3D Printed Golf Clubs (DMLS)
Focusing on exploiting the design opportunities presented by 3D printing technology, a traditional golf club was re-designed to maximise performance through the use of 3D printing.
Titanium DMLS offers the designer countless new ways to create intricate features and determine specific wall thicknesses, meaning customization like never before. Two drivers were created, and a putter, which will be DMLS printed from titanium.
"This project is focused on the advancements in manufacturing techniques, how these advancements can affect the design world and in which ways they could influence change within a particular design industry. It is focused around the opportunities that new manufacturing technologies can offer to design and how the designer is influenced by these changes. The industry that will be in focus will be the golf club design industry, in particular the design and manufacture of golf drivers (aka. Woods). It will look at how designing for 3D printing can drastically change the appearance, performance and aesthetics of the golf driver. The aim for a final product will be to produce a golf driver design that is specific to 3D printing, in particular to be designed for titanium DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering), capitalising on the particular design features which have been made possible due to the unique way in which DMLS printing works. The final driver design will challenge the design rules currently enforced by the USGA on the design of golf clubs. Through the use of the right marketing channels, it will be stated how new manufacturing technologies could influence a change in the rules of golf for golf club design for the future."
Vast amounts of material research and current golf club research was completed for this project. This included cutting open some existing titanium drivers to measure wall thickness and gain a better understanding of how they are made.
My final concepts for this project resulted in two drivers and a putter that are specifically designed for titanium DMLS manufacturing. They feature organic geometry, as well as thin wall thicknesses and lattice styled features which maximise the design opportunities hat titanium DMLS offers. Influences on the final design concept came from the tentacles of an octopus, as well as the extractors on a motor engine.
One main benefit of this type of designing is the ability to manipulate the wall thickness of the driver face in the places that impact the ball. Changing the centre thickness of the driver face to around 5mm and then drafting the wall back to the edges which are only 2-2.5mm thick. This offers a great opportunity to test ball flight characteristics, as previous drivers have always had a uniform face thickness due to the manufacturing process used to create them.
Although the clubs would not be legal under the rules of the USGA, a main point of this project was to show how the rules of golf may need to be changed in the near future due to the design opportunities that titanium DMLS currently offers, which will only increase as the technology improves. The rules for golf club design were obviously written for the older manufacturing techniques, therefore designing for titanium DMLS may influence a change within the industry. This change can be marketed through professional golfers. The drivers designed for this project would be given to pro's, and if they like the design possibilities and the performance characteristics and opportunities provided by 3D printing, then they may in-turn cause the big golf brands to look more into the technology, leading to a change in the USGA rules of golf.
As far as production goes, titanium DMLS is quite expensive. The material properties of the titanium used are very similar to existing titanium properties, however there are some post-process treatments that would be completed to ensure the driver can handle the impact of hitting the ball (heat treatment).