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Title:
PLATED POLYMERIC SPORTING GOODS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/006472
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Metal-plated polymeric components and other materials having improved properties such as increased interfacial bond strengths, increased durability, increased heat resistance, and improved wear and erosion resistance are described. Methods for fabricating such metal- plated polymeric components and other materials are also described.

Inventors:
ROACH, James, T. (158 Skinner Road, Vernon, CT, 06066, US)
WATSON, Charles, R. (60 Mary Catherine Cir, Windsor, CT, 06095, US)
COOK III, Grant, O. (30314 Vinebriar Dr, Spring, TX, 77386, US)
KLING, Colin, J. (6114 Town Ridge, Middletown, CT, 06457, US)
BUGAJ, Shari, L. (188 Old Cart Rd, Haddam, CT, 06438, US)
LEVASSEUR, Glenn (51 Nelkin Road, Colchester, CT, 06415, US)
GALOS, Camelia (25c Cliffside Drive, Manchester, CT, 06042, US)
BOMZER, David (137 Lawler Road, W. Hartford, CT, 06117, US)
Application Number:
US2014/045991
Publication Date:
January 15, 2015
Filing Date:
July 09, 2014
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION (One Financial Plaza, Hartford, CT, 06101, US)
International Classes:
A63B59/00; A63B49/10; A63B65/02; A63C5/14
Domestic Patent References:
WO2007044444A12007-04-19
Foreign References:
US20130143058A12013-06-06
US7771289B22010-08-10
US5655981A1997-08-12
US6416432B12002-07-09
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MILLER, Thomas, A. (Miller, Matthias & Hull LlpOne North Franklin, Suite 235, Chicago IL, 60606, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is Claimed is:

1. A sporting good component, the component comprising: at least one polymeric substrate forming the sporting good component and having at least one exposed surface; and at least one metallic plating layer deposited on the at least one exposed surface of the at least one polymeric substrate.

2. The component of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into one of an ice hockey stick, a field hockey stick, a lacrosse stick, and a polo mallet.

3. The component of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into one of a tennis racket, a racquetball racket, a badminton racket, and a squash racket.

4. The component of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into one of an archery arrow and an archery bow.

5. The component of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into one of a boating paddle, a water ski, a snow ski, a snowboard, a surfboard, a wakeboard, a windsurfing board, and a bodyboarding board.

6. The component of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into a diving equipment, the diving equipment being one of a helmet, a primary cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a decompression cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a bailout cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a cage, a cutting tool, a dry box, a monitoring gage, a navigation gage, a monitoring computer, a navigation computer, a compass, a flashlight, a radio, a sonar device, and a camera.

7. The component of claim 1, where in the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into a golf cart component, the golf cart component being one of a roof covering, a seat, a handle, and a frame.

8. The component of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into a backpacking equipment, the backpacking equipment being one of a tent pole, a tent frame, a cookware, an eating utensil, a food container, a flashlight, a knife, a cutting tool, a shovel, a carabiner, a descender, and a belay device.

9. The component of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into a bowling ball.

10. The component of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into a hunting tree stand member, the hunting tree stand member being one of a standing platform, a seat, a support frame, a back rest, and a tree support.

11. The component of claim 1 , wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into a javelin.

12. A method of fabricating a sporting good component, the method comprising: forming at least one polymeric substrate in a desired shape of the sporting good component; and depositing at least one metallic plating on at least one exposed surface of the at least one polymeric substrate.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the desired shape is one of an ice hockey stick, a field hockey stick, a lacrosse stick, a polo mallet.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein the desired shape is one of a tennis racket, a racquetball racket, a badminton racket, a squash racket, an archery arrow, an archery bow, a bowling ball, and a javelin.

15. The method of claim 12, wherein the desired shape is one of a boating paddle, a water ski, a snow ski, a snowboard, a surfboard, a wakeboard, a windsurfing board, and a bodyboarding board.

16. The method of claim 12, wherein the desired shape is a diving component, the diving component being one of a helmet, a primary cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a decompression cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a bailout cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a cage, a cutting tool, a dry box, a monitoring gage, a navigation gage, a monitoring computer, a navigation computer, a compass, a flashlight, a radio, a sonar device, and a camera.

17. The method of claim 12, wherein the desired shape is a golf cart component, the golf cart component being one of a roof covering, a seat, a handle, and a frame.

18. The method of claim 12, wherein the desired shape is a backpacking equipment, the backpacking equipment being one of a tent pole, a tent frame, a cookware, an eating utensil, a food container, a flashlight, a knife, a cutting tool, a shovel, a carabiner, a descender, and a belay device.

19. The method of claim 12, wherein the desired shape is a hunting tree stand member, the hunting tree stand member being one of a standing platform, a seat, a support frame, a back rest, and a tree support.

20. A method of fabricating a bowling ball, the method comprising: forming at least one polymeric substrate in a desired shape of the bowling ball around a core in situ mandrel; and depositing at least one metallic plating on at least one exposed surface of the at least one polymeric substrate.

Description:
PLATED POLYMERIC SPORTING GOODS

Cross-reference to Related Application

[0001] This application claims priority under 35 U.S. C. ยง 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial Number 61/844,191 filed on July 9, 2013, entitled "Plated Polymer Sporting Goods."

Field of the Disclosure

[0002] The present disclosure generally relates to metal-plated polymeric components and other materials having improved physical and mechanical properties. More specifically, this disclosure relates to metal-plated polymeric sporting goods and other structures having improved properties such as increased interfacial bond strengths, increased durability, improved heat resistance, and improved wear and erosion resistance.

Background of the Disclosure

[0003] Metal-plated polymeric structures consist of a polymeric substrate coated with a metallic plating. These structures are lightweight and, by virtue of the metallic plating, exhibit markedly enhanced structural strengths over the strengths of the polymeric substrate alone. These properties have made them attractive materials for component fabrication in many industries such as aerospace, automotive, military equipment, sporting goods, and consumer product industries, where high-strength and lightweight materials are desired. For example, metal -plated polymeric structures continue to be explored for use in many sporting goods to reduce the overall weight of the products and improve durability and wear resistance. However, the strength and performance characteristics of metal-plated polymeric materials may be dependent upon the integrity of the interfacial bond between the metallic plating and the underlying polymeric substrate. Even though the surface of the polymeric substrate may be etched or abraded to promote the adhesion of metals to the polymeric surface and to increase the surface area of contact between the metallic plating layer and the polymeric substrate, the interfacial bond strength between the metallic plating and the polymeric substrate may be the structurally weak point of metal-plated polymeric structures. As such, the metallic plating layers may risk becoming disengaged from polymeric substrate surfaces and this could lead to part failure in some circumstances. [0004] The interfacial bond strength between the metallic plating and the underlying polymeric substrate may be compromised upon exposure to high temperatures, such as those experienced during some high-temperature engine operations. If metal-plated polymers are exposed to temperatures over a critical temperature or a sufficient amount of thermal fatigue (thermal cycling or applied loads at elevated temperatures) during operation, the interfacial bond between the metallic plating and the polymeric substrate may be at least partially degraded, which may lead to structural break-down of the component and possible in-service failure. In addition, as polymeric materials have a tendency to release gas (outgas) when exposed to high temperatures, such outgassing may be blocked by the metallic plating layer in metal-plated polymeric materials. Blocking of polymeric outgassing may cause the polymeric substrate to expand, resulting in defects in the metallic plating layer and the structure of the part as a whole. Unfortunately, brief or minor exposures of metal-plated polymeric components to structurally-compromising temperatures may go largely undetected in many circumstances, as the weakening of the bond between the metal-plating and the underlying polymeric substrate may be difficult to detect. To provide performance characteristics necessary for the safe use of metal-plated polymeric components in gas turbine engines and other applications, enhancements are needed to improve the interfacial bond strengths and the high temperature stability of metal-plated polymeric materials.

[0005] In addition, certain surfaces of metal-plated polymers may be damaged by wear or erosion. Wear-critical surfaces may include surfaces involved in interference fits, mating surfaces, or other surfaces which are installed and uninstalled frequently or surfaces exposed to a fluid (gas or liquid) flow. In addition, certain surfaces may be more susceptible than others to wear by impact and foreign-object damage. Erosion-susceptible surfaces may include edges, corner radii, or curved surfaces which may experience enhanced impact with particles in a fluid during operation. Current plating methods used in the fabrication of metal-plated polymeric components may result in a near uniform thickness of the metallic plating layer across the part, such that all surfaces of the metallic plating layer may have approximately the same resistance against wear or erosion. Accordingly, enhancements are needed to selectively impart enhanced protection to wear-critical and erosion-susceptible regions of metal-plated polymeric materials to further improve the performance

characteristics of these structures.

Summary of the Disclosure [0006] Sporting goods manufactured from plated polymers are disclosed.

[0007] In accordance with an aspect of the disclosure, a sporting good component is provided. The component may include at least one polymeric substrate forming the sporting good component and having at least one exposed surface. At least one metallic plating layer deposited on the at least one exposed surface of the at least one polymeric substrate.

[0008] In accordance with another aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into one of an ice hockey stick, a field hockey stick, a lacrosse stick, and a polo mallet.

[0009] In accordance with yet another aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into one of a tennis racket, a racquetball racket, a badminton racket, and a squash racket.

[0010] In accordance with still yet another aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into one of an archery arrow and an archery bow.

[0011] In accordance with a further aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into one of a boating paddle, a water ski, a snow ski, a snowboard, a surfboard, a wakeboard, a windsurfing board, and a bodyboarding board.

[0012] In accordance with an even further aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into a diving equipment. The diving equipment may be one of a helmet, a primary cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a decompression cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a bailout cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a cage, a cutting tool, a dry box, a monitoring gage, a navigation gage, a monitoring computer, a navigation computer, a compass, a flashlight, a radio, a sonar device, and a camera.

[0013] In accordance with still an even further aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into a golf cart component. The golf cart component may be one of a roof covering, a seat, a handle, and a frame.

[0014] In accordance with still yet an even further aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into a backpacking equipment. The backpacking equipment may be one of a tent pole, a tent frame, a cookware, an eating utensil, a food container, a flashlight, a knife, a cutting tool, a shovel, a carabiner, a descender, and a belay device. [0015] In further accordance with another aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into a bowling ball.

[0016] In further accordance with yet another aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into a hunting tree stand member. The hunting tree stand member may be one of a standing platform, a seat, a support frame, a back rest, and a tree support.

[0017] In further accordance with still yet another aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into a javelin.

[0018] In accordance with another aspect of the disclosure, a method of fabricating a sporting good component is provided. The method entails forming at least one polymeric substrate in a desired shape of the sporting good component. Another step may be depositing at least one metallic plating on at least one exposed surface of the at least one polymeric substrate.

[0019] In accordance with yet another aspect of the disclosure, the desired shape may be one of an ice hockey stick, a field hockey stick, a lacrosse stick, a polo mallet.

[0020] In accordance with still yet another aspect of the disclosure, the desired shape may be one of a tennis racket, a racquetball racket, a badminton racket, a squash racket, an archery arrow, an archery bow, a bowling ball, and a javelin.

[0021] In accordance with a further aspect of the disclosure, the desired shape may be one of a boating paddle, a water ski, a snow ski, a snowboard, a surfboard, a wakeboard, a windsurfing board, and a bodyboarding board.

[0022] In accordance with an even further aspect of the disclosure, the desired shape may be a diving component. The diving component may be one of a helmet, a primary cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a decompression cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a bailout cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a cage, a cutting tool, a dry box, a monitoring gage, a navigation gage, a monitoring computer, a navigation computer, a compass, a flashlight, a radio, a sonar device, and a camera.

[0023] In accordance with still an even further aspect of the disclosure, the desired shape may be a golf cart component. The golf cart component may be one of a roof covering, a seat, a handle, and a frame. [0024] In accordance with still yet an even further aspect of the disclosure, the desired shape may be a backpacking equipment. The backpacking equipment may be one of a tent pole, a tent frame, a cookware, an eating utensil, a food container, a flashlight, a knife, a cutting tool, a shovel, a carabiner, a descender, and a belay device.

[0025] In further accordance with another aspect of the disclosure, the desired shape may be a hunting tree stand member. The hunting tree stand member may be one of a standing platform, a seat, a support frame, a back rest, and a tree support.

[0026] In further accordance with yet another aspect of the disclosure, a method of fabricating a bowl ball is provided. The method entails forming at least one polymeric substrate in a desired shape of the bowling ball around a core in situ mandrel. Another step may be depositing at least one metallic plating on at least one exposed surface of the at least one polymeric substrate.

[0027] Other aspects and features of the disclosed systems and methods will be appreciated from reading the attached detailed description in conjunction with the included drawing figures. Moreover, selected aspects and features of one example embodiment may be combined with various selected aspects and features of other example embodiments.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0028] FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of a sporting stick constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0029] FIG. 2 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric sporting stick, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0030] FIG. 3 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric sporting stick, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0031] FIG. 4 is a front view of a racket constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0032] FIG. 5 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric racket, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure; [0033] FIG. 6 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric racket, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0034] FIG. 7 is a side perspective view of an archery arrow constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0035] FIG. 8 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric archery arrow, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0036] FIG. 9 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric archery arrow, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0037] FIG. 10 is a side perspective view of an archery bow constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0038] FIG. 11 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric archery bow, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0039] FIG. 12 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric archery bow, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0040] FIG. 13 is a front view of a boating paddle constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0041] FIG. 14 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric boating paddle, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0042] FIG. 15 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric boating paddle, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0043] FIG. 16 is a front view of a diving equipment component constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0044] FIG. 17 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric diving equipment component, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure; [0045] FIG. 18 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric diving equipment component, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0046] FIG. 19 is a side perspective view of a gliding board constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0047] FIG. 20 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric gliding board, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0048] FIG. 21 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric gliding board, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0049] FIG. 22 is a front view of a golf cart component constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0050] FIG. 23 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric golf cart component, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0051] FIG. 24 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric golf cart component, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0052] FIG. 25 is a front view of a backpacking/climbing equipment constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0053] FIG. 26 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric backpacking/climbing equipment, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0054] FIG. 27 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric backpacking/climbing equipment, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0055] FIG. 28 is a side perspective view of a surface water sporting board constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0056] FIG. 29 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric surface water sporting board, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure; [0057] FIG. 30 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric surface water sporting board, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0058] FIG. 31 is a top view of a bowling ball constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0059] FIG. 32 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric bowling ball, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0060] FIG. 33 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric bowling ball, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0061] FIG. 34 is a side perspective view of a hunting tree stand constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0062] FIG. 35 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric hunting tree stand, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0063] FIG. 36 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric hunting tree stand, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0064] FIG. 37 is a side view of a javelin constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0065] FIG. 38 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric javelin, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure; and

[0066] FIG. 39 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymeric javelin, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure.

[0067] It should be understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale and that the disclosed embodiments are sometimes illustrated diagrammatically and in partial views. In certain instances, details which are not necessary for an understanding of this disclosure or which render other details difficult to perceive may have been omitted. It should be understood, of course, that this disclosure is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed herein. Detailed Description

Sporting Stick

[0068] There are many different types of sports where a player uses a sporting stick during play. Examples of some of these sports are ice hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, and polo. Typically, sporting sticks are manufactured from wood and are used during play to make contact with a small hard object such as a ball or puck. In some instances, the ball or puck may travel at a high rate of speed when coming into contact with the sporting stick causing it to break. In other instances, where the sport involves more physical contact between players, the sporting stick may be broken with another player's sporting stick. Moreover, in some sports, it is beneficial for the player to use a light-weight sporting stick to gain an advantage over the competition. However, the conventional lighter weight sporting sticks are more prone to being broken. The replacement of the broken sporting stick can be expensive. Thus, there is a need for a light-weight, low-cost sporting stick that is also structurally robust and highly durable.

[0069] Referring now to FIG. 1, a sporting stick constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 10. It is noted that the sporting stick 10, as depicted as an ice hockey stick, is only exemplary and other sporting stick designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. As non-limiting examples, the sporting stick 10 may be any type of field hockey stick, lacrosse stick, or polo mallet. The sporting stick 10 may include a polymeric substrate 12 at its core and one or more metallic plating 14 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 12. A portion of metallic plating 14 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 12, as shown.

[0070] The polymeric substrate 12 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine,

polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 12 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass or other suitable materials.

[0071] The polymeric substrate 12 may be formed into a sporting stick 10 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 12 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 12 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the sporting stick 10 using conventional techniques known in the industry. In a similar manner, the sporting stick 10 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined to components of other materials. A non- limiting example is a plated polymeric shaft with a composite blade joined thereto.

Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 12 may be plated with metallic plating 14 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the sporting stick 10.

[0072] The metallic plating 14 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 14 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.040 inches (1.016 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 14 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the sporting stick 10 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 14 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 12 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 14 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[0073] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric sporting stick 10 components to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non- conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[0074] FIG. 2 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the sporting stick 10. As illustrated in box 16, the polymeric substrate 12 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 18 and 20, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 12 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 12 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[0075] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 12, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 14 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 22. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 24, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 12 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 26, at least one metallic plating 14 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 12 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 28, after the polymeric substrate 12 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 14, the metallic plating 14 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[0076] FIG. 3 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the sporting stick 10. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 2 in that polymeric substrate 12 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 30, the polymeric substrate 12 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 12 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 32. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 34, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 36, at least one metallic plating 14 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 12 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[0077] Once polymeric substrate 12 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 14, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 12 segments comprising the sporting stick 10, as illustrated in box 38. Optionally, as shown in box 40, after plated polymeric substrate 12 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[0078] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric sporting stick can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex sporting stick geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Additionally, plated polymeric sporting sticks can be more resistant to impact than traditional construction.

Overall, plated polymeric sporting stick parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric sporting stick parts, components, or component assembly.

Rackets

[0079] Racket sports involve players using rackets to strike a small projectile such as a ball or shuttlecock. Some examples of racket sports include, but are not limited to, tennis, racquetball, and badminton. The material of rackets has changed significantly over time. For example, tennis rackets were originally made of wood, then transitioned to laminated wood, and then metal, and now are made of composites of carbon graphite, ceramics and lighter metals. A lighter weight racket is desirable because it allows the player to swing more aggressively and put more power behind each shot. In this regard, racket manufacturers are continually looking for lighter weight materials that are also low in cost and structurally robust so as to withstand the high impact of the projectile with the racket. Thus, there is a need for a racket that is light-weight, structurally robust, and low in cost.

[0080] Referring now to FIG. 4, a racket constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 42. It is noted that the racket 42, as depicted as a tennis racket, is only exemplary and other racket designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. As non-limiting examples, the racket 42 may be any type of racket for racquetball, badminton, or squash. The racket 42 may include a polymeric substrate 44 at its core and one or more metallic plating 46 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 44. A portion of metallic plating 46 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 44, as shown.

[0081] The polymeric substrate 44 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 44 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[0082] The polymeric substrate 44 may be formed into a desired racket 42 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 44 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 44 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the racket 42 using conventional techniques known in the industry. In a similar manner, racket 42 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined to components of other materials. A non-limiting example is a plated polymeric hoop with a composite shaft joined thereto. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 44 may be plated with metallic plating 46 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the racket 42 .

[0083] The metallic plating 46 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 46 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.003 inches (0.0762 mm) to 0.030 inches (0.762 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 46 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact, or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the racket 42 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 46 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 44 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 46 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[0084] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated racket 42 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[0085] FIG. 5 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the racket 42. As illustrated in box 48, the polymeric substrate 44 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 50 and 52, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 44 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 44 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[0086] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 44, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 46 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 54. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 56, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 44 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 58, at least one metallic plating 46 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 44 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 60, after the polymeric substrate 44 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 46, the metallic plating 46 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[0087] FIG. 6 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the racket 42. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the

aforementioned method described in FIG. 5 in that polymeric substrate 44 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 62, the polymeric substrate 44 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 44 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 64. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 66, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 68, at least one metallic plating 46 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 44 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[0088] Once polymeric substrate 44 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 46, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 44 segments comprising the racket 42, as illustrated in box 70.

Optionally, as shown in box 72, after plated polymeric substrate 44 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[0089] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric racket can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high- throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex racket geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric racket parts, components, or component assembly durability can be significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric racket parts, components, or component assembly.

Archery Arrows

[0090] Archery is the art, sport, or skill of shooting with a bow and arrow. The main uses of archery are competitive sport, recreational activity, and hunting. To be effective and accurate in hitting an intended target, archery arrows need to be strong, stiff, low-weight, and durable. Conventional archery arrows are manufactured from a variety of different types of materials such as wood, fiberglass, aluminum, and composite. These common materials may possess a few of the aforementioned factors required for an effective archery arrow, however, each material also has its own set of drawbacks. For example, wooden arrows are susceptible to warping; fiberglass arrows are brittle; and aluminum and composite arrows, while straight and light-weight, tend to be relatively expensive compared to the other arrows. Thus, there is a need for a light-weight cost effective archery arrow that is also structurally robust and durable.

[0091] FIG. 7 illustrates an archery arrow, constructed in accordance with the present disclosure, generally referred to by reference numeral 74. It is noted that the archery arrow 74, as depicted, is only exemplary and other arrow designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. As non-limiting examples, the archery arrow 74 may be an arrow for competitive sport, recreational activity, or hunting. The archery arrow 74 may include a polymeric substrate 76 at its core and one or more metallic plating 78 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 76. As shown, a portion of metallic plating 78 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 76.

[0092] The polymeric substrate 76 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 76 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[0093] The polymeric substrate 76 may be formed into a desired archery arrow 74 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). The polymeric substrate 76 may be injection molded so that the thickness may be in the range of about 0.005 inches (0.127 mm) to about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.50 inches (12.7 mm).

[0094] To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 76 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 76 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the archery arrow 74 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 76 may be plated with metallic plating 78 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the archery arrow 74.

[0095] The metallic plating 78 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 78 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.030 inches (0.762 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.015 inches (0.381 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 78 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the archery arrow 74 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 78 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 76 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 78 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[0096] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated archery arrow 74 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[0097] FIG. 8 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the archery arrow 74. As illustrated in box 80, the polymeric substrate 76 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 82 and 84, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 76 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 76 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[0098] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 76, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 78 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 86. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 88, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 76 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 90, at least one metallic plating 78 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 76 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 92, after the polymeric substrate 76 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 78, the metallic plating 78 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[0099] FIG. 9 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the archery arrow 74. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 8 in that polymeric substrate 76 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 94, the polymeric substrate 74 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 76 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 96. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 98, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 100, at least one metallic plating 78 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 76 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00100] Once polymeric substrate 76 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 78, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 76 segments comprising the archery arrow 74, as illustrated in box 102. Optionally, as shown in box 104, after plated polymeric substrate 76 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00101] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric archery arrow can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex archery arrow geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Additionally, the plated polymeric archery arrow is erosion and wear resistant. Overall, plated polymeric archery arrow parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric archery arrow parts, components, or component assembly.

Archery Bow

[00102] Archery is the art, sport, or skill of shooting with a bow and arrow. The main uses of archery are competitive sport, recreational activity, and hunting. To be effective and accurate in hitting an intended target, archery bows need to be strong, stiff, low-weight, and durable. Additionally, archery bows also need to maintain certain vibration characteristics and differential let-offs for compound bows. Conventional archery bows are manufactured from a variety of different types of materials such as wood, laminated wood, fiberglass, composite, metal, hybrid metal-composite, or hybrid wood-composite. These common materials may possess a few of the aforementioned factors required for an effective archery bow, however, each material may be lacking in one or more of these factors. Clearly, there is a need for a light-weight cost effective archery bow that is also structurally robust and durable.

[00103] FIG. 10 illustrates an archery bow, constructed in accordance with the present disclosure, generally referred to by reference numeral 106. It is noted that the archery bow 106, as depicted in the form of a compound bow, is only exemplary and other archery bow designs and configurations, such as, but not limited to, recurve bows, longbows, and cross bows, also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The archery bow 106 may include a polymeric substrate 108 at its core and one or more metallic plating 110 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 108. As shown, a portion of metallic plating 110 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 108.

[00104] The polymeric substrate 108 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 108 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00105] The polymeric substrate 108 may be formed into a desired archery bow 106 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). The polymeric substrate 108 may be injection molded so that the thickness may be in the range of about 0.005 inches (0.127 mm) to about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.50 inches (12.7 mm).

[00106] To simplify the mold tooling, additional features, such as arrow rests, grips, bow sights, stocks, rails for compound bows, flanges, bosses or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 108 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 108 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, details, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the archery bow 106 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 108 may be plated with metallic plating 110 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the archery bow 106.

[00107] The metallic plating 110 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 110 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.200 inches (5.08 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.002 inches (0.0508 mm) to 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 110 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the archery bow 106 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 110 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 108 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 110 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00108] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated archery bow 106 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00109] FIG. 11 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the archery bow 106. As illustrated in box 112, the polymeric substrate 108 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional

reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 114 and 116, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 108 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 108 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00110] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 108, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 110 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 1 18. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 120, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 108 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 122, at least one metallic plating 110 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 108 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 124, after the polymeric substrate 108 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 110, the metallic plating 110 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00111] FIG. 12 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the archery bow 106. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 11 in that polymeric substrate 108 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 126, the polymeric substrate 108 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 108 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 128. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 130, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 132, at least one metallic plating 110 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 108 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming.

[00112] Once polymeric substrate 108 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 110, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 108 segments comprising the archery bow 106, as illustrated in box 134. Optionally, as shown in box 136, after plated polymeric substrate 108 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00113] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric archery bow can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional processes and materials, such as wood, laminated wood, fiberglass, composite, metal, hybrid metal-composite, or hybrid wood-composite. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex archery bow geometries can be

accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. The plated polymeric archery bow may also be equipped with various accessories such as, but not limited to, sights, arrow rests, and quivers. Additionally, the plated polymeric archery bow may include part details such as, but not limited to, metallic cams and rollers for cross bows and compound bows, or mechanical metallic joints for takedown recurve bows and longbows. Overall, plated polymeric archery bow parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric archery bow parts, components, or component assembly.

Kayak Paddle

[00114] Human-powered boats, such as kayaks and canoes, are boats designed to be manually propelled by a paddle. Depending upon the type of boat, paddles may be double- bladed or single-bladed. Because the paddler manually propels the boat with the paddle, it is ideal to have a light-weight paddle so that the paddler does not exert extra energy while paddling. In some instances, the kayak or canoe may travel in strong currents with dangerous natural obstacles to navigate around requiring the paddler to use the paddle as a stick to push away from the obstacle. Clearly, there is a need for a light-weight, structurally robust paddle that is also low-cost and durable.

[00115] FIG. 13 illustrates a boating paddle, constructed in accordance with the present disclosure, generally referred to by reference numeral 138. It is noted that the boating paddle 138, as depicted in the form of a kayak paddle, is only exemplary and other paddle designs and configurations such as, but not limited to, single bladed or double bladed paddles, also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The boating paddle 138 may include a polymeric substrate 140 at its core and one or more metallic plating 142 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 140. As shown, a portion of metallic plating 142 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 140.

[00116] The polymeric substrate 140 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 140 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00117] The polymeric substrate 140 may be formed into a desired boating paddle 138 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 140 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 140 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the boating paddle 138 using conventional techniques known in the industry. In a similar manner, the boating paddle 138 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined to components of other materials. A non- limiting example is a plated polymeric shaft with composite fins joined thereto. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 140 may be plated with metallic plating 142 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the boating paddle 138.

[00118] The metallic plating 142 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 142 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.003 inches (0.0762 mm) to 0.030 inches (0.762 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 142 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the boating paddle 138 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 142 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 140 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 142 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00119] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated boating paddle 138 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00120] FIG. 14 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the boating paddle 138. As illustrated in box 144, the polymeric substrate 140 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 146 and 148, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 140 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 140 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00121] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 140, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 142 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 150. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 152, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 140 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 154, at least one metallic plating 142 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 140 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 156, after the polymeric substrate 140 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 142, the metallic plating 142 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00122] FIG. 15 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the boating paddle 138. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 14 in that polymeric substrate 140 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 158, the polymeric substrate 140 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 140 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 160. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 162, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 164, at least one metallic plating 142 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 140 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00123] Once polymeric substrate 140 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 142, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 140 segments comprising the boating paddle 138, as illustrated in box 166. Optionally, as shown in box 168, after plated polymeric substrate 140 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00124] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric boating paddle can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional processes and materials. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex boating paddle geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric boating paddle parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric boating paddle parts, components, or component assembly.

Diving Equipment Components

[00125] Diving equipment is utilized in a wide range of diving activities such as recreational diving, military operations, aquarium maintenance, and exploratory research. Regardless of the type of diving activity, it is important that the equipment be light-weight and corrosion resistant. Light-weight diving equipment is ideal for transporting the equipment from land to water and, during use, to allow the diver freedom of movement while performing a specific underwater activity. The diving industry is continually searching for lighter-weight and corrosion resistant equipment. Thus, there is a need for light-weight corrosion resistant diving equipment that is also low cost.

[00126] Referring now to FIG. 16, a diving equipment component constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 170. Although depicted as an exemplary box-like structure, the diving equipment component 170 may be any of a wide variety of different diving equipment components, having various structures and configurations. Thus, the diving equipment component 170 may deviate substantially from the exemplary box-like structure as depicted. As non-limiting examples, the diving equipment component 170 may be a helmet, a primary/decompression/bailout cylinder for an underwater breathing apparatus, a diver's cage, a cutting tool, a dry box, a monitoring or navigation gage, a monitoring or navigation computer, a compass, a flashlight, a radio, a sonar device, or a camera. The diving equipment component 170 may include a polymeric substrate 172 at its core and one or more metallic plating 174 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 172.

[00127] The polymeric substrate 172 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 172 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00128] The polymeric substrate 172 may be formed into a desired diving equipment component 170 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup

(autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 172 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 172 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the diving equipment component 170 using conventional techniques known in the industry. In a similar manner, the diving equipment component 170 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined to components of other materials. A non-limiting example is a plated polymeric shaft with a composite blade joined thereto. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 172 may be plated with metallic plating 174 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the diving equipment component 170.

[00129] The metallic plating 174 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 174 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.002 inches (0.0508 mm) to 0.040 inches (1.016 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 174 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the diving equipment component 170 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 174 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 172 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 174 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00130] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated diving equipment component 170 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non- conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00131] FIG. 17 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the diving equipment component 170. As illustrated in box 176, the polymeric substrate 172 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 178 and 180, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 172 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 172 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00132] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 172, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 174 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 182. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 184, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 172 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 186, at least one metallic plating 174 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 172 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 188, after the polymeric substrate 172 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 174, the metallic plating 174 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00133] FIG. 18 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the diving equipment component 170. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 17 in that polymeric substrate 172 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 190, the polymeric substrate 172 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 172 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 192. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 194, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 196, at least one metallic plating 174 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 172 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00134] Once polymeric substrate 172 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 174, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 172 segments comprising the diving equipment component 170, as illustrated in box 198. Optionally, as shown in box 200, after plated polymeric substrate 172 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00135] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric diving equipment component can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional processes and materials. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex diving equipment component geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric diving equipment parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric diving equipment parts, components, or component assembly.

Snowboard and Skis

[00136] Gliding board sports are sports that involve a board that is usually secured to a user's foot so that the user may glide over snow or water. For example, the gliding board may be a snowboard, a snow ski, or a water ski. The popularity of gliding board sports has evolved from merely racing to include obstacles for the user to do tricks with the boards. Some obstacles may be a sliding surface raised a certain distance above the gliding surface so that the user positions the gliding board onto the sliding surface to implement a trick.

Performing these tricks are particularly destructive to the gliding boards due to the hard materials of the sliding surface obstacles and can chip, dent, or crack the gliding board. In addition to these tricks, the users also can perform acrobatic flips on the gliding boards, as well. When performing the acrobatic flips it is desirable to have a light-weight gliding board, however, traditional light-weight gliding boards are prone to more damage while performing obstacle sliding tricks. Thus, there is clearly a need for a light-weight, structurally robust gliding board that is also durable and low cost.

[00137] Referring now to FIG. 19, a gliding board constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 202. It is noted that the gliding board 202, as depicted in the form of a snowboard, is only exemplary and other gliding board designs and configurations such as, but not limited to, snow skis or water skis, also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The gliding board 202 may include a polymeric substrate 204 at its core and one or more metallic plating 206 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 204. A portion of metallic plating 206 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 204, as shown.

[00138] The polymeric substrate 204 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 204 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00139] The polymeric substrate 204 may be formed into a desired gliding board 202 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). The polymeric substrate 204 may be injection molded so that the thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.50 inches (12.7 mm). Selected portions of the gliding board 202, such as the walls, may be compression molded such that the polymeric substrate 204 thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 2 inches (50.8 mm). [00140] To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 204 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 204 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the gliding board 202 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 204 may be plated with metallic plating 206 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the gliding board 202.

[00141] The metallic plating 206 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 206 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.040 inches (1.016 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 206 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the gliding board 202 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 206 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 204 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 206 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00142] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated gliding board 202 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00143] FIG. 20 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the gliding board 202. As illustrated in box 208, the polymeric substrate 204 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional

reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 210 and 212, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 204 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 204 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00144] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 204, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 206 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 214. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 216, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 204 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 218, at least one metallic plating 206 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 204 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 220, after the polymeric substrate 204 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 206, the metallic plating 206 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00145] FIG. 21 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the gliding board 202. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 20 in that polymeric substrate 204 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 222, the polymeric substrate 204 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 204 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 224. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 226, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 228, at least one metallic plating 206 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 204 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming.

[00146] Once polymeric substrate 204 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 206, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 204 segments comprising the gliding board 202, as illustrated in box 230. Optionally, as shown in box 232, after plated polymeric substrate 204 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00147] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric gliding board can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional processes and materials. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex gliding board geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric gliding board parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric gliding board parts, components, or component assembly.

Golf Cart, Golf Caddy Components

[00148] Both manual and electric golf carts are designed to assist a golfer in transporting golf clubs from one hole to another hole. The carts allow a golfer to get to the next hole faster and exert less energy than manually carrying the clubs from hole to hole. The golfing industry is continually making efforts to reduce the weight of, yet maintain structural robustness, of golf carts. Clearly, golf cart or golf caddy components also need to be lightweight, high-strength structures for both manual and electric versions.

[00149] Referring now to FIG. 22, a golf cart component constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 234. Although depicted as an exemplary box-like structure, the golf cart component 234 may be any of a wide variety of different golf cart components, having various structures and configurations. Thus, the golf cart component 234 may deviate substantially from the exemplary box-like structure as depicted. As non-limiting examples, the golf cart component 234 may be a roof covering or seat for a motorized golf cart, or a handle or frame for a manual golf cart. The golf cart component 234 may include a polymeric substrate 236 at its core and one or more metallic plating 238 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 236.

[00150] The polymeric substrate 236 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 236 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00151] The polymeric substrate 236 may be formed into a desired golf cart component 234 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 236 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 236 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the golf cart component 234 using conventional techniques known in the industry. In a similar manner, the golf cart component 234 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined to components of other materials. A non-limiting example is a plated polymeric shaft with a composite blade joined thereto. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 236 may be plated with metallic plating 238 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the golf cart component 234.

[00152] The metallic plating 238 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 238 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.100 inches (2.54 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 238 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the golf cart component 234 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 238 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 236 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 238 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00153] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated golf cart component 234 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired. [00154] FIG. 23 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the golf cart component 234. As illustrated in box 240, the polymeric substrate 236 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 242 and 244, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 236 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 236 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00155] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 236, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 238 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 246. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 248, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 236 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 250, at least one metallic plating 238 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 236 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 252, after the polymeric substrate 236 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 238, the metallic plating 238 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00156] FIG. 24 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the golf cart component 234. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 23 in that polymeric substrate 236 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 254, the polymeric substrate 236 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 236 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 256. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 258, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 260, at least one metallic plating 238 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 236 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00157] Once polymeric substrate 236 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 238, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 236 segments comprising the golf cart component 234, as illustrated in box 262. Optionally, as shown in box 264, after plated polymeric substrate 236 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00158] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric golf cart component can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional processes and materials. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex golf cart component geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric golf cart component parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric golf cart component parts, components, or component assembly.

Mountaineering, Backpacking, Climbing Equipment

[00159] Backpacking generally combines the outdoor activities of hiking and camping for overnight stays in the wilderness. In some instances, the hiking activities may lead hikers to climb a mountain and camp afterwards. Prior to these excursions backpackers prepare their backpacks with survival supplies and equipment. Regardless whether the excursion is for a few days or a few weeks, the backpackers need to make sure that they pack enough food and water, in addition to shelter gear, hiking/climbing equipment, and other safety equipment. The backpackers often travel long distances to reach their destination and carrying heavy, yet necessary, equipment is quite burdensome. Additionally, the backpackers may experience unexpected inclement weather that is hazardous to their supply of food and water, which should be stored in protective containers. Thus, there is clearly a need for light-weight backpacking/climbing equipment that is structurally robust, durable, and low cost.

[00160] Referring now to FIG. 25, backpacking/climbing equipment constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 266. Although depicted as an exemplary box-like structure, the backpacking/climbing equipment 266 may be any of a wide variety of different backpacking/climbing equipment, having various structures and configurations. Thus, the backpacking/climbing equipment 266 may deviate substantially from the exemplary box-like structure as depicted. As non-limiting examples, the backpacking/climbing equipment 266 may be tent poles, tent frames, cookware, eating utensils, food containers, flashlights, knives, cutting tools, shovels, carabiners, descenders, or belay devices. The backpacking/climbing equipment 266 may include a polymeric substrate 268 at its core and one or more metallic plating 270 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 268.

[00161] The polymeric substrate 268 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 268 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00162] The polymeric substrate 268 may be formed into a desired backpacking/climbing equipment 266 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup

(autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 268 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 268 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the backpacking/climbing equipment 266 using conventional techniques known in the industry. In a similar manner, the backpacking/climbing equipment 266 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined to components of other materials. A non-limiting example is a plated polymeric shaft with a composite blade joined thereto. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 268 may be plated with metallic plating 270 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the

backpacking/climbing equipment 266.

[00163] The metallic plating 270 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 270 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.002 inches (0.0508 mm) to 0.040 inches (1.016 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 270 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the backpacking/climbing equipment 266 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 270 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 268 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 270 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof. [00164] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated

backpacking/climbing equipment 266 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00165] FIG. 26 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the backpacking/climbing equipment 266. As illustrated in box 272, the polymeric substrate 268 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique.

Alternatively, as shown in boxes 274 and 276, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 268 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 268 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00166] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 268, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 270 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 278. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 280, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 268 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 282, at least one metallic plating 270 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 268 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 284, after the polymeric substrate 268 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 270, the metallic plating 270 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00167] FIG. 27 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the backpacking/climbing equipment 266. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 26 in that polymeric substrate 268 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 286, the polymeric substrate 268 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 268 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 288. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 290, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 292, at least one metallic plating 270 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 268 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00168] Once polymeric substrate 268 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 270, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 268 segments comprising the backpacking/climbing equipment 266, as illustrated in box 294. Optionally, as shown in box 296, after plated polymeric substrate 268 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00169] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric

backpacking/climbing equipment can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional processes and materials. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex backpacking/climbing equipment geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric

backpacking/climbing equipment component parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric

backpacking/climbing equipment component parts, components, or component assembly.

Plated Polymeric Surfooard [00170] Surfboards and other surface water sporting boards are often constructed of polymeric matrix composites (PMCs) in efforts to achieve high-strength light-weight structures. Surface water sports can be dangerous as surfers/riders have to deal with a range of hazards such as rocks, coral reefs, man-made obstacles, and in some cases, hard impact with the water and sea bottom. These and other hazards are destructive to conventional boards causing expensive repairs or replacements. Thus, there is a need for a light-weight low-cost surface water sporting board that is structurally robust, durable, and erosion resistant.

[00171] Referring now to FIG. 28, a surface water sporting board constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 298. Although depicted as an exemplary surfboard, the surface water sporting board 298 may be any of a wide variety of different surface water sporting boards, having various structures and configurations. As non-limiting examples, the surface water sporting board 298 may be a surfboard, a wakeboard, a windsurfing board, or a bodyboarding board. The surface water sporting board 298 may include a polymeric substrate 300 at its core and one or more metallic plating 302 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 300. As shown, a portion of metallic plating 302 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 300.

[00172] The polymeric substrate 300 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 300 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00173] The polymeric substrate 300 may be formed into a desired surface water sporting board 298 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional features, such as flanges, bosses, tail rudders or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 300 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 300 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, tail rudders or other features may be added to the surface water sporting board 298 using conventional techniques known in the industry. In a similar manner, the surface water sporting board 298 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined to components of other materials. A non- limiting example is a plated polymeric seat stay with a composite frame joined thereto. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 300 may be plated with metallic plating 302 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the surface water sporting board 298.

[00174] The metallic plating 302 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 302 may be in the range of about 0.0005 inches (0.0127 mm) to about 0.025 inches (0.635 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to 0.020 inches (0.508 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. Thinner plating thicknesses may be used on PMCs while thicker platings may be used on molded or additively manufactured polymers. The metallic plating 302 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the surface water sporting board 298 as a whole. Tailored

thicknesses of the metallic plating 302 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 300 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 302 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00175] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated surface water sporting board 298 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00176] FIG. 29 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the surface water sporting board 298. As illustrated in box 304, the polymeric substrate 300 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique.

Alternatively, as shown in boxes 306 and 308, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 300 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 300 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00177] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 300, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 302 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 310. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 312, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 300 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 314, at least one metallic plating 302 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 300 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 316, after the polymeric substrate 300 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 302, the metallic plating 302 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component. [00178] FIG. 30 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the surface water sporting board 298. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 29 in that polymeric substrate 300 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 318, the polymeric substrate 300 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 300 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 320. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 322, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 324, at least one metallic plating 302 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 300 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming.

[00179] Once polymeric substrate 300 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 302, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 300 segments comprising the surface water sporting board 298, as illustrated in box 326. Optionally, as shown in box 328, after plated polymeric substrate 300 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00180] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric surface water sporting board can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional processes and materials. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex surface water sporting board geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric surface water sporting board component parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric surface water sporting board component parts, components, or component assembly.

Bowling Ball

[00181] Bowling can be a great family sport because the game allows for multiple players at a time. However, conventional bowling balls are relatively heavy for younger children and elderly players. A lighter weight bowling ball will enable broader participation so that the entire family can enjoy a game of bowling with each other. Thus, there is a need for a lightweight bowling ball that is also durable, structurally robust, and low-cost.

[00182] FIG. 31 illustrates a bowling ball, constructed in accordance with the present disclosure, generally referred to by reference numeral 330. It is noted that the bowling ball 330, as depicted, is only exemplary and other bowling ball designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The bowling ball 330 may include a polymeric substrate 332 at its core and one or more metallic plating 334 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 332. As shown, a portion of metallic plating 334 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 332.

[00183] The polymeric substrate 332 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 332 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00184] The polymeric substrate 332 may be formed into a desired bowling ball 330 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). As another option, the polymeric substrate 332 may be fabricated around a suitable core to serve as an in situ mandrel and to provide the correct specific gravity and handling characteristics for the bowling ball 330.

[00185] To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 332 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 332 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the bowling ball 330 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 332 may be plated with metallic plating 334 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the bowling ball 330.

[00186] The metallic plating 334 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 334 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.003 inches (0.0762 mm) to 0.030 inches (0.762 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 334 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the bowling ball 330 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 334 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 332 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 334 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00187] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated bowling ball 330 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00188] FIG. 32 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the bowling ball 330. As illustrated in box 336, the polymeric substrate 332 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional

reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 338 and 340, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 332 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 332 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00189] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 332, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 334 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 342. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 344, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 332 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 346, at least one metallic plating 334 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 332 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 348, after the polymeric substrate 332 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 334, the metallic plating 334 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00190] FIG. 33 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the bowling ball 330. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 32 in that polymeric substrate 332 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 350, the polymeric substrate 332 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 332 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 352. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 354, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 356, at least one metallic plating 334 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 332 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming.

[00191] Once polymeric substrate 332 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 334, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 332 segments comprising the bowling ball 330, as illustrated in box 358. Optionally, as shown in box 360, after plated polymeric substrate 332 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00192] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric bowling ball can offer cost and weight savings, as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex bowling ball geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric bowling ball parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric bowling ball parts, components, or component assembly.

Plated Polymeric Tree Stand [00193] Hunting tree stands are often constructed of metal to achieve high strength to support hunters during sporting events. However, hunting can be a dangerous sport. Hunters must carry heavy tree stands into wooded areas that are difficult to ingress/egress due to terrain and weather variations. While carrying tree stands into scouted game areas hunters have to deal with a range of hazards such as hills, rivers, rocky surfaces, and slippery surfaces. A tree stand that is lighter weight than metal with equal strength would reduce risk of injury while enabling safe operations during hunts. Thus, there is a need for a lightweight, structurally robust hunting tree stand that is also low-cost and durable.

[00194] Referring now to FIG. 34, a hunting tree stand 362 constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is depicted. As the hunting tree stand 362 is only exemplary, it is noted that other tree stand designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The hunting tree stand may include a hunting tree stand component 364 such as, but not limited to, a standing platform, a seat, a support frame, a back rest, or a tree support. The hunting tree stand component 364 may include a polymeric substrate 366 at its core and one or more metallic plating 368 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 366. A portion of metallic plating 368 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 366, as shown.

[00195] The polymeric substrate 366 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 366 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00196] The polymeric substrate 366 may be formed into a desired hunting tree stand component 364 or an entire hunting tree stand 362 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive

manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 366 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 366 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the polymeric substrate 366 using conventional techniques known in the industry. In a similar manner, the hunting tree stand component 364 or the entire hunting tree stand 362 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined to components of other materials. A non-limiting example is a plated polymeric seat stay with a composite frame joined thereto. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 366 may be plated with metallic plating 368 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the hunting tree stand component 364 or hunting tree stand 362.

[00197] The metallic plating 368 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 368 may be in the range of about 0.0005 inches (0.0127 mm) to about 0.025 inches (0.635 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to 0.020 inches (0.508 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 368 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the hunting tree stand 362 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 368 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 366 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 368 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00198] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated hunting tree stand component 364 parts or plated hunting tree stand 362 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00199] FIG. 35 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the hunting tree stand component 364 or the entire hunting tree stand 362. As illustrated in box 370, the polymeric substrate 366 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 372 and 374, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 366 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 366 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00200] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 366, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 368 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 376. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 378, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 366 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 380, at least one metallic plating 368 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 366 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 382, after the polymeric substrate 366 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 368, the metallic plating 368 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00201] FIG. 36 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the hunting tree stand component 364 or the hunting tree stand 362. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 35 in that polymeric substrate 366 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 384, the polymeric substrate 366 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique.

Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 366 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 386. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 388, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 390, at least one metallic plating 368 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 366 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00202] Once polymeric substrate 366 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 368, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 366 segments comprising the hunting tree stand component 364 or the hunting tree stand 362, as illustrated in box 392. Optionally, as shown in box 394, after plated polymeric substrate 366 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00203] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric hunting tree stand component and plated polymeric hunting tree stand can offer cost and weight savings, as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex hunting tree stand component geometries and hunting tree stand geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric hunting tree stand parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric hunting tree stand parts, components, or component assembly.

Plated Polymeric Javelin

[00204] A javelin is a spear most commonly used in track and field athletics competitions. Traditional sporting javelins are made of fiberglass and are equipped with a steel tip. Lightweight and stiffness are key desirable attributes of javelins. However, the traditional fiberglass javelins tend to bend at release hindering performance. Thus, there is a need for a light-weight stiff javelin that is durable and low-cost.

[00205] FIG. 37 illustrates a javelin, constructed in accordance with the present disclosure, generally referred to by reference numeral 396. It is noted that the javelin 396, as depicted, is only exemplary and other javelin designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The javelin 396 may include a polymeric substrate 398 at its core and one or more metallic plating 400 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 398. As shown, a portion of metallic plating 400 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 398.

[00206] The polymeric substrate 398 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 398 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00207] The polymeric substrate 398 may be formed into a desired javelin 396 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). The polymeric substrate 398 may be injection molded so that the thickness may be in the range of about 0.005 inches (0.127 mm) to about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.50 inches (12.7 mm).

[00208] To simplify the mold tooling, additional features, such as flanges, bosses, grips, tips, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 398 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. As another option, these features may be integrated into the javelin 396 via selectively varying coating thickness of the metallic plating 400 layer or polymer overlay. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 332 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, grips, tips, or other features may be added to the javelin 396 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 398 may be plated with metallic plating 400 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the javelin 396.

[00209] The metallic plating 400 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 400 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.030 inches (0.762 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.015 inches (0.381 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 400 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the javelin 396 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 400 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 398 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 400 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00210] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated javelin 396 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00211] FIG. 38 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the javelin 396. As illustrated in box 402, the polymeric substrate 398 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 404 and 406, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 398 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 398 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00212] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 398, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 400 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 408. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 410, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 398 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 412, at least one metallic plating 400 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 398 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 414, after the polymeric substrate 398 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 400, the metallic plating 400 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00213] FIG. 39 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the javelin 396. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 38 in that polymeric substrate 398 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 416, the polymeric substrate 398 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 398 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 418. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 420, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 422, at least one metallic plating 400 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 398 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming.

[00214] Once polymeric substrate 398 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 400, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 398 segments comprising the javelin 396, as illustrated in box 424.

Optionally, as shown in box 426, after plated polymeric substrate 398 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00215] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric javelin can offer cost and weight savings, as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high- throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex javelin geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric javelin parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric javelin parts, components, or component assembly.