AMS Spring 2023

Ogle Models Uses SLS 3D Printing to Make a Better Tennis Racket Handle

Inkbit

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UK prototyping company Ogle Models has been in the business of making models and prototypes for over 65 years now, offering its manufacturing and 3D printing services to companies all around the world in a variety of industries. Its many interesting 3D printing projects include making automotive parts for Formula Student racing and the Mars Rover prototype, creating business class airplane seats and telephone models, and even 3D printing some elements for a sea drone that collects weather data. Now, the world-class company is putting its expertise to work in the world of sports – specifically tennis.

I’m not much of a sports enthusiast or participant, but my sister took tennis lessons for years when we were younger, and I did glean an important tidbit from her experience – in addition to a strong serve, a good racket to deliver said serve is a pretty important part of the game. Racket painting, stringing, and customizing specialist Unstrung Customs, based in London and Spain, was looking for a different way than traditional molding to adapt the grip size of their rackets. Their two-part goal was to offer users a precision grip, along with a faster supply process.

“The way Ogle work is like a big family. When you walk in, the people you meet from reception through to the model shop and beyond treat you as if you’re their only and most important customer,” said Francisco Ruiz, the Managing Partner at Unstrung Customs. “I wouldn’t hesitate in working with Ogle again and recommending them to anyone and everyone, just not our competitors.”

Ogle worked with Andrew Kelly of Skywide Design to create a weight-balanced, fully customizable tennis racket handle for Unstrung. They focused on accuracy and durability during the racket handle development process, and used selective laser sintering (SLS) technology to help reach targets in weight and robustness.

“It’s clear that Ogle and Skywide have an established relationship as we were able to reach decisions and break through barriers very quickly and with ease,” stated Ruiz.

Ogle and Skywide determined that SLS 3D printing was the “most viable” process for the job of creating a fully bespoke tennis racket. We’ve seen 3D printed tennis rackets before, but Ogle Models was laser-focused on specifically the handle for this project, which could really help tennis players up their game on the court.

In addition, if a player needs more than one handle for their tennis racket for whatever reason (you hit the ball so hard that the handle split, for instance), SLS 3D printing is a more cost-effective method of manufacturing for the purposes of small batch production.

By calling on Ogle Models to complete this project with SLS 3D printing, Unstrung Customs was able to guarantee part accuracy. In the past, there had been issues with the alignment and grip area, making it hard to inject polyfoam in the racket’s handle; not so with 3D printing. In addition, additive technology made it possible for the company to increase the rate of supply from two weeks to less than 72 hours. Game, set, match!

Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

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