Ogle Models, a UK-based model maker, showcased how 3D printing could be used to redesign and optimize a tennis handle. The handle was designed in partnership with Unstrung Customs, a European specialist in tennis rackets which was seeking a new and customizable way to produce the sporting equipment, and Skywide Design, an English industrial design firm.
A team from Ogle Models worked closely with Andrew Kelly from Skywide Design to come up with a customizable, perfectly weight-balanced 3D printable tennis handle. One of the overarching goals of the project was to find an alternative to traditional molding practices which would make it easier to adapt grip handle size, while speeding up the supply chain.
The design process focused primarily on optimizing the durability and accuracy of the tennis handle in order to offer a product with excellent performance to tennis enthusiasts. The final design was ultimately 3D printed using selective laser sintering (SLS), which offered the precision and robustness necessary for the sporting application while also reducing the part’s weight thanks to an internal lattice structure.
Francisco Ruiz, Managing Partner at Unstrung Customs, commented on the project saying: “It’s clear that Ogle and Skywide have an established relationship as we were able to reach decisions and break through barrier very quickly and with ease.
“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. I wouldn’t hesitate in working with Ogle again and recommending them to anyone and everyone, just not our competitors.”
Having seen that 3D printing is a viable alternative to traditional molding processes for manufacturing the bespoke tennis handles, Unstrung Customs will move ahead with the process. The company has seen positive results in terms of turnaround times as well: reducing supply times from two weeks to just 72 hours. 3D printing has also offered advantages in terms of alignment and grip area, which were common problems when using more traditional injected polyfoam for the handles.
Overall, Ogle Models, Unstrung Customs and Skywide Design found that 3D printing helped them to achieve the desired result for the customizable, weight-balanced tennis handle. Because of the flexibility of the SLS 3D printing process, Unstrung Customs can also create multiple handles at the same time, enabling it to deliver more than one handle to players, who may want multiple iterations of the same design or a range of different handles.
Earlier this year, Ogle Models also partnered with product designer Daniel Lloyd to create a functional prototype for a smart household waste system called WAE.