I’m not very good at ping pong (or most other activities requiring hand-eye coordination), and I can use all the help I can get. I am, though, pretty good at poker. Maybe combining the two would bring some of my poker game into my ping pong performance? It’s worth a shot, and now on Kickstarter, there’s a way to bring these games together!
London-based Maker’s Affair 3D Printing Workshop is looking to crowdfund some fun new ping pong paddles. These interesting paddles are meant not just for the standard ping pong game — these are for oddballs. Loh Hu, founder of Maker’s Affair, has designed Poker Pong ping pong paddles, a set of four paddles designed in the classic card suits: Club, Diamond, Heart, and Spade. Each of the four paddles has a handle designed to be gripped well for play and the head of the paddle is covered in quality ping pong rubber, with black used (as on card decks) for the Spade and Club, and red for the Heart and Diamond.
The Poker Pong prototypes made their debut at London’s Elephant & Castle Mini Maker Faire last weekend, on November 15th, where Hu also spoke about 3D printing tips and tricks. Now they’re ready to get out of the prototype stage and into real players’ hands.
Not only are the paddles each shaped differently, they each have a different playing style. Hu rated each on a scale of five stars of difficulty, with the larger-surfaced Club and Heart each receiving three stars of difficulty, while the more blade-like Spade received four stars and the devilishly tricky Diamond filled out at five stars. If anyone would like to play with a Diamond while I play with a Heart, we may have a fair match!
Hu used 3D modeling software to design the pieces, and then used the FFF 3D printers at Maker’s Affair to bring them into the world. It isn’t just about looks, of course: the Kickstarter description makes sure to note that “The surface of the handle is striated with gentle ridges to enhance its aesthetics and grip.”
On top of the 3D printed blade and handle goes rubber sheeting to complete the paddle; these pieces are intended to be completely playable, and they might just become your table tennis equipment of choice! The rubber sheets are sourced from a reliable table tennis supplier, and Maker’s Affair tested several thicknesses and types before making the final selection. These paddles went through what must have been some fun product testing to ensure that the handles are sturdy and the rubber provides “a good balance between bounce and tackiness.”
They’ve been prototyped, they’ve been tested, and they’re ready to go… almost. The Kickstarter campaign is necessary because while Maker’s Affair has several 3D printers in their workshop, they need a bigger one to get the right sized paddles off the drawing table and onto the table tennis courts. The ball is now, as it were, in the crowd’s court as Maker’s Affair strives to raise £3,500 by December 19th.
Those interested in backing the products will be happy to know their contributions will be awarded with Poker Pong paddles. For a £28 pledge, you can get your choice of one paddle, while £50 brings home two paddles and £95 will get “THE FOURSOME” so you can play doubles right away. Prices are pretty low, and the target goal will allow for the purchase of a larger format 3D printer and some spare parts to forestall production downtime in the case of any printer mishaps. That foresight in readying the spare parts comes about from Maker’s Affair’s daily experience with 3D printers (they’re a London printer for 3D Hubs, taking orders, in addition to general 3D printing workshop activity), which keeps them “aware of the possible mishaps that can occur during production.”
Check out a video of the Poker Pong paddles in action! They look very playable. Would you use them in your ping pong match? Which difficulty level do you think you’d like — or which is just your favorite suit? Let us know your thoughts in the Poker Pong Paddle forum thread at 3DPB.com!