New Technology Integrating Composites in Sports & Rec

Steve Ehlers is the vice president of golf club innovation and development at Callaway Golf in Carlsbad, Calif. Ehlers has over 30 years working with composites, 20 of them in the aerospace industry working with large structures such as spacecrafts and helicopters. In 1997, he moved into consumer products and was interested in the new technology development at Callaway Golf. Callaway recently developed a new driver using Forged Composite technology, a manufacturing technique using discontinuous fibers in a compression-type mold, to produce a competitive new driver.

What are current trends in the sports market for composite materials?

I’m starting to see more composite products showing up, for example, in crank sets for bicycles, derailer components, and various other sporting goods. Previously, you could not use laminated composites to make the same parts that can be fabricated through modern manufacturing methods. I believe faster and more efficient manufacturing approaches will become a standard in composites manufacturing in the sporting goods industry.

How do composites relate to golf technology?

Graphite shafts have been used in golf clubs for a long time. At Callaway, we started doing multi-material research to best take advantage of different material properties. We’ve previously made a composite head and have relied heavily on composite bodies in the driver. For a golf club manufacturer, Callaway uses composites in its designs more than most (if not all) of its other competitors.

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