A substantially rigid shaft is obtusely angled adjacent to an enlargement at its distal end. The proximal end of the shaft and a receptacle, forming and defining an aperture slightly smaller than the enlargement, are flexibly affixed to differing portions of an encircling article that become releasably joined when the enlargement is forcibly passed through the aperture, Highly resistive to accidental opening, purposeful pressure applied to the enlargement by a single finger or thumb creates a leveraged force that assists the pressure in accomplishing intentional disengagement. Optional attributes include a magnetic pre-positioning for engagement and disengagement and use of gemstones as distal enlargements.
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
Not applicableSTATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
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Not applicableBACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to releasable fasteners, particularly to snap fasteners which consist of an insert part that must be forcibly inserted into a receptacle part, typically having an aperture slightly smaller than the insert part. These two parts are attached to respective portions of an article which will be joined or united by the fastener when a completed insertion closes the fastener. The fastener is also made so that the insert part must be forcibly removed from the receptacle to release and separate them, in order to provide a resistance to premature disengagement.
2. Background Information
Snap-fasteners have been successfully accepted for a wide variety of usages and without major modification for a considerable period of time. Snap fasteners generally offer the inherent convenience of eliminating a need for use of the fingernails in opening, and requiring only one hand for closure. However, two hands must often be used to open them unless the fasteners are so easily disengaged that a secure closure is compromised.
Despite the successes, many have felt the need to improve the appearance and the already impressive level of snap fastener convenience as well as to make the fasteners more secure against premature disengagement. Such improvements in the matter of appearance and security have been accomplished without compromising convenience. See applicant's “Jewelry Clasp” U.S. Pat. No. 5,642,558 (Jul. 7, 1997).
Another example is “Connector for a Jewelry Flexible Member”, Jacobson, U.S. Pat. No. 6,634,067 B2, (Oct. 21, 2003) which shows insert parts which are ball shaped, cylindrical and disc shaped together with receptacles which are hemispherical, semi-cylindrical and disc shaped. “The preferred embodiments of the invention all have a connector with only two parts, namely a receiver and an insert, which are connected to opposite ends of a flexible member.” (Column 2, lines 13-16).
“To disconnect the parts, since tension on the flexible member ends cannot pull the insert through the opening, the insert must be pulled outward by hand in a direction perpendicular to the orientation of connected flexible members under tension.” (Column 2, lines 33-37”. The invention outlines this method of disengagement for all embodiments, but it is also claimed that the disc shaped connector 90 in FIG. 3 can be disconnected with one hand. “To disconnect connector 90, receiver 94 is first reoriented such that opening 105 faces inward, then receiver 94 is pulled away from insert 92 against the restraint of flexible member end 96”. (Column 6, lines 31-34).
In addition to other obvious differences, the members “under tension that connect the connector” are flexible, as described and claimed by Jacobson, precluding development of a leveraged force of disengagement, which is an important feature of applicant's invention which requires a substantially rigid shaft connection for the insert part. In addition to being flexible, Jacobson connecting members are not angled, obtusely or otherwise.
The first two of three earlier patents are both entitled “Fastening for Gloves”, Richardson, U.S. Pat. No. 276,714 (May 1, 1883) and U.S. Pat. No. 300,509 (Jun. 17, 1884) The first patent is primarily concerned with manufacture of the Richardson fastener, the second with its operation. Both show a ball member and a socket that is adapted to be shut over the ball to enclose the upper and side surfaces of the ball member in order to secure it. There is a mention of a curved shank (shaft) in the second patent but this is shown in claim 6 to be a reference to its cross-section. There are no angled shanks (shafts) shown or described. There is a mention of a lever action in removing the ball from the socket in U.S. Pat. No. 300,509 (Column 2 lines 61 through 71). However this involves the use of a special projection from the ball which has been provided specifically for use as a fulcrum and the fastener does not create a leveraged force of disengagement without the addition of this special projection.
The third patent is “Snap for Jewelry”, Ford, U.S. Pat. No. 1,406,179 (Feb. 14, 1922) showing an insert stud rising from a flat, circular panel that extends slightly beyond the stud circumference. This is the insert side of the fastener which is snapped into a circular opening in a slotted panel that is the receptacle. The insert piece is directly connected to the article to be fastened by the snap, without a shaft, such as used in the applicant's fastener. The Ford snap is “an improved snap for jewelry such as is used on bracelets and other strands, but is particularly adapted for use on necklaces” (Column 1, lines 10-12). The drawing shows the fastener insert part directly connected to a flexible chain.
Ford makes no provision for one-hand, or one finger operation. “When the parts are to be separated, one part is held in one hand and the other in the other hand” (Column 2 lines 69-71). The paragraph in column 2, lines 69-85 describes the process for separation of the parts of the snap which includes a leveraged disconnection of the two pieces. However, generation of leveraged force calls for manually twisting the parts out of alignment and tilting them to separate the snap parts, not simply using a single finger, as in the applicant's fastener. Column 2, lines 90-95 calls for providing the stud with a jewel for ornamentation. Replacing the stud or insert with a jewel as a working part of the snap insert is not called for or suggested as it is in the applicant's specification.
It is apparent that there continues to be enough room for improvement to invite invention and to expand practical usages even further by combining a greater ease of operation with an attractively unobtrusive appearance, a high level of security and a reasonable manufacturing cost.BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Attributes of applicant's invention, include an enlargement at the distal end of an obtusely angled, substantially rigid shaft, which is flexibly affixed to one part of a an article to be joined by the fastener to another part of the article. To close or engage the parts of the fastener and thus join or unite the parts of the article, the enlargement is held, between thumb and finger, against the opening or aperture in a receptacle part of the fastener, which is flexibly affixed to the another part of the article. The enlargement and receptacle are then rotated slightly toward the body, while pulling against the part to which the receptacle is affixed. This action provides a particular advantage in snapping the enlargement through the receptacle, to engage the fastener and join the article parts.
Articles of clothing, both under and outer wear, belts, articles of jewelry, even shoes may be considered body encircling articles, although the body need not be animate as when the fastener is used to secure hold-down straps. In a proper installation of the applicant's invention, the enlargement is made to pass through the receptacle aperture in the direction of the body to effect closure. In general the applicant's fastener is made to have a relatively high resistance to passage of the enlargement through the aperture of the receptacle. This and the hooked effect of shaft angle and bead contour makes it especially secure against accidental opening. Although pulling forces from the article are made to have no effect, pressure applied to the enlargement in a closed fastener, by a single finger or a thumb, that pulls the fastener away from the joined parts of the article, will cause the shaft and receptacle to develop a leveraged force that greatly assists this pressure on the enlargement and forces it back through the receptacle opening or aperture to conveniently disengage the fastener. These modes of fastener engagement and disengagement are particularly valuable when direct physical access and visual assistance are both limited, as when a brassiere design calls for closure and adjustment at the wearer's back and the fastener may need to be manipulated through a layer or two of fabric. The mode of disengagement makes a relatively great resistance to disengagement more manageable.
The easy to open, one finger feature of the fastener invention makes it practical in miniature sizes and its minimal use of materials not only tends to give it a lean and attractively less obtrusive appearance, but allows it to be economically made from noble as well as base metals, even in larger sizes. Hard precious or semi-precious stones may also be made to serve as both decorative and functioning distal enlargements. Another feature in the applicant's invention is a magnetic pre-positioning of fastener parts for engagement or disengagement. Such magnetic positioning does not accomplish the fastening as in a typical magnetic snap fastener, but makes the parts self-locating and holds them in a ready position for fastening. When the fastener is opened the magnetic feature can also serve to temporarily secure the ends of a bracelet or necklace to prevent them from dropping to the floor, after disengagement.
Either the distal shaft enlargement, receptacle or even both could be made of a permanent magnet material, but it has been found that the most convenient and economical construction uses a permanently magnetic material as the distal enlargement and a receptacle made of a material having ferro-magnetic properties. The permanently magnetic, black glass marketed in bead form as “Magnetic Hematite” is both durably hard and strongly magnetic and serves well as the distal enlargement when used in combination with a receptacle made from an iron alloy wire. Magnetic beads are also available in colors as well as black.
If the receptacle is to be made of a non-magnetic material such as brass, gold or silver, and the magnetic advantage is desired, it can be given magnetic qualities by adding a ferro-magnetic material in the form of a core or partial covering. In the wire-form designs, this can conveniently be accomplished by closely winding a coil of iron around the part that forms the aperture.
An object of this invention is to provide a releasable fastener that will accomplish the joining or uniting of article parts in a simple yet reliable manner.
An associated object is to combine simplicity and reliability with ease of operation.
Another associated object is to provide the simplicity, reliability and ease of operation, in an unobtrusive manner that will not appreciably interrupt the esthetics of design.
An additional object is to provide a reliable fastener in which ease of operation is accomplished by the fastener's ability to be closed or engaged with a thumb and finger of one hand and opened or disengaged with one finger or a thumb.
Another additional object is to provide a reliable fastener in which ease of operation is such that the fastener can be engaged and disengaged while being manipulated through layers of fabric.
A further object is to provide a releasable fastener with a decreased resistance to engagement and an increased resistance to disengagement which is overcome by assistance from a leveraged force of disengagement.
A still further object is to provide such a releasable fastener with the convenience of magnetic pre-positioning for engagement and disengagement.
Still another object is to provide a releasable fastener that has minimal requirement for materials so that manufacturing expense is reduced, especially when noble metals are employed.
Yet another object is to permit the practical inclusion of stones as functioning parts of a releasable fastener for their inherent wear resistance as well as their ornamentation.
An associated object is to provide a releasable fastener that permits an easy swiveling action when closed or engaged.
Receptacle 2 in
Curved arrows 3 and 4 in
Arrow 9 in
Once engaged, pulling force applied to the releasable fastener at the flexibly affixed connection 6 of shaft 5 and 7 of receptacle 2, can cause the obtusely angled part of the shaft 5 adjacent to the enlargement 1 to ride against the edge of the receptacle and bring the enlargement into a pre-positioning for disengagement, as shown, but the angle of shaft 5 keeps pulling force from developing a leveraged urging that will lift enlargement 1 out of receptacle 2, and the combination of the obtuse angle of shaft 5 and the curve of the preferred spheroid shaping of enlargement 1, also creates a “hook” effect to keep such pulling force from causing a disengagement. When the fastener is magnetically equipped, the enlargement 1 tends to maintain such a pre-positioning for disengagement without such pulling.
When an intentional pressure is applied to the distal end of the enlargement that faces the body, in a direction indicated by arrow 9, that pulls the fastener away from the body, it applies pulling force to receptacle 2 at an increasingly different angle than when pulling force comes from the article through the fastener's proximal attachments such as 6 and 7. Intentional pulling, directly applied to enlargement 1 at the distal end of shaft 5, that moves the fastener away from the body, develops an angularly leveraged force that assists such intentional pulling. The edge of receptacle 2 that contacts shaft 5 acts as a fulcrum for shaft 5 and helps force the enlargement 1 back through the opening or aperture defined by receptacle 2, to disengage the fastener and thereby permit the united or joined parts of the article to separate. Pulling at other positions, at the points where the fastener parts are flexibly affixed at 6 and 7 or further from the fastener, on the article with parts to be united, applies pulling force to the fastener in directly opposing directions, does not cause the leveraged force to be developed and does not cause such disengagement.
While the shaft 5, is described as obtusely angled adjacent to the enlargement, it should be noted that the angle need not be abruptly formed and can be developed in a curve, as shown.
If the shaft is left straight, and not obtusely angled as shown by shaft 5, a leveraged force that urges disengagement is developed when pulling force is applied by the article in typically opposing directions and disengagement is thus made to occur prematurely.
In references to the sizes of distal enlargements and receptacle apertures, it should be interpreted, in this specification, to mean effective sizes, as determined by measurement across those “working” surfaces of the enlargement and aperture that come into contact when the enlargement enters and passes through a temporarily deformed aperture. In general, even when the receptacle appears to follow the contour of the enlargement, there are typically only three and sometimes two contact points therebetween. These may change somewhat with wear and will certainly change if receptacle adjustments are made to increase or decrease the resistance to passage of the enlargement through the aperture defined by the receptacle.
The receptacle 2, shown in two views, is the same receptacle 2 of
The receptacle 11 is the same receptacle 11 of
Receptacle 33 is similar to a type of external retaining ring wherein the small holes that are provided for an expansion tool can be used for thread passage for attachment to apparel, for example.
The receptacle 30 has inner projections, the ends of which define the aperture. This receptacle resembles another external retaining ring of the push-on type and like the retaining ring it resembles, is made with directional bias. This receptacle presents much less resistance to the enlargement passage in one direction and a much higher resistance to passage in the opposite direction. This makes engagement for the user relatively easy and disengagement very difficult, except when assisted by this fastener's leveraged force of disengagement. This makes the fastener especially resistant to accidental release or disengagement. Receptacle 30 has a larger external diameter relative to the wire-form types, but this is not objectionable when the fastener is small and 30 could be substituted for the wire-form types 16, 17, 18 and 19 in
Receptacle 33 and 30 are both designed to be made of semi-rigid, temporarily deformable material and stamped from flat stock.
The receptacle 31 is a wire-form type shown in
The receptacle 32 has its aperture created and defined by a briefly coiled spring wire, in a wire-form generally known in the jewelry and fishing tackle trade as a “split-ring”. As shown by receptacle 32, the coil consists of more than one turn. One end, at the top of the image, is formed into a connective loop with the other, forming a free end at the right side of the image.
The brassiere is an example of a clothing use in which this releasable fastener has the advantage of being capable of being manipulated through one or more layers of fabric. The force and direction of manipulation and the fastener functioning is like that of the fasteners in
A separate shaft 26 is shown together with its distal bead 25, which may have permanent magnetic properties, in unassembled form to show construction detail. Shaft 26 has a head 27 not unlike that of a pin head, that is used to assure retention of the bead 25. While unnecessary for retention, cement may also be used to eliminate any unwanted movement of the bead 25 on the shaft 26. If the head 27 is pre-formed on shaft 26, the bead 25 must be installed prior to the forming of the angle and connective eye of 26. If the shaft 26 is pre-shaped as to angle and eye, the head 27 can be formed after installation of bead 25, by various means such as soldering, micro-welding, or simply pinching the distal terminus of shaft 26 to increase its width. In any case the head 27 should be finished in a manner that leaves little or no protrusion that could interrupt the contour of bead 25 to an extent that could interfere with fastener functioning.
In the preferred embodiments, the distal enlargements of the elongated, obtusely angled shafts, have been shown as preferably spheroid although variations in this shape can be made to function if their receptacle apertures can be made to accommodate them.
When the spheroid is made of metal, it may be made integral with the shaft by casting or stamping as a single piece or by welding an assembly. The spheroid enlargement can also be a drilled bead made of a hard and durable material, including metal, stones, permanent magnet material or be formed in situ on the end of the shaft from glass or plastic. Although acceptable in some instances, the availability of suitable plastic materials is limited and they should generally be restricted to use where expected conditions are not abusive.
While it would be possible to make the receptacle aperture non-expandable and make the enlargement from a resilient, compressible material to achieve a similar snap-fastener function, the wearing of surfaces must be considered in the interest of reliability, especially after extended use or being subjected to abusive conditions. Hard distal enlargements and resiliently deformable metallic receptacles that define expandable apertures offer the most durable combinations.
A receptacle that is relatively rigid and expands only slightly in passing the enlargement, is more affected by dimensional changes due to wear and requires more dimensional precision in manufacture, but may be more desirable in appearance. If heavily made of ferro-magnetic material, it may provide an inherently greater mass for magnetic purposes. The wire-form types are also easily adjusted if compensation is required for the eventual effects of wear. If resistance to opening and closing, in a wire-form fastener, is appreciably reduced by wear, squeezing the receptacle sides can restore the resistance.
A receptacle that is relatively flexible and expands greatly in passing the enlargement, is less affected by dimensional changes due to wear and requires less precision in manufacture, but it may be too lightly made to provide enough ferro-magnetic mass for practical use in the magnetically assisted versions of the fastener and be more suitable for the non-magnetic type of fastener. The enlargement is therefore less nested and is held further out of the receptacle aperture in pre-positions. When greater differences between aperture and enlargement size are desired, a sharper, less obtuse shaft angle should be used to avoid having the shaft stick up out of an engaged fastener at an unattractive angle and to avoid being moved in and out of a partial disengagement when intermittently pulled by the article.
There are several factors to be considered in deciding whether a receptacle construction that functions with a greater or a lesser degree of expansion, is best suited to a particular usage.
In general, extremes are to be avoided, and most usages will benefit from a receptacle construction that is flexible enough to avoid undue precision in its requirements and a substantial susceptibility to the adverse effects of dimensional change. However, it should provide the attractive unobtrusiveness of a pronounced nesting for engagement and disengagement pre-positioning and provide enough ferro-magnetic mass to create an acceptable level of attraction, if magnetically equipped.
While the invention has been described with respect to certain specific embodiments, it will be appreciated that many modifications and changes may be made by those skilled in the art, without departing from the true spirit of the invention. It is intended therefore, by the appended claims, to cover all such modifications and changes as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.
1. A releasable fastener, adapted to be flexibly affixed to an article encircling a body, in order to join and release portions of said article, said fastener having a receptacle part, and a substantially rigid shaft part having an enlargement at its distal end that must be forcibly inserted into, and forcibly removed from, a temporarily deformable aperture in said receptacle part in order to lockingly engage and disengage said fastener and to thereby respectively join and release said portions of said article to which they are flexibly affixed;
- the improvement comprising:
- said enlargement being exposed on the side nearest the body, after passing through said aperture, to the application of a pressure, apart from said receptacle, as from a single finger and in a direction away from said body, in a direction that will force the enlargement back through the aperture to disengage said fastener;
- said shaft being obtusely angled, adjacent to said enlargement, said obtusely angled shaft and said receptacle having an angle of mutual contact during the application of such pressure that creates a leveraged force of disengagement that assists said pressure applied in a direction that will disengage, and immediately release said lockingly engaged fastener when said pressure is applied to said fastener in a direction away from said body and said fastener is restrained by being flexibly affixed to said article;
- said angle of mutual contact between said obtusely angled shaft and said receptacle preventing the creation of any effective leveraged force of disengagement when pulling force is applied to said fastener only from said article to which said fastener is flexibly affixed.
2. The fastener as defined in claim 1, in which said fastener has an unusually high resistance to release that is overcome by said leveraged force.
4. The fastener as defined in claim 1, in which said enlargement has properties of a permanent magnet.
5. The fastener as defined in claim 4, in which said receptacle has ferro-magnetic properties.
11. The fastener as defined in claim 1, in which said aperture of said receptacle is slightly smaller in size than said enlargement, as measured across at least one pair of opposing sides that define said aperture and one pair of sides of said enlargement that make contact with said opposing sides during insertion.
12. The fastener as defined in claim 1, in which said aperture provides a resistance to said passage of said enlargement through said aperture as determined by at least two points of contact between said enlargement and said receptacle.
13. The fastener as defined in claim 1 in which said receptacle is of flattened shape with inwardly directed projections, the ends of which determine aperture size, and which are inclined away from one side of said flattened shape so that the ends separate further under pressure to enlarge said aperture and provide a directional bias that provides less resistance to passage of said enlargement in an engagement direction and so that the ends become closer under pressure to reduce said aperture and provide a greater resistance to said passage in a disengagement direction.
14. The fastener as defined in claim 1 in which said receptacle is of a form that makes a substantial portion of a plane of said aperture assume an obtuse angle relative to said shaft when a pulling force, applied to said receptacle by said shaft, is supplied to said fastener, in opposing directions, by said article to which said fastener is flexibly affixed.
15. A releasable fastener comprising:
- a narrow substantially rigid shaft having an enlargement at its distal end;
- said shaft being angled obtusely adjacent to said distal enlargement and having a proximal end of said shaft adapted to be flexibly affixed to one part of an article to encircle at least a portion of a body; and
- a receptacle being adapted to be flexibly affixed to another part of said article;
- said receptacle having an aperture resistive to insertion of said enlargement, said enlargement being forced through said aperture to releasably lock said fastener;
- said receptacle being resistive to passage of said enlargement through said aperture in a direction that would disengage said fastener;
- said fastener being disengaged when pressure is applied to said fastener at said enlargement, as from a single finger, in a direction that urges the fastener away from a body, thereby causing said shaft and said receptacle to create an angularly leveraged force that forces said enlargement back through said aperture to immediately disengage and unlock said releaseable fastener.
19. The fastener as defined in claim 14, in which said enlargement has the properties of a permanent magnet.
20. A releasable fastener having an element forcibly insertable into and forcibly removable from a receptacle to respectively engage and disengage said fastener;
- a narrow substantially rigid shaft having opposed proximal and distal ends;
- said element being formed by an enlargement at said distal end of said narrow shaft that is inserted and passed through an expansion of said aperture of said receptacle to engage said fastener;
- said shaft being obtusely angled adjacent to said enlargement to secure engagement with said aperture of said receptacle;
- the respective proximal ends of said shaft and said receptacle being adapted to be flexibly attached to an article that encircles a body;
- the improvement comprising;
- said distal enlargement being accessible to pressure from the side nearest the body, said pressure, as from a single finger, acting to disengage an engaged fastener when the fastener receptacle is restrained by said flexible attachment, and so that pressure being applied to the fastener, in a direction away from said body, makes the angle between said shaft and the plane of said receptacle become more acute with a part of the receptacle serving as a fulcrum at the point of mutual contact between shaft and said receptacle and permitting the shaft to create a leveraged force that assists in immediate disengagement of said fastener.
Filed: Jan 4, 2007
Publication Date: Jul 10, 2008
Inventor: Lawrence E. Bodkin, (Jacksonville, FL)
Application Number: 11/649,412
International Classification: A44C 5/18 (20060101);