Knowing the game helps you play better disc golf. Knowing how the disc golf discs are made also helps you in your selection of good discs and improves your game. Manufacturing of disc golf discs does influence your game whether you know it or not
How Are Golf Discs Made? Technology plays a large role in the manufacturing of disc golf discs. First, computers are used to design a model. Then a machine is used to produce a prototype. When that is done, a wind tunnel or other technological equipment test the prototype.
When all this is done, tweaks to the design are made until the perfect disc golf disc is produced. To find out more about how disc golf discs are made just continue to read our article. It is filled with interesting manufacturing information to help you select the best disc for your game.
The process to make the discs you play with may sound complicated but in reality the process is not that difficult. The followingis the process that is responsible for making millions of Frisbees and disc golf discs:
The first stage of making disc golf discs involves compounding the raw materials and turning them into little plastic pellets. This is done through a series of extrusion applications and drying the plastic so that the moisture is removed.
Once this phase is done, the pellets are tested to see how high the moisture content is and to find their molecular weight. Once the pellets have passed this test, they are shipped in large bags to the disc golf manufacturer.
When the manufacturer receives the pellets, they place the pellets into large vats, add color and other ingredients to the mixture. A bonding agent is included to ensure that the coloring process is permanent.
After that the vat is vigorously shaken to mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
When step one is complete, the colored material is moved from the vat and placed into a hopper. Once inside the hopper, more dehydrating ingredients are added to the mixture to make sure no unwanted moisture entered into the pellets.
Then the pellets are run under a magnet to remove any metal impurities that may have inadvertently found their way in. Once all the metal is removed, the pellets are sent to stage 3.
A conveyor belt transports the pellets from the demagnifying hopper to the heated extruder container. The pellets are subjected to high temperatures that liquefy them as they roll down the new conveyor belt.
The heat process is down slowly in order to make sure all the pellets are turned into liquid plastic. This stage makes sure the pellets are mixed thoroughly, compressed properly and moved along at the right pace for the heat to do its job correctly.
The liquefied plastic is then sent to the gates through a series of channels. After the liquid plastic reaches the gates it is injected into the molds through specialized nozzles. These nozzles apply roughly 10.000 to 30,000 PSI of pressure to make sure there are not voids in the material.
The mold shapes the disc and once completed the now formed discs are moved onto the next stage of the process.
Before the newly formed discs are removed from their molds, they have to go through the cooling stage to make sure they are ready for use. The manufacturers use a freezing technique that lowers the disc temperature without harming the integrity of the discs
The freezing process can be done in several ways. The manufacture can either use water or some other coolant at this time to bring the temperature down. When this phase is complete, robotic arms open the molds and remove the discs.
The discs are then transported to the final stage of manufacturing.
After the molded discs are cooled, they move on to the graphic design stage. This stage imprints the different designs needed on the discs. All the pertinent information is placed on the disc at this time including company names, disc name and so on.
Three methods are used to add all the graphics and other data to the discs. One option, and it is the most popular one to use, is the hot imprinting method.
This is where dried ink is transferred to another surface through pressure and and high temperatures. This may be popular because it is an environmentally friendly way of adding graphics to different surfaces.
If different colors are needed, a silk screening process is another option. It can be used to add the graphics to the disc when multiple colors are required.
After the disc golf discs have successfully completed this process, they are then packaged and shipped to the different retail and wholesale outlets. Quality control inspections should be taking place at this time to make sure no inferior disc is shipped out
Making the molds for disc golf discs is an interesting process. It takes skill to get the molds just right. Here are the steps needed to build a proper mold for disc golf discs:
The mould maker- or he may be known as the tool maker. Either way he uses the design to help him form the mold needed to make the prototype and subsequent discs
Metal materials- the mould maker then uses either steel or aluminum as the construction material for the mold. The type of material used depends on the total process and what the mold has to endure. Sometimes photopolymers can replace the steel or aluminum if the plastic injected inside is not that hot
Fine tuning- once the construction materials have been selected, the mould maker puts the material in the shape of the proposed design. Then they use precision machining to fine tune the design to make sure it meets all the specs
Only two components- when the mould is constructed, the mould maker only has to make an A plate and a B plate. When combined the only opening to the mold will be the gate. This is where the liquefied material is injected into the mould.
Air vents are needed- trapped air can be a problem, If it is not removed, then it can damage the product and cost the company lots of money. These air vents are designed to release any trapped air while not letting any of the liquid escape
Releasing the product- most molds are designed in such a way that when they are opened the product sits on the B plate, waiting for extraction and transportation to the next stage of the process.
Cooling holes- this is a necessary step to lower the temperature before the product can leave the mold. These holes are drilled into the mold in such a way that the temperatures are cooled without damaging the product. Hoses are placed inside to make sure nothing stops the flow of the coolant
This is just a basic overview of the disc golf disc mold machine. There are more complex details involved in its construction but you get the gist of how they are made.
Each mold is designed for a particular product and they may not all be made in the same fashion. For example, some molds can have molded products reinserted to add another layer of plastic to their overall design.
Mold construction depends on the product and how much material the manufacturer wants to use and how they will use that material
Basically, this is the only method used to make disc golf discs. What happens in this process can easily be explained. First, plastic materials need to be melted down and turned into a liquid.
Second, once this is done, the liquid plastic is taken through a process that removes excess moisture and any metal impurities. Third, the liquid plastic is moved to the next vat where color is added.
Finally, the liquid plastic is moved on to the molds and injected inside. Once inside the molds the temperature is vastly decreased helping the liquid plastic to solidify and turn into a disc golf disc.
When the discs are ready, then the graphics are added and sent to the store shelves.
The cost of the individual disc golf disc is very minimal. That is if you do mass production and make quite a few at one time. The more you make the cheaper the costs go.
Plastic is a very inexpensive construction material. Once you get set up and producing a lot of discs, you may be looking at spending pennies on the dollar for each disc you make.
The mold machines on the other hand can be quite costly. To set up your own manufacturing plant, the mold machine would set you back, and this is a rough estimate, between 14,000 and 20,000 dollars.
Having the mold made by a good tool maker will also run you into the thousands of dollars and that is not including the research and development costs. This department makes sure the disc flies like it should when it is ready for the market.
If your molds and machine are well maintained, they may produce enough discs to offset their initial cost. But they also have a limit on lifespan. They will wear out eventually and need replacing.
All in all, you are looking at a heavy investment if you want to make your own disc golf discs.
Usually disc golf discs are made from thermoplastic, thermosets or elastomers. But since the middle 1990s over 18,000 different materials have been used to make a disc golf disc.
This is because designers are always looking to fine tune the discs and give them greater distance, stability and grip control. The factors that determine which material is used is the alloy composition, economics, and how strong the end product will be.
Other factors used to a lesser extent are water absorption rates, flexibility and heat deflection. The product is not considered good if it does not bend a lot before breaking. Also, if its heat absorption is high then that will influence the integrity of the disc.
Each manufacturer uses the raw materials they think will produce a great product without raising their production costs.
The Frisbee construction material that has been used most often is polyethylene. It is the most used thermoplastic material used throughout the world since the 1950s.
Manufacturers make polyethylene out of a colorless flammable gas called ethylene. To make polyethylene, the gas is subjected to heat, pressure and a catalyst. All these ingredients change the gas into a polymer.
As this conversion is done, different materials, like color, chemicals and lubricants, are also added to make the polymer more durable and stable. Those ingredients also make the polymer crack resistant.
To turn this polymer into a flying Frisbee or disc golf disc, the temperatures use reaches between 320 to 450 degrees C or 670 to 932 degrees F. These high temperatures make sure the polymer turns into a liquid ready to be molded.
Understanding the game of disc golf does depend on understanding how your disc golf discs are made. All discs are not made the same and these construction processes, as well as their design, influence how far the disc will go, if it curves just right and is stable throughout its flight.
The best construction process is the injection mold system. This process is done so that the end product performs up to your expectations. Of course, nothing is perfect and you need to be careful which brand you buy.
Once you select the brand you want, be slow to change when a disc wears out or becomes damaged. That is because different brands do not have the properties or design and they fly differently from each other.
Getting the right disc will help you improve your game but it is only one element you need to concentrate on if you want to be a good disc golf golfer.