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3D Printed Golf Clubs Help Manufacturers Prototype New Products

| 3D Printers, 3D Systems, Objet, Sports Technology | February 22, 2013

Golf club manufacturers have been using 3D printing and rapid prototyping systems for over a decade to develop their products. The video above shows how Objet 3D printers have been used to create a full-size prototype of a club using their Connex multi-material technology.

Objet’s wide-format 3D printers are able to produce full-size, or 1:1 scale, models for many different types of products across a wide range of industries: size limitations not withstanding.

The wedge in the video is printed with three different materials and shows how multi-material printing can produce a more accurate model that bette shows an objects attributes. The club’s head is printed in grey plastic, the shaft is white plastic and the grip is printed in a rubber material that mimics the texture and feel of an actual golf club grip.

But using 3D printing for golf club design is not new. Back in 1998 Taylormade used 3D Systems printers to create golf iron wax patterns that were used to cast clubs for Masters’ champ Mark O’Meara.

Mark O'Meara Skins Game Win 1998

Mark O'Meara won the '98 Skins Game with 3D prototyped clubs

O’Meara had requested some new irons to his specifications for the Skins tournament and Taylormade only had three days to produce two sets. Usually special tooling is required for each club head which costs tens of thousands of dollars and takes time to make.

“We had three days to produce two sets of irons, and no tooling in place,” says Jeff Blasius, Taylor Made’s Computer Numerical Control Supervisor. “So we created 50 wax patterns on our 3D printer, sent them to the foundry for casting and finishing”

The club heads were design on CAD software and then each one was 3D printed in wax so they could go directly to investment casting and be produced. The finished clubs were so good that O’Meara won the tournament, and $430,000.

Golf technology and 3D printer technology have both progressed significantly in the last 10 years and it’s doubtful that advancements in golf clubs would not of been possible without 3D printing.

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