Golf club design has come a long way from the days of a master craftsman sitting at a work bench and hand benching a club head. Sure, there is still some hand work done here and there, but it is extremely rare for a modern club to be designed without the help of a Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) tool. While it is sexy to say that a part was hand crafted by a master craftsman, the truth of the matter is that club design has progressed light-years due to the use of CAD. There is one problem however with CAD tools in that they are strictly two dimensional. In other words, while you can create a 3D part in CAD, it can only be viewed in two dimensions on a computer screen, making it impossible to visualize how the complex, three dimensional curvatures and surfaces of a club head will look in real life. The quality of the complex curvatures and surfaces of a club head are extremely vital to the overall look and shape of a finished product. A good shape will inspire confidence and allows the golfer to achieve maximum performance from their club.
So how then do club designers ensure quality complex curvatures and surfaces in the head designs? The answer is known as “additive manufacturing”, or more commonly, 3D printing. There are several types of 3D printers and each is used for a specific application. Here at COBRA, we use what is known as a photopolymerization machine which uses a stereolithography process to print 3D parts. The mechanics of the machine are actually quite simple. Special computer software divides up a 3D part into many thin horizontal 2D sections. Starting with the bottom section, each one is projected onto a vat of liquid polymer with a special light source that solidifies the polymer onto a platform. Once the first layer has solidified, the platform moves down and the next layer is projected with the special light source which then solidifies on the previous layer. This process is repeated until all of the layers have been completed.
The end result is a physical 3D part that club designers can use to visualize exactly what was built in the CAD model and make any tweaks that are necessary to ensure the best possible club design.
So the next time you find yourself on the course needing to pull off the shot of your life, you can rest assured that the designers at CPG have spent thousands of man hours and cutting edge technology to provide you with a piece of equipment that inspires all the confidence in the world.
Article written by: Andrew Curtis, Sr. Research Engineer