1. A pool cue (99) comprising a handle (10) and a grip member (15), wherein said grip member (15) comprises a cover member (30) and a damping member (20) positioned between said handle (10) and said cover member (30), and further wherein said damping member (20) comprises a viscoelastic, open-celled polymer foam having damping properties and contour form memory.
2. The cue (99) of claim 1, wherein said damping member (20) is in the form of a sheet.
3. The cue (99) of claim 1, wherein said damping member (20) is in the form of a sleeve.
4. The cue (99) of claim 1 , wherein said polymer foam is composed of styrene-isoprene.
5. The cue (99) of claim 1, wherein said polymer foam is composed of CELLAMP brand foam.
6. The cue (99) of claim 1, wherein said polymer foam is composed of polyurethane- silicon.
7. The cue (99) of claim 1, wherein said cover member (30) is composed of a material chosen from the group of materials consisting of rubber, leather, plastic, polyurethane, natural woven fabric and synthetic woven fabric.
SHOCK-ABSORBING POOL CUE GRIP
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention generally relates to the field of pool cues, and more particularly to pool cues incorporating shock-absorbing devices. Even more particularly, the invention relates to such pool cues incorporating shock-absorbing devices on, at or in the grip portion of the cue.
The game of pool often requires that the player use the pool cue to deliver a sharp blow to the cue ball. This impact causes a strong vibration in the pool cue. Known grips on the handles or shafts of pool cues are often very rigid, and such grips are susceptible to transmitting vibration from the pool cue to the user's hand. These vibrations often cause an undesirable stinging sensation in the user's hand. As a result, many players experience difficulty in achieving a comfortable grip during regular play.
One attempted solution to the vibration or shock problem is to provide an annular layer of cotton material or the like beneath the grip outer layer or wrap. The drawback to this is that the material is not particularly effective in damping the unwanted vibrations and must be utilized in excessive thickness, such that the player loses feel and control of the cue.
Another attempted solution, shown in U.S. Patent No. 7,297,068 to Costain et al., tries the opposite approach by providing an underlayer to the wrap that is of greater density than wood or which involves piezoelectric elements.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a pool cue having a shock-absorbing grip that will insulate the user's fingers and hand from undesirable vibrations occurring in the pool cue. It is a further object to provide such a cue wherein the shock-absorbing grip comprises an outer wrap or cover layer of conventional material and an underlayer damping
member, the underlayer comprising a polymer foam having excellent damping properties and contour form memory.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The improved pool cue comprises a handle and a shock-absorbing grip mounted thereon, wherein the grip comprises an underlayer damping member and a cover layer. The damping member is annularly disposed on the handle, preferably within a recess, and bonded to the handle to prevent slippage at the interface between the damping member and the handle. The cover layer is then wrapped around or slipped over the damping member and bonded to prevent undesired slippage or separation from the damping member. Additionally, the cover layer may be taped or otherwise attached to the handle of the pool cue.
The damping member comprises a viscoelastic polymer foam material having excellent damping characteristics and contour form memory, whereby the foam retains the contour of the depressions formed by the fingers for a short period of time after the pressure of the fingers has been relieved.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a cross section taken along the longitudinal axis of the handle of the pool cue. FIG. 2 is a cross section taken perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the pool cue at a location through the grip and handle.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
With reference to the drawings, the invention will now be described with regard for the best mode and the preferred embodiment. In general, the invention is an improved pool cue that provides added comfort to the user. Specifically, the pool cue incorporates a grip that insulates the user's fingers and hand from the vibration resulting from the pool cue impacting the cue ball.
In one embodiment, shown in Figs. 1 and 2, the invention generally comprises a pool cue 99 having a handle or shaft 10 and a grip 15, wherein the grip 15 comprises an underlayer damping member 20 and a cover or wrap member 30. The damping member 20 is positioned annularly on the handle 10 of the pool cue 99, typically within an annular recess formed in the outer surface of the handle 10. The damping member 20 may be in the form of a sheet member that is wrapped around the handle 10 in one or more layers until the desired thickness is reached, or the damping member 20 may be provided in the form of one or more sleeves that are drawn onto the handle 10. The cover member 30 is then positioned on the damping member 20 and the handle 10 in any manner forming a connection suitable for preventing the cover 30 from tearing or otherwise separating from the handle. The cover member 30 may be wrapped or provided as a sleeve. The cover 30 should be durable and resilient, and it may be made of rubber, leather, plastic, polyurethane, natural or synthetic woven fabric, or a variety of other synthetic materials.
The damping member 20 may be attached to the handle 10 and the cover member 30 by any suitable bonding composition, such as glue, epoxy, a chemical adhesive, or any other chemical bond or method for securing the damping member to the handle 10 and to the cover member 30. As an ordinary practitioner would understand, some types of chemical bonds
may be preferable to others, depending on the specific materials of the handle 10 and the cover member 30. The bond should be strong enough to prevent slippage at the interface between the damping layer 20 and the handle 10, and the bond should provide durability sufficient to maintain adequate strength over a period of several years. In addition, the cover member 30 may be taped or otherwise attached to the handle 10 at its ends to prevent unraveling or undesired separation from the handle 10 of the pool cue 99.
The damping member 20 is composed of a viscoelastic polymer foam material having excellent damping properties and contour form memory, often refered to as memory foam. The damping properties reduce or eliminate the amount of vibrations and oscillations that would normally transfer from the handle 10 to the user's fingers and hand. Preferably, the damping member 20 is composed of an open-celled styrene-isoprene polymer foam, such as sold under the brand name CELLAMP. Alternatively, open-celled polyurethane-silicon polymer. Contour form memory is a property of the material whereby the contour or imprint of the recess formed by the user's fingers remains for a short period of time after the pressure or force is removed. In other words, the material has an elongated rebound period prior to resuming its original smooth surface contour. Such materials are said to be viscoelastic, as they exhibit both elastic and viscous behavior. This characteristic is advantageous as it addresses a problem previously encountered with the use of closed cell polymer foams, whereby the foams were not suitably stable during use. This instability results in a reduction of control in the interface between the user's fingers and the handle 10.
It is contemplated that equivalents and substitutions to certain elements set forth above may be obvious to those of ordinary skill in the art, and therefore the true scope and definition of the invention is to be as set forth in the following claims.
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