Ogle Models and Prototypes, a Hertfordshire-based model making company, has used 3D printing to create a fully customizable, weight-balanced tennis handle.
The handle was developed for Unstrung Customs, a tennis racket painting, stringing and customising specialist, who were looking for a modern and innovative method for adapting the grip size of a racket, without using traditional molding.
Ogle manufactured the 3D printed handle in collaboration with Skywide Design, an industrial, visual and animation studio also based in Hertfordshire. The company focused on improving the durability and accuracy of the tennis handle using SLA 3D printing technology, in order to optimize the performance of the racket for tennis players. Francisco Ruiz, Managing Partner at Unstrung Customs, commented:
“It’s clear that Ogle and Skywide have an established relationship as we were able to reach decisions and break through barriers very quickly and with ease.”
SLA 3D printing at Ogle Models and Prototypes
Founded in 1954, Ogle aims to produce models and prototypes for its clients with a focus on utilizing and investing in the latest technologies, which includes 3D printing. The company was one of the first UK firms to have invested in SLA 3D printing systems.
Its services include rapid prototyping, laser sintering, 3D printing and model making for a variety of purposes, from engineering prototypes to aesthetic and concept models. Ogle delivers its prototypes and models to a multitude of industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical and marine and defense.
Ogle recently installed a new SLA 3D printer in August 2019. The company opted to purchase a second NEO800 3D printer from British engineering group RPS, the first of which it sourced in 2018. Ogle says the new machine will allow the company to introduce a second clear material to its stereolithography service. The addition of the second NEO800 system will also improve Ogle’s turnaround times for larger models and prototypes.
Shortening the supply chain with SLA 3D printing
Unstrung Customs contacted Ogle to manufacture the new racket handle as it wanted to speed up its supply process and deliver precision grips to its customers. Working with Andrew Kelly, a Design Consultant at Skywide Design, the company determined its SLA 3D printing solutions as the most suitable method to meet Unstrung Custom’s demands. Using SLA, Ogle states it would be able to reach the targets required for robustness and weight, whilst maintaining the accuracy of the design.
Furthermore, if more than one racket is desired by a tennis player, SLA is proven to be a cost-effective method for small batch production and can, therefore, meet customer demands. Unstrung Customs was able to speed up its supply chain from two weeks to under 72 hours using SLA 3D printing as well, while also guaranteeing the accuracy of each part. With the previous method, which involved injection polyfoam into the handle, the company would often run into issues with the alignment and grip area of the racket by comparison.
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Featured image shows the 3D printed tennis handle. Photo via Ogle.