and any article substrate bonded to the component, and maintains the interfacial bond between the component and the associated substrate of the finished article. As such, this test can simulate how the elastomeric material will perform as part of an article of footwear. Additionally, this sample is also useful in cases where the interfacial bond between the component and the substrate is less defined, such as where the elastomeric material of the component is highly diffused into the substrate of the finished article (e.g. , with a concentration gradient).

    [0265] The sample is taken at a location along the article that provides a substantially constant thickness for the component (within plus or minus 10 percent of the average thickness), such as in a forefoot region, mid-foot region, or a heel region of the article, and has a surface area of about 4.0 square centimeters. In cases where the elastomeric material is not present on the article in any segment having a 4.0 square centimeter surface area and/or where the thickness is not substantially constant for a segment having a 4.0 square centimeter surface area, sample sizes with smaller cross-sectional surface areas can be taken and the area-specific measurements are adjusted accordingly.

    (B) - Apparel Sampling Procedure



    [0266] This procedure is used to obtain a sample of the elastomeric material when the elastomeric material is present as a component in a finished article of apparel (e.g., a garment or other article excluding an article of footwear). A sample including the component in a dry state (e.g., at approximately 25 degrees C and approximately 20 percent relative humidity) is cut from the article of apparel using a blade. This process is performed by separating the component of the article of apparel from any associated component of the article of apparel. For example, if the component is present on a sleeve of a shirt, the sleeve component can be removed from the rest of the garment, and then the sample can be removed from the sleeve component.

    [0267] If possible, any remaining or residual substances can be removed from the second surface of the component (e.g., the surface opposing the externally-facing surface which comprises the elastomeric material) that can take up water and potentially skew the water uptake measurements of the elastomeric material. For example, any padding or additional layers, which are not externally facing during use, can be removed from the second side of the sample. For example, if appropriate, the second surface can be skinned, abraded, scraped, or otherwise cleaned to remove any upper adhesives, yarns, fibers, foams, and the like that could potentially take up water themselves.

    [0268] The resulting sample may include the elastomeric material present on the side of the component configured to be externally-facing during use and any substrate or substrate affixed to the component, and, if one is present, maintains the interfacial bond between the component and the associated substrate. As such, this test can simulate how the component will perform as part of an article of apparel. Additionally, this sample is also useful in cases where the interfacial bond between the component and the substrate or substrate is less defined, such as where the elastomeric material is highly diffused into the substrate (e.g., with a concentration gradient).

    [0269] The sample is taken at a location along the article of apparel that provides a substantially constant thickness for the material (within +/- 10 percent of the average material thickness present in the component), is taken from a portion of the component where soil would typically accumulate during wear, and has a surface area of 4.0 square centimeters. In cases where the elastomeric material is not present on the finished article in any segment having a 4.0 square centimeter surface area and/or where the thickness is not substantially constant for a segment having a 4.0 square centimeter surface area, sample sizes with smaller cross-sectional surface areas can be taken and the area-specific measurements are adjusted accordingly.

    (C) - Equipment Sampling Procedure



    [0270] This procedure is used to obtain a sample of the elastomeric material when the elastomeric material is present as a component in a finished article of sporting equipment (e.g., when the component is affixed to a substrate or substrate). A sample including the elastomeric material in a dry state (e.g., at approximately 25 degrees C and approximately 20 percent relative humidity) is cut from the article of sporting equipment using a blade. This process is performed by separating the component from the finished article of sporting equipment. For example, if the component is present on a portion of a golf bag, the portion of the golf bag comprising the elastomeric material can be removed from the rest of the golf bag.

    [0271] If possible, any remaining substances can be removed from the second surface of the component (e.g., the surface opposing the externally-facing surface which comprises the elastomeric material) that can take up water and potentially skew the water uptake measurements of the elastomeric material. For example, any padding or additional layers, which are not externally-facing during use, can be removed from the second side of the sample. For example, if appropriate, the second surface can be skinned, abraded, scraped, or otherwise cleaned to remove any adhesives, yarns, fibers, foams, and the like that could potentially take up water themselves.

    [0272] The resulting sample includes the elastomeric material present on the externally-facing side of the component and any substrate affixed to the component, and, if one is present, maintains the interfacial bond between the material and the associated substrate or substrate. As such, this test can simulate how the component will perform as part of an article of sporting equipment. Additionally, this sample is also useful in cases where the interfacial bond between the component and the substrate is less defined, such as where the elastomeric material is highly diffused into the substrate or substrate (e.g. , with a concentration gradient).

    [0273] The sample is taken at a location along the component of the article of sporting equipment that provides a substantially constant thickness for the material (within plus or minus 10 percent of the average thickness present in the component). In addition, the sample is taken from a portion of the component where soil would typically accumulate during wear, and has a surface area of 4.0 square centimeters. In cases, where the component is not present on the finished article in any segment having a 4.0 square centimeter surface area and/or where the component thickness is not substantially constant for a segment having a 4.0 square centimeter surface area, sample sizes with smaller cross-sectional surface areas can be taken and the area-specific measurements are adjusted accordingly.

    Test Protocols



    [0274] The following test procedures are described with reference to components of finished articles of footwear using the Materials Sampling Procedure or the Footwear Sampling Procedure as the Component Sampling Procedure. However, the same tests can be applied to samples taken with the Apparel Sampling Procedure and/or the Equipment Sampling Procedure as the Component Sampling Procedure.

    (I) - Water Cycling Test Protocol



    [0275] This test measures the mass stability of elastomeric materials by measuring the weight gain/loss that occurs upon the reversible absorption of water. Test samples are prepared by punching out 2.54 cm (1 inch) diameter disks from sheets of the elastomeric materials. Each of the test samples is weighed prior to soaking in water with the mass being recorded to the nearest milligram as the "initial" mass. The test samples are then soaked in room-temperature water for a time interval of 18-24 hours. To measure the total mass gain/loss of the elastomeric material, the test samples are removed from the water and patted dry with a laboratory wipe to remove free surface water. The test samples are then allowed to dry in ambient laboratory conditions. The mass of each test sample is measured incrementally until a steady state is achieved over a 24 hour period. The final "dried" mass of each test sample is then measured and compared to the corresponding "initial" mass.

    (II) - Water Uptake Capacity Test Protocol



    [0276] This test measures the water uptake capacity of the elastomeric material after a predetermined soaking duration for a sample (e.g., taken with the above-discussed Footwear Sampling Procedure). The sample is initially dried at 60 degrees C until there is no weight change for consecutive measurement intervals of at least 30 minutes apart (e.g., a 24-hour drying period at 60 degrees C is typically a suitable duration). The total weight of the dried sample (Wt sample dry) is then measured in grams. The dried sample is allowed to cool down to 25 degrees C, and is fully immersed in a deionized water bath maintained at 25 degrees C. After a given soaking duration, the sample is removed from the deionized water bath, blotted with a cloth to remove surface water, and the total weight of the soaked sample (Wt sample wet) is measured in grams.

    [0277] Any suitable soaking duration can be used, where a 24-hour soaking duration is believed to simulate saturation conditions for the hydrophilic resin or hydrogel of the present disclosure (i.e., the hydrophilic resin will be in its saturated state). Accordingly, as used herein, the expression "having a water uptake capacity at 5 minutes" refers to a soaking duration of 5 minutes, the expression "having a water uptake capacity at 1 hour" refers to a soaking duration of 1 hour, the expression "having a water uptake capacity at 24 hours" refers to a soaking duration of 24 hours, and the like. If no time duration is indicated after a water uptake capacity value, the soaking duration corresponds to a period of 24 hours. In an aspect, the elastomeric material can have a "time value" equilibrium water uptake capacity, where the time value corresponds to the duration of soaking. For example, a "30 second equilibrium water uptake capacity" corresponds to a soaking duration of 30 seconds, a 2 minute equilibrium water uptake capacity corresponds to a soaking duration of 2 minutes, and so on at various time duration of soaking. A time duration of "0 seconds" refers to the dry-state and a time duration of 24 hours corresponds to the saturated state of the elastomeric material.

    [0278] As can be appreciated, the total weight of a sample taken pursuant to the Footwear Sampling Procedure includes the weight of the material as dried or soaked (Wt. S. Dry or Wt. S. Wet) and the weight of the substrate (Wt. Sub.) needs to be subtracted from the sample measurements.

    [0279] The weight of the substrate (Wt. Sub.) is calculated using the sample surface area (e.g., 4.0 square centimeters), an average measured thickness of the substrate in the sample, and the average density of the substrate material. Alternatively, if the density of the material for the substrate is not known or obtainable, the weight of the substrate (Wt. Sub.) is determined by taking a second sample using the same sampling procedure as used for the primary sample, and having the same dimensions (surface area and film/substrate thicknesses) as the primary sample. The material of the second sample is then cut apart from the substrate of the second sample with a blade to provide an isolated substrate. The isolated substrate is then dried at 60 degrees C for 24 hours, which can be performed at the same time as the primary sample drying. The weight of the isolated substrate (Wt. Sub.) is then measured in grams.

    [0280] The resulting substrate weight (Wt. Sub.) is then subtracted from the weights of the dried and soaked primary sample (Wt. S. Dry or Wt. S. Wet) to provide the weights of the material as dried and soaked (Wt. C. Dry or Wt. C. Dry) as depicted by Equations 1 and 2.





    [0281] The weight of the dried component (Wt. C. Dry) is then subtracted from the weight of the soaked component (Wt. C. Wet) to provide the weight of water that was taken up by the component, which is then divided by the weight of the dried component (Wt. C. Dry) to provide the water uptake capacity for the given soaking duration as a percentage, as depicted below by Equation 3.



    [0282] For example, a water uptake capacity of 50 percent at 1 hour means that the soaked component weighed 1.5 times more than its dry-state weight after soaking for 1 hour. Similarly, a water uptake capacity of 500 percent at 24 hours means that the soaked component weighed 5 times more than its dry-state weight after soaking for 24 hours.

    (III) - Water Uptake Rate Test Protocol



    [0283] This test measures the water uptake rate of the elastomeric material by modeling weight gain as a function of soaking time for a sample with a one-dimensional diffusion model. The sample can be taken with any of the above-discussed sampling procedures, including the Footwear Sampling Procedure. The sample is dried at 60 degrees C until there is no weight change for consecutive measurement intervals of at least 30 minutes apart (a 24-hour drying period at 60 degrees C is typically a suitable duration). The total weight of the dried sample (Wt. S. Dry) is then measured in grams. Additionally, the average thickness of the component for the dried sample is measured for use in calculating the water uptake rate, as explained below.

    [0284] The dried sample is allowed to cool down to 25 degrees C, and is fully immersed in a deionized water bath maintained at 25 degrees C. Between soaking durations of 1, 2, 4, 9, 16, and 25 minutes, the sample is removed from the deionized water bath, blotted with a cloth to remove surface water, and the total weight of the soaked sample (Wt. S. Wet) is measured at particular soaking-duration data points (e.g. , 1, 2, 4, 9, 16, or 25 minutes).

    [0285] The exposed surface area of the soaked sample is also measured with calipers for determining the specific weight gain, as explained below. The exposed surface area refers to the surface area that comes into contact with the deionized water when fully immersed in the bath. For samples obtained using the Footwear Sampling Procedure, the samples only have one major surface exposed. For convenience, the surface areas of the peripheral edges of the sample are ignored due to their relatively small dimensions.

    [0286] The measured sample is fully immersed back in the deionized water bath between measurements. The 1, 2, 4, 9, 16, and 25 minute durations refer to cumulative soaking durations while the sample is fully immersed in the deionized water bath (i.e., after the first minute of soaking and first measurement, the sample is returned to the bath for one more minute of soaking before measuring at the 2-minute mark).

    [0287] As discussed above in the Water Uptake Capacity Test, the total weight of a sample taken pursuant to the Footwear Sampling Procedure includes the weight of the material as dried or soaked (Wt. C. Wetor Wt. C. Dry) and the weight of the article or backing substrate (Wt. Sub.). In order to determine a weight change of the material due to water uptake, the weight of the substrate (Wt. Sub.) needs to be subtracted from the sample weight measurements. This can be accomplished using the same steps discussed above in the Water Uptake Capacity Test to provide the resulting material weights Wt. C. Wet and Wt. C. Dry for each soaking-duration measurement.

    [0288] The specific weight gain (Wt. Gn.) water uptake for each soaked sample is then calculated as the difference between the weight of the soaked sample (Wt. C. Wet) and the weight of the initial dried sample (W. C. Dry) where the resulting difference is then divided by the exposed surface area of the soaked sample (A) as depicted in Equation 4.

    for a particular soaking-duration data point (e.g., 1, 2, 4, 9, 16, or 25 minutes), as mentioned above.

    [0289] The water uptake rate for the elastomeric material is then determined as the slope of the specific weight gains Wt. G.) versus the square root of time (in minutes) of the soaking duration, as determined by a least squares linear regression of the data points. For the elastomeric material of the present disclosure, the plot of the specific weight gains (Wt. G.) versus the square root of time (in minutes) of the soaking duration provides an initial slope that is substantially linear (to provide the water uptake rate by the linear regression analysis). However, after a period of time depending on the thickness of the component, the specific weight gains will slow down, indicating a reduction in the water uptake rate, until the saturated state is reached. This is believed to be due to the water being sufficiently diffused throughout the elastomeric material as the water uptake approaches saturation, and will vary depending on component thickness.

    [0290] As such, for the component having an average thickness (as measured above) less than 0.3 millimeters, only the specific weight gain data points at 1, 2, 4, and 9 minutes are used in the linear regression analysis. In these cases, the data points at 16 and 25 minutes can begin to significantly diverge from the linear slope due to the water uptake approaching saturation, and are omitted from the linear regression analysis. In comparison, for the component having an average dried thickness (as measured above) of 0.3 millimeters or more, the specific weight gain data points at 1, 2, 4, 9, 16, and 25 minutes are used in the linear regression analysis. The resulting slope defining the water uptake rate for the sample has units of weight/(surface area-square root of time), such as grams/(meter2-minutes1/2) or g/m2/√min.

    [0291] Furthermore, some component surfaces can create surface phenomenon that quickly attract and retain water molecules (e.g., via surface hydrogen bonding or capillary action) without actually drawing the water molecules into the film or substrate. Thus, samples of these films or substrates can show rapid specific weight gains for the 1-minute sample, and possibly for the 2-minute sample. After that, however, further weight gain is negligible. As such, the linear regression analysis is only applied if the specific weight gain in data points at 1, 2, and 4 minutes continue to show an increase in water uptake. If not, the water uptake rate under this test methodology is considered to be about zero g/m2/√min.

    (IV) - Swelling Capacity Test Protocol



    [0292] This test measures the swelling capacity of the component in terms of increases in thickness and volume after a given soaking duration for a sample (e.g., taken with the above-discussed Footwear Sampling Procedure). The sample is initially dried at 60 degrees C until there is no weight change for consecutive measurement intervals of at least 30 minutes apart (a 24-hour drying period is typically a suitable duration). The dimensions of the dried sample are then measured (e.g., thickness, length, and width for a rectangular sample; thickness and diameter for a circular sample, etc.). The dried sample is then fully immersed in a deionized water bath maintained at 25 degrees C. After a given soaking duration, the sample is removed from the deionized water bath, blotted with a cloth to remove surface water, and the same dimensions for the soaked sample are re-measured.

    [0293] Any suitable soaking duration can be used. Accordingly, as used herein, the expression "having a swelling thickness (or volume) increase at 5 minutes of." refers to a soaking duration of 5 minutes, the expression "having a swelling thickness (or volume) increase at 1 hour of" refers to a test duration of 1 hour, the expression "having a swelling thickness (or volume) increase at 24 hours of" refers to a test duration of 24 hours, and the like.

    [0294] The swelling of the component is determined by (1) an increase in the thickness between the dried and soaked component, by (2) an increase in the volume between the dried and soaked component, or (3) both. The increase in thickness between the dried and soaked components is calculated by subtracting the measured thickness of the initial dried component from the measured thickness of the soaked component. Similarly, the increase in volume between the dried and soaked components is calculated by subtracting the measured volume of the initial dried component from the measured volume of the soaked component. The increases in the thickness and volume can also be represented as percentage increases relative to the dry thickness or volume, respectively.

    (V) - Mud Pull-Off Test Protocol



    [0295] This test measures, the force required to pull a test sample away from a 5.1 cm (2 inches) diameter disk of mud (e.g., taken with the above-discussed Footwear Sampling Procedure). Referring now to Figures 6A and 6B, the test sample 200 and disk of mud 210 are placed between two parallel aluminum plates 220(A, B). One of the aluminum plates 220A is movable in a direction that his perpendicular to the alignment of the parallel plates. The other aluminum plate 220B is held stationary. The test sample is secured to the movable plate 220A.

    [0296] When the two aluminum plates are separated 250 from each other the load is set at zero Newton (N). The two plates are then compressed 260 with the test material and the disk of mud located between them. The plates are compressed 260 (i.e., "loaded") until the load applied reaches -445 N (-100 lbs.). Once the load of -445 N is applied, the applied load is then reversed 270 (i.e., "unloaded"). The pull-off force represents the load that is required to be applied in order to separate the test material from the disk of mud. Thus, the pull-off force is the load measured 280 that is above the zero threshold load. The pull-off force is measured for each test material a total of 30 times with the final or recorded pull-off force representing the average of the 30 measurements.

    EXAMPLE 1 - Mud Pull-Off Test Results



    [0297] The following test samples were prepared and tested according to the Mud Pull-Off Test Protocol and the Footwear Sampling Procedure as described above. One skilled in the art will understand that any of the Sampling Procedures can be utilized with similar results depending upon the type of article in which the component is used. Each of the test samples (except Control #1) were prepared using a conventional rubber formulation of natural rubber, nitrile rubber, and polybutadiene as the cured rubber as part of the elastomeric material. In each of the test samples (except Control #1) were prepared using a hydrogel as part of the elastomeric material as shown in Table 1. In Control #1, a standard TPU was used (Desmopan 8795A, Covestro AG, Leverkusen, Germany).

    [0298] Referring now to Figure 7 each of the samples (Control # 1; Run #'s 1-4) were tested 30 times using the Mud Pull-Off Test protocol described above. Each of the test samples were prepared and soaked in water for a period of 24 hours prior to conducting the mud pull-off test. The control sample comprising only a standard TPU (Control 1) required a mud pull-off load or force ranging from about 1 Newton (N) to about 10 N with an overall average of about 6 Newton. In comparison, each of Run #'s 1-4, which included an elastomeric material according to the present disclosure exhibited a mud pull-off force that was less than about 0.3 N with an average mud pull-off force on the order of about 0.01 N for Run #1, about 0.05 N for Run #2, about 0.20 N for Run #3, and about 0.1 N for Run #4. This example demonstrates that the mud pull-off force exhibited by a component comprising the elastomeric material of the present disclosure is lower than that expected for a component prepared solely with a standard thermoplastic polyurethane.
    Table 1
     wt. percent (phr) Polymeric Hydrogel in the Elasomeric MaterialType of Polymeric Hydrogel
    Control 1 100 percent Desmopan 8795A TPU (Covestro AG, Leverkusen, Germany)
    Run 1 14 wt. percent (25 phr) Estane® ALR-G2000 Hydrogel TPU Material,(Lubrizol Advanced Materials Inc., Cleveland, OH) and cured rubber
    Run 2 57 wt. percent (200 phr) Estane® ALR-G2000 Hydrogel TPU Material (Lubrizol Advanced Materials Inc., Cleveland, OH) and cured rubber
    Run 3 24 wt. percent (50 phr) Estane® ALR-L400 Hydrogel TPU Material (Lubrizol Advanced Materials Inc., Cleveland, OH) and cured rubber
    Run 4 57 wt. percent (200 phr) Estane® ALR-L400 Hydrogel TPU Material (Lubrizol Advanced Materials Inc., Cleveland, OH) and cured rubber


    [0299] Referring now to Figures 8A and 8B, a diagram of the applied force per unit area (i.e., Engineering Stress in MPa) plotted as a function of displacement can also be obtained by conducting this type of test. This plot demonstrates that the mixing of a hydrophilic resin with a cured rubber enhances the compliance of the resulting elastomeric material or layer. The greatest stress values are measured for the sample (Control #2) in which no hydrophilic resin (0 phr) is present, but rather only the cured rubber, i.e., a mixture of natural rubber, nitrile rubber, and polybutadiene. The compliance of the elastomeric material increases as the amount of the hydrophilic resin or hydrogel that is mixed with the cured rubber increases (i.e., from 0 phr to 43.75 phr as shown in Run numbers 5 to 8). In addition, a larger effect is observed when the elastomeric material in the component is wet, e.g., soaked for a period of 24 hours (see Figure 8B) as compared to being dry (see Figure 8A). One skilled in the art will understand that water exposure has little effect on only the cured rubber as shown by comparing the 0 phr curves (Control #2) in Figures 8A and 8B.

    EXAMPLE 2 - Water Uptake Rate & Capacity Results



    [0300] Test samples were prepared by mixing various amounts (50 phr, 100 phr, 150 phr, & 200 phr) of a hydrophilic resin (e.g., either ALR-L400 or ALR-G2000, Lubrizol Advanced Materials Inc.) into a conventional cured rubber (i.e., a mixture of natural rubber, nitrile rubber, and polybutadiene). The test samples were then subjected to both the Water Uptake Rate Test protocol and the Overall Water Uptake Capacity Test protocol. Referring now to Figures 9A and 9B. As the amount of the hydrophilic resin or hydrogel in the crosslinked elastomeric material increases, the water uptake rate also increases. The water uptake rate over the range of 50 phr to 200 phr of a hydrophilic TPU (ALR-L400) added to an elastomeric rubber (Figure 9A) increased from about 25 g/m2/√min to about 72 g/m2/√min. Similarly, the water uptake rate over the range 25 phr to 100 phr of a hydrophilic TPU (ALR-G2000) added to the same cured rubber (Figure 9B) increased from about 14 g/m2/√min to about 57 g/m2/√min. Although there is a slight difference in the water uptake rate depending upon the composition of the hydrophilic resin, the same trend is observed as the loading of the hydrophilic resin is increased. Similar results are also observed when the hydrophilic resin is a polyether block amide (i.e., contains hydrophilic polyether groups and rigid polyamide groups), such as PEBAX 1074, commercially available from Arkema Specialty Polyamides, France.

    [0301] Referring now to Figure 10, the same trend is also observed as the loading of the hydrophilic resin is increased when using different compositions of a cured rubber. In Figure 9, the water uptake rate is plotted as a function of hydrophilic resin loading for elastomeric materials containing different cured rubber mixtures. The difference between the cured rubber mixtures resides in both the quantity of different conventional rubbers as well as the use of natural rubber and regrind materials (in Rubber A) versus a synthetic rubber and virgin materials (in Rubber B).

    [0302] Referring once again to Figures 9A and 9B, the overall water capacity of the elastomeric materials increased as the loading of the hydrophilic resin (e.g., ALR-L400 or ALR-G2000) increased. The overall water capacity after a 24-hour soak time for the elastomeric material in Runs 9-12 increased from 59 percent to 194 percent, while the overall water capacity for the elastomeric materials in Runs 13-16 increased from 35 percent to 170 percent.

    [0303] Referring now to Figures 11A and 11B, photomicrographs of mud present on the surface of a component soaked for a period of 24 hours are shown. In Figure 11A, the mud is more compact (i.e., substantial accumulation) since the component does not comprise any polymeric hydrogel (0 phr), but rather only a conventional cured rubber (Control 2). In comparison, the mud shown in Figure 11B is found to be more dispersed (i.e., less has accumulated) on the surface of a component that comprises a total of 50 phr of a polymeric hydrogel (ALR-G2000, Lubrizol) mixed with the cured rubber in an elastomeric material according to the present disclosure.

    EXAMPLE 3 - Swelling Test Results



    [0304] A test sample comprising Control #2 in which no hydrophilic resin (0 phr) is present, but rather only the cured rubber, i.e., a mixture of natural rubber, nitrile rubber, and polybutadiene. Test samples were also prepared mixing the cured rubber of Control #2 with a hydrophilic TPU resin (ALR-G2000, Lubrizol) at 25 phr (Run 17), 50 phr (Run 18), and 75 phr (Run 18). All of the test samples (Control #2, Runs 17-19) were rectangular in shape and measured 15.25 cm (6 inches) by 10.15 cm (4 inches). Each of the test samples were subjected to the Swelling Capacity Test for a period of 24 hours.

    [0305] The results of this test are visually depicted in Figure 12. The Control #2 was observed not to swell, while each the test samples (Runs 17-19) were found to swell, such that the degree of swelling increased as the amount of the polymeric hydrogel present in the elastomeric material increased. In other words, the degree of swelling followed the progression of Run 17 < Run 18 < Run 19.

    EXAMPLE 4 - Water Cycling Test Results



    [0306] The following test samples were prepared and tested according to the Water Cycling Test Protocol and the Material Sampling Procedure as described above. A test sample was prepared by mixing 100 phr, of a hydrophilic thermoplastic urethane (TPU) resin (ALR-G2000, Lubrizol Advanced Materials Inc.) into a conventional cured rubber (i.e., a mixture of natural rubber, nitrile rubber, and polybutadiene) according to the teachings of the present disclosure. Similar test samples were prepared with the hydrophilic resin being substituted with a polyacrylic acid (either AP75 or AP93, Evonik Corp., Alabama). The weight measurements for each test sample taken initially, after completion of the Water Cycling Test protocol are provided in Table 2 below.
    Table 2
     Polymeric hydrogel type (100 phr)Original Mass (g)After Soak (g)After Soak - Weight Gain ( percent)After Dry (g)Total change in Weight ( percent)
    Run 20 Polymeric hydrogel (ALR-G2000, Lubrizol Adv. Mat. Inc.) 1099 2095 47.50 percent 1167 5.8
    Run 21 Polymeric hydrogel (AP75, Evonik Corporation) 758 992 Polymeric hydrogel flaked off sample 629 -17.06
    Run 22 Polymeric hydrogel (AP93, Evonik Corporation) 757 929 Polymeric hydrogel flaked off sample 590 -22.1


    [0307] This example demonstrates that the use of a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) as defined herein as a hydrogel added to an uncured rubber and then cured results in no weight loss upon exposure to water. Rather as shown in Run 20, the elastomeric material formed according to the teachings of the present disclosure resulted in a weight gain of 5.8 weight percent after the Water Cycling Testing. In comparison, the test samples that incorporated polyacrylic acid (PAA) as shown in Runs 21 and 22 were observed to flake during water exposure and result in in overall weight loss in the Water Cycle Test ranging from about -17 weight percent to about -22 weight percent.

    [0308] Referring now to Figures 13A and 13B, the surface of the elastomeric material 300 in test sample Run 20 was observed to be visibly similar to the elastomeric material 300C in the original (i.e., initial dry) state. However, upon exposure to water for only 30 seconds differences between the test samples (Runs 20 & 22) become self-evident. More specifically, in Run 22 (see Figure 13A), the polymeric hydrogel is observed to swell as shown by the dark regions 305 visibly observable in the photomicrograph. In Run 22, the polymeric hydrogel (dark regions) 305 are shown in the photomicrograph to be separated from the cured rubber 310. In comparison, in Run 20, the elastomeric material 300 formed according to the teachings of the present disclosure exhibits uniform surface swelling with no separation of the thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) polymeric hydrogel and the cured rubber being observable.

    [0309] The present disclosure provides:
    A composition comprising: a rubber; and a polymeric hydrogel; wherein, in the composition, the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the rubber.

    [0310] Optionally, the rubber is an uncured rubber and the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the uncured rubber.

    [0311] Optionally, the rubber is a cured rubber, the composition is an elastomeric material, and, in the elastomeric material, the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the cured rubber and at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel in the elastomeric material is entrapped by the cured rubber. Optionally the polymeric hydrogel is physically entrapped by the cured rubber, or is chemically bonded to the cured rubber, or is both physically entrapped by the cured rubber and chemically bonded to the cured rubber.

    [0312] The composition of the polymeric hydrogel and the cured rubber may have a water uptake of at least 40 percent by weight, based on a total weight of the composition, or at least 60 percent by weight, or at least 80 percent by weight, or at least 100 percent by weight.

    [0313] The polymeric hydrogel optionally comprises a polyurethane hydrogel, and optionally the polyurethane hydrogel is a reaction polymer of a diisocyanate with a polyol.

    [0314] The polyurethane hydrogel optionally comprises a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) which includes a plurality of alkoxy segments and a plurality of diisocyanate segments, wherein the plurality of diisocyanate segments are linked to each other by chain extending segments; optionally the TPU is a reaction polymer of a diisocyanate with a polyol; or optionally the diisocyanate segments comprise an aliphatic diisocyanate segment, an aromatic diisocyanate segment, or both.

    [0315] The diisocyanate segments may comprise aliphatic diisocyanate segments; optionally the aliphatic diisocyanate segments include hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) segments; optionally a majority of the diisocyanate segments are HDI segments; and optionally the aliphatic diisocyanate segments include isophorone diisocyanate (IPDI) segments. The diisocyanate segments may include aromatic diisocyanate segments; optionally the aromatic diisocyanate segments include diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI) segments; and optionally the aromatic diisocyanate segments include toluene diisocyanate (TDI) segments.

    [0316] The alkoxy segments may include ester segments and ether segments, or optionally the alkoxy segments include ester segments, or optionally the alkoxy segments include ether segments.

    [0317] The polymeric hydrogel may comprise a polyamide hydrogel, and optionally the polyamide hydrogel is a reaction polymer of a condensation of diamino compounds with dicarboxylic acids.

    [0318] The polymeric hydrogel may comprise a polyurea hydrogel, and optionally the polyurea hydrogel is a reaction polymer of a diisocyanate with a diamine.

    [0319] The polymeric hydrogel may comprise a polyester hydrogel, and optionally the polyester hydrogel is a reaction polymer of a dicarboxylic acid with a diol.

    [0320] The polymeric hydrogel may comprise a polycarbonate hydrogel, and optionally the polycarbonate hydrogel is a reaction polymer of a diol with phosgene or a carbonate diester. The polymeric hydrogel may comprise a polyetheramide hydrogel, and optionally the polyetheramide hydrogel is a reaction polymer of dicarboxylic acid and polyether diamine. The polymeric hydrogel may comprise a hydrogel formed of addition polymers of ethylenically unsaturated monomers.

    [0321] The polymeric hydrogel may comprise a hydrogel formed of a copolymer, wherein the copolymer is a combination of two or more types of polymers within each polymer chain, and optionally the copolymer is selected from the group consisting of: a polyurethane/polyurea copolymer, a polyurethane/polyester copolymer, and a polyester/polycarbonate copolymer. The hydrogel may comprise a plurality of copolymer chains, each copolymer chain independently having a combination of hard segments (HS) and soft segments, wherein each of the soft segments (SS) independently includes a plurality of hydroxyl groups, one or more poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) segments, or both; optionally each of the soft segments (SS) of the polymeric hydrogel independently has a greater level of hydrophilicity than each of the hard segments (HS); and optionally an average ratio of a number of soft segments to a number hard segments (SS:HS) present in the copolymer chains of the polymeric hydrogel range from 6:1 to 100:1.

    [0322] The polymeric hydrogel may have a water uptake capacity in the range of 50 weight percent to 2000 weight percent, as measured using the Water Uptake Capacity Test with the Material Sampling Procedure; and optionally the polymeric hydrogel has a water uptake capacity in the range of 100 weight percent to 1500 weight percent, or the polymeric hydrogel has a water uptake capacity in the range of 300 weight percent to 1200 weight percent.

    [0323] The polymeric hydrogel may have a water uptake rate of 10 g/m2/√min to 120 g/m2/√min as measured using the Water Uptake Rate Test with the Material Sampling Procedure. The composition may include from 0.5 parts per hundred resin to 85 parts per hundred resin of the polymeric hydrogel based on an overall weight of the composition; the composition may include from 5 parts per hundred to 80 parts per hundred of the polymeric hydrogel based on an overall weight of the composition; the composition may include from 10 parts per hundred to 75 parts per hundred of the polymeric hydrogel based on an overall weight of the composition, or the composition may include from 20 parts per hundred to 70 parts per hundred of the polymeric hydrogel based on an overall weight of the composition. The composition may include a colorant, and the colorant may be selected from a dye, pigment, or combination thereof.

    [0324] The uncured rubber optionally comprises an uncured natural rubber, or an uncured synthetic rubber, or both.

    [0325] The uncured rubber is optionally an uncured butadiene rubber, an uncured styrene-butadiene (SBR) rubber, an uncured butyl rubber, an uncured isoprene rubber, an uncured nitrile rubber, an uncured urethane rubber, or any combination thereof.

    [0326] The composition may further comprise a crosslinking agent for crosslinking the uncured rubber; optionally the crosslinking agent is a thermally initiated crosslinking agent; and optionally the thermally initiated crosslinking agent is a sulfur-based crosslinking agent or a peroxide-based crosslinking agent.

    [0327] The uncured rubber is optionally an actinic radiation curable rubber, and the crosslinking agent is optionally an initiator for crosslinking the radiation curable rubber upon exposure to actinic radiation.

    [0328] The elastomeric material is optionally a crosslinked reaction product of a mixture comprising the polymeric hydrogel and the rubber.

    [0329] Optionally, at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel is entrapped in the elastomeric material, and optionally the polymeric hydrogel is covalently bonded to the cured rubber. Optionally, substantially all the polymeric hydrogel in the elastomeric material is physically entrapped by the cured rubber.

    [0330] The cured rubber is optionally a cured butadiene rubber, a cured styrene-butadiene (SBR) rubber, a cured butyl rubber, a cured isoprene rubber, a cured nitrile rubber, a cured urethane rubber, or a combination thereof.

    [0331] The elastomeric material optionally has an equilibrium water uptake capacity of at least 20 weight percent, or at least 40 weight percent, or at least 60 weight percent, or at least 80 weight percent.

    [0332] The elastomeric material optionally has an equilibrium water uptake capacity of at least 100 weight percent.

    [0333] The elastomeric material optionally has a water cycling weight loss from 0 weight percent to 15 weight percent as measured using the Water Cycling Test with the Material Sampling Procedure.

    [0334] Also provided herein is an article comprising: an elastomeric material including a cured rubber and a polymeric hydrogel; wherein, in the elastomeric material, the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the cured rubber, and at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel present in the elastomeric material is entrapped by the cured rubber.

    [0335] The elastomeric material optionally further comprises a first colorant homogeneously distributed throughout the elastomeric material.

    [0336] The elastomeric material optionally further comprises a first colorant heterogeneously distributed throughout the elastomeric material.

    [0337] The elastomeric material optionally further comprises one or more colorants.

    [0338] The elastomeric material is optionally one as described above.

    [0339] The article optionally has a water cycling weight loss of less than 10 weight percent.

    [0340] The elastomeric material optionally has a dry-state thickness in the range of 0.2 mm to 2.0 mm.

    [0341] The elastomeric material optionally has a saturated-state thickness that is at least 100 percent greater or at least 200 percent greater than the dry-state thickness of the elastomeric material.

    [0342] The elastomeric material is optionally attached to a textile, and optionally the textile is a knit textile, a woven textile, a non-woven textile, a braided textile a crocheted textile, or any combination thereof.

    [0343] The elastomeric material optionally comprises a plurality of fibers, one or more yarns, one or more textiles, or any combination thereof.

    [0344] The elastomeric material is optionally attached to, a plurality of fibers, one or more yarns, one or more textiles, or any combination thereof, wherein the plurality of fibers, the one or more yarns, the one or more textiles, or the combination thereof, comprise synthetic fibers. The synthetic fibers or yarns optionally comprise, consist of, or consist essentially of a thermoplastic composition, and optionally the thermoplastic composition comprises, consists of, or consists essentially of a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), a thermoplastic polyamide, a thermoplastic polyester, a thermoplastic polyolefin, or a mixture thereof.

    [0345] The plurality of fibers, the one or more yarns, the one or more textiles, or any combination thereof, is optionally a filler or a reinforcing element, and optionally the plurality of fibers are dispersed in elastomeric material, or the elastomeric material infiltrates the yarn and/or the textile and consolidates the fibers of the yarn and/or the fibers or yarn of the textile.

    [0346] The article is optionally an article of footwear, a component of footwear, an article of apparel, a component of apparel, an article of sporting equipment, or a component of sporting equipment.

    [0347] The article is optionally an article of footwear, and optionally the article is a sole component for an article of footwear.

    [0348] The article optionally further comprises a first layer comprising the elastomeric material and a second layer comprising a cured rubber, wherein the first layer and the second layer are attached to one another by crosslinks between the cured rubber of the first layer and the cured rubber of the second layer.

    [0349] The second optionally comprises one or more of the traction elements, wherein the traction elements are on a side of the article of footwear configured to be ground facing.

    [0350] The traction elements are optionally selected from the group consisting of: a cleat, a stud, a spike, and a lug.

    [0351] The traction elements are optionally integrally formed with an outsole of the article of footwear.

    [0352] The traction elements are optionally removable traction elements.

    [0353] The elastomeric material is optionally not disposed on tip of the traction element configured to be ground contacting.

    [0354] The elastomeric material is optionally disposed in an area separating the traction elements and optionally on one or more sides of the traction elements.

    [0355] Also provided herein is an article of footwear comprising: an upper; and an outsole comprising a first region having a first elastomeric material; wherein the first region defines a portion of an externally facing side of the outsole, and wherein the first elastomeric material includes a mixture of a first cured rubber and a first polymeric hydrogel at a first concentration; wherein, in the first elastomeric material, the first polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the first cured rubber and at least a portion of the first polymeric hydrogel present in the first elastomeric material is entrapped by the first cured rubber, wherein the first elastomeric material is capable of taking up water.

    [0356] The outsole optionally comprises a second region having a second elastomeric material, wherein the first region and the second region are adjacent one another, wherein the second region defines a portion of the externally facing side of the outsole, and wherein the second elastomeric material includes a mixture of a second cured rubber and a second polymeric hydrogel at a second concentration, wherein, in the second elastomeric material, the second polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the second cured rubber and at least a portion of the second polymeric hydrogel present in the second elastomeric material is entrapped by the second cured rubber.

    [0357] The first hydrogel and the second hydrogel are optionally the same.

    [0358] The first hydrogel and second hydrogel are optionally different.

    [0359] The first hydrogel and second hydrogel concentrations are optionally the same.

    [0360] The first hydrogel and second hydrogel concentrations are optionally different.

    [0361] The first elastomeric material optionally comprises a first colorant at a first concentration. The second elastomeric material optionally comprises a second colorant at a second concentration.

    [0362] The first and second colorants are optionally the same.

    [0363] The first and second colorant concentrations are optionally the same.

    [0364] The article and second colorant concentrations are optionally different.

    [0365] The externally facing side of the article formed by the elastomeric material optionally has a mud pull-off force that is less than 12 Newton as determined by the Mud Pull-Off Test using the Component Sampling Procedure.

    [0366] The article of footwear optionally comprises one or more of the traction elements, wherein the traction elements are on a side of the article of footwear configured to be ground facing; optionally the traction elements are selected from the group consisting of: a cleat, a stud, a spike, and a lug, and optionally the one or more traction elements include traction elements integrally formed with an outsole of the article of footwear or traction elements which are removable traction elements, or both; optionally the elastomeric material is not disposed on tip of the traction element configured to be ground contacting; and optionally the elastomeric material is disposed in an area separating the traction elements and optionally on one or more sides of the traction elements.

    [0367] The article optionally further comprises a first layer comprising the elastomeric material and a second layer comprising a rubber, wherein the first layer and the second layer are attached to one another by crosslinks between the cured rubber of the first layer and the cured rubber of the second layer.

    [0368] Also disclosed herein is a method of making an article, comprising: attaching a first component and a second component including the elastomeric material of any preceding clause to one another, thereby forming the article.

    [0369] The article is optionally an article of footwear, an article of apparel, or an article of sporting equipment; the first component is optionally an upper component for an article of footwear; and the second component is optionally a sole component for an article of footwear. The step of attaching is optionally attaching the sole component such that the externally facing layer of the elastomeric material forms at least a portion of a side of the sole component which is configured to be externally facing.

    [0370] The method optionally further comprises disposing the elastomeric material in an area separating the traction elements and optionally on one or more sides of the traction elements.

    [0371] The method optionally further comprises attaching a first component comprising a first material and a second component comprising a second material, wherein attaching the first component and the second component comprises curing the first material and the second material in contact with each other and forming chemical bonds between a first material and the second material, optionally wherein, prior to the curing, the first material is a first uncured composition or a first partially cured elastomeric material and the second material is a second uncured composition or a second partially cured elastomeric material, or is a second uncured or partially cured rubber substantially free of a polymeric hydrogel, and forming chemical bonds between the first material and the second material includes fully curing the rubber of the first and second materials and forming crosslinking bonds between the rubber of the first and second materials.

    [0372] An article is disclosed herein comprising a product of any one of the methods described above.

    [0373] Optionally, the first component of such an article is a substrate that comprises a polymeric foam, a molded solid polymeric material, a textile, or a combination thereof, and the second component is attached to the first component.

    [0374] The first component is optionally a substrate that includes a thermoset polymeric material, a thermoplastic polymeric material, or both.

    [0375] The thermoplastic polymeric material optionally includes a thermoplastic polyurethane, a thermoplastic polyester, a thermoplastic polyamide, a thermoplastic polyolefin, or any combination thereof.

    [0376] The first component optionally includes a textile, wherein the textile is selected from a knit textile, a woven textile, a non-woven textile, a braided textile, or a combination thereof. The textile optionally includes fibers or yarns formed from a thermoplastic polymeric material that includes a thermoplastic polyurethane, a thermoplastic polyester, a thermoplastic polyamide, a thermoplastic polyolefin, or any combination thereof.

    [0377] An article is also disclosed herein, wherein the article is an outsole including a first elastomeric material; wherein the first elastomeric material forms a first portion of an externally-facing side of the outsole; wherein the first elastomeric material includes a mixture of a first cured rubber and a first polymeric hydrogel at a first concentration, in which the first polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout and entrapped by a first polymeric network including the first cured rubber, and the first elastomeric material has a water uptake capacity of at least 40 percent by weight based on a total weight of the first elastomeric material present in the first portion.

    [0378] A method of preparing a composition is disclosed herein, the method comprising: providing an uncured rubber; providing a polymeric hydrogel; and mixing the uncured rubber and the polymeric hydrogel together to distribute the polymeric hydrogel throughout the uncured rubber, forming the composition.

    [0379] The composition of this method is optionally any one of the compositions described above. The step of mixing in any one of the methods described above optionally includes mixing the uncured rubber and the polymeric hydrogel together until they are substantially blended. Any one of the methods described above may further comprise shaping the mixed composition.

    [0380] In any one of the methods described above, shaping the mixed composition may include forming the mixed composition into a sheet or molding the mixed composition into a shape. Any one of the methods described above may further comprise exposing the composition to actinic radiation in an amount and for a duration to at least partially cure the mixed composition to form an elastomeric material.

    [0381] A composition is disclosed herein which is prepared according to any one of the methods described above.

    [0382] An elastomeric material is disclosed herein, which is prepared according to the method described above.

    [0383] A method of forming an elastomeric material is provided herein, the method comprising: providing a composition including a mixture of an uncured rubber and a polymeric hydrogel, wherein, in the composition, the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the uncured rubber; and curing the composition to form the elastomeric material, wherein the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the cured rubber and at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel present in the elastomeric material is entrapped by the cured rubber.

    [0384] An elastomeric material is disclosed herein, which is prepared according to any of the methods described above.

    [0385] A method of forming an article is disclosed herein, the method comprising: providing a composition including a mixture of an uncured rubber and a polymeric hydrogel; wherein, in the composition, the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the uncured rubber; shaping the composition to form a shaped composition; and curing the shaped composition to cure the uncured rubber of the composition and form the article, the article comprising an elastomeric material in which the polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the cured rubber and at least a portion of the polymeric hydrogel in the elastomeric material is entrapped by cured rubber.

    [0386] In any of the methods described above, the shaping may include extruding, calendaring, molding, thermoforming, or any combination thereof, the composition to form the shaped composition.

    [0387] In any of the methods described above, the curing may include exposing the composition to actinic radiation in an amount and for a duration sufficient to at least partially cure the composition.

    [0388] In any of the methods described above, the curing may include exposing the composition to actinic radiation in an amount and for a duration sufficient to fully cure the composition. Any of the methods described above may further comprise shaping the article after the curing.

    [0389] In any of the methods described above, the shaping the article may include cutting, molding, thermoforming, or any combination thereof, the elastomeric material of the article.

    [0390] In any of the methods described above, the shaped composition is optionally disposed on a first layer comprising an uncured rubber or partially cured rubber, and curing the shaped composition may further comprise curing the uncured rubber or partially cured rubber of the composition and the uncured rubber of the first layer and forming crosslinking bonds between the cured rubber in the shaped composition and cured rubber in the first layer, forming crosslinking bonds between the cured rubber in the first layer and polymeric hydrogel, or a combination thereof.

    [0391] Also disclosed herein is a method of forming an outsole, the method comprising: shaping a first composition to form a first portion of an externally-facing side an outsole, wherein the first composition includes a mixture of a first uncured or partially cured rubber and a first polymeric hydrogel at a first concentration, wherein the first polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout the first uncured or partially cured rubber; and curing the first portion to form a first elastomeric material, thereby curing the first uncured or partially cured rubber into a first fully cured rubber, and forming a first polymeric network including the first fully cured rubber in the first elastomeric material, wherein the first polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout and entrapped by the first polymeric network.

    [0392] In any of the methods described above, the article may be an outsole, and the method may comprise: shaping the second composition, comprising placing the second composition in a second region of a mold, wherein the second region of the mold is configured to form traction elements; shaping the first composition and contacting the at least an edge of the first portion with the at least an edge of the second portion, comprising placing the first composition in a first region of the mold, wherein the first region of the mold is configured to form a substrate for the traction elements, and placing the first composition in the first region of the mold, comprising contacting a second side of the second portion with a first side of the first portion; curing, comprising fully curing both the first portion and the second portion in the mold and bonding the first side of the first portion to the second side of the second portion; and following the curing, removing the bonded first portion and second from the mold.

    [0393] The curing optionally includes exposing the first composition to actinic radiation in an amount and for a duration sufficient to fully cure the first uncured or partially cured rubber of the first composition.

    [0394] Any of the methods described above may further comprise shaping a second composition to form a second portion of the externally-facing side the outsole, wherein the second composition includes a second uncured or partially cured rubber; and curing the shaped second composition, forming a second material including a second fully cured rubber. Any of the methods described above may further comprise contacting at least an edge of the first portion with at least an edge of the second portion, wherein the curing comprises curing the first portion or the second portion or both while the at least an edge of the first portion and the at least an edge of the second portion are in contact, and comprises forming crosslinking bonds between the first uncured or partially cured rubber and the second uncured or partially cured rubber during the curing, thereby bonding the first portion to the second portion.

    [0395] In any of the methods described above, the shaping may comprise forming one or more traction elements from the second composition.

    [0396] An article is also disclosed herein, prepared according to any one of the methods described above.

    [0397] It should be noted that ratios, concentrations, amounts, and other numerical data may be expressed herein in a range format. It is to be understood that such a range format is used for convenience and brevity, and thus, should be interpreted in a flexible manner to include not only the numerical values explicitly recited as the limits of the range, but also to include all the individual numerical values or sub-ranges encompassed within that range as if each numerical value and sub-range is explicitly recited. To illustrate, a concentration range of "about 0.1 percent to about 5 percent" should be interpreted to include not only the explicitly recited concentration of about 0.1 wt percent to about 5 wt percent, but also include individual concentrations (e.g., 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent, and 4 percent) and the sub-ranges (e.g., 0.5 percent, 1.1 percent, 2.2 percent, 3.3 percent, and 4.4 percent) within the indicated range. The term "about" can include traditional rounding according to significant figures of the numerical value. In addition, the phrase "about 'x' to 'y'" includes "about 'x' to about 'y'".


    Claims

    1. An outsole (15) comprising:

    a first elastomeric material (110; 204);

    wherein the first elastomeric material (110) forms a first portion of an externally-facing side (10) of the outsole (15);

    wherein the first elastomeric material (110; 204) includes a mixture of a first cured rubber and a first polymeric hydrogel at a first concentration, in which the first polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout and entrapped by a first polymeric network including the first cured rubber, and the first elastomeric material (110; 204) has a water uptake capacity of at least 40 percent by weight based on a total weight of the first elastomeric material (110; 204) present in the first portion.


     
    2. The outsole (15) of claim 1, wherein the externally-facing side (10) of the outsole (15) includes two or more traction elements (95; 138), and the first portion is an area separating the two or more traction elements (95; 138).
     
    3. The outsole of claim 1 or 2, wherein the first polymeric hydrogel is physically entrapped by the first polymeric network, or is chemically bonded to the first polymeric network, or both.
     
    4. The outsole (15) of any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the first elastomeric material (110; 204):

    - has a water cycling weight loss of less than 15 weight percent based on a total weight of the first elastomeric material (110; 204) present in the outsole (15);

    - has a water uptake capacity of at least 80 percent by weight based on the total weight of the first elastomeric material (110; 204) present in the first portion; and/or

    - includes from 30 weight percent to 70 weight percent of the first polymeric hydrogel based on a total weight of the first elastomeric material (110; 204) present in the first portion.


     
    5. The outsole of any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the first polymeric hydrogel in neat form has an overall water uptake capacity of 100 weight percent to 3000 weight percent; and/or wherein the first polymeric hydrogel comprises a polyurethane hydrogel.
     
    6. The outsole (15) of any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the outsole (15) comprises a second material (206), and the second material (206) forms a second portion of the externally-facing side (10) of the outsole (15), wherein at least a first edge of the first portion and at least a second edge of the second portion optionally contact one another.
     
    7. The outsole (15) of claim 6, wherein the second material (206): includes a second cured rubber and is substantially free of one or more polymeric hydrogels; and/or forms one or more integrally formed traction elements (95; 138) on the externally-facing side (10) of the outsole (15).
     
    8. The outsole (15) of any one of claims 5 to 7, wherein the second material (206) is a second elastomeric material and includes a mixture of a second cured rubber and a second polymeric hydrogel at a second concentration, in which the second polymeric hydrogel is distributed throughout and entrapped by a second polymeric network including the second cured rubber, and the second elastomeric material has a water uptake capacity of at least 2 percent by weight based on a total weight of the second elastomeric material in the second portion.
     
    9. The outsole (15) of any one of claims 6 to 8, wherein the second portion and the first portion are attached to one another by crosslinking bonds, and an interface between the first portion and the second portion is substantially free of adhesive.
     
    10. A method of forming an outsole (15) according to any one of claims 1-9, the method comprising:

    shaping (132) a first composition to form a first portion of an externally-facing side (10) of an outsole (15), wherein the first composition includes a mixture of a first uncured or partially cured rubber (126) and a first polymeric hydrogel (127) at a first concentration, wherein the first polymeric hydrogel (127) is distributed throughout the first uncured or partially cured rubber (126); and

    curing (119; 137; 145) the first portion to form a first elastomeric material (129; 135), thereby curing the first uncured or partially cured rubber (126) into a first fully cured rubber, and forming a first polymeric network including the first fully cured rubber in the first elastomeric material (129; 135), wherein the first polymeric hydrogel (127) is distributed throughout and entrapped by the first polymeric network.


     
    11. The method of claim 10, wherein the curing (119; 137; 145) includes exposing the first composition to actinic radiation in an amount and for a duration sufficient to fully cure the first uncured or partially cured rubber (126) of the first composition.
     
    12. The method of claim 10 or claim 11, further comprising:

    shaping a second composition to form a second portion of the externally-facing side (10) of the outsole (15), wherein the second composition includes a second uncured or partially cured rubber; and

    curing the shaped second composition, forming a second material (206) including a second fully cured rubber.


     
    13. The method of claim 12, further comprising:

    contacting at least an edge of the first portion with at least an edge of the second portion; and

    wherein the curing comprises curing (119; 137; 145) the first portion or the second portion or both while the at least an edge of the first portion and the at least an edge of the second portion are in contact, and comprises forming crosslinking bonds between the first uncured or partially cured rubber (126) and the second uncured or partially cured rubber during the curing (119; 137; 145), thereby bonding the first portion to the second portion.


     
    14. The method of claim 12 or claim 13, wherein the shaping comprises forming one or more traction elements (95; 138) from the second composition.
     
    15. The method of claim 13, wherein:

    the shaping the second composition comprises placing the second composition in a second region of a mold, wherein the second region of the mold is configured to form traction elements (95; 138);

    the shaping (132) the first composition and contacting the at least an edge of the first portion with the at least an edge of the second portion comprises placing the first composition in a first region of the mold, wherein the first region of the mold is configured to form a substrate for the traction elements (95; 138), and placing the first composition in the first region of the mold comprises contacting a second side of the second portion with a first side of the first portion;

    the curing comprises curing or fully curing (119; 137;145) both the first portion and the second portion in the mold and bonding the first side of the first portion to the second side of the second portion; and

    following the curing, removing the bonded first portion and second portion from the mold.


     


    Ansprüche

    1. Außensohle (15), umfassend:

    ein erstes Elastomermaterial (110; 204);

    wobei das erste Elastomermaterial (110) einen ersten Abschnitt einer nach außen gerichteten Seite (10) der Außensohle (15) bildet;

    wobei das erste Elastomermaterial (110; 204) eine Mischung aus einem ersten gehärteten Kautschuk und einem ersten polymeren Hydrogel in einer ersten Konzentration enthält, in der das erste polymere Hydrogel über ein erstes polymeres Netzwerk verteilt und von diesem eingeschlossen ist, das den ersten gehärteten Kautschuk enthält, und das erste Elastomermaterial (110; 204) eine Wasseraufnahmekapazität von mindestens 40 Gewichtsprozent bezogen auf das Gesamtgewicht des ersten Elastomermaterials (110; 204), das im ersten Abschnitt vorhanden, aufweist.


     
    2. Außensohle (15) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die nach außen gerichtete Seite (10) der Außensohle (15) zwei oder mehr Zugelemente (95; 138) enthält, und der erste Abschnitt ein Bereich ist, der die zwei oder mehr Zugelemente (95; 138) trennt.
     
    3. Außensohle nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei das erste polymere Hydrogel physikalisch von dem ersten polymeren Netzwerk eingeschlossen ist oder chemisch an das erste polymere Netzwerk gebunden ist oder beides.
     
    4. Außensohle (15) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, wobei das erste Elastomermaterial (110; 204) aufweist:

    - einen Gewichtsverlust im Wasserkreislauf von weniger als 15 Gewichtsprozent, bezogen auf das Gesamtgewicht des ersten in der Außensohle (15) vorhandenen Elastomermaterials (110; 204);

    - eine Wasseraufnahmekapazität von mindestens 80 Gewichtsprozent, bezogen auf das Gesamtgewicht des ersten Elastomermaterials (110; 204), das in dem ersten Abschnitt vorhanden ist; und / oder

    - 30 Gew.-% bis 70 Gew.-% des ersten polymeren Hydrogels, bezogen auf das Gesamtgewicht des im ersten Abschnitt vorhandenen ersten Elastomermaterials (110; 204).


     
    5. Außensohle nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, wobei das erste polymere Hydrogel in reiner Form eine Gesamtwasseraufnahmekapazität von 100 Gew.-% bis 3000 Gew.-% aufweist; und / oder wobei das erste polymere Hydrogel ein Polyurethanhydrogel umfasst.
     
    6. Außensohle (15) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 5, wobei die Außensohle (15) ein zweites Material (206) umfasst, und das zweite Material (206) einen zweiten Abschnitt der nach außen gerichtete Seite (10) der Außensohle (15) bildet, wobei mindestens eine erste Kante des ersten Abschnitts und mindestens eine zweite Kante des zweiten Abschnitts wahlweise miteinander in Kontakt stehen.
     
    7. Außensohle (15) nach Anspruch 6, wobei das zweite Material (206): einen zweiten gehärteten Kautschuk enthält und im Wesentlichen frei von einem oder mehreren polymeren Hydrogelen ist; und / oder ein oder mehrere einstückig geformte Zugelemente (95; 138) auf der nach außen gerichteten Seite (10) der Außensohle (15) bildet.
     
    8. Außensohle (15) nach einem der Ansprüche 5 bis 7, wobei das zweite Material (206) ein zweites Elastomermaterial ist und eine Mischung aus einem zweiten gehärteten Kautschuk und einem zweiten polymeren Hydrogel in einer zweiten Konzentration enthält, in der das zweite polymere Hydrogel überall verteilt ist und von einem zweiten polymeren Netzwerk einschließlich des zweiten gehärteten Kautschuks eingeschlossen ist, und das zweite Elastomermaterial eine Wasseraufnahmekapazität von mindestens 2 Gewichtsprozent, bezogen auf das Gesamtgewicht des zweiten Elastomermaterials im zweiten Abschnitt, aufweist.
     
    9. Außensohle (15) nach einem der Ansprüche 6 bis 8, wobei der zweite Abschnitt und der erste Abschnitt durch Quervernetzungsbindungen miteinander verbunden sind, und eine Grenzfläche zwischen dem ersten Abschnitt und dem zweiten Abschnitt im Wesentlichen frei von Klebstoff ist.
     
    10. Verfahren zum Bilden einer Außensohle (15) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 9, wobei das Verfahren umfasst:

    Formen (132) einer ersten Zusammensetzung, um einen ersten Abschnitt einer nach außen gerichteten Seite (10) einer Außensohle (15) zu bilden, wobei die erste Zusammensetzung eine Mischung aus einem ersten ungehärteten oder teilweise gehärteten Kautschuk (126) und einem ersten polymeren Hydrogel (127) in einer ersten Konzentration enthält, wobei das erste polymere Hydrogel (127) über den ersten ungehärteten oder teilweise gehärteten Kautschuk (126) verteilt ist; und

    Härten (119; 137; 145) des ersten Abschnitts unter Bildung eines ersten Elastomermaterials (129; 135), wodurch der erste ungehärtete oder teilweise gehärtete Kautschuk (126) zu einem ersten vollständig gehärteten Kautschuk gehärtet wird, und ein erstes polymeres Netzwerk einschließlich des ersten vollständig ausgehärteten Kautschuks in dem ersten Elastomermaterial (129; 135) bildet, wobei das erste polymere Hydrogel (127) im gesamten polymeren Netzwerk verteilt und von diesem eingeschlossen ist.


     
    11. Verfahren nach Anspruch 10, wobei das Härten (119; 137; 145) das Aussetzen der ersten Zusammensetzung gegenüber aktinischer Strahlung in einer Menge und für eine Dauer, die ausreicht, um den ersten ungehärteten oder teilweise gehärteten Kautschuk (126) der ersten Zusammensetzung vollständig zu härten, enthält.
     
    12. Verfahren nach Anspruch 10 oder Anspruch 11, ferner umfassend:

    Formen einer zweiten Zusammensetzung, um einen zweiten Abschnitt der nach außen gerichteten Seite (10) der Außensohle (15) zu bilden, wobei die zweite Zusammensetzung einen zweiten ungehärteten oder teilweise gehärteten Kautschuk enthält; und

    Härten der geformten zweiten Zusammensetzung, Bilden eines zweiten Materials (206), das einen zweiten vollständig gehärteten Kautschuk enthält.


     
    13. Verfahren nach Anspruch 12, ferner umfassend:

    Inkontaktbringen mindestens einer Kante des ersten Abschnitts mit mindestens einer Kante des zweiten Abschnitts; und

    wobei das Härten das Härten (119; 137; 145) des ersten Abschnitts oder des zweiten Abschnitts oder von beiden umfasst, während die mindestens eine Kante des ersten Abschnitts und die mindestens eine Kante des zweiten Abschnitts in Kontakt sind, und das Bilden von Quervernetzungsbindungen zwischen dem ersten ungehärteten oder teilweise gehärteten Kautschuk (126) und dem zweiten ungehärteten oder teilweise gehärteten Kautschuk während des Härtens (119; 137; 145) umfasst, wodurch der erste Abschnitt mit dem zweiten Abschnitt verbunden wird.


     
    14. Verfahren nach Anspruch 12 oder Anspruch 13, wobei das Formen das Bilden eines oder mehrerer Zugelemente (95; 138) aus der zweiten Zusammensetzung umfasst.
     
    15. Verfahren nach Anspruch 13, wobei:

    das Formen der zweiten Zusammensetzung das Anordnen der zweiten Zusammensetzung in einem zweiten Bereich einer Form umfasst, wobei der zweite Bereich der Form konfiguriert ist, um Zugelemente (95; 138) zu bilden;

    das Formen (132) der ersten Zusammensetzung und das Inkontaktbringen der mindestens einen Kante des ersten Abschnitts mit der mindestens eine Kante des zweiten Abschnitts das Anordnen der ersten Zusammensetzung in einem ersten Bereich der Form umfasst, wobei der erste Bereich der Form konfiguriert ist, um ein Substrat für die Zugelemente (95; 138) zu bilden, und das Anordnen der ersten Zusammensetzung in dem ersten Bereich der Form das Inkontaktbringen einer zweiten Seite des zweiten Abschnitts mit einer ersten Seite des ersten Abschnitts umfasst;

    das Härten das Härten oder das vollständige Härten (119; 137; 145) sowohl des ersten Abschnitts und des zweiten Abschnitts in der Form und das Binden der ersten Seite des ersten Abschnitts an die zweite Seite des zweiten Abschnitts umfasst; und

    nachfolgend dem Aushärten, Entfernen des gebundenen ersten Abschnitts und des zweiten Abschnitts aus der Form.


     


    Revendications

    1. Semelle extérieure (15) comprenant :

    un premier matériau élastomère (110 ; 204) ;

    dans laquelle le premier matériau élastomère (110) forme une première partie d'un côté tourné vers l'extérieur (10) de la semelle extérieure (15) ;

    dans laquelle le premier matériau élastomère (110 ; 204) comprend un mélange d'un premier caoutchouc durci et d'un premier hydrogel polymère selon une première concentration, dans laquelle le premier hydrogel polymère est réparti au sein de et piégé par un premier réseau polymère comprenant le premier caoutchouc durci, et le premier matériau élastomère (110 ; 204) présente une capacité d'absorption d'eau d'au moins 40 pourcents en poids sur la base d'un poids total du premier matériau élastomère (110 ; 204) présent dans la première partie.


     
    2. Semelle extérieure (15) selon la revendication 1, dans laquelle le côté tourné vers l'extérieur (10) de la semelle extérieure (15) comprend deux éléments de traction ou plus (95 ; 138), et la première partie est une zone qui sépare les deux éléments de traction ou plus (95 ; 138).
     
    3. Semelle extérieure selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans laquelle le premier hydrogel polymère est physiquement piégé par le premier réseau polymère, ou est lié chimiquement au premier réseau polymère, ou les deux.
     
    4. Semelle extérieure (15) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, dans laquelle le premier matériau élastomère (110 ; 204) :

    - présente une perte de poids par cycle d'eau inférieure à 15 pourcents en poids sur la base d'un poids total du premier matériau élastomère (110 ; 204) présent dans la semelle extérieure (15) ;

    - présente une capacité d'absorption d'eau d'au moins 80 pourcents en poids sur la base du poids total du premier matériau élastomère (110 ; 204) présent dans la première partie ; et/ou

    - comprend entre 30 pourcents en poids et 70 pourcents en poids du premier hydrogel polymère sur la base d'un poids total du premier matériau élastomère (110 ; 204) présent dans la première partie.


     
    5. Semelle extérieure selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, dans laquelle le premier hydrogel polymère sous forme nette présente une capacité d'absorption d'eau globale de 100 pourcents en poids à 3000 pourcents en poids ; et/ou dans laquelle le premier hydrogel polymère comprend un hydrogel de polyuréthane.
     
    6. Semelle extérieure (15) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 5, dans laquelle la semelle extérieure (15) comprend un second matériau (206), et le second matériau (206) forme une seconde partie du côté tourné vers l'extérieur (10) de la semelle extérieure (15), dans laquelle au moins un premier bord de la première partie et au moins un second bord de la seconde partie se touchent éventuellement.
     
    7. Semelle extérieure (15) selon la revendication 6, dans laquelle le second matériau (206) : comprend un second caoutchouc durci et est sensiblement exempt d'un ou plusieurs hydrogel(s) polymère(s) ; et/ou forme un ou plusieurs élément(s) de traction formé(s) intégralement (95 ; 138) sur le côté tourné vers l'extérieur (10) de la semelle extérieure (15).
     
    8. Semelle extérieure (15) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 5 à 7, dans laquelle le second matériau (206) est un second matériau élastomère et comprend un mélange d'un second caoutchouc durci et d'un second hydrogel polymère selon une seconde concentration, dans laquelle le second hydrogel polymère est réparti au sein de et piégé par un second réseau polymère comprenant le second caoutchouc durci, et le second matériau élastomère présente une capacité d'absorption d'eau d'au moins 2 pourcents en poids sur la base d'un poids total du second matériau élastomère dans la seconde partie.
     
    9. Semelle extérieure (15) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 6 à 8, dans laquelle la seconde partie et la première partie sont reliées l'une à l'autre par des liaisons réticulées, et une interface entre la première partie et la seconde partie est sensiblement exempte d'adhésif.
     
    10. Procédé de formation d'une semelle extérieure (15) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 9, le procédé comprenant :

    la mise en forme (132) d'une première composition afin de former une première partie d'un côté tourné vers l'extérieur (10) d'une semelle extérieure (15), dans lequel la première composition comprend un mélange d'un premier caoutchouc non durci ou partiellement durci (126) et d'un premier hydrogel polymère (127) selon une première concentration, dans lequel le premier hydrogel polymère (127) est réparti au sein du premier caoutchouc non durci ou partiellement durci (126) ; et

    le durcissement (119 ; 137 ; 145) de la première partie afin de former un premier matériau élastomère (129 ; 135), afin de durcir le premier caoutchouc non durci ou partiellement durci (126) en un premier caoutchouc entièrement durci, et de former un premier réseau polymère comprenant le premier caoutchouc entièrement durci dans le premier matériau élastomère (129 ; 135), dans lequel le premier hydrogel polymère (127) est réparti au sein de et piégé par le premier réseau polymère.


     
    11. Procédé selon la revendication 10, dans lequel le durcissement (119 ; 137 ; 145) comprend l'exposition de la première composition à un rayonnement actinique selon une quantité et pendant une durée suffisante pour durcir entièrement le premier caoutchouc non durci ou partiellement durci (126) de la première composition.
     
    12. Procédé selon la revendication 10 ou 11, comprenant en outre :

    la mise en forme d'une seconde composition afin de former une seconde partie du côté tourné vers l'extérieur (10) de la semelle extérieure (15), dans lequel la seconde composition comprend un second caoutchouc non durci ou partiellement durci ; et

    le durcissement de la seconde composition mise en forme, en mettant en forme un second matériau (206) comprenant un second caoutchouc entièrement durci.


     
    13. Procédé selon la revendication 12, comprenant en outre :

    la mise en contact d'au moins un bord de la première partie avec au moins un bord de la seconde partie ; et

    dans lequel le durcissement comprend le durcissement (119 ; 137 ; 145) de la première partie ou de la seconde partie ou des deux pendant que le au moins un bord de la première partie et le au moins un bord de la seconde partie sont en contact, et comprend la formation de liaisons réticulées entre le premier caoutchouc non durci ou partiellement durci (126) et le second caoutchouc non durci ou partiellement durci pendant le durcissement (119 ; 137 ; 145), afin de lier la première partie à la seconde partie.


     
    14. Procédé selon la revendication 12 ou 13, dans lequel la mise en forme comprend la formation d'un ou plusieurs élément(s) de traction (95 ; 138) à partir de la seconde composition.
     
    15. Procédé selon la revendication 13, dans lequel :

    la mise en forme de la seconde composition comprend le placement de la seconde composition dans une seconde zone d'un moule, dans lequel la seconde zone du moule est configurée pour former des éléments de traction (95 ; 138) ;

    la mise en forme (132) de la première composition et la mise en contact du au moins un bord de la première partie avec le au moins un bord de la seconde partie comprend le placement de la première composition dans une première zone du moule, dans lequel la première zone du moule est configurée pour former un substrat pour les éléments de traction (95 ; 138), et le placement de la première composition dans la première zone du moule comprend la mise en contact d'un second côté de la seconde partie avec un premier côté de la première partie ;

    le durcissement comprend le durcissement ou le durcissement total (119 ; 137 ; 145) de la première partie et de la seconde partie dans le moule et la liaison du premier côté de la première partie avec le second côté de la seconde partie ; et

    après le durcissement, le retrait de la première partie et de la seconde partie liées du moule.


     




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    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