Sep 23, 2014

Dundee University and St Andrews Golf Co have teamed up to produce the world's first metal replica of a 125-year-old golf club using 3D printing technology.

The team replicated two historic irons using irons loaned by the British Golf Museum in St Andrews.

Today's clubs are mainly created using modern machinery. St Andrews Golf Co. is the only company in the world to still practice the craft of producing golf clubs by hand, which was once popular across Britain, but has now almost disappeared due to the adoption of modern, digital based production methods.

Grant Payne holds a 3D printed replica of a 125-year-old rake iron

Grant Payne of the St Andrews Golf Co 3D scanned the clubs, then used CAD programmes to make accurate digital models. The company then worked with Dundee University and industrial partners to print out the clubhead in metal.

Grant says the project will hopefully protect these examples of rare and ancient golf clubs, as they are irreplaceable artefacts of great importance to Scotland's cultural and manufacturing heritage.

"Studying the evolution of golf clubs is one of the best ways of learning about the game's history." Payne said. "The two clubs we looked at are interesting because they date from a time that was known as golf's 'era of innovation', when the sport as we know it today really came into being."

The process

The two clubs that Grant and the Dundee team worked on were a 'President' Water Iron which was made in 1885 by James Anderson of Anstruther, and a Rake Iron from around 1890 by an unknown maker.

The Rake Iron was invented by an optometrist, believed to have lived in Montrose, who became fed up of having to remove sand from eyes of golfers playing at their local links. He designed the club in such a manner that it would reduce the risk of sand being cast up into the players' eyes.

The head of the club was scanned on the Next Engine 3D Scanner in the University's Division of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering. The CAD model was then sent to German company EOS, where it was printed in cobalt chrome over the course of 29 hours using Metal Laser Sintering process.

The part were then sent to Scotland for finishing. But it was so strong it had to be sent to the University of Strathclyde's Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) first, where engineers drilled out the hosel using high carbide drills.

The part was then returned to St. Andrews Golf Co., who then fitted the clubhead with a hickory shaft and grip, polished the head and applied a traditional clubmaker's stamp mark in keeping with the period of time that the club was dated from.

It is hoped the project will be used as teaching aids at the museum and in areas of the world where there is little historical understanding of the game.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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