It’s in the Hole! Putting has gone 3D!
When Jerry Feig’s Oak Park, Michigan-based hermetically sealed picture frame business, Minoxy, received a state-of-the-art 3D printer through Automation Alley’s Project DIAMOnD program, the creative juices began flowing, as the company explored different ways to use the new technology.
Yes, Minoxy utilized the 3D printer for making parts for their micro-climate framing enclosures. In fact, they designed jigs for the manufacturing of their frames, including one-piece (“vacuum hands”) for a robot arm for manufacturing and packaging, as well as specialized supporting jaws for a vise used by picture framers in joining sections of wood to make a frame. This supporting jaw hasn’t been made in at least 40 years.
But Feig and his team began experimenting further. Designing and printing other objects beyond their business scope—including a golf putter! Why? Why not!
The beauty of Project DIAMOnD—which stands for Distributed, Independent and Agile Manufacturing On-Demand—is that small manufacturing operations like Minoxy are able to trail new parts and products without financial risk. The program provides interactive training and is creating a connected network of 300 users, filling a much-needed gap in Michigan's manufacturing ecosystem.
Minoxy’s golf putter design includes the ability to print on demand the requested angle of the face, from one to four degrees, to vary the loft angle to the customer’s preference. But what about the shaft length? The shaft can be changed to the desired length as a person goes from childhood to adulthood. Since the desired weight of the putter varies for different aged golfers, internal weight can be added. The weights can be in either a solid or poured-in form. There are two threaded holes in the back to accommodate tungsten carbide weights. A mixture of epoxy filled with powdered metal can also be poured into the hollow cavity of the head. The putter, as printed, is about two and a half ounces and can accommodate up to about 14 ounces of additional weight.
The CAD file is parametric, allowing for varying the loft angle, and is also adaptable to be a design for injection molding where the two halves can be ultrasonically welded. The printing time for a single putter head is about 18 hours. There is room on the 3D printer to print eight heads at a time. Although there are partially 3D printed putters currently on the market, none of them (until now) are 100% 3D printed.
The concept of the putter is from an associate who is a disabled veteran and avid golfer. But will it sell? Minoxy is exploring that too!