Callaway Golf Company, a manufacturer of golfing equipment, has entered into a consultancy agreement with GE Additive’s AddWorks team through which it will seek to exploit the benefits of 3D printing. Callaway has already unveiled the first product to be realized as part of the collaboration: a redesigned Odyssey R-Ball Prototype putter head.
This isn’t Callaway’s first foray into additive manufacturing, as the company partnered with Australian metal 3D printing company Titomic earlier this year to 3D print “novel” golf products. The year-long collaboration with Titomic is part of Callaway’s larger effort to investigate whether additive manufacturing will be disruptive in the golf equipment industry.
Looking at Callaway in an even broader context, the company isn’t just exploring additive manufacturing. As part of its product innovation strategy, it is looking at a range of new manufacturing techniques for the purpose of producing innovative golf clubs and equipment that “reflect the different aesthetics and acoustic tastes of professional and amateur golfers in every region.”
Redesigning the Odyssey
For those unfamiliar with golf products—beyond clubs and balls—Odyssey is Callaway Golf’s putter brand, a putter being a club specialized for short and low-speed strokes. The original reworked Odyssey R-Ball Prototype putter was designed as a tour preferred model in Japan, and its structure had a specific acoustic signature for that market.
Using 3D printing, Callaway was interested in exploring whether the putter could be redesigned so that its acoustic signature could be changed but its shape and performance could be maintained.
According to the company, this was achieved by adding a geometry into the putter head which would have been impossible using traditional casting processes. To optimize the putter’s acoustics, Callaway’s design and engineering teams worked closely with GE Additive’s AddWorks consultants to leverage design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) and improve on its “already-proven design.”
“Additive manufacturing is a new tool; which is quickly going beyond the aspirational phase, and into the functionalization phase of the technology,” said Brad Rice, Director of R&D, Advanced Engineering at Callaway. “Callaway needs to learn how to use this tool well, because it is inevitable that 3D printing of production parts is going to happen—it is the production method of the future.”
GE Additive’s experts have collaborated with Callaway’s team to refine the putter head design and to ensure that all features were supported during the build. As part of this, the AddWorks team assisted in the designing of supports for thermal stresses and overhangs. The companies also integrated topology optimization in combination with acoustical mapping in order to create the best design possible.
Overall, the AddWorks team has provided Callaway’s design and engineering team with the tools and experience it needs to move ahead with the use of additive manufacturing. It has provided valuable insight into the various AM technologies, the material selection process, testing protocols and how to achieve desired parameters. Notably, GE Additive has also helped the gold company to identify other parts and products that could benefit from AM redesign.
“In terms of innovation and technology leadership in their sector, Callaway stands head and shoulders above the rest. This project has allowed us to add value to Callaway’s business goals,” said Chris Schuppe, general manager, AddWorks, GE Additive. “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.”