Applications of Carbon fibers on sports and leisure goods (4)

Tennis, racquetball, badminton and squash racquets: Dunlop Sports were early leaders in the use of carbon fiber in tennis racquets, using a thermoplastic molding compound, but this was replaced by carbon fiber prepreg. Latest racquets have advanced considerably in their design and performance and the so called Muscle Weave racquets are made with twisted braided carbon fiber to give a stronger, more powerful frame and are available in versions for the power hitter with a fast swing speed, the player with a slower swing speed and oversize. CAD/CAM programs are now used to design the products in the UK but the racquets are made in the Far East. A cfrp racquet will maintain its high performance beyond the endurance life of conventional racquets.

Prince, now part of the Benetton Group, has been involved with mass production of tennis racquets in the USA from the early 1970s and has expanded production into Mexico. Prince introduced the oversize racquet in 1976, followed by the longbody version, acquiring Grafalloy and Grafamex in 1983, and expanding into squash racquets in 1987. Versions of racquets have been introduced utilizing carbon fiber and Ti in their construction.

Wilson, in its design of tennis racquet, has introduced models with a Center of Percussion at different positions on the racquet head to accommodate the requirements of players.

Wilson and Head favour a mixed construction of Ti and carbon fiber for their racquetball racquets.

Unfortunately, racquets using carbon fiber in their manufacture have been universally termed graphite, which is technically incorrect and it is interesting to note that Price has introduced Graphite Extreme branding in 1998 to differentiate between the use of a premium grade of graphite fiber, which could well be an intermediate modulus version.

Pro Kennex states that it uses a mix of 70% ultrahigh modulus graphite and 30% fiber-glass in one of their tennis racquets. Badminton racquets are made from 100% carbon fiber.

Snooker and pool cues: The strength and stiffness of carbon fiber adapts well to the construction of snooker and pool cues, although wood is probably the preferred material.

Fishing rods and reels: The Orvis Company markets a specialist rod using thermoplastic coated HM carbon fiber to improve the impact resistance and a resin which incorporates thermoplastic and Ti nano-ceramic binders to overcome the inherent brittleness of HM fibers. The rods are lightweight, limiting angler fatigue and have improved casting accuracy.

Look Tackle markets relatively cheap compression molded chopped carbon fiber fly reels, which are lightweight, with virtually zero thermal expansion and water absorption and excellent corrosion resistance to sea water.

Shikari uses a combination of E-glass and carbon to produce a rod lighter in weight than an all glass rod and has models incorporating standard and HM carbon fiber.

Carbon fiber rods are substantially lighter fiberglass, or bamboo, and this reduced weight in a typical fly rod increases the response and handfeel of the rod, but more significantly, the damping effect improves the casting distance and accuracy.



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