Five years ago here, on this very site, you could find us writing about 3D printing and its prospects for the golf industry. It was a technique we witnessed in prototyping, but the practicality for a sellable consumer item seemed some time off.
The future is here.
Today Cobra Golf is revealing the results of a project in partnership with HP and Parmatech (a powder metallurgy firm) as they bring a limited edition 3D printed putter to the commercial. The KING Supersport-35 has a fully 3D printed clubhead and features a face with SIK technology. SIK works with COBRA athlete Bryson DeChambeau.
The new putter is the result of a multi-year collaboration between the engineering teams at COBRA and those at HP and Parmatech. The components in the clubhead are all printed on HP Metal Jet printers. While the technology has become cheaper through years, these printers still cost in the (USD) $400,000 range.
The process allows a lot of freedom in design, saving as much as twelve weeks in the manufacturing and design process. Because of this time savings, the work flow for this putter alone allowed for 35 iterations of the putter to be made in an eight month period.
The company is excited about the prospects of this manufacturing process and says the Supersport-35 is just a retail entry point, they are working on further projects, including at least two more to be introduced in 2021.
“At COBRA Golf we strive to deliver high-performance products that help golfers of all levels play their best and enjoy the game,” said Jose Miraflor, Vice President of Marketing, Cobra Golf. “To do that, it’s critical to use the most effective manufacturing processes to design, develop, and achieve optimal results, and we’ve certainly done that with this new putter. To continue innovating and transforming the way equipment is manufactured, we worked with HP and Parmatech to take advantage of the benefits of Metal Jet technology. During the development of the KING Supersport-35 Putter, we saw immediate benefits from this process, including design freedom, rapid design iteration, and high-quality parts that meet our economic demands. 3D printing is accelerating design innovation, and this breakthrough putter will help usher in a new era for the sporting equipment industry at large.”
“The power of personalization enabled by 3D printing delivers completely reimagined consumer products and experiences,” said Uday Yadati, global head of HP Metal Jet, HP Inc. “This first of its kind putter is a shining example of the disruptive design and production capabilities of HP Metal Jet 3D printing technology. Cobra’s commitment to innovation and competitive excellence combined with the technical expertise and leadership from Parmatech has led to a breakthrough design win for golf fans around the world.”
The Supersport-35 is defined as an oversized blade. While it has the familiar shape of a blade, it carries the high-MOI, resistance to twisting, properties of a mallet putter. We were suitably impressed by the stability in some limited live testing sessions (more to come).
One thing that really stood out from the design was the solid feel and minimal ball skid just after impact. Much of that likely attributable to the SIK golf aluminum face insert that has “Descending Lofty Technology”. With lofts of (4°, 3°, 2°, 1°) from the top to the bottom of the clubface, there is better chance of consistent dynamic loft at impact, resulting in more optimal launch conditions. The technology has helped Bryson DeChambeau become one of the best putters on the PGA TOUR.
“I’ve had a lot of success over the years with my SIK putter and was really excited to work with COBRA to develop a new way to manufacture equipment and bring this new putter to market,” said DeChambeau. “HP’s Metal Jet technology is an incredibly advanced production method and very exacting, which is pretty critical in golf equipment. I think golfers of all levels will benefit from the combination of COBRA’s high MOI design and SIK’s Descending Loft technology.”
For those not familiar with the 3D printing process, it is an additive process where the printer produces progressive layers of a CAD designed object out of metal powder, the object is then solidified by sintering, where it is put under high heat or pressure. Nearly any form is possible. In the case of the KING Supersport-35, the surfaces are then finished off with precise milling to create the final refined shape of the head.
3D printing is a highly technical way of production but has many advantages, especially when it comes to defying design constraints of casting, forging, or milling.
“HP’s 3D printing technology allows us to utilize a complex lattice structure to remove weight from the centre of the putterhead and push significant amounts of weight to the perimeter,” said Miraflor. “The result is superior MOI levels and massively increased stability and forgiveness. So not only is the 3D production method more consistent but it also allows us to design products in a new and superior way.”
Word is there will be less than 500 KING Supersport putters available, with sales through cobragolf.ca for Canadian customers beginning November 20.
Available in RH (34″ & 35″) and LH (35″), the model also features a Lamkin Sinkfit Smart Grip with an embedded COBRA CONNECT (Powered by Arccos)