GE Additive helps Callaway break the mold in putter heads

Callaway Odyssey R-Ball prototype putterCallaway Golf Co. (Carlsbad, CA), a leading manufacturer of high-performance golf equipment, has signed a consultancy agreement with GE Additive’s AddWorks (Munich, Germany) to help it harness the potential of additive manufacturing. The first project resulting from the agreement is a redesigned Odyssey R-Ball prototype putter head.

As part of its production innovation strategy, Callaway uses a range of manufacturing techniques to produce equipment that reflects the different aesthetic and acoustic tastes of professional and amateur golfers in every region.

The reworked Odyssey R-Ball prototype putter was originally developed as a tour-preferred model in Japan, but its design had an acoustic signature unique to that market. Callaway’s goal was to see how additive manufacturing could change that acoustic signature while retaining the shape and performance.

Altering the geometry of the club proved to be the best way to optimize acoustics, but that made it difficult to manufacture the club using conventional casting methods. GE Additive AddWorks’ engineering consultants worked with Callaway’s design and engineering teams to apply additive manufacturing design practices and build upon the proven design. The team refined existing designs to the build direction to ensure all features were self-supported or easily supported during the build. The AddWorks team also designed supports for thermal stresses and overhand constraints. Topology optimization was used in conjunction with acoustical mapping to create the design.

As Callaway continues to shape its future additive strategy, the AddWorks team has equipped it with knowledge on additive processes and provided assistance on materials selection. It also developed parameters and testing protocols to achieve the desired material properties and helped Callaway identify other parts that may be suitable for additive manufacturing techniques in the future.

“Additive manufacturing is a new tool that is quickly going beyond the aspirational phase and into the functionalization phase of the technology,” said Brad Rice, Director, 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.”

Rice commented further that Callaway chose to work with GE Additive to access experts “that represent best-in-class” within the industry. “GE Additive brings the total package to the table, offering end-to-end solutions including printing machinery, raw materials, consultancy and build software,” he added.

AddWorks General Manager Chris Schuppe commented, “This project has allowed us to add value to Callaway’s business goals. We’re learning 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 it continues its additive journey,” he added.

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