As golf giants Cobra and PING explore new ways to incorporate additive manufacturing (AM) into their production lines, it was only a matter of time before Callaway dipped its toes in too. The company has signed a consultancy agreement with General Electric (GE) Additive’s AddWorks team and is now using the technology to redesign the acoustic profile of its Odyssey R-Ball Prototype putter. This project could help Callaway dive into the deep end of AM to see it prominently featured on Callaway’s golf clubs moving forward.
Callaway prides itself on being the “Number One Putter on Tour” and wants to continue innovating its clubs with the latest technology. Past innovations have featured multi-material designs and special polymer inserts, but now the company is looking towards AM to stay ahead of its competition.
One project that was poised to benefit from this new exploit was the conversion of the Odyssey R-Ball Prototype putter into a more globally appealing product. The putter, which was extremely popular in Japan, struggled to sell in other markets. The higher pitched “ping” turned off many golfers, and although they liked the design, the acoustics kept them from buying it.
The team at Callaway exhausted all traditional manufacturing methods to alter the acoustic profile of the R-Ball Prototype, but eventually turned to AM to solve this problem.
They partnered with GE Additive’s AddWorks team, and with their help, began designing new geometries to change the acoustic profile. 3D printing allowed the group greater design freedoms and the ability to tailor its product to appeal to the varied preferences around the globe. The company now understands the overhang constraints, can optimize the topology for different acoustic characteristics, and can select from various materials to ensure the putters have the desired material properties. This is a paradigm shift away from what Callaway knows and into a brave new AM world.
“We chose to work with GE Additive, to partner with experts, that represent best-in-class within the industry. GE Additive brings the total package to the table, offering end to end solutions; from printing machinery, raw materials, consultancy and build software,” said Brad Rice, director of R&D for Advanced Engineering at Callaway.
“We’re also taking away many new learnings from our first project together, especially around aesthetics. We have also used additive technology to create an acoustic map, which is certainly a first for us. We’re looking forward to driving more successful projects with Callaway, as they continue their additive journey,” said Chris Schuppe, general manager of AddWorks at GE Additive.
With pushes like these, we wouldn’t be surprised to see prominent tour players adding AM putters to their bags soon. Heck, if it can help us save a few strokes on our weekend warrior round, we will put it in there too.